South African Local Government Association: briefing

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

02 June 2004
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT AD HOC COMMITTEE
3 June 2004
SOUTH AFRICAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION: BRIEFING


Chairperson: Mr Y Carrim (ANC)

Documents handed out
SALGA Presentation Part 1
SALGA Presentation Part 2

SUMMARY
The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) presentation covered a varied range of issues. The discussions focussed mostly on SALGA's restructuring and the potential need to draft legislation to amend SALGA's constitution. SALGA's budgetary allocation and the spending of funds, were also raised as key questions. The Committee Chairperson stated that it was important to ensure that local government fulfilled its obligations and therefore that SALGA obtained the necessary funding to ensure the requisite municipal capacity.

MINUTES
The Chairperson noted that SALGA had requested that morning for more time to meet with the Committee. The Committee agreed to meet SALGA on another occasion later in the year as their request for additional time could not be facilitated before then.

Mr T Mokwena, CEO SALGA, said the presentation was an abbreviated version of the one intended to accommodate the limited time available. SALGA operated on a June-to-June financial year and this should be borne in mind whilst reviewing their presentation. The presentation covered a varied range of activities such as SALGA's strategic objective to increase its involvement in African municipal associations and especially to become more involved in NEPAD. It listed as one of its achievements the publication of a Mayoral handbook outlining the powers and functions of the portfolio. SALGA planned to publish similar handbooks for other portfolios soon. They also had hosted a recent ward councillor conference to enhance councillors' capacities.

Discussion
The Chairperson interjected during the presentation, and asked that SALGA sum up within five minutes. The need for more directed deliberations was a general problem that could not be attributed to SALGA alone. In future, the Committee would submit a list of specific questions to SALGA to respond to, as opposed to the more general instructions that were currently submitted. It was especially important to clarify the Committee's oversight relationship with SALGA due to the association's unique relationship with the local municipalities, the NCOP and other bodies. He stated that the need for more specific interaction should be viewed as the responsibility of all role players and not limited exclusively to SALGA.

Mr S Mshudulu (ANC) said SALGA's Business Plan should be the basis for the next workshop. The Business Plan appeared to indicate the way forward on many current problems. He asked if the document had been endorsed by or discussed with the Department.

Mr S Sibisi, Executive Director Strategy and Operations: SALGA, said the DPLG and SALGA recently adopted a joint operations framework.

Mr P Smith (IFP) agreed that the time allocated was insufficient to address the necessary matters raised in this presentation.

The Chairperson said that insufficient time was not the problem but rather that the structure of the presentation did not lend itself to an efficient meeting. The information provided to Parliament was too voluminous and too general for the Committee to consider in one meeting. SALGA's request for more time was only made earlier that morning.

Mr Smith said free basic service and water provision appeared to suffer divergent approaches in the various municipalities despite the central policy directive these services enjoyed.

Mr Sibisi said the disparity between municipalities indicated in part the differential cost of raw water in the various provinces. However this matter was beyond municipal control and three sessions had already been conducted to co-ordinate water tariffs.

Mr Smith asked what role SALGA could play to reduce municipal rates and the possibility of reducing them below inflation. He requested the association provide Parliament with more information to fully empower it to fulfil its functions.

Mr Sibisi stated municipalities differed in size and therefore in their resource allocation but SALGA was striving to promote unified policies.

Ms L Mashiane (ANC) said it was difficult to receive so much documentation within such a limited time period and do justice to all the information. What was SALGA doing to provide development programmes for disabled persons and the youth?

Ms Mashiane said the communication between SALGA and the Department should be enhanced to avoid duplication of training programmes and promote the efficient use of resources. She said the financial difficulties of resource challenged municipalities were further aggravated by poor Human Resources management; and referred to Rustenburg where workers were suspended with pay pending a decision on appropriate sanctions.

A SALGA delegation member said SALGA does have Human Resources development programmes to assist municipalities but that they could not answer questions on individual cases such as Rutenburg.

Chief M Nonkonyana (ANC) asked for clarification on the relationship between the Community Development Workers (CDWs) and Ward Committees as one was being compensated while the other was not.

A SALGA delegation member said SALGA had engaged with the Department on this matter but no finality had been reached yet.

Mr T Ramphele (ANC) asked if SALGA provided alternative dispute resolution programmes to resolve conflictual relationships within municipalities.

Mr Sibisi replied the SALGA interventions were geared towards member municipalities in general and they preferred not to intervene in individual cases.

The Chairperson asked for a report on SALGA's internal restructuring process given the importance attached thereto in the preceding year. SALGA's financial year cycle operated from June to June and presented a different planning timeframe to many other Departments and state institutions, which generally presented their Business Plan for the forthcoming financial year at this time.

Mr Sibisi said the restructuring mostly entailed the reorganisation of SALGA's assets, especially in Gauteng, and this would be addressed at the 9 June meeting in anticipation of the adoption of the new SALGA constitution. Ideally the association wanted municipal levies to be paid directly instead of municipalities paying the provincial SALGA affiliates. The desired national internal organisational structure would be finalised in the forthcoming September Conference.

The Chairperson asked for additional information on SALGA's relationship with the African Union. There were many important matters to discuss but suggested that a more in depth and deliberate discussion be held in September 2004.

The Chairperson asked why the Association's budget was reduced from R20.2 million to R17. 3 million. He also requested a more detailed explanation on the spending of the budgetary allocation.

Mr Mokoena replied that R5 million was allocated to support SALGA's restructuring, which was to be completed over a 2-year period. The budget reduction merely indicated the completion of the phased-in funding over the allocated two years. He added that the R 17 million did not come with specific spending conditions, but a detailed budgetary allocation report could be presented to the Committee.

The Chairperson asked whether SALGA could amend its structure and constitution unilaterally or would legislation be required to effect the change?

Mr Mokoena said it was premature to discuss exact changes to the Constitution but that the ability to enforce compliance or simply expel uncooperative municipalities from SALGA would be a central matter for discussion. SALGA wanted direct municipal membership and not provincial affiliates, as was currently the case.

The Chair said the Committee did not want to excessively legislate SALGA as they preferred to limit interference in SALGA's operations. These matters should be discussed after SALGA held its conference later in October.

Mr G Clenyen, CFO: Department Provincial and Local Government, said at SALGA's inception its budget was 100 % state funded, but was later pegged at R16 million annually as other sources of funding became available.

The Chair said it was important to ensure that local government fulfilled its obligations and therefore that SALGA obtained the necessary funding to ensure the requisite municipal capacity.

Mr Sibisi said funding came partly from the various municipalities' levies and national government assistance might ameliorate this burden.

The meeting was adjourned.

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