Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize

Address by Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize at the welcome and induction session for MISA Young Graduates and Experiential Learners held at Emperor’s Palace, Kempton Park

The CEO of MISA, Mr Ntandazo Vimba
Executives and Senior Managers
Representatives from Professional Bodies
Municipal Representatives
Esteemed graduates
Members of the media,

Good morning to you all.

We meet for a very important occasion.

We have come together to warmly welcome our young graduates and professionals in very important fields in the built environment arena, which is key in the economic development of our country and in taking forward the President’s vision for economic growth and job creation.

I wish to convey sincere congratulations to the 93 graduates and learners for making it through the selection process for this important experiential learning opportunity at CoGTA and specifically at the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent, (MISA).

In the 2018/19 financial year, MISA has more than 150 young graduates, who are civil engineers, electrical engineers, project and construction managers, towns and regional planners, geographic information system practitioners and environmental scientists. We are proud of all our young professionals who are the future of our country.

Last year around this time, we lamented the large number of dysfunctional and distressed municipalities. We then set out to provide support in different areas such as governance and administration, financial management, infrastructure development, political management and other critical areas which create problems if not attended to.

We emphasised the need to provide technical advice and support to municipalities so that they can be able to provided much needed services to the people such water and electricity, fill potholes, cut grass and alien vegetation on the verges of roads and promote local economic development and job creation among others. In this regard we have developed several training and human resource development programmes to support municipalities and build a technical skills pipeline for local government.

Through MISA we currently drive six skills development programmes as follows:
·      Young Graduate Programme;
·      Experiential Learnership Programme;
·      Apprenticeship Programme;
·      Technical Bursary Scheme;
·      Technical Skills Training for Municipal Officials; and
·      An Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning Programme.

The 93 young people here today fall under the first two programmes, the Young Graduate Programme and the Experiential Learnership Programme, both of which are very important for youth development and for improving the national skills base.

The Young Graduate Programme is a two to three-year   programme aimed at providing opportunities to young graduates registered as candidates with professional bodies to acquire work exposure and structured mentorship towards registration as professionals.

The programme caters for candidates in the fields of civil and electrical engineering, project and construction management, town and regional planning, geographic information system as well as environmental studies. This strategic intervention seeks to support low and medium capacity municipalities with the requisite technical skills.

The Experiential Learnership Programme focuses on learners in the technical fields relevant to municipalities, who seek work integrated learning to complete their studies, and who seek experience to join the labour market.  It provides unemployed youth with an opportunity to gain work experience and on-the-job training so that they can complete their studies. At the same time, we are able to support low and medium capacity municipalities.

Through these programmes we are investing in youth development while also advancing the country’s Municipal Infrastructure development programme.

Infrastructure development is a doorway to investment in our country. It is a key enabler of economic growth.

In the State of the Nation Address, the President of the Republic emphasised the strengthening of technical capacity in government for more project efficiency, and that government will focus on building a pool of engineers, project managers, spatial planners and quantity surveyors – an action team that he said, can make things happen faster on the ground.

When he announced the economic stimulus package last year, the President also emphasized infrastructure investment, particularly in municipalities.  Infrastructure development is a key aspect in enhancing efficiency in local government, to attract investment and provide reliable services to the people and contribute to their socio-economic development.

We also need infrastructure programmes as part of addressing the spatial defects of apartheid, where only the minority group enjoyed good services and best infrastructure. This is why many municipalities, especially in predominantly black areas, have huge infrastructure backlogs which need urgent attention.

The work that needs to be done which requires your skills as young professionals includes bulk electricity and water supply networks, water and sewer treatment works, access roads, storm water bridges, municipal building constructions, sidewalks and other critical projects, which enable the smooth functioning of the municipalities. You have your work cut out for your indeed as young graduates and professionals.

As we welcome our young graduates today, we are building our successful programme that we launched last year.

In August 2018 we established and dispatched District Technical Support Teams, comprising 81 technical experts such as engineers and town planners, to support struggling municipalities with regard to infrastructure development. That programme will run until April 2021.

We established these teams because of chronic underspending problems in the Municipal Infrastructure Grant, which is overseen by MISA and is meant for infrastructure development.

The National Treasury reallocated the funds of the municipalities, which had underspent by 40% or less to those municipalities with efficient spending.  The effect was that in the past five years, since 2012/13, a total of R3.4 billion in MIG transfers was reallocated from underspending municipalities to better spending municipalities.

The cause of this underspending is lack of technical skills to rollout and oversee the infrastructure projects in the municipalities. Last year for example, we announced that in the country only 55 municipalities out of 257 had engineers leading their technical divisions which is why we had to act decisively as CoGTA and correct this state of affairs.

We do not want residents to suffer because of poor capacity or any other challenge in municipalities hence the provision of the much needed engineers and other skilled personnel directly to them by CoGTA.  The President announced that the process of stabilising and supporting 57 municipalities had begun, with over 10,000 municipal infrastructure projects currently being implemented. All these require technical skills.

In another important development, in December 2018, the Cabinet established a Rapid Response Service Delivery Task Team which is led by CoGTA. The aim is to develop a rapid response programme focused on resolving challenges which have arisen in hotspot municipalities.

Hotspot municipalities are seen as municipalities identified and classified as having serious service delivery challenges owing to leadership, governance, infrastructure and/or institutional failures.  These failures may be the result of failures due to any or all of the three spheres of government, or their entities, not performing their powers and functions properly. You are thus joining this sector at the right time, when we need your skills to help us assist these affected municipalities. You will gain valuable experience working in such challenging environments.
MISA is still recruiting more technical experts in engineering and town planning to be able to assist struggling municipalities. Our country has to function optimally and we are the catalysts for its success.

We take support to municipalities seriously beyond infrastructure development.
We issued a call for professionals in various fields to form part of governance panels made up of individuals to be deployed in municipalities as municipal managers, CFOs, audit executives and other key governance governance, financial management and administration fields. The Department of Cooperative Governance received about  a thousand applications and are working with the National Treasury currently to process them.

A call was also issued for companies to join our database to support municipalities. The Department is processing those submissions with the National Treasury as well to ensure that correct procedures are followed in sourcing this capacity externally.

The process will be finalised without further delay as our municipalities need the support so that they can provide better services to our people.

This is the background we felt you should have as young graduates, to outline the context within which you will be working in the local government sector so that you can better understand our expectations.

We thank all professional associations for supporting our programme and welcoming our graduates and being ready to help us induct them into the various professions.

The President has made a call that we must grow South Africa together. We thank you all for being part of making that call come to fruition.

To our young graduates and professionals, you have joined the war against poverty and deprivation and the battle to build better municipalities that serve our people more efficiently and in a caring manner.

We extend a warm welcome to you all and wish you all of the best in the next few years with CoGTA and the local government sector.

I Thank you.

 

Issued by the Ministry of Corporate Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA).

Enquiries
Mr Musa Zondi-
072 800 6449