Address at the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for Local Government
Chairperson and Members
It is pleasing to note that there is more consent around key issues that are facing Municipalities across our country. Minister Richard Baloyi in his Budget Speech this year listed five focus areas which are intended to fast-track the implementation of a turn-around strategy for municipalities that are facing problems.
These areas include Service delivery, Governance, Financial Management, infrastructure development, and the fight against corruption. Chairperson in terms of our Constitution, article 152, let me remind members what the objectives of local government should be;
- To provide democratic and accountable government for local communities.
- To ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner.
- To promote social and economic development.
- To promote a safe and healthy environment.
- To encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations in the matters of local government.
I would like to add the following objectives;
- Facilitate a culture of public service and accountability amongst its staff.
- Assign clear responsibilities for the management and co-ordination of these administrative units and mechanisms.
- Be responsive to the needs of the local community.
Chairperson these may sound difficult and complex to achieve and in some cases may even look impossible to achieve. But I think we need to start with the basics first, then we will see the difference.
Both National Outcome nine and Provincial Strategic Objective 10 (PSO: 10) seek to address the challenges facing our municipalities. Very briefly, PSO 10 strives to achieve integrated services delivery to make maximum impact.
This will be achieved by:
- aligning provincial and municipal priorities & programmes.
- capacitating municipalities to deliver on their constitutional mandate.
- and increasing the number of people with access to government services & opportunities.
Let me shed some light on what has been done to achieve this in the Western Cape.
To contribute to these targets amongst other initiatives, my officials assisted municipalities in the recruitment process of Municipal Managers. But all I can confirm is that correct processes were followed and the candidates had the minimum qualifications.
As a result out of 30 municipalities 17 have already appointed Municipal Managers to five-year terms.
In terms of Sound Governance and Administration my Department will assist municipalities which still do not have one set of by-laws. The Department will also develop a compliance model to help municipalities to monitor whether they comply with laws that apply to them.
I also want to stress the need to review the legislation to enable the department to intervene before things get worse.
Chairperson, council meetings are important as they are the platforms where service delivery decisions are taken and therefore need to be treated in that manner.
To improve the conduct of councillors in these meetings, the department will develop rules of order to guide council meetings.
Chairperson, my Department has also improved planning in the Province by giving the IDPs their original status of becoming Municipalities' Super Plans that build on other plans such as the Comprehensive Municipal Infrastructure Plan, Integrated Transport Plan and Disaster Management Plan.
To achieve desired integrated planning, the Department put 17 learners on the IDP learnership programme.
Provincial departments assessed municipal IDPs together and their assessments were shared with municipalities. Provincial and National Departments as well as Municipalities and state-owned enterprises participated in the IDP Indabas where they all come together to share their budgets and plans for the coming year in every district.
Good planning also includes effective firefighting and my Department increased its aerial fire-fighting capacity by appointing six provincial working on fire ground teams and mobilised 24 aircraft.
As a result, the impact of fires during the fire season was drastically reduced.
Good planning includes making sure that all relevant role players are involved. Minister Baloyi in his budget speech said people are getting intolerant and take to the streets and become extremely violent at times. Part of this I believe is largely due to the lack of communication between citizens and government.
Ward Committees are supposed to close this gap between citizens and their municipalities.
To strengthen Ward committees, my Department supported 25 municipalities in the establishment of Ward Committees and completed ward committee induction training for municipalities in the Central Karoo and Overberg districts.
This training will be provided to the other three remaining districts during 2012.
Furthermore, the Department supported West Coast, Oudtshoorn, Stellenbosch, Witzenberg, Laingsburg, and Cape Winelands Municipalities to develop and revise their Communication Strategies.
Local government is at the coal-face of service delivery and it is where the challenges of poverty are located.
To address the issue of access to basic services my Department monitored and supported municipalities to spend 99, 85% of the Municipal Infrastructure Grant funding for the period ending June 2011.
Up to April 2012 the Department monitored the spending of MIG funding of a further R264 million on 153 projects.
My Department also supports municipalities and the Department of Water Affairs with the planning and implementation of 22 bulk water and sanitation projects in the Western Cape and we developed a guideline for financing Municipal Infrastructure.
Beside the basic services, communities also often struggle to access government services. In this regard my Department developed service delivery norms and standards of anchor departments to guide the implementation of the Thusong Programme.
The impact of the proposed access norms and standards will result in 100% of the Western Cape Province being within 25km of Thusong Services in the next 5 years.
The Department continues to strive to meet the national target of at least one Thusong Centre per municipality.
Three new Thusong Service Centres have been established recently in Robertson, Prince Albert and Paarl East.
In order to ensure proper management of these Thusong Service Centres the department organized an accredited Junior Management Development Programme for Centre Managers and finalised the Thusong Implementation Strategy to strengthen the sustainability of Thusong Service Centres.
Chairperson we are extremely proud to confirm that 37 001 citizens were assisted in gaining access to government services through Thusong Mobiles.
In addition 22 967 case referrals relating to Identification Documents, Indigent grants, Housing, and so on were dealt with by our CDWs.
Chairperson and members, I have no doubt that if we work together, we will be better together.