Local Government SETA; Municipal Infrastructure Investment Unit; CRL Commission: Budget review

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

14 March 2006
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

 

PROVICIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
15 March 2006
BUDGET REVIEW: LOCAL GOVERNMENT SETA; MIIU; CRL COMMISSION

Acting Chairperson:
Mr M Lekgoro (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority Report
MIIU presentation
MIIU Institutional Memory
MIIU: Interim Financial Statements 31 January 2006
Caretaker arrangement, Caretaker Business Plan, Closure checklist [27 pages]
CRL Briefing
CLR Annual Report [available at http://www.crlcommission.org.za/]
CRL Business Plan 2006/7

SUMMARY
The Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority briefed the Committee on its support functions, sector skills planning, learnerships and objectives. Members were somewhat concerned that they had been given very little time to review the lengthy presentation. Other concerns included the lack of short-term solutions, skills audits and skills development rollout.

The Municipal Infrastructure Investment Unit briefed the Committee on its exit strategy and its financial affairs as the Unit was due to be closed shortly. Members wondered about the advisability of closing the Unit, the future of current projects and the role of consultants in local government project management.

The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities briefed the Committee on its plans and objectives for fulfilling its mandate, of promoting peace, tolerance, harmony, national unity, and respect amongst cultural, religious and linguistic communities. The Commission had employed a community focused approach to investigate matters of concern and interest, promote research and advocate cultural, religious and linguistic regeneration. The presentation identified the commissions five key strategic objectives as organisational development, human resource development, public education and advocacy, launching the public face of the Commission, research and policy development and investigation and conflict resolution.


The Committee raised issues on religious worship. Members sort clarity on the specifics of projects that had been highlighted in the presentation. Issues relating to the Commissions international relationships were raised. The Committee asked about the implications of the Commission’s target of ensuring ownership of title deeds by communities.



MINUTES
Presentation by the Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority (LGSETA)
The leader of the LGSETA delegation, Mr M Sebze, introduced the delegation and explained that the presentation would essentially be feedback on the tasks set out by the SETA.

Mr S Mofokeng’s (Chief Executive Officer) presentation covered the SETA’s sector skills planning, learnerships, Education and Training Quality Assurance (ETQA), its support functions, and finally LGSETA’s finances and information technology infrastructure. He also highlighted the LGSETA’s National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) objectives for the period 2005 to 2010, which he maintained could be viewed as a business plan.

Discussion
Mr S Mashudulu (ANC) pointed out that it was important to start where they left off last year with regard to the Minister of Labour’s request that the SETAs improve their standards. He also found it unfortunate, given the lengthy and well-documented presentation that they were not afforded enough time for a close analysis of its content. Mr Mashudulu acknowledged the challenging environment within which the SETA must operate, but it was important to go directly to problem areas that should be adequately explained, specifically the question of implementation. He emphasised that the problem of duplication of issues without resolve was a salient one. Mr Mashudulu also raised the issue of an adequate skills audit, and he wanted the capacity that unions had clarified. The essential concern was about compliance without understanding the issues. He finally questioned the nature of the relationship the SETA had with the Department of Education. This concern was raised in order to address the issue of misplaced and unemployed graduates. As an appended concern, Mr Mashudulu questioned why manuals were not provided to workers for access to relevant information as well as the Committee in the respective training areas.

Mr W Le Roux (DA) complimented the LGSETA on an excellent presentation; however he maintained that the shortage of skilled labour in areas such as engineering, project management and finance, could be correlated to poor service delivery. He felt that the SETA presented a long-term solution (+-5 years) for this, but questioned whether any thought was given to short tem solutions as service delivery is a pertinent issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Chief Nonkonyana (ANC) was also concerned about the complex presentations being handed out to the Committee without allowing adequate time for analysis. He also had a healthy dose of scepticism based on study of previous presentations of the sort and whether delivery on these did take place, as the justification of rubberstamping financial allocations should be considered carefully. He also expressed concern over the impact of SETA training proposals on rural areas where there is a marked difference in input and output. He thus called for a need to focus attention on these rural municipalities.

Mr Mofokeng began by apologising for not providing the document presentation to the Committee for prior inspection. The LGSETA had made provisions within the capacity building framework to avoid duplication. Capacity building for the LGSETA was conceptualised as capacity building overall and training and development was a component thereof. Mr Mofokeng claimed that the SETAs’ agreement with the Minister was to deal with their core competencies, which he defined as training development and its facilitation. The LGSETA would also interface with other departments to the extent that they would only execute their government mandate of training and development.

With regard to the question of a skills audit, Mr Mofokeng maintained that there is a process being undertaken by the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) and the LGSETA in addressing this, which he felt his colleague Ms Janet Davis would better respond to. He thus referred the question to her.

Ms Davis claimed there was a skills audit process underway spearheaded by the DPLG, and in addition to that process, the LGSETA’s skills development facilitators within the municipalities are supposed to conduct skills audits as a foundational activity. The main difficulties, she identified, were that skills facilitators seldom have that duty as an urgent function, because they often fulfil a multitude of functions within human resources management, for example.

Mr Mofokeng addressed the issue of research, where he maintained that the LGSETA does not primarily conduct research but rather evaluates other relevant research based on credibility and adequacy and from this assessment gaps would be filled by the SETA vis-à-vis focused research to better inform its processes. Focusing again on the issue of skills audit, Mr Mofokeng stressed the will of the SETA to engage in a detailed skills audit.

With regards to the question about recognition of prior learning, Mr Mofokeng highlighted their prospective project with the Department of Labour and the union sector, which was piloted in the areas of plumbing and electricity. He defined ‘recognition of prior learning’ as recognising the experience of people irrespective of the origin of the experience. The experience however would be assessed relative to new qualifications or old qualification standards to access their competence. If they were found to be competent, they are issued with a certificate of competence in the respective field. If they are found to be lacking, an intervention has been put in place to help these people fill in the gaps, which was found to be prominent in areas such as theory. Mr Mofokeng further highlighted that the LGSETA would be looking at areas such as the water industry (who claimed that the SETA’s learnerships were too long, and the assessment processes too cumbersome) and electricity during the year.

Mr Mofokeng maintained that the biggest problem in implementation of programmes is the lack of workplace skills. Through the Project Consolidate programmes, Mr Mofokeng said that the LGSETA realised that they needed to leverage the expertise of retired professionals and use them as mentors and coaches for training. Using the grant of R32 million, the LGSETA targeted unemployed graduates in areas such as finance. He maintained that they were also looking at placement grants for professionals to help in the training process.

With regard to the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP), Mr Mofokeng said the Department of Public Works and the LGSETA had an initiative underway to cover other provinces for training.

Ms Davis added that the collaborative project the LGSETA was engaged in with the Department of Public Works was focused on municipal engineers and technicians who would be responsible for designing and implementing the expanding initiative.

On the question of access to training programmes, Mr Mofokeng said that they would make available material in booklet form to be used by people on the ground as well as government. This would contain all the relevant legislation and any changes to legislation would be updated in those manuals.

With regards to the training of ward committees, Mr Mofokeng maintained that the LGSETA had scheduled training for June because by then the curriculum framework would be complete. He stressed that it would be a two and a half year programme and that the view from DPLG was that ward committees that were given the term of office of the counsellor would not be given the office twice.

Mr Mofokeng said that the framework for investigating the needs of traditional institutions was in place and that the LGSETA supported the need for such institutions.

The Chairperson commented that he thought that the question of white people being concentrated in town planning and highly technical departments should be looked at. He suggested that if those areas were not involved in skills development in the long run, equity would not be achieved.

Mr Mogase (ANC) asked if the LGSETA training programmes provided for quotas for women and people with disabilities.

Mr Mashudulu concluded with a clarification of his earlier question on service providers.

Mr Sebenze responded that support had been provided to service providers who wanted to initiate their own training but did not have the training skills. He also expressed concern that bigger service providers were crowding out the historically disadvantaged.

With regards to the question of training in municipalities, Mr Mofokeng stated that they still found that in the technical areas there was a high concentration of white people, but the problem lay with the municipalities and not the LGSETA. Municipalities were also not submitting employment equity plans. However he maintained that the LGSETA had approached the larger municipalities and suggested that all the section 57 employees, as part of their contracts, required skills development. They were liasing with these larger municipalities to try and implement this.

Mr Mofokeng apologised for not including the LGSETA’s equity indicators in the presentation. With regards to the type of training the SETA focused on, development training took cognisance of provincial differences. They made it clear that programmes should be aligned to these provincial needs.

With regard to databases of the unemployed and interested parties, Mr Mofokeng said that no databases of such magnitude were maintained, but they did utilise the Department of Labour’s databases when necessary.

Presentation on Exit Strategy for the Municipal Infrastructure Investment Unit (MIIU)
Ms D Magugumela (Chief Executive Officer) introduced herself and Mr J Msowani, the financial administrator and company secretary. The first part of Ms Magugumela’s presentation consisted of a short video on the background to the MIIU. Her presentation provided information about the MIIU, confirmation of the exit strategy, the exit from project activity and exit from the management contract with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).

Discussion
A DA Member asked how many projects were carried out by the MIIU and which was, in Ms Magugumela’s view, the most successful and most disastrous project.

Mr Mashudulu asked whether the MIIU felt that they had accomplished their objectives. He raised another question with regard to how the MIIU viewed their political environment and what they thought their impact was on the various municipalities. Finally, he asked with regard to the importance of consultants whether a list of these could be made available to the Committee.

Ms Magugumela stated that 45 projects were concluded over an eight-year period and that 200 projects had been launched. With regards to high and low points, she suggested that the two notorious water concession were cutting edge projects. The Nelspruit water concession completed in 1999 was far ahead of its time. The Dolphin coast water concession was a low point because of documented errors.

Ms Magugumela felt the need for an institution such as the MIIU would never completely disappear and that it would be valuable for government to have such an institution on a permanent basis. She added that initially the mandate of the MIIU was quite narrow and based exclusively on basic services; however with the new infrastructure agenda she felt that the mandate should have been broadened.

Ms Magugumela commented that reliance on consultants would continue to be necessary for some time to come as skills transfer took time to complete. She also stressed the need for an equitable share between rural and urban areas, and private and government roles in these areas.

The Chairperson asked for inputs from the DPLG.

The DPLG maintained that it engaged the MIIU on legal issues relating to the exit strategy, financial issues and the project pipeline. The issue of future institutional arrangements had been removed from the agenda and the Department would focus on facilitating private/public partnerships at the institutional level. The DPLG stated that with the introduction of the Municipal Systems Act and the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) there was a responsibility to continue facilitating these projects. The DPLG felt that the project management facility located in the National Treasury would have to become involved in local government projects.

CLR Briefing
The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL), briefed the Committee on its plans and objectives. The CLR delegation consisted of Ms Pumla Madiba (CEO), Dr Mongezi Guma (Chairperson), Ms M Bethlehem (Deputy Chairperson) Ms M Soni Amin (Commissioner) Mr B Mgcina (Commissioner), and Dr W Langeveldt (Commissioner).

Ms Madiba, provided an overview of CRL's strategic objectives and vision. The Commission aimed to contribute meaningfully and constructively to social transformation and nation-building for the attainment of a truly united South African Nation.
Ms Madiba discussed the increase of public awareness of the Commission. She broke down the submissions/ complaints the CRL had received, and provided an analysis and progress report for each such submission. She explained that the nature of these submissions could be summarised into the following broad categories
- Language in education
- Community rights and cultural rituals
- Religious education (and the adequacy of human resources.)
Ms Madiba highlighted the budget and workload allocations to finical resources.

Discussion
Adv I Nonkonyana, (ANC), noted that the issue of public prayer, which the CRL delegation had raised in their presentation, was a sensitive subject. Parliament had dealt with this challenge by opening Parliamentary sessions with silent prayer. The idea was that members would be able to exercise whatever faith they wished to in these sessions. He asked if the CRL would advocate that there should be separate sessions of prayer. He sort clarity on the Commission’s position on this issue and reiterated that he believed this to be a particularly sensitive subject.

Mr Chair agreed that it was a difficult issue but he praised the idea of silent prayer.

Ms Bethlehem explained that these issue had come to the Commission in the form of a submission and was not CRL policy. Specifically, one complaint had been received form a non-Christian who had been forced to pray at his work in the police force.

Adv Nonkonyana believed that there were benefits to the Commission’s project to secure title deeds for lands and properties belonging to rural communities. This could create a positive sense of ownership. However he questioned the logic behind the project. He asked if the Commission had considered the effect on those people who had money. He highlighted a situation where people might be unable to repay debts, and would be worse of after owning title deeds. Those who were had money could now be issued with a court order to confiscate their property. He explained this could not happen if there were no title deeds to their property. He asked how the Commission intended to address the issue.

Dr Guma agreed that there were certainly issues to be considered regarding ownership of title deeds. The Commission was only at a very preliminary stage of the project. Such matters would of course be taken into consideration

Mr I Mogase (ANC) requested that the presenters explain the youth camp mentioned in the presentation in more detail. He warned that in pursuit of social integration, it was possible to dilute the very cultural roots they were trying to preserve.

Ms Soni Amin explained that the youth camps had been organised in conjuction with the Department of Arts and Culture and the Department of Social Development. She believed that this event had been very successful. It had not just been about the propagation of an American youth culture, but an opportunity for the youth to be involved and to talk about their own culture. It had been an opportunity for young people to meet people from other cultures, and to have the opportunity to understand them for the first time.

Mr Mogase commented that burial rights was an issue he could speak about with emotion. He had been unable to visit the site of his father-in-law’s burial ground, as it was situated on a privately owned farm.

Ms P Bhengu (ANC) questioned weather the Commission had established relationships with neighbouring countries.

Ms Madiba, explained that CRL had resonantly begun to execute a project which aimed at fostering relationships with various foreign embassies, specifically those of other African Countries.

The chair thanked the CRL delegation for the presentation

The meeting was adjourned.





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