Speeches

Doing the Right Things for the Right Results

2 August 2011

Chairperson of SALGA,
Executive Mayors,
Kollegas en vriende.

Let me first of all congratulate all of you who have been elected as councillors in the local government elections. Ook aan dié van julle wat herverkies is, baie geluk. Daar lé groot uitdaging nou voor en ons moet dit met toewyding en ywer aanpak.

We have a responsibility. The people of this Province have entrusted you, as councillors, and me, as the MEC for Local Government, with the task of ensuring that they can live lives that they value.

The challenges are immense. I know that the main focus nationally is now on two issues: basic service delivery and creating jobs. I was a Mayor for a number of years, and I know from experience that we cannot improve services and create jobs if we do not get three things right.

Those three things are good governance, solid infrastructure, and an enabling administrative environment.

First, let me talk about good governance. There are two aspects to good governance, namely political governance and administrative governance. They go hand in hand - if there is poor political governance, then this has an impact on the administration. For councillors, good governance means that you respect the laws and regulations of this country. It means that you respect the Code of Conduct for Councillors, you adhere to the Rules of Order, and you respect the independence of Supply Chain Management processes.

You understand that it is your responsibility to lead, that it is the administration's responsibility to implement, and that there must be a clear distinction between the two.

We have seen many examples of good governance in this Province in the last five years, and we have also seen examples of bad governance. In my view, the Councils that were governed by coalitions were more likely to have poor governance than good governance.

One of the reasons is that every time the power shifted, those in power would fire senior officials and hire new ones, regardless of whether the existing officials were competent. This resulted in instability and consequently less accountability and more corruption.

But not all coalition municipalities experienced these problems. Some were fairly stable and made sure that service delivery continued. So I know that we can make coalitions work if we, as politicians, respect the role of the administration and recognise and promote the professionalism of our senior officials.

Ons het gemeenskappe wat ons vir die volgende vyf jaar vetrou om na hulle belange om te sien en ek is daarvan oortuig dat almal hier vandag wil vir daardie gemeenskappe skoon water, toilette wat spoel, veilige paaie en ligte wat aanskakel gee. Hulle soek eintlik munisipale raadslede en amptenare wat kan luister en iets daaromtrent doen.

In die Wes-Kaap, met 'n paar uitsonderings, het ons dit tot 'n mate reggekry maar, ons moet nog beter vaar. Dit is geen geheim dat die Wes-Kaap die beste gevaar het tov dienslewering nie en 'n slaagsyfer van 88% behaal het nie. Met betrekking tot MIG het ons provinsie 100% en die Metro 96% behaal. Dit is 'n besondere prestasie en as ons die syfer van 80% vir ongekwalifiseerde oudits in oënskou neem, dan verdien ons om nommer een in Suid-Afrika te wees.

We can only respect the professionalism of our administrators if we appoint professional, competent people. The most important decision you will make in the next year will be who you appoint.

If you have competent officials, keep them. If you need to appoint new officials, make sure that you do rigorous competency testing and that you appoint the most qualified individuals.

Prof Fanie Cloete van die Universiteit van Stellenbosch het opgemerk dat "die sogenaamde gebrek aan kapasitiet op plaaslike regeringsvlak, het meer met 'n gebrek aan goeie oordeel deur verkose raadslede te make, as met 'n gebrek aan opgeleide amptenare."

Last week, we heard the National Planning Commission present its diagnostic report to the MinMay. There was one consistent trend that Dr Vincent Maphai pointed out: where there is strong government, there is little corruption; and where there is weak government, there is almost always significant corruption.

It is up to us as politicians to ensure that our governments - whether national or provincial or municipal - are strong, because without this and without clean governance, we cannot hope to deliver services and create jobs.

So I am calling on all of you - whether you are in coalition municipalities or not - to pledge yourselves to good governance and strong local government.

The second thing that we must do right is to make sure we take care of our infrastructure. If our roads and sewerage works and street lights and water pipes are not maintained regularly, they will deteriorate to the point where we cannot deliver services.

The problem with infrastructure is that if it is not maintained, it can cost ten times as much to fix it when we do get around to fixing it. Many municipalities have said to me that they can't maintain their infrastructure and can't build new infrastructure because they don't have the money.

Colleagues, this is often not the real problem. Some municipalities are asking for funding for new dams to be built. But those same municipalities have water losses of over 30%. Now if a municipality needs 30% more water, should it build a new dam or should it fix its infrastructure so that it doesn't need to build a dam? Also, many municipalities are not collecting money for the water that they do provide. In some of our municipalities, hundreds of water meters are not working properly, and in other municipalities, debt collection is weak. This is not a problem of too little funding from government, but a problem of poor management.

As the new leadership of municipalities, you need to ask these hard questions.

For my part, I am here to support you. My Department is training people who can operate your water supply networks, your sewerage treatment works and your electricity installations. In the last year, 17 people passed their electrical artisan trade test and over 200 people are being trained in water processes. We have also been assisting municipalities to identify and replace their faulty water meters.

I know that sometimes a lack of funding is the main issue. I want to assure you that I am on your side: I am fighting for more funding from national government, and am pleased to say that municipalities will be receiving more money next year from the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant than ever before.

But I also need you to make sure that your municipality's infrastructure and billing processes are in order, because I believe that many of your funding problems can be solved if you address these issues.

Lastly, we cannot hope to create jobs if we do not provide an environment for businesses to emerge and to grow.

When a business takes a decision whether to invest in a municipality, it asks a number of questions:
What must I do to apply for a permit?
How long will it take for my building plans to be approved?
Are the roads in good shape?
Will I have a reliable supply of electricity?
Will I be asked to pay a bribe to get a service that should be free?

We cannot expect our local economies to grow if we do not get these basics right. We must provide an enabling environment for sustainable economic growth and job creation.

In die opsig is dit ook belangrik om die globale ekonomiese afplatting in oënskou te neem, want dit is teen dié agtergrond dat ons gemeenskappe daagliks met negatiewe nuus gekonfronteer word en dat ons moet poog om op plaaslike vlak, 'n positiewe boodskap uit te stuur.

Volhoubare ekonomiese groei moet ons hoof implement word om armoede aan te spreek.

Colleagues, I would like you to remember these three things as you start your new term of office: Make sure your municipality is an example of good governance. Take care of your infrastructure. Get the basics right so your economy can grow. If we can together accomplish these things, we can enjoy a future of prosperity and hope.

Thank you for listening to me today and may I wish you all every success in your future endeavours.