ATC151119: Report of the Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs on notices of Intervention issued in terms of section 139(1)(B) and 139(4) of the Constitution (1996) in Oudtshoorn Local Municipality, dated 19 November 2015
REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON COOPERATIVE GOVERNANCE AND TRADITIONAL AFFAIRS ON NOTICES OF INTERVENTION ISSUED IN TERMS OF SECTION 139(1)(b) AND 139(4) OF THE CONSTITUTION (1996) IN OUDTSHOORN LOCAL MUNICIPALITY, DATED 19 NOVEMBER 2015
1.1 On 31st July 2015, the MEC for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in the Western Cape Province, tabled to the Office of the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) two notices of interventions. One intervention was in terms of section 139(1)(b) and the other with regards to section 139(4) of the Constitution in Oudtshoorn Local Municipality. Subsequent to the tabling, the Chairperson of the NCOP referred the notices of intervention in terms of Rule 101, to the Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs for consideration and report.
1.2 On the 3rd November 2015, the Select Committee had a meeting with the Deputy Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), officials from the Western Cape Provincial Department of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, including the Administrator of the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality.
- Objectives of the Meeting
2.1 The objectives of the meeting was to solicit the opinion of the national and provincial government with regard to the progress made in implementing the constitutional, procedural and substantive matters related to the interventions in the Municipality.
- Briefing by Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
3.1 Earlier this year, following an unannounced visit to the Municipality, the Minister of CoGTA wrote to the Municipality on 30 March 2015, proposing a support and good governance package in terms of section 154 of the Constitution. The Municipality failed to adopt this package. Then the Minister and MEC for Local Government in the Western Cape called upon the Municipality to adopt the support and good governance package by 5 June 2015, failing which other forms of intervention provided for in the Constitution will be considered.
3.2 Based on an assessment by a joint Back to Basics Team from the National and Provincial Departments, the Minister and the MEC came to the conclusion that urgent action was required to address the challenges in the Municipality. On the 31st July 2015, the National and Provincial Government intervened in the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality, in terms of section 139(1)(b) of the Constitution as a corrective measure of last resort, to bring stability, good governance and service delivery for all residents in the Municipality.
3.3 Further, on 17 July 2015 the council of the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality purported to approve a budget and revenue-raising measures necessary to give effect to the budget, without the requisite direction from the Provincial Executive Council (PEC). The MEC regarded it appropriate to recommend to the PEC a limited intervention, namely that the temporary budget for the Municipality as compiled by the Province, be approved and that a directive be issued to the council to approve its annual budget, by 31st August 2015.
3.4 The failure to approve the 2015/16 budget can be attributed to the political instability in the municipal council over the past two years. The MEC and the Western Cape Provincial Treasury have, in the running up to the new financial year, taken all steps in an effort to ensure that Municipality complies, but without success.
3.5 On 29 July 2015, the Acting Municipal Manager informed the MEC that the council has, on 28 July 2015, approved an annual budget. The budget was submitted to the PEC for noting, and the Province is of the opinion that the intervention was necessary and appropriate in the circumstances.
4. Select Committee Observations
4.1 In its meeting of the 3rd November 2015 with the Deputy Minister of CoGTA, officials from the Western Cape Provincial Department of Local Government, including the Administrator, the Select Committee observed that there is a joint-agreement both on national and provincial spheres in respect to the intervention in Oudtshoorn Local Municipality, which is on a non-political basis.
4.2 From the Provincial Department, a Technical Director was deployed to provide advice and technical assistance on various infrastructure projects, as well as an Acting CFO.
4.3 A Special Advisor was deployed to assist with the functioning of the council, in terms of the various Committees, Policies, Delegations, council meetings and MPAC. The Administrator function as the Acting Municipal Manager/Accounting Officer, until a new Acting Municipal Manager has been appointed.
4.4 The Province has deployed Forensic Auditors to the Municipality during August 2015 to conduct a forensic investigation into fraud and corruption, and the Municipality is supported to act on all forensic reports and internal audit reports.
4.5 The objective is to address critical community concerns relating to water pollution in the Olifants River, management of the landfill sites, housing and infrastructure services, and will ensure both quick win improvements as well as building long-term infrastructure management capacity. The intervention team will also provide support for infrastructure planning, procurement and contract management.
5.1 Considering the challenges in Oudtshoorn Local Municipality, the Select Committee recommends as follows:
5.1.1 The NCOP approves the interventions in Oudtshoorn Local Municipality in terms of section 139(1)(b) and 139(4) of the Constitution.
5.1.2 The Provincial Department of Local Government should continue and accelerate the hands-on support in the Municipality through the Back to Basics programme, to ensure the development and implementation of municipal specific action plans and the strengthening of community participation in the Municipality.
5.1.3 The Administrator should expedite the filling of critical vacant positions in the Municipality, especially at management level, since the situation might have enormous impact on service delivery as there may be no experienced senior managers in key positions for planning and infrastructure, and financial management may be weak or exposed to undue influence.
5.1.4 The Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs will conduct a follow-up visit to the Municipality, to determine progress on the intervention and the implementation of the Back to Basics programme.
5.1.5 The Western Cape MEC for Local Government should table quarterly progress reports to the NCOP and the Provincial Legislature on the status of the intervention in the Municipality, including the termination of the intervention report.
Report to be considered.
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