Debate On Delivering On Socio-Economic Rights and Creating Public Value
Madam Speaker, when this topic of debate landed on my desk, I was immediately intrigued.
The immediate question was why would the Honourable leader of the opposition choose this particular topic?
After all this is the Western Cape!
We have not had a Marikana which resulted in the death of striking mine workers in the North West Province
We have not had 94 mental health patients die as in Gauteng, after they were transferred from Life Esidimeni Centre.
We are not experiencing the level of inefficiency that has led to the total breakdown of Health care in Kwazulu Natal thereby denying citizens the basic right to health care.
We do not have a Health Department under administration as is the case in seven other provinces.
In fact, the Western Cape Health Department has outperformed is provincial counterparts by being the first to obtained an unqualified audit opinion.
We are not the Eastern Cape where there are reportedly over 2000 dysfunctional schools yet the department of education returned R530-million to Treasury denying thousands of children the basic right to education.
We are not Mpumalanga where the Department of Health received 0% compliance in relation to the Financial Disclosures Framework (FDF) Act.
Furthermore, this same department has a backlog of 12 581 unpaid invoices within the 30-days deadline, to the total value of R1 444 965 192. This undermines the many entrepreneurs who are trying to drive the economy and create much-needed job opportunities. It undermines the basic right to participate in the economy and earn a living.
Madam Speaker, this is the Western Cape.
Madam Speaker, Provincial Treasury plays a pivotal role in supporting the province and municipalities to deliver services that are responsive to socio-economic needs.
We focus on effective, efficient and sustainable management of provincial and municipal fiscal resources to enable service delivery and public value.
The annual budget and Medium Term Budget Policy is one of the key mechanisms through which the Provincial Government fulfils its service delivery role, promote good governance and uphold socio-economic rights.
In light of the constrained economic and fiscal outlook, the Province takes a consistent and transparent fiscal policy approach to ensure fiscal consolidation, discipline and sustainability, in response to the need for inclusive growth and creating public value.
Madam Speaker, in the Western Cape has done much to create sustainable human settlements and improved quality of household life.
- The Western Cape has the highest percentage (89%) of households have access to a flush toilette connected to a sewerage system.
- The Western Cape has the highest percentage of households (76.8%) with access to piped water inside the dwelling and
- The Western Cape has the highest percentage (87.5%) of households that have refuse removed by a local authority/private company at least once a week.
A set of policy principles which aim to enhance service delivery underpin the Provincial Fiscal and Budget Policy. These principles include:
- Constitutionalism: The belief system of government, laws and principles according to which a state is
- governed, controlled or limited by the Constitution. It also sets out the rights and obligations of citizens.
- Rule of Law: Where individuals are guaranteed rights and where independent institutions protect these
- rights and limit and disperse political power.
- Public Value: The aim of creating and recognising public value is to be more responsive to and effective in addressing the issues which are most important to the public.
- Whole-of-Society approach: The whole-of-society approach mobilises resources, knowledge, creativity
- and concerns of all role-players within given service delivery environments.
- Citizen Centric: Following a citizen centric approach focuses on facilitating citizens’ access to government, improving consultation and providing a citizen-centered approach to service delivery.
- Evidence Based: Evidence based practices uses information and knowledge more effectively, methodically and creatively for policy making and policy delivery. It is an approach where evidence
- takes centre stage in the decision making process through promoting accountability.
- Partnerships: Partnerships are about different stakeholders pooling resources for a common goal.
- The public service thus partners with a variety of role-players including Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Universities, Foundations, Foreign Donors and private business in support of common goals.
The Western Cape Government’s approach to planning and budgeting takes an integrated form in order to effectively deliver a budget which gives effect to the Provincial Strategic Plan 2014 - 2019 and promotes inclusive growth.
The PSP 2014 – 2019, sets out five Provincial Strategic Goals which fully support the implementation of the National Development Plan 2030.
The provincial fiscal and budget policy framework had been designed to manage risk and maintain stability within the current constrained economic environment.
From a practical perspective, the 2017 Budget focuses delivery towards the Provincial Strategic Goals, on creating opportunities for growth and jobs, improving education outcomes, promoting wellness and safety as well as embedding sound governance practices.
Efforts toward these goals are focused on promoting public value, inclusive growth and ensuring sustained progress. All these initiatives are aimed at delivering on the socio-economic rights of citizens and creating public value.
Furthermore, strengthening economic capacity to improve the quality of life of people, fostering investment in infrastructure led growth and capitalising on comparative advantages of this region underpin the spending plans of the Western Cape Government.
Madam Speaker, the Western Cape budget is premised on promoting inclusive growth, sustainable growth and smart growth.
- Inclusive growth aims to empower people, whilst promoting a cohesive society, equal access and opportunities to markets. Growth needs to be essentially broad-based, whilst including a large proportion of the labour force – underpinned by policies which remove constraints to growth.
- Sustainable growth promotes a more resource efficient, greener and competitive society.
- Smart growth builds an economy based on knowledge and innovation.
Madam Speaker, although there has been progress, the Western Cape is faced with significant social and economic challenges and competing priorities whilst having limited resources.
The Province therefore ascribes to an evidence-based approach to make well-informed and justifiable investment decisions that will advance inclusive, sustainable and smart economic growth and improve socio-economic outcomes.
The Provincial and Municipal Economic Review and Outlook and the Socio Economic Profiles of Local Government are key informants to the provision of socio-economic intelligence and context to government’s evidence-based approach to integrated planning and budgeting.
These documents inform the process of refining and implementing provincial policies, strategies and interventions.
The insights gained from understanding the economic performance and outlook, including labour market dynamics and socio-economic developments, facilitates improved decision-making and resource allocation.
The Western Cape Government and Western Cape Municipalities also adopted a more coordinated, integrated and strategic approach to planning, budgeting and implementation.
The spatial and sectoral distribution of the Province’s budget is based on current socio-economic realities, policies and strategies that jointly confront the Province and municipalities.
The bulk of the Provincial budget will be spent in the social and economic sectors.
It is indicative of the Province’s commitment to advance inclusive economic growth, combat poverty, crime and other social ills and to create public value by improving the quality of life for all citizens in the Province.
The overarching goal of government is to achieve public value which involves greater effectiveness in tackling the problems that are most important to the citizens.
This citizen centric approach facilitates citizens’ access to government, improving consultation and providing a people-centred approach to service delivery.
Budget priorities include allocations towards health, education, the elderly, women, children, youth, the disabled, and elevating the status of previously disadvantaged areas through infrastructure development.
Innovative WCG initiatives to improve public value towards delivery on socio-economic rights include, amongst other, include:
- The RSEP/VPUU pilot programme which aims to partner with active citizens to plan and implement upgrading and safety projects in poor neighbourhoods in the Province.
- The WCG Broadband Strategy and Implementation Plan particularly the e-Education stream which
- focuses on improving education outcomes in poorer schools.
- The expansion and strengthening of community based care models, e.g. community based health programmes.
- The strengthening of NGO funding-transfer models, thereby improving assurance for reporting,
- governance, administration and financial management.
- Key policy interventions aimed at increasing employment and decreasing unemployment with the
emphasis on improving skill levels, providing much needed work experience and exposure via the
public employment programmes and the provision of support for small and medium and microenterprises.
- Supporting municipalities to strengthen public participation processes.
- Facilitating access to government services through the Community Development Worker Programme, in conjunction with the Thusong Centres Programme and Mobile Thusong Outreach.
The 2017/18 budget of R59.3 billion provides for the following key services to deliver on socio-economic rights and public value in Health (R21.7 billion), Education (R20.6 billion), Social Development (R 2.1 billion) and Transport and Public Works (R 7.4 billion).
Infrastructure is one of the most critical levers to enable inclusive growth that empowers people and promotes equal access to markets and resources through hospitals, clinics, schools, roads, telecommunication and tourism infrastructure which are delivered for social and economic outcomes.
The Western Cape Government’s main infrastructure budgets and investment, both in social and economic infrastructure over the 2017 MTEF, includes spending by provincial government departments and public entities; as well as spending on public private partnerships. Over the 2017 MTEF, R28.044 billion will be invested in infrastructure.
Madam Speaker, the Western Cape Government’s commitment to improving the socio -economic reality of the people of the Western Cape is underscored by our commitment to fight corruption.
It is a fact, Madam Speaker that the single biggest threat to Government’s endeavour to protecting and advancing the socio-economic rights of the citizens of South Africa is corruption.
Every act of corruption diverts financial resources away from someone’s basic right to quality education, health, security access to a housing opportunity etc.
Corruption is not victimless.
Good governance, Madam Speaker, is a fundamental right in a democracy and it implies transparency and accountability.
The Western Cape Government has over the past ten years has systematically and progressively enhanced all levels of Governance.
This is reflected in our AGSA’s PFMA & MFMA audit outcome reports and the Presidency’s MPAT Reports.
In the words of the auditor general, Mr Kimi Mkwetu, “The Western Cape continued setting the pace by increasing their clean audit opinions from 73% to 80% of their municipalities.
The AG notes that the province’s ‘focused interventions and support by the provincial leadership through the premier’s coordinating forum, operation clean audit and the municipal governance review and outlook processes continued to bear fruit’.
Madam Speaker, this Government is able to embrace the task of improving the socio economic conditions of our citizens because we have the basics in place.
We practice good financial governance
We put stringent measures in place to ensure our financial sustainability
We our focus is about creating jobs
We create public value.
We believe in the rule of law
Madam Speaker, the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 is transformative as it is committed to correcting the injustices of our past and to establishing a society based on democratic values, social justice and human rights.
The Bill of Rights contained in the Constitution, adds resonance to social justice through the inclusion of socio-economic rights, such as access to adequate housing, health care and social security.
These rights are qualified by phases such as “progressive realisation” as well as “within available resources.”
The realisation of these rights is justiciable and the Constitutional Court has played a pivotal role in implementing socio-economic rights in the country. To this end the Court has developed the doctrine of “reasonableness of government measures.”
As such the Court ruled in the Grootboom case that the state housing program fell short of reasonable resources for people who have no access to land and who were living in intolerable conditions. Similarly, in the Joseph’s case the Court established that there is an implicit constitutional right to receive electricity.
Despite the Courts generous interpretation of “reasonableness,” many South Africans continue to live under conditions of social hardship. It is perhaps opportune for us to consider the concept of a minimum core for socio-economic rights, a concept derived from the UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR). Our Constitution does not rule out a minimum core approach, but the Court refrained from developing it, primarily because of the lack of capacity at the Court to make the factual enquiries and because of the varying local conditions.
I agree with Prof Du Plessis (Northwest University) and others that we should perhaps mandate the local government sphere, as opposed to the judicial branch, to commence the role of interrogating and defining a core minimum to some socio-economic rights. This premise is underscored by the development character of municipalities. It is also inextricably linked to the delivery of socio-economic goods, such as water, sanitation and electricity. The Concourt has acknowledged the idea of a core minimum and said that “although not easy to define, it should at least include the minimum decencies of life consistent with human dignity”.
Such a minimum threshold for the progressive realisation of socio-economic rights, if conducted at local government level, can address varying local conditions and make the case for quantifiable socio-economic rights. In this regard The German Verfassungsgericht has done much work to concretise the types of needs in different societies.
I venture to suggest that, with some modifications, the IDP processes provide a platform for participatory planning in giving effect to socio-economic development in local communities, and as such can be modelled to implement socio-economic rights.