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PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
15 April 2005
COMMISSION FOR PROMOTION & PROTECTION OF RIGHTS OF CULTURAL, RELIGIOUS & LINGUISTIC COMMUNITIES; LOCAL GOVERNMENT SETA; MUNICIPAL DEMARCATION BOARD; NATIONAL HOUSE OF TRADITIONAL LEADERS; MUNICIPAL INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT UNIT; SALGA BUDGET REVIEW: HEARINGS
Acting Chairperson: Mr S Mashudulu (ANC)
Documents handed out:
CRL Commission: Strategic Plan
CRL Commission: Strategic Plan presentation
CRL Commission: Organogram of Executive Officers
CRL Commission: Organogram showing top vacancies
CRL Commission: Budget spreadsheet
Local Government Sector Education & Training Authority (LGSETA): Strategic Plan
LGSETA Implementation Report (Awaited)
Local Government Water and Related Services: Implementation Report 2001 - 2005
Municipal Demarcation Board: Budget Review
Municipal Demarcation Board: Strategic Plan
Municipal Demarcation Board: Annual Report
National House of Traditional Leaders: Interim Report
National House of Traditional Leaders: Presentation
Municipal Infrastructure Investment Unit: PowerPoint presentation
SA Local Government Association: PowerPoint presentation
SA Local Government Association: Interim Report
SA Local Government Association: Annual Report (email email@example.com)
SA Local Government Association: Treasurer’s Report
Members heard briefings on the budget reviews of various statutory bodies aligned to the Department of Provincial and Local Government, namely the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL); the Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority (LGSETA); the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB); the SA Local Government Association (SALGA), and the Municipal Infrastructure Investment Unit (MIIU). Each entity provided an overview of past achievements, current expenditure and strategic plans. The briefings were conducted in accordance with the legal requirements of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).
Numerous issues were raised, including the filling of key posts; the role of various entities in influencing national educational curricula; the existence of roll-overs in budget statements; skills enhancement and community development initiatives; the controversial role of consultants; ward delimitation within local government; the role of traditional leaders within all spheres of government; municipal service delivery and infrastructural development, and SALGA'S participation in uplifting local government.
Mr S Mashudulu (ANC) was appointed acting Chairperson in the absence of the Chairperson. The assembled bodies had the responsibility to explain how dispersed funds had been utilised in accordance with legislative frameworks and national strategies. The Public Finance Management Act laid down the regulatory structure within which statutory bodies had to operate. Information acquired at this meeting would assist Members in the upcoming Budget debate to be conducted on 20 May 2005.
Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities submission
After an introduction by Dr Guma (Chairperson), Ms P Madiba (CEO) stated that the CRL’s aim was to unite communities of cultural, religious and language diversity, and thereby promote equality and nationbuilding. A key objective was to develop ‘historically diminished cultures’. Their strategic objectives were divided into administrative and practical dimensions, with an emphasis on human resource management. A National Consultative Conference had been held at the end of 2004 which produced numerous recommendations for future activities. One outcome was their commitment to preventing the domination of languages and cultures by a "superior" culture. Cultural diversity and religious tolerance would be promoted.
The strategic plan contained ideas to encourage international partnerships with relevant organisations. Administration would be enhanced through decentralisation, skills advancement and efficient financial management. Assistance would also be provided to conflict resolution initiatives. Education and advocacy would be increased to disseminate the results of research and related activities. The CRL proposed setting up ‘Councils of Elders’ to re-educate the youth on traditional customs and practices. Additional staff would be required to carry out research tasks and educational activities.
Ms L Mashiane (ANC) encouraged the organisation to fast-track the appointment of new staffmembers. Skilled staff would be necessary to ensure that CRL met PFMA requirements.
Mr W Doman (DA) complemented the organisation on the Consultative Conference held last year that merged many diverse communities and religions. He appreciated the cautious approach shown in appointing new staff as care should be taken to acquire appropriate skills. He proposed that CRL be shifted to the Department of Arts and Culture for the sake of compatibility.
Mr I Mogase (ANC) asked about attempts to ‘regenerate moral values’, particularly among the youth. He asked whether the monitoring of cultural material expressed in the media occurred, as ‘anomalies’ were often detected.
Mr M Swathe (DA) asked whether the northern Ndebele were recognised as an independent ethnic group.
The Chairperson asked for clarity on the state of readiness of local communities to participate in educational and research activities. The role of libraries and schools were of particular importance in education provision. He asked whether CRL had influenced the drawing up of school curricula and whether a sound working relationship existed with the representative bodies of traditional leaders. He reminded CRL that Members could assist in activities planned at the local level to ensure effectiveness.
Ms M Gumede (ANC) referred to ‘Europeanisation of the African culture’ and asked what steps could be taken to address this. Traditional leaders tended to focus on political issues when interacting with communities and attempts should be made to alter this practice to encourage the promotion of ‘traditional values and principles’.
Dr Guma responded that a major challenge lay in ‘delinking’ ethnicity from language and ensuring that language was not regarded as a cultural identity. The CRL had requested a meeting with the Minister of Education to discuss school curricula and the promotion of certain languages. Extensive work had been undertaken with traditional leaders. He supported that traditional leaders also promote traditional culture, rather than just political positions. The CRL saw a need to recognise cultural diversity but to refrain from ‘using cultural identity as a cultural weapon’.
Ms M Bethlehem (Deputy-Chairperson) said the recent conference was a singular success, and thanked the Department for the provision of temporary staff during the event.
Ms T Magwaza (CRL Commissioner) stated that the intention of the Commission was to prevent further erosion of traditional cultures and to engage in an educational programme to inform the general public about other cultures.
Ms Madiba stated that the management of diversity was a daunting task as each individual and each institution had certain positions that divided rather than united. The link to the Department of Arts and Culture could theoretically be made but, in the final analysis, the Commission could be placed in many spheres of government as its relevance was wide-ranging. Communities would be engaged on a group basis with a common approach to values, beliefs and practices. The readiness of communities was not as important as the identification and continuation of values. The CRL wanted to concentrate on communities rather than specific representatives in order to ascertain community issues. However, partnerships with relevant bodies would be encouraged.
Dr Gama reminded Members of the International Day for Cultural Diversity on the 21 May and Africa Day on the 25 May 2005. The Commission had undertaken a campaign to promote itself within government and offer its services to provincial Premiers in dispute-resolution and mediation.
The Chairperson proposed that Members meet with the CRL during the year to discuss co-operation. Libraries would play an important role ion promoting cultural diversity. He proposed that the Department provide funds for seminars and to facilitate communication on research findings.
Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority submission
Ms H Jenkins (Deputy-Chairperson) provided a brief overview of LGSETA’s mandate and constitutional fundamentals, as well as its Strategic Plan.
Mr W Nkosi (CEO) stated that the entity had learnt from past mistakes. The re-certification of the entity had been welcomed and plans were in place to drive the process forward. The Strategic Plan sought to prioritise skills shortages within the sector and to offer solutions. Training had to be relevant to the identified skills shortages. Qualifications would be issued in accordance with agreed standards, and training would be guided by strict quality controls. The SETA intended to understand the bureaucratic systems in place and how improvements could be made. All activities had to be relevant to the government's Programme of Action. A situational analysis would be conducted to identify past mistakes and provide solutions. Relations with traditional leadership would be improved. A list of scarce skills would be presented to stakeholders during this year, and approximately R208 million would be invested in the next five years to address this. Enhanced interaction with the Committee would be emphasised.
Ms Mashiane asked for details on their staff component in order to determine staff requirements. The retention of skills within the local government sector remained crucial. Clarity was sought on plans to achieve this. She asked whether the SETA had managed to regain a number of stakeholders that had abandoned it recently.
Mr Swathe asked what would happen to those staffmembers who had received irrelevant training in the past.
Mr Doman asked whether an improvement had occurred in the amount of annual roll-overs. Their strategic objectives appeared to be too general and were not specific to the requirements of local government. He asked whether the lack of support within certain municipalities had been rectified.
Ms Gumede asked whether the privatisation of scarce skills would be expanded and which skills would be focused on. She asked whether the SETA would assist in improving the functioning of ward committees.
The Chairperson asked for clarity on the distinction between the present strategy and the previous one.
Ms Mashiane asked whether the SETA was involved in the community workers programme and what figures were available about this. She asked for a timeframe on the training of community development workers and whether training would occur across the country. Community development workers remained a critical component of the local government system.
Ms P Bhengu (ANC) asked how the listed challenges had been arrived at, and more on the proposed solutions. She asked whether trained personnel would be placed in the job market.
Mr Nkosi admitted that skills retention remained a major challenge and had to be improved. The Local Development Facilitator was not working in consultation with municipal management, and this created ‘anomalies in output’. An ‘insider approach’ was advocated to enhance municipal effectiveness involving research to identify core needs. Municipalities had to determine the success of any initiatives.
Stakeholders had abandoned the SETA in the past but the reasons for the loss of faith had been corrected mainly due to the designing of relevant training programmes. The rollover had been reduced from R57 million to R36 million. The SETA intended to identify how much money had been spent on training within each municipality. Skills training would be determined by the requirements of the Sector Skills Plan produced by the Department of Labour. The performance of the SETA would be measured on the guidelines of the document. Communication would be undertaken with ward committees to determine training needs. The present strategy document contained slight refinements with regard to the national objectives. Approximately 104 learners were presently in KwaZulu-Natal, with 1 379 in the system as a whole. A full training programme would be available at the end of May 2005. Municipalities would monitor the adherence to Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) requirements and determine successes. Each province would have a strategy in place to address challenges linked to specific provincial requirements. The SETA placed great value on the fostering of partnerships and further dialogue.
The Chairperson stated that Members would consider the various documents provided at their next Committee meeting and discuss future interaction with the SETA. The Community Development Workers Programme would be forwarded to Members.
Municipal Demarcation Board submission
Mr R Monare (CEO and Accounting Officer) provided an overview of the Board's activities, including the staff component. Feedback to previous questions raised by Members was forwarded on such topics as improvements in expenditure, remuneration, the use of consultants and key priorities. The use of consultants was justified as additional staff would have to be employed if consultants were not utilised. Emerging black professionals had been used in most cases as consultants. Details on the allocation of Medium-term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) funding and expenditure were provided. Outputs during the year were listed as the ward delimitation process; structures and consultation with national and provincial stakeholders; the various phases of delimitation, and municipal capacity assessments. A Local Government Capacity Report had been drafted. The strategic direction of the Board was reported, including the current budget.
Mr I Mfundisi (UCDP) asked for clarity on the role of consultants. The issue of cross-boundaries had to be discussed as numerous complaints had been received about the process in place. He asked whether the Board was active as the employment of so many consultants placed suspicion on the commitment of Boardmembers.
Ms Mashiane stated that the use of consultants remained a problem due to excessive expenditure. She asked whether skills transfer was occurring from consultants. She asked whether details could be provided in writing about the role of consultants and specific job descriptions. She enquired why particular vacancies within the organogram had yet not been filled. Confusion remained around the role of junior technical officers and she recommended that such positions be reinstated.
Ms Gumede stated that major problems remained with regard to ward delimitation. Villages and communities continued to be split and there was a lack of communication between the Board and individuals on the ground. She asked whether complaints would be attended to, or whether decisions had already been made to continue the status quo.
The Chairperson stated that Members needed to understand processes in place regarding delimitation and how to engage with that process. The communication of amendments and proposals had to be understood and mechanisms identified by which people could voice objections. The key was identifying how the process could be practically managed. Members wanted to participate in public hearings and the Board should notify Members of such events. Members should ascertain whether the final submissions to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) had been supported in each area. He asked whether the Board could provide Members with the final details in this regard.
Mr Doman stated that problems in wards were widely acknowledged. The difficulty lay with the rigid framework imposed by the IEC in identifying voting stations.
Dr V Mlokoti (MDB Chairperson) acknowledged Members’ desire to assist in engaging with communities and identifying issues and complaints. The programme of the Board was made available to Members. The role of consultants vis-à-vis the Board had been elucidated in the written response to previous questions. Initially, the Board had operated at a national level and consultants were needed to address shortfalls in staff requirements. Consultants did not receive excessive remuneration. Use of consultants had been drastically reduced and more office staff were now used in activities. The Board intended to remain a ‘lean organisation’ to avoid additional costs. The issue of cross-boundaries was not a Board matter but remained a Department responsibility. The Board was not involved in the phasing out of cross-boundaries.
The Board was aware of problems relating to cross-boundaries and these had to be resolved before ward committees could be determined. Cultural and political issues should be considered when determining ward boundaries. Currently, the process was a ‘numbers game’ that prevented certain positions from being considered. Members should continue to review matters on a continuous basis to ameliorate problems. The provision of set requirements by the IEC had resulted in problems and the identification of voting stations should be a by-product of ward delimitation, rather than a guiding principle. The relationship between the Board and the IEC remained a management issue. A database of consultants had been created, detailing qualifications and areas of expertise, and this list would be made available to Members.
Mr Monare replied that recent vacancies were a result of staff turnover and replacements were being identified. The Board did not regard the role of junior technical officers as particularly important. Individuals would be employed on an ad hoc basis.
Dr Mlokoti responded that submissions had been received from a number of sources, including traditional leaders, communities, municipalities, etc. Complaints were dealt with according to a list of criteria in the guiding framework. Responses to gazetted maps had been received and were being considered. Task teams were dealing with particular issues but shortcomings did remain.
National House of Traditional Leaders submission
Inkosi M Mzimela (Chairperson) emphasised the role that the House wanted to play within government as an important organ of state. The intention was to uplift traditional communities and interact with all three spheres of government. Currently, the House was displeased with the response receive from the Department to repeated requests for greater autonomy and financial independence. The House was forced to operate with limited resources that remained the prerogative of the Department. The Department disputed the listing of the House within the PFMA. The House should be seen as an organ of state, rather than an organ of the Department. The House sought its own Chambers, accommodation and transport. Reference was made to a recent by President Mbeki speech in which the role of traditional leaders was highlighted and encouraged. A request was directed at Members to identify processes through which the interests of the House could be advanced. A programme of action had been devised but resources were necessary to drive the process.
The Chairperson stated that the Members needed the Department representatives to brief them on the Department's position regarding the House. The Committee would raise the matter of the Chamber with the Speaker of Parliament.
Mr C Clerihew (Department Chief Financial Officer) stated that the listing of the House within the PFMA was a legal issue that the Department's legal advisors could consider. The allocation of funds to the House was the sole decision of the CFO and was always treated in good faith in accordance with legal requirements. A legitimate request for expenditure had never been refused. Recently, a budget shortfall within the House had been addressed by additional disbursement. The House presented a budget together with the Department to National Treasury. The Department did not influence the requirements and had not spoken against the requests of the House at any stage. Criticisms of the House should be directed to the Department in writing.
Mr Sobahle (Department) stated that the Department had worked with the House in formulating a strategic plan. The issue of the Chamber was being dealt with by the Departments of Provincial and Local Government, and Public Works. Delays were not the responsibility of the Department.
The Chairperson asked whether the budget had also been discussed between the House and Department when the Strategic Plan was devised.
Mr Sobahle stated that he was unaware of any developments regarding budget requirements. The intention of the interaction with the House was to identify key issues and create appropriate programmes in response.
Mr M Nonkonyana (ANC) stated that the programme of the House had to be presented to Members so that they could evaluate expenses as part of their oversight responsibilities. Members had to know how previous monies had been spent before entertaining any new requests. Budget requirements had to be compared with a programme of action.
Ms Bhengu asked why the House allowed its issues to be ‘politicised’, and why the emphasis appeared to focus on KwaZulu-Natal. She asked what ‘powers’ were being requested from government, and where the House acquire monied to conduct administrative activities.
Mr Mfundisi asked whether the visiting panel representing the House originated from South Africa as a whole, or was confined to a certain province.
The Chairperson stated that the House had been created as the result of an Act of Parliament. The Act had established certain responsibilities for the House, including the setting up of regional councils and other structures. He asked what progress had been achieved in this regard.
Inkosi Mzimela responded that problems remained regarding the allocation of resources by the Department. The unavailability of the CFO on occasions had caused delays. Requests for VIP passports, transport and other expenses had been denied. The Department had failed to follow through on particular initiatives such as its refusal to fill posts. A request to assign the rank of Chief Director to the House's CEO had been refused. No permanent staff had been appointed at this stage. The House represented the whole of the country with Provincial Houses in six provinces, namely Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North-West, Free State and Eastern Cape. Three leaders from each province served in the House with all ethnicities represented.
The House interacted with all stakeholders and a memorandum of understanding had been established with various Chapter 9 Commissions, such as those for Gender Equality and Human Rights. No meeting had been held with SALGA, despite the House's expressed desire to do so. The Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act had to be implemented and uniformity was required among all provinces before this could be achieved. Some provinces continued to resist the implementation of the Act. The co-operation of the Provincial Houses was necessary to formulate relevant progress reports. The programme of the House had recently been completed with the assistance of the Presidential Advisor.
Mr Nonkonyana stated that the House needed to indicate in the report that issues previously raised had not been dealt with adequately. Close co-operation was needed between the House and the Department to address many issues, such as the Chamber and finances. He asked whether the Committee had been approached to assist in the acquisition of suitable facilities. The actual expenditure of the House had to be explained to determine whether the budget had been exceeded. The enabling legislation that had created the House had set out three key objectives, namely to promote the role of the House within the democratic dispensation, to enhance unity and understanding amongst traditional communities, and to pursue a constitutional amendment. He asked what successes had been achieved thus far. He recommended a return to better relations with Department in order to produce a more meaningful report, indicating expenditure and budgetary requirements.
The Chairperson suggested that the Committee only accept a report resulting from co-operation with Department. The report should be drawn up in a structured way and provide an account of expenditure. He proposed that Department and the House discuss how to address the shortcomings and present solutions to Members in writing before the budget vote. Ongoing engagement was needed between the House and Department.
Inkosi Mzimela agreed with the proposal but stated that results had to flow from interaction. An improved relationship had to produce developments. The Departments of Provincial and Local Government, and Public Works, were avoiding a decision regarding the identification of a suitable Chamber. Controversy remained over whether the House was a listed entity in terms of the PFMA. An informal understanding was in place between traditional leaders and local government councillors, but SALGA still continued to refuse to meet with the House. Kwazulu-Natal refused to accept the mandate of the National House. The House would continue to engage the President on the question of the constitutional amendment.
The Chairperson stated that the House should list their concerns so Members could engage with these. A reference would thereby be created indicating priorities. Constitutional imperatives would have to be include legal requirements of the House. The Committee would interact with SALGA to address the lack of co-operation.
Municipal Infrastructure Investment Unit submission
Ms D Magugumela (CEO) provided an overview of past achievements and capital expenditure. A list of Key Performance Areas was highlighted, with 77 active partnerships. Completed projects were explained, including revenue management. The Unit sought to increase the chances for municipalities to acquire private sector funding on key projects that enhanced service delivery. Revenue enhancement of municipalities had also been undertaken. Contract monitoring and evaluation remained an important component of the Unit's activities. The strategy document emphasised the uncertainty facing the Unit as it contemplated closure in March 2006. Despite this, the Unit focused on maintaining the momentum of the core business such as loan guarantees, revenue enhancement and service delivery. The Unit offered to make templates of its activities available to interested parties if closure occurred, in order to benefit local governments. Incomplete projects would be moved to appropriate hosts. The Unit encouraged private sector institutions to produce viable products to benefit local government. The operational budget of R18.5 million would remain in place for this financial year.
Ms M Hesketh (Chairperson) reminded Members that the Unit was a temporary intervention set up in 1998 to facilitate municipal service delivery and improve infrastructure. An extension was granted in 2003 for three years. The decision to continue the Unit rested with the government. She recommended that a decision be made soon to resolve uncertainty and to allow the Unit to continue with much-needed interventions.
Mr Nonkonyana asked whether the Unit targeted poor rural communities that urgently needed investment.
Mr Mogase asked who the Unit heads had spoken to in attempting to ‘prolong its life’.
The Chairperson felt the need for the Unit remained as strong as ever. The lack of technical knowledge within local government had to be addressed through partnerships with stakeholders. The Unit had the ability to manage processes in a technical way. The transfer of skills would benefit government and the offer to make acquired knowledge available was commendable. The Committee would engage with the Department and the Minister to investigate how the life of the Unit could be extended.
SA Local Government Association submission
Councillor M Majika (Chairperson: Finance Working Group) stated their presentation would highlight key achievements, financial aspects and the commitment of SALGA to ‘Project Consolidate’. Details of the new business plan would be reported on, including new visions and operational values.
Mr S Wasa (Executive-Director: Finance) highlighted key achievements during the past year, including the completion of a Mayoral Handbook, a guide on traditional leadership, and a national audit on international municipal relations. SALGA had influenced the restructuring of medical aids and pension funds at the municipal level. The training of facilitators in municipalities had been facilitated to enhance community-based planning. Communication material on local government legislation had been produced to assist with community education. Limits had been placed on councillors' remuneration and this took effect in June 2005. A Speakers Handbook had been developed and a pilot project was underway in the Gauteng Speakers Forum. A strategy had been created to conduct local government elections in 2005.
The restructuring of medical aids had been completed and input had been invited from pension funds regarding framework accreditation. Their intention was to create a single fund for municipal employees. A multi-salary agreement was being sought with unions to avoid the annual wage negotiations. Key challenges included limited resources and the split between district councils and local municipalities. Challenges remained from unorganised labour pertaining to medical aid restructuring and the proposed changes to pension funds. A major challenge also existed to secure agreement across the board on relevant skills development. The lack of adequate audit reports from municipalities inhibited opportunities for conditional grants. Key upcoming events were highlighted and changes in expenditure profile explained. A key development was a move away from salary payments to increases in programme resources.
Mr Mogase noted the difficult task undertaken by SALGA to lead and guide municipal affairs. Political contestation should be avoided and focus placed more on enhancing service delivery. The inclusion of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban metropoles was a positive development.
Mr Doman asked whether multi-party representation existed within the executive structures of SALGA. He asked whether personnel problems were envisaged within the recently adopted Metros due to contract disputes. He asked whether the executive monitored alterations in membership fees.
Mr Nonkonyana asked for clarity on the relationship with the Cities Network and whether SALGA was involved in resolving disputes between traditional leaders and District Councils. He asked for an explanation on the accusations levelled at SALGA by NHTL. He asked whether threats of industrial action by the SA Municipal Workers’ Union(SAMWU) had been resolved. He asked whether SALGA could play a role in intervening in municipal disputes and breakdowns to promote stability within the local government sphere. He asked for a general comment on the controversy surrounding voting stations.
The Chairperson asked for further information on medical aid and pension fund restructuring. He asked whether community training booklets could be made available to Members. Advocacy work within Parliament had to be improved and Project Consolidate should be supported.
Councillor Majika replied that SALGA and the Cities Network had exchanged knowledge and expertise around capacity-building. The intention was to engage with NHTL. Councils had been instructed to facilitate representation from traditional leaders within municipal councils. The restructuring of medical aids and pension funds would reduce operational costs. Local municipalities were providing advice on demarcation and the positioning of voting stations. SALGA could not intervene in municipalities in terms of section 139 of the Constitution, but support would be rendered to municipalities in certain situations. The wage negotiations were currently deadlocked, with labour wanting a 15% and SALGA a 4.8% increase. A compromise of 7% was likely. Unions appeared to be engaged in delaying tactics. The financial statements of SALGA had been unqualified by the Auditor-General for 2002-2004.
Mr Johnson (SALGA) stated that the incorporation of the Cape Town Metro into SALGA had resulted in a number of court cases on personnel issues that were subjudice. All municipalities that wanted to join SALGA could do so, irrespective of political affiliation. Membership fees had recently been adjusted downwards in the interests of affordability.
The Chairperson stated that SALGA had to improve its accessibility and participate more readily in local government actions and public interactions. Advocacy should be enhanced.
The meeting was adjourned.
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