Modern, Growing, Successful Province

SALGA PEC Extended Lekgotla

Input by Mr Mosimanegape Kenny, Northern Cape MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, MPL, during the occasion of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) Northern Cape PEC Extended Lekgotla

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Monday, 07 November 2011

Programme Director

Provincial Chairperson of SALGA, Councillor Willy Johnson

SALGA NEC Members present here today

PEC Members of SALGA Northern Cape

Executive Mayors, Mayors and Councillors

HOD of COGHSTA, Mrs Greta Apelgren-Narkadien

Officials from Municipalities and Provincial Government

Invited guests

Ladies and gentlemen

Programme director, our input at this Lekgotla is based upon the broader theme of reviewing and repositioning local government in line with the mandate for 2009 to 2014.

Makgotla such as this one provide space to understand and discuss global developmental issues emanating from policy rooms. At the same time, we must be mindful that these gatherings quite often unintentionally get lost in conceptual discussions.

Whilst it is a necessity to sharpen our theoretical understanding of developmental concepts, it is equally important that we remain focused on questions of detail and deliverables in particular at local government level. This is where we can make a real difference.

Quite clearly, as evidenced by the programme, you have struck the right balance between theoretical and practical local government challenges. This is commendable. The question posed to us as COGHSTA by this Lekgotla is the role that local government can and should play within our mandate.

Ladies and gentlemen, this Lekgotla takes place two years after the Provincial Launch of the 2014 Operation Clean Audit, a month before the eleventh-Anniversary of our system of developmental local government, and the second-Anniversary of the adoption of the Local Government Turn Around Strategy.

More importantly, this workshop takes place five months after the third democratic local government elections, and a year after the signing of the Delivery Agreement for outcome nine between the Minister of COGTA and all the nine MECs responsible for Local Government.

Chairperson, I am mentioning these significant events because they afford us an opportunity to pause and assess whether the work we have done has made an impact or not, and also to develop pragmatic action plans in moving forward.

This gathering is important in the life of SALGA Northern Cape as we expect you to discuss issues and find a new path with regards to dealing with challenges facing municipalities.

It is imperative for the delegates to engage on these pertinent issues.

The Lekgotla is also expected to provide an opportunity for SALGA Leadership in the Province to address some of the key processes necessary for it to achieve its mandate of representing, supporting and advocating for its members. Furthermore, you will develop a 5-year Programme of Action which is aligned to the necessary resources.

Programme director, Local Government Outcome 9, which intends to achieve “A Responsive, Accountable, Effective and Efficient Local Government System” serves as a contract between the Minister of COGTA and all nine MECs responsible for local government in provinces, as well as Executive Mayors and Mayors of all municipalities.

The involvement of Executive Mayors and Mayors must be seen in the context of co-operative governance and the local government portfolio is a concurrent function that is shared with the province and our 32 municipalities.

As COGHSTA, we are in the process of finalizing a province-specific support plan and will also establish a provincially-based Technical Support unit.

In terms of the roles and responsibilities, municipalities are the key delivery partners in the field of implementation of Delivery Agreement of Outcome 9. SALGA as a structure of organized local government is also an important stakeholder.

The success of the implementation of the Local Government Turn Around Strategy (LGTAS) is to create coherent and accountable local institutions with clear and coherent understanding of their developmental responsibilities.

We therefore wish to reaffirm our belief that solutions to problems experienced by municipalities that make it difficult to accelerate service delivery lies with municipalities themselves.

However, we must find local solutions to our local problems by working in collaboration with other spheres of government and other stakeholders.

The LGTAS affords government an opportunity to ensure that local government is effective and efficient and it responds to the needs of communities.

Important amongst those is the restoration of credibility and integrity of local municipalities as important drivers of provision of services to communities. Government's intervention through the LGTAS seeks to respond to all challenges and problems, but equally strengthen those areas where they have been elements of good practices.

This Lekgotla must give new mandate for the term of office of the current local government leadership in the Province. Delegates must reflect on what needs to be done and the LGTAS is one important matter to engage on because is a reflection of how far we have come, challenges and how to overcome them as municipalities.

We are still concerned as provincial government that not all municipalities have incorporated their Municipal Turn Around Strategies (MTAS) into their adopted IDPs. As part of the monitoring the progress, municipalities are expected to have the MTAS as a standing item on the agenda for their council meetings and District IGR forums.

As COGHSTA, we are expected to do quarterly monitoring reporting of the MTAS to national. Municipalities are therefore expected to submit written progress reports to the Department in time.

Informed by the Freedom Charter proxim that says “people shall govern”, it is important to ensure that whatever we plan must always be based on the interests and wishes of our people. Consistent interaction and communication with communities must be central when we plan at a local level.

Therefore the IDP and Budget processes must at all times be informed by the inputs from the needs of the people.

Programme director, we are very disturbed as COGHSTA by the persistent trend of non-compliance by some of our municipalities in submitting their financial statements on time for audit purposes.

Our concern is informed by the fact that the world is demanding greater transparency both in government and the private sector. In the competing global world, municipalities must now more than ever before ensure that their own houses are in order to drive efficiencies and to reduce spending while protecting core public basic services.

It is imperative for our municipalities to effectively manage their own costs, verify that proper controls are in place and that high standards of governance and transparency are maintained. Therefore an auditor’s report is considered an essential tool when reporting financial information.

A clean bill of health not only attracts investors, but it also improves the public image of government. Some investors go as far as stating that financial information without an auditor’s report is “essentially worthless” for investing purposes.

For the 2009/10 Financial Year, the A-G has raised the following key issues:

* Financial Management which includes daily and monthly disciplines of closing and balancing the books, as well as keeping of an audit file that must be submitted with year-end financial statements;
* Regarding compliance with laws and regulation, the A-G has advised that a checklist should be designed and must summarise key requirements of the policies, laws, regulations and should be signed by management;
* Service delivery objectives includes documenting public participation processes relating to service delivery; and
* The political leadership of the municipality must monitor the implementation and effectiveness of the daily and monthly discipline;

More importantly, the A-G suggested that District Municipalities should become centres of excellence to assist Local Municipalities with limited capacity and other constraints. The role of Provincial Treasury, COGHSTA and other support sector departments should be the source of the solutions to various transversal matters impacting similarly in challenged municipalities.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is our belief that if we follow the A-G’s advice, the 2014 Operation Clean Audit will be a success. However, I must emphasise that this requires more commitment and discipline, both from the political leadership and administration of municipalities.

On the same note, I want to applaud those municipalities which are really trying hard to ensure compliance. Keep up the good work and know that our doors are always open for any assistance or intervention from the provincial government.

Ladies and gentlemen, the creation of Sustainable human settlements and an improved quality of household life remains our remains our essential contribution to improving access to basic services.

As COGHSTA, we will contribute to facilitating stronger human settlements components to future Integrated Development Plans, the accreditation of municipalities and the creation of a bulk infrastructure fund will help ensure success of this process.

This Lekgotla may well want to apply its mind on these and other matters. For COGHSTA, with our mandate, the most important question is the one pertaining to how and where people will be located it is about human settlements.

This points us towards the role that local government should play in the strategy to locate people appropriately that is, in the context of the human settlements agenda. As President Jacob Zuma stated in the 2009 State of the Nationa Address:

“Housing is not just about building houses. It is also about transforming our residential areas and building communities with closer access to work and social amenities, including sports and recreation facilities.”

Our task in Human Settlements is therefore clear to restore humanity and dignity, to address spatial inequalities and to provide comfort and security for all our citizens.

This shall be achieved by planning and building human settlements in an integrated, coordinated and holistic manner. These human settlements must be places where people can play, stay and pray. They should be green, landscaped communities pleasant places, where people live, learn and have leisure.

Although there are numerous important elements involved, we shall deal with six key points:

Firstly, to achieve a holistic and integrated human settlements development approach, it is unavoidable that municipalities in the Province and COGHSTA coordinate their strategies.

Secondly, in line with the enhancement of our mandate from Housing to Human Settlements, there is also a need for a common approach in respect of local government plans together with those of Human Settlements. This will help to avoid the mismatch and multiplicity of plans.

Thirdly, regarding spatial development objectives, increased efficiencies are required from municipalities concerning the application of regulatory functions. This also applies to appropriate proclamations around development. The combined effect of this will be to eradicate or diminish bureaucratic service delivery log-jams. This is crucial.

Fourthly, local government land use policies and practices should be more Human Settlements user-friendly. This is more applicable to both rural and urban development policy implementation.

fifthly, it is crucial to the interests of human settlements that decision-making delays must be eliminated regarding environmental impact assessment studies, in order to enable bulk infrastructure development such as electricity, water and sanitation to be in tune with Human Settlements projects.

Last but not least, the essence of the principles of good governance at all levels can never be over-emphasised. All else could fail where the values of Batho Pele are not adhered to.

If we achieve all this, it enhances the development of human settlements which, ultimately, is also about the direct enhancement of local economic development, premised upon our national economic development strategy.

Municipalities stand to benefit directly from this approach. New human settlements, after all, mean new tax bases. They mean new revenue streams in the form of utilities.

They lead to the creation of local jobs in the construction of homes or in the development of infrastructure in the form of roads, streetlights, electrical connections and so on.

We also note that the construction of new homes and related settlements is part of the much broader economic dynamo. It kick-starts the mining sector for copper, iron ore and other raw materials used in construction. It stimulates the manufacturing sector for steel, bricks, tiles, doors, window frames and so on.

It jacks up the wholesale sector to trade these manufactured products to builders, construction companies, households and so on. It invigorates the retail sector to sell housing materials and household goods. It enhances banking and financial services, which oils the wheels of trade and industry.

Therefore, the multiplier effect should never be understated, and its impact on the local economy must never be underestimated.

For us as COGHSTA, we understand our mission of the optimal settlement of people within the local government sphere. Noting that South African Local Government Association (SALGA) is already a key part of our MinmEC, we believe that by working together we can only do better. Let us continue to do so.

The French play-wright, Moliere once said:

“It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.”

Let us deliver on the mandate that we have been given by our people. Clean audits are a very definite step forward in the eradication of poverty.

I thank you!


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