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LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION SELECT COMMITTEE
15 June 2004
DEPARTMENT OF PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT BUDGET: BRIEFING
Documents handed out:
Address on the Strategic Plan
Programme 1: Administration
Programme 2:Governance, Policy and Research Branch
Programme 3: Integrated Sustainable Rural development and Urban Renewal
Department Strategic Plan 2004-2007 (email email@example.com)
The Department briefed the Committee on is budget for 2004/05 and the specific projects the Department had established in line with its top priority of poverty alleviation. The main concern amongst members was whether the Department would put what was on paper into practice.
The Chair said that an engagement with the Department's programmes and projects would be a priority in August. He noted that the meeting was well attended and that indicated the Committee's interest in local government. He suggested that perhaps a discussion could ensue on government policy and the African Renaissance in the next meeting with the Department.
The Department delegation included Ms L Msengana-Ndlela, Director General, Mr C Clerihew, Chief Financial Officer, Mr G Mokate, Mr E Africa, Ms M Molapo, Ms J Manche and Mr P Flusk.
Ms Msengana-Ndlela presented a budget overview for 2004/05 financial year showing the amount allocated to local government and the equitable share that would be transferred to municipalities. She gave an outline of the major achievements of the Department during the past decade. She spoke about the development of key national priority programmes such as the provision of Free Basic Services, Municipal Infrastructure Investment, the Urban Renewal Programme and the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Programme.
Mr Clerihew presented an overview of the past financial year and highlighted the main features of the 20040/5 budget. For example, the Local Government grants would increase from R8.9 billion to R12.3 billion. Provincial grants would however decrease from R298 million to R261 million.
Mr Mokate presented on Programme 1:Adminstration in which he described the key outputs and achievements of the programme in the past financial year. The implementation of better planning and facilitation processes had been achieved and labour relations cases were proceeding as planned. Cases were now managed as soon as they arose.
Mr Africa spoke about Programme 2: Governance, Policy and Research (GPR). Its role was to support the Department in important policy and research and inform capacity development and delivery programmes of the Department. One of GPR's priorities for 2004/5 was the full implementation of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Bill (Act 41 2003). An achievement for GPR in the past year was that the Urban Strategy 2004 Draft had been completed and consultation had commenced. The Urban Strategy 2004 would better support urban renewal across all three spheres of government.
Ms Molapo presented Programme 3: Integrated Sustainable Rural Development and Urban Renewal. Its key objectives were to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment, to develop innovative ways to include integrated planning and budgeting across the three spheres of government and to showcase sustainable development at local level. For example, local economic development and small enterprise development.
Due to time constraints, the presentations on Programme 4: Systems and Capacity Building and Programme 5: Free Basic Services and Infrastructure, will take place on 23 June 2004.
Mr Z Ntuli (ANC) congratulated the Department on its eloquent presentation. He asked why there was no indication of a budget allocation for 2010 Soccer World Cup infrastructure.
The DG said that they would answer as a team.
Ms Msengana-Ndlela said that municipalities were involved in the Soccer Bid and it followed that they would be involved in the planning of infrastructure. Infrastructure for the Soccer World Cup would create employment, foreign investment and national pride. The Department would assist municipalities.
Mr Ntuli asked what the role of traditional leaders was in local government.
Ms Msengana-Ndlela explained that the Framework Bill dealt with the National House of Traditional Leaders' functions and not powers.
Mr Africa said that one of the Department's priorities was the full implementation of the Traditional Leadership Framework Act in 2004/2005. The legislation confirmed the National House of Traditional Leaders' (NHTL) role in local government. The establishment of local-level Houses had taken place and the Department interacted with them.
Mr Clerihew added that arrangements were being made with regard to a chamber for NHTL in Cape Town. A letter had been sent to the current speaker of Parliament asking if the Old Assembly Chamber could be used for sittings.
Mr Ntuli asked if infrastructure of schools was the responsibility of provincial or local government.
Mr Msengana-Ndlela replied that the Departments of Education and Public Works were responsible. She said that engagements should ensue to facilitate human capital investment but that the Department of Public Service and Administration could only engage informally at present.
The Chair congratulated the Department for its presentation. Referring to the bag with the Department logo inscribed on it which had been handed out to the Committee, he said that it was visible that the Department was marketing itself.
Mr J Le Roux (DA) thanked the Committee for a comprehensive briefing. He asked why there had been such a dramatic increase in employment at the senior management services level.
Mr Mokate said that staff numbers and competencies were reviewed annually and that the increase in employment at management level related to strategies employed by the Department.
Ms P Hollander (ANC) asked why few women had been employed at management level.
Ms Msengana-Ndlela replied that she too was not happy with the figure. Mokate would have to respond to her question.
Mr Mokate said that at their next meeting on 23 June 2004 he would bring a report on why fewer women were employed at management level. He was concerned about the issue but at least the amount exceeded the target set by the Department. Each programme had its own internal targets.
Mr A Moseki (ANC) said that free basic services were a problem in rural municipalities. How was the Department helping in that regard?
Mr Flusk said that most municipalities were providing free electricity. Research by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry had indicated that over 30 million households had already received free water and in some cases sanitation. The 14 million not receiving benefits was due to lack of funding and infrastructure.
Mr Moseki said that the Department should ensure that projects take effect and not only be presented on paper.
Ms Msengana-Ndlela agreed that all projects should have practical expression. More efficient service delivery should be provided.
Mr B Mkhaliphi (ANC) asked what the Department's experience was with regard to the Property Rates Act.
Ms Msengana-Ndlela replied that recommendations had been made to start implementing the Act and that it would be phased in during the next four years.
The Chair asked what responsibility mayors had in local government.
Ms Msengana- Ndlela replied that in other countries mayors were senior leaders in communities. Mayors should play a more responsible role in ensuring that the needs of the community are met through the different policy interventions.
The Chair asked if there was a programme in the Department that monitored whether the vision of Batho Pele was invested in local government.
The Chairperson said that systematic programmes should be developed to cater for the challenges of disadvantaged municipalities. The Department should assist municipalities with policy developments.
Ms Msengana-Ndlela replied that funds were not always available and that National Treasury should allocate more money to municipalities to improve projects centred around free basic services such as electricity in rural areas. She agreed that it was the Department's responsibility to assist municipalities.
The Chair thanked the Department for its presentation and hoped that its relationship with the Committee would strengthen.
The DG thanked the Committee in return for their inputs and invited the Committee to a dinner on the evening of the 21 June 2004. The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) would be formerly introduced to the Department's Deputy Minister who was unable to attend the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.