Deputy Minister (s) Parks Tau and Zolile Burns-Ncamashe
Directors General of COGTA
Members of the media
Fellow South Africans
Thank you for joining us today for this briefing.
We are here to provide an important update on municipal developments and interventions following the update we provided to the portfolio committee earlier today.
We’re eager to share insights into the current state of local government in South Africa with both the media representatives and the broader South African community.
UPDATE ON STATE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT
In the past year, we have witnessed a truly commendable transformation within our municipalities. The latest evaluation of local governance, in the form of the State of Local Government Report, reflects a substantial improvement in the overall condition of municipalities nationwide. This shift is vividly depicted in the data, signaling significant progress in the stability and efficiency of our local governing bodies.
Reflecting on the previous year, 2021 painted a varied picture: 64 municipalities were categorized as dysfunctional, 111 at a medium risk, 66 at low risk, and 16 deemed stable. However, in the most recent assessment for 2022, there’s reason for optimism. While there has been a marginal increase in the number of dysfunctional municipalities to 66, the truly remarkable aspect lies in the positive transformation observed across the other categories.
The number of medium-risk municipalities has slightly decreased to 107, reflecting focused efforts towards improvement. Similarly, the count of low-risk municipalities now stands at 54, indicating a significant consolidation of stability in these regions. Most notably, a substantial leap of 30 municipalities now proudly sits in the stable category, signifying a leap forward in effective governance and operations.
This progress is because of collaborative efforts, innovative strategies, and dedication of various stakeholders working toward the betterment of local governance. It highlights a promising trajectory toward more robust, accountable, and responsive local government systems.
We recognize that there are still challenges ahead, and our commitment to addressing them remains firm. This positive trend inspires confidence and underscores the potential for continued growth and development in our local communities.
Hence, in accordance with the principles outlined in Section 154 of the Constitution, and as a response to the multifaceted challenges that municipalities face, we have engaged in collaborative efforts with Provinces, the National Treasury, SALGA, and various partners to introduce substantial legislative and policy reforms. These initiatives aim to empower municipalities in effectively executing their duties and mandates. Allow me to highlight some of the key reforms (9) and their implications:
These reforms reflect a concerted effort to address the challenges and intricacies faced by local governance structures. They represent a commitment to enhance the capacity, professionalism, and effectiveness of municipalities in delivering essential services to our communities. As we continue this journey, we remain dedicated to adapting and refining these measures to ensure the ongoing improvement and efficiency of our municipalities.
Added to this, we are actively paving the way for significant interventions set to enhance the functioning and governance of municipalities. Our forthcoming interventions include:
Intergovernmental, Monitoring, Support, and Interventions (IMSI) Bill: This Bill, designed in alignment with constitutional sections 100(3) and 139(8), aims to provide targeted support to provinces and municipalities requiring assistance. The Bill sets the stage for monitoring provinces and municipalities, ensuring their compliance with executive obligations as dictated by the Constitution or legislation. Additionally, it outlines alternative steps for interventions to induce compliance, and it grants the power to the national or provincial executive to appoint administrators in cases of intervention.
“Coalitions Bill”: Proposed amendments to the Municipal Structures Act are underway. Among the various changes, the amendments seek to transform municipalities with a mayoral executive system, wherein no party secures a majority of seats, into a collective executive system. Furthermore, these changes propose that municipal office-bearers can only be removed from office after a two-year tenure or under prescribed grounds. We are actively engaging in consultations with stakeholders for these alterations. Another significant inclusion in this Bill is the provision for binding coalition agreements in municipalities where no single party holds a majority of seats.
General Laws Amendment Bill (GLAB): This Bill intends to introduce amendments to multiple pieces of legislation impacting local governance. The aim is to solidify good practices, address any regulatory “vacuums,” and eradicate or mitigate detrimental practices. This comprehensive amendment seeks to streamline and fortify the legal framework governing municipalities, promoting more effective and transparent governance.
Our proactive stance in proposing these Bills underscores a dedication to fortifying the structure and functionality of local governance. These interventions are strategically designed to address various critical aspects, ensuring compliance, effective administration, and stronger collaborations within municipalities. As these Bills progress, we remain committed to engaging stakeholders and refining these initiatives to foster a more resilient and efficient local government system for the benefit of all citizens.
UPDATE ON NATIONAL INTERVENTIONS
Despite all the support programmes by both national and provincial governments, some municipalities remained dysfunctional, and this has resulted to some municipalities being placed under section 139 (7) of the Constitution.
Section 139(7) interventions have been instrumental in addressing challenges within Lekwa, Mangaung, and Enoch Mgijima municipalities. Lekwa LM in Mpumalanga set the precedent as the first municipality where the combination of Section 139(7) of the Constitution and section 150(1)(b) of the MFMA was invoked by the National Government. This intervention aimed to address pressing issues and instigate necessary changes within the municipality.
The situation in Mangaung Metro in the Free State led to National Cabinet intervention due to persistent failures in implementing the Financial Recovery Plan (FRP) imposed by the Free State Provincial Government. This necessitated external oversight and support to rectify the ongoing challenges.
In the Eastern Cape, Enoch Mgijima was placed under Section 139(7) of the Constitution subsequent to resistance against the initial Section 139(5)(a) and (c) interventions by the EC Provincial Executive Council. This subsequent intervention was a response to the challenges faced during the initial attempts at intervention.
While the National Government has withdrawn the National Cabinet Representatives from these municipalities, the interventions pursuant to Section 139(7) persist. These interventions remain active and are being diligently overseen and managed by the respective municipalities.
The progress within these interventions is closely monitored through the submission of monthly reports and the regular convening of Intervention War Rooms. Progress across these municipalities varies, with a general observation of a gradual pace in addressing financial and service delivery challenges. The complexities and diverse issues within each municipality contribute to the differing rates of progress observed.
These interventions represent a concerted effort to address and resolve the multifaceted challenges faced by these municipalities. Though progress may be gradual, the ongoing oversight and support aim to steer these regions towards improved governance and service delivery.
CAPACITY BUILDING PROGRAMMES
We welcome work undertaken by the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA) which is actively investing in the upskilling and re-skilling of municipal officials. Through a comprehensive suite of capacity-building programs, MISA is not just addressing current challenges but actively shaping a future-ready cadre of professionals.
One of MISA’s initiatives is the implementation of technical short courses in collaboration with the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE). These courses provide invaluable knowledge and skills to municipal officials, equipping them with the technical expertise necessary for effective infrastructure management. By fostering partnerships with industry experts, MISA ensures that its training programs remain relevant and of the highest quality.
The impact of MISA’s commitment to capacity building is evident in the numbers – over 6,000 training opportunities have been provided to municipal officials. These opportunities extend beyond traditional classroom settings, emphasizing a hands-on, practical approach that aligns with the real-world demands of infrastructure management.
MISA does not stop at empowering existing municipal officials; it extends its reach to unemployed youth from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. Through bursary opportunities, MISA enables aspiring individuals to pursue technical disciplines and trades. This initiative not only addresses the issue of youth unemployment but also contributes to creating a diverse and skilled talent pool for the future.
The infrastructure-related skills development programs, such as learnerships and candidacy programs, further exemplify MISA’s commitment to nurturing talent. Over 5,000 opportunities have been provided to unemployed youth, aiming to produce a new cohort of municipal officials with the necessary technical qualifications. Collaborations with the Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority (LGSETA), Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges (TVETs), and universities amplify the impact of these initiatives.
Infrastructure condition assessments serve as the bedrock for informed decision-making, influencing capital project planning, annual maintenance funding allocations, and ensuring the structural and functional integrity of assets. Recognizing the limitations faced by municipalities, MISA has emerged as a crucial ally, providing much-needed technical and financial support.
To date, MISA has successfully conducted assessments on the bulk water and sanitation infrastructure of 117 out of 144 Water Service Authorities (WSAs). These assessments go beyond being mere evaluations; they serve as blueprints for future action. The comprehensive assessment reports, coupled with actionable recommendations, are not gathering dust on shelves but are actively being implemented.
These reports play an important role in project identification and funding prioritization, shaping the landscape of infrastructure development. Our commitment to empowering municipalities extends beyond traditional funding channels. While own funding is a key component, MISA has successfully engaged the private sector and leveraged conditional grants such as the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG), Water Services Infrastructure Grant (WSIG), and the Rural Bulk Infrastructure Grant (RBIG).
Two examples of the tangible impact of these assessments are the Sishen Mine in the Northern Cape Province and the Anglo Platinum Mine in Limpopo Province. These private sector entities have stepped up to fund wastewater treatment works upgrades, a testament to the strategic partnership between MISA and the private sector, driven by the insights provided in the assessment reports.
In conclusion, the comprehensive overview presented today reflects a multifaceted approach to addressing the challenges within the local government sector in South Africa. The State of Local Government Report has been instrumental in identifying key issues, ranging from governance failures to outstanding debts and vacancies in critical positions. These challenges, while formidable, have not deterred us from actively pursuing impactful interventions and reforms.
We are not oblivious to the fact that challenges faced by the local government sector are multifaceted, disproportionate and impactful, however not insurmountable, and we will illustrate the work we are doing as COGTA to the turn the situation around.
The commitment to fostering resilient, efficient, and accountable local government systems remains solid. We extend our appreciation to all stakeholders, for their continued engagement and support. The path ahead may be challenging, but with sustained collaboration and dedication, we are confident in the potential for continued growth and development within our local communities.
To further advance our commitment, starting from tomorrow, we will convene a Sector Strategic Planning Session. This session aims to facilitate open discussions among the Department, Provinces, and Sector Entities. The primary goal is to reach consensus on practical steps, delineate roles and responsibilities, and collectively implement various local government support packages to enhance service delivery in municipalities.
This strategic planning session will bring together executives from the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Heads of Department (HoDs) from all nine provinces, the South African Cities Network (SACN), the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA), the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB), and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). By adopting this inclusive approach, we intend to shift strategic conversations from isolated, departmental, or organizational silos to a more effective and collaborative cross-segment engagement.
This collaborative effort will strengthen our collective ability to address the intricacies of local governance and contribute to the enhancement of service delivery across municipalities. This will ensure that strategic conversations move from isolated, departmental or organisational silos to effective cross-segment collaboration.
With these few words, I again wish to thank you for taking time to be with us today. A detailed presentation will be made available on our platforms.
I thank you.