Remunerations of Public Office Bearers Amendment Bill: briefing

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

06 March 2000
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
7 March 2000
PUBLIC OFFICE BEARERS AMENDMENT BILL

Documents Handed Out:
Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Amendment Bill [B11-20]
Proposed Amendments to this Bill (attached to end of minutes)
Presentation on Local Government Transformation in the Western Cape (e-mail info@pmg.org.za for a copy)

SUMMARY
The proposed briefing by the Minister as well as the presentation on the Budget by the Director General did not take place. The Minister of Provincial and Local Government was unable to brief the committee due to a meeting on the flood crisis. The Director-General failed to appear before the committee, even after being contacted on numerous occasions to ensure that he be present to discuss the Budget. It was agreed that a strongly worded letter would be sent to the Director-General expressing the frustration of the committee.

Only those amendments dealing with salaries in the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Amendment Bill were adopted by the committee. The other clauses were not considered because more time was needed to consider and review them. No additional amendments were made. The Chair queried whether they could pass the Bill without addressing the remaining clauses. The Parliamentary Law Advisor advised that the committee must seek permission from the House to introduce the excised clauses in another Bill. The committee agreed to take this action.

The committee was also briefed on the transformation of local government in the Western Cape. A discussion period followed.

MINUTES
Two of the items on the agenda were unable to be considered. The Minister, Mr Mufamedi was unable to brief the committee due to his required presence at a disaster management meeting to discuss the flood crisis. The Director-General, Mr Titus did not appear before the committee for a presentation on the Budget. The Chair stated that the Director General had been contacted on numerous occasions to ensure that he be present to discuss the Budget and that his absence was unacceptable. The Committee concurred and it was agreed that a strongly worded letter would be sent to the Director-General expressing the frustration of the committee.

Ms Verwoerd (ANC) requested that the Department be asked to provide all documentation on the Budget at least 10 days prior to appearing before the committee, so that members could be more informed on the presentation.

Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Amendment Act
Mr Carrim, the Chairperson, said that the committee will focus on the amendments that deal solely with salaries. All other amendments to the Bill were deferred until a later date.

Dr Petra Bower of the Department, summarised the intention of the amendments outlined in the Memorandum, stating that the need to amend the Bill was the result of "irreconcilable differences" between the english and Afrikaans texts."

Clause 2: Amendment of section 3 of Act 20 of 1998
The Chair stated that this clause addressed the issue of when salaries for elected representatives commenced. It had been customary that members were paid on the date that the list of representatives was published, including retroactive pay for the 14 day gap between the publishing of their names and the election date. The amendment to this clause would mean that salaries, allowances, and benefits for members of the National Assembly would now start on the first polling day of the election, and on the first sitting day of the provincial legislature for permanent delegates.

Clause 4: Amendment of section 6 of Act 20 of 1998
The Chair stated that there were two purposes to amending this clause. One, to amend Section 6 of the principal Act, and two, to deal with the payment of salaries to Premiers and members of the Executive Council. The amended clause would mean that Premiers and members of the Executive Council would be paid through their departmental budgets, and not from the National Revenue Fund.

Mr Smith (IFP) asked why "swears" was included in swears or affirms faithfulness in 7(a). Mr Bower replied that it was included under advisement from the State Law Advisor.

Long Title
The committee agreed to the long title with the following deletion:

"the payment of salaries and allowances of traditional leaders holding more than one public office simultaneously, the payment of allowances to traditional leaders."

The long title, and clauses 2 and 4 were adopted. All other clauses in Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Amendment Act were deferred.

Mr Carrim was not sure whether the two adopted clauses could be passed, without addressing all the amendments. Mr Jeffreys (ANC) said that a new Bill would have to be tabled in Parliament by the Minister, but that it would be stated the re-tabling was not because the committee rejected the Bill, but that more time was needed to consider and review the remaining amendments.

The committee agreed the report would state that not all amendments were voted on due to time constraints.

The Chair asked Mr Bower if the committee could re-table the Bill in order to circumvent the need for the Minister to publish notification of its being tabled. Mr Bower responded that he would need to get advice from the State Law Advisor. Mr Carrim mandated Mr Bower to seek information on how best to process the legislation.

It was later concluded after advisement from the Parliamentary Law Advisor that the committee must seek permission from the House to introduce the excised clauses in another Bill. The committee agreed to take this action.

Transformation of local government in the Western Cape
Mr Uys briefed the committee (e-mail info@pmg.org.za)

Discussion
(Q) Mr Bhabha (ANC) asked if the capacity audit of the District Councils will influence the type of municipalities that they wished to install? Why are the councillors full-time, and what will there responsibilities be?

(A) Mr Uys replied that the Municipal Structures Act identified two aspects as being important. The first was administrative (or institutional) capacity, and the other was financial capacity. A preliminary report from the Demarcation Board had indicated that no problems of capacity were found for municipalities in the metropolitan areas.

Regarding full-time councillors, Mr Uys stated they still needed to look at each of the 30 municipalities to determine both the number of councillors and the number of full-time councillors that would be needed. Having full-time councillors would be essential for establishing a strong working relationship between the councillors and the administrative officials.

(Q) Are the allowances for District Transformation Forums (DTF) in rural areas in place of raising salaries? How long will the interim CEO remain as CEO?

(A) Mr Uys responded that they were presently focused only on reimbursements for such expenses as travel, as anything more would not be financially viable. He added that the local government would be the financing authority.

Mr Uys stated that the interim CEO is there only until the new process for the uni-city is under way.

(Q) The Chair asked for clarity on the relationship between the executive mayor and the executive committee?

(A) Mr Uys replied that the reason the executive mayor had been excluded from being a member of the executive committee was in response to the need to build across political boundaries under the new system of local government. The mayor will remain the leader of the executive committee, with the difference now being that decisions would come from the executive body, instead of from the mayor. Another reason for excluding the executive mayor was that they were appointed through party structure, and not through an election, which did not ensure that they were "strong fighters for the community."

(Q) Mr Smith (IFP) asked if the process of asset-registering could occur after the elections?

(A) Mr Uys stated that asset-registering cannot wait until after the elections, as all assets from the Departments had to be audited and listed before they were transferred. It was necessary to ensure that officials took full responsibility for the assets, and that only those assets required for their jobs were removed.

(Q) A member asked what was the present cost of the transformation?

(A) Mr Uys replied that he had no clear indication of what the final cost would be, but if staff needed to be retrained, then the cost to local governments would soar. For this reason he was calling for a moratorium on hiring until the new structures were in place.

(Q) Ms Southgate (ACDP) asked what the time frames were between phases?

(A) Mr Uys was unsure of the length of time required.

(Q) Mr Marais (ANC) asked what mechanisms were being used to measure the local government's efficiency in using their fiscal resources?

(A) Mr Uys responded that the equitable share from National government was based on the poverty indicator, but that it was not well enough defined to be of assistance. The best mechanisms currently in place to ensure the fiscal responsibility of local governments were benchmarks and performance indicators.

Some questions focused on the powers and functions of Category B and C municipalities but it was decided to postpone discussion until a later date.

Appendix 1:

REMUNERATION OF PUBLIC OFFICE BEARERS AMENDMENT BILL [B -2000]

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS

CLAUSE 1

1. That the Clause be rejected.

CLAUSE 3

1. That the Clause be rejected.

CLAUSE 5

1. That the Clause be rejected.

CLAUSE 6

1. That the Clause be rejected.

CLAUSE 7

1. That the Clause be rejected.

CLAUSE 8

1. That the Clause be rejected.

LONG TITLE

1. On page 2, from the first line, to omit:

"correct a cross-reference in respect of a definition; to".

2. On page 2, from the fifth line, to omit:

"the payment of salaries and allowances of traditional leaders holding more than one public office simultaneously, the payment of allowances to traditional leaders".

3. On page 2, from the ninth line, to omit all the words from "to exempt the Minister" up to and including "alterations" in the fourteenth line.

 

 

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