Deputy Minister Andries Nel’s remarks during the City of Polokwane Council meeting on 3rd November 2017 to discuss Intermediate City Municipality Support Programme Pilot Project
The Deputy Minister thanked the Speaker, Chief Whip, the Executive Mayor and all councillors for the opportunity to be present at this historic occasion and have the opportunity to address the Council of Polokwane.
By way of wider context, the Deputy Minister drew attention to global urbanisation trends and highlighted the increasing rates of urbanisation in Africa. Allied to these global trends is the need to address apartheid spatial planning that resulted in divisions and segregation, leaving the disadvantaged living far from economic opportunities where long travel distances further stressed meagre household budgets.
Because of the importance of this, the government’s National Development Plan (NDP) has a chapter dedicated to addressing urban development and how to bring about spatial transformation. This has informed a wider, all of government programme coordinated by Cogta called the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) to promote better planned areas and where all citizens, including those in smaller cities and towns, can reap the benefits of urban development.
Within the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF), the Intermediate City Municipality Support Programme (ICM) is intended to provide support for the cities in the middle size and density range of the continuum. The purpose of the ICMs support strategy is to help translate IUDF policy into practical programmes of action in the ICMs. In so doing the initiative aims to give impetus to achieve the main IUDF goals, which are forging new integrated forms of spatial development; ensuring that people have access to social and economic services, opportunities and choices; harnessing urban dynamism to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth; and enhancing the governance capacity of the state and citizens in ICMs. Support offered by the Intermediate City Municipality Programme will include technical assistance, enabling environment support (via legislation, regulations, national and provincial policy, IGR facilitation etc.) and access to a new infrastructure grant.
The full programme is under final design at the moment, and it is intended that the design process will conclude in the first half of 2019, and it will be implemented at scale in 2019. In the interim two pilot municipalities have been selected for the implementation of pilot activities, namely Polokwane and the City of Umhlathuze. The initial engagement activities in the pilot municipalities have commenced, and it is anticipated that this work will escalate during 2018. The new infrastructure grant for the ICMs is being tested in both pilots in the 2018/19 financial year starting 1st July 2018, and the preparatory work to enable the pilot ICMs to receive this grant is also underway.
As an ICM pilot project, the City of Polokwane will be eligible to drawn down technical support to the approximate value of R4,5 million. This technical support will be made available through the World Bank, which will manage the necessary procurement according to priorities set by the City of Polokwane. As part of this arrangement, the municipality will be able to access top level global expertise to assist it with diagnostic analyses, spatial and land use planning, long-term infrastructure planning, a long term financial strategy, and technical support in specific areas. The city will also have access to a suite of nationally developed tools from the City Support Programme (CSP), MISA and COGTA which have been piloted in other metropolitan areas around South Africa. As part of the support package, COGTA can for example, assist the City of Polokwane to develop / revise the municipal Spatial Development Framework in terms of SPLUMA, which addresses spatial integration issues in the municipality, and around which national and provincial departments will coordinate their efforts. DCoG has committed to provide support to resolve critical issues relating to these line departments’ programmes impacting on local, integrated spatial development.
In order to qualify to participate as a pilot project in the ICM programme, the City of Polokwane must be willing to commit to participate actively in the ICM support programme, and in particular to engage with and absorb the technical support that is provided, do align spatial planning and capital projects and to ensure regular reporting.
The implementation of the pilot programme will be overseen by a Steering Committee comprising representatives from the municipality, provincial COGTA, National Treasury and national COGTA, to be established.
The Polokwane Council has tabled an item to obtain approval to participate as a pilot in the Intermediate City Municipality Support Programme on the above basis and this address is in support of the item.
Understanding key Issues in Polokwane to inform the ICM
As part of the identification of Polokwane as a pilot municipality for the ICMs Support Programme, research reports were prepared to provide key information on the status quo of the municipality. Some key trends that will be important considerations in developing a support programme for Polokwane include:
- That in 2017, the Polokwane Municipality achieved an unqualified audit opinion with reduced matters of emphasis. This is a significant improvement from previous years and Polokwane is to be congratulated;
- That the 2017 budget assessment of National Treasury found that the municipal vision and strategy is aligned to the budget;
- That key positions within the administration, including that of municipal manager, chief financial officer and planning director are now filled;
- That the municipality must strengthen the skills and competencies within the Project Management Unit so that the staff are equipped with the required technical capabilities and relevant experience to effectively manage complex and multidisciplinary infrastructure projects;
- That in 2016 the Auditor General recommended improvements to the records management system to maintain information;
- That the water shortages and insufficient capacity of the waste water plant has been detrimental to the growth of the municipality but is now being addressed;
- That the municipality must improve on spending their capital budget in previous years;
Process of engagement
The process of engagement to initiate this ICM Support Programme has consisted of multiple engagements with the Office of the Premier and Limpopo COGHSTA during 2016 and 2017, including an important collaboration of key stakeholders on 29th September 2017, providing a timely moment to put senior resources together to support Polokwane municipality to do improved spatial planning, sound capital project investments and put the necessary foundations in place to ultimately move towards a Category A municipality.
It is important to note that DCoG believes that Polokwane municipality is a worthy and relevant pilot municipality for this programme because it is urbanising at a high rate, it has many preconditions for increased economic growth such as its strong links to mining and tourism and wider connectivity to surrounding, neighbouring countries and the presence of traditional authority areas.
The Deputy Minister closed by thanking Polokwane for allowing him to address the Council and that his Ministry looked forward to walking this path with Polokwane municipality and that the implementation support will ensure that benefits accrue to the citizens of the municipality and that we break the spatial patterns of the past.
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