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Remarks By Deputy Minister Parks Tau At The SALGA North West Provincial Members Assembly

Programme Director

SALGA NW Chairperson, Cllr Khumalo Molefe

SALGA NW Deputy Chairperson, Cllr Tshireletso Marabutse

The SALGA NW Provincial Executive Committee

Members of SALGA in Bokone Bophirima

SALGA CEO, Mr Sithole Mbanga

Members of the media

Ladies and gentlemen

Good Day, Dumelang

I am honoured to join you at this Provincial Members Assembly at the beginning of Women’s Month here at Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District Municipality. During this month, we commemorate the courage and resilience of women like Dr Mompati and their immeasurable role, as conscientious leaders, who fought and worked for the betterment of South African citizens and communities.

As we honour the memory of Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati and celebrate Women’s Month, let us be inspired by these leaders and commit ourselves to a future where gender equality is not just a dream but a living reality.

Programme Director,

I have been invited to be part of this important gathering, the Provincial Members Assembly and I acknowledge that as directed by the Constitution of SALGA, provincial members shall, at least once a year, hold this meeting of members – the Provincial Members Assembly. I am pleased to see that in attendance today are the key people who play a key role in ensuring a working municipality that delivers on its mandate.

Our purpose here is not merely to convene, but to engage in a sincere evaluation of the state of local government in our province. We must assess our achievements and confront our shortcomings so that we may chart a path that propels us forward toward measurable progress.

Programme Director,

As CoGTA, we are committed to ensuring that local government is everyone’s business.

Whilst tangible progress has been made to fulfil our Constitutional obligation to provide developmental and transformational local governance and visible service delivery, we admit there are structural and institutional challenges in ensuring that our people’s growing expectations are met and realised.

These structural challenges, which require national interventions, are rooted in weak institutional capacity, poor governance, poor financial management, corruption, and political instability. This accounts for why a total of 66 municipalities, in 2022, were identified as dysfunctional with challenges across the key performance areas of administration, governance, financial administration, service delivery and Local Economic Development (LED). 

As leaders of this important sphere of government, we are obliged to provide leadership in ensuring the monitoring of the spending of funds allocated to municipalities. However, there must be a clear role of demarcation between political and administrative leadership. After all, Wwell-managed public funds do equate to service delivery to the people. It is important to have MPACs as provided for by the Structures Act, Section 79, to assist with oversight and make recommendations to the council.

You will be pleased to know that, in accordance with the DDM mandate, CoGTA aims to stabilise at least 22 dysfunctional municipalities by the end of this financial year. This is important since the North West Province has ten (10) municipalities that are dysfunctional and seven (7) are in critical condition. This we will achieve reliant on Section 154(1) of the Constitution which calls on the “national and provincial spheres to support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities to manage their own affairs, to exercise their powers and perform their functions”.

Allow me to highlight the opportunities available to the local government sphere when you leverage the support provided at both the national and provincial levels. As we navigate the complexities of local governance, it is essential that we embrace collaboration and utilize the expertise and resources at our disposal to address the challenges faced by our communities.

One significant area where municipalities can benefit from national and provincial support is in dealing with property rating and valuation issues for the levying of municipal property rates.

It is crucial that we set reasonable property rate tariffs, taking into account the affordability of property owners and various sectors of the economy. Striking this balance ensures that local economic development is not adversely affected. Furthermore, we must implement appropriate relief measures, such as rebates, which do not unnecessarily erode municipal revenues. Timely updates of valuation rolls through supplementary valuations are equally vital to maintain fairness and accuracy in the rating process.

Another critical aspect that municipalities can receive support on is the setting of tariffs for user service charges, especially for essential services like water. These tariffs must be cost-reflective, considering the bulk supply input costs. By working together with national and provincial bodies, municipalities can develop sustainable tariff structures that ensure fair pricing while meeting the needs of our communities.

The implementation of indigent policies plays a significant role in ensuring that our most vulnerable citizens receive the necessary support. In this regard, indigent registers must align with these policies, enabling effective credit control measures and debt collection from non-indigent residents. This approach ensures that we can collect revenue from all consumers while safeguarding the welfare of those in need.

By collaborating with the Department through the province, municipalities can access valuable advice and resources to tackle these issues and more. The success of our communities depends on our ability to work together and capitalize on the assistance available to us.

As we move forward, let us remain committed to transparent governance, effective communication, and the shared goal of improving the lives of our constituents. By leveraging national and provincial support, we can create sustainable solutions and lay the foundation for a prosperous future for all.

Programme Director,

Today’s discussion on the challenges faced by municipalities and the possible solutions holds immense importance, not only for us as participants but also for the larger national dialogue on local governance. As we gather here, we must recogniSe that our input and recommendations can have a profound impact on the lives of our fellow citizens and the future of our municipalities. The upcoming national and provincial elections add a sense of urgency to our deliberations, as the experiences of our people will shape their decisions at the ballot box.

Programme Director,

Today, we should have a shared vision and purpose to forge a path towards a robust, democratic, and well-governed local government in our province. This is a pivotal moment for our progress, particularly for our District and Local Municipalities.

Therefore, in line with our mandate, we should seek to build and accelerate the implementation of the developmental and transformative role of local government as envisioned in Section 152 of the Constitution, namely to:

  1. Provide democratic and accountable government for local communities,
  2. Ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable way,
  3. Promote social and economic development,
  4. Promote a safe and healthy environment, and
  5. Encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations in local development.

Given our inherited historical legacy and structural challenges, for a democratic South Africa, the above are non-negotiable constitutional imperatives that we should all be committed to fulfilling and implementing. 

While we acknowledge that change won’t happen overnight, with unwavering dedication and collective will, we can overcome these obstacles. Let us recommit ourselves to building a responsive and responsible local government, focusing on these key areas for meaningful change:

Firstly, strengthening governance is crucial. Transparency and accountability must be prioritised to make decisions in the best interest of our communities. Secondly, investing in capacity building and training for our leaders and staff will empower them to perform effectively and with expertise. Thirdly, the primary purpose of local government is service delivery. We must tirelessly improve services across all sectors, ensuring no one is left behind and every community has access to basic necessities.

Promoting economic growth is vital for the prosperity of our province. By creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, we can uplift lives and create job opportunities.

Collaboration and partnerships are key to achieving meaningful change. By working together with other government entities, the private sector, civil society organisations, and our communities, we can maximize our impact and resources.

As custodians of our natural resources, we must lead in promoting sustainable practices and mitigating climate change’s effects, whilst safeguarding the future for generations to come. Furthermore, we must acknowledge the unique circumstances of different municipalities and focus on decentralization and greater local autonomy. Empowering municipalities to make decisions that align with their specific challenges will lead to more effective governance.

In this rapidly evolving world, efficient infrastructure management is critical. Embracing technology and systems integration can revolutionize how we approach maintaining our vital public assets. As public servants, we have a sacred duty to serve our communities and uphold the principles of good governance, transparency, and accountability. We must use our power and positions to create thriving municipalities and ensure a better future for all.

However, with great power comes great responsibility. It is not enough to hold a title or occupy a seat. Instead, we must embody these principles in our actions because indeed, we are all enjoined to ensure that local government is everyone’s business.

Despite political instability, we must rise above petty politics and personal interests, prioritizing the needs of our communities and acting in accordance with the trust placed in us by the people we represent.

Programme Director,

We all know that the purpose of the various municipal grants is to enable municipalities to provide basic services and perform the functions allocated to them (Section 227, Constitution, 1996). The MFPFA defines municipal service as any of the local government matters listed on Page 5 5 Schedule 4B and Schedule 5B of the Constitution, 1996.

The Municipal Systems Improvement Grant (MSIG) is meant to assist municipalities to build in-house capacity to perform their functions and stabilise institutional and governance systems as required in the Municipal Systems Act (MSA) and related local government legislation.

The Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) is a vital funding mechanism provided by the national government to empower municipalities in addressing their unique infrastructure needs. Its purpose is to improve and develop the essential infrastructure that communities rely on daily. From roads and bridges to water supply and sanitation, the MIG serves as a lifeline to strengthen our towns and cities. However, merely receiving this grant is not enough; it must be utilised effectively and transparently for it to yield meaningful results.

Most municipalities in the province are struggling with spending their infrastructure grants.  Contributing towards this poor performance is, amongst others,

  • Political transition instability causes delays and disruptions;
  • Reprioritisation of projects during implementation;
  • Poor performance of appointed contractors;
  • Inadequate technical capacity to monitor projects; as well as the
  • Mismanagement of MIG Funds in the municipality.
  •  

As you are aware, underperformance on MIG in the North West is mainly driven by 4 perennial underperforming municipalities, not spending at least 70% of the cumulative original allocation (excluding stoppages) over the last three years.

An additional 6 municipalities are at risk as they have not spent at least 80% of their cumulative original allocation (excluding Stoppages) over the last three years. Six (6) (of which all 4 are perennial under-performers) municipalities are under cost reimbursement – funding is only transferred to the municipality after invoices submitted are verified by technical verification teams.

One (1) municipality identified for possible schedule 6B – DCoG retains a portion of the allocations to implement to improve expenditure performance and/or improve service delivery. Although Kgetleng/Rivier’s MIG expenditure is at high risk, it is not addressing the DWS concern on water services infrastructure. Note that only WSA’s were assessed against 6B criteria.

Working through MISA, we are:

  • Reviewing and commenting on the MIG Applications and Technical Reports for consideration and approval by the sector departments and CoGTA respectively;
  • Assisting Municipalities in developing the terms of reference for Consultants and Contractors;
  • Assisting with cost reimbursement verification of MIG projects;
  • Advising and supporting in operation and maintenance work by deploying apprentices and one engineer per District;
  • Inspecting service delivery infrastructure assets and preparing technical assessment reports with recommendations to the municipality;
  • Advising and assisting with project implementation and asset management;
  • Assisting and supporting the development of IDPs, SPLUMA-compliant Spatial Development Frameworks and Land Use Schemes

We are also continuing to play a multifaceted role in the development of our municipalities, with one of our core missions (through MISA) being the mandate to provide technical assistance, capacity building, and skills transfer to municipal officials and staff. We have also deployed the services of (1) Town Planner; (1) Electrical Engineer; (1) Civil Engineer; to the Districts in the province.

Programme Director,

We are making recognizable progress in the institutionalisation of the District Development Model (DDM) which is a flagship programme of the 6th Administration. This Model is anchored in the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act, which is critical for policy implementation coherence and impact maximisation.  

All 52 spaces (44 Districts and 8 Metros) are working at various stages of the One Plans and One Budget being developed, approved and implemented. I must say that we have learned a lot from the quality assurance process we have initiated, which is aimed at assessing the quality of all submitted One Plan. The outcomes of the Quality Assurance process are meant to inform the review and updating of the One Plans across all district and metro spaces.

Key findings that emerged from the quality assurance process highlighted a need to strengthen the shift towards collaborative, joint planning and strengthening the involvement of sector Departments, State-Owned Entities (SOEs) and private sector participation.

At the same time, in institutionalising the DDM, we recognise the importance of sincerely engaging and working collaboratively with all stakeholders, including the private sector, communities and the institution of traditional leaders. This is encouraging since it is meant to deal with the less-than-optimal relationship between traditional leaders and municipal councillors.

As CoGTA, we are pleased to see improved coordination and cooperation between the Offices of the Premier (OoPs) and provincial CoGTAs in the coordination of the institutionalisation and implementation of the DDM. The synergy between the DDM and SALGA has extended beyond theoretical collaboration to find pragmatic realisation. Through workshops, forums, and joint planning sessions, we have fostered a spirit of open communication and inclusivity, allowing for a diversity of perspectives and ideas to shape our strategies.

One of the key parts of the DDM is the Presidential Imbizos which started in this province in Mahikeng on the 12th of March 2022. During that remarkable gathering, we witnessed first-hand the power of collective voices coming together to address the pressing issues affecting our communities.

Let me draw your attention to one critical matter that was widely discussed at the Imbizo, namely crime. The call for a safer and more secure community was loud and clear. In the time since the Imbizo, we have made significant strides in the fight against crime, and the enhancement of public safety has been at the forefront of our endeavours.

Working in close collaboration with the South African Police Service (SAPS), there has been the initiation of intelligence-led operations that are specifically tailored to combat crime effectively. Daily crime combating and prevention efforts are now in full swing, a testament to our commitment to safeguarding our neighbourhoods and protecting our citizens.

Working as part of the DDM, we have identified short to long-term projects as part of efforts to turn the situation around for the benefit of our people. The short-term projects include the patching of potholes, reliable refuse collection, the repair of street and traffic lights as well as addressing sewer spillages and water leaks.

To this end, we committed ourselves to completing several bulk water and sanitation projects specifically in the Greater Taung, Madibeng (Brits), Ratlou, Mahikeng, Potchefstroom WTW and Mamusa Bulk Water Projects. We are further working with Water Boards to ensure that they strengthen their service delivery support to municipalities.

We have also identified a need for the establishment of a Water Testing Laboratory, in this District, in order to improve water quality for the benefit of all local municipalities who were testing water in the Free State province.

We call on all stakeholders in our society to work with us, especially the private sector to avail their resources as we work to make our local municipalities to be efficient and effective in the delivery of services. This is encouraging in the Bojanala District, where the political champion, Minister Gwede Mantashe, invited and received a commitment from mining houses to create a funding pool through their Social Labour Plans to fund DDM projects. The mines further committed to avail the skills of engineers, and project manager accountants to support municipalities.

Conclusion

In conclusion, allow me to recognise the work of our strategic partner, SALGA in collaborating with us to drive the implementation and institutionalisation of the District Development Model (DDM).

As CoGTA we extend our gratitude to each and every one of you as PEC members, SALGA representatives and all Provincial staff; Provincial and District SALGA Women’s Commissioners; Executive Mayors, Speakers and Chairpersons of Multi-Party Women Commissions/Caucus from all municipalities to attend the session; LG IGR Stakeholders (Government, Private & Academic Sectors) for your unwavering commitment to the DDM and SALGA’s objectives. 

With the DDM and SALGA as our guiding lights, I am confident that we will navigate the challenges ahead and build a district that we can all be proud to call home.

As CoGTA, we are committed to ensuring that local government is everyone’s business.

I thank you.