The Committee convened in a virtual meeting to be briefed by SALGA on the issues raised during the public hearings on the Children’s Amendment Bill.
SALGA’s presentation raised four issues. Firstly, there was a lack of support by municipalities to the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector and other children’s services in terms of the provision of infrastructure, land, recreational facilities, security and basic services. Secondly, ECD centres were charged exorbitant municipal bills. Thirdly, exorbitant fees were charged for the rezoning of land, and the by-laws on rezoning were very stringent. Fourthly, municipalities delayed the issuing of the documents needed to register an ECD centre.
During discussion, SALGA was asked what measures it implemented to monitor municipalities and ensure that they fulfilled their ECD obligations prescribed by legislation. There was also concern that municipalities currently did very little for those with disabilities, and it was asked what measures had been implemented to ensure that facilities, particularly sanitation facilities, within ECD centres were accessible to those with disabilities.
A Member asked whether any child protection units existed within the municipalities, and requested that SALGA send the Committee a list of the municipalities with child protection units after the meeting. She wanted to know how SALGA gave effect to the Children’s Act when it came to the protection of children. She directed the Department of Social Development’s attention to the fact that, when considering this Committee’s previous annual report, it could be seen that every province had sent back money from the ECD conditional grants. Given that several ECDs were struggling financially with infrastructure costs, it was shameful that provinces had sent back money instead of spending the entirety of their budgets.
A Member raised a specific issue arising from when the Committee had attended the public hearing in Tshwane, where the people from Boekenhout had complained about their lack of land for ECD facilities and their difficulties with registration. She asked SALGA to explain how it assisted Tshwane’s municipality with its land problem. She also asked whether SALGA had a relationship with chiefs, given that most of the rural land belonged to them, and raised her concern at the fact that those living on rural land were often forgotten about, despite being the most vulnerable and most in need of assistance.
The Chairperson was concerned that new ward councillors were not aware of how closely they should work with ECD centres. She suggested that councillors make use of the intergovernmental relations (IGR) platform, pointing out that when they were unfamiliar with their duties, they simply referred communities or practitioners from one place to another. This was an issue that had already been raised in the public hearings.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) for attending the meeting despite the ongoing conference in Cape Town that other SALGA representatives were attending.
Ms Nozibele Makanda, Portfolio Head: SALGA, introduced herself and her delegation. She apologised on behalf of SALGA’s National Chairperson, who was unable to attend the meeting due to the ongoing conference.
The Chairperson asked whether anyone from the Department of Social Development (DSD) was present. Ms Lindiwe Ntsabo, Committee Secretary, said that the DSD had been invited but no one was present at the moment. She then informed the Chairperson that Ms Matlhogonolo Sebopela from the DSD – who travelled with the Committee to the different public hearings – was in fact present.
Ms Sebopela introduced herself and the DSD’s delegation. She apologised on behalf of the DSD’s Deputy Director-General (DDG), who was chairing another meeting.
Ms B Masango (DA) moved the adoption of the agenda, and Ms J Manganye (ANC) seconded.
Ms Makanda took the Committee through the presentation.
What informs local government’s mandate on Early Childhood Development (ECD)?
The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (1996) provides in its Bill of Rights a broad rights-based policy imperative that applies to all, including children of all ages, which should be promoted, protected and fulfilled by all spheres of government. Schedule 4 Part B of the Constitution lists child care facilities as a local government function. (See section 152).
The first issue was the lack of support of municipalities to the ECD sector and other children’s services regarding the provision of infrastructure, land, sport and recreational facilities, security as well as basic services – water, sanitation and electricity.
Municipal support to ECD facilities included following facilitating their permission to operate, and ad hoc support based on available funds with their limited grants from their equitable share allocation.
There were challenges with the provision of land in strategic localities for the many local government competing development priorities. This was attributable to the scarcity of land in the custody of municipalities. SALGA had therefore been lobbying in the intergovernmental relations (IGR) space, such as the Inter Ministerial Committee on Land and other platforms, to have certain positions adopted.
SALGA had collaborated with other government departments, like Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), to fully comply with the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA) requirements.
The position paper called for a revision of by-laws to ensure that not only were they regulated and controlled, but that they were effectively implemented and understood by all members of the respective communities.
SALGA had partnered with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA), as it saw the role that private security had in preventing loss and/or damage to municipal infrastructure as extremely important.
The second issue was the exorbitant municipal bills charged to ECD centres.
The tariff for municipal service charges forms part of consultative budget processes and was adopted annually. The tariff formulation framework that was followed by municipalities demands that they arrive at cost-effective tariffs which would enable the institutions to offer services sustainably, and not charge less than the actual costs of services, as this would cause unfunded budgets and compromise the financial health of the institution.
The third issue was the exorbitant fees charged for the rezoning of land and stringent by-laws
There was no evidence that SALGA had seen which seemed to suggest that any of the existing municipal by-laws were targeting ECDs or skewed to bias against them. SALGA would be the first to accept and encourage its members that where such examples existed, those pieces of zoning schemes and applicable by-laws should be revised.
The fourth issue was the delays from municipalities in issuing the documents needed for the registration of ECD centres.
The national norms and standards for environmental health did not allow environmental health practitioners (EHPs) to issue a certificate of health compliance to ECD centres for partial compliance. As such, ECD centres that were not fully compliant with these norms and standards for environmental health could not be issued with a certificate needed for registration of an ECD centre.
Upon inspection of an ECD centre, EHPs would issue a report detailing their findings and areas that needed to be remedied by the owner before a certificate of compliance could be issued.
While the provision of child-care facilities was a constitutionally allocated function in Schedule 4B of the Constitution, there was no clear funding grant to support the mandate. Municipalities had to draw from their equitable share grants to co-fund any actions or priorities in their Integrated Development Plan (IDPs) dealing with support to ECDs. This would always be against competing priorities.
(See presentation for further detail.)
Ms L Arries (EFF) asked what measures SALGA had in place to monitor and ensure that municipalities fulfil their ECD obligations in terms of the legislation.
The topic of land was often raised during the public hearings. She suggested that the spatial development plans must at least provide that land be available in every ward in the country to be used for ECDs.
Currently, municipalities did very little for those with disabilities. What measures were in place to ensure that ECDs made facilities, especially sanitation facilities, accessible to those with disabilities?
On the crime and crime prevention programmes, what measures were in place to ensure the safety of those at ECD facilities? The issue of gangsterism and drug abuse happening around ECD facilities was frequently raised at the public hearings.
Why were ECDs, as registered non-profit organisations (NPOs), not automatically funded by equitable shares?
Ms A Abrahams (DA) asked what child protection units, if any, existed within the municipalities. For example, did municipalities have units that focus on street children? She requested that SALGA send a list of the municipalities with child protection units to the Committee after the meeting. Her reason for asking was to understand how SALGA gave effect to and implemented the Children’s Act when it came to the protection of children.
What did SALGA’s social worker capacity look like in the various municipalities?
At the local government level, basic education did not sit with local government. Instead, there was a health and community service function at local government. With the ECD migration to the Department of Basic Education (DBE) happening next month, how did SALGA see the municipalities engaging with the DBE to give effect to the Children’s Act and the forthcoming Bill on ECDs? Municipalities would have to enter into Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) or service-level agreements (SLAs) with the DBE, but because basic education was not a local government function, how did SALGA and the municipalities plan to give effect to this Bill?
It was understandable that norms and standards existed to keep children safe at ECDs, but what often happened was that ECDs were established where community members may see a need to take these children into their care and into an ECD. Did SALGA support the ECD sector’s call to do away with this ‘one size fits all’ model when it comes to norms and standards? For example, consider the issue of parking bays. Not all ECD programmes would require three to five parking bays if they simply established a playgroup with a small number of children. Without conditional registration, ECDs could not access government subsidies.
The Substance Abuse Portfolio had entities called Local Drug Action Committees (LDACs) which report to substance abuse forums. Could the ECD forums be formalised in the same way the LDAC forums were formalised to give strength, a bigger voice, and more structure to the ECD forums?
What municipal budgets were given to ECDs? She requested a list of the costs of the zoning and clearance certificates that ECDs had to pay. Were there thresholds, or were the costs means-based in terms of a specific ECD’s income?
She hoped that SALGA was going to be invited to the Committee’s meeting on 9 March, where the Committee would discuss the ECD migration from the DSD to the Department of Basic Education (DBE).
The DSD should take note that it was very concerning that, when considering this Committee’s last annual report, every province sent back money from the ECD conditional grants. As was heard in the public meeting, there were so many ECDs that were struggling financially with their infrastructure costs. It was shameful that provinces had sent back money from their ECD conditional grants instead of spending their budgets in full.
Ms Manganye said that when the Committee was at the public hearing in Tshwane, the people from Boekenhout complained about their lack of land for ECD facilities and the fact that they could not even register. How was SALGA assisting Tshwane’s municipality with its land problem so that even the children of Boekenhout could attend crèches? The land occupied in Tshwane was not owned by the municipality or the chieftaincy – it belonged to the individuals who had collectively purchased it.
Did SALGA have a relationship with chiefs? Most of the rural land belonged to chiefs, and often those living on rural land were forgotten about, despite being the most vulnerable and most in need of assistance.
Ms G Opperman (DA) asked whether there were sufficient environmental health practitioners (EHPs) within the 44 districts to deal with the thousands of ECD programmes. When considering the Namakwa district, for example, despite being bigger than most provinces, it had only one EHP.
How many of the 226 local governments currently had by-laws in place to assist ECDs?
On the land issue, were there plans in place to assist the municipalities with their land audits? There was plenty of vacant land allocated to other state departments like Public Works, and plenty of land that had been given to churches but was not yet utilised.
On the issue of budgets, did the municipalities have the financial and administrative capacity to fulfil their mandates? What support, and from whom, would they need to effectively fulfil their mandates?
Ms P Marais (EFF) said that there was often rezoning in the municipalities, and ECD owners were not notified about this. Last year, there had been an incident where an owner found out from a newspaper that the land on which her ECD facility was built was for sale. She did not have the funds necessary to bid for the land, but the municipality told her that the only solution available was to bid for it. Ms Marais had sought the help of a legal aid centre to assist this lady, who had occupied the land for more than 20 years. What was SALGA’s view on the issue of rezoning?
Some of the ECD centres were built in areas where there was no security, and because of drug problems within communities, the lives of the ECD staff members were at risk. These centres could not afford to pay for security services. What was SALGA’s view on this issue?
There were no recreational centres in many municipal areas. As a result, children began abusing drugs and falling pregnant. What was SALGA’s view on this issue, and on the fact that parks were being vandalised, were not being maintained, and were occupied by drug dealers?
There were many by-laws in municipalities, but they were not being taken seriously because of a lack of enforcement and punishment.
What was the function of law enforcement? Even though law enforcement was present, officers stayed in their offices all day and acted only during eviction proceedings. Only the laws on eviction were being enforced. Things were happening in the communities, but law enforcement was nowhere to be found.
Rezoning and spatial development plans were not being implemented within the municipalities. In Mangaung, there had been a spatial development plan in place for over 20 years, but nothing had been done to the area yet. There were also health and safety concerns in the area with, sewage spilling continually for months. Children’s lives were at risk because they might contract tuberculosis (TB) or stomach bugs. How did SALGA intend to respond to these issues? Currently, SALGA was quiet on these issues within municipalities and seemed to act only when it came to conferences and the passing of laws, for example.
The Chairperson said that the new ward councillors were not aware of how closely they were supposed to work with the ECDs. They should make use of the IGR platform to become more aware. When councillors were not aware of their duties, they would simply refer communities or practitioners from pillar to post and from post to pillar. This was an issue that had been raised in the public hearings.
When the Committee was amending the Bill, it had a clear direction and informed communities that infrastructure belonged to the municipalities. Communities should have good relationships with municipalities so that they were able to go to municipalities for assistance.
Ms Masango appreciated the straightforwardness of the presentation, as it was very informative on the challenges which ECDs faced, considering what had come out during the public hearings and at a national level.
In the presentation, SALGA had stated that ECDs could not afford the amounts charged to them. This was not the conclusion that Ms Masango had reached after reading the presentation and listening to Ms Makanda. From her reading, she believed that SALGA was stating that the costs charged to ECDs were reviewed annually and were not going anywhere. ECDs had no option but to try and pay these costs. This was eye-opening in the sense that the DBE should try and solve this significant problem on the ground because children needed access to ECD centres. ECD owners also did not have access to the resources necessary to meet the national norms and standards, and thus could not have certificates issued to them.
This presentation was very clear and directed the Committee, the DBE and the DSD back to the drawing board to find a solution at a local level, and ensure that ECDs were given conducive spaces to operate without having to pay the exorbitant amounts charged to them.
In the presentation, SALGA stated that the support given to ECDs would always compete with other priorities. When would ECDs be prioritised over other services at a local government level? The presentation seemed to suggest that nothing would be done about the charges, the difficulty with being issued certificates, or the land issues.
Ms Makanda appreciated the questions and issues raised by Members, which had even gone beyond the four issues that had been presented to them, as it gave SALGA an opportunity to understand the sources of these issues.
On ensuring the compliance of municipalities, SALGA was responsible, as part of its mandate, to support municipalities so that they achieved what they were required to. SALGA had working groups at the provincial and national levels. At the provincial level, the working groups were attended by members belonging to the community service function, and all other functions of local government. In these working groups, specialists were sometimes called in to present to municipalities and guide them. These working groups also allowed SALGA to focus on serious issues and support municipalities when they sought support.
Sometimes it was difficult to give support. It was easier to support a municipality that had made it clear exactly what type of support was needed. SALGA was sometimes met with resistance when it gave support without knowing what type of support was needed. Municipalities were being engaged and assisted with problems that had been picked up on, especially problems coming from the IGR engagements.
On the provision of land for ECDs, all municipalities have spatial development frameworks that were adopted annually as part of their integrated development plans (IDPs). For every piece of land used in the planning of settlements, there were areas allocated for ECDs. From a town planning perspective, all pieces of land would provide room for ECDs, because SALGA had moved away from building settlements without integrating the services that would be required by those living in the settlement. Integration was happening, especially in newly planned settlements and in the existing spatial development plans contained in the IDPs.
Some of the ECD centres would emerge outside of the areas zoned for ECD centres. ECD owners would have to apply for rezoning of the area, and several factors would be considered before an ECD was allowed. An ECD must comply with the norms and standards as required by the building regulations which were adopted as part of the by-laws, and which were enforced by municipalities. There were also the health norms and standards that EHPs monitored annually.
SALGA and the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) have been working with municipalities to change and adapt their buildings to ensure accessibility to those with disabilities. Depending on the availability of resources, mechanisms would be made to improve accessibility, including the construction of lifts where buildings had more than one storey. This was still a work in progress and not yet perfect, but stakeholders would be consulted with.
On sanitation facilities, established urban settlements would already have in place underground services like water and electricity which would be available to ECD centres. In contrast, ECD centres in informal settlements would likely not have access to such amenities. Municipalities were on different levels when it came to improving these informal settlements. These different levels were dependent on the plans and budgets of each municipality for amenities in a given financial year. Temporary pit latrines would be established by district municipalities – who were the authorities of the water and sanitation services – while waterborne systems were installed.
Crime was a serious concern in both urban and rural areas. At a municipal level, there was a security cluster, which was an IGR structure consisting of municipal police officers. These officers were available in metros, and each of the eight metros had a municipal police department. This was not necessarily the case in the other municipalities. In local municipalities, the only law enforcement functions related to the police were traffic control and the enforcement of by-laws by peace officers.
Crime itself was the responsibility of the South African Police Service (SAPS). SALGA was engaging with SAPS and assisting it through ward councillors on the public participation forums. SALGA was also working with the civilian police secretariat to establish community safety forums and to institutionalise community safety, as it was affecting every aspect of municipal planning. When planning sports facilities or any other project, community safety must always be factored in. SALGA had developed a position paper that it would take to municipalities for implementation, which would be phased in during the next five years.
Gangsterism was a concern, and councillors had safety and security sub-committees that work with the security cluster to resolve crime-related problems with community members. Both problems affecting ECDs, and problems affecting the community generally, were resolved.
On ECDs as NPOs being automatically funded by equitable shares, she understood Ms Arries as stating that in a municipal setting, the equitable share budget allocation would be ring-fenced for ECDs. This would be the only mechanism whereby ECDs would automatically have direct access to equitable shares. However, the equitable share allocations were not currently ring-fenced for ECDs, and these allocations were distributed by municipalities according to priority. National Treasury may want to discuss this issue at an IGR level with the DSD, the DBE and the ECD sector.
Child protection units did exist in metros, and child protection was a function of the metro police. However, in district and local municipalities, this function was mainly the responsibility of SAPS, and local municipalities cooperated with SAPS on this issue.
The structuring of municipalities at a local level was such that children were under the special programme units in the offices of the executive mayors. As such, children were a function that was dealt with by these offices. In all metros, there were social development units, and in some metros, the social development unit was merged with community services to focus on children. SALGA would get the information on the existing child protection units from the metros.
Referring to how SALGA gives effect to the Children’s Act in terms of protecting children, she said SALGA would be establishing community safety forums. Currently, children were protected through the community policing forums, where SAPS works with communities. Councillors were part of these forums to ensure that they were effective.
To deal with the migration to Basic Education, SALGA was currently part of the technical team, along with the DSD and DBE. This team considered the issues raised on the Children’s Amendment Bill and was working on the formulation of the Second Amendment Bill. The DBE had yet to arrange a session with SALGA to discuss the migration and how it would work with SALGA, moving forward. It was presumed that MOUs would emerge out of these engagements.
Regarding the norms and standards for safety, the safety of children was the key consideration in determining whether a building met the requirements. A municipality’s regulations would be the guide in the construction of these buildings. ECDs would be constructed as needed, and SALGA would support a differentiated approach on the assessment of the ECDs, which depended on the area where an ECD would operate. There would not be a ‘one size fits all’ approach. This was an ongoing discussion, even during the deliberations on the Second Amendment Bill.
On substance abuse, the local drug action committees had recently been introduced to local government. The campaign was presented at all of SALGA’s provincial conferences, especially where the new leadership of local government was introduced. Currently, local government leadership consisted of almost 80% new councillors. As part of the ongoing councillor induction programme, the councillors would also be inducted into the committees on community services so that all mayor’s offices could form local drug action committees. It would be ideal if ECD forums could be formed and become stakeholders of municipalities.
Municipalities could register all stakeholders under their jurisdiction at a local and even district municipal level. Registration as a stakeholder allowed an ECD to become an attendee of the IDP forums that were chaired by mayors on a quarterly basis. It was on these forums where ECDs would be able to present their issues and become part of a municipality’s planning in terms of IDP engagement processes.
On the budget, SALGA would have to investigate its fiscal and financial committee to find the statistics on the current outlook of the ECD budgets in the municipalities.
SALGA was concerned with the issues affecting ECDs and was in the process of establishing an MOU with the Nelson Mandela Foundation. As part of its Vangasali ("Leaving no Child Behind") campaign, the Foundation would help SALGA train municipalities to understand and work with ECD centres. SALGA hoped to implement this campaign over the next five years.
On the costs and tariff structures of local government, municipalities were autonomous and determined their tariffs and budgets based on their own needs. Municipalities would thus not have the same tariffs, even when it came to water and electricity. An average cost of land rezoning across the 257 municipalities in the country should be determined.
On Boekenhout, the details of exactly what was happening in that area must be determined by engaging with the relevant department and the city of Tshwane. There was a differentiation in terms of the boundary of land between the rural areas – owned by traditional leadership – and the areas owned by the municipality. Private landowners within urban areas were guided by the land use management and zoning scheme of the area, which required them to apply for rezoning, as explained. Private landowners within rural areas needed to speak only to the headman, and apply as an ECD.
SALGA’s relationship with the various headmen must be viewed in different contexts. There was a general rejection by traditional leaders of the SPLUMA because they felt as if they had not been properly consulted as traditional leaders. They also believed that municipalities wanted to interfere with the governing of their land.
SALGA acted as a sort of intermediary following the promulgation of SPLUMA. It had been beneficial for municipalities to be part of the tribunals that had been formed since they were trained to consider the effects on rural areas and the developmental needs of rural communities during their planning processes. However, when municipalities and traditional leaders disagreed, development was prevented. SALGA had been told at the opening of the conference that traditional leaders should engage with SALGA to find practical solutions to any problems with SPLUMA.
SALGA therefore did have relationships with traditional leaders, but there were conflicts at times with certain municipalities. For example, it was challenging when a municipality wanted to develop a landfill site on the outskirts of a town, but this land was owned by a traditional leader. Traditional leaders wanted proper developments on their land, especially near the buffer zones into cities. These matters were being dealt with by SALGA, and individual municipalities could engage with traditional leaders who were members of their council and stakeholders of the municipalities.
The short answer to whether the number of EHPs was sufficient, was no. In terms of the Constitution, this was a metro and district function. There were ongoing discussions between SALGA and the World Health Organisation (WHO), and currently, there was one EHP for every 10 000 citizens globally. In South Africa, there was one EHP for every 35 000 citizens. This made it almost impossible for EHPs to perform their functions effectively. There had been times when EHPs had been able to monitor the status of their recommendations only once a year.
In response to this issue, SALGA had hosted a national environmental health indaba in September 2021, in partnership with the National Department of Health – the custodian of the National Health Act. Environmental health fell under the National Health Act. National Treasury and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) were both invited to the indaba because when considering the allocation of functions, districts failed due to a lack of resources. This again raised the issue of the prioritisation by municipalities of services that generate revenue. SALGA believed that when human resources, funds, and even tools of trade were allocated, EHPs were overlooked despite their function being critical to national health. EHPs contained the spread of diseases within communities, which benefits the general health of the public. Municipalities should recognise the importance of this function.
During the indaba, SALGA proposed that National Treasury ring-fence the allocations to EHPs so that municipalities actually used them. SALGA’s findings on the status of environmental health within municipalities would be shared with the Committee at a later stage. Environmental health was in a dangerous position and every entity present at the indaba had agreed that something must be done. Resolutions had been adopted to guide SALGA during its planning over the next five years on how to resolve this issue.
On ECD by-laws generally, the Children’s Act prescribes norms and standards which inform the by-laws governing environmental health. Municipalities know that these norms and standards must be complied with. There were also building regulations and by-laws relating to them. All businesses and sectors in each municipality must comply with the prescribed norms and standards. Ms Makanda was unable to provide the exact number of by-laws established by municipalities. SALGA was concerned with the level of by-law implementation, and particularly with the state of lawlessness in the country.
SALGA had been compiling a document detailing the state of law enforcement in local government in terms of capacity, and what law enforcement agencies possess. When it came to environmental health, there must be peace officers who constantly monitor compliance in facilities. This was difficult to achieve given that, in terms of the World Health Organisation's (WHO’s) norms and standards, fewer EHPs were being required globally. SALGA had also formed part of the deliberations on the SAPS Amendment Bill, which includes municipal police as part of the structures of law enforcement. Municipal police would now be recognised in secondary cities as well as metros and would be guided by Schedules 4B and 5B of the Constitution.
IGR was currently supporting local government with land audits. As indicated, there was very minimal land which was possessed by municipalities. The possession of land by municipalities depended entirely on the state departments that owned land. As presented, municipalities should be given rights of first refusal when a state entity or organ disposed of land in SALGA’s municipal areas. Currently, most of the land in municipal spaces was either privately owned or owned by the state/ province. Municipalities should be incorporated as primary consulted bodies when the state disposes of and redistributes its land assets so that SALGA could provide plans which would meet the requirements to build ECD centres.
The general capacity of SALGA’s planning tribunals and SPLUMA’s tribunals determine how a town is planned. SALGA hoped to complete a land audit with its partners by the end of the term. Because municipalities possess very minimal land, it was difficult for them to plan around this land while trying to meet all the requirements. Sometimes, SALGA could purchase land from those who owned land intended for development. There were times when these owners wanted to work with developers directly to get the best price for their land. This posed a challenge.
On whether the financial and administrative capacity was sufficient to fulfil the mandate on ECDs, there were areas in local government where compliance with, and fulfilment of, the mandate was adequate, especially in city centres and metros. There were also areas in which compliance was almost adequate. Allocation depended on the size of the municipality, the available budget, and the demand on the ground in terms of what was required for service delivery.
Section 156 of the Constitution, read with section 154, enjoins national and provincial governments to support local government with functions it was struggling with. In this case, the DSD would have supported local government by allocating some of its budget directly to municipalities.
The issue of rezoning and owners not being informed of the sale of land where an ECD centre was located, was very unfortunate. ECD forums would assist in these instances, as members of the municipalities’ IDP forums would alert ECD forum members to what municipalities were planning. As recognised stakeholders, owners would expect rights of first refusal. Ms Makanda hoped that Ms Marais had been successful in helping the lady who had discovered the sale of her land through a newspaper. She hoped that the ECD centre was either reallocated, that the lady was negotiated with, or that those participating in the bidding process were consulted with.
On security in ECD centres and security generally, it would be very difficult for municipalities, given the distribution of ECD centres, to procure security services for each ECD centre. Sometimes municipalities barely managed to secure some of the facilities, and there was a reliance on technology. SALGA partnered with the PSiRA and the private sector to acquire technology that would be used to provide security. It was easier to secure metros and larger cities because of mechanisms like closed-circuit television (CCTV), but more difficult in rural municipalities where there was a general reliance on SAPS and community policing forums to provide security.
There was a concern that ECD centres would be caught in the crossfire during gang wars over territories. Metro police would cooperate with SAPS during these instances, and the SAPS Amendment Bill even provides metro police with the investigative powers that only SAPS had. SALGA hoped that councillors and municipalities would assist it in implementing the position paper that had been adopted and that would be rolled out during workshops.
There was a challenge across the country and in most municipalities, but there were instances where recreational facilities and parks, for example, were secure. Some of the bigger cities even had CCTV and Wi-Fi, allowing children to play in a safe environment. However, there was a general attack on children within communities and one never knew who might abduct or harm a child at any given moment because these people could even be wearing suits.
The safety of children had become a communal effort, and local government was the main source of coordination. Security clusters were also part of this communal effort. The vandalisation of parks was a challenge, and certain municipalities were unable to keep up with the scale at which parks were vandalised. Sometimes, the first thing that would be vandalised were the lights, which were very expensive to restore and maintain when there were other competing priorities.
On law enforcement officers sitting in their offices, it was possible that officers were not visible in communities simply because of capacity and number issues. There may also be a lack of tools of the trade, like the cars which were required to patrol, for example. Sometimes, municipalities did not allow fleets to patrol like this, which was unfortunate. It would be desirable for law enforcement officers to be visible in all communities, but crime prevention was the responsibility of SAPS and not SALGA.
On rezoning, there was regulation in the form of the SPLUMA, which had taken precedence over most of the previous rezoning schemes. For an IDP document to be compliant, it must have a spatial development plan that was guided by the spatial development framework of the specific municipality. The onus was on interested parties to find the framework and challenge provisions, if necessary, in the quarterly fora. This would inform the revision of the framework for the next financial year.
In Mangaung, there were issues of governance. SALGA was concerned when municipalities were unable to prevent or stop sewage leakages that polluted streets and water sources. It always worked with its partners who were responsible for supporting municipalities during difficult times. These sewage problems were SALGA’s responsibility, and they would be solved.
Ms Makanda did not agree that SALGA only acted when it comes to conferences. SALGA participated in, and was visible on the IGR platforms, including parliamentary committee meetings, ministerial briefings, and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) meetings. As indicated, SALGA provides hands-on assistance to municipalities where they have specified what assistance they require. SALGA also enlists the help of other IGR partners, like National Treasury and COGTA, to assist municipalities where required.
SALGA was still the reliable voice of local government, as guided by its mandate in terms of the Constitution, and it believed that it had done well so far. SALGA encouraged municipalities to participate in working groups, assists national and provincial assembly Members between conferences to make decisions, and develop position papers to guide municipalities.
SALGA had the integrated councillor induction programme to deal with new councillors. As soon as the new councils were inaugurated in November 2021, SALGA had implemented the integrated councillor induction programme to train councillors on what was required of them as public representatives in terms of legislation. This programme had almost concluded, and interested partners like COGTA and National Treasury had been assisting with the induction.
In provinces where induction had concluded, SALGA had initiated portfolio-focused induction training. It was decided that this iteration of the programme would have an orientation where councillors were introduced to portfolio committees and told what was expected of them in terms of community services like safety and social development. There would also be workshops for those responsible for municipal finances, where their roles and working relationships with IGR partners would be explained.
SALGA was happy to be partnering with some of the sector departments for this programme, including the National Department of Health, the South African National Aids Council (SANAC), the DSD, and many others. This had been done in the past, but the programme had become more effective since, beyond the orientation, induction manuals had also been developed that would guide councillors throughout the term. This handbook would be referred to during training. While this training was not accredited, other forms of accredited training from other service providers would be incorporated into the programme to ensure that councillors understood their roles.
It was crucial that councillors, upon understanding their roles, act as governmental leaders within their wards by coordinating governmental functions and responding to the community. This was emphasised during the induction programme.
SALGA was responsible for providing an overall picture of what local government’s mandate was in terms of a specific function. SALGA had also been coordinating the ECD sector to determine what difficulties it was facing and how to intervene. Joint sessions between municipalities and the ECD sector had been convened where the ECDs had raised their issues on how municipalities operate.
An understanding would have to be reached on the tariffs between the forum of the sector and the individual municipality. Generally, individual councils were responsible for determining and waiving tariff structures, based on what had been requested by the operations on the ground. There could thus not be a ‘one size fits all’ waiver when it came to the struggles of ECDs, and waivers would be determined on a case-by-case basis. These waivers constituted council resolutions and would need to be sufficiently motivated.
It was not SALGA’s intention to seem intransigent to the needs of the ECD sector. The presentation simply reflected the legislation and local government’s mandate. Municipalities did not intentionally target and frustrate the ECD sector. Negotiations take place on a case-by-case basis, and SALGA intervenes during its engagements with the sector.
SALGA was trying to come to an agreement with the DBE on an IGR level like it did with the DSD, but proper arrangements would have to be made and municipalities would also have to be on board. Municipalities were being engaged with while progress was made on the Second Amendment Bill, and there would be another opportunity for comments once the draft was finalised. Currently, the interests of municipalities were being considered. Local government was differentiated in terms of size and budget, which determine the interventions available to individual municipalities. Sections 154 and 156 of the Constitution provide that local government must be supported by national and provincial departments where it struggles to fulfil its mandate.
On competing priorities, SALGA was trying to ensure that the interests of vulnerable groups were prioritised over other interests when municipalities establish their plans.
Ms Mandu Mallane, Executive Director, SALGA, added that the association was working on an integrated framework to assist municipalities in responding to issues around vulnerable groups. Vulnerable groups included children, women, the disabled, and the elderly. Municipalities tended to deal with issues around vulnerable groups during events such as Youth Day, and the actual integration of these vulnerable groups into the plans, budgets and processes of municipalities was still not happening at an ideal scale.
The integrated framework would be introduced to municipalities and would explain what was required of them in terms of vulnerable groups. SALGA had gone further and engaged with various sector departments to secure their assistance. For example, the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities had been asked to assist persons with disabilities. Each department examines the content within the framework that is relevant to it and advises SALGA on how to ensure that municipalities understand their roles.
The integrated framework was based on the fact that SALGA’s previous approach to engaging with municipalities was flawed. Previously, SALGA would have frameworks discussing the issues relating to only one vulnerable group -- for example, gender. The new framework includes all vulnerable groups and ensures that their issues are automatically included and addressed within the initial planning and IDPs of municipalities. Their issues are not relegated to a separate budget and are not addressed incrementally.
Ms Mallane said it would assist SALGA if the recommendation, that the Committee send it the specific occurrences mentioned during discussion, was implemented. SALGA would be able to utilise the platforms mentioned to engage with the provincial chairperson of the governance structures, as well as with municipalities, to address the occurrences. SALGA would also be able to monitor progress and determine where additional capacity was required by SAPS, for example, and enlist the help of the relevant sector department like the DSD or Department of Health where required.
Ms Masango was going to request to see the integrated framework referred to by Ms Mallane but realised that this framework was still in development and might not yet be available for Committee consumption.
Ms Makanda confirmed that the framework was being finalised, and as soon as the input of all role players had been received, the framework would be adopted internally by SALGA’s governance structures. SALGA would then be able to share the framework with the Committee. SALGA hoped that the framework would be ready for implementation by municipalities by 1 July 2022.
The Chairperson said that SALGA’s doors had not been closed and that it remained open to assisting this Committee in the future. However, she noticed that there were things that the presenters could not say outright -- for example, on the bills and infrastructure. Members had generalised when asking their questions and raising their concerns, except for Ms Manganye’s question on Tshwane.
The meeting was adjourned.
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