A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORFOLIO COMMITTEE; LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION SELECT COMMITTEE
10 May 2000
LOCAL GOVERNMENT: MUNICIPAL SYSTEMS BILL: PUBLIC HEARINGS
Commission on Gender Equality (CGE)
Gender Advocacy Programme (GAP)
Urban Sector Network
National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL)
The Botanical Society of South Africa
The Mvula Trust
Community Law Centre
Municipal Demarcation Board
The above organisations made their submissions. Most organisations expressed satisfaction with the general framework and the principles of the Act and the submissions therefore focused on specific provisions. The CGE presented its submission first, followed by the GAP, the Urban Sector Network, the Isandla Institute and NADEL. A discussion followed at this point. The remainder of the organisations then presented their submissions and these were followed by further discussion.
The Chair, Mr Y Carrim (ANC) stated that as a result of the general strike and the associated transport difficulties, there were a number of people who would not be present. He noted that those who were not able to make their submissions would be accommodated in the week of 23 May. He informed the members that Ms C Lobe (ANC) would be taking over the Chair.
Commission on Gender Equality (CGE)
Ms Z Barmania made some introductory remarks concerning the nature of the Commission. She remarked that the Bill would be dealt with in the light of the Commission’s functions.
Ms F Seedat outlined the international and national obligations towards gender equality for which the Bill must account. Regarding international obligations, the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action and the SADC Gender Declaration call for the re-evaluation of policies using gender analysis and the promotion of gender balance and equity. The international obligations are applicable to the areas of public participation, integrated development planning, performance-management and service delivery.
Similarly there are a number of national policy documents and pieces of legislation that promote the same principles in these areas.
Ms Seedat addressed the specific areas of concern in the Bill. The use of the notion of ‘the community’ in the Bill is too homogenous to reflect the gender and other diversity that makes up communities. There also appears to be a contradiction within the Bill regarding the relationship between the concepts of ‘residents’ and ‘consumers’.
Ms Seedat praised the Bill’s commitment to ensuring public participation. She submitted, however, that the Bill should specifically identify and target women in the participation process and should ensure gender representivity in participation fora.
She said that the participation and consultation provisions in the IDP process are not strong or detailed enough. She remarked that the IDP framework is a positive step forward but noted that there are a number of problems regarding gender sensitivity. She submitted that the purpose of IDP should be centred on the need for social and economic equality for all members of the community and noted that the element of poverty alleviation is absent from the Bill.
Regarding the human resource provisions, Ms Seedat noted that the Bill fails to refer to employment equity mandates placed upon local government by the Employment Equity Act. She commented that the Bill fails to recognise the gendered dynamics of personnel administration, including cultural diversity, discrimination and harassment. The Bill also fails to highlight that training and education programmes are needed to facilitate a harassment-free, representative and genuinely publicly responsive workforce.
Regarding service delivery, there is the need to ensure that the separation of service provision and policy authority does not undermine local government’s own obligations to ensure equality in its communities. Furthermore, it was noted that it must be ensured that the welcoming approach given to private sector involvement in service delivery is matched with ensuring gender sensitivity in both service providing and receiving. Ms Seedat stated that equal access to services must be ensured.
Regarding the CGE’s list of recommendations, Ms Seedat submitted that the definition of ‘municipality’ should be revised. There were a number of proposals regarding ‘defining, understanding and reaching "the community"’, including a revision of the notion of ‘the community’, which is vaguely defined. She stated that the Bill needs to do a better job of disaggregating communities – the Bill treats communities equally without regard to the realities of, particularly, poor women. She submitted that the Bill should target specifically women more.
Regarding performance management, Ms Seedat stated that the Bill’s provisions regarding performance management is "a great step forward" but remarked that there is a lack of understanding of gender difference. She proposed that all key performance indicators be disaggregated on the basis of gender and other relevant factors to measure the differential impact on various groups and residents in the community.
Ms Seedat concluded by referring the members’ to the succinct table of recommendations accompanying the CGE’s submission. She emphasised that s5(2)(d), which imposes a duty on residents to treat councillors and officials with dignity and respect, is highly problematic.
The Chair thanked the CGE. She informed the members that questions would be heard only at the end of the morning’s submissions.
Gender Advocacy Programme (GAP)
Ms M van Donk expressed her support for the CGE’s submission and said that her intention was not to repeat the points of the CGE.
While acknowledging that the Bill constitutes a crucial step in the local government transformation process and could potentially contribute to the eradication of poverty and social inequality within communities, she noted that there are problems, which she highlighted. A gender-inclusive framework is absent – the Bill makes no reference to gender equity and it does not reflect an understanding of gender imbalances in the community. Citizenship is not defined or mentioned. Ms van Donk submitted that citizenship should be the required starting point – the notion assumes certain entitlements and responsibilities in line with the Constitution. She stated that the clauses providing for the promotion of a service and people-oriented local public administration should be re-inserted. The balancing of a mandatory and enabling approach and the role of the Portfolio Committee in this regard was examined.
Ms van Donk proposed that a gender inclusive framework would enhance the Bill and stated that the GAP’s submission was based on the premise that local government has a duty to promote gender equity. The remainder of the submission was presented in the framework of four themes or elements that are "critical for the attainment of gender equity in a municipality":
1. Expressed political commitment to the principle of gender equity and the progressive eradication of gender imbalances, including prevention of exclusion on the basis of gender.
2. Equal and effective representation of women from all backgrounds on formal structures.
3. Equal and effective participation of women from all backgrounds in local decision-making processes.
4. Analytical and technical skills and capacity to develop appropriate and inclusive strategies.
A number of proposals were made regarding each theme. Ms van Donk concluded by raising a number of miscellaneous points regarding gender equity in the areas of performance management, municipal services, and codes of conduct and staff policies.
Urban Sector Network
Mr H Mohlabane addressed the issue of public participation. He highlighted a problem with the notion of ‘community participation’. He noted that there are groupings within a community and the Bill should deal with these groups in particular. He submitted that there should be more detail and structure concerning public participation.
Mr Mohlabane emphasised that the Bill is to be commended for its encouragement of access to information. He remarked, however, that much of this information is written. This limitation of access to those who are illiterate is problematic and limits public participation. He submitted that the Bill should legally compel councils to ensure local participation. He stated that the Bill fails in respect of the limitation placed on the access to council meetings (s11(2)). He stated that there are constitutional problems here and suggested that this section be reviewed. He remarked that decisions affecting the rights of members of the public should not be made in private.
Mr Mohlabane welcomed the additional mandates given to municipalities. He warned, however, against unfunded mandates and observed that the Bill does not provide for a systematic way of devolving revenue to municipalities.
Mr Mohlabane addressed the issue of IDP. He stated that it must be made clear that this is the central planning mechanism and that IDP must be connected clearly to the annual budgeting process of the council.
Regarding Municipal Service Partnerships, he submitted that the framework should be developed. He stated that the Chapter lacks integration into the rest of the Bill, specifically the IDP process and developmental priorities. He noted that the detail provided regarding IDPs is absent from Municipal Service Partnerships.
He concluded by saying that the Bill needs to be evaluated in relation to the extent to which it meets the objectives of the White Paper. He stated that, in broad terms, the Bill goes very far in establishing a framework.
Mr H Pieterse remarked that the Institute shares a number of the concerns of the Urban Sector Network. He said that the Institute is concerned with two central questions: whether the Bill will promote developmental local government and whether the Bill will really benefit the poor.
Mr Pieterse stated that the Institute supports the approach and intent of the Bill. He expressed concern, however, about the absence of a sufficiently "politicised" understanding about redressing historical imbalances and realising a "pro-poor" agenda. He asked whether the focus on fixing institutions would result in de-politicising local government.
He stated that it was fundamental that an explicit pro-poor conception of development should be endorsed – the focus must be upon alleviating poverty and care should be taken not to ignore systemic disadvantage. He submitted that the definition of ‘community’ should be addressed, as should the absence of the notion of citizenship. He stated that the Bill reinforces a de-politicised notion of community. The Bill should recognise that communities are involved in political activity.
Regarding IDP-related issues, Mr Pieterse stated that the only real concern here is the distinction between planning and strategy. He noted that the biggest difficulty in government is making choices –"biting the bullet". He stated that the Bill provides "shopping lists" of factors to be weighed up when a decision is to be made as opposed to providing a political impetus for a decisive approach. He suggested that the Bill should provide for a developmental strategy as opposed to a development programme.
Regarding public participation, Mr Pieterse said that the Institute endorses the approach of the Bill to promote complementarity and linkage between representative and participatory democracy. He remarked, however, that this could only succeed on the basis of a full appreciation of participatory democracy in the context of local government.
He expressed concern at the lack of explicit reference to the building of the capacity of the poor through a comprehensive participatory approach. The Chapter should be reviewed through the lens of participatory democratic governance in a local government context.
Mr Pieterse expressed a number of concerns regarding performance management, particularly the emphasis on fixing systems rather than realising the potential to deepen democratic participatory democracy.
He noted that there are a number of specific recommendations regarding the municipal services provisions. He concluded by expressing a profound concern regarding the co-operative governmental notions that underlie the Bill.
National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL)
Mr M Kobese addressed the issue of public participation. He stated that the drafters of the Bill had not looked at the relationships between communities and municipalities. He commented that the Bill is limited to the notions of consultation. He submitted that s2(10) should be deleted as it undermines transparency. He stated that the Bill needs to clarify what is meant by public participation.
Regarding s11, he stated that all the possibilities that give councils the right to exclude members of the public should be deleted. He said that the possibility of exclusion is "absurd" and unconstitutional.
Regarding IDPs, Mr Kobese stated that the only time that communities are involved is at the time of elections. He stated that most councils have their own conceptions of IDPs. He remarked that some councils treat the programmes as a piece of paper to be used to acquire funding and that after funding is acquired the programmes are discarded. He submitted that a clearer definition of IDPs is required and that the structures need to be clearly defined.
He proposed that s24 should be revised – there must be consultation with the community in developing the processes. Regarding s28, he submitted that the process of involving the community in drawing up IDPs needs to be set out.
Mr Kobese concluded by noting that there is no mention of the community in provisions dealing with the code of conduct (Chapter 6). He proposed that communities should be given the power to place checks on government.
Mr J Selfe (DP, NA) noted that many of the submissions had highlighted the inadequacy of community participation. He posed a general question concerning what the bodies see as the optimum levels of participation. He asked whether the levels of participation advocated would result in the crippling of some councils.
A concern was raised by the ANC regarding the power of communities to place checks on councillors, particularly the proposed power to suspend them. It was asked how this power could be exercised and it was proposed that voting councillors out is an adequate power of censure.
Mr M Bhabha (ANC, NCOP) supported the view that a culture of participatory democracy needs to be cultivated in communities. He commented, however, that legislation could only go so far. He asked the Isandla Institute what specific steps are proposed to facilitate participatory democracy.
Ms M Verwoerd (ANC, NA) addressed the issue of public attendance at council meetings. She stated that she was of the view that meetings should be open, but that the Committee had been informed that there are instances where meetings must be closed, for example where the right to privacy must be protected. She asked NADEL whether it believed that there are any instances where meetings may be closed.
Sister B Ncube (ANC, NA) commented, regarding the CGE’s submission, that while there is a need for women to participate, women often do not contribute in meetings. She submitted that the Bill should look at the broad concepts. The details could be set out in the regulations. She stated that there is a lot of "tough talk" about women’s development but attention should be focused on development on the ground.
Mr T Ncalo (ASCORA) commented that most of NADEL’s points are fine. He expressed concern, however, over the possibility that there would be general lawlessness if the community were to be given the power to fire councillors. He stated that this issue should be revisited. He asked the CGE to come up with a definite mechanism for changing consumption-based rates while at the same time not disadvantaging the poor. He submitted that there should be a clear definition of what constitutes a poor household. He remarked that the CGE insists on a definition of ‘poor households’ but the current national government notion is problematic.
Mr M Lekgoro (ANC, NA) supported the concern regarding all councils meetings being open.
Mr P Smith (IFP, NA) commented that the distinction between participation and decision-making is perhaps not that clear. He asked whether what was proposed is a direct link between the participation and the decision made – that the decision should correspond with the input from the participation. He proposed that this should not be the case –decision-makers should not be bound by the views that are proposed during hearings. Regarding the submissions of the CGE and the Isandla Institute, he stated that the reference to the notion of ‘citizenship’ is confusing. He asked what is meant by the absence of the notion of citizenship from the Bill.
Mr Carrim remarked, regarding the link between participation and decision-making, that civil society often feels that Parliament ignores what they say. He stated, however, that it is sometimes not possible to effect what they suggest because of constitutional and legal difficulties with the submissions.
Regarding the submissions of the GAP and the CGE, he said that he agreed that the Bill has gaps in respect of gender equality. He suggested that the Committee should consider these issues despite the fact that gender equality is dealt with by the Constitution.
Mr Carrim stated that, unlike Mr Smith, he was in agreement about the importance of the issue of citizenship. He noted that there is a distinction between the municipality-consumer and the municipality-citizen relationship. He asked that the NGOs answer these questions in a succinct manner.
Ms Barmania (CGE) thanked Mr Cassim for his recognition of the deficiencies in the Bill regarding gender equality. Ms Seedat addressed the tension between public participation and effective management. She remarked that the system espoused for public participation should not simply pay lip service. Communities must be given the assurance that their views are heard and that if they are, for example, unconstitutional, committees should return to the communities and provide them with the reasons for not incorporating their views. She noted that the Insandla Institute has provided a table illustrating specific forms of participation.
Regarding tariffs and charges, Ms Seedat submitted that mechanisms are required to measure consumption and to charge tariffs. She stated that per capita income should be taken into account.
Regarding Sister Ncube’s comments regarding the participation of women. She recognised the concern regarding the reluctance of some women to participate. She stated that the "tough talking" should be put into effect in the Bill. These issues should not be left to the regulations, as the public does not participate as much in the drawing up of regulations.
Ms van Donk (GAP) remarked that there are matters that fall outside the scope of the Bill. She proposed a dual approach. The first leg involves ensuring that women are equipped (which falls outside the scope of the Bill) and the second leg involves ensuring that institutions are susceptible and give effect to gender equity (which is a concern of the Bill). She stated that the written submission covers public participation.
Regarding the issue of citizenship, Ms van Donk drew a distinction between residence and citizenship. Citizenship is more political and involves certain entitlements and responsibilities between the state and citizens. By including the notion of citizenship in the Bill, it would be made clear that the rights of citizenship are not enjoyed by everybody. She noted that there is a distinction between political and socio-economic citizenship.
Regarding closed council meetings, Ms van Donk commented that, although each instance where meetings may be closed cannot be regulated, the Bill should set down principles to be applied for determining when a meeting can be closed.
The Isandla Institute addressed the issue of citizenship. Mr Mohlabane said that the question posed by Mr Smith presupposes the notion of citizenship as understood in its traditional sense. The notion being used in the submissions is one that involves a political relationship between the state and the individual – the individual has particular rights whether s/he is a citizen in the traditional sense or a refugee. The notion of citizenship used here is not a formal concept.
Regarding participation, Mr Mohlabane commented that there are various spheres of activity where participation is required. The different activities involve different concepts of participation – there are different mechanisms.
Mr Kobese (NADEL) responded to the comments regarding the proposed power of communities to remove councillors. He stated that this proposal is based on the nation that councillors do not account to communities. The Bill should simply create a mechanism to make councillors accountable to communities.
Regarding the issue of closed meetings, Mr Kobese noted that communities would only want to be involved in real substantial issues. In matters of technical administration, the communities will not want to be involved. Meetings should be open when the community wants to attend. He stated that councils should not be able to exclude communities when they are discussing political issues. The Bill should provide that councils must interact with the communities directly.
Mr A Lyle (ANC, NA) took over the Chair.
Botanical Society of South Africa
Mr M Botha noted that significant changes in landuse and rural community dynamics could result from the Bill and subsequent financial legislation. He stated that the Society was concerned with unintended consequences of the Bill.
He stated that the Society’s interest is in the opportunities the Bill creates for Local Government conservation actions, rural conservation, job creation and the encouragement of sound landuse practices. Due to declining provincial subsidies, municipalities are looking to use their nature reserves for more profitable ventures. He noted that if incentives can be found, landowners could be encouraged to conserve threatened habitats and biodiversity. He stated that the Bill and the proposed rural rates could provide an important mechanism to help avoid an environmental disaster.
Mr Botha cited some examples from Australia, the USA and Canada. He set out a worst-case scenario for South Africa and proposed a number of measures to convert threats into opportunities. These include encouraging municipalities to prepare sectoral natural resource conservation plans for their IDPs, assisting communities and landowners identified through these plans in maintaining the land’s conservation worthy status, and training rural communities in land and resource auditing, land rehabilitation plans and soil and water conservation.
Mr Botha set out a number of principles that should be aimed for and consequences that should be avoided.
The Mvula Trust
Mr P Davids stated that the Trust’s area of competence lies in the area of rural and peri-urban water services provision and that the Trust’s interest in the Bill is therefore focused on how its provisions will impact on municipalities responsible for services delivery in these areas. He stated that, while the Trust has appreciation for the generic nature of the Bill to provide systems for all categories and types of municipalities, the Trust is concerned with rural service delivery.
He proposed that the sections of the Bill dealing with IDPs, by-laws and municipal services should at least include the legal imperative for a municipality to give special consideration to its rural constituents when deciding on matters affecting them.
Mr Davids propsed that municipalities consider demand responsiveness as an optional approach during its IDP processes when deciding on service delivery options.
Mr Davids addressed matters of developmental local government, funding of municipal mandates, mechanisms for the provision of services and the regulations.
Community Law Centre
Mr J de Visser stated that the submission would focus on decentralisation, dispersal of powers and co-operative governance.
He noted, regarding s 3(1) and the duty to seek integration, that the nature and content of co-operative government depend on the type of relation to which it is applied. He observed that there is confusion over the nature of the relationship between spheres of government and the subsequent incorrect application of co-operative government has the potential to create or aggravate disputes. He proposed that a distinction should be made between relations of inequality and those of equality between the spheres.
He stated that the degree of (in)equality in the relationship between local government on the one hand, and provincial and national government on the other, depends on, inter alia, on the subject matter.
He stated that just as local government must co-operate with national and provincial governments, national and local governments must co-operate with local governments. The Constitution imposes a duty on all spheres of government to co-operate in mutual trust and good faith with one another.
Mr de Visser raised a number of issues under s 3(2) of the Bill. He concluded with a number of proposals concerning changes to the wording of s 3(1) and proposed the deletion of s 3(2).
Municipal Demarcation Board
Mr Sutcliffe praised the Bill as an excellent piece of work. He remarked, however, that the Bill is dependent on municipal administration and financial capacity and yet these are areas of weakness.
He stated that there is a lack of understanding around the country regarding what the Bill does. He remarked that it is generally members of the elite that are involved with the board and municipalities. He stated that an issue that requires consideration, therefore, is how to get the community involved.
Regarding IDPs, Mr Sutcliffe noted that in most cases outside planning agencies have come in to draw up IDPs. He asked what the consequences are if IDP provisions are not adequately complied with. He asked what the difference is between IDPs for category C and category B municipalities. He observed that the Chapter provides proscriptive requirements. This may result in litigation by members of the public to enforce obligations. He stated that this is not appropriate.
Mr Sutcliffe made some minor comments and stated that, although the Bill is an outstanding piece of work, there are a number of revisions that must be made in order to avoid a "paper flood".
Update on demarcations
Mr Sutcliffe stated that by 24 May, the board expects to have received all the objections to the ward boundaries. Regarding cross-border municipalities, he noted that all provincial legislatures (except for KwaZulu Natal) have passed resolutions. He stated that it was generally accepted that it is too complicated for provincial governments to get involved in agreements with executive councils concerning programmes in cross-border municipalities.
Regarding Direct Management Areas, Mr Sutcliffe noted the question of whether DMAs could be formed in traditional authority areas. This will be very difficult to implement. He stated that DMAs should be limited to very specific areas.
Regarding the assessment of capacity, Mr Sutcliffe remarked that the board has established a national standing committee. This is a useful vehicle for dealing with the minutia of the work of MECs in establishing municipalities. Co-ordinating committees have been looking at powers and functions.
He briefly addressed the s 12 process, including municipal finance matters. Regarding the ward process, Mr Sutcliffe stated that any complaints regarding figures should not be addressed to the Board. He stated that there was much alignment work going on between the board and the IEC.
Regarding the ward delimitation process, he commented that the Board decided to bring people on board to contribute to the definition of ward boundaries. He stated that there were difficulties with the ward hearings: 80% of them went well but in some cases they did not happen and in other they did not happen well. He stated that there was not as much public participation as had been hoped. The Board has proposed that approximately 40 hearings should be reheld.
He said that the process is still on track and that the final decisions regarding ward boundaries would be made after 31 May. Some boundaries would still be changed after this date.
Mr Cassim made a general observation that he was struck by the lack of interest in environmental issues. He observed that no one but the Botanical Society had really raised these issues. He supported NGOs such as the Society providing information in concerning important issues.
Mr Smith posed a number of questions to the Community Law Centre. He asked whether the Centre’s proposed changes in fact address the concerns raised by the Centre regarding the issue of subordination, which is dependent upon subject matter. He asked what the distinction was between the original formulation and the proposed revision. He asked which sphere of government should lead in initiating activities.
Regarding the proposed paragraph (c) of s 3(1), he questioned whether, if co-operative government involves any organ of state, it is constitutional to require any municipality to comply with an agreement reached with SALGA. He noted that the proposed paragraph (b) is problematic.
Mr Bhabha observed that the constitutional scheme allows local government to be involved in co-operative government. Regarding whether a municipality should be bound by agreements with SALGA, he said that bodies should be bound by agreements reached by a majority of their representatives. He asked for clarity regarding the issue of local government exercising greater autonomy vis a vis national government as opposed to autonomy vis a vis provincial government. He remarked that it seemed to him that in the ordinary course of events, provincial governments would be more scared of large municipalities.
Rev A Goosen (ANC, NA) commented, regarding environmental sustainability, that no development would happen in any event if it would harm the environment or threaten biodiversity.
Mr de Visser (Community Legal Centre) responded to Mr Smith’s question regarding whether the proposed amendments to s 3(1) are any different from the existing formulation by saying that the words "co-operation" and "co-ordinate" are preferable because the are compatible with the constitutional terminology. Regarding who should lead, Mr de Visser said that this depends on the subject matter. If it is a Schedule 4 matter, National or provincial government can direct that local government to exercise its discretion. Regarding Schedule 5, Part B matters, the powers of provincial and local government are similar, but if national government wishes to interfere it must comply with s 44 of the Constitution. In other words, there is a constraint on national government. He stated that the sphere that takes the lead in these matters is the sphere that tackles the matter first.
Regarding Mr Bhabha’s questions concerning autonomy, there is a difference between the Schedules that address the limited autonomy of local government in respect of national government.
Mr Carrim referred to the relationship between Integrated Development Plans at district council and local council level. If one looked at the Municipal Structures Act, it said that the IDP at the district council level would cater for the district council area as a whole, taking into account the IDPs of the local municipalities. He wanted clarity on what Mr Sutcliffe was saying in this regard. This also related to the way powers and functions would be allocated to district and local councils. In relation to the Municipal Structures Act, some members stongly argued that strictly speaking the IDP of a district council had to come first because it catered for the area as a whole. The unevenness of the categories of municipalities even after demarcation had occurred was pointed out. Some municipalities were much more advanced and already have IDPs. Representations had been made which questioned what would happen to those IDPs which were already in operation.
Mr Sutcliffe said that Section 84(1) of the Municipal Structures Act, spoke of "integrated development planning for the district municipality as a whole, including a framework for integrated development plans for the local municipalities within the area of the district municipality taking into account the integrated development plans of those local municipalities." There were a few problems. The first was a kind of "chicken and egg" problem because the functions assigned to district level in terms of the Municipal Structures Act were those of broad infrastructural development and investment that would impact on the growth of a district as a whole - bulk water, bulk electricity, economic development, tourism etc. He felt that the correct interpretation was that the district IDP had to be the directing mechanism. Nevertheless there were problems. For example, Richards Bay and Empangeni was a very strong Category B municipality in an area which would initially have four or five other fairly weak category B municipalities. Two things could emerge there. Either Richards Bay could simply dictate what way development could go, or because it was a numbers game, the other local councils in the District Council could say that they were in the majority in the District Council and therefore they could decide where the investment and infrastructure emphasis had to go.
It was also a problem because the Category Bs and Cs, relative to each other (as well as the Category Bs relative to each other), were all going to be at very different levels of development and capacity. The Municipal Systems Bill and the Municipal Structures Act did have accord in that they used the same language. What he was worried about was that one could end up with a lot of conflict emerging or municipalities just doing their own thing - and this could come through the way the Minister and the MECs directed through regulation how plans were determined. If one looked at international experience, this was one of the biggest problems one ended up with. Municipalities at local level started saying "No. We do the physical planning here" and thus one ended up at district level having a broad directing plan but never in fact achieving it.
He also felt that in South Africa, the way the IDPs had started to operate was wrong. They had to be directed by municipalities and municipal officials so that if there was technical support that was brought in, this was to assist those officials. What had been done in the majority of these IDPs was that money which should have gone to municipalities, had been handed to consultants. He felt that this was the wrong way round. This would compound the problems he was talking about.
The Chairperson said that his impression was that with those municipalities that had the ability, the capacity and the financial resources to go ahead with their planning, the district councils would not bother about them and they would simply carry on as independent municipalities.
Mr Sutcliffe said that this was exactly the problem. This should not happen if one was serious about what the Municipal Structures Act said – it started saying for the first time ever that all government planning had to begin to be coordinated at least at that level. Thus one should no longer look at where the resources were but rather where the functions needed to be located and how they would be implemented.
Mr E Magushule (ANC) asked if the Demarcation Board had evaluated whether ordinary people were indeed participating and understanding the demarcation process. If they were not participating, what was the board doing about this? Was it looking at how to strengthen the process? He said for example that during the public hearings, people from the Demarcation Board did not pitch up in many areas and where they did come, mostly impoverished areas, they were not sure of what they were supposed to do.
Mr Sutcliffe said that over the past year, the board had held quite a number of public hearings and debates and had invited submissions. Each time they invited submissions, almost 2000 faxes were sent out. Every municipality, political parties, houses of traditional leaders, magistrates, MECs and others received an invitation. It was clear from the response that those who actually presented submissions were those with resources, those who were privileged under Apartheid, particularly whites. It tended to be people with often fairly parochial influence. This was a difficulty. Time was not the problem. There had been too little attention given to empowering elected officials, as representatives of their communities, to go out first and explain to communities what the new system was about. However a lot of time was spent on meetings and workshops where Black communities were invited. This process actually ended up disempowering elected officials, local civic groupings and political structures.
The meeting was adjourned.