ATC100519: Report on Oversight Visit to Tswaing Local Municipality

NCOP Economic and Business Development



1.         Background and Overview

1.1        The Select Committee on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs having considered the request made by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on the 10 March 2010,  to consider and report on the intervention notice invoked in terms of section 139 (1)(b) of the Constitution at Tswaing Local  Municipality by the North-West Provincial Executive Council (PEC), reports as follows:


1.2        In terms of section 139(1)(b) of the Constitution, when a municipality cannot or does not fulfil an executive obligation in terms of the Constitution or legislation, the relevant provincial executive may intervene by taking any appropriate steps to ensure the fulfilment of that obligation, including assuming the responsibility for the relevant obligation in that municipality. 


1.3        In terms of the NCOP Rule 101, the Office of the Chairperson of the NCOP referred the notice of intervention in the affairs of TswaingLocal Municipality to the Select Committee of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs for consideration and reporting. On 5 May 2010, the Committee took a decision during its meeting to conduct an oversight visit to the above-mentioned Municipality on 11 May 2010.


2.         Oversight Purpose and Objectives

2.1        The objectives of the oversight visit was to determine whether procedural requirements have been met and to verify whether the PEC has used its discretion appropriately, before the Committee can approve/disapprove the intervention. Through the deliberation and interaction with internal and external stakeholders, the Committee wanted to determine how the PEC was intending to restore the fulfilment of the relevant obligations and ensure fulfilment in the long-term. The aim was to ensure intergovernmental checks and balances aimed at guarding the integrity and efficiency of the intervention process.



3.         Composition of the Delegation

3.1        The delegation of the Committee was composed of the following Members of Parliament and Officials: Hon MH Mokgobi, Limpopo (ANC); Hon AG Matila, Gauteng (ANC); Hon DV Bloem, Free State (COPE); Mr TM Manele, Committee Secretary (Committee Section) and Mr V Mfuniselwa, Administration Assistant (Committee Section).  


4.         Introduction


4.1        On 18 March 2010, the Premier of North-West Province tabled a notice of intervention in Tswaing Local Municipality to the Office of the Chairperson of the NCOP. Subsequent to the tabling, the notice was referred to the Select Committee on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs for consideration and reporting in terms of Council Rule 101. In compliance with the Council referral, the Committee resolved to undertake a fact-finding visit to the Municipality on the 11 May 2010. In terms of section 139 (2)(b)(ii) of the Constitution, the intervention must end if the NCOP does not positively approve the intervention within 180 days, in this case before the end of 10 September 2010, since the intervention began.    


5.         Problems Identified by the PEC at the Municipality

5.1        The main issues identified by the PEC for intervening in the affairs of Tswaing Local Municipality related to the poor management of the Municipality; poor water and sanitation provision; poor standard of internal road infrastructure; uneven provision of services to the communities and project delays owing to prolonged procurement processes;  and possible fraud and corruption activities.  


6.         Oversight Visit to Tswaing Local Municipality


6.1        On 11 May 2010 the delegation of the Committee had interactive and robust engagements with the internal and external stakeholders of the Tswaing Local Municipality. The main internal stakeholders the delegation interacted with in the Municipality included the Speaker, Mayor, Ward Committee Members, Municipal Councillors, Administrator and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). The main external stakeholders the delegation interacted with included members of the community, and business forums and non-governmental organizations.


6.2        For the purpose of this report, the submissions made by both internal and external stakeholders are structured based on the five key performance areas of the local government which are: Municipal Transformation; Basic Service Delivery; Local Economic Development; Municipal Financial Viability and Management, as well as Good Governance and Public Participation.  


(A).       Municipal Transformation and Organisational Development


6.3        Municipal Council: The submissions made by the Mayor and the Speaker specified that the Municipal Council supported the placing of the Municipality under section 139 (1)(b) of the Constitution, and the subsequent appointment of the Administrator in fulfilling the executive functions of the Municipality. The major progress reported by the Mayor prior to the intervention and appointment of the Administrator included the development of a draft Integrated Development Plan (IDP), budget and municipal turn- around strategy to be considered and adopted by the Municipal Council.    


6.4        SALGA: The major municipal transformation and organisational development concerns raised by SALGA affecting municipalities generally and specifically the Tswaing Local Municipality, related to the lack of  capacity in the North-West Province to monitor and support municipalities in terms of personnel, funding, institutional knowledge and expertise.  


6.5        Administrator: The Administrator reported on the absence of discipline among municipal officials; performance management system; lack of staff supervision; bloated organisational structure, which was not aligned to the IDP; irregular appointments of employees; problems with staff placements; 120 employees appointed within a period of six months, resulting in a higher salary bill; poor record- management system; a high level of employee absenteeism and lack of commitment from section 57 managers.


6.6        Municipal Councillors: The concerns raised by some Municipal Councillors related to low work ethics of the senior managers, including the Municipal Manager; continual absence of the Municipal Manager from work; head-hunting of unqualified senior managers by the Municipal Manager; and the non- functionality of the Local Labour Forum (LLF).   


6.7        Organized Labour: Some of the major transformational and organisational concerns highlighted by the representatives of South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) related to the lack of skills development programmes. SAMWU indicated that there is a need to address good working relations among the Office of the Mayor, Speaker and the Chief Whip, in order to ensure that effective and efficient municipal transformation and organisational development.            


6.8        Administrator: Part of the turn-around plan reported by the Administrator in assisting the Municipality to deal with the challenges included the reviewing of all the existing policies, development of new policies, reviving and training of the LLF, development of a disciplinary and grievance procedure, training of management and staff, and improving staff morale and discipline by the end of September 2010.


(B).       Basic Service Delivery


6.9        Administrator: The collapse of refuse collection, cleaning and rehabilitation of streets, and provision of potable water and sanitation were the main basic service delivery problems reported. The Administrator indicated that the turn-around plan would assist the Municipality to effectively and efficiently deal with basic service delivery challenges, including improving access to electricity and potable water, maintenance and operation of infrastructure, ensuring solid waste disposal and refuse removal, and resolving housing project challenges before the end of September 2010.   


6.10      Ward Committees: Concerns raised by members of the Ward Committees were connected to the Municipal Manager’s failure to deal with the service delivery problems, political interference in administration, and the non-implementation of the IDP review.  


6.11      Traditional Leaders: The challenges that needed to be addressed according to the Traditional Leaders related to poor road infrastructure, lack of street lightning, delays with regard to the completion of the RDP houses, land occupation, and the need to ensure that the terms of reference of the Administrator and the application of section 139 (1)(b) of the Constitution were clearly explained.    


(C).       Local Economic Development (LED)


6.12      Administrator: The Administrator tabled a plan to assist the Municipality in dealing with economic development challenges. This included the revival of the LED Forum and the promotion of stakeholder engagement by the end of September 2010.  


6.13      Community-Based Organisation: The Organization raised funding challenges which relate to youth developmental programmes; community-based youth projects, including co-ordination of leanership programmes; lack of an intergovernmental approach, especially with regard to the placement of community members who had participated in the learnership programmes.


(D).       Municipal Financial Viability and Management


6.14      Administrator: The major problems reported by the Administrator included the salary bill of the Municipality which exceeded the monthly income, general financial fraud and mismanagement, non-payment of statutory deductions, poor management of municipal assets, the disappearance of R90 000 without trace from the municipal primary bank account, and the instituting of disciplinary measures.       


6.15      The turn-around plan was aimed at assisting the Municipality to deal with the problems related to financial viability and management, development of a fraud prevention strategy, robust engagement with the Ratepayers Association, improvement of cash-flow management, promotion of compliance with the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) and the financial regulations, updating of asset register, and the completion and adoption of the budget by the end of September 2010.


(E).       Good Governance and Public Participation


6.16      SALGA: The representative of SALGA, who was also a Member of the Intergovernmental Relations Forum, registered his dissatisfaction which related to the absence of sound relations within the Municipality. It was pointed out that political infighting and divisions were rife within the Municipal Council, and that there was also political–administrative conflict, as well as failure to perform legislative functions. There was also political interference in the administration.


6.17      Municipal Council:  The Speaker of the Municipality raised concerns with regard to the lack of resources and stipends for Ward Committee Members to facilitate public participation, on matters relating to governance.   


6.18      Municipal Councillors: It was recorded that political interference in administration; implementation of decisions by the Mayor, without consultation with the Municipal Council, was a major challenge in the Municipality. Furthermore, it was identified that there was political infighting, non-tabling of reports, and the lack of accountability to the Municipal Council by the Municipal Manager and Section 57 Managers. In addition, the Municipal Manager failed to co-ordinate the meetings of the municipal portfolio committees.     


6.19      Administrator: The Administrator aims to assist the Municipality to deal with the problems related to good governance and public participation, including the revitalization of Ward Committees; the improvement of communication with the community; the promoting of public meetings; the reviewing of delegation of authority; the strengthening of political oversight on all Municipal Council committees and administration; the creating of stability within the Municipal Council; and the promoting of good intergovernmental relations by the end of September 2010.   


7.         Committee Observations and Opinion


7.1        The delegation of the Committee has observed that, owing to the failure of the Municipality to perform legislative and executive obligations, service delivery in the communities had been affected, and this resulted in poor provision of water and sanitation services, poor standard of internal road infrastructure, uneven provision of services to communities; delays in the completion of LED projects, prolonged procurement processes, and allegations of fraud and corruption.


7.2        Furthermore, the decision of the PEC to invoke section 139 (1)(b) of the Constitution and the subsequent appointment of the Administrator on 10 May 2010, has resulted in the development of a turn-around plan. This was aimed at assisting the Municipality to deal with the challenges and stakeholders’ concerns related to the IDP, budget formulation, organisational development, financial management, good governance, public participation, LED and service delivery.


8.         Acknowledgement


8.1        Having conducted the oversight visit to the Municipality, the Committee delegation wishes to extend words of appreciation to all the internal and external stakeholders of the Municipality for their robust engagements with the delegation of the Committee on matters related to the placement of the Municipality under section 139 (1)(b) of the Constitution and the appointment of the Administrator.


9.         Recommendations


9.1        Having conducted the oversight visit to Tswaing Local Municipality and interacted with internal and external stakeholders, the Select Committee on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs recommends as follows:   


9.1.1     The NCOP approves the intervention as issued by the North-West Provincial Executive Council in terms of section 139 (1)(b) of the Constitution.


9.1.2     The Administrator should fast-track the process of reviewing and developing a database of qualifications of all section 57 managers and table a report to the Provincial Executive Council.


9.1.3          The Minister for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs should approach the Hawks to pursue criminal investigation in all cases of financial irregularities and fraud in Tswaing Local Municipality as a matter of urgency, and a report be forwarded to the NCOP in this regard.


9.1.4     The Administrator should ensure the proper functioning of the Local Labour Forum and the co-ordination of consultative meetings between the offices of the Mayor, Speaker and the Chief Whip.


9.1.5     The Provincial Executive should provide quarterly reports to the NCOP on the progress made in respect of service delivery, financial viability and management, transformation and organisational development, LED, and good governance and public participation as contained in the turn-around strategy tabled during the oversight visit on 11 May 2010.


9.1.6     The Administrator should fast-track the process of ensuring that all section 57 managers complete the signing of their performance contracts, and further ensure that those contracts are aligned with the key performance areas of the Municipality.


9.1.7     The Premier of North-West Province should table quarterly progress reports to the NCOP and the Provincial Legislature on the status of the intervention in the Municipality, including challenges encountered.


9.1.8     The South African Local Government Association, in co-operation with the Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority, should facilitate training and capacity building for Municipal Councillors and officials, in order to further deepen their understanding of the legal framework and policies that govern the activities of the Municipality.


9.1.9          The South African Municipal Workers Union and the Independent Municipal Allied Trade Union should work co-operatively with the Administrator in order to strengthen personnel discipline that is aimed at promoting municipal integrity.


9.1.10      The Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) should table a comprehensive report to the NCOP and the North-West Provincial Legislature detailing why Tswaing, as a fiscally poor Local Municipality, has been graded at a level six and not a level four status in terms of the ranking of municipalities for remuneration purposes. This is based on the report of the Administrator made during 11 May 2010.


9.1.11      The Select Committee on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, in co-operation with the relevant Portfolio Committee in the North-West Provincial Legislature, would conduct a follow-up visit to the Municipality three months after the intervention has ended, in order to monitor the progress made in respect of the intervention in the Municipality.    


Report to be considered.


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