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LOCAL AND PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
2 August 2005
COMMITTEE PROGRAMME ADOPTION
Acting Chairperson: Mr M Lekgoro (ANC)
The Committee discussed and adopted its Programme for the third quarter of 2005, leading up to its final meeting on 13 September. Discussion focussed broadly on four main issues. Firstly, Members considered visiting rural municipalities to gauge the effectiveness of service delivery. Secondly, Members debated the selection of a metropolitan municipality to do a presentation on billing systems in the larger cities. Thirdly, they discussed an oversight tour of local governments in all nine provinces. Finally, the Committee considered the possibility of a study tour abroad. The Committee agreed that the above matters required further consideration, but adopted the draft Programme unanimously.
The Chairperson summarised that five Committee meetings were scheduled for the third quarter of 2005. On 16 August, the Committee would meet to hear from different rural municipalities that it had yet to identify. The objective for the Members was to gain an understanding of service delivery over the last five years.
On 23 August, the Committee would consider the impact of municipal police services on crime in urban areas; and what co-ordination existed between the SAPS and the municipal police services. Reports would also be heard on skills shortages within municipalities.
On 30 August, the Committee would hear a report on progress in inner-city regeneration and local economic development, with a focus on both public and private initiatives. The Committee would also hear presentations on billing systems in the bigger cities. The City of Johannesburg has tentatively been identified as the most appropriate entity to do the presentation, but the decision was yet to be finalised.
On 6 September, the Committee would consider the effectiveness of the "indigent policies" of municipalities, ascertain what co-ordination existed between national and local governments.
On 13 September, the Committee would hear a presentation on the revised equitable share formula for the funding of municipalities. Members would also hear about the success of local governments providing free basic services.
The Acting Chairperson pointed to the omission of oversight visits to different municipalities. The Committee had agreed to such a tour at the beginning of the year. The previous time, they had allocated four provinces to one group and five to the other, so that the exercise could be concluded quickly. Looming provincial and local government elections meant that by the end of September, Members might most probably be pre-occupied with electioneering.
At the beginning of the year, the Committee had also agreed on arranging study tours abroad. The proposed local oversight tour, as well as the study tour abroad, were supported by Mr S Mashudulu (ANC), Mr W Doman (DA), and Mr I Mfundisi (UCDP).
Mr Mashudulu wished to hear from rural municipalities on service delivery during the meeting of 16 August. He indicated particular interest in municipalities situated in the former Transkei-Bophuthatswana-Venda-Ciskei (TBVC) areas. Mr Mfundisi emphasised that as the presentations from municipalities were scheduled for their next meeting, selection was quite urgent.
Advocate S Holimisa (ANC) questioned whether it would be wise to hear from municipal officials or from other interested groups like non-governmental organisations. Mr Mashudulu then emphasised the importance of involving traditional leaders. The broad feeling was that regardless of who made presentations, the Committee would still have to work through the municipalities to make the necessary arrangements.
With regards to the meeting on 23 August, Mr Mashudulu proposed calling municipal police commissioners for comment on the White Paper on Local Government Safety and Security. It was also necessary to ensure that residents of smaller, more rural or poorer municipalities were not unjustly disadvantaged.
Concerning the proposed meeting for 30 August, Mr Mashudulu felt it necessary to engage big business on local economic development and inner-city regeneration. Any consideration of the indigent policies of municipalities should be linked with discussions on the provision free basic services. It had been some time since the Committee had heard from the Financial and Fiscal Commission. They should be present at any discussion on the topic with the Department of Finance.
Mr Doman expressed the DA’s support for the proposed Programme. The presentation by the City of Johannesburg on billing systems should be utilised as a basis for oversight visits to other metropolitan municipalities. These visits could then be integrated into the broader oversight tour of municipal governments in all nine provinces.
In addition, Mr Doman motivated for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to give a presentation on the forthcoming elections and legislation surrounding municipal by-elections. There was much confusion about the conditions under which a by-election could take place, such as whether it was the responsibility of the IEC or the relevant municipal manager to call an election.
Another issue related to the law that there could be no by-elections less than six months before a general election. In practice, the last possible date was taken into account. As it related to the forthcoming election, it meant that no by-elections could take place, as of 5 September. Yet two by-elections had been called in Cape Town that would quite possibly have to take place in that period. This issue was not urgent for inclusion into the business of the Committee for the third quarter.
Mr Mashudulu suggested it was important for the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs to question the IEC on the issues raised by Mr Doman. The Acting Chairman noted this.
The meeting was adjourned.
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