Deputy Minister Andries Nel’s Remarks at the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Forum

Posted on Posted in DCoG Deputy Minister Andries Nel

ADDRESS BY THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF COOPERATIVE GOVERNANCE AND TRADITIONAL AFFAIRS, MR ANDRIES NEL, at the PLANNING MONITORING AND EVALUATION FORUM,

12 October 2017,

St George’s Hotel, Tshwane

 

Programme Director,

Director-General, DPME, Ms Mpumi Mpofu,

Secretary of Planning, Mr Tshediso Matona,

Government officials,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

“Innovative Governance, Open Cities”

 

Sanibonani, Dumelang, Goeie môre, Ndi macheloni, Good morning, Avuxeni, As-Salamu-Alaykum.

 

Thank you for the opportunity to address you today. It is indeed an honour and a welcome duty to address stakeholders from across the planning, monitoring and evaluation spectrum.

 

When the National Development Plan was conceived, it set out for the first time in our country’s history, a vision for a different kind of South Africa, that was vastly different from our apartheid past, and which envisaged a brighter future for all South Africans.

 

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN

 

The National Development Plan envisions a South Africa where everyone feels free, yet bounded to others; where everyone embraces their full potential, a country where opportunity is determined not by birth, but by ability, education and hard work.

 

Realising such a society will require transformation of the economy and focused efforts to build the country’s capabilities.

 

To eliminate poverty and reduce inequality, the economy must grow faster and in ways that benefit all South Africans.

 

In particular, young people deserve better educational and economic opportunities, and focused efforts are required to eliminate gender inequality.

 

Rising levels of frustration and impatience suggest that time is of the essence: failure to act will threaten our democratic gains.

 

Progress over the next two decades means doing things differently.

 

The NDP sets out six interlinked priorities:

 

First, uniting all South Africans around a common programme to achieve prosperity and equity.

 

Second, promoting active citizenry to strengthen development, democracy and accountability.

 

Third, bringing about faster economic growth, higher investment and greater labour absorption.

 

Fourth, focusing on key capabilities of people and the state.

 

Fifth, building a capable and developmental state.

 

Sixth, encouraging strong leadership throughout society to work together to solve problems.

Social cohesion is central to the NDP. If South Africa registers progress in deracialising ownership and control of the economy without reducing poverty and inequality, transformation will be superficial. Similarly, if poverty and inequality are reduced without demonstrably changed ownership patterns, the country’s progress will be turbulent and tenuous.

 

The NDP demands a cooperative relationship across national, provincial and local governments. Chapter 13 envisages this so:

 

“This requires leadership from national government, particularly from the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), the Department of Cooperative Governance, National Treasury and the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation.

 

These departments need to work together to ensure there is alignment between powers and functions, planning processes and budgetary allocations. In many cases, these departments will not be able to resolve assignment issues on their own, but will need to work with the relevant sector or provincial departments.

 

They also need to work together to identify coordination problems and use their collective influence to ensure disagreements are resolved promptly. In some cases, this may require research to assess the effectiveness of particular aspects of the intergovernmental system. However, sweeping reviews of the entire system are unlikely to be effective. Such reviews are much more likely to be productive if they focus on specific issues and use the review process to bring different parties together and build consensus.” (Chapter 13: Building and capable and developmental state, p435)

 

These words inform why we are gathered here today: we must better understand the essential planning, monitoring and evaluation elements of the NDP, and in doing so, contribute more effectively to the goals that it sets out.

 

 

I will now turn my attention to the issue of how we drive service delivery improvement, particularly at municipal level.

 

Among Cogta’s many roles is that of coordinating the efforts of Outcome 9, which calls for “A responsive, effective and efficient local government system.”

 

To better understand the role of DCOG in driving service delivery improvements at municipal level it is vital to note the five sub-outcomes of Outcome 9. The sub-outcomes are:

 

  • members of society have sustainable and reliable access to basic services;
  • strengthened intergovernmental arrangements for a functional system of cooperative governance for local government;
  • democratic, well governed and effective municipal institutions capable of carrying out their developmental mandate as per the Constitution;
  • sound financial and administrative management; and
  • local public employment programmes expanded through the Community Work Programme.

 

 

Achievements and challenges around the delivery of basic services and importance of planning and M&E in this regard: –

 

The overarching need is for the development of an integrated and coherent planning, monitoring and evaluation system for South Africa.

 

The international community agrees that planning, monitoring and evaluation has a strategic role to play in formatting planning, decision-making, conducting credible evaluation and policymaking processes. It is therefore important that our policies as government are informed by quality and credible evidence rather than “opinion-based information”.

 

Monitoring and evaluation is necessary to achieve evidence-based policy making, evidence-based management decisions, and evidence based accountability.

Over the years, South Africa has attempted to design and develop a results based monitoring and evaluation system, hence the adoption of the Outcome-Based approach.

 

This approach is meant to assist government to answer the “so what question”. The so what question is answered when the majority of our citizens in this country can see the tangible results of what government has promised to deliver.

 

A number of key policy documents on government–wide monitoring and evaluation system have been developed and adopted by Cabinet and amongst others are: Proposal for the implementation of an M&E system in South Africa, Policy Framework for the Government-wide Monitoring and Evaluation System, Framework for Managing Programme Performance Information as well as the National Evaluation Policy Framework.

 

These policy documents are meant to assist government to achieve the following:

 

  1. Manage for results
  2. Promote mutual accountability
  3. Harmonisation of reporting across the spheres of government
  4. Institutionalise integrated planning, monitoring and evaluation across government.
  5. Alignment of planning, monitoring and reporting
  6. Inculcate a culture of ownership so to better coordinate development efforts
  7. Improve coordination between departments that are at the centre of government.

 

These principles require centre of government, which includes the Presidency, department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, the National Treasury, the department of Public Service and Administration, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Statistics South Africa to work together to ensure the country has a watertight, integrated and coherent system that will ensure that we meet our developmental objectives.

 

We also have to take into consideration the critical role played by our constitutional oversight bodies namely the Office of the Public Protector, Public Service Commission Auditor General to name but a few. The whole of government should support such institutions by supplying them with quality information that will assist them to make correct and informed decisions.

 

As we move towards the end of the current MTSF period, the remaining 18 months are crucial for us to start consolidating the work that we started in 2014. What I really mean is that it is time to “move from policies to results” and this can only happen if we strengthen the capacity and capability of our monitoring and evaluation systems.

 

Therefore institutionalising integrated planning, monitoring and evaluation at all levels of government cannot be over emphasised. Monitoring and Evaluation must provide us with unique information about the performance of government policies, programmes and projects. It must clearly identify what works, what does not work and the reason why, otherwise it becomes a malicious compliance exercise with no value.

 

Current Realities and challenges for Planning, Monitoring and Reporting:

 

  1. Misalignment of the integrated development plan (IDP) with national sector and provincial departments’ strategic plans and with the overall government priorities.
  2. Lack of reporting protocols on how data is collected, consolidated, validated and verified for credibility.
  3. Limited or lack of appropriate capacity and capability in the M&E units at different levels of government. Planning and M&E Units are sometimes seen as an ‘add-on’.
  4. Financial and human resources to support the MPACT requirement from DPME on Monitoring and Evaluation are often lacking.
  5. Misaligned institutional arrangements for M&E between national departments, contribute to confusion on who implements, who monitors, and who reports and evaluates.
  6. There is no clear standard system of accountability either horizontally or vertically on how information flows from operational to strategic level, although Intergovernmental Forums should be contributing to this endeavour.
  7. Reporting demands from multiple stakeholders make it impossible for municipalities and provinces to submit meaningful quality reports. It also puts a burden on under-resourced M&E practitioners to conduct quality assurance on the information provide; this can result in misinformed decisions being taken.
  8. Lack of standardised and consolidated reporting formats, templates, terminology, definitions, Key Performance Indicators, baselines and targets for local government, although reporting reform initiatives are currently underway between National Treasury and COGTA.

 

Proposed modality to streamline the work of different strategic priorities/programmes

 

The critical success factors for the implementation and institutionalisation of the government-wide M&E system relies heavily on the ability and capability of all stakeholders to generate credible reports that can be used to provide progress towards the achievement of Outcome 9, as well as shaping the policy direction for local government.

 

However, there are fundamental questions that we have to answer to enable us to strengthen and streamline the planning and M&E of LG and these include:

 

  1. What are the current reporting obligations?
  2. What is the purpose of reporting requirements?
  3. How is information collected at different levels e.g. municipal, provincial and national levels, and from cabinet clusters, cabinet committees?
  4. How can we reduce the reporting burden?
  5. Are there barriers to streamlining reporting?
  6. Are provincial strategic plans / APPs, aligned to Outcome 9?
  7. How effective is provincial oversight and support?

 

Against this background, I suggest some areas for consideration for the different Commissions in their discussions on Concept documents, and bearing in mind that we are moving towards a new MTSF in 2019.

 

This new MTSF provides an opportunity to coordinate government action towards the goals of spatial transformation.

 

We might ask ourselves:

  • What reforms might be needed to build a new MTSF that better reflects the importance of integrated planning and outcomes for key sectors responsible for delivery of services and infrastructure?
  • Should there be more accountability built into integration of planning?
  • How can we strengthen our technical governance structures to enable MinMECs, PCC, Cabinet, for example, to be able to take decisions related to socio-economic development, based on credible quality information?
  • Are we investing sufficiently in research, data and analysis before we set targets for performance? Are we setting the right targets?
  1. How do we guide ‘alignment awareness’ in planning and monitoring across sectors and departments?

 

Citizen engagement and community leadership for developmental local government

 

Public participation in South Africa, at national, provincial and local government level, is guided by a comprehensive policy and legislative framework. It is considered to be one of the key tenets of democratic governance in South Africa. It remains the key correlation between government and the communities hence its function to influence government policy outcomes so that they reflect “the will of the people”.

 

Post the 2016 Local Government Elections, municipalities have embarked on the elections and establishment of ward committees for the new term of office, as required by law. To date out 4392 ward committees 98% ward committees have been established in all provinces.

 

In providing support to municipalities, the department has developed the standard operating procedures for ward committee establishment, circular 29 of 2016 and the national awareness campaign amongst other interventions; provincial engagements with clear action plans for a hand on support to municipalities.

 

COGTA has facilitated the development of various public participation mechanisms over the years to contribute to the attainment of a public participatory governance. Some of these methods are the following:

 

  • Institutionalising public participation through the establishment of public participation units: The department has been supporting municipalities in ensuring that municipalities have adequate and dedicated human resources capacity to implement public participation programme; development and adoption of public participation policy by council to guide and monitor implementation of the programme.

 

  • Municipalities are encouraged to create innovative tools to engage with communities and create citizen dialogues and provide feedback on council decisions through mechanisms such as ward committee meetings, community forums, IDP forums, Izimbizos, street committees and ICT ( social media platforms).

 

  • A Community Complaints Management System is one of the critical mechanisms that municipalities need to put in place. In particular, this refers to the establishment of an institutional home, and set of procedures to deal with community complaints. Many larger municipalities have developed such systems within each of the major service-orientated line departments. Smaller municipalities might be encouraged to centralise the system in one office to manage all service complaints so as to make the most rational use of their resources.

 

Linked to this, municipalities must conduct periodic Citizens’ Satisfaction Surveys as a means of becoming informed about the community’s views on municipal delivery. The department has does conducted the national citizens’ satisfaction survey in 2015 and 2016, to assess the perception of communities in relation to local government and the role of ward committees in promoting community participation.

 

Public participation should be seen as an ongoing process rather than an event. It is a process that neither happens naturally nor overnight, it requires strategic and pragmatic interventions and efforts. The factors as furnished below could strengthen public participation in local government:

 

  • Continuous consultation with the communities
  • Municipalities to support the functionality and effectiveness of ward committees
  • Promotion of innovative ways of popular participation as opposed to the dominance of Ward Committees over the participatory space i.e. the use of ICT and other innovative mechanisms
  • Establish systems to respond and resolve community complaints
  • Recognition of the contribution of different sectors and interest groups as opposed to the politicization of the participatory space;
  • Ensure improved information dissemination and feedback to communities;
  • Link Ward committees with community structures e.g. Civil Society Ogranisations, Community Development Workers, Traditional Leaders etc. to improve information sharing and consultation
  • Capacity building of municipalities/officials. It is important that municipalities are capacitated about the importance of participation; and
  • Budget allocation for implementation of public participation programmes.

 

 

Planning for urban development and land use management

 

It is very encouraging that the DPME is seeking to lay a policy foundation for the whole of government for the future direction of planning in South Africa, and that this reform process seeks to holistically address our many challenges regarding the institutionalisation of planning in government.

 

Workshops spearheaded by the DPME to date, have seen delegates agree that there is a necessity to develop legislation to institutionalise planning in South Africa, together with mechanisms for better managed and better coordinated planning within the state, and with external stakeholders.

 

The problem statement identified by DPME, and others in government, that leads to this conclusion, is that the current arrangements for planning are unsuited to the task of long-term planning (and, I would add, any form of coherent planning, whether short or long-term), primarily due to the significant fragmentation in roles and powers across the three spheres of government. This fragmentation has resulted in government policies and programmes achieving sub-optimal outcomes relative to the resources spent in preparing and implementing them.

 

I would like to pick up on this issue of sub-optimal outcomes, fragmentation, and the lack of co-ordination between the plans and programmes of the three spheres of government. This is rightly, a matter of great concern to us in government, and especially its implications for the ’all-of government’ implementation of the integrated urban development framework – the IUDF.

 

A pertinent question is, arising from the NDP and the IUDF – what is the role of planning in achieving development and spatial transformation? What have been the challenges identified to date, and what do we need to do differently, practically, in law, and in respect to institutional arrangements?

 

In looking at public sector reform processes, I would argue that we need to start with what we would collectively identify as being the root causes of poor planning outcomes, and where these fault lines are located: is it in current legislation, in policy, in the intergovernmental dimension or with process matters?

 

Inevitably, we will find a diverse picture, a jigsaw of cause and effect.

Let me place a few key issues on the table:

 

  • Policy Lever 1 of the IUDF focuses on Integrated Urban Planning and Management. A key point made here is that the planning status quo, although wide-ranging, has yet to realise the required development outcomes, largely due to competing sectoral priorities and insufficient focus on how spatial transformation should be intergovernmentally managed.
  • We need to differentiate our planning according to the spatial profile of a municipality; where economic growth, investments and job creation are paramount, it is essential that stronger planning links are forged with the private sector.
  • Thus spatial targeting is a critical success factor if we are to target government’s investment, initiatives and projects, to address priority issues within differentiated spatial areas.
  • We must, as government, define what we mean by urban management – g. for dealing with service delivery backlogs, for infrastructure operations and maintenance, and for investing in the future through a well-governed local environment that is responsive to the concept of creating liveable, inclusive, safe urban spaces.

The policy priorities in this lever speak to principles and actions that are acknowledged across a broad spectrum of role-players: e.g.

  • All critical stakeholders in the planning space, the three spheres of government, traditional communities, the private sector companies, NGOs, research institutions must be brought together to forge city deals, or spatial compacts, or joint spatial plans – we need to name our joint plans!

 

  • This demands an approach to planning that demands far greater forms of collaboration and partnerships – new planning policy and regulatory frameworks need to reflect a new way of thinking.

 

  • All plans must be costed and cash backed for implementation – ‘stick to one plan’ – how do we create a single, funded and supported plan, and how do we ensure the survival of plans into the medium- to long-term?

 

  • We are all agreed that the 3 spheres of government must have cohesive plans and work collectively to drive coherent implementation; we know that municipalities are the only space where the three spheres implement their plans and programmes, so this must be better integrated to avoid fragmentation, waste of resources and dissatisfied residents.   How can we justify building a school without teachers, a clinic without water or nurses, a residential area without sanitation, access to transport or lighting? Why are so many of our residential areas still so far from economic opportunities?
  • BUT: – Merely having multiple projects within the same geographic area will not however, enable government to significantly impact development priorities and spatial transformation.
  • Bringing about desired spatial and development outcomes requires strategic selection, prioritisation and coordination of interventions in time and space, between different role players and institutions, including the privates sector and civil society.

 

This is why the IUDF talks about the sequencing of targeted investments to address the inefficient structure of urban areas – we know there are fragmented residential settlement patterns, we know there are long travel times between home and work – the question is – HOW will manage the necessary alignment and integration of investments? Do we need a sharper regulatory environment, or do we first need shared commitment and mobilization, in order to ‘test the waters’ in new ways of thinking about planning?

 

Definitely, a new discipline is needed to guide how the 3 spheres understand national urban and economic policy goals; but perhaps before we institutionalise or formalize technical interventions, I would argue we need more time as government to explore the varying contexts of spatial transformation across the rural-urban continuum.

 

For example, the economic base varies significantly within municipalities, as do the levels of inequality and poverty. For example, only 8% of the population of Wizenberg (WC) is unemployed, compared to 52% in Bushbuckridge (Mp). What then, does spatial targeting mean in these two contexts?

 

Municipalities thus need financial and socio-economic models that promote sustainability and viability in a given space, solutions needs to be packaged to suit specific contexts: this means interdisciplinary and intergovernmental commitments have to be made and budgeted for, premised upon a new understanding of what elements constitute integrated development planning in an urbanizing world.

 

Given the South African planning system, and its constitutional and multi-sphere context, new “outcomes orientated” spatial alignment of government interventions would specifically require:

 

  1. Integration between different functional sectors/line departments within specific localities, but also between sectors and institutions at regional and national scales (horizontal alignment);
  2. Strategic alignment across different spatial scales, and thus between integrated and strategic spatial plans of different spheres of government (vertical alignment); and
  3. Active guidance for spatial alignment and outcomes of different role players within specific places through municipal IDPs and SDFs.

 

Ladies and gentlemen – simply put– we are all agreed that we need far greater levels of cohesive state action in planning. The DPME, COGTA, RDLR – we each have key and leading responsibilities for development planning, for spatial development frameworks and outcomes based government.

 

We therefore have, at this juncture, a great opportunity to join forces to explore the interface between national development goals, our policy and regulatory environment, and the appropriate forms of institutionalization to reflect our practical commitments to address the spatial injustice still prevalent across large swathes of South Africa.

 

I would put this proposal forward – that we work collectively to forge a Road Map towards the systemic reforms, and re-imagined planning frameworks, that will guide the intergovernmental and stakeholder compacts that can work to actively re-shape our urban form.

 

Bearing these important factors in mind, I really believe that our new MTSF can herald a new era in excellence in intergovernmental planning, monitoring and evaluation.

 

Let us now, as key actors, collectively work towards forging the shared vision, the shared understanding, and the transformative commitments that will strengthen us all in this central endeavour.

 

I thank you.