Modern, Growing, Successful Province

MEC K. Mmoiemang's Address to SALGA Northern Cape Provincial Members Assembly

Address to SALGA Northern Cape Provincial Members Assembly by Honourable Kenny Mosimanegape Mmoiemang, MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs: De Aar Town Hall, Emthanjeni Local Municipality in the Pixley-ka-Seme District

08 April 2010

Programme Director;Chairperson of SALGA Northern Cape, Cllr Willie Johnson;Councillor Clarence Johnson, Member of SALGA NEC;Members of the PEC of SALGA Northern Cape;Executive Mayors, Mayors, Speakers and Councillors;Mr Latif Kimmie, the Provincial Auditor-General;Mr Justice Bekebeke, Provincial Electoral Officer;Municipal Managers and all officials present;Distinguished Guest Members of the Media;Ladies and Gentlemen.

Entrainement Nike

Programme Director, I am delighted to be here for the SALGA Northern Cape Provincial Members Assembly, to share and to add a few points in the debate towards the improvement of our governance strategies, in the context of our developmental state at a local sphere.

Indeed, solutions for growth and development emerge from frank and open debates on platforms such as this, where we can allow ourselves to reflect on the journey of development and even be critical about our performance, so that we do not become complacent but rather continue to improve our skills and capabilities as we go on.

Our input at this Assembly is based upon the broader theme of reviewing and repositioning local government in line with the mandate for 2009-2014. Quite clearly, as evidenced by today- and tomorrow’s programme, the organisers of this Assembly have struck the right balance between theoretical and practical local government challenges.

This is commendable because local government is the anchor of our reconstructive fibre in our developmental state. It is the sphere of government that can be characterised as the pulse of interaction between nation and state, through which service delivery processes take place.

Ladies and Gentlemen, you who are assembled here today are the third generation of local, public representatives elected under a truly democratic local government dispensation. Not only do you have the privilege of building on the foundations laid in the aftermath of the 1994 democratic breakthrough, but also, you have the benefit of a privilege which is not often available to practitioners: that is the benefit of hind-sight.

Given the point at which you came into the system, you familiarised yourselves with the original conception of the trajectory of local government transformation. In the process, you saw the mixed results of our efforts: some of our municipalities have done exceedingly well, while others have made modest achievements.

Yet others have been battling in an attempt to carry out their constitutionally-mandated responsibilities. Patterns of deviance must be studied and fully understood. Bearing in mind also, the fact that success depends on not allowing wrong practices, be they practices by councillors or by officials, to escalate out of political control.

Programme Director, although government has made great strides in terms of providing services to our people, our people have not yet received the desired results. Massive increases in expenditure did not always produce the results we wanted.

It is against this backdrop that the January 2010 National Cabinet Lekgotla developed a set of performance outcomes, which effectively mark the beginning of a process for improving government performance and providing focus to our delivery. Remember, this is the year of improving service delivery and a year of action.

The outcomes and measurable outputs form the basis for performance and delivery agreements between Ministers or groups of Ministers and the President, as well as MECs or group of MECs and the Premiers.

As COGHSTA, our focus will be on outcomes eight, and nine.

In terms of outcome eight, which is related to Human Settlements, formerly housing, we want to build sustainable Human Settlements and improved quality of household life. As a consequence of rapid urbanisation, new household formation and racially-based planning in the past, South Africa faces a significant challenge in providing affordable, sustainable accommodation to its citizens.

The key outputs that relate to human settlements are to ensure an accelerated delivery of housing opportunities and expanding access to basic services. The sustainable human settlements and improved quality of household life are defined by access to adequate accommodation that is suitable, appropriately located to allow access to economic opportunities, affordable and fiscally sustainable with access to basic and social services, and provide security of tenure.

The key activities are: placing more focus on upgrading informal settlements, reviewing standards and densities of products, accreditation of municipalities to deliver houses, implementing a backyard rental upgrading programme, and establishing a bulk infrastructure planning and funding coordination mechanism. We also need to develop a process to identify and transfer state owned land that can be used for development.

Regarding outcome nine, we want to build a responsive, accountable, effective and efficient local government system. We need a differentiated approach to municipalities, as a strong link exists between the institutional and socio-economic vulnerability of municipalities. Furthermore, municipalities vary considerably in terms of size, economic base and poverty concentrations.

There are very high levels of basic infrastructure services backlogs, low levels of governance and accountability, financial management is poor and there is a high staff vacancy rate.

Key outputs for this sector will be meeting the basic needs of communities and building a clean, responsive and accountable administration.

Key activities, among others would be developing intergovernmental agreements on the ideal scope of services, developing and implementing a differentiated approach to municipal financing and support, developing a revised and simplified and differentiated IDP process to ensure effective planning and intergovernmental cooperation.

We believe that when we implement these activities in a focused manner, we should be able to achieve these outputs and produce the outcomes our people expect. As we have said before, these are societal outcomes that the Province should drive and not only for government. Government will provide the necessary leadership to achieve them.

Notwithstanding the many difficulties experienced by local government in the last nine-and-half years, some of our recent successes have enhanced our confidence in our collective ability to meaningfully advance towards our goal of bringing about universal access to basic services.

For instance, all our municipalities have indigent policies and registers and provide basic services of electricity, refuse removal, water and sanitation. There is a total number of two hundred and seventy four and four hundred and eighty nine thousand households registered on the municipal systems in the province.

Households in informal settlements are also benefiting from the free basic services, though they are not registered on the municipal systems, they benefit in the form of communal stand pipes for water and bulk waste container which are emptied every second week.

The quantity of free basic services is provided as follows: Free Basic Water is provided at a minimum of six kilo litre (6kl) per household per month; Free Basic Sanitation is provided at fifteen litre (15L) per person per day, that is water borne systems; Free Basic Refuse Removal is provided by collecting waste once per week; and Free Basic Electricity is provided at fifty (50Kwh) per household per month

Ladies and Gentlemen, these positive trends can only be sustained if SALGA Northern Cape and COGHSTA, principally, are fully conscious of their responsibilities. These two role players have to fortify their place at the centre of the inter-governmental process. They must place themselves in a position better to co-ordinate inter sphere planning, budgeting and implementation processes.

This will enable us to avoid duplication and unfocused use of resources. Needless-to-say, the two factors have in the past, impaired optimality of effect.

Programme Director, we have noted with concern, considerable administrative and political instability at local government level. Our municipalities are severely weakened by high staff turnovers, suspension of key personnel and high incidences of acting officials.

The problem is compounded by our institutions’ inability to retain staff in key areas of management, finance, engineering and information and communication technology

In addressing this situation, our municipalities are required to review their recruitment and retention practices to ensure that we deploy the right person for the right job at the right time.

In addition to this, we must continuously strengthen the relationship between the administrative and political components of our municipalities as a measure to enhance communication and to clarify accountability.

The Constitution compels our municipalities to provide services to communities in a sustainable manner. It is their core business and the reason for their existence. So when we notice a lack in the delivery of basic services in some of our municipalities, we get concerned.

When we read reports about huge amounts owed to municipalities and in some cases huge amounts owed by municipalities, we raise the alarm. We do because we are duty-bound to ensure that our municipalities are on a sound financial footing.

Chairperson, public participation is widely recognised as both a necessary and strategic prerequisite for good governance at local level. The Integrated Development Plans and Ward Committees are such instruments, which facilitate the participation of citizens in the running of their municipalities and in the improvement of their own conditions.

We are very proud to say that great strides have been made in deepening democracy and participation at local level. However, much still needs to be done to make Ward Committees more effective.

We cannot afford to loose the connectivity with communities; neither can we allow these challenges to undermine the accountability and consultative processes embedded in good governance at this level. It is for this reason that the Executive Council, under the leadership of Premier Hazel Jenkins, decided on an intensive programme of interaction with the public.

Programme Director, in and of itself, the upcoming local government election does not provide a comprehensive answer to all the challenges facing us. It does, however, provide us with a window of opportunity to reinvigorate the local sphere of government.

We must be alert to ways of leveraging the heightened awareness about the sector during this time for the common good of our communities.

Ladies and Gentlemen, our approach in managing local government support and intervention must have a greater and more sustainable impact than previous interventions such as Project Consolidate and the Local Government Five-Year Strategic Agenda. Both Project Consolidate and Local Government Five-Year Strategic Agenda lacked political championing and failed to focus on the root causes of Local Government distress.

In addition, they had no Command System, and neither did they enforce a single window of coordination approach. In summary they both applied a one size fits all approach.

Programme Director, COGHSTA, Office of the Premier and Provincial Treasury will implement and expand Operation Clean Audit 2014. The focus would be on the milestones, as per the National Strategy distributed last year during the launch of the programme. To achieve the objectives of Operation Clean Audit 2014, Municipal Turn-Around Strategies must be in line with the National and Provincial Strategy on Operation Clean Audit.

In the process of finalising Municipal Turn-Around Strategies, we must make sure that we develop debt collection and revenue enhancement strategies; implement and support municipal budget and reporting regulations; review current supply chain management regulations, and develop a municipal priority skills strategy.

Key to these processes is ensuring that all Municipalities have competent Chief Financial Officers and Municipal Managers; All Municipalities must have functional Audit Committees, depending on a municipal arrangement, if it’s a shared service or own structure.

On an annual basis, all Municipalities must submit credible Annual Financial Statements by 31 August. It is also critical to assess the implementation of accounting standards by Municipalities, issued by National Treasury, Accountant-General office in particular.

Therefore, national and provincial teams assisting Municipalities in developing Turn-Around Strategies must assess if municipalities have the following:

  • Realistic and achievable remedial plans to deal with previous audit queries from the Auditor-General;Budget and Treasury office;
  • System to produce financial and non-financial information;
  • Asset Management system that is integrated to Financial System;
  • System of document management or record keeping. To be able to audit a municipality and its entity, all municipalities and their entities must have an efficient filing system or audit file;
  • All Municipal Managers and section 57 managers must sign the performance contracts and audit management must be included in their contracts

Chairperson, it is quite clear that the Local Government Turn-Around Strategy caters for individual municipalities’ specific challenges. It is therefore a high-level government-wide response to stem this tide. It is also an effort to stabilise local government and put municipalities back on a path of responsive and accountable service delivery.

As a Department, we have learnt some lessons during our interactions with municipalities during the implementation of the Local Government Turn-Around Strategy. We have observed that some participants in the development of the Municipal Turn Around Strategies were not open and were very defensive to their situations; an impression has been created that there will be additional money to implement the Turn Around Strategy; Support and participation of sector departments was lacking.

All municipalities are expected to finalise their individual Municipal Turn-Around Strategies by the end of April 2010. During the same period all government departments and State Owned Enterprises are expected to include their plans in the municipal IDPs. Consultation with all Wards in the Province will happen during April - May 2010. By June 2010, all municipalities will have adopted their IDP’s and budgets.

Ladies and gentlemen, our experiences and encounters further suggest that SALGA needs to prioritise and expedite the following:

  • Intensify support to the political leadership of municipalities by ensuring a structured capacity building and training programmes;
  • Stabilise political and administrative components of municipalities;
  • Unblock all political blockages with negative impact on service delivery
  • Play a key more in the Imbizo programmes thereby helping the provincial government to yield hundred percent response rate on issues identified and raised by communities.
  • Proactively contribute to good governance by sharing best practice amongst member municipalities to improve the status of audit reports and expenditure on key programmes such as Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG).
  • Enlighten municipalities about the necessity of key intervention programmes such as Community Development Workers' programmes (CDW). This is a resource we can use to breach the gap between government and the community.

Furthermore, SALGA should lead in ensuring that municipalities appreciate the fact that a strong and active Civil Society has an important role to play through the identification of local priorities in the planning process. This must and can be attained through proper consultation during the IDP processes. This will ensure that no room is provided for concerned groups that masquerade in different forms and names.

Chairperson, this Provincial Members Assembly comes at a time when rate-payers in a number of towns in the country have instead of paying rates to municipalities, decided to make payments into trust accounts in a bid to force municipalities to provide better and more efficient services to communities. I strongly encourage SALGA member-municipalities to engage Rate-Payers Associations in a bid to understand reasons for withholding rates from municipalities and begin to find sustainable solutions.

COGHSTA and the Office-Bearers of SALGA Northern Cape must come together and develop an approach of engaging all representatives of community structures in the province to work with local residents in finding the solutions to service delivery challenges in our municipalities.

Let us choose to engage and find solutions with them rather than opting for a confrontational stand-off or resolving the matter through the courts.

The need for all of us to attain socially cohesive and stable communities with viable institutions, sustainable economies and universal access to social amenities, able to attract and retain skilled and knowledgeable people, who are equipped to contribute to growth and development cannot be over emphasized.

The challenges experienced, some through unintended consequence of policy development needs a dedicated and collective action to resolve.

Typical to these, is among others the National Housing Fund and the MIG. Whereas the former is allocated to address the housing backlog, it is constrained by lack of available funding for bulk services. This makes it practically impossible to develop sustainable human settlements.

Ideally, MIG or municipal revenue should be used to provide for bulk services however, it is quite problematic in a sense that most of our municipalities in the Province are not in a financially viable position, thus unable to raise own revenue or take up loans.

This is sometimes complicated by lack of adequate capacity to spent even the little allocated funds are sometimes used for wrong reasons, due to pressure to fulfil other obligations.

Programme Director, it is our considered view that the role of SALGA in monitoring and supporting member municipalities remains crucial. We will therefore work closely with the SALGA.

We need to ensure that this platform indeed becomes a space for open debate on all the issues that will take cognizance of the entire picture of delivery, which is not only a matter for municipalities alone. It is a matter that concerns all stakeholders including nation, state and this very important institution that must continue to help the local sphere to reach government’s objectives.

The process of development at the local sphere of governance, as much as it is progressive, it must also make way for our traditional forms of governance to be integrated into governance processes, so as to improve service delivery at local level.

In this regard, the role of Traditional Leaders is particularly of paramount importance in our advance towards improving lives of our people. Our Department already supports the Provincial House of Traditional Leadership to improve governance, performance and accountability.

We, both at national and provincial levels, have implemented a capacity building programme for our Traditional Leaders to promote and enhance the involvement of the structures within the development processes of their communities. But we must continually emphasise the very important role that can be played by Traditional Leaders and indeed, strengthen their capacity in helping to make our communities work better in terms of improving access to services at local government level.

In the Northern Cape Province we have made considerable progress in strengthening the institution of Traditional Leaders. The following are the major achievements thus far: All Local Houses of Traditional in John Taolo Gaetsewe are up and running. This is only District that qualifies for Local Houses.

The Provincial House of Traditional Leaders was inaugurated on the 1st of April 2009. The members of this Provincial House include eight (8) representatives of the Khoisan communities.

This is unique in the sense that although the legislation dealing with indigenous communities is not finalized as yet, the Northern Cape is the first province to acknowledge the Khoisan communities and include them into the provincial structure.

Engagements with the representatives of the Khoisan are ongoing and we hope that the matter will be resolved amicably between the the Presidency and the National Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

Indeed, because we are becoming better focused as we continue to look for more effective ways of operating in accordance with the letter and spirit of our Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act, it is also becoming possible to harness an unprecedented number of actual and prospective non-governmental partners, to the now commonly accepted task of providing hands-on support to our municipalities.

These are responding to our call in part because they can see that we are getting organized enough to, in turn, enable them to become informed, public-spirited citizens who can usefully dedicate some of their own resources to the task of accomplishing the crucially important goal of improving the functional status of our municipalities.

As councillors and managers, it surely must be obvious to us that growth in our areas will crucially depend on attracting investments to these areas.

In this context, the binding constraints which come to mind are things such as: Poorly managed towns and cities; Municipalities with labyrinthine administrations; Municipalities with utterly inadequate infrastructure and; Those municipalities who do not come across as being committed to upholding the certainty of the rule of law.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have taken this opportunity to come here in person so that I can be able to express my admiration and warm personal regard to all of you. I admire your nobility of purpose and your devotion to your work.

You made this commitment to serve being fully aware that the challenges ahead in the current term of local government are considerable. Like you, I believe that no obstacle is big enough not to be negotiated out of the way.

If there is one thing I am certain about, it is the certainty of our success! That success is the only monument we can build.

In conclusion, I hope that your final day of this Assembly tomorrow will indeed yield the desired results for you. SALGA is a pertinent component in the process of improving service delivery and I believe that through your work, municipalities will continue to grow from strength to strength.

Programme Director, collectively, we create a legacy for the next generation; a legacy that is built on an interdependence, which compels us to work together. We cannot, each on our own, address these challenges. When the one stumbles and falls, the other should be there to support.

It is in the interest of the people of the Northern Cape, of our thirty two municipalities and of our provincial government in general to see SALGA succeed in achieving its strategic objectives. A strong SALGA Northern Cape means string and viable municipalities. Strong municipalities are a catalyst to economic growth, development and sustainable service delivery

I wish you success with all proceedings at this Provincial Members Assembly.

I thank you.


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