Fire Brigade Services Amendment; Remuneration of Office Bearers Amendment Bills; Intervention in Ogies: briefing

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Meeting report

REVIEW OF INTERVENTION IN OGIES MUNICIPALITY; FIRE BRIGADE SERVICES AMENDMENT BILL; REMUNERATION OF PUBLIC OFFICE BEARERS AMENDMENT BILL

LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION SELECT COMMITTEE
10 March 2000
REVIEW OF INTERVENTION IN OGIES MUNICIPALITY; FIRE BRIGADE SERVICES AMENDMENT BILL; REMUNERATION OF PUBLIC OFFICE BEARERS AMENDMENT BILL

Documents handed out:
Fire Brigade Services Amendment Bill
Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Amendment Bill
Table of Current Provincial Government Interventions as at 8 march 2000 (Appendix 1)
Fire Brigade Services Amendment Bill Summary (Appendix 2)

Here follows the official minutes of the Select Committee on Local Government and Administration as provided by the committee secretary, Mr E. De Koker.

MINUTES
1. Letter from Free State Province
The Chairperson drew members' attention to a letter written to him in which Ms C Botha, Mr A Marais and Dr F Nel were commended for providing the province with relevant briefings. The Chairperson noted that such dedication sets an example to other NCOP delegates.

2. Review on intervention in Ogies municipality
Mr Franks presented the report on the review on the intervention. He noted that the rate of payment increased from 38% to 58%.

A query was raised as to what will happen to the intervention after the local government elections. Mr Franks undertook to research this query and report to the committee.

The Select Committee on Local Government and Administration, having considered progress in respect of the intervention in the Ogies Municipality, reports as follows:

A. Background
On 6 March 2000 a delegation of the Committee visited the Ogies Municipality in performance of the NCOP's constitutional obligation to regularly review interventions.

The delegation comprised Mr M Bhabha (Chairperson), Mr E de Koker (Committee Secretary), Ms D le Roux (NCOP Procedural Services Office Manager) and Mr D Franks (NCOP Researcher).

B. Status of Intervention
The delegation confirmed that the Provincial Government would continue its intervention in Ogies. It also established that the Administrator's contract, which expired on 8 January 2000, would not be renewed.

The Provincial Government has instead appointed a team of consultants from Peregrine Treasury Solutions to act as a Management Support Team (MST) in the municipality. The MST, who is funded by the Mpumalanga Provincial Government and the National Department of Provincial and Local Government, will assume responsibility for the performance of the municipality's financial obligations. All other executive obligations will be performed by the CEO.

C. Progress of Intervention
1. Provision of services
There has been little improvement in the delivery of essential services. Recently, the town's electricity supply was cut off because the council failed to meet the payments due on its current account with Eskom. The electricity was reconnected after the Provincial Government entered into negotiations with Eskom. A payment plan will be finalised at a meeting between the National Energy Regulator, Eskom, the Provincial Government and the Ogies Local Council later this month.

A bulk water supply project, involving a total of R2 million from the CMIP Funds, awaits approval from the Department of Provincial and Local Government. However, the current distribution of water has resulted in losses to the municipality because stolen water meters have made it impossible to bill certain consumers. There are plans to have the stolen meters replaced with plastic meters.

The Ogies Local Council also awaits a decision by the Provincial Department of Housing and Land Administration to transfer land to the municipality for use as a legal dumping site. An environmental impact study will need to be done before the matter is finalised.

The Provincial Government is presently investigating the possibility of temporarily appointing a Technical Manager to see to maintenance and repair work on municipal vehicles and equipment.

2. Financial management
The council is still not able to meet all of its financial obligations. Although the council has approved credit control and indigent policies, the implementation of these policies has been delayed by the process of verifying the indigents' register. The MST is responsible for completing this process.

The MST is also responsible for compiling financial statements for the Ogies Municipality, which will then have to be approved by the Auditor-General.

The council presently operates without any capital reserves or investments. Although it is able to meet its current operational expenditures, the council remains unable to pay its major creditors. The latest financial information for the municipality puts the municipality's current debt at R36 322 514, while the municipality itself is owed an amount of R12 643 115.

The Provincial Government has recently initiated a rehabilitation plan in this and other municipalities, which aims to revise the tariff structure, introduce cost curtailment measures in respect of operational and political expenditures, and establish sufficient pay-points, as well as a proper billing system. However, the delegation learnt that the council was not charging interest on any of its arrears accounts. Following the visit of the delegation, the council has undertaken to review this policy.

3. Administrative procedures
The Provincial Government is not satisfied with the administrative procedures currently in place. The CEO is responsible for putting the necessary systems, procedures and policies in place.

4. Meetings of council
The council has not met since October/November 1999. However, following the visit by the delegation, councillors now appear willing to meet.

5. Interface with community
Despite attempts by the Administrator, councillors have not met regularly with the community. This has reinforced the community's lack of faith in councillors.

6. Competency of councillors
Although councillors remained competent to fulfil their legislative obligations during the course of the intervention, the executive committee of the council did not meet at all.

7. Training of councillors
Councillors have been offered skills and capacity-building courses in the area of their choice. However, due to their lack of response, nothing has materialised.

8. Training of staff
The Administrator was responsible for developing a training programme to improve the skills of the municipal staff. Personnel have regularly attended the courses on offer; however, staff in the Treasury Division are still in need of urgent training.

D. Recommendations

The Committee recommends as follows:

1. That the MST submit a business plan to the MEC and the NCOP by 6 April 2000, identifying priorities, problem resolution mechanisms and time-frames for implementation.

2. That the CEO assumes responsibility for the performance of all executive obligations, except the financial obligations of the municipality.

3. That the CEO signs a performance management contract with the MEC for Local Government and Traffic in the Mpumalanga Province.

4. That the council initiate programmes to win back the trust of the community.

5. That the intervention continues.

Report agreed to.

3. Fire Brigade Services Amendment Bill [B 63B-99] (sec 76)
Mr Killian briefed the committee on the above bill. He stated that the present composition of the Fire Brigade Services Board is 20 members. A task team appointed by Minmec had to investigate the continued existence of the Board and the composition of the board. The task team recommended that the Board should continue so that national standards can be set for training, vehicles, equipment, safety requirements and service of chief fire officers.

As far as the composition of the Board was concerned, the task team recommended that it be reduced to 16 members and that it should consist of political members. Relevant institutions and officials will be accommodated in the technical committees of the Board. Also, all the provinces should be represented on the Board. The National Assembly amended the bill to include one person designated by the the South African Emergency Services Institute. A summary of the bill is attached hereto. By having political members on the Board, decision-making will be faster and the Board will be able to deal with urgent matters speedily.

The Chairperson indicated that the meeting for negotiating mandates on this bill is set for 4 April 2000. The meeting for final mandates is set for 10 April 2000 unless provinces indicate that the bill can be finalised on 4 April 2000.

4. Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Amendment Bill [B 11D-2000] (sec 76)
The Chairperson indicated that the National Assembly had amended the bill extensively by deferring certain clauses which will be dealt with in subsequent legislation.

Dr Bouwer made a presentation on the above bill. He stated that the bill originated from Parliament itself. Clause 1 of the billamends section 3 of the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Act, 1998 by referring to the first polling day of an election as the date from which a member of National Assembly is entitled to remuneration, and referring to the first sitting day of the provincial legislature concerned as the date from which a permanent delegate is so entitled.

Clause 2 of the bill amends section 6 of the Act by providing for the salaries and allowances of members of the provincial executives to be provided for through their respective departmental budgets, and the salaries and allowances of provincial legislators to annually form a direct charge against the Provincial Revenue Fund concerned. Provision is also made for the first polling day of an election to be reckoned as the date from which a member of a provincial legislature is entitled to remuneration.

Western Cape raised a concern that practical problems may be experienced with the implementation of this bill and that the department and the Ministry of Finance should be made aware of it.

The Chairperson put the Motion of Desirability.
Agreed to.

Clause 1, agreed to.
Clause 2, agreed to.
Clause 3, agreed to.

Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Bill [B 11D-2000] (sec 76), agreed to.

The meeting adjourned at 11:04.

Present at meeting:
Mr M Bhabha, Chairperson

Free State
Ms C Botha

KwaZulu-Natal
MrPA Matthee
(Mr J Aulsebrook)

Mpumalanga
Mr M Bhabha

Northern Cape
Mr J Horne
Mr M Sulliman

Northern West
Mr PDN Maloyi

Western Cape
Mr C Ackermann
Ms ND Ntwanambi

Apologies: Mr A Marais, Ms RA Ndzanga, and Prince NE Zulu.

The following persons were also present:
Dr P Bouwer, Department of Provincial and Local Government;
Mr G Killian, Department of Provincial and Local Government; and Mr D Franks, Researcher: NCOP.

Appendix 1:
TABLE OF CURRENT PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT INTERVENTIONS
AS AT 8 MARCH 2000

 

Name of town

name of province

date of intervention

date of approval by ncop

duration of intervention as at
8 March 2000

stage of review

date of ADOPTION OF review REPORT

1.

Warrenton

Northern Cape

17 February 1999

23 March 1999

1 year, 1 month, 2 weeks, and 6 days

Review report adopted by House

11 November 1999

2.

Ogies

Mpumalanga

11 May 1999

23 July 1999

9 months, 3 weeks, and 5 days

On site review by delegation of Select Committee

N/A

3.

Tweeling

Free State

19 July 1999

23 August 1999

7 months, 2 weeks, and 4 days

Progress report requested, but not received

N/A

4.

Stilfontein

North West

3 August 1999

21 September 1999

7 months and 5 days

MEC's progress report received on 30 November 1999

N/A

5.

Wedela

North West

3 August 1999

21 September 1999

7 months and 5 days

MEC's progress report received on 30 November 1999

N/A

6.

Noupoort

Northern Cape

20 August 1999

21 September 1999

6 months, 2 weeks and 3 days

MEC's progress report received on 14 February 2000

N/A

7.

Viljoënskroon

Free State

4 October 1999

11 November 1999

5 months and 4 days

Intervention has not been reviewed

N/A


Prepared by
DARWIN FRANKS
NCOP Researcher

Appendix 2:
Bill No.: B63B-99
Status: In Select Committee
Type: Section 76(1)
Public Hearings: None

FIRE BRIGADE SERVICES AMENDMENT BILL: Summary

Memorandum
The Bill seeks to amend section 2 of Act 99 of 1987, as amended by section 2 of Act 83 of 1990 and section 19 of Act 134 of 1992, to make the National Fire Brigade Board, which regulates fire brigade services, more representative by providing for a newly constituted Board while reducing the number of its members. It also seeks to make certain technical amendments to remove or substitute certain references to some structures, such as the "Department of Planning and Provincial Affairs" and "...the government of a self-governing state", that are either non-existent or make it difficult for the Board to do its work effectively in the context of the new provincial and local government dispensation.

Core Principles
The Bill provides for the reduction of members of the Board and representation of all the provinces, local government, the Department of Finance, organised business and organised labour as well as the South African Emergency Services Institute on the Board. It also effects certain technical amendments.

Provincial Impact
The Board will have general overview of the situation in each province and local government structure. It will be able to attend to problems affecting provinces urgently. It will contribute to the improvement of standards for training, especially proficiency training, vehicles and equipment, the standardisation of chief fire officers and other members of service, and safety requirements in all the provinces. This will help facilitate cross-border assistance by boosting capacity when huge fires break out.

There are no envisaged personnel and financial implications as a result of the amendments. The relevant department of national government will attend to all matters pertaining to communication by the Board.

Conclusion
The Bill gives further thrust to the establishment, maintenance, employment, coordination and standardisation of fire brigade services.

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