Impact of State of Nation Address on Provincial and Local Government Committee

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

19 February 2008
Chairperson: Mr S L Tsenoli (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Some units of the Department of Provincial and Local Government had briefed the Committee on the previous day on performance issues of the Department of Provincial and Local Government, and the impact of the State of the Nation Address on the work of the Committee. The Monitoring and Evaluation branch summarised its purpose and functional areas, and reflected on performance and strategic priorities for the following year. This unit detailed the reports made by provinces. The branch commented  that some of the matters outlined in the previous five-year plan were to be replaced with an organisational business plan, which was more realisable. Some surprise was expressed at comments from the South African Local Government Association that it was having difficulty with the Department. The Corporate Services branch then took the Committee through its purpose, functional areas and performance. There had been increases in numbers of staff, and the disability profile was improving. Disaster recovery and business continuity plans had been drawn.

Members commented that the disability progress was not sufficient, and that managerial posts should also be filled from this sector. Further questions were raised around the work with the Demarcation Board, service delivery unrest in communities, the numbers of contract staff, bursaries, and steps towards a standard evaluating and monitoring programme. Members felt that insufficient detailed reports on performance were given, and that the Committee would be following up on this.

Meeting report

Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) : Continuation of Briefing on impact of State of Nation Address on the work of the Committee
The Chairperson reminded the Committee that on the previous day, 19 February 2007, a number of presentations had been made by the Department of Provincial and Local Government’s units. He said that the remaining units would now present.

Ms Tumi Mketi, Deputy Director, Monitoring and Evaluation, DPLG, took the Committee through the purpose of her branch, its functional areas, and reflected on the performance of the branch. She commented on issues raised by the Committee the previous year. These included whether government had an overall monitoring and evaluation system in place, and the progress achieved in assisting municipalities to implement Municipal Performance Regulations. She discussed the Unit’s strategic priorities for 2008\09.

Ms Mketi also commented on a question that was asked the previous day on the role of the provinces. She responded that each province submitted a Consolidated Progress report to the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit. Ms Mketi informed the Committee that the Provinces would take the Department through their reports and the Committee would be subsequently informed. Ms Mketi further informed the Committee that some of the Unit’s strategic plans would be dropped. For instance, instead of last year’s five year long term plan, the branch now had a high level organisational business plan which was more realisable. Ms Mketi also added that she considered the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) comment that they were struggling with the Department to be strange, because to the best of her knowledge, the two bodies were getting on very well.

Mr Tozi Faba, Deputy Director General: Corporate Services Branch, DPLG, then took the Committee through the purpose of the branch, and its functional areas. He reflected on the performance of the branch. He outlined that the Committee had, during 2007, raised key issues on how the DPLG would interact with civil society, how it would communicate its work, and the mechanisms to recruit people with disabilities. He set out the answers to these queries. He  discussed the Unit’s strategic priorities for 2008\09. Mr Faba informed the Committee of the increase in the number of staff recruited into the Department. He informed the Committee that the Department embarked on an ICT Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity project and completed a plan to ensure continuous operation in the event of a disaster. He also emphasised the fact that a mechanism had been put in place to recruit people with disabilities and that the Department has been working on this in collaboration with Disabled People of South Africa.

Discussion

Mr M Likotsi (APC) said he felt the Department was still not reaching proper employment equity especially as it affected disabled persons. He asked the Department when it would get seriously involved in recruiting disabled persons to managerial positions. He claimed that this was a prime area where the physically disabled would be able to get jobs.

Mr Faba responded that the Department was working hard on that in consultation with Disabled People South Africa.  He added that some disabled people had already been employed and that the Department had communicated this year with municipalities to employ disabled people.

Mr Likotsi asked the Department if it had a good relationship with the Demarcation Board and what it has been doing to ensure that there were no negative effects when the Demarcation Board split communities.

Mr Elroy Africa, Deputy Director General, DLPG,  responded that although demarcation was the duty of the Municipality, the Department would become involved whenever it could in facilitating, intervening and trying to resolve matters. In addition, the Department referred some matters to the Demarcation Board.

Mr Likotsi further asked the Department what it was doing to address the service delivery unrest in communities. He asked if the Department could become more visible in its interaction with civil society.

Mr Africa responded that the Department had been working behind the scenes to assist. He added that it was difficult to do a public response because some of the causes of protests were political.

Mr P Smith (IFP) asked the Department how many contract staff it had.

Mr Faba responded that he did not know the number off-hand but that it should be around 8%.

Ms T Nwamitwa–Shilubana (ANC) asked the Department if it had a problem with training employees and giving them bursaries, only to find that those employees moved from the Department to the private sector.

Mr Faba responded that the Department was a training place, and could not compel its employees to remain with the Department. He added that the Department did not have a problem with employees relocating on condition that they did not relocate to another country.

Mr S Mshudulu (ANC) asked the Department if their bursaries had conditions attached, and if they also benefited students.

Mr Faba responded that the Department’s bursaries were conditional because they were all work related. He added that the Department was now focussing on internship programmes.

Mr W Doman (DA) asked the Monitoring and Evaluation Branch what it was doing to have a standard evaluating and monitoring programme, since municipalities complained of filling out too many forms.

Ms Mketi responded that the monitoring function cut across branches, but that the branch was in the process of compiling a municipal performance management report in accordance with Section 48, and that this would stabilise the evaluation process.

The Chairperson generally complained that the Department of Provincial and Local Government did not give a detailed report of its performance, especially as it relates to its engagement with civil society.

Ms Lindiwe Msengana – Ndlela, Director General, DPLG, responded that she had noted the complaint of the Committee and was determined to make information more easily available to the people, and to enable communities to interact more with all other bodies.  She thanked the members of the Portfolio Committee for their patience.

The Chairperson informed the Department that the Committee looked at its work internally and outside. He added that there may be issues that needed more attention than was given, and that if the Department felt there were such issues, the Committee would invite the Department to another meeting. In addition he informed the Department that the Committee was planning to visit it soon.

The meeting was adjourned.

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