Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

National Council of Provinces Virtual Workshop Keynote Address by Minister Dlamini Zuma

National Council of Provinces Virtual Workshop Keynote Address: Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, MP,

Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

Advancing the fundamental Precepts of Cooperative Governance & Intergovernmental Relations for Effective Service Delivery to Communities



Honourable Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces.

Deputy Chairperson for the NCOP.

Honourable Premier of the Gauteng Province.

Honourable Premier of the Limpopo Province.

Honourable Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Province.

Honourable Premier of the Western Cape Province.

The President of SALGA.

Chairperson and members of the Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, as well as other oversight Committees.

Deputy Ministers for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, as well as other DMs in attendance.

Honourable Provincial Whips.

Delegates from the Provinces.

Members of Provincial Executives.

The Chairperson of the Municipal Demarcation Board.

The Acting Secretary to Parliament.

The Secretary to the NCOP.

The Auditor-General.

Directors General for the Departments of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs as well as CEOs and Heads of Institutions in our sector.

Distinguished guests.

Thank you for this timely opportunity to participate in this workshop on cooperative governance and intergovernmental relations for effective service delivery to our communities. This virtual workshop seeks to empower the delegates of the NCOP with a better understanding of the fundamental legislative and policy precepts governing cooperative governance and intergovernmental relations in South Africa. It is also intended to create a platform to share knowledge and information on current developments and best practices on cooperative governance and intergovernmental relations for effective governance and coherent service delivery to communities. Thus having just emerged from our sixth peaceful democratic local government elections, this type of session also offers us an opportunity to provide a frank and honest reflection on the regrettable situation in the political landscape as well as the state of governance and intergovernmental relations in our country.

All these have conspired, resulting in a loss of faith, and diminishing trust in the state and all its democratic institutions, despite the gains recorded by our democracy. According to the Edelman Survey of 27 countries on ‘trust’, the South African State is the second least trusted with only 27% of the citizens trusting it. It is second only to Nigeria which has 24%. Incidentally, the most trusted governments are China and Saudi Arabia at 82%. Globally, at the start of the covid pandemic, government was the most trusted institution, but it became the second least trusted institution, after the media and Non-Governmental Organisations, six months into the pandemic. After which point the business institutions became the only trusted institutions in the world.

Therefore, in considering the performance of the state, and its constraints, we must not be oblivious of the objective and subjective global realities. The realities confronting both South Africa and the developing world confirm to us that our nations have not been entirely freed from the bondages and consequences of colonialism, apartheid, racism, sexism, and an unequal new world. As we reflect on those realities let us recall the words of President Mandela at his inaugural Summit as Head of State at the OAU when he said:

“If freedom was the crown which fighters of liberation sought to place on the head of mother Africa, let the upliftment, the happiness, prosperity and comfort of her children be the jewel of the crown…”

In seeking to polish that jewel, the South African Constitution is established as the supreme law and ‘cornerstone of democracy’ of the land.

Thus, the Constitution contains fundamental precepts which include enshrined rights which affirm democratic values as well as human rights, equality, and freedom. It also elaborates on the obligations that citizens themselves must uphold in allegiance to our country and the Constitution. These obligations we, as public representatives, have had to reaffirm at the beginning of each term of office. Like all citizens, we are expected to live by them, as we discharge our various mandates and tasks. Overall, these obligations reaffirm that we shall be good, ethical, accountable, and loyal citizens and representatives. Therefore, we are obligated to obey the laws of our country whilst ensuring that others do so, and we contribute in every possible way to making South Africa a liveable, prosperous, and peaceful country.

That’s not to say our Constitution is perfect, in fact with implementation many flaws or shortcomings are identifiable. However, it does establish the basis and architecture by which our nation can pursue the superordinate objectives to “improve the quality of life… and free the potential of each person”. Through its carefully crafted and complex cooperative governance framework, it recognises that these objectives will require collective and individual actions by multiple actors. These actors include the three arms (executive, legislative and judiciary) and the three spheres (local, provincial, and national) of governance. It also pays tribute to our cultural heritage and recognises the institutions of traditional leadership and our customary law as important contributors to a vibrant democracy.

Consequently, the Constitution assigns responsibilities to the three spheres of government, the legislatures, and the institutions of traditional leadership which it recognises as distinctive, interdependent, and interrelated, under a unitary state.

We make this point, as we did during the NCOP Budget Vote Speech in 2019, because there is a growing expectation from this house and the public that the national executive would intervene in all instances where the local sphere faulters. However, our Constitution and legislative framework is very clear on the specific types of actions and instances that intervention can be undertaken should a local sphere not fulfil its obligations.

During the 2019 speech we did allude to the fact that it is the provinces and legislatures that have the greater Constitutional responsibilities and that [I quote from 2019] “in undertaking this task the provincial administration is called upon to consult with the Minister responsible for local government affairs as well as the provincial legislature and the National Council of Provinces”. Additionally, in section 154 the Constitution calls on “the national government and provincial governments, by legislative and other measures, [to] support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities to manage their own affairs, to exercise their powers and perform their functions.

What we must therefore ask ourselves and resolve during this strategic session of the NCOP, is whether we have capacitated the legislatures enough for them to effectively undertake this oversight function? Do we have the verification, monitoring and evaluation systems and capacities which also can act as an early warning mechanism? We can no longer wait until the wheels come off only to react, we must develop proactive systems which must positively impact on service delivery and governance.

Honourable members, allow me then to elaborate on the allocated roles and functions between the spheres of government in the system of cooperative governance. All of which require the oversight of the NCOP and the various legislatures. The Constitution delineates public functions into two categories: those that are concurrent and those that are exclusive.

Concurrent functions are those that are shared among the three spheres. Thus, each sphere has particular responsibilities in developing policy, legislation, administering and monitoring performance. Schedule 4 of the Constitution lists the ‘functional areas of concurrent national and provincial legislative competence’, some of which includes school education, health services, social welfare services, housing, and agriculture.

In relation to these functions, national government generally takes the lead in formulating policy, determining regulatory frameworks, setting norms and standards, and monitoring overall implementation. Provinces, on the other hand, are mainly responsible for implementation in line with the nationally determined frameworks. All local government functions listed in Parts B of Schedules 4 and 5 of the Constitution are concurrent functions. This is because, in all instances, either national or provincial government may regulate how municipalities exercise their executive authority in relation to these functions.

Exclusive functions are those functions that a single sphere has absolute responsibilities for developing policy, legislation, administering and monitoring performance. The Constitution does not define the exclusive functions of national government since it is responsible for all government functions that have not been specifically assigned to either provincial or local government.

National government is therefore exclusively responsible for national defence, national fiscal policy, foreign affairs, home affairs, the criminal justice system (safety and security, courts), higher education and certain administrative functions. In turn, Provinces have exclusive legislative competence over the functions listed in Part A of Schedule 5 of the Constitution, which include provincial roads, ambulance services and provincial planning. Part B of that section also elaborates on the functions related to local government which should be read together with section 155 of the Constitution. However, national government may legislate in these ‘exclusive’ provincial and local functions if it is necessary to maintain essential national standards or for reasons of national security.

Most importantly section 154 calls on national and provincial government not to compromise or impede a municipality’s ability or right to exercise its powers or to perform its functions. The status of municipalities, therefore, is constitutionally entrenched and the powers and functions, including matters such as municipal planning – which includes aspects such as the rezoning and subdivision of land within the municipal jurisdiction – are constitutionally protected. This means municipalities have the right to govern the affairs of their communities, subject to national and provincial legislation as provided for in the Constitution (see s151(1) & (3) of the Constitution).

The Municipal Systems Act, 32 of 2000 states in section 3 that municipalities must exercise their executive and legislative authority within the constitutional system of co-operative government envisaged in section 41 of the Constitution. The Act further states that for the purpose of effective co-operative government, organised local government must seek to:

  1. develop common approaches for local government as a distinct sphere of government;
  2. enhance co-operation, mutual assistance and sharing of resources among municipalities;
  3. find solutions for problems relating to local government generally; and
  4. facilitate compliance with the principles of cooperative government and intergovernmental relations.


Honourable members, this goes without saying that the local sphere will require the inputs of the other spheres and sectors to achieve these. Consequently, section 41 of the Constitution introduces principles of intergovernmental relations, which acknowledges integrity as a core for each sphere of our government, whilst recognising the complexities of governments in modern and democratic society. Thus, it calls on us to collectively ensure that the three spheres of government cooperate with one another in mutual trust and good faith; and promote effective intergovernmental relations. These complex and interdependent relations among various spheres of government include the coordination of public policies, sustainable development, and resources among national, provincial, and local governments.


The Constitution, therefore, envisages, a set of formal and informal processes as well as institutional arrangements and structures for bilateral and multilateral cooperation within and amongst the three spheres of government. Section 3 of the Municipal Systems Act, 32 of 2000 further states that national and provincial spheres of government must, within the constitutional system of co-operative government envisaged in section 41 of the Constitution, exercise their executive and legislative authority in a manner that does not compromise or impede a municipality’s ability or right to exercise its executive and legislative authority.

Simply put, honourable members, intergovernmental relations are intended to promote and facilitate cooperative governance and decision making. The intergovernmental system depends on sets of well-coordinated policies, plans, budgets, implementation, and reporting. This is necessary both within spheres and between spheres and is effected through technical, executive, and legislative consultative forums.

The Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act of 2005 (IGRFA) seeks to formalise this cooperation in the three-sphere system of government, and in so doing to implement Section 41 of the Constitution. The Act aims to provide a framework for the national government, provincial and local governments, as well as all organs of state to facilitate coordination, towards coherency and the provision of quality services and development. This is to be enhanced through, monitoring the implementation of policy and legislation, and the realisation of national priorities.

However, the truth is that despite this complex framework, coordination, cooperative governance, and intergovernmental relations have not fully delivered the intended outcomes. This has often led to substandard service delivery and the non-fulfilment of the aspirations of the people. Where delivery occurs, it is often not as sustainable as it should be, as seen by the gradually collapsing infrastructure in our municipalities and provinces. A well-known case to the honourable members is the case of the North-West province, which we have been ceased with over the past 3 years. Although we intend to report progress in our Budget Vote speech, there are some discernible lessons of universal application we have gathered thus far in that and other interventions.

Firstly, it is clear that our problems are largely political and have manifested themselves in the political and administration interface. This means political parties across the benches have the responsibility to educate members of executives and legislators in the ethics of governance and where they faulter we must act and act fast. We also have the obligation to urgently professionalise our public services. Such a public service requires that we change the attitude and behaviour of public servants whilst ensuring that they are In possession of the necessary education, skills and experience. In this regard, we are working closely with the Department of Public Services and Administration, the Public Services Commission and the National School of Government, so that we may have a capable, capacitated and ethical developmental state. With the Commission we have also recognised the important role of the institutions of traditional leadership, thus we are exploring a targeted skills enhancement programme in this regard.

Secondly, as we have alluded to in this discussion, we believe that the entire state and its organs are not in possession of the appropriate tools and systems to evaluate, monitor and provide the necessary oversight. Such as system would be predictive and thus would serve as a real-time early warning system so that our responses can be appropriate and proactive. This means that even the teams we put together for responses would be appropriately skilled and capacitated to maximise the effects of the interventions. So far our responses have been knee jerk, with insufficient scientific analysis and inappropriate skills. Often our responses can be likened to responding to a mosquito with a hammer and at times to a flood with a bucket. We must therefore strengthen our tools, systems and capacities for monitoring and evaluation and ensure that we develop an early warning system.

In this regard, we have begun discussions with the National Treasury and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. However, we believe that we must mobilise other sectors including academia, and we sincerely believe that Parliament can provide guidance to those discussions.

Thirdly, and finally, it is clear to us that the decay of municipalities and governance in some of the provinces and municipalities has built up over the years, if not decades. Even though some municipalities may receive more favourable audit outcomes, the internal workings seem to favour some with consequence management not applied or with some workers victimised for either being diligent or blowing the whistle. In fact, recent research by the Public Services Commission and the Human Sciences Research Council comes to the startling conclusion that the public service is not bloated but that there is a lack of full utilisation of the human resource capacity within the public services due to the misalignment of skills, long suspensions and victimisation.

This, therefore, brings to the fore the urgent need to implement the long outstanding decision on the Single Public Service. In this regard, the Minister for Public Services and Administration intends to bring before parliament amendments to the Public Administration Management Act (PAMA) which we hope will receive your support. These amendments intend to facilitate the transfer of skills across spheres of government and institutions if operationally justified to improve operational efficiencies, state capacity and service delivery.

Honourable members, our observations with regards to the North West and other interventions, have also led us to review the strategies and organisational structures of our departments. This was promoted by our overall observation that the COGTA departments are struggling to fulfil their support and oversight role, and are often reactive without any proactive measures and programmes. We have noted that, despite the instrumental Intergovernmental and coordination functions our departments have been hugely under-resourced and that our staff complement does not match, in skills and quantum, the expected mandate. We have also noted the overlapping mandate, functions, and expectations with regards to the COGTA departments and the Offices of the Premiers, especially as it relates to municipalities and intergovernmental relations. This is a matter we intend to pay greater attention to as we undertake the 21 Year Review of Local Government, in which we hope Parliament will be an active participant.

We hope that this work will also be supported by the ongoing work we are undertaking in implementing the Municipal Structures Amendment Act (MSA), which was concluded during the last session of Parliament. Members will recall that the Amendment Act, amongst others, contains a revised Code of Conduct for Councillors which includes the regulation of the political/administration interface.

In building a capacitated and capable state the MSA will be complemented by the Intergovernmental Monitoring, Support, and Intervention (IMSI) Bill. The Bill will facilitate for multi sphere support to the municipalities whilst regulating interventions in vulnerable or underperforming municipalities. The IMSI Bill, including accompanying comprehensive Regulations, have been finalised.

Extensive stakeholder consultations were undertaken including Joint Interventions Roadshows led by the Deputy Ministers of Finance and COGTA with the Premier’s Offices and MECs for Provincial COGTAs and Treasuries. The Bill also received the attention of several Intergovernmental forums, including the Transport MINMEC; Environmental Affairs MINMEC; Human Settlements, Water & Sanitation technical MINMEC; and the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC). The Bill has also been consulted with the local government unions. In December we submitted the Bill to the Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation for a Socio-Economic Impact Assessment Certificate as well as the State Law Advisors for a Constitutional Compliance Certificate. It is our sincere hope that this house will assist with finalising this important Bill, for it will strengthen our intergovernmental and monitoring capacities.

Honourable Members, the experience of the past two decades and a half show us that our Achilles heel has not been policies and legislation, but implementation. In this regard, we launched the DDM in 2019, which progress we will report on during the Budget Vote Speech, however, we would urge the House to play a more proactive role in its implementation. Already we have consulted virtually every sector, including traditional leaders and potential investors in some areas.

For us, the DDM and long-term planning cannot work unless we ensure that no one is left behind. Unfortunately, the recent outcomes of the local government elections confirm to us women are continuously being left behind. The number of female mayors has gradually declined since our last local government elections, wherein the total numbers edged towards 40%. Today just under 31% of Executive Metro and District Mayors are female, with them at the helm in two of the eight Metros. However, we seem to be doing better when it comes to the Speakers wherein there are 53,8% of female speakers in the districts and metros, with the metros having a 50/50 representation.

The DDM will also not succeed unless we improve service delivery and restore the confidence and trust of our communities in government in general and local government, in particular. Building on the North-West experience we shall explore mechanisms by which we can urgently address service delivery particularly in the 163 municipalities our 2021 review of local government highlighted as under financial distress. Our actions will be premised on addressing the political, governance, administrative, finance and service delivery challenges with a view of igniting and sustaining those local economies. In so doing, we shall not rest until we ensure good governance, transparency, and accountability, whilst building institutional resilience and administrative capability in those localities. In this, we hope to solicit your support and that of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA).

We believe that this will close the trust deficit we referred to at the beginning of our inputs. By recognising the fundamentals of our whole of society and government approach premised on the principles of participatory democracy, we believe that the crown jewel President Mandela spoke of will be realised. Without you, we cannot ensure that, that Jewel shines into the distant future and brings about sustainable, connected, cohesive, vibrant, and climate-smart communities, which is what the people of South Africa want and yearn for.

I thank you