A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
COMMITTEE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION
8 May 2007
BUDGET BRIEFINGS BY MUNICIPAL DEMARCATION BOARD, COMMISSION FOR PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF THE RIGHTS OF CULTURAL, RELIGIOUS AND LINGUISTIC COMMUNITIES & LOCAL GOVERNMENT SECTOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING AUTHORITY
Chairperson: Mr S Shiceka (ANC – Gauteng)
Documents handed out:
Municipal Demarcation Board: Budget Review presentation
Commission on Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities: Business Plan 2007/08 presentation
Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority: Progress Report presentation
Audio Recording of the Meeting Part1 & Part2
The Municipal Demarcation Board briefed the members of the committee on its strategic objectives and budget for the 2007/08 financial year. Key issues raised were the potential effects of legislation changing the provincial boundaries and the necessity of meeting the deadlines and timeframes imposed by the upcoming elections in 2009 and 2011. Challenges included lack of interest by provinces and municipalities, limited timeframes for consultation, new legislation that might affect the preparations for elections and delays in formulas. Full details of the expenditure and allocations for past and future years were given. The Chairperson proposed that a workshop must be held to fully address the issues raised. Questions by Members related to the number of changes to municipal boundaries, the cross boundary cases referred to the Department of Provincial and Local Government, non-viable municipalities, the sufficiency of the amounts allocated, whether the Board was spending on core mandates, funding on staff costs, and the research that could not be undertaken due to financial constraints. The problems in Khutsong were discussed. Other discussions centred around district management areas, the continued use of old demarcation names, the high vacancy rate, the reasons for under-spending, use of private consultants, the possibility of the Board buying office accommodation, the need to revise criteria on viability of wards, and the objections by the Board to the White Paper proposals.
The Commission on Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities briefed the committee on its objectives and budget for 2007/08 and described its programmes. The Commission listed limited financial and human resources as the most important constraints on achieving its objectives. Members suggested that the CRL must do more marketing, perhaps involving the SABC, and commented that the Commission had a pivotal role in bringing about an African renaissance. Questions were raised on the lack of profile in rural areas, the small staff contingent, the number of cases resolved by mediation, the discrepancy in financial support to festivals, interventions with traditional leaders, the need for detailed plans on ubuntu, the roles of the Departments of Arts and Culture and Education, the need to achieve more and have a better resource allocation.
The Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority reported on its sector skills plans and listed the five strategic priority areas for discretionary grant funding. Most municipalities did not have an infrastructure asset maintenance plan and experienced difficulties with service delivery and the maintenance of infrastructure. The SETA was re-assessing the value of qualifications and skills, knowledge and ability to do the job. It could not carry out internal audit functions, that had to be outsourced. There was a challenge to train 80 000 Community Development Workers over the next few years. The integrated training and development framework for municipalities was listed, together with the funding. There was a major concern that municipalities did not actually spend funds allocated for training on training and failed to claim back the 50% of the training levies. Members raised queries about the general performance of SETAs, the outcome of the former CEO’s court action, the income adjustments in 2004/05 and 2005/06, and mechanisms to deal with municipalities that did not utilise the money for training as intended. There were gaps in the system that could be manipulated. Further questions were asked around the mobilization of service providers, the need to identify key performance areas, the municipalities not spending funds on training, the criteria were applied to the disbursement of unspent money in the discretionary fund, the criteria for bursaries, monitoring of the effectiveness of training and the need to have information on backlogs. It was noted that the Department of Provincial and Local Government was assisting with training of Councillors and doing a skills audit within the Department. Members noted the good work being done but suggested that more needed to be done and suggested that a round table discussion be held to identify areas where Members could assist.
Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) Budget Briefing
Mr Voyo Mlokoti, Chairperson – MDB introduced the members of the delegation and gave an outline of the board’s presentation to the committee.
Dr Hillary Monare (CEO) briefed the committee on the MDB’s mandates and performance during 2006/2007. A draft work plan for the period 2007/2011, to meet the deadlines imposed in key performance areas by the upcoming elections in 2009 and 2011, was compiled and tabled by the Board. Concerns included the lack of interest in demarcation issues by provinces and municipalities, the tight consultation timeframes, and the possibility of delay. He summarised the main points under each of the Board’s mandates of declaring district management areas, alignment of service delivery boundaries and assessment of boundaries, and capacity assessment. He discussed the relationships with key stakeholders and the MDB’s organizational and governance issues.
Mr Richard Somanje, CFO, MDB, briefed the committee on the MDB’s financial management objectives and gave an overview of past budget, income and expenditure performance. He provided details of the expected income and expenditure for 1999 to 2011, and set out full charts of budget trends. 82% of the amount requested had been received, being R20,6 million. MDB was projecting R164 500 from other income. A breakdown of expected expenditure was given as well as the proposed acquisition of fixed assets for 2007/08 to 2010/11. The total income in 2006/07 had been R19.7 million and although the final audit was yet to be done, the estimated expenditure was R20.5 million
Mr Mlokoti concluded that there was limited staff, budget and infrastructure. He expressed disappointment that the board was unable to conduct special research because of budget constraints. It expected a clean audit report but noted that adequate funding remained a challenge as this affected performance of statutory duties.
The Chairperson proposed that a two-day workshop be arranged for the Committee and the Board to address the concerns raised by the Board, and that the Committee needed the national report of the Board. He noted that the R120 million discussed in the last briefing by the MDB to be taken up in a meeting with the Minister of Finance.
Mr A Worth (DA – Free State) noted that 119 cases of changes to municipal boundaries were put on hold and asked how many had been resolved since March 2006.
Dr Monare replied that seven applications for boundary changes had been approved since March 2006 and requested the Committee’s assistance in motivating the MEC’s to fast-track the conclusion of the remaining cases.
Mr Worth asked how many cases were cross-boundary problems.
Dr Monare replied that all cross-boundary cases were put on hold and the board was unwilling to proceed with them because of the constitutional issues involved. He had written to the Minister for Justice who replied that this matter was not her responsibility and it should have been referred to the Minister of Provincial and Local Government. The Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) was to prepare a document highlighting the concerns for consideration by the Department of Justice. He said that the cross-boundary cases were removed from the board’s task list and referred to the DPLG.
Mr Worth asked who initiated investigations into non-viable municipalities.
Dr Monare replied that the MDB may receive requests from the Minister of Provincial and Local Government, MEC;s and municipalities to change boundaries. He said that submissions were requests and not instructions to the Board. He explained that the Board’s role was to check submissions for legal compliance before processing submissions and submitting them for approval.
Mr Worth noted that the MDB submitted a request for funding amounting to R56 million for the election year 2009/10 but received only R30 million (53%). In the previous election year 2004/05, an amount of R34 million was requested but only R22 million (66%) was received. He asked if the amount allocated for the next election year was sufficient.
Mr Somanje replied that an additional amount of R9 million was requested in 2004/05 and approved but was only allocated in the following financial year. He added that it was necessary for the Board to receive funds timeously in order to be in a position to carry out its responsibilities on time. He explained that the Board compiled its budget based on its planned strategic objectives. He added that compromises had to be made when adequate and timeous funding was not received.
Mr A Moseki (ANC – North West) raised a previous concern of the Committee that the Board was not utilising the funds allocated to it for its core mandates and that this could have been one of the reasons for it being under-funded.
Dr Monare replied that the perception that the Board was spending money on non-core items was the result of a lack of understanding of the responsibilities and necessary activities of the MDB.
Mr Moseki asked what was meant by the traditional areas referred to in the presentation.
Dr Monare replied that the Board was asked to map the boundaries of the regional and traditional tribal authorities and that this project was nearing completion.
Mr Moseki noted that the largest expenditure in 2006/07 was for staff costs (38%) and asked the Board for an explanation as it would appear that the funds allocated were not used for the intended purposes.
Mr Somanje replied that the cost of the outsourced capacity assessment research was included in the staff costs, amounting to R7 million. He added that if this was excluded, the Board’s expenditure on staff would be reduced to 20% of the total expenditure.
Mr Moseki asked what special research was not done in 2006/07 due to financial constraints.
Dr Monare replied that research needed to be done into the definition, norms and standards of municipal and district functions. He said that this was necessary to establish whether non-performance by municipalities was due to lack of capacity or an unwillingness to perform the functions.
Kgoshi Mokoena (ANC – Limpopo) commented on the adverse effects of the demarcation changes imposed on the Khutsong community. He related the extreme levels of anger in the community and cited several riotous incidents.
Mr Moseki commented that the laws of the country applied to the Khutsong community as well and that the actions taken were acts of defiance that should not be tolerated. He said that a meeting was called by the ANC to discuss the issue but the community refused to attend.
Kgoshi Mokoena said that people did not attend the meeting because they were intimidated.
Dr Monare replied that the Board noted the consequences of boundary changes imposed by Parliament on the communities involved.
Kgoshi Mokoena stressed the importance of expediting the outstanding requests for boundary changes and of ensuring that any new submissions were made timeously so that changes can be approved in time for the next elections.
Dr Monare confirmed that all applications for boundary changes must be submitted in 2007 to meet the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)’s deadline of 2008.
Kgoshi Mokoena asked for details of the Board’s concern that new legislation may cause delays and result in targets not being met.
Kgoshi Mokoena asked if Robben Island was regarded as a District Management Area (DMA) similar to the Kruger National Park and Table Mountain.
Dr Monare replied that national parks and areas of international significance declared as DMA’s were the responsibility of the districts as they cannot be managed by municipalities. He said that research conducted by the Board confirmed that DMAs were not the way to go and that the number of DMAs need to be reduced.
Kgoshi Mokoena commented that reference to old demarcation names such as Transvaal, Ciskei, Boputhatswana and Transkei must be discontinued.
Dr Monare replied that the use of names was not the responsibility of the Board
Kgoshi Mokoena commented that a vacancy rate of 34% of posts was very high and asked if priorities could not be re-prioritized to avoid under-funding.
Mr Mlokoti agreed that the vacancy rate was too high.
Kgoshi Mokoena commented that an unspent allocation should be referred to as under-spending rather than as a surplus and asked for the reasons for the expected under-spent amount of R16.8 million in 2006/07.
Mr Somanje replied that the surplus of R3 million declared in 2005/06 included the additional R9 million requested in 2004/05, which had only been received in the following financial year. He said that the actual surplus declared to Treasury in 2005/06 amounted to only R356 000.
Kgoshi Mokoena asked to what extent the MDB made use of private consultants.
Dr Monare replied that non-recurring projects and capacity assessment tasks were outsourced to service providers while advisory matters, mapping and establishment of boundaries were done internally.
Kgoshi Mokoena asked for a breakdown of the budget allocation and expenditure per province.
Dr Monare replied that the board functioned on a national rather than a provincial level. He said that more submissions for boundary changes were received from some provinces than from others, for example KZN.
Kgoshi Mokoena noted the amount spent on office rentals and asked if the Board was considering owning its own offices.
Mr Mlokoti replied that the Board had investigated the possibility of purchasing its own building and came to the conclusion that a large cash injection was required but that funds were not available. He added that the Board had approached the Department of Public Works to rent office space at a much lower rate than it was currently paying.
Mr Leon Fielding (DA – Northern Cape) asked how the Board would be affected if the number of provinces were reduced from 9 to 4.
Dr Monare replied that if the number of provinces were changed, the boundaries of the provinces, municipalities and wards as well as the number of municipalities would change as well. He said that the Board needed to be informed of the changes as soon as possible to assess the impact on the MDB’s activities and timeframes.
Mr Worth asked for clarification of the vacancy rate reported in the 2005/06 annual report.
The Chairperson asked what criteria were applied to determine whether a ward was regarded as a functional ward.
Dr Monare replied that the board felt strongly that the legislation needed to be reviewed. He said that the current criteria determining the functionality of wards needed to be raised and were too technical and number-driven. He said that the MDB had made submissions in this regard.
The Chairperson asked what role the committee could play in ensuring that the Board meets its objectives in time for the next election.
Dr Monare replied that delays were caused during the last elections by the lack of experience of newly-elected MEC’s who requested more time than was available to deal with demarcation issues. He said that the Board was also criticized for not consulting enough with communities but this was the result of time constraints.
The Chairperson asked the Board to comment on the White Paper on local government and to indicate when the new bill needed to be promulgated to avoid adverse effect on the programme set by the MDB.
Dr Monare replied that the MDB had raised a number of objections to the proposals in the White Paper. He said that it was not practical to assess the performance of all the municipalities once a year and those municipalities could also not be expected to continually improve their performance if capacity assessments were done only once in five years. He added that the Board must know as soon as possible what changes were proposed in the Local Government Amendment Bill in order for it to be ready for the 2009/10 elections.
The Chairperson asked when the Board expected to finalize the demarcation changes in KwaZulu Natal (KZN) resulting from the judgment handed down by the Constitutional court.
Dr Monare replied that the court invalidated the boundary changes because of the anomalies in the process and referred the matter back to Parliament, not to the Board. The judgment included a deadline of February 2008 for finalisation, but allowed for application for extension of the deadline. He understood that the matter was being dealt with by the relevant authorities.
Dr Monare said that he was confident that the Board will be able to complete the current workload of boundary demarcation changes before 2008 with the co-operation of all involved at the provincial and national level.
The Chairperson suggested that the Board involve the committee in matters of national importance and strategy. He commented that old names were still in use because the demarcation process was not completed. He said that the resolution of outstanding submissions was critical as service delivery was adversely affected.
Dr Monare replied that these were cases where provincial boundaries were affected by the proposed boundary changes and were brought to the Minister of Justice’s attention. He said that the Department of Justice was slow to respond and to come to terms with the alignment of service delivery. He added that the Board did not have the authority to implement alignment and could only recommend and provide assistance.
The Chairperson referred to the fundamental issue of the two-tier system of government and said that in his view Parliament had abdicated responsibility and was waiting to be told what to do about the Constitutional Court judgment. He said that the Committee was in a position to provide leadership in this matter and must make a contribution at both the national and provincial levels to ensure that the provinces carried out their responsibilities. The Committee must also engage the provinces to ensure that the matters relating to provincial and inner boundaries are resolved on time.
The Chairperson expressed appreciation for the Board’s handling of its staff and noted that there were no dismissals and only three resignations during the past year. He pointed out that the Board did not provide any information on staff demographics and asked what the MDB was doing to meet the gender and other staffing targets.
Dr Monare replied that the report on the staffing complement was omitted in error and would be made available to the committee.
Mr Mbulelo Sigaba, Deputy CFO: DPLG, commented that the issue of adequate funding was also a concern of SALGA. He proposed a quarterly assessment of budgetary performance and requested that the DPLG be kept informed of the Board’s activities and funding requirements. He added that requests for funding might not always be granted but that the DPLG could assist with educating decision-makers about the responsibilities of the MDB.
Ms Morongoa Letsoalo, Deputy Chairperson – MDB, said that although there was a tendency to over-emphasise problems, the board wanted to ensure that the committee was made aware of the issues faced by the MDB and the matters where assistance was required. She said that the impending changes to the legislation were a critical issue for the Board as it needed a level playing field to operate effectively.
Kgoshi Mokoena thanked the MDB for providing valuable insight and information that would allow the Committee to meet its oversight responsibility and assured the Board of the committee’s support in achieving its objectives.
Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) Business Plan Briefing 2007/08
Dr Mongezi Guma, Chairperson – CRL, introduced the members of the CRL delegation. He noted, in regard to the recent media furore over the slaughtering of animals on Mr Yengeni’s release, that a meeting was held with the SPCA where the CRL expressed its concern that people’s right to exercise their cultural practices without fear of arrest was infringed. SPCA admitted to an overenthusiastic response to the Yengeni matter in the meeting. He added that, judging from the e-mails he received from around the world, there appeared to be a concerted campaign by the animal rights lobby to attack the committee for the position taken by the CRL.
Dr Guma tabled the mandate, vision and mission of the CRL and outlined its values and principles. The Commission aimed to achieve constructive social transformation and a development orientated approach, whilst addressing people’s needs and being transparent. He listed the challenges faced by the CRL in exercising its mandate, and the need to develop an appreciation of culture without retreating back to the entrenched attitudes of the past.
Current concerns included the issue of repatriation and exploring appropriate ways of achieving it. He said the right of children to return to the farms where their parents had lived to exercise the rituals of the dead need to be accommodated in a manner that was not threatening to the farmer.
Ms Pumla Madiba, CEO, CRL Commission, explained in greater detail the key challenges and the environment in which the CRL operated. She listed the need to restore the values of ubuntu, the definition of community and the contribution of the concept of unity in diversity to building the nation. Other challenges outlined included the diminishing of human and African values of ubuntu, competing definitions of community, seeking unity in diversity, false identities that had become historically entrenched, limited resources within the organisation and the lack of funding.
Ms Madiba explained the integrated approach taken by the CRL with its three main programmes of research and policy development, public education and information and the establishment of community councils. She listed the commission’s potential partners in carrying out its programmes and explained that its main constraints were limited financial and human resources.
Ms Madiba presented the CRL’s detailed business plan and tabled the budgets required to meet each of the strategic objectives.
The Chairperson suggested that the CRL invest more in marketing itself in order to become better known and improve communication. He mentioned the Tony Yengeni episode as one example where a good marketer could have raised the profile of the CRL, as well as the example set by the Human Rights Commission in raising awareness.
Dr Guma conceded the Commission’s weakness in marketing itself and said that so far the focus was on the CRL’s programmes and the day to day management of resources.
The Chairperson commented on the loss of culture and tradition and the critical role the Commission could play in preserving the culture and restoring the dignity of the people and thereby bring about the African Renaissance.
Mr Moseki agreed with the Chairperson that communication was important. He added that the strategy used most often to undermine people’s culture was to impose their own institutions and communities. He complimented the CRL on doing a good job and suggested that radio stations were utilized to address the commission’s moral regeneration programmes.
The Chairperson noted that culture was promoted in other countries by the use of music and suggested that the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) was added to the list of potential partners in order to reach people through the medium of television and radio.
Mr N Mack (ANC – Western Cape) commented that the CRL was unknown in rural areas and expressed concern that the efforts of the commission would not reach isolated farm communities.
Mr Mack remarked that the CRL’s statement that it was accountable to the National Assembly (slide no. 3) should be corrected to read that it was accountable to Parliament.
Mr Mack expressed concern over the number of vacancies for financial staff and the overall lack of human resources of the commission. He asked how the CRL coped with so few staff.
Dr Guma replied that a committee was created to identify the staffing levels needed by the CRL in order to meet its objectives and allow it to operate at a higher level.
Ms Madiba responded that there was a discrepancy between the commission’s planned outputs and the tools at its disposal to meet its objectives.
Mr Mack agreed that mediation was the best way to approach the complaints dealt with by the commission. He asked what percentage of cases was dealt with through mediation, how many were successfully resolved and how many hard-line cases there were where mediation was rejected.
Mr Mack lamented the lack of support for local African artists and said they received no exposure on television and had few opportunities to perform while much effort went into promoting overseas artists. He added that there was a large discrepancy in the financial support provided by the Department for Arts and Culture for Afrikaner festivals like the Klein-Karroo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK) and that given for any other festival.
Dr Guma replied that the Commission was involved in the promotion of two cultural initiatives, namely African Day and Young People. He added that the National Heritage Council had hosted a local music competition awards ceremony in KZN and the Commission was involved in discussions on how recognition and encouragement to artists to flourish could be promoted at both national and provincial levels.
The Chairperson commented that the Commission’s responsibility was to protect all cultures and to provide guidance and assistance to communities in developing their cultural heritage.
Dr Guma replied that the CRL did work with traditional leaders and was also engaged in interventions with traditional leaders. He cited examples in Limpopo province and the work done with leaders in Pondoland regarding the deaths in initiation schools. He said that a pilot programme was being developed in the Eastern Cape where a need was identified to restore the dignity and historical position of the chief in the community.
Kgoshi Mokoena agreed with previous comments made by the committee that the commission needed to become better known and that a marketing strategy was needed to achieve this.
Kgoshi Mokoena said that events like the soccer World Cup provided opportunities to promote the country and its cultures to visitors. He said that the CRL was in a better position than anyone else to provide advice.
Kgoshi Mokoena noted the CRL’s emphasis on the importance of ubuntu and said that a detailed plan on how this objective can be achieved was needed. He added that the perception than anything African was barbaric must be eliminated.
Kgoshi Mokoena said that the Department of Arts and Culture was a very important stakeholder and he assumed that its omission from the CRL’s list of potential partners was an oversight.
Dr Guma replied that the Commission was currently engaged with the Department of Arts and Culture to review policies. He added that this engagement allowed the CRL to interact with officials from the department and to raise issues pertinent to provinces. He said that the interaction also allowed for the development of constructive relationships.
Kgoshi Mokoena asked the commission to provide more details on its budget and to include a breakdown of expenditure per province.
Ms Madiba replied that the major challenge faced by the Commission was the extremely limited financial resources. She added that the Commission included the provinces in the planning of activities but was limited by financial constraints to implementing only relatively small projects.
Kgoshi Mokoena expressed appreciation for the Commission’s efforts but said that more needed to be done.
Ms Madiba replied that the Commission was established fairly recently and was only now beginning to get to grips with the extent of its mandate. She added that the CRL had a single office in Johannesburg and no office in any other province or municipality. She predicted a slow expansion rate to establish a presence in more provinces.
The Chairperson explained the role the Committee plays at a provincial level as opposed to the National Assembly which operated on a national level.
Dr Guma replied that in terms of the Commission’s outreach strategy, programmes were introduced in both a rural and an urban area selected in each province.
Dr Guma said that the CRL was requested to develop a cultural profile of provinces and cited the example of KZN where everybody living in the province was not necessarily a Zulu. He added that the challenge to the Commission was how to create space for these minority communities in the provinces.
Mr A Manyosi (ANC – Eastern Cape) commented that because of budget constraints, the Commission did not have the resources to promote itself.
Mr Manyosi suggested that the Department of Education was an important partner to the CRL in assisting with the promotion of culture to children. He added that the children of wealthier parents that were sent to multiracial and Model C schools tended to lose their background, identity and ability to write or spell their language.
The Chairperson said that the Commission’s need for more resources to be made available to it was apparent. He proposed that the Commission and the Committee meet for a round table discussion of the CRL’s objectives and concerns to see where the members of the Committee can assist in resolving issues and challenges.
Dr Guma replied that this would be welcomed.
Ms Madiba responded that the CRL had produced a document describing and explaining the environment in which it operated. She pointed out that the Commission was mandated to protect all of the 11 language communities and that everyone had a right to the CRL. She welcomed the comments of the members and the offer of assistance and advice from the Committee.
Mr Fielding expressed concern for the number of young persons in correctional centres. He suggested that the CRL interact with Local Government, the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Department of Justice and the Department of Correctional Services to reach those young men and girls.
Dr Guma commented that the Commission was not invited to contribute to the development of Parliament’s new emblem. He further noted that although indigenous names were preferred, new names chosen were not necessarily indigenous, for example the name change from Port Elizabeth to Nelson Mandela. He said that the Commission was concerned with ensuring that it avoids replacing historical myths promoting political agendas with new myths.
Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority (LGSETA) Progress Report briefing
Mr M Sebezo, LGSETA, apologized for the absence of Clr Gavin Lobelo, Chairperson of the LGSETA and summarised the Chairperson’s foreword to the committee.
Mr Sidwell Mofokeng, CEO, LGSETA, reported on the sector skills plans of the LGSETA and listed the five strategic priority areas for discretionary grant funding. He highlighted the importance of the infrastructure and service delivery programme and said that most municipalities did not have an infrastructure asset maintenance plan and experienced difficulties with service delivery and the maintenance of infrastructure as a result.
Mr Mofokeng said that the LGSETA was re-assessing the value of qualifications versus the skills, knowledge and ability to do the job and had found that in most cases, the person carrying out maintenance tasks had no qualifications but had the necessary experience and skills.
Mr Mofokeng said that there was no resident capacity within the LGSETA to carry out internal audit functions and it was outsourced at great cost. He said that most of the LGSETA’s functions were driven by legislation and noted that municipalities were governed by 136 items of legislation.
Mr Mofokeng said that municipalities in total employed only 128 property valuers and so most property valuations were outsourced. He added that every ward was required to have a functional ward committee in terms of the Act and the LGSETA was faced with the challenge to train 80000 Community Development Workers (CDW’s) appointed over the next few years.
Mr Mofokeng explained the integrated training and development framework for municipalities developed by the LGSETA and listed the approved projects and funding allocated to each. He mentioned that a major concern was that municipalities did not spend funds allocated for training on actual training and failed to claim back the 50% of the training levies.
Mr Mofokeng said that it was most important to conduct impact assessments of training done and include an assessment of the effectiveness of the funds dispersed on training.
Mr Mofokeng tabled full details of the Skills Development Levy (SDL) income and grant disbursements made per province during the 2006/07 financial year.
The Chairperson asked the LGSETA to provide a report on its activities per province.
Mr Worth mentioned that the Minister of Finance was allegedly unhappy with the SETA’s performances. He referred to the LGSETA’s 2006 annual report and asked if there was any outcome on the matter of the former CEO’s case against the LGSETA, for which a contingency of R690 000 was provided in the 2005/06 year.
Mr Mofokeng replied that the previous incumbent would not be proceeding with the case and the contingency was reversed in the 2006/07 year.
Mr Worth noted that a surplus of R35 million for 2004/05 was reflected in the notes to the annual financial statements but a net deficit of R52 million was shown at the beginning of 2005/06. He asked the LGSETA to explain how this could be possible.
Mr Mofokeng replied that formal approval for income adjustments and the correction of mis-allocated funds was received only after the end of the 2004/05 year.
Mr Worth asked for clarification on the investment income and also asked for clarification on two conflicting statements under the notes on contingencies in the 2006 annual report.
Mr Moseki asked what mechanisms were in place to deal with municipalities that did not utilise the money for training as intended.
Mr Mofokeng expanded on the problem of “malicious compliance” by municipalities in order to claim funds intended for training. He said that the sector skills plan document often ended up with a skills development officer at a junior municipal level and was completed with little or no consultation. He said that the paperwork was completed and submitted but the details were not necessarily a true reflection of the real situation. He said that where, in theory, the municipality had complied the LGSETA was obliged to disburse funds. He said that the LGSETA did not have the resources and capacity to check the situation at every municipality and was powerless to take action.
Mr Mofokeng mentioned two cases where the LGSETA was taken to court when it refused to disburse funds, and had lost the cases. He said that there were gaps in the system that could be manipulated. He added that the LGSETA addressed this problem by having provincial summits with the involvement of the DPLG and the MEC’s. He said that memoranda of agreement (MOU’s) have been signed with provinces.
Mr Mofokeng said that the information on incidences of malicious compliance would be made available to the Committee.
Mr Moseki asked if the LGSETA was proactive in mobilising service providers and available skills.
Mr Mofokeng replied that the state of affairs in municipalities was known to some extent. He said that a detailed skills audit was to be conducted to gather information to make informed interventions. He added that there was a need to identify key performance areas and a conference was to be held to identify a national agenda and strategy.
Mr Moseki asked what the opportunities for job creation were.
Mr Mofokeng replied that the number of posts should correlate to the number of households to ensure service delivery. He said that no norms and standards for benchmarking municipal posts existed. He mentioned that there were examples of mismatching, such as where a person occupied a post for which he was not qualified. He said that there were many other factors influencing service delivery, not just training.
Mr Mack asked for details of which municipalities were not spending reclaimed funds on training.
Mr Mack asked what criteria were applied to the disbursement of unspent money that was held in the discretionary fund.
Mr Mofokeng replied that discretionary funds were spent on the five key priority areas. He gave the example of the Siyanuma municipality that had paid levies of R80 000, of which R40 000 may be reclaimed. He said that because it had no skills whatsoever, it was allocated R2.5 million for capacity building training out of the unclaimed fund.
Mr Mack asked if unclaimed money was available in the following year or if it was forfeited.
Mr Mofokeng undertook to provide a list of unclaimed and forfeited amounts per province to the committee.
Kgoshi Mokoena asked if information about the qualification criteria for bursaries were available.
Mr Mofokeng replied that information about the grants and bursaries was available from the LGSETA.
Kgoshi Mokoena asked if any monitoring of the effectiveness of Community Development Worker (CDW) training was done.
Mr Mofokeng replied that there were some mixed reactions to the CDWs. He added that although there were gaps, on the whole the CDW training provided was good.
Kgoshi Mokoena asked if any calculated outputs are in place to determine if training was successful.
Mr Mofokeng replied that the quality of training could not be attested to. He added that the development of a training assessment programme to measure the effectiveness of training was underway.
The Chairperson remarked that project management skills were critical to ensure service delivery.
Mr Mofokeng replied that project management was highlighted in the presentation and that funds have been allocated for this.
The Chairperson said that the areas the LGSETA focused on were good but no backlog information was provided and it was difficult for the Committee to assess the progress made.
The Chairperson said that human resource capacity in municipalities was non-existent and much needed to be done in developing skills in this area.
Mr Mofokeng replied that the lack of HR skills was identified in the priority areas. He added that municipalities focused on industrial relations matters rather than human resources and human resource development issues such as skills audits and capacity assessments. He said that skills development officers were often junior staff with little credibility. He noted that municipalities needed assistance with IR matters as well.
Mr Shiceka asked what was being done in placing graduates and interns.
Mr Mofokeng replied that interns and graduates could be placed immediately.
Mr Shiceka remarked on the lack of basic financial skills at municipal levels.
Mr Mofokeng replied that the state of affairs in municipalities was known to some extent. He said that a detailed skills audit was to be conducted to gather information to make informed interventions. He added that there was a need to identify key performance areas and a conference was to be held to identify a national agenda and strategy.
The Chairperson said that the LGSETA was doing a good job but more still needed to be done. He suggested a round table discussion between the LGSETA and the Committee to discuss areas of concern and to assess where the members of the Committee can provide assistance.
Mr Mofokeng replied that changes to the reporting structure were made every time the LGSETA reported to the Committee. He suggested that a workshop be held for the members of the Committee to understand the mandate of the LGSETA. He explained that the LGSETA had no legislative authority and no authority to deal with incidents of malicious compliance by municipalities to obtain funding. He said that the LGSETA could merely identify areas where strengthening was needed and assist with that.
Mr Nyanisile Jack, Chief Director, DPLG, advised that the DPLG was co-operating with the LGSETA in the training of councillors and senior managers in leadership skills. He added that this was an accredited programme towards an accepted qualification.
Mr Jack said that a skills audit was being conducted to determine the skills gaps in the DPLG and it was expected to be completed in eighteen months.
The Chairperson concluded that the Committee was committed to assisting the LGSETA to find solutions for the challenges.
The meeting was adjourned.