Minister Des Van Rooyen

On “Consolidating Local Democracy and Deepening Development: B2B 10-Point Plan to build confidence in local government and Put People First” at the Special SALGA National Members’ Assembly, 19 May 2016, Nelson Mandela Bay Metro


“Consolidating Local Democracy and Deepening Development: B2B 10-Point Plan to build confidence in local government and Put People First”

at the

Special SALGA National Members’ Assembly,

19 May 2016,

Nelson Mandela Bay Metro


Programme Director,

Deputy Ministers, Andries Nel and Obed Bapela,

Chairperson of the NCOP,

SALGA Chairperson, Cllr Thabo Manyoni, and SALGA leadership,

Deputy Chair of National House of Traditional Leaders,

Executive Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay, Councillor Danny Jordaan,

Executive Mayors and Mayors from other Municipalities,


Traditional Leadership with us here today,

Union leadership,

Esteemed Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,




Good morning,


After I left the defence force in 1999, I spent ten years in the local government sector. I started as a ward councillor, then later became MMC for Safety. I later became Executive Mayor. Indeed I belong here. I feel like I’m being welcomed back home. Khumbul’ekhaya.


Thank you for the opportunity to address SALGA’s 2016 National Members’ Assembly.

Let me state our high regard for the SALGA under the stewardship of Chairperson, Councillor Thabo Manyoni.

SALGA has been at the heart of professionalising local government. I know it – I was here.It has played an important role at all levels of government, as well as on the international front, as we witnessed at the Africities conference last year.

Let me also congratulate the CEO, Mr Xolile George, for achieving a fourth successful clean audit.

SALGA certainly sets an example that all municipalities should strive to achieve.

We welcome SALGA’s endorsement of the Back to Basics programme, and for its support of the second phase of its implementation.

We appreciate your efforts in working towards a smooth transition after the local government elections. Working together, we are preparing a councillor training programme and updating the Councillor Induction Manual to focus attention on the Back to Basics programme.

SALGA has proved to be a dynamic and valuable role-player in the local government sphere. On the 5th of December 2015 we celebrated 15 years of democratic local government.

Many of our achievements over this period have been achieved by working together.

Let us continue in that spirit to foster our relationship.

Members of SALGA, Last week the World Economic Forum Africa gathered under the theme of, “Connecting Africa’s Resources through Digital Transformation”.

Today, all businesses are digital businesses – and that includes the local government sphere. I’m glad that our cities are realising the potential of utilising ICTs to innovate service delivery.

The Tshwane International Trade and Infrastructure Investment Conference held this week, noted that 43 percent of the city’s population had logged into its free wi-fi service. This is in line with initiatives such as the City of Johannesburg’s Smart City Wi-Fi project that has seen areas such as Braamfontein receive 100 percent wi-fi access.

As we meet in Africa Month and get set to usher in a new local government administration, let us keep our eye on building Smart Cities that are at the forefront of building a better Africa.

I am honoured to participate in this Assembly today with people and organisations that recognise the importance of local government as the sphere that is closest to our people.

The theme for this year’s National Members Assembly is certainly apt:

“Ushering in the 4th term of democratic and people centred local government – our readiness to navigate the sector transition”.

I welcome the fact that this Special National Members’ Assembly will consider key transitional matters that have to be attended to prior to, during, and after the 3rd August local government elections. As established councillors and administrators you are perfectly positioned to express yourselves on key transitional matters that must be attended to.

Clear guidance in this regard will ensure that the progress of municipalities from interim or transitional structures, to established and accountable institutions, is smooth and straightforward.

Your stated intention to contend with key policy and legislative matters impacting on Local Government is appreciated, because there are matters that are constraining the functionality of our municipalities.

Furthermore, ladies and gentlemen, as part of your discussion points you must, as a matter of urgency, consider how the Back-to-Basics programme can be entrenched in our municipalities.

This will provide a clear strategic vision through which the fourth fully democratic local government term can be ushered in.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year we commemorate the 20 anniversary of the signing of the Constitution.

The South African Constitution reflects a national consensus on the basic character of state and society in post-apartheid South Africa.

The Constitutional recognition of local government opened the way for broader participation in the governance of the country through community-level political representation within a framework for national sovereignty and unity.

The apartheid system used municipal administrative boundaries as instruments to enforce separate development, white minority privilege, and the political and economic exclusion of black South Africans.

The legacy of that system remained in the fragmented settlements and distorted space economy that we inherited.

Today we see that in the apartheid spatial legacy that still blemishes our landscape.

Yesterday, Deputy Minister Nel hosted a dialogue on the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF), that was approved by Cabinet in April.

This Urban Development Framwork aims to change the apartheid legacy that coarsens the lives of especially black South Africans.

Many of whom still travel for hours to get to and from work each day, or live miles from economic opportunities that will lift them out of the cycle of poverty.

The IUDF offers a New Deal for South Africa’s cities and towns – and by implication its residents.

The Integrated Urban Development Framework sets out the policy framework for transforming and restructuring South Africa’s urban spaces.

This is guided by the vision of creating “liveable, safe, resource-efficient cities and towns that are socially integrated, economically inclusive and globally competitive, where residents actively participate in urban life.”

The IUDF has also released its Implementation Plan for 2016-2019.

This requires that all three spheres of government and all public entities must embrace the IUDF and use its principles when developing plans, programmes or approving projects.

The IUDF recognises local government’s role in implementing and integrating long-term growth and development plans.

I am sure that you will take this policy into consideration in your efforts to develop the space economy.

I am told that the document has been widely distributed and is also available on the Cogta website.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Post-apartheid local government functions with a radical new mandate.

The mandate of local government is located in the Constitution’s definition of local government as a sphere of government.

Together with this new status, the Constitution gave local government a new developmental mandate, namely that a municipality must:

“structure and manage its administration; budgeting and planning processes to give priority to the basic needs of the community and to promote the social and economic development of the community”.

Critical to local government’s mandate is the requirement to improve the lives of all the citizens in their municipality through:

The provision of basic services,

The development and growth of the economy,

Recognising and harnessing the skills potential of people living in municipalities,

The mobilisation of people to make their own contribution towards the improvement of their living conditions and job creation.


Distinguished Councillors, Mayors and Executive Mayors

Too often we forget that most citizens’ experience of government occurs at the local government level.

When the traffic lights are working, the garbage is collected and clean water comes out of an open tap, that’s when our citizens know that government is working for them.

The Back to Basics programme has been our response to improving the lives of all citizens.

I am privileged to report encouraging progress.

We can state with confidence that Back to Basics has been widely accepted by all stakeholders in government.

Furthermore, our communities and the business sector have become active partners in the implementation of this programme.

Telkom, Old Mutual, First National Bank and the Banking Council are among those institutions that have provided their expertise to municipalities.

Old Mutual for example has identified 20 municipalities it would like to support in terms of the B2B pillar of ‘Building capable institutions.’

We will meet more business stakeholders to determine what role they can play in further developing our municipalities, through the B2B programme.

Step by step we are changing how institutions are working in practice and are already seeing positive results.

However, it is important to ensure that municipalities do not become dependent on support programmes, but rather develop their own capacity for sustainability in the medium and long term.

Our Policy Review has indicated the need to strengthen the role of District Municipalities and the importance of spatial integration and transformation, especially with regard to Metros and District Municipalities.

We’ve also provided specific support and interventions to troubled municipalities including Mogalakwena, Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, Buffalo City, Oudtshoorn and Makana.

These positive developments show that B2B is stimulating a culture of accountability and responsiveness to the needs of our people, among our municipalities and municipal officials.

Even those municipalities that were classified as not doing well or dysfunctional are improving in some areas.

Programme Director,

Despite our clear progress, there remain areas of concern.

We’ve noticed that in municipalities categorised as not doing well (dysfunctional), the systems and processes for citizen engagement are weak.

This includes the lack of functioning ward committees.

Another concern is that few municipalities have conducted Citizen Satisfaction Surveys, with many regarding the IDP process as fully indicative of communities’ concerns.

Ageing infrastructure across provinces is exacerbating service delivery failures.

This is further compounded by weak technical capacity within municipalities – for example, some municipalities even require support to design and develop tender documents for submission to Supply Chain Management units.

Another growing area that municipalities are struggling with is the capacity of Water Services Authorities to respond to water challenges and in some instances to perform disaster management functions.

The lack of sound financial management is underpinned by a number of factors.

These include the servicing of debt to bulk suppliers such as Eskom, problems with billing systems and the debt owed to municipalities by clients, government in particular.

The culture of non-payment by certain communities is impeding our efforts to place municipalities on a sound financial footing.

Anecdotal accounts of some communities preferring to pay their DSTV accounts, instead of their rates, have brought to light the need to handle this issue more decisively.

The good news is that our audit outcomes have improved in the last year, but this is an ongoing project, and one we should not falter on.

There is also a need to harmonise the relationship between traditional leaders and municipal councils, with the former not always getting the recognition and respect they deserve.

Building institutional capability within municipalities is probably our biggest long-term challenge.

Municipalities with weaknesses in governance and corporate management functions such as financial management, HRM and SCM also tend to experience difficulties in service delivery.

Legal capacity is non-existent in most municipalities, resulting in numerous litigations and escalating legal costs.

A middle management layer that is not adequately skilled, with a limited capacity for forward planning and implementation capability, is another factor we have to contend with.

Political instability and weaknesses in governance are two of the primary causes of poor service delivery at municipal level.

Enforcement of by–laws by municipalities is generally weak or do not exist in municipalities.

There is correlation between senior management vacancy rates and lack of functionality of municipalities.

These are some of the challenges we are experiencing and have taken note of.

We have therefore adjusted our Back to Basics programme to deal with these challenges.

The B2B programme entered its second phase this year.

Focus areas of next phase of B2B

The next phase of the Back-to-Basic approach will include a concerted initiative to identify the root causes of problems in each municipality.

The focus will also be on the identification of what needs to be done differently by all stakeholders to address the root causes and bring about the desired changes in municipalities.

The implementation of the prioritised actions in municipalities should have the maximum measurable results in functionality, service delivery and citizen experience.

In the next phase of B2B we will be more precise and practical regarding the actions which will be effective in changing the way municipalities are working.

There must be measurable improvements in citizens’ experience of local government.

10-point plan of B2B priority actions

 A 10-point plan of B2B priority actions was developed to guide this next phase:

The plan includes the promotion of community engagement, which is absolutely critical to enable communities to provide feedback on their experience of local government.

  1. Community engagement and local government accountability to citizens will be strengthened through innovative platforms such as the use of social media, and community radio stations.

We want to ensure that communities have positive experiences when dealing with municipalities.

Here our ward councillors are very important as they serve as the interface between the citizens they represent and the municipal officials who design and implement development polices.

The councillor’s job is not just to serve as the voice of the people, for the expression of their community needs, but also to act as a watchdog and ensure the municipality implements policies to address the needs of citizens.

Councillors should thus be sensitive to community views and responsive to local problems;

  1. Government will develop hands on programmes for each municipality which has been receiving disclaimers audit opinions over 5 years, to reverse this trend;
  1. Municipal revenue management will be improved through a clearly defined process of intervention;
  1. Government will guide municipalities in the appointment of senior managers, and ensure that their skills are fit for purpose;
  1. Support and interventions will be provided to increase access to quality, reliable and sustainable basic levels of services.

More funding will be provided for the replacement and refurbishing of ageing infrastructure;

  1. The implementation of the recommendations of all forensic reports will be monitored;
  1. The Metropolitan B2B programme will prioritize issues that have immediate impact on the citizens, as well as enforcement mechanisms for service norms and standards, quicker response times and improvement of communication to citizens.

The programme also makes provision for interim services to informal settlements;

  1. The role of district municipalities will be strengthened.

The focus will be on the distribution of powers and functions between district and local municipalities, to foster regional integrated planning and the delivery of services, to establish a shared service model, and strong district support plans for weaker local municipalities;

  1. The development of a spatial development strategy for various localities and spaces is another priority area.

It includes the development of an infrastructure development implementation plan to underpin the spatial development programme; and

  1. Provincial CoGTA Departments are essential partners in the implementation of the next phase of the B2B programme.

Therefore the strengthening of the capacity of these departments is an important priority area.

Distinguished Councillors, Mayors and Executive Mayors,

I am of the view that SALGA can structure support programmes to assist with the implementation of many of the elements of the 10-point plan.

Your support is crucial to our attempts to address the challenges that continue to beleaguer the sector’s progress.

This includes:

  • Strengthening oversight capacity to be robust and resilient to withstand the forces of corruption and maladministration, and increase the participation of communities in the governance processes;
  • Ensure better audit outcomes and financial management through implementing the SALGA Municipal Audit Support Programme;
  • Improving integrated development planning and the realisation of seamless government;
  • Intensifying public participation and find innovative ways to include communities in municipal governance process;
  • Support leadership development in the sector through the SALGA Centre for Governance Leadership and Executive Coaching.

Going forward: The establishment of a Developmental State

We can’t have councillors who come to public meetings & say ‘angaaz’ or ‘I don’t know’…they are not cheque collectors.

Going forward, we need to consolidate on the gains made and also rigorously apply the lessons learnt thus far.

We should be under no illusions that the economic climate, which we are facing currently, is going to provide even steeper challenges for municipalities in the period ahead.

The constraints in the economic environment have serious implications for local government.

We shall have to make a concerted effort to ensure that resources allocated to local government are put to its best possible use.

Sound financial management therefore remains high on the agenda.

However, it is important to reconfirm that the government remains committed to the vision of a developmental local government, as part of an important strategy in advancing the developmental state.

We also recognise that more should be done to build capacity in the state and on local government level to advance the lives of our communities.

The developmental mandate of municipalities goes beyond service delivery and infrastructure.

Municipalities must lead the creation of cohesive, integrated and sustainable human settlements in their local areas.

They undertake this role in two ways: namely by developing a strategic plan to guide the long-term spatial development of its area, and act as the point of coordination for the investments and services that the other two spheres discharge in the local built environment.

Outcome 9 has emphasized the important role of intergovernmental effort and cooperative governance in ensuring that the developmental local government system succeeds.

Local government is recognised as a key part of the reconstruction and development effort of our country.

The aims of democratising our society and bringing about a growing inclusive economy can only be realised through a responsive, accountable and efficient local government system.

Through the B2B approach CoGTA has identified areas through which cooperative governance can be strengthened.

Basic services:

  • National Treasury and CoGTA will provide institutional support to improve expenditure, to target backlogs and to ensure municipalities acquire relevant skills for infrastructure management.
  • The IMC will coordinate service delivery initiatives of national government departments under the auspices of the IMC on Service Delivery.
  • The Inter-Ministerial Basic Service Delivery Task Team will assist in unblocking and fast-tracking services around the country.
  • CoGTA, Department of Water and Sanitation, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and the Department of Human Settlements will intensify the implementation of a pipeline of projects in the 27 Districts, with a particular focus on water and sanitation to targeted areas.

Putting people first:

  • National and provincial sector departments to increase their visibility and support to Thusong Centres.
  • CoGTA to work with GCIS to improve communication in order to communicate local government successes and use them as learning opportunities for other municipalities.

Sound financial management:

  • National and Provincial CoGTAs and Provincial Treasuries will assess and address capacity deficiencies of municipalities to develop and implement Audit and Post Audit Action plans.
  • National and Provincial CoGTAs and Provincial Treasuries will assess the credit control and debt collection policies, including the elimination of theft of services, and by-laws for adequacy, and support the implementation thereof. 

Building Capable Institutions and Administrations:

  • CoGTA and National Treasury will collectively enforce the implementation of the Municipal Systems Act and Municipal Financial Management Act regulations.


The areas of concern in respect of good governance can be summarized in the following key points:

Weak political leadership is a key capacity constraint.

Political leaders often lack the leadership, oversight and technical skills to enable them to perform their required roles and responsibilities;

Weak political leadership is often linked to broader problems within the municipality such as:

  • A blurred political/administrative interface,
  • An unclear distinction between executive and legislative functions; and
  • Weak strategic focus, institutional volatility, weak values, ethics and instances of mismanagement.

Furthermore a lack of consequences for poor performance and transgressions are the root causes of poor audit outcomes and bad governance in our municipalities.

SALGA has a constitutional mandate to inculcate accountability within local government.

Accountability is a key success driver in the adherence to the principles of good governance.

SALGA must continue to invest substantially in the fight against corruption.

CoGTA acknowledges SALGA’s huge contribution through its consequences and accountability framework for the sector.

It cannot be denied that SALGA’s Municipal Audit Support Programme (MASP), through which hands-on support to municipalities who received adverse or disclaimed audit opinions is provided, has resulted in a noticeable improvement in the municipal audit opinions.

SALGA’s Centre of Leadership and Governance is at the forefront of Government’s endeavours to professionalise local government.

As we will soon enter into a phase where the elected will be subjected to induction training, I urge SALGA to lead from the front so that we can empower our new councillors with all the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed.

Let’s use this initiation process to develop leadership to their full capacity in the areas of governance, citizens, media and stakeholder engagement and ethics.

Local Government 2016 elections

In the midst of our actions to intensify the B2B programme, we must also direct our focus to ensuring a successful local government election in 2016.

With that in mind we are committed to supporting the municipal amalgamations as announced by the Municipal Demarcation Board.

We are working with the communities of Vuwani at finding a legally acceptable solution to all concerned.

However, we will not tolerate the use of violence as a form of protest.

The destruction of property in which this government has invested millions is not acceptable.

The future of learners in Vuwani is now hampered because of these actions.

As we head towards the 2016 local government elections, we will see a total reduction of 19 municipalities through amalgamations.

Government acknowledges the important role that SALGA has to play in this process, and we look forward to our close cooperation over the next few months.

National Treasury has allocated almost R100 million over the MTEF period to SALGA.

We know this will be spent wisely.


Local government has been a primary site for the delivery of services in South Africa since 1994.

We have made tremendous progress in delivering water, electricity, sanitation and refuse removal at local level.

However, there are areas in which service delivery is failing, our governance system is not functioning, and we are not putting people and their concerns first.

Back-to-Basics is the framework for ensuring that the people’s trust in local government is restored.

Each sphere of government has to work together within the cooperative governance system to address the challenges faced by local government.

SALGA must be the partner to all spheres of government, business and civil society in this process.

Let us go forward together and build the developmental local government system that our people deserve.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Africa, the host President Paul Kagame of Rwanda had this to say:

“Development is about more than money, or machines or good policies – it’s about real people and the lives they lead.”

Let’s bear this in mind as we hold the future of our citizens in our hands.

I wish you a productive and thought stimulating two days of deliberation.

I thank you.