DCoG Deputy Minister Andries NelSpeeches

Address by Deputy Minister, Mr Andries Nel at the Vision 2030 Summit

ADDRESS BY THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF COOPERATIVE GOVERNANCE AND TRADITIONAL AFFAIRS,

MR ANDRIES NEL, at the

VISION 2030 SUMMIT,

Johannesburg,

20 June 2018

 

Programme Director,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

The whole country has been galvanised by President Ramaphosa’s call to ‘Thuma Mina/Send Me’ – calling upon all citizens to play their part in building a better South Africa.

 

We in the local government sector are doing exactly that.

 

‘Skills, Growth and Transformation’ are critical to ensuring that our municipalities deliver on the services they are mandated to.

 

The National Development Plan (NDP) envisages a local government sector that is “committed to working with citizens and communities to find sustainable ways to meet their social, economic and material needs, and improve the quality of their lives. It will be at the forefront of participatory democracy, involving citizens in meaningful discussions about government and development.”

 

The NDP states that by 2030:

 

  • The state is capable of playing a developmental and transformative role.
  • Government staff at all levels have the authority, experience, competence and support they need to do their jobs.
  • Relations between national, provincial and local government are improved through a more proactive approach to managing the intergovernmental system.

 

Just last month the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs outlined its approach to dealing with the challenges facing the local government sector.

 

We already know about the great strides made in providing water, electricity, sanitation and housing services to millions of our citizens.

 

The 2017 Non-Financial Census of Municipalities released by Stats SA confirms the increase in delivery of services.

 

The survey measures the number of consumer units receiving services from municipalities.

 

From 2016 to 2017 there was an increase in the provision of sewerage and sanitation (3,8%), followed by solid waste management (2,6%), and water and electricity (both 2,1%).

 

Municipalities also supported 3,5 million indigent households in 2017.

 

Of these 2,6 million (75,4%) benefited from the indigent support system for water, while 2,1 million (59,5%) benefited from free basic electricity, 2,2 million (62,6%) from sewerage and sanitation, while 2,5 million (71,9%) benefited from the provision of solid waste management services.

 

Despite these great strides, we are aware that much needs to be done to improve the state of local government.

 

Our assessment of the state of local government has determined that:

 

  • Seven percent of the country’s municipalities are classified as well-functioning,
  • About 31% of the municipalities are reasonably functional,
  • Thirty one percent are almost dysfunctional and
  • The remaining 31% is dysfunctional or distressed.

 

We have identified 87 municipalities that are distressed or dysfunctional.

 

To address this we have initiated an intensive Recovery Programme focusing on governance, service delivery and financial management.

 

A major aspect of improving governance is ensuring the appointment of suitably qualified personnel.

 

This simply means we need municipal managers who know what they are doing.

 

During the 2017/2018 financial year, 423 appointments were concluded with competent and suitably qualified senior managers.

 

We have also taken measures to ensure that senior staff who are dismissed in one municipality, do not occupy a position in another municipality.

 

To improve financial management we have given municipalities that received disclaimers, one year in which to put their house in order.

 

We have prevailed on both councillors and officials that this state of affairs cannot continue.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

A key failure in our local government is the inability of municipalities to adequately spend funds on infrastructure.

 

The Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) goes towards providing water, electricity, roads and other services.

 

Two-hundred and twenty-six municipalities currently receive MIG funds.

 

Out of the 257 municipalities in the country, only 55 have a qualified engineer.

 

Since the 2012/12 financial year, a total of R3,4 billion was reallocated from underspending municipalities, to those who were able to spend the funds.

 

This effectively penalised poorer municipalities with low capacity.

 

To overcome this we have engaged a number of business organisations to assist us in ensuring that municipalities have the required skills to function optimally.

 

These include black professionals in various sectors, as well as organisations such as Business Unity South Africa and Business Leadership South Africa.

 

We believe this is where the business sector can partner with us to overcome the skills shortage in municipalities and build a capable and sustainable state machinery at local government level.

 

In the meantime, we have deployed District Support Teams consisting of engineers, construction and project managers, financial accountants, town and regional planners as well governance and administration experts, in 55 of the priority distressed municipalities.

 

By December, all distressed municipalities will have a Support Team.

 

The inability to spend billions of rands, simply because of a lack of skills, leads to the service delivery protests we see erupting across the country.

 

We are taking steps to change this. We are pushing service delivery.

 

Distinguished guests,

 

June as you know is Youth Month.

 

We celebrate Youth Month under the theme, “Live the legacy: Towards a socio-economically empowered youth.”

 

Speaking at the National Youth Day commemoration this Saturday, President Ramaphosa aptly summed up the challenge facing our youth and our country:

 

““We understand the frustration of young people who cannot find jobs, who do not have the skills and experience employers are looking for, and are unable to find the support they need to start their own businesses.

 

Our shared responsibility, as government, business, labour and civil society, is to develop pathways for young people into work.

 

It is this task to which we should be directing all our efforts and all our energies.”

 

This has certainly been our aim in the local government sector as we have used the skills shortage as an opportunity to empower our youth.

 

Our Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA), which is responsible for delivering on our infrastructure commitments, has embarked on a number of programmes to skill our youth.

 

The Apprenticeship Programme is aimed at producing artisans for the operations and maintenance of municipal infrastructure.

 

Our Young Graduate Programme ensure that graduates are able to receive the necessary coaching and mentoring.

 

MISA also offers bursaries in technical fields, with 200 students targeted this year.

 

There are various other programmes targeting experiential learning, Artisan Recognition of Prior Learnership for municipal officials and Technical Skills Training Courses.

 

We are currently exploring partnerships with various tertiary institutions to roll out our Young Graduate Programme nationally, so that we can effectively address the skills shortage in municipalities.

 

These measures will go some way in transforming our economy.

 

President Ramaphosa has stated that creating jobs for young South Africans is our most critical task.

 

Currently, more than a third of South Africans in the 15-34 year age group are unemployed.

 

We look forward to the Jobs Summit to be hosted later this year.

 

We really do need to take extraordinary measure to create jobs and to ensure that our youth benefit from these jobs.

 

One area of growth is that offered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

 

Another is utilizing the potential of our cities and towns as engines of job creating growth.

 

Our Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF), South Africa’s national urban policy, aims to address the apartheid spatial patterns by creating compact, coordinated and connected cities.

 

We need to guide the growth and management of urban areas in ways that unleash the potential of our cities and towns and reverse the terrible legacy of apartheid spatial injustice.

 

By 2030, a larger proportion of the population should live closer to places of work, and the transport they use to commute should be safe, reliable and energy efficient. This requires:

 

(1) Strong measures to prevent further development of housing in marginal places,

 

(2) Increased urban densities to support public transport and reduce sprawl,

 

(3) More reliable and affordable public transport and better coordination between various modes of transport,

 

(4) Incentives and programmes to shift jobs and investments towards the dense townships on the urban edge,

 

(5) Focused partnerships with the private sector to bridge the housing gap market.

 

Our success or failure in this endevour will influence whether we become a nation united in our diversity or remain a country where we live together separately.

 

LEADERSHIP

 

The successful implementation of the National Development Plan requires strong leadership from government, business, labour and civil society.

 

South Africa needs leaders throughout society to work together.

 

Given our country’s divided past, leaders sometimes advocate positions that serve narrow, short-term interests at the expense of a broader, long-term agenda. It is essential to break out of this cycle.

 

The country needs partnerships across society working together towards a common purpose. We need to build trust between major social partners.

 

The government must be responsible for a large share of implementing the NDP. It will need to strengthen its accountability chain, improve its capacity, be prepared to make difficult decisions and work with others in society to solve challenges. This means communicating honestly and sincerely with the public.

 

The state sets the ethical bar for society as a whole. This makes it even more important that government acts to address the high levels of corruption in its ranks. We are here to serve the people; the people are not here to serve us.

 

South Africa needs a thriving private sector that is investing in productive capacity. While the profit motive drives business, companies cannot grow unless they operate in an environment where employment and income levels are rising. It is in the long-term interests of all businesses for the country to grow faster and for more people to be employed.

 

It is also in the interests of business that the level of inequality be reduced. Inequality raises the cost of doing business, skews market structure and ultimately limits growth opportunities. It also breeds mistrust and tension.

 

Excessive executive remuneration does little to build a more inclusive society where everyone feels that they share in the fruits of development. While legislating salaries is impractical, leadership is required to ensure that businesses act more responsibly.

 

South Africa has a well-developed and vibrant trade-union movement. Historically, trade unions have played a role in politics, understanding that the issues pertinent to its members do not stop at the factory gate.

 

Unions advance the interests of their members and give voice to vulnerable workers, such as farm workers, domestic workers or casual workers. Union leadership is critical to ensuring that gains by members are sustainable in the long term. To achieve this, productivity and employment have to rise continuously.

 

In a developmental state, unions share responsibility for the quality of services delivered, for improving the performance of government, and for fighting corruption and inefficiency.

 

Civil society leaders represent citizens on issues closest to their hearts and must be taken seriously. These leaders are responsible for ensuring that that criticism and protest are conducted with dignity and maturity.

 

We are confident that the quality of leadership present in this room tonight and in particular the leadership gathered here is equal the difficult but exciting tasks that lie ahead as we take South Africa forward together.

 

We call upon you as our social partners to join hands with us.

 

We are starting a Jobs Revolution in our respective sectors.

 

We need your assistance to enhance this.

 

Our efforts will determine the trajectory of our country

 

Next year we mark 25 years of democracy.

 

We have used the almost quarter of a century to make unbelievable strides in the provision of services and in promoting social cohesion.

 

Yet we are aware that South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies in the world.

 

The Freedom Charter calls upon us to build a South Africa that belongs to all who live in it.

 

More than 60 years later, as we face a myriad of challenges, its words still ring true.

 

Now more than ever we need to stand together and work together to build a better South Africa.

 

I am playing my part in this, and I call upon all South Africans to do exactly this.

 

The new dawn awaits us, as does the promise of a better life.

 

Let us seize the day.

 

I thank you.