The Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, honourable Des van Rooyen and Deputy Minister Andries Nel, led the team to present the 2015/16 Annual Report to the CoGTA portfolio committee on 12 October 2016. The annual report is an important tool in the accountability loop and assist the publicâ€™s understanding of the operations of government departments, as well as ensuring financial and performance accountability to Parliament.
The Ministry for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs consists of the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCOG), the Department of Traditional Affairs (DTA) and the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA) as a Government component.
The presentations included information about factors critical to understanding performance including identifying significant risks, capacity considerations, and other factors that have had an impact on performance and results. It described actual results and compared them with planned activities and explained variances. Annual reports and the actual reporting to the portfolio committee is an important and a necessary process of good governance.
Minister van Rooyen indicated that his Ministry (CoGTA) always welcomes the opportunity to interact with the Portfolio Committee regularly or when required to do so.
Report for the Ministry included:
- Report for the Department of Cooperative Governance
- Report from the department of Traditional Affairs
- The status report on municipalities under section 139 of the Constitution and the progress made with finalising transition measures in newly established municipalities.
Both departments, DTA and DCOG complied with the provision of the Public Finance Management Act by submitting annual reports that includes financials to both National Treasury and Auditor General. The Minister indicated that CoGTA is still focused on carrying out its mandate as set out in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, by turning the local government sector into one that truly responds to the needs of our people and is geared towards improving their quality of life. The annual reports presentation highlighted significant progress that CoGTA has made in providing the much needed services to communities across the country.
DCOG achieved the majority of its planned targets during the period under review. to this progress has been the implementation of Back to Basics (B2B) Programme which is the cornerstone upon which the Departmentâ€™s interventions at local government rest. During the period under review, the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) coordinated drought intervention plans across the country to address its devastating effects on our country.
The DTA was also able to reach the majority of its set targets and the portfolio committee commended them for the good work done. However, the portfolio committee expressed concerns about initiation deaths experienced across the country. To this effect, the department indicated that a bill has been drafted which will criminalise illegal initiations and ensure that commercialisation of this practice is stopped.
The department shared the implementation plan of the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) which will steer urban growth towards a sustainable model of compact, connected and coordinated towns and cities. The presentation outlined the IUDF priority actions for the next 18 months on priority projects.
With regards to the Community Work Programme (CWP), the department elaborated on the challenges experienced in the implementation of this programme which led to the audit outcome for DCOG to regress from an unqualified to a qualified audit.
The CWP was initiated as part of the Second Economy Strategy of government responding to the high levels of poverty and unemployment. Piloted between 2007 and 2009, the programme provides a safety net and assists with the reduction of the harsh effects of poverty and unemployment. The department is partnering with community organisations to implement the CWP to provide work opportunities to the poor and the unemployed. This project straddles the whole country with 217 sites (as at 30 September 2016) providing work opportunities to about 200Â 000 participants.
The bulk of the irregular expenditure incurred (R429, 555 million) arose as a result of a change in policy, which required that all the CWP assets be accounted for under CoGTA. Historically, CWP assets were not recognised as part of DCOG assets, but this changed in the 2015/16 financial year. To make matters worse, the implementing agents failed to adhere to Supply Chain Management procedures when procuring and to account for the assets procured. Some of the irregular expenditure emanated from payments done without pre-approval of deviations. As part of the interventions, the department has developed a roadmap to getting back to an unqualified audit outcome. The roadmap was approved by the executive management and it is monitored.
Since the contracts of the CWP implementing agents will be coming to an end in line with the 3-year cycle, the new procurement process to appoint new implementing agents has begun. To this effect, the new contracts are being redesigned to take into consideration the current challenges and developing more stringent terms. Even though there were some concerns raised, the portfolio committee recognised the importance of the CWP in providing work opportunities for the poor across the country.
The portfolio committee commended the department for the job well done and urged them to improve on the key issues raised by the portfolio committee. The Ministry has to that effect committed to continue implementing its key programmes and improving where challenges were identified. The Minister invited the members of the portfolio committee to visit various CWP sites across the country to see first-hand the impact that this programme has on ordinary members of the communities across our country.
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