OPENING REMARKS BY THE MINISTER OF COOPERATIVE GOVERNANCE AND TRADITIONAL AFFAIRS, AT THE BRIEFING SESSION TO BLACK PROFESSIONAL ON SUPPORT TO MUNICIPALITIES IN DISTRESS, 2o April 2018, Boksburg
The Presidents of the various professional organisations,
Business leaders, entrepreneurs,
Senior government officials,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good Morning, Dumelang, Sanibonani,
It is my pleasure to address you today. We meet to discuss critical matters affecting the wellbeing of our people in our country.
I am thus happy that you have made the time to join us today . We really appreciate your presence.
We convene here as a country still in mourning. Last weekend we buried Mama Nomzamo Winnie Mandela. Tomorrow we lay to rest another stalwart of the struggle, the former Minister of Social Development, Dr Zola Skweyiya.
Dr Skweyiya excelled not only as a legal eagle but also in the development of social policy in our country. We have an effective poverty alleviation mechanism in the form of social grants for 17 million people today because of his sterling contribution as Minister of Social Development. We shall lay him to rest tomorrow, and honour him for his selfless service to his country and people.
Fellow South Africans
We are pleased to see all of you today. because you represent black excellence. We are meeting with black engineers, lawyers, accountants, town planners, auditors.
We are also sitting with corporate governance experts and managers in various fields from human resources to communications and risk management.
You are an embodiment of black success and achievement. That needs to always be highlighted as it is a product of our democracy. In the past you could count how many chartered accountants were there.
Your invitation made it clear that we shall be talking about supporting municipalities in distress. That is our mission as COGTA. Government launched the Back to Basics programme in 2014, aimed at helping us to achieve a turnaround and build the ideal municipality. We are discussing beyond where we need engineers but that black professionals must rise and make an impact in society, with integrity in leadership and professionalism, fighting corruption and maladministration.
Our mission is to get Municipalities to do their jobs. They must fix potholes, build speed humps to protect children, they must clean the streets and cut grass on the verges of the roads, they must remove refuse and build parks where children can play safely. Water and lights should be provided and when there is a problem, people must be informed. They must make municipalities liveable spaces.
The ideal municipality has the correct governance systems in place. It has a municipal manager, CFO and other professionals all of whom who are qualified and know what they are doing. Finances must be well managed in such a model municipalities and audit outcomes must be clean and unqualified.
We do have such municipalities, but the reality is that they are very few.
Only seven percent of the country’s municipalities are classified as well-functioning. About thirty-one percent are reasonably functional, thirty-one percent are almost dysfunctional and the remaining thirty-one percent is dysfunctional or in the ICU. We need to turn them around.
Of concern to us as well is the ability of municipalities to plan, deliver, operate and maintain infrastructure. Such ability is dependent to a greater extent, on the capacity of officials to execute their responsibilities.
These challenges make it difficult for municipalities to spend the funds they obtain from national government to assist them with infrastructure development. There are 226 municipalities in the country that are receiving the Municipal Infrastructure Grant funds, through our Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA). Over the MTEF period, national government has made an allocation of R47.6 billion and R16 billion is allocated for 2017/18 financial year.
In the past five years, since 2012/13, a total of R3.4 billion in MIG transfers was stopped and was reallocated from underspending municipalities to better spending municipalities. Some of the municipalities are destined to struggle because they have no rates base, they are an accumulation of rural villages. Now that they are suffering that way and cannot afford the cost of an engineer or chartered accountant we take the money away from them and that should stop. The fact they are poor must not prejudice their infrastructure development programme. Your role as professionals is to say where do you feature here.
In the same period, municipalities failed to spend a total of R8.2 billion. Between 2013/14 and in the current financial year, 2017/18, a total of 55 municipalities had their annual MIG allocations stopped at least twice because of capacity.
This is bad because people end up without water, electricity, roads and other key infrastructure because their municipalities failed to spend funds that government has allocated for these functions. The shortfall in infrastructure is not because government does not allocate the money. We shall be talking about such challenges and possible solution today.
We are aware of the concerns affecting black professionals with regards to accessing the programmes of government. As the status quo remains, it is difficult for black professionals and black companies to obtain contracts and opportunities from blue chip companies as they do not have the old boys’ networks that make things happen. There is no apartheid or job reservation you can be appointed to be a manager of a top blue-chip company and while you are working there its fine, until you open your own company.
The problem then arises. It is important therefore that government becomes more welcoming and supportive to black professionals and black business.
Government has introduced progressive legislation such as broad based black economic empowerment act and preferential procurement laws. Unless these are implemented correctly in an empowering manner, they do not achieve the intended goals.
We are aware of concerns raised by black professionals and entrepreneurs for example about the implementation of the 30 percent set asides that were announced by government a year ago. The lack of payment of suppliers within 30 days also hits black businesses and other SMMES hard. These are some of the things that government should act upon, so that we can achieve the economic transformation we seek.
It is not just about employment opportunities. It is also about the ownership and control of key sectors of the economy by the black majority that we should strive towards. I want us to keep that in mind as we engage about building strong and functional municipalities today.
As we improve governance, we also commit ourselves to fighting corruption and maladministration wherever it rears its ugly head. Some municipalities are dysfunctional due to corruption. Unskilled and unqualified people are sometimes appointed to key positions just to further the interests of their friends. We want qualified professionals. Such practices need to be brought to an end.
Let me emphasise again how happy we are to be with you today.
Local government is everybody’s business! Let us work together to build our municipalities and our country. Everybody must be involved because everything happens in the municipality. There must be efficiently run municipalities.
We were inspired by the song of Hugh Masekela and put up a COGTA remix.
I want to be there when our people turn municipalities around. Send me!
When they triumph over poverty unemployment and inequality I want to be there.
When our people protest and cry out for service delivery, I want to be there.
I want to be there for the indigent, the unemployed and those in informal settlements. I want to lend a hand when our people fight against the rigging of tenders, fraud and corruption. I want to be there when our people eliminate crime, violence and the abuse of women and children.
I want to be there in the fight against HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosis and Cancers.
I want to be there to ensure food security and healthy lifestyles, Send me!
I want to be there when our people fight for land and get involved in the agrarian revolution.
I want to be there when our people clean the streets of our towns and cities to reclaim our dignity and pride. I want to be there in the fight for a sustainable environment. I want to be there when our people fix the potholes, fix broken lights and cut the grass on the verges of the roads. I want to be there when our people share in the country’s wealth to be included in a growing and vibrant economy. I want to lend a hand in the struggle to improve the lives of all South Africans. I want to be there for nation building social cohesion and the protection of human rights for all. THUMA Mina, Send Me! I am ready to serve our people, nothing else but serve our people. Thuma Mina
I thank you.