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Meeting reportPROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
30 October 2007
COMMISSION FOR THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF THE RIGHTS OF CULTURAL, RELIGIOUS AND LINGUISTIC COMMUNITIES, MUNICIPAL DEMARCATION BOARD & LOCAL GOVERNMENT SECTOR EDUCATION TRAINING AUTHORITY 2006/7 ANNUAL REPORTS: BRIEFINGS
Chairperson: Mr S Tsenoli (ANC)
Documents handed out:
CRL Commission Annual Report 2006/7 [available at www.crlcommission.org.za]
CRL Commission presentation
Municipal Demarcation Board Annual Report 2006/7 [available shortly at www.demarcation.org.za]
Municipal Demarcation Board - PowerPoint presentation
Local Government SETA Annual Report 2006/7 [available at www.lgwseta.co.za]
Local Government SETA presentation
Audio recording of meeting [Part 1][Part 2] [Part 2]
The Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of the Commission for the promotion and protection of the rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities Commission briefed the Committee on the 2007 Annual Report and the achievements during the year. The Commission focused on conflict resolution within communities and dealt with complaints on the infringement of cultural, religious and language rights. The report on the Chapter 9 institutions recommended that the CRL Commission reported to the Department of Arts and Culture in future.
Members asked questions about the number and nature of the complaints that were dealt with and were particularly concerned with initiation schools, the development and preservation of mother tongue languages and the establishment of community councils. Members requested clarity on the matters that were raised in the Auditor-General’s comments and wanted to know how the Commission measured its performance and justified its funding.
The Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of the Municipal Demarcation Board submitted a detailed report on the responses to the matters raised by the Committee during the previous year’s briefing. The Board submitted a detailed report on the activities and achievements for 2007 and included a timetable for the objectives for the 2009 and 2011 elections.
Members asked questions about the effects of boundary changes on communities and the impact that the possible scrapping of the district management areas will have on municipalities and wards. Members were concerned that the deadlines for the changes to police and magisterial district boundaries would not be met.
The Deputy Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of the Local Government Sector Education Training Authority briefed the Committee on the 2007 Annual Report and provided extensive information on the sector skills planning, learnership and education training quality assurance programmes. The LGSETA strongly objected to the qualified audit report it received from the Auditor-General.
Members were concerned by the lack of skills experienced at local government level and emphasized the importance of collaboration between Government departments. It was critical that the skills needs of each sector was accurately determined and effectively addressed.
Commission for the promotion and protection of the rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) presentation
Dr Mongezi Guma (Chairperson, CRL Commission) introduced the delegates from the Commission. The report on the review of Chapter 9 institutions, conducted by Minister Kader Asmal, included the recommendations that the CRL Commission was transferred to the Department of Arts and Culture and that a single body was created to represent the interests of all the entities concerned with human rights issues. It was expected that the Commission would not continue to exist in its present form after the following year. During the year under review, the Commission attempted to address the issue of identity and worked with the Auditor-General (A-G) and the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) to identify focus areas and define roles and functions. Not much progress was made with regard to community councils. The Commission participated in the African Peer Review (APRM) assessments led by Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketsi and engaged with the United Nations on issues affecting religious communities.
Ms Pumla Madiba (Chief Executive Officer, CRL Commission) briefed the Committee on the Commission’s position within the legislative framework and the policy that was formulated (see attached document). The CRL focused on the investigation of complaints submitted by people and attempted to resolve conflict through mediation and community engagement. The Commission conducted research, developed policy frameworks, promoted public education, encouraged dialogue between parties and lobbied Government to introduce appropriate legislation. The Commission’s vision and mission and strategic objectives were presented.
The Commission had 66 employees but suffered from a high staff turnover and a low percentage of funded posts. The Annual Financial Statements were included in the annual report. An unqualified audit report was received from the Auditor-General.
During the year under review, 32 complaints were received. Twelve were resolved, four were referred to other institutions, six were dealt with as research projects and ten were in progress. Issues around religion accounted for most of the complaints received, followed by matters related to culture. Complaints about language were the least number but the issue of language in schools was of major concern. Research into language, sacred spaces, religious inequality, rites of passage and initiations were undertaken. Public hearings were held with traditional leaders on male initiation ceremonies. The Commission made a number of recommendations to community leaders and traditional and Government institutions. More needed to be done with regard to community councils. Flagship projects included Human Rights Day and Africa Day celebrations. The Commission had formal partnership agreements with other Chapter 9 institutions, traditional leaders and Government departments.
In conclusion, Dr Guma mentioned the National Consultative Conference scheduled for 2008. He requested that the Committee champion a seminar on the subject of cultural and religious charters prior to the conference.
Mr M Swathe (DA) asked whether the community councils would be operating within the traditional councils.
Mr R Sonto (ANC) asked whether communities made contributions to the Commission or if they only submitted complaints.
Mr D Kekana (ANC) remarked that although the promotion of indigenous languages was important to preserve cultures, the reality was that the first world economy was run in English. Other countries (e.g. Germany) managed to operate in the mother tongue but in South Africa, a person was unemployable if he spoke only an African language.
Mr S Mshudulu (ANC) asked for clarity on how the Commission measured its performance against cost. He asked what role was played by other Government departments, e.g. the Department of Education. He asked for details of the Commission’s audit committees. He wanted to know how the Commission determined whether it achieved its objectives.
Mr W Doman (DA) noted that the Commission had staff vacancies but the amount spent on recruitment was less than in the previous year. He observed that entertainment costs had increased fivefold. He asked whether there was a performance management system in place. He asked whether the Commission received assistance from the DPLG with finances and with the filling of vacancies. He asked what the turnaround period was for complaints. He wanted to know whether provincial conferences were held or if they were planned to be held. Some workshops were held and the Commission had received some media exposure and asked whether more events were planned to promote the aims of the Commission. He asked what the Commission did to establish community councils.
Ms M Gumede (ANC) requested further details of the types of complaints received and the manner in which they were resolved. She asked what the Commission was doing about cases where children went to initiation schools without the permission of their parents. She wanted to know what was done about the reports of deaths at initiation schools.Parents had to know the results of virginity testing as the status of a daughter affected lobola negotiations. She asked if the Commission had ever dealt with the question of maturity in cases where young girls showed early physical development but were still minors.
The Chairperson remarked that Members were involved with drafting legislation and the issues raised by Ms Gumede had implications in the Children’s Act.
Dr Guma suggested that the CRL was consulted when Government considered legislation. He said that a safe environment must be created for children who attend initiation schools and there was a need to involve municipalities in this regard. The concerns raised around the Children’s Act had to do with separating children from the family, the erosion of family values and the disintegration of the family unit. Parent felt that the Act disempowered them and caused children to perceive that parents did not act in their best interests. The Commission created opportunities for dialogue in the nation, which was more successful in solving disputes because court outcomes did not always solve the case. Although the Department of Education plays a role at a certain level, certain languages and cultures were being eroded as it was not possible to teach all the languages in schools. He saw the need for round table assessment of responsibilities and evaluation of performance and achievements.
The Chairperson added to Mr Kekana’s comments regarding languages. Unlike countries with a single mother tongue, South Africa had 11 official languages. He did not think that the assumption that one language would dominate was necessarily correct. He asked Dr Guma how a language was developed to the extent that it was used by a country to run its business.
Mr Guma agreed that the many languages and cultures imposed a disadvantage in this respect. Countries like Denmark and China achieved that goal because they were willing to invest money to develop their language to such an extent. A possible way to achieve that would be to aggregate the Nguni and Sotho languages and to produce knowledge and create material. The question was whether South Africa produced people who were capable of doing that.
Ms Marlene Bethlehem (Deputy Chairperson, CRL Commission) added that schools were granted the right to choose the language of instruction. Most chose English as it was considered to be the language of commerce. Parents had to be educated on the importance of children learning their mother tongue to preserve the culture. There were cases where children were unable to communicate with their grandparents because they did not speak English.
Ms Madiba remarked that there was often confusion around the teaching of a language as a subject and the use of a language in instruction. The use of a mother tongue depended on the value families and communities placed in their cultural identity.
In response to the question about audit committees, Ms Madiba replied that the funding model required management structures that were complicated and quite costly to administer. The recruitment process was lengthy and it was not always possible to find the right person to employ. Posts often had to be re-advertised and block advertisements were placed. The entertainment costs included the big events like Africa Day and Human Rights Day. A performance management system and an incentive scheme for good performance were recently approved.
Ms Madiba said that complaints were acknowledged within 30 days and most cases were resolved within 90 days. In cases like the access to burial grounds on privately owned farms and the teaching of religion in schools remained “open”. The Commission applied the experience gained to support communities in resolving similar conflicts.
In response to the questions about initiation schools, Dr Guma said that community consultations were held in the provinces. A code of conduct was developed for initiation schools, for example an ante-room must be provided where the boys were received and there the parental and medical issues can be dealt with. The problem was competition between schools and there were cases where touts were paid R50 for every boy recruited. A report was compiled and the code of conduct was ready to be presented to the communities and the provinces.
In reply to the questions about community councils, Ms Madiba said that the challenge was the integration of traditional and local councils into community councils without sacrificing the contribution of either of the parties involved. Close relationships with traditional leaders were being built. For the moment, the Commission focused on conflict resolution. It was a participative process and she was confident that there will be a change towards a situation where communities became more contributing and less complaining.
In response to Mr Mshudu’s comments, Ms Bethlehem said that the Commission’s objective was nation-building and as a pioneering organisation, had to interpret what that meant.
Mr Mshudulu related his own experiences as a young boy and said that the Commission faced a challenge in addressing traditional male/female issues and secret ceremonies.
Ms Gumede spoke about the different cultures and traditions in neighbouring provinces like the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal.
Mr Kekana explained what boys were traditionally taught in initiation schools. According to African culture, graduates of initiation schools were regarded as majors but legally had to be 18 years old. Times had changed and there was a need to re-align traditions with the modern world.
Mr Swathe asked what methods were acceptable to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) for the ritual slaughtering of cattle.
The Chairperson remarked that the traditional leaders intervened with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) on the matter of reporting on initiations and obtained an apology from them. The changing conditions were a challenge to the Commission.
The Chairperson asked Ms Madiba for an explanation on what was meant by an “outsourced internal audit function”. He requested further details of the audit comments on the monthly report from the audit committee. A failure to prioritise projects for which funding was obtained will result in adverse audit comments. He asked for details of the comment on insufficient internal controls. He wanted to know the timeframes for attending to the audit comments.
The Chairperson asked Dr Guma for his opinion of the three proposals made in the report on the review of the Chapter 9 institutions. He asked whether the Commission had the appropriate resources to carry out its responsibilities. The Commission was obliged to participate in legislative processes and asked if the Commission was able to assess and pick up on inputs into the system.
The Chairperson found Dr Guma’s observation on the conflict between the family and individuals an interesting concept. The Constitution provided for both collective and individual rights.
Ms Gumede asked whether religion was the responsibility of a Government department. The Chairperson explained that the Commission dealt with issues of religion and religion was not the business of Government.
Ms Madiba explained that the law allowed for the outsourcing of the internal audit function. The Commission did not have the staff capacity to carry out the function. A new audit committee took over towards the end of the financial year and the comment referred to the fact that it was not yet fully operational at the time of the audit. Regular meetings were being held, members of the audit committee were vigilant and she expected an improvement in performance. The issue of the separation of duties was related to the limited capacity in the organisation. The experience with staff turnover was similar to the national trend but was more noticeable in small organisations. A staff stabilisation committee was formed to address any underlying staff issues as well.
Dr Guma added that the issue of staff turnover was of concern and management was considering the report from the staff stabilisation committee. Many staff members were inherited from the DPLG and there were disparity between benefits of some staff members. The DPLG was asked to assist with the integration of staff and the Commission was in the process of consolidating and implementing the proposals from the stabilisation committee.
With regard to the Asmal report, Dr Guma said that no proper assessment of the CRL had been done yet and it was premature to determine its precise role. He felt that combining all the Chapter 9 institutions under a singe entity was desirable. The CRL had more interaction with the Department of Arts and Culture than with the DPLG. He thought that certain of the institutions tasked with the promotion of particular languages could be overwhelmed by political agendas and would be better served if absorbed by the CRL.
The Chairperson suggested that a seminar was held to discuss the common agenda of the Departments of Arts and Culture and Provincial and Local Government.
Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) presentation
Mr Rapulana Monare (Chief Executive Officer, MDB) introduced the delegates from the MDB and gave and overview of the Board’s presentation (see attached document). Details of the board members and staff complement were provided. He took the Committee through the MDB’s responses to the issues raised by the Portfolio and Select Committees at the briefing on 17 October 2006. The Auditor-General’s report on the 2006/07 financial year was presented. The MDB received an unqualified audit opinion. Details of the audit comments and the action taken by the MDB were provided.
Mr J van Zyl (Acting Chief Financial Officer, MDB) presented the MDB’s financial report and took the Committee through the income and expenditure for the 2006/07 financial year. 75% of the deficit of R831,000 was attributed to depreciation and amortisation. Administrative expenses amounted to R2.7 million, staff costs totaled R6.9 million, project expenses came to R4 million and operating expenses totaled R2.4 million. Detailed explanatory notes on the expenditure items were provided. An interim report for the six months to 30 September 2007 was submitted.
Mr Monare gave a detailed breakdown of the outputs and developments during 2006/07. Major focus areas included the determination and re-determination of municipal boundaries, an assessment of municipal capacity, a review of the district management areas (DMA’s) and the service delivery requirements for boundaries. The report included the MDB’s performance in respect of the objectives set for stakeholder relationships, good governance and organisational capacity and capability. For the immediate future, the MDB concentrated on preparations for the 2009 national and provincial elections and the 2011 local government elections. Detailed timetables were included in the presentation. The MDB’s medium term strategy for the period 2007/08 to 2010/11 centered around eight strategic themes and budget estimates for the following three years were provided.
Mr Swathe referred to the dissatisfaction with the internal audit service provider and asked why the MDB did not terminate the arrangement sooner. He asked what effect the elimination of the DMA’s will have on municipal boundaries.
The Chairperson explained that there were contractual obligations with the service provider that could not be broken earlier.
Mr Mshudulu complimented the MDB on a well-structured report. He was concerned that there was still resistance against boundary changes by Government departments and asked how many cases were involved. He asked how the MDB determined the effectiveness of service providers performing outsourced functions.
The Chairperson asked for clarity on the MDB’s interaction with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the South African police Service (SAPS) and wanted to know why the alignment project was taking so long. He asked what impact the DMA’s would have on the size of the wards. He asked how the municipalities responded to the capacity assessment reports from the MDB.
Mr Mshudulu asked for an update on the boundary dispute in the Nelson Mandela Metropole.
Mr Monare replied that the elimination of DMA’s will definitely have an impact on municipalities. Details were published and the timetables allowed for submissions to be made. One of the reasons why new applications for boundary changes will not be accepted after October 2007 was to allow adequate time for the MDB to finalise the DMA’s.
Mr Monare said that the process of effecting changes to the police and magisterial district boundaries was slow and cumbersome but the MDB continued to work with the SAPS and the DOJ. It was not an MDB project and the Board can only provide support. He undertook to provide a report on the visits to communities that were affected by boundary changes.
Mr Monare explained that only the capacity assessment and internal audit functions were outsourced. The MDB went through an intensive tender process when selecting service providers. The MDB was satisfied with the performance of the current internal audit service provider.
In response to the Chairperson’s question, Mr Monare said that the MDB depended on the DOJ to finalise the alignment of boundaries. The deadline for service delivery (i.e. for support provided by the MDB) was August 2007 but the DOJ advised that it would only be ready at the end of December 2007. The SAPS was lagging behind schedule as well.
Mr Monare confirmed that the elimination of the DMA’s will have a substantial impact on wards. The DMA reviewed ward boundaries every five years in any event. Frequent boundary changes were not desirable as it had a negative impact on the municipal planning process. The MDB requested legislation to deal with this issue and recommended a system that ensured that boundaries remained stable.
Mr Monare said that the capacity assessment reports were generally well received by the municipalities. There were some complaints that the assessments were subjective but all the information had to be verified and signed off by the Municipality before the report was submitted.
Ms Morongoa Letsoalo (Deputy Chairperson, MDB) suggested that the Committee considered the issued raised in conjunction with the white paper on local government. She pointed out that the recommendations on DMA’s were options and a decision on the DMA’s must still be made.
White paper on local government - link-up the issues
Mr Mshudulu said that the Committee had a responsibility to participate in the DPLG review process and asked if the municipal capacity reports could be made available.
In conclusion, the Chairperson said that the work done by the MDB was crucial and undertook to write to the Ministers of Safety and Security and Justice to express concern over the delays and to urge the finalisation of the police and magisterial boundaries.
Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority (LGSETA) presentation
Mr Kaone Lobelo (Deputy Chairperson, LGSETA) submitted the Chairperson’s Report (see attached document).
Mr Sidwell Mofokeng (Chief Executive Officer, LGSETA) presented the Chief Executive Officer’s Report. Extensive details of achievements in the major focus areas of sector skills planning, learnerships and education training quality assurance (ETQA) were provided. The report included information on the support functions of marketing and communication, organisational framework, the LGSETA Authority, the executive committee, the audit committee, the finance and tender committee, the learnership and ETQA committee, the provincial committees and the human resources committee. Details of the staff development initiatives and staff profile were provided. A summary of skills development levy income and expenditure was illustrated with graphs and pie charts. Details of the discretionary grant income and expenditure were provided. The annual financial statements were included in the 2007 Annual Report.
Challenges included the negative impact on training activities as a result of the municipal elections and the qualified audit opinion from the Auditor-General. The LGSETA disagreed with the Auditor-General’s opinion that the LGSETA was unable to account accurately for the skills development levies (SDL’s). It was not possible for a SETA to determine the amount of SDL’s receivable. The basis for skills development levies was accepted in previous financial years. This matter was taken up with the Auditor-General. Other comments were addressed prior to the end of the financial year and should not have been included in the report. The Chief Executive Officer left before completion of the audit process and an external service provider was brought in.
Mr Mshudulu suggested that the issues with the Auditor-General’s inconsistency and the objections raised by the LGSETA were taken up by the Committee with the DPLG. He said that the lack of capacity in municipalities was a major concern. The lack of skills was directly related to the lack of infrastructure and the slow progress with the upgrading of townships. He asked for more details on the impact of sector skills planning research. He asked what the drop-out rate was and requested a list of the training service providers.
Mr Doman noted that the LGSETA reported to the Department of Labour. He requested a copy of the memorandum of understanding between the LGSETA and the DPLG. He was shocked by the low percentage of training interventions (less than 4%) in municipalities, compared to 33% in the private sector. He wanted to know why the CEO did not receive a performance bonus and asked why the ETQA manager received an annual payment of R50,000. He asked why there was a large discrepancy between the levy income and disbursements for KwaZulu Natal.
Mr Mofokeng explained that there was no CEO employed at the time, he was the Acting CEO and did receive a performance bonus. Staff could structure their salaries and build in a savings plan that would pay out a tax-free amount at the end of the year. During the year, the ETQA manager resigned and the amount paid out represented accrued amounts and unutilised leave due.
Ms Janet Davies (Manager – Sector Skills Planning, LGSETA) responded to the questions on the impact of sector skills planning research and the interventions in the modernisation of infrastructure. She said that the major impact made by the LGSETA was the contributions made to the DPLG skills audit committees. The LGSETA addressed areas where there was a lack of or misdirected focus (e.g. a focus on the lack of engineers rather than the lack of engineering skills). The LGSETA identified that municipalities had high vacancy rates for clerical and services personnel yet there was no shortage of skills for those functions. The LGSETA identified where skills were lacking and determined the qualifications that were required. She suggested that the LGSETA briefed the Committee on the skills situation in municipalities on a later occasion.
An infrastructure asset maintenance and asset management programme was developed and an amount of R9 million was set aside by the LGSETA over the next three years. She stressed that the LGSETA focused on training and did not provide an infrastructure mapping service. A number of municipalities did not know where the infrastructure was located and suffered from a weak planning framework. This need was addressed in the training programmes that were developed.
Ms Davies said that 33% of local government employees underwent some form of training but much of it was ad-hoc and did not necessarily lead to a qualification. The most benefit was derived from the areas of management and leadership development training. It was questionable whether much of the training resulted in improved service delivery.
Mr Mofokeng undertook to provide the Committee with a copy of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the DPLG. Not all officials were aware of the MoU and although meetings were held with the DPLG, they were not necessarily held in terms of the MoU.
Ms Davies explained that municipalities paid the levy but failed to submit their workplace skills plans, thereby forfeiting the 50% refund. During the previous year, only 38% of municipalities in KwaZulu Natal submitted skills plans. The submission rate improved to 78% for the current year. Northern Cape had a 100% submission rate and the overall submission rate was 92%.
Mr Mofokeng added that the performance bonus paid to the KwaZulu Natal provincial manager was the 2nd lowest. Performance bonuses were linked to the performance of the province and the quality of the submissions.
The Chairperson asked what the agreement was between SALGA and LGSETA and whether there were areas where the roles overlapped.
Mr Mofokeng replied that SALGA made skills development officers available to LGSETA as an extra resource. A MoU with SALGA was in the process of being finalised and defined the roles played by each entity.
Mr Mshudulu commented that a lack of capacity was often used as an excuse for non-implementation of directives and for the lack of service delivery. It was important to identify the skills challenges for every sector within local government. He cited the example of the lack of trained property valuers to implement the Property Rates Bill
Ms Davies replied that a three-year property valuer programme was developed and 50 bursaries per annum were made available. 120 municipal valuer interns were placed in selected municipalities.
Mr Mshudulu asked if the DPLG had made the report on the capacity and areas of weakness of traditional leaders available. He asked if schools had access to information on the training programmes and bursary schemes available from the LGSETA.
The Chairperson said that collaboration amongst the various departments was crucial and asked what the reasons were for the lack of co-operation. He requested a report of the service providers in each province. He referred to the Habitat for Humanity programmes developed by the UN for the training of municipal councilors and asked whether the LGSETA made use of these programmes. He said that the sustainability of skills capacity in local government was of major importance.
Mr Mofokeng replied that LGSETA was approached by the Departments of Water Affairs and Forestry, Housing and Transport to develop training programmes. More interaction was taking place and the responsibilities of LGSETA, SALGA and the DPLG were being defined. He suggested that DPLG co-ordinate all the entities involved so that there was a single point of entry.
Mr Lobelo agreed that the issue of synchronising efforts needed further attention.
The Chairperson commented that integration amongst departments was important.
Mr Mofokeng said that the key driver was the development of an industry strategy framework that can be followed by all the SETA’s. It was important where the government-related SETA’s were positioned. Knowledge of the various sectors allowed for informed decisions to be made.
Mr Mshudulu said that the issues of capacity of each of the sectors must be clearly understood to be able to address them effectively.
The Chairperson thanked the delegates from the LGSETA for their presentation.
The meeting was adjourned.