Intergovernmental Relations Report: discussion

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

20 August 2008
Chairperson: Mr S Tsenoli (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Chairperson provided a summary of the Intergovernmental Relations Report. The Report was significant because it assessed the performance of the country’s multi-sphere model of government. Members gave their initial remarks on the Report and concluded that it was necessary to interact with other stakeholders on the fundamental proposals contained in the document. The Committee also added certain items to their agenda for the next term.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks by the Chairperson
The Chairperson announced that the Committee would reflect on the content of the Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) Report. He stressed that the document was an important milestone in determining the extent to which the constitutional principles of co-operative government were finding expression in the national development agenda. He acknowledged that it was an omission not to have invited the Department of Provincial and Local Government (Department) to provide an in-depth presentation on the Report. Nevertheless, he hoped that Members would offer their preliminary comments on the subject matter.

Overview of the IGR Report
The Chairperson highlighted that the Report reviewed the important policy, legislative and programmatic measures that were implemented by government since the promulgation of the IGR Framework Act in 2005. As in all evolving systems, certain formative challenges were identified in the Report. Many of the identified pressure points referred to the functionality of system and not the system itself. Structural tensions often occurred in the management of concurrency, as evidenced by fragmentation and duplication in key areas of service delivery. When IG tensions emerged, the IGR Framework Act specified a set of principles for the parties to follow. The key challenge was to avoid adversarial litigation and to seek resolution at a political level. Considerable emphasis is given in the Report to the scope of the Intergovernmental forum to act as the lynchpin of coordination and strategic direction within each sphere. The final discursive section of the Report sought to draw together the identified pressures and challenges in the system, and provided some perspective on the most appropriate IG approaches going forward.

Mr W Doman (DA) admitted that he had only scanned through the Report and would therefore only be in a position to proffer a general assessment of it. He noted, with satisfaction, that all the provincial and district IG forums had been established, notwithstanding the fact that the latter were not functioning properly. He welcomed the Report’s attempts to deal with tensions in local municipality, emanating form the aspiration of “secondary cities”. In addition, he described the Report as an honest and good account of the conduct and practice of IGR in the country. In particular, he highlighted that the case studies offered some useful insight into what was happening. Finally, he maintained that the system was in place; all that was lacking was proper capacity and a positive attitude from the people within the system.

Similarly, Mr M Sonto (ANC) conceded that he had only had a cursory look at the Report. He speculated whether the Report had investigated the harmonisation of fiscal relations and budgeting between all the spheres of government.

Mr B Solo (ANC) admitted that he had only glanced over the Report. However, from what he could glean, he found the Report to be balanced and instructive. In conclusion, he agreed with the approach advanced in the Report.

The Chairperson suggested that the Committee invite the NCOP, the Department and other stakeholders to a workshop to address and analyse all the issues highlighted in the Report.

Members supported this recommendation.

Committee Programme
Having considered the Committee’s programme for the remainder of the year, the Chairperson proposed that time should be set aside to deal with the Performance of Municipalities Report and the Municipal Demarcation Board Report. In addition, He advised that the Committee engage with the South African Local Government Association about threats made by an organisation not to pay for services.

Members endorsed the proposals.

The meeting was adjourned.


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