Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

Speech by Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma: NCOP Debate on Adjustment Budget 2020/21 Financial Year

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
16 July 2020

Honourable Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces;
Chairperson and members of the Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs;
Deputy Ministers for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs;
Members of Provincial Executives;
Delegates from the Provinces;
Representatives of the South African Local Government Association;
Leaders of Labour, Business and Civil Society;
Directors General for the Departments of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs;
CEOs and Heads of Institutions in our sector;
Ladies and gentlemen .  . .

We meet virtually to present our readjustment budget vote under difficult and challenging circumstances, as the world is engulfed in the COVID-19 storm. Our nation and our way of life have been dramatically altered, perhaps forever.

Under the leadership of President Ramaphosa, we have adopted a Risk-Adjusted Strategy which seeks to maintain a delicate and difficult balance between saving lives and livelihoods. Gradually as we have moved from the lockdown level five in March to Level 3 on the 1st of June.

On the 1st of June we had recorded 34 357 cases, with 705 deaths, 1 674 new cases and 22 new deaths. Yesterday, we had increased the total number of cases to 311 049 cases, 4 453 total deaths, 12 757 new cases and 107 new deaths. Despite us being 25th in population size we are now ranked 8th in the number of infections. If we consider new cases, we are now ranked fourth, just behind India, Brazil and the US.

It is for these reasons that we have introduced further restrictions to curb the surge in infections. These include (1) the mandatory wearing of masks in public places and transport, (2) restrictions on the sale, dispessment and transportation of alcohol, (3) continued restrictions on the sale of tobacco products and (4) the restrictions on interprovincial travel.

Rapidly we are losing loved ones, fathers, mothers, breadwinners, children, relatives and friends. Just yesterday we learnt of the sad passing of Mr George Seitisho one of our senior managers in the Community Works Programme. May his soul rest in eternal peace and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, children, family and friends.

Over the past week in our portfolio, we also buried Her Majesty the Regent of the Amarharhabe, the MEC for Cooperative Governance in the North West and the Speaker for Buffalo City, Mr Alfred Mtsi. We also learnt of the passing of former Human Rights Commissioner Mr Tom Manthata and Ambassador Zindzi Mandela. We take this opportunity to also reextend our condolences to the families and friends of the 4 453 people who have lost their lives thus far.

Our condolences also go to the families, friends and colleagues of health workers, police, safety and security personnel, teachers and other frontline staff who have lost their lives. Indeed, this disease knows no class, gender, race or social status. It is up to all of us to play our part in preventing its further spread.

As we approach the eye of the COVID storm, we must preserve the capacity of our health care facilities and health care workers to manage the consequent increase in COVID-19 cases. By wearing a mask, washing our hands, sanitizing surfaces, and maintaining a safe social distance, at home, public transport and work — we protect ourselves, families, friends, communities and the nation.

No one is safe until we are all safe.

With COVID we can no longer hide or ignore the conditions our people live and work in. They live in hunger, poverty, unemployment and without adequate water, sanitation, shelter, technology and infrastructure. This has necessitated government to work in an integrated, agile, responsive, and faster manner. We have also had to employ technology for swift decision making, as we are doing by conducting this hybrid Budget Vote Speech.

Our response has also confirmed that local government is the centre of the government universe. We have accelerated the profiling of the districts in the context of the District Development Model. The national, provincial and district level command councils have enabled us to work faster across all spheres and levels of governance. We intend to maintain this.

Already we have profiled all the districts and the President has designated district champions from the executive. The profiles identify critical areas such as demographics, gender and household dynamics, income levels, employment, health status and vulnerabilities that may increase the risk of COVID infections in each district or metro. We intend to place a greater focus on creating jobs whilst building cohesive, sustainable, vibrant, connected and climate-smart communities.

For instance, OR Tambo is one of the 3 Pilot Districts of the District Development Model. The profile explains the District’s current status, its potential and where it is headed. Home to Madiba’s birthplace, Mveso Village it covers 12,141 km2 with a population of 1,514,306 in 2019. Women constitute 53% of the population and people aged under 20 years account for 50%. The overwhelming majority (66.5%) of the population are living in poverty, using the lower poverty line, with only 15% employed. OR Tambo has a Gini coefficient index of 0.56.

It is considered to have the richest natural resources and the most fertile areas in the country, with good soils and climatic conditions. OR Tambo District is one of the four Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Programme nodes in the Eastern Cape. In 2018, it had a GDP of R 41.4 billion, and ranked third relative to the other districts in the province. The community services sector was the largest accounting for R 14.5 billion or 38.4% of the total GVA of the district economy.

To develop a sustainable regional economy, the following key interventions are proposed through the implementation of the integrated 1 Plan: Mobilise small farmers into the export agricultural value chain, Strengthen safety net for poor and child-headed households, grow export focussed agricultural and agro-processing sector, strengthen the regional N2 coastal corridor link, activate large scale community-empowering tourism, develop oceans corridor.

For us to succeed in building these bridges and opportunities we must strengthen the Local Economic Development capacities and capabilities in municipalities. We are also paying attention to the technical and planning skills available to the municipalities. Thus, we have partnered with the Development Bank of Southern Africa so that we may avail the necessary shared skills and services at a district level. This is a critical building block towards developing and implementing the One Plan One Budget outlook we have promoted.

This will allow us the marching orders from the president to “not merely return our economy to where it was before the coronavirus, but to forge a new economy in a new global reality”.

Honourable members, we have had to reprioritise and repurpose our plans to factor in the COVID-19 pandemic. Our readjusted budget maintains our previous financial year’s six programmes and adds emphasis on the priorities that will build the resilience of our communities. The budget includes an additional R20 billion which includes R11 billion and R9 billion in repurposed conditional grants. Deputy Minister Tau will elaborate further on these allocations targeted at municipalities.

Our plans also seek to respond to the high unemployment and the need for infrastructure, particularly in rural areas and the townships. The president has also announced a government-wide allocation of R19,6 million to strengthen our community mobilisation responses to COVID-19. We are pleased to announce that our department is receiving R544million of that allocation. We will use the resources to address infrastructure needs by using labour-intensive construction and maintenance methods.

We have also accelerated the completion of boreholes, through the various partnerships we have with the Department of Water and Sanitation, the DBSA and Tirisano Construction Fund. In this regard, we have drilled, equipped and refurbished 115 boreholes in water stricken communities throughout the country. 45 of the boreholes have already been completed and handed over to the communities, in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal, North West, Free State, Northern Cape, Limpopo, Gauteng and Mpumalanga. We have also distributed 60 000 hygiene packages, comprising sanitisers and antiseptic soaps have been distributed to municipalities and traditional leaders in all nine provinces.

Honourable members, It is only when “a provincial executive cannot or does not adequately exercise the powers” that section 100 permits us to intervene in provinces. So far, we have only had to intervene in the North West province, where we have placed 5 departments under section 100(a), including COGHSTA which progress we will report to the NCOP on in due course. In line with section 139 interventions in municipalities are directed by the provincial executives as concurred upon by the NCOP.

As we have said before the challenges confronting municipalities and some provinces are largely governance and politically related, across party lines. At a local government level, these have undermined service delivery and resulted in adverse findings by the Auditor General, which are well known to all of us.

Honourable Members, in order to respond to these, we have ramped up our support to municipalities through the Municipal Infrastructure Grant and the Municipality Infrastructure Support Agency. This has resulted in 133 of the 219 MIG receiving municipalities achieving the 40% MIG expenditure threshold as at end December 2019. 86 did not and they are receiving technical support from MISA. This was interrupted by the lockdown due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. Despite this MISA has continued to support the municipalities with reprioritisation of MIG funds towards water and sanitation infrastructure projects. High achieving municipalities are located in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and the Free State.

Poor performance on the MIG and other infrastructure projects is mainly associated with lack of proper project preparation in municipalities. As a result, MISA and the DBSA will be supporting municipalities with project preparation. To enable MISA to undertake this work we have strengthened its capacity through the filling of critical technical positions, which include 36 civil engineers, 15 electrical engineers, 14 town planners, 8 Chief engineers, 2 water and sanitation specialists and 1 energy specialist, who have been spread throughout the provinces.
We have ALSO deployed the 115 young graduates recruited by MISA to the provinces. We have also ensured that the 130 apprentices who were in the MISA Apprenticeship Programme. A new cohort of 100 apprentices has just been recruited.

Without the necessary skills, we cannot hope to turn the fortunes of our municipalities. To this end, MISA, in partnership with the National School of Government and the LGSETA, is working on enhancing its municipal graduate recruitment programme in support of the National Graduate Recruitment Scheme launched in 2018 by the Minister of Public Service Administration. The recruitment programme seeks to create a pool of technically qualified and work-ready individuals for municipal infrastructure planning, delivery, operation and maintenance.

Honourable members last year, we alluded to the work we were planning in refining the current funding formula through the equitable share. We address some of their accounting and revenue generation challenges. To this end, we have set up a task team with National Treasury with a view of addressing these and undertaking a comprehensive review of the financing model for local government, which we intend to complete in this financial year.

The Community Works Programme, to which we have allocated R4,175 billion. Unfortunately, third party agreements had made the programme lose sight of this overarching objective of creating a learning environment for participants to develop into skilled artisans and business owners. We are finalising the refocussing of this programme with a view of fully empowering our communities.

Honourable Chairperson, we wish to thank this house for the support we have received thus far. We also wish to request that the NCOP approves the adjusted Vote 3 budget of R107 billion plus the R544 million which was approved by the treasury for the labour-intensive infrastructure programmes.

We believe that the budget will contribute to the development of cohesive, vibrant, sustainable, connected and climate-smart communities.

I thank you