Order, hon members! Firstly, before we start, I wish to inform you that since you don't have clocks, I will indicate to you when you have one minute left. There has also been a special request by the Minister - I will alert you when you have five minutes left!
Secondly, I want to say to the members of the public, I have to refer to this beforehand, because it has happened in other venues. You are welcome and we acknowledge your presence here. We are happy that you are here. You are, however, not allowed to participate in our debate in any way. You may not clap hands or use cameras. Please refrain from doing that. Thank you.
Hon Chairperson, Ministers and Deputy Ministers, the Deputy Ministers of Co- operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, members of the executive councils of the provinces, mayors and councillors, our traditional leaders and leaders of the House of Traditional Leaders, chairperson of the portfolio committee, hon members, and ladies and gentlemen, I have the honour and privilege of presenting the first Budget Vote of the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs in the fifth democratic Parliament.
Let me at the outset, I imagine on your behalf as well, convey our condolences to the family of Nadine Gordimer on her passing away. She was truly a great democrat and a great South African.
In its Preamble the Constitution of our country enjoins all of us to, and I quote:
Recognise the injustices of our past; ...
Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights; ...
And ultimately to -
Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person; ...
Hon members, it is in the municipal areas where our citizens and people work, live and socialise; where this process of eradicating injustices, healing divisions and improving quality of life takes place; and where democracy, social justice and human rights become concrete and meaningful in the lives of South Africans.
Local government is the crucible in which the complex processes of development, governance and the transformation of life and living conditions are taking place daily. In this way the area under the jurisdiction of each of the 278 municipalities is where educational, health, recreational, economic, housing and other related activities take place daily. This is the space in which our children grow to adulthood, in which our talents are shaped, in which our institutions operate, and in which our wellbeing is determined.
These are the institutions that are buffeted by technological, urbanisation, economic, developmental, and other global and local trends with formidable regularity. This is where institutions and people constantly adapt, change, and respond to the currents of change.
These are the spaces in which the colonial and apartheid governments exercised their power to subjugate our people and to deprive people of their dignity, their assets and their voice. Ours is the task of unrelentingly loosening the grip of our past on our present and future - a formidable but historically important task.
It is a circumstance of happy augury that this Budget Vote debate takes place on the eve of the late former President Nelson Mandela's birthday. In pursuance of the call to celebrate International Mandela Day in his honour tomorrow, I sincerely hope that some of the actions outlined in this budget speech will inspire individuals and communities to action, to each lay their own brick towards building a better South Africa for all our people.
We are reminded of the words of Tata Madiba when he said, and I quote:
As freedom loving people, we want to see our country prosper and provide basic services to all. For our freedom can never be complete or our democracy stable unless the basic needs of our people are met. We have seen the stability that development brings. And in turn we know that peace is the most powerful weapon that any community or nation can have ...
Hon members, the Bill of Rights is the cornerstone of democracy in South Africa, and it articulates the rights and responsibilities of our citizens. The realisation of socioeconomic rights in our Constitution is central to our aspirations in a democratic South Africa. Local government, therefore, has a central, and indeed pivotal, role to play in the implementation of programmes together with the provincial and national governments in order to give practical effect to the content of these rights and the way in which citizens experience them.
We would all agree, regardless of political affiliation, that transformation in the lives of our people must mean, amongst other things: highly functional municipalities; a collaborative intergovernmental system; a supportive fiscal system; the nurturing of traditional institutions; and harmonising relations between municipalities and traditional institutions.
But the ultimate test of change is when citizens themselves attest that they have a decent living environment: they enjoy safety for themselves and their children; they can easily access education and health facilities; they are part of a vibrant economy creating jobs and promoting inclusiveness; and they are leaving poverty behind and are out of crass inequality. The National Development Plan has identified a need for greater stability and cohesion within and across the three spheres of government, and also between government and the people. To achieve this, we need to considerably improve service delivery across all spheres of government in the face of huge capacity and resource constraints. Therefore, a key element to be improved is the system of intergovernmental relations.
The realisation of this aspiration, and to make even further improvements in the lives of millions of citizens, we need a capable and developmental state to deliver to our people. Building a capable state, brick by brick, while at the same time transforming the lives of our citizens is not an event. It's a painstaking and arduous process that takes place over many decades.
As we celebrate 20 years of freedom, we must recognise the tremendous strides we have made in eliminating almost 1 100 racist local structures and creating the foundations of a new system of democratic local government.
Local government has played, up to now, a significant role in addressing access to basic services: water, energy, waste, sanitation, transport and human settlements.
In South Africa it is a reality that before 1994 the average citizen - I'll call her "Mrs Khumalo" - had no municipality, no political representation and no access to water, electricity, refuse removal and decent sanitation.
Changes over the past 20 years have resulted in her now living in a demarcated municipality. She has a ward councillor, participates in ward committee meetings, and her voice is heard. Like 89% of South Africans, she has access to water; like 85% of South Africans, she has access to electricity, which enables her to light up her home, cook and keep her family warm. Her garbage is collected, like that of 64% of households in the country. She now enjoys the dignity of access to decent sanitation, like almost 78% of the people in this country.
Hosi Mdabula is ecstatic about the electrification of five out of six villages by the Thulamela Local Municipality. He says the villagers of Mbhalati, Shihosana, Machele, Salani and Mapimele, which had no electricity for decades, now have electricity and are enjoying the benefits of the service. [Applause.]
In the 14 years of its existence, the structure and system of developmental local government have been set on a firm foundation, and have remained resilient in most instances. Since its establishment in 2000, numerous national and provincial government support and intervention measures have been implemented: Masakhane, Project Consolidate, Siyenza Manje, the 5-Year Local Government Strategic Agenda, and the Local Government Turnaround Strategy. These support measures have not been isolated intervention programmes. Rather, they have been part of a continuum of contributions to building resilient institutions and transforming local government.
Of course, we must all admit that much more needs to be done to fulfil our aspirations. We need to do so through enhancing our co-operative governance system by promoting effective provincial government, strengthening developmental local government, and cementing collaborative links with traditional institutions and leadership within the constitutional democracy.
But how do we understand and respond to the tasks that we face today and tomorrow? Hon members, we are committed to moving South Africa forward and working together with all sectors of South Africa to create a better life for all. We intend to strengthen municipal government and its capacity to govern; to meet the service expectations of people; and to work effectively in a collaborative intergovernmental system.
President Zuma, in his state of the nation address on 17 June 2014, announced government's plan of action to revitalise local government. The President announced intensive interventions to support specific municipalities. As a matter of priority, in the immediate term, the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs will be working with provinces, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, our Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent and other partners to provide targeted support to the municipalities mentioned by the President.
We understand our tasks in taking South Africa forward into the next phase of transformation to be along the following lines: to get back to basics in all respects of municipal function by setting clear benchmarks of performance in our efforts to ensure that all municipalities fulfil their basic responsibilities, every day, without fail; to respond vigorously to the immediate crises; to understand and respond to the structural challenges that we face; and to continue to build resilient local government institutions, while collectively constructing more rigorous systems of intergovernmental relations, planning and delivery.
What do we mean by "back to basics"? Our aim is to ensure that every municipality performs basic functions without compromise. So, firstly, a basket of basic services must be delivered by all 278 municipalities every hour, every day, every week without fail. These will include, amongst others, the cutting of grass, the patching of potholes, ensuring that robots and streetlights are working, and regular refuse removal. These services must be provided by the municipality.
Secondly, in respect of governance, all municipal council structures must be functional, meet regularly, and ensure that their governance responsibilities are carried out. Oversight committees must be in place and meet their responsibilities without any interference, and these include audit committees and public accounts committees.
Thirdly, under administration, all municipalities must enforce competency standards for senior managers, and appoint persons with the requisite skills, expertise and qualifications. All senior managers must sign performance agreements and must be held to them.
We must, fourthly, ensure sound financial management. All municipalities should have a fully functional financial management system. There must be rigorous internal controls, and wasteful expenditure should be cut. The supply chain processes and structures must have appropriate oversight and transparency. There must be cash-backed budgets and not theoretical and aspirational budgets. Post-audit action plans following on Auditor-General reports must be addressed and implemented and, above all, they must act decisively against fraud and corruption.
Fifthly, substantive community engagements and participation must take place regularly. All councillors must report regularly to their wards and their citizens in their wards. Municipalities must have clear engagement platforms with communities and ensure that communities are fully informed of what is going on and what they can expect.
Sixthly, service delivery is an important element of the "back to basics" approach in order to ensure that municipalities develop new infrastructure at a faster pace whilst adhering to the relevant standards for such infrastructure, and to enable them to improve operations and maintenance of existing infrastructure to ensure continuity of service provision.
In this regard, the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, working with the provincial departments of local government, Salga and other key institutions within and outside of government, will be establishing compliance monitoring capability and introducing mechanisms for managing consequences for noncompliance and poor performance.
We need to find better ways of responding vigorously to immediate crises. Through numerous assessments and support and other measures we now know most of the dysfunctionalities in the local government system. There is urgency in government to deal with dysfunctional municipalities, or systems in municipalities - particularly in areas such as water infrastructure, for instance, the events in Bloemhof; infrastructure maintenance to ensure that the political and administrative interface works at an appropriate level and there is clear role definition; malfunctioning of governance structures; community protests; and municipalities under intervention in terms of section 139 of the Constitution. In this regard we will be strengthening our existing rapid response capability by working with the Inter-Ministerial Task Team on Service Delivery that the president has established and other key national departments and provinces, and by the mobilisation of other delivery vehicles.
But, while we attend to the immediate challenges, we should remind ourselves that there are also structural challenges that will take many years to eradicate or even attend to. While there are many contingent issues that will be dealt with, as I have said, the National Development Plan clearly outlines structural challenges that need to be met and initiatives that need to be taken to truly transform our environment. I will outline a few.
The first structural challenge is spatial apartheid. Integrated and sustainable human settlements are the key to redressing the prevailing apartheid geography: restructuring cities; shifting ownership profiles and choices; and creating safer, more humane - and environment-friendly - living and working conditions.
In this regard, in the medium to long term the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs will work with national departments that have spatial planning responsibilities to ensure that a coherent national spatial plan is developed to address spatial integration and transformation aimed at redressing the apartheid spatial geography.
The second structural challenge is the rapid urbanisation that is taking place. Cities and towns can help to create jobs, and cities and towns offer great opportunities for addressing the challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment, and ultimately our ability to achieve social and economic transformation.
With the projected urbanisation and population growth reaching 70% by 2030, urbanisation is a serious challenge that will confront us. The Integrated Urban Development Framework, which Deputy Minister Nel will speak about, provides, from July onwards, a coherent government strategy that will address this.
The role of district municipalities is another challenge. Over the next few months we intend to review the role of districts and shift them towards more of a shared service role as opposed to the current variety of roles that districts play.
Continuing to build resilient local government institutions is also part of our challenge as we build the local government system beyond its current fourteen-year existence. So, we need credible planning structures, better financial management systems and supervision, appropriate administrative systems with the right competencies, appropriate oversight and accountability structures, and the ability to plan infrastructure processes over a ten-year period and ensure appropriate service delivery.
At the same time I am happy to announce that we will be working with Minister Nzimande, and will shortly announce details of the establishment of a local government training and development institute which will significantly enhance our capacity to train political office bearers, technical managers, and their staff. [Applause.] But working within our intergovernmental system means that we need to shift from co-operation and co-ordination to active collaboration and support.
The Constitution is very emphatic about the importance of national, provincial and local government co-operation. The whole system of co- operative governance must work in a coherent and integrated manner to support municipalities and ensure that in the critical areas that I have mentioned there is the appropriate level of collaboration.
Infrastructure plays a key role in ensuring, not only that there is overall growth in our economy, but also that there is the right kind of spatial development and support for citizens, both at the residential and the economic level. So, we hope that we will be able to introduce legislation, if necessary, to ensure that we have 10-year infrastructure investment plans on a regional basis; the review of implementation capability; collaborative work among government agencies; and a minimum of 7% of operational expenditure being spent on the maintenance of infrastructure.
Similarly, economic development is a crucial part of the performance as municipalities as well. It's quite clear that, rather than just waiting for transfers from national government, local government structures need to look at different ways of generating economic growth within their environment and expanding their revenue base.
Also, the public sector job creation project, the Community Work Programme, CWP, will be expanded further as a result of further money being allocated, and a million CWP job opportunities will be created by the year 2018-19.
Let me now thank Salga for the tremendous work they have done over the years, and we look forward to working with them in future. We also look forward to working with the unions represented in the local government sphere. Furthermore, as we move towards the 2016 elections, we look to the Municipal Demarcation Board for the kind of work they contribute to the election process.
Chairperson, the National Development Plan recognises the importance of social cohesion and the role of traditional leaders, and we look forward to collaborating with structures of traditional leadership to ensure that they play an active part in socioeconomic development.
I want to end by expressing our collective regret at the number of deaths, now above 40, during the initiation season this year. We hope that we can work with our traditional structures to ensure that these deaths do not take place on this scale in the future. Thank you, Chairperson.
Hon Chair, hon Minister, hon Deputy Ministers, hon Members of Parliament, hon MECs, mayors and councillors, traditional leadership, distinguished guests, and ladies and gentlemen, I extend to all, on behalf of the Portfolio Committee on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, a warm welcome to this annual debate on the Budget Vote of the department. I stand on this occasion on behalf of the ANC, and with the backing of the portfolio committee, to support the Budget Vote allocation to the department.
We would like to reassure you that the portfolio committee is committed to exercising its oversight functions with more vigour and determination. We trust that the department will also respectfully, diligently and mutually respond in the same way in its relations with the portfolio committee, government and traditional institutions.
We have recognised that the 14-year transformation journey of our local government and traditional institutions was a very long, difficult and hard journey we had to undertake in order to ensure that South Africa indeed becomes a better place to live in, and that the lives of our people change for the better as we expand quality basic services to all South Africans. In this regard, the second radical phase of our transition calls for us urgently to attend to the transformation of local government and traditional institutions by improving their capability of providing quality public goods and services. For this second phase of our radical socioeconomic transformation to take place, we need to advance the strategic collaboration of cities and metros, as they are the key drivers of socioeconomic development in the society of any nation.
In this respect this budget is regarded as a work in progress, as it seeks to always improve governance, government systems, resources and skills, so as to continuously serve the people and change their living conditions for the better.
One of the most pervasive challenges facing our country as a developmental state is the need for our government to mobilise society in order to address the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality, as well as other legacies of apartheid colonialism.
Consequently, our constitutional democracy has advanced the right of our people to the progressive attainment of access to the basic necessities of life. The ANC government has done well in expanding basic services to the people. As a result, more and more South Africans have been lifted out of extreme poverty and have had their dignity restored. As this has been achieved, the lives of our people have improved vastly, and South Africa is a much better place now than it was before 1994.
Yet the challenges still facing our country are immense. Poverty, inequality and unemployment still affect the lives of many people. Our local government and communities are also facing the major challenges of reducing unemployment; creating more access to better quality services; overcoming the legacy of apartheid spatial development; strengthening community participation; and building effective, efficient, accountable and clean local government.
Meanwhile, the National Development Plan enjoins us to improve local government performance, ensuring quality services and building a responsive, accountable and efficient local government system as a building block in the attainment of a capable and developmental state.
The above assertions are in line with the ANC government's efforts to revitalise local government through clearly defined action plans aimed at supporting municipalities in order for them to perform to the best of their ability through infrastructure development, job creation, the development of measures geared to addressing corruption and fraud, as well as devising mechanisms to manage urban development.
We will recall that the primary mandate of the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs is to develop and monitor the implementation of national policy and legislation, as well as to seek to transform and strengthen key institutions and mechanisms of governance to fulfil their developmental role.
Therefore, in this budget there is an attempt to reflect on how much the department has achieved in regard to the vision and mandate of improving co- operative governance, both across the three spheres of government and in partnership with the institutions of traditional leadership. The department is also attempting to ensure that provinces and municipalities carry out their service delivery and development functions effectively.
The committee is pleased with the overall spending in 2013 of the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, which has put more focus on facilitating infrastructure delivery programmes and job creation; providing operational support to municipalities; strengthening technical and institutional capacity in local government; responding to disasters; and providing targeted and specialised support to traditional communities.
A step in the right direction is building capacity in municipalities outside metros. It means that the municipalities will be able to be effective and efficient and deliver services to the communities faster. There will also be the facilitation of the improvement of access to basic services and sustainable infrastructure development; the facilitation of the implementation of the Community Work Programme and sustainable economic development at local level; the strengthening of the effectiveness of co- operative governance through the development and roll-out of policies and legislation; the strengthening, co-ordination and support of effective integrated disaster management and fire services; and the enhancement of the administrative and financial capabilities of all municipalities.
Despite the shortcomings in delivering services to our people and creating conditions for a better life for all, we are sure that the ANC government has made progress in the first 20 years of democracy in eradicating the legacy of more than 360 years of colonialism and apartheid.
However, we cannot deny the fact that the legacy of apartheid still persists in poverty, unemployment and inequality. This is the reason why the ANC is very committed to addressing these ongoing challenges.
It is also ready to accelerate service delivery and development, as demanded by the second phase of our democratic transition, which calls for bold and decisive steps in order to place the economy on a qualitatively different path that eliminates poverty and unemployment, creates sustainable livelihoods, and substantially reduces inequality.
With these expectations in mind, the ANC has embarked on a radical shift, meaning doing away with the old ways of doing things and introducing new ways, which is encapsulated in the phrase: Doing things differently and faster.
The committee noted that the department has evaluated all municipalities: inspected their financial management in regard to how they work within the legislative processes and their ability to roll out projects and to address capacity constraints; and looked at how they respond to service delivery protests. This was alluded to by the President in his state of the nation address. We acknowledge successes in many municipalities, as well as concerns about those with challenges. Therefore, the committee knows where the municipalities stand, and which ones need support and interventions, as emphasised by the President of South Africa in his state of the nation address.
The portfolio committee believes that the department's priorities and commitments for the 2014-15 financial year will add value to the concrete action plans the President of South Africa has alluded to in his state of the nation address, because they also capture the spirit of doing things faster and differently, in line with the ANC manifesto and the National Development Plan. Part of this radical shift in local government will be providing assistance to the following municipalities, as proclaimed by the President of our country in his 2014 state of the nation address: Amathole District Municipality, Umzinyathi District Municipality and Alfred Nzo District Municipality. This is apart from other focus areas of our work.
The ANC believes that the department's priorities and commitments for this year will assist us all as South Africans to ensure that we make local government work.
Hon Minister, the committee will be fully behind you if you take a decision to crack the whip wherever colleagues who are deployed in local government do not apply the legislation as it stands. It will certainly not be right if we don't comply with the minimum demands that are provided for by the legislation in regard to appointing capable staff with the requisite skills to run our local government. We think that we should address this because it is a bigger challenge - more than a challenge of leadership.
If we don't do that, we think that we will be unable to turn local government around. We will support you, hon Minister - you must not fear the committee. What will be evident is that over the next five years we will turn local government around - with our support and with the support of the members of this House. I think I can commit them to supporting you in ensuring that South Africans enjoy a better life in the next five years and in building on the foundations that we have laid in the past 14 years. Our support in this regard is guaranteed.
So the committee acknowledges these concerns, and hopes that the department will address them successfully as they are all within the scope of its mandate and vision. The committee will in due course call upon the department to spell out the medium- and long-term plans for addressing the challenges of local government and traditional affairs.
We acknowledge, hon Minister, that you have not been in office for 20 years, though you have been in the government for 20 years. We want to allow you some space to plan the work that you want to do in terms of the programme and the action plan. Once you are through with that, hon Minister, we would like you to appear before the committee so that all of us can have a thorough discussion of the way forward and the implementation of some of your plans. If you do that, hon Minister, we will support you and make our own positive contribution in turning our local municipalities around.
The ANC accepts the Budget Vote for this department in the 2014-15 financial year to the value of R63,3 billion, which represents an increase of 3,69% from R57 billion during the 2013-14 financial year. However, we believe that this budget on its own will never be enough. That is the point that we want to make, hon Minister. Of course, you have been the Finance Minister and you will know better than me that no budget of any country can ever be sufficient, because there are a lot of competing interests in society. Therefore, we will support the department if you use the resources that are allocated to you sparingly to ensure that wherever you spend these resources, they will make a greater impact on the quality of life of our people. That is our view as a committee.
In conclusion, the ANC is committed to working with all South Africans to address the challenges and move South Africa further forward towards the achievement of the vision of the Freedom Charter. The challenges will be addressed through a concerted effort by government in all spheres, working together with South Africans, and integrating their actions as far as possible in the provision of services, alleviation of poverty, and development of the people and the country. We are committed to ensuring that local government understands the fundamentals of serving communities. We call upon national and provincial government to work shoulder to shoulder with the municipalities in this major effort.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge the positive contributions made by the members of the portfolio committee and the support staff, as well as the sterling work of the department. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Chairperson and Minister, I have decided to take a different approach to South Africa today, because of a crisis we are confronted with. I am not going to speak only to you, hon members, but to all South Africans.
Traditional leaders - Ah! Dalibhunga! - today our country is confronted by a national crisis that relates to the initiation of our boys. I was initiated at the age of 19 years. When I went through initiation, I went as a proud man, because I felt, and was, safe and did not fear death. I left initiation school a proud man, safe, and I did not fear death. Today it is different. More than 40 young men proudly went to an initiation school, and they left the initiation school in a plastic bag - dead.
Since 2008 more than 500 young men have died at initiation schools. As we speak, more than 180 young boys are in hospital. On SABC2 there was a recording of a young boy who was disguised. He said: "I went to an initiation school to be introduced to manhood. My penis was amputated. Every day, when I wake up, I feel like committing suicide - killing myself."
Many of the young boys out there who are being introduced to this noble initiation are losing their lives - boys who are supposed to become responsible men who will build a winning South Africa, who will build a country with firm, strong family foundations, and who will build firm communities because of their love for their culture; boys who are supposed to participate in building a better nation, and all of us are quiet! I could detect this even when I started with the topic of initiation and the grounds for the issue. We are afraid to talk about difficult issues that confront our people today, but they are a reality. Our people are being slaughtered.
These young children are being abused because our culture has been changed as a result of a form of greed. The greed that is developing in our communities, zinkosi zam [my chiefs], kills the foundations of the norm of ubuntu. Our people have become so greedy.
I put it to you, kings and chiefs, that in this instance you have failed our people. It is the duty of our kings and our chiefs to play the role in society of restoring and protecting what our ancestors and forefathers fought for in building a winning nation.
It is also the collective responsibility of our broken communities. How can communities fold their arms and rather watch a match in which they are playing, whilst innocent children are dying? What kind of community finds it very easy to burn streets, to burn tarred roads, and to burn infrastructure, but when death is involved they are unable to stand up for their people and say, "Not in our name!" I as a traditional man ...
... indoda yomXhosa ... [... a traditional Xhosa man ...] ... say, "Not in my name!" Our culture and ... ... isiko lethu lamaXhosa ... [... our tradition as the Xhosa people ...]
... say, "Not in our name!" Not in our name will those who are greedy and who are killing our children continue to do that!
I call on you, Minister, and ask that we stand together on this. I hold your hand and say that we are going to fight this together.
I went to Kwamagxaki during an oversight visit because I wanted to show South Africa something different, namely that there are areas where this tradition is practised correctly. Minister, in Kwamagxaki all the processes that are supposed to be followed are followed, and for the past 20 to 25 years young men have come back healthy and proud to be men. That is what we want.
What we lack, Minister, is a national framework to be completed speedily as we prepare for December. Unless we are calling for more death, we must have a firm framework that protects these children. That is what they are calling for. That is what communities are calling for.
We also need support for the people who are practitioners. They must be educated. We must not allow people who have never practised in this area to practise. How do you practise in something you do not know? With these few words we recommend to the Minister that we work together in protecting our children. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Chairperson, hon Minister, hon Deputy Ministers, my colleagues in the portfolio committee, and ladies and gentlemen, we have had 20 years of democracy and 14 years of local government, but local government remains badly underfunded, receiving only 8,9% of the budget allocation. Is this budget enough to deal with the service delivery challenges our people are faced with?
The municipal Infrastructure grant is also underfunded for improving our infrastructure, which is directly linked to addressing service delivery challenges like water and sanitation. Poor communities in rural areas need free basic services, because this will go a long way in improving their lives.
The Community Work Programme of the department does not promote social and economic inclusion in its current form. It is also terribly underfunded, and therefore its impact is not visible.
The overwhelming majority of municipalities are not self-sustaining, mainly because of budgetary challenges and lack of capacity. Also, the overwhelming majority of municipalities are in a state of collapse because of corruption, mismanagement and the employment of underqualified personnel in critical positions. The overwhelming majority of municipalities have not had proper financial management in 20 years.
Most of our cities are dirty because waste management infrastructure projects are not effectively managed. Many municipalities also do not have the capacity to deal with natural disasters, mainly because this component is not taken seriously by local government.
After 20 years, only 11 municipalities out of the 278 municipalities received unqualified audit reports, but the President, in his state of the nation address, feels that this is something to celebrate! Moreover, even those municipalities that received unqualified reports are unable to deliver services to our people.
Local councillors are at the coalface of service delivery protests, but they are not given financial access and other important resources to immediately address service delivery challenges - and the communities out there blame them when services are not being provided.
Traditional leaders are treated unequally by the ANC government. Some kings and chiefs are given millions of rands, whilst others get nothing."Some kings and chiefs are more equal than others," as Orwell would put it.
Dikgosi tsa rona di a sokola. [Our kings are suffering.] The EFF will provide the following solutions. [Laughter.] We will build self-sustaining local government with more capacitated municipalities when we take over in 2016. [Interjections.] Municipalities will be capacitated to perform the following functions: ambulance services, provision of health facilities and services, and maintenance of infrastructure like schools, hospitals and roads. All municipalities will be empowered to build houses.
Provision will be made for single traffic law enforcement units under municipalities to avoid "double parking", which is what is happening. As it stands now, we have provincial and municipal traffic law enforcement. This arrangement is a logistical nightmare. It compromises service delivery and encourages corruption.
The EFF is not opposed to the Expanded Public Works Programme and the Community Development Workers Programme. However, as they stand, these programmes in their current form exploit the majority of unemployed youth and women by offering them temporary, unsustainable jobs. We as the EFF will employ ... [Time expired.]
Hon Chairperson, at the outset I wish to convey the condolences of the IFP to the families, friends and communities of the young boys who have lost their lives during this winter season of traditional initiations. May their souls rest in peace. The IFP supports the initiatives of the department aimed at finding, together with all relevant stakeholders, a lasting and lifesaving solution to this matter.
Under the revitalising impetus of a new Minister, this department now has the opportunity to resolve long-standing contradictions in government's approach to traditional leadership. The Minister is no doubt aware of the long string of broken promises that has preceded the current unhappy state of co-operation between local government and an established social structure that was delivering good democratic governance long before 1994.
The first of these broken promises was made to the Coalition of Traditional Leaders 14 years ago by a Cabinet committee chaired by the hon Mr J G Zuma, then Deputy President of the Republic. An undertaking was made, both verbally and in writing, that Chapters 7 and 12 of the Constitution would be amended to prevent the obliteration of the powers and functions of traditional leaders and traditional institutions of governance. To date, that has not been done. Instead, through a series of piecemeal legislation, the authority, role, powers and functions of traditional leaders have been undermined and removed, to the point that they are now treated as ceremonial figureheads.
Despite agreeable speeches by government leaders, which place traditional leadership at the centre of rural development and good governance, legislation by this same government bars many traditional leaders from attending municipal council meetings, and those who may attend are barred from voting. The voice of traditional leadership and institutions has been silenced, for there is no legislative requirement to heed it and no real will to do so within government.
For 20 years there has been no move by government to capture in legislation the full role, powers and functions of traditional leadership. If this fundamental building block is ignored, efforts to secure development, justice and good governance will continue to deliver diluted success. Why do we limp towards the future we have promised our people when we are perfectly equipped to run? Therefore, the IFP welcomes the hon Minister's commitment to addressing this matter, and assures him of its fullest support in this regard.
Hon Chairperson, local government has been the bane of South Africa's service delivery and a breeding ground for corruption. This must change, as we fully rely on municipalities to be the wheels of service delivery. Every effort must be made to ensure that public money is spent to the benefit of the people, especially the poor, who find life to be a daily struggle.
Strong nations are built on the ability to fulfil promises, and therefore responsiveness to the needs of the public must take centre stage. The reality is that when communities begin to feel that they are not getting proper services from government, that promises are not being kept and that their needs, hopes and aspirations are not being met, public - and often violent - protests rightly or wrongly become the order of the day, as we have experienced. If things don't change for the better, we shall continue to experience such.
Whilst many are obsessed with the tired and empty refrain of a "good story to tell", the reality is that 20 years into our freedom and democracy many South Africans continue to struggle daily, and most certainly do not have a "good story to tell". They need jobs, houses and electricity, not poor service delivery. They are simply fed up with the refrain of empty promises, promises that have not been kept.
The refrain I have referred to above belongs to the people whose personal circumstances are "good", while at the same time it is totally contrary to the realities on the ground of millions of South Africans struggling daily to make ends meet. The refrain underscores the mentality of "an island of success in a sea of poverty and corruption".
Let us now begin writing a new story for local government and service delivery. The IFP will support this Budget Vote because, if government, especially local government, fails, people suffer. We must end the suffering of our people. We owe this to the struggle for freedom and democracy and to the liberation dream, where all South Africans can live side by side with their dignity restored through the provision of basic services and a local government that is effective and functional. We dare not fail. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Chairperson, hon Minister, hon Deputy Ministers and hon members, Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, and I quote:
What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
It is therefore crystal clear that nothing can defeat us as long as we demonstrate the will, the desire, the purpose and the passion to overcome the challenges that continue to face our people on a daily basis.
Some of our people, 20 years into democracy, still live under conditions of squalor, degradation and dehumanisation. There are many of us, among us and around us, who have still not tasted the fruits of democracy, despite the strides that have been made to ensure that we take part in democracy.
Among the tenets of this department are the creation of conditions conducive to job creation and the delivery of basic services. We need the willpower, the passion, the zeal, the skill and the expertise to bring about just that. However, we need to fill certain key, strategic positions and posts in the department or else the lack to do so will compromise service delivery. I am talking about key strategic posts like procurement and supply chain management, and the positions of CFOs, especially in municipalities.
One takes cognisance of the fact that there is going to be an increase of 22,8% in the Community Work Programme. This programme plays a pivotal role in our communities, where it is mostly our women and youth who really need employment.
There should have been a more comprehensive explanation of why irregular expenditure of R276 million was incurred in the previous year. I say this because we all have a reason to build South Africa up and to ensure that we take South Africa forward, and the department has to ensure that we strive towards receiving clean audits.
Having said that, it is with regret that we note a reduction of 2% in the municipal infrastructure grant funding. We must also say we do acknowledge that that reduction was caused by reprioritisation towards bulk water. However, underspending in MIG funding is not acceptable. I therefore think that there is every reason for us to empower the managers with the skills that are needed to ensure that there is no underspending. I also believe that the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent will have to play the role of ensuring that managers are well trained in order to ensure that there is no underspending.
I conclude by saying that corruption must be dealt with once and for all. Hon Minister, you need to crack the whip on that.
Sikubongela kakhulu ukuthi likhona iqhaza abaholi bomdabu abalidlalayo ukuze bathuthukise uhulumeni wethu. Sicela ukuthi njalo uhulumeni aqhubeke aqinise amandla abaholi bomdabu, imihlomulo yabo nezindawo zabo zokusebenza ukuze bakwazi ukuhambisa intuthuko. Sidabuka kakhulu ngokufa kwabafana beyosoka; sethemba uhulumeni uzoqhubeka asebenzisane noMnyango wezeMpilo ukuze kungafi muntu, nesiko lesintu liqhubekele phambili, sithuthuke njengesizwe. Siyabonga Isilo samabandla onke, Isilo sikaZulu ngokusebenzisana noMnyango wezeMpilo ukuze leli siko libe sezingeni elilifanele. Ngiyabonga Sihlalo. (Translation of isiZulu paragraph follows.)
[We appreciate the fact that our traditional leaders play a role in helping our government with the improvement of service delivery. We plead with the government to continue empowering our traditional leaders by giving them better incentives and improving the environment in which they operate in order to enable them to promote development in their communities.
We are so sorry about the death of boys in initiation schools. We hope that the government will continue working with the Department of Health in order to prevent the deaths and to promote this cultural practice of circumcision so that the nation can move forward. We are grateful to the Zulu King for working with the Department of Health in order to ensure that this cultural practice is performed in a safe manner. Thank you, Chairperson.]
Hon Chairperson, hon Ministers, hon Deputy Ministers, hon members, distinguished guests and comrades, forgive my truncated protocol; I will comply with protocol as I observe!
Tomorrow we celebrate our democratic icon, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. It will be the first time we do so without him. President Zuma has called on all of us to mark International Nelson Mandela Day by cleaning up our cities and our towns, our villages and our communities. Let us answer this call.
We also pay tribute to Nadine Gordimer, a partisan for justice, writer, Nobel laureate.
On 7 May this year millions of South Africans said loudly and clearly: Together we want to move South Africa forward! Together we want to build a better life for all! They said that the good story of our first two decades of freedom must be told into the future by speeding up the pace of radical socioeconomic transformation. In short, they were saying: Implement our National Development Plan.
Our task here is to carry out that mandate. To do so we need a capable developmental state, a state that intervenes to support and guide development so that benefits accrue across society, especially to the poor. It must build consensus, so that long-term national interest overrides short-term, sectional concerns.
Such a state has to be built, brick by brick, institution by institution, across all spheres of government, including local government. This requires leadership, sound policies, skilled managers and workers, clear lines of accountability, appropriate systems, and consistent and fair application of rules. It also requires zero tolerance for corruption, and getting the basics right.
Developmental local government is central to the successful implementation of our National Development Plan. Democratic local government, as described in our Constitution, is only 14 years old. One of the good stories we have to tell is how a patchwork of hundreds of racially based municipal entities were transformed into a system of 278 democratically elected municipalities covering our entire republic.
However, far too many municipalities have found that expectations exceed their administrative and financial ability. This has contributed to the false and destructive perception that local government is an unmitigated disaster zone.
The Constitution refers to the three spheres of government as "distinctive, interdependent and interrelated". No sphere is an island. All activities of national and provincial government take place in municipalities. Tip O'Neill, the former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, once said: "All politics is local."
The Constitution emphasises the role of national and provincial government in supporting local government. This role goes beyond simply producing legislation and regulations. A sound system of intergovernmental collaboration is key to implementing our NDP.
In relation to local government, five particular issues need to be addressed: The first is to improve clarity on roles and responsibilities in a differentiated system; second, to promote regionalisation as a response to capacity constraints; third, to develop a coherent set of powers for metropolitan municipalities; fourth, to adopt a more focused role for provinces; and, fifth, a proactive approach to identifying and resolving problems.
Central to this is the need to clarify the division of roles and functions, especially in the areas of housing, water, sanitation, electricity and public transport, and to ensure that disagreements are resolved quickly and effectively. Large cities should be given greater fiscal and political powers to co- ordinate human settlement upgrading, transport and spatial planning.
The state needs to mediate agreements between district and local municipalities where there is duplication of or conflict over the allocation of responsibilities and resources.
The Constitution conceives of local government as the most participatory sphere of government. However, we need to ensure that participation is not a formulaic exercise run by consultants, in which citizens have little confidence. Participation in integrated development plan processes needs to engage communities in prioritising and making trade-offs. IDPs need to be more narrowly focused on the core responsibilities and priorities of local government. We must go to community organisations, housing associations and business associations rather than expect them to come to us. Community development workers also have an important role to play. We require an active citizenry.
The next local government elections must be held by 18 August 2016. Cabinet has tasked the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs with the responsibility of chairing the Inter-Ministerial Task Team on Municipal Elections to make sure that everything necessary is done to ensure that these elections take place in a safe and free environment. The Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs will soon proclaim a formula that will determine the total number of councillors. MECs for local government will determine the number of councillors for each council based on this.
The Municipal Demarcation Board will, in turn, determine the delimitation of wards for the 2016 local government elections after a process of consultation and public participation. The board has determined that a number of municipalities should be reconfigured, either by way of amalgamation or disestablishment. Our present number of 278 municipalities will be reduced to 267.
The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs is working with municipalities and provinces to support these processes leading up to the 2016 local government elections.
Ladies and gentlemen, and hon members "Local government is everybody's business - be part of it." I thank you.
Hon Chairperson, hon Minister and Deputy Ministers, hon chairperson of the portfolio committee, hon members of the committee, hon Members of Parliament, officials of the department, and ladies and gentlemen, we meet today, a day before 18 July - which is the birth date of the late first President of our democratic government, Dr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, our one and only hero, isiThwalandwe - when South Africans will mark Nelson Mandela International Day by embarking on a clean-up campaign as per the call by His Excellency President Jacob Zuma in his state of the nation address.
Chairperson, South Africa is now one of the most populous and urbanised countries in Africa. Over the centuries urbanisation has been a source of controversy, posing dilemmas for successive governments and resulting in wide-ranging interventions to control it in various ways, such as the distinctive form of racially segregated urban development, reflecting the need of the economy for cheap migrant labour to support rapid industrialisation, which was put in place in the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, due to the demise of apartheid, these repressive controls were withdrawn, causing a recovery in the rate of urbanisation.
The pace of urbanisation has been accelerated post-1994 by the ANC-led government after the many restrictions of apartheid proved impossible to enforce. By the year 2010 almost 62% of the South African population was urban. However, not all urban areas within the country are growing at the same rate; for instance, the Gauteng city region has been growing faster in absolute and relative terms than the other large cities.
The dynamics of urbanisation are likely to have widely varying impacts in different parts of the country, as some areas experience rapid population and economic growth, while others stagnate or decline. Others may face population growth without economic growth, and, as there is the creation of subcultures through the migration of communities, serious problems are created in implementing proper budgeting processes. These dynamics cannot be managed through centralised programmes of investment in urban infrastructure.
We have seen that a greater degree of "policy agility" is required to respond to the changing conditions and demands. Therefore, local government must play a vital role in the management of public sector responses to urbanisation in this country. In order for them effectively to assume this role, their accountability for the management and financing of investment in the urban built environment, in particular, needs to be strengthened.
In ensuring that local government is strengthened, we will have to ensure that municipalities structure and manage their administration and budgeting for effective planning processes through their integrated development plans, in order to give priority to the basic needs of communities and to promote social and economic development in communities, as stipulated in the Constitution. Furthermore, all these responsibilities must be exercised taking into consideration the role of traditional leaders in the jurisdiction of all municipalities.
Chairperson, government in its wide planning; infrastructure planning; urbanisation, migration and economic planning structure; and introduction of new innovative models of planning has realised that local government still operates within an apartheid atmosphere where cities and towns are racially segregated, with the poor often living in townships kilometres away from business and industrial areas.
The creation of liveable, integrated cities, towns and rural areas means that we have to overcome the legacy of apartheid planning. It is important that spatial integration is done in a manner that will make the economy efficient, provide services and reduce costs of transport for workers in enabling development.
We have thus created mechanisms through pieces of legislation passed by this House, such as the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act and the National Housing Act, to highlight two. Such mechanisms have been created to curb the challenges faced by local government in the proper management of land use and budgeting therefor.
The ANC-led government has, through its Integrated Urban Development Framework, noticed that, with the high velocity of urbanisation, communities are faced with an increase in socioeconomic challenges and unemployment amongst the youth and women.
Therefore, as was mentioned in the President's state of the nation address, the government has undertaken to ensure the provision and maintenance of 1,5 million work opportunities at the end of the 2015-16 financial year. With that figure against our target of 1,7 million, we have created and maintained 2,5 million work opportunities through the Community Work Programme.
In moving South Africa forward we have provided technical support to selected municipalities in accordance with their needs. Three municipalities have been supported with the development of integrated waste management plans.
The Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent has been supporting more than 18 identified municipalities with the acceleration of grant-funded projects such as the municipal infrastructure grant, the municipal water infrastructure grant, and the regional bulk infrastructure grant in areas of water and sanitation, roads and storm water, electricity, solid waste, housing, planning and community projects.
The Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent also has 61 technical engineering and planning professionals deployed to support a total of 121 municipalities throughout the country.
Chairperson, it is our vision that in strengthening district municipalities all stakeholders should play a vital role. We therefore invite all key stakeholders, with the private sector, to participate and invest in the programmes of this government, in the creation of a sustainable economy and in ensuring that we work towards the 2030 vision as stipulated in the National Development Plan, making sure that all South Africans are granted an equal opportunity to have employment and proper living conditions.
We believe that the proposed budget by the department will help immensely in assisting local government to deal with the challenges brought about by urbanisation in this country.
Let me, on behalf of the ANC, express our condolences to all the families that have lost their loved ones in initiation schools this season, and condemn the acts of the alleged perpetrators who have been negligent with human lives. We appeal to traditional leaders, communities, parents, police, the Department of Health and all other relevant stakeholders to monitor the process of initiation closely. We appeal to the community to blow the whistle on all illegal initiation schools. We also urge that all illegal conduct should be dealt with accordingly to ensure that there is zero tolerance of the death of initiates due to negligence, lawlessness and the commercialisation of these cultural practices.
In conclusion, Chairperson, allow me to close with these words by our departed icon, Dr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, which have been adopted by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs to be its motto for the coming five years:
As freedom loving people, we want to see our country prosper and provide basic services to all. For our freedom can never be complete or our democracy stable unless the basic needs of our people are met. We have seen the stability that development brings. And in turn we know that peace is the most powerful weapon that any community or nation can have ...
This is to ensure that the White Paper on Local Government - and provisions for local government are contained in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa - is implemented and communities find sustainable ways to meet socioeconomic demands in order to improve the material needs and the quality of life of our people.
Lastly, the ANC supports the Budget Vote. I thank you.
Hon Chairperson, during President Zuma's previous term, the President initiated the much vaunted Local Government Turnaround Strategy. The objectives of this strategy were to, and I quote:
... restore the confidence of communities in local government ...
... rebuild and improve the basic requirements for a functional, responsive, accountable effective and efficient developmental local government.
What does this mean? In short, it really looks like we are agreeing that municipalities are dysfunctional, nonresponsive, ineffective, wasteful, inefficient and unaccountable, not creating environments for growth and development.
Five years later President Zuma announced his administration's intention to launch another plan of action to revitalise local government. I must say that the President really revitalised it by giving us a new Ministry and, Minister, although you have a daunting task ahead of you, this shows that we are serious about local government. We have faith that you can help us to get local government in this country to work.
We have some questions to ask. Why did the Local Government Turnaround Strategy fail? What are the root causes of the ills affecting local government in our country? Why are we unable to provide the most basic requirements for proper, functional local government? Why is local government failing us?
In addressing this question and identifying issues affecting municipal governance, I wish to draw your attention to issues identified in the Medium-Term Strategic Framework of the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs. The MTSF refers, firstly, to political issues including, and I quote, "weak political leadership". It appears that there is a lack of will to ensure good and clean municipal governance where there is a need for governance. Secondly, the MTSF refers to political deployments, not always competent appointments; lack of professionalism; technical skills gaps and lack of relevant competencies; lack of career progression; and poor attitudes and values of staff. The remedy could be simple if we stopped the practice of deployment; if we stopped appointing cadres; and if we stopped abusing and corrupting affirmative action. South Africans have skills and competencies - appoint them.
Thirdly, the MTSF referred to corruption with no consequences and also to incoherent and complex local government legislation. Minister, corruption is endemic and it is committed with impunity. One piece of legislation is the Municipal Finance Management Act that I am holding in my hand here. In an effort to stop corruption, we had to have the regulations in this Act. How do we expect a very small municipality like Ingwe to reinforce them? Minister, if we don't have a clear separation between the administration and the politics, we will not make local government work. [Interjections.] It will never work.
I want to take you back to the North Coast in 2001. Minister, a town clerk/municipal manager that worked there for a salary of R104 000 a year was replaced by a music professor who earned more than a Member of Parliament or the Minister, at R1,6 million. [Interjections.] Those are the types of ills being dealt with. What used to go into service delivery is now being exhausted elsewhere. I thank you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Hon Chairperson, the AIC will approach this debate first and foremost by highlighting a few issues of prime importance in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996. Chapter 3 of the Constitution has been hailed as the so-called new philosophy of the South African constitutional law system. This philosophy requires co- operation between the spheres of government and a commitment to resolving disputes among the spheres amicably, rather than opposing one another as adversaries in the courts.
However, this philosophy is hampered by political rot and political corruption, which promote party-political interests - something that is seriously undermining the rule of law in this country.
For instance, in 2006 the Matatiele Local Municipality and others took the ANC government to the Constitutional Court over the Matatiele demarcation saga. The decision to incorporate Matatiele into the Eastern Cape, against the will of the people, was taken by the ANC National Executive Committee on 8 August 2005. That is what we call political rot, amongst other things.
In October 2009 the ANC manipulated the process of testing the views of the people of Matatiele in regard to which provincial administration - KwaZulu- Natal or the Eastern Cape - they wanted to fall under. This fell under the mandate of the Ministry of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs. That is what we call political corruption. In the light of the above, the AIC is raising three issues that must be taken seriously by the National Assembly of the Fifth Parliament.
Firstly, the results of the testing of the views of the people of Matatiele and Moutse must be released as soon as possible.
Secondly, the National Assembly must consider the reduction of nine provinces to four provinces. This will go a long way in saving the taxpayers money, because nothing effective is being done by these provincial legislatures, except to be a source of employment for cadres. If we do away with these provinces, we will save plus-minus R2,6 billion in each financial year and that money should go to local government where people need services.
Section 155 of the Constitution gives metropolitan municipalities exclusive authority ... [Time expired.] I support the Budget Vote.
Hon temporary Chairperson, hon chairperson of the portfolio committee and its members, hon Minister Pravin Gordhan, hon Deputy Minister Andries Nel, other hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers present, MECs, mayors and councillors, leadership of the Houses of Traditional Leaders present here, leaders of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa and the SA Local Government Association, Director- General of the Department of Co-operative Governance and Director-General of the Department of Traditional Affairs, chairpersons of the Cogta public entities, ladies and gentlemen, and fellow South Africans, "Local government is everybody's business - be part of it!" This is a slogan taken from the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, and we should make it work.
We present this budget today as we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of freedom and democracy, and at the start of the fifth administration, in which the President announced that we would now have a Deputy Minister with a special focus on traditional affairs. That shows how seriously the ANC- led government is taking this matter.
His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma said, and I quote:
Local government is the heart of the lives of the people of South Africa. It is where we get the water we drink, the electricity we use, the roads we drive in, the parks that our children use to play, and is about building healthy living communities. In the narrative of a long story by John Lennon he speaks of what an ideal community - or municipality - could be. I quote what he says further:
You may say I'm a dreamer But I'm not the only one
Together we can bring this city and the surrounding areas closer to our ideal vision for them. But in order to build a place that better suits the needs of everybody, we need everyone's voice and everyone's help. So stand up! [Applause.]
Going forward, we must make municipalities functional and ensure that, by doing the right things efficiently and diligently, responding to service delivery, and working with our people in partnership, they do not compromise the basket of services that will take us to having the ideal community or municipality.
The district municipality and local municipalities have a part to play in bringing the role of traditional leaders into play and assisting us with attaining our national developmental vision, as aspired to in the National Development Plan, in both the rural and local municipalities.
This brings us to the mandate of Traditional Affairs. Firstly, the department was established to promote and to protect the cultural, religious and linguistic rights of communities, as supported by the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities.
Secondly, the department has established the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims, which is occupied with attending to the claims and disputes that were lodged up to August 2010. To date, about 700 claims out of 1 244 have been finalised for kingships in this financial year. The commission will process 320 claims. It is envisaged that by December 2015 all the claims will have been completed, to ensure stability in traditional communities.
Thirdly, the Traditional Affairs Bill will be brought to Parliament, as it has been processed and agreed to by Cabinet. Its intents are to reaffirm and recognise the role of the Khoi and San leadership and structures, and to begin to express the functions and the role of traditional leaders. We will deal with that Bill when it comes.
Fourthly, South Africa will be participating in the United Nations World Conference on Indigenous Peoples and their rights. We will contribute to that debate towards its conclusion.
Fifthly, the Department of Traditional Affairs will work on the Traditional Courts Bill together with the Department of Justice and Correctional Services, as the Bill belongs there. This Bill is critical in order for traditional courts to function effectively. We will be busy with that particular Bill.
One important milestone is that the department, working together with Salga, has agreed on the maximisation of meaningful participation of traditional leadership in local government. That will be included in the Bill in order for them to be effective in their participation.
The department will continue to work with interfaith organisations, because we have to work with that sector as well as with other religious and spiritual groupings to achieve social cohesion.
We greatly regret the deaths of initiates during this winter initiation season. We express our condolences to the families and include all hon members in the articulation of those condolences.
As the figures stand now, we have had 42 deaths of initiates. The department retains its target of zero fatalities, or zero tolerance of death, and feels that one death is one death too many. Government has employed many mechanisms to curb the loss of life during this important cultural practice, resulting in a decline from 419 in 2012 to 116 in 2013 and 42 in 2014. Therefore, work is progressing in that direction.
The initiation policy has been developed and will be finalised. It has gone to Cabinet committees and will go from there to Cabinet. It will ban all illegal schools, enforce age determinations and ensure that there is compulsory premedical screening. It will look at integrating medical male circumcision into the initiation practice. It will abolish the abuse of initiates and corporal punishment, and it will set up inspectorates for the initiation schools, and so forth.
As we do so, we also want to continue to urge communities to work together as they did during this season, therefore ensuring that we speak and stand as one.
We want to thank the National House of Traditional Leaders Initiation Task Team; the Mpumalanga Ingoma forum; Limpopo for establishing effective measures and integrating male medical circumcision in their initiation practice; the Eastern Cape for coming together and becoming active in this; and the Imbumba Yamakhosikazi Akomkhulu [forum for queens and wives of traditional leaders], an organisation led by women from the royal houses. We are also currently preparing for the summer initiation season for the Free State and the Eastern Cape.
As I conclude, I wish to say that the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs is committed to improving the lives of our people. Let us participate in the Nelson Mandela clean-up campaign. Thank you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Hon Chair, allow me briefly to amplify the weaknesses of the Community Work Programme.
The CWP is the Department of Co-operative Governance's job-creation initiative. It began as a pilot project in 2007, and in 2010 it was decided that it should become a fully fledged government programme based in the Department of Co-operative Governance.
It has currently been rolled out in various municipalities across the country. A target has been set of ensuring that the programme is implemented in all 23 district municipalities and in 64 of the 108 municipalities that have been included in the Local Government Turnaround Strategy. The basic functions of this programme are said to be the following.
Firstly, the programme is said to be providing access to a minimum level of regular work on an ongoing and predictable basis for those who need it most at local level.
Secondly, it is said to be offering two days of work per week, or a monthly equivalent, providing 100 days of work spread throughout the whole year.
Thirdly, the wage rate at the time of this study was R64 per day and participants worked two days a week or eight days a month.
Whatever the merits or demerits of this programme are, the DA would offer a better solution to job creation. The DA believes in growing a strong and sustainable economy in order to solve all issues of development, including citizens' empowerment. The DA believes in growing the economy by 8% in order to provide a sustainable environment to attract investment, and in so doing to create more - and real - permanent jobs, instead of work opportunities.
The CWP may be seen as an effective instrument for job creation, but it is open to manipulation by local government officials and municipal managers. It is, in fact, used as an exclusion mechanism against those who are not party affiliates. The result is that these people are being recycled back into the pool of the unemployed.
A study conducted in 2013 by the Centre for Democratising Information sought to investigate the contribution of the CWP. It was conducted in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the Northern Province, and it revealed the following horrifying experiences. Payment to participants was often late; participants complained about the fluctuating payment dates, which often resulted in late payments; and inaccurate payments were also a concern for participants. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Hon Chairperson, hon Minister and Deputy Ministers of the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the chairperson and members of the portfolio committee, comrades, and ladies and gentlemen, I wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the late Ms Nadine Gordimer, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 90, and to express condolences to her family. I'm certain that I speak on behalf of all South Africans when I say that Nadine Gordimer was an outstanding South African patriot, an intellectual par excellence, and a rare breed of South African novelist and writer. She was a seasoned activist against the unjust and evil system of apartheid. Indeed, Nadine Gordimer was an extraordinary South African, with a beautiful mind. May her soul rest in eternal peace.
The South African state in general and local government in particular have undergone a sustained period of transformation in order to reorientate and position themselves to hold the ethos and meet the demands of the democratic dispensation. This transformation was occasioned by the need to redress centuries of colonialism and decades of apartheid misrule.
South Africa has emerged from a political situation characterised by the ANC as being "colonialism of a special type", a situation where the coloniser and the colonised lived in and shared the same country as a result of the deal between the descendents of the Dutch settlers and the British imperial power at the end of the so-called Anglo Boer War. This deal, which formalised South Africa's statehood in 1910, was premised on the political oppression, social subjugation and exclusion of the majority of the people in this country.
This "colonialism of a special type" left an indelible imprint on and legacy to the South African society in general, and local government in particular, which generations to come will continue to endure.
We in the ANC have made significant strides over the past 20 years of democracy and freedom in dealing with this legacy of "colonialism of a special type". Over the past 20 years of democratic rule the ANC has massively expanded access to basic services. Some of our achievements include, but are not limited to, the following.
Firstly, in the 14 years of its existence the structure and system of local government has been set on a firm and solid foundation, after having evolved through different stages of transformation, from the pre-interim phase to the interim phase and, finally, to the consolidated phase.
Secondly, local government has been resilient in the face of a variety of daunting tasks and challenges, like the global economic recession and its impact on the domestic economy and household income, which negatively impacted on the revenue of municipalities.
Thirdly, the successful transformation of approximately 1 100 fragmented and racially based local authorities prior to 1994 evolving seamlessly into 283 new municipalities.
Fourthly, according to Statistics SA, as per its 2011 survey, the percentage of households using electricity for lighting increased from 58,2% in 1996 to 84,7% in 2011. The percentage of households with refuse removal increased from 52,1% in 1996 to 62,1% in 2011. The percentage of households with access to piped water inside the dwelling increased from 60,7% in 1996 to 73,4% in 2011. The percentage of households without toilet facilities declined significantly to 5,2% in 2011, from 13,3% in 2001. Access to sanitation increased from 83% in 2001 to 91% in 2011.
I am quoting these statistics, not to encourage complacency, but to illustrate the point with empirical evidence that the ANC government is significantly turning the tide against the monster of the legacy of "colonialism of a special type", which we admit ... [Applause.] ...
Tell us about the corruption.
... will take years to be completely eradicated. Together with the people of this country, we are moving local government forward.
As our Nadine Gordimer said, "The truth isn't always beauty, but the hunger for it is." We in the ANC are also driven by the hunger to seek and tell the truth. Despite what the doomsayers and pessimists would want us to believe, the reality is that the ANC government is on course to build a developmental local government.
What then are the characteristics and key features of this developmental local government that we seek to construct? Our policy perspective and vision of a developmental local government is succinctly articulated in the 1998 White Paper on Local Government. The White Paper defines developmental local government as local government committed to working with citizens and groups within the community to find sustainable ways to meet their social, economic and material needs, and to improve the quality of their lives.
The second and more radical phase of our transition to the national democratic society demands of the democratic state that it perform a number of fundamental tasks at local government level in order to accelerate the full-frontal assault on the legacy of "colonialism of a special type".
Firstly, it must deal decisively with apartheid's spatial geography and planning by finalising and implementing the Integrated Urban Development Framework, which the department has developed and finalised.
Secondly, it must aggressively promote local economic development through the intelligent application of the already existing instruments in municipalities. Whilst having acknowledged the tremendous progress the ANC government has recorded, certain challenges continue to exist in local government like a festering sore. We would like to urge the department to pay particular attention to some of the following issues.
Firstly, it must prioritise the complete eradication of the bucket system, which is the most dehumanising form and utterly backward system of sanitation that the apartheid government introduced for our people. [Applause.] We must admit that we have not done well on this front.
Secondly, it must intervene in, and once and for all address, the poor outcomes of municipalities, especially given that this year we had intended all municipalities to receive clean audits.
Thirdly, it must develop intervention mechanisms to assist municipalities which are struggling to fully implement the National Development Plan.
We have full confidence in the team that the President has assembled to be in charge of this department. It possesses the necessary intellectual depth ...
Madam Chair, I would like to know if the hon member will take a question from me.
No, I will not. We serve together on the committee, so you can ask me there.
Hon Mapulane, wait a minute. Hon member, you should stand up when you ... [Inaudible.]
Thank you for that advice.
Hon member, unfortunately the hon member has said he doesn't want to take any questions. Hon Mapulane, please continue.
I was concluding by saying that we have full confidence in the team that the President has assembled to be in charge of this department. We think that they possess the necessary intellectual depth and the required political and technical competence to discharge their responsibilities and rise to the challenges that we have enumerated at this podium.
Finally, we wish to say that the ANC supports this Budget Vote. Thank you. [Applause.]
Hon Chair, we have heard Minister Gordhan saying all the right things, but the widespread and growing number of service delivery protests, which in many instances have turned violent, sound an alarm that cannot be ignored. According to a report by the Public Protector dating as far back as 2009, perceptions of corruption and maladministration have led to public discontent and a lack of confidence in the government's ability to deliver. Among the factors identified by the Public Protector were community dissatisfaction with poor service delivery, financial mismanagement, and allegations of fraud and corruption, coupled with complaints of poor communication with communities.
And nothing has changed! If anything, it has become worse! Deputy Minister Nel, I am sorry, but South Africa's municipalities are in crisis. It will require more than platitudes and a continuation of the same old tried and failed tactics and techniques to build the future our citizens need and desire.
Municipalities in South Africa face widespread capacity shortages. The majority are in a financially precarious situation, faced with limited, underutilised and diminishing revenue potential. It is undeniable that expertise is lacking, that cost recovery is insufficient, and that financial management remains inadequate.
Municipalities require sustainable revenue streams in order to remain financially and operationally viable. Their ability to generate such revenue, however, is essentially limited to payments for services provided - for example, water, electricity and sanitation - and to property taxes or rates.
What is clear is that many municipalities - including the largest metropolitan municipalities such as the City of Johannesburg, hon Masondo - experience difficulties in collecting their revenue.
The root causes of this poor collection can be traced to the following causes: inadequate and improperly implemented financial policies, including rates by-laws and policies, and credit control policies; failing billing systems, and I will talk more about that in a second; the deployment of incompetent or unqualified personnel to senior management positions, especially financial management positions; growing indigent populations; an ongoing culture of not paying for services on the part of local communities; and systemic losses of water and electricity through theft and inadequate maintenance.
Just yesterday I was informed that Lephalale Local Municipality in Limpopo is conducting mass disconnections of residents who have failed to pay their accounts in full. The really tragic part of this story, however, is the reason for the disconnections. Lephalale has not sent out municipal accounts since February this year and residents had to guess how much they were expected to pay. The disconnections may therefore be illegal, and are certainly unfair in the extreme. Another example is that Mantsopa Local Municipality in the Free State has not sent out municipal bills for six months!
We are pleased to note that the compliance of municipalities with the Local Government: Municipal Property Rates Act is being verified. It is a long- standing concern of ours that many municipalities either fail to gazette or improperly gazette their annual rates and tariff increases. In addition, the rates policies and the enacting by-laws that they do gazette leave much to be desired. This has the potential to bankrupt a municipality if it is legally challenged and found wanting, as the municipality will effectively be unable to collect rates at all!
Operation Clean Audit, the flagship programme for addressing the challenges in local government at the start of the previous term, has failed spectacularly. Of the two targets - there were just two targets - neither has been achieved. The first target that was set was that by 2011 no municipality should fall into the categories of adverse opinion, disclaimer or failure to submit. Well, we missed that one completely. While the number of such municipalities declined in the 2011-12 financial year, 98 of 278 municipalities still failed in this regard.
The other target set was that all municipalities in South Africa would receive an unqualified audit for the 2013-14 financial year. That was unlikely, especially given the current state of municipal finances and administration. In fact, just last week I revealed that according to the latest audit reports, every single municipality in the North West is technically insolvent - bankrupt! [Interjections.] Or how about the Free State municipalities that collectively owe Eskom more than R1 billion rands, and that at least three of them face being cut off unless a payment is made?
The cause of this debt is once again a failure to properly collect revenues owed to the municipalities. Minister, a much tighter system of monitoring and evaluation of the ability and performance of municipalities is required to ensure that they are effectively collecting the revenue that is owed to them, and then spending it appropriately.
We urge you to implement strict reporting tools and to intervene rapidly where misconduct, mismanagement or poor performance are indicated. It is an indictment of the ANC government in all three spheres that so many once viable municipalities are now collapsing around our ears.
Most municipalities suffer from major infrastructure maintenance issues. In the Fourth Parliament I highlighted the problems experienced by Makana Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape, where the citizens, students and residents of Grahamstown had been without water for weeks on end. And the cause of that? The lack of maintenance of existing infrastructure. The municipality had failed to adequately look after the pumps and fittings that carry water from the storage dams to the treatment plants.
Makana Local Municipality is by no means unique. I could equally refer to Tswaing Local Municipality in the North West, or Magareng Local Municipality in the Northern Cape, or any number of other municipalities.
Hon Mthembu, the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent is a step in the right direction, but the crisis is enormous, and the interventions that are being undertaken and the assistance that is being offered are just a drop in the ocean.
The DA calls on the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the state of municipal infrastructure and to provide regulatory guidelines for expenditure on infrastructure maintenance.
The national transfer grants intended to address these issues are swallowed up in new developments, or utilised to fund operational expenditure, just to keep the municipalities afloat financially. In this regard, the DA urges Minister Gordhan to tighten up the controls placed on the use of conditional grants - to reward those municipalities that use them effectively, and to penalise those that don't.
Minister, it is high time that we had a comprehensive review of the financing of local government and that we critically examine how sustainable the current model is. Deputy Minister Nel quoted former United States Speaker, Tip O'Neill, as saying, "All politics is local." Nowhere is that more true than here in South Africa. It can be argued that the overpoliticisation of local government is a primary cause of the crisis experienced in municipalities across our country on a daily basis.
The deployment of ANC cadres, comrades and cronies to take charge of departments, towns and cities has resulted in the catastrophic failure of infrastructure, the nondelivery of services and maladministration of the worst kind. [Interjections.]
Zwelinzima Vavi rightly described the ANC as the organisation of "Absolutely No Consequences"! When forensic reports in metropolitan municipalities gather dust while the municipal officials and public representatives fingered in those reports are either promoted to higher office or suspended on full pay for years before returning to work with no ill effect, it is easy to see the truth in his allegation.
Minister, I refer here to the Kabuso Report in Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, the Manase Report in eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality and the Ernst & Young Report in Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, all of which assert serious wrongdoing and misconduct. In fact, I can point out a few members of this House who are named and shamed in those very reports. [Interjections.] Deputy Minister Bapela, you said that local government is everybody's business, and that might well be part of the problem! If you do nothing else in your term of office, get rid of the fat cats that are feeding at the trough of local government. [Applause.] I refer here to the many underqualified, overpaid and underperforming municipal managers and directors.
Chair, I rise on a point of order.
Hon member, you have to stand up.
Chair, is it parliamentary for a member to cast aspersions on members of this Parliament without really having any substantiation for them? The member has said that Members of Parliament are implicated in the reports that he mentioned. That does not have any substance. [Interjections.]
Thank you for that point of order. [Interjections.] Order! Hon member, that is a point of debate. The hon member did not mention any person. Please continue, hon Mileham.
Chairperson, the clause in the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act that requires a municipal manager to have the relevant qualifications and expertise to perform the duties associated with the post is seemingly ignored in most cases.
While we welcome the regulations recently promulgated to control the appointment of senior municipal staff, the continued waiving of the requirements and extension of the timeframe for these officials to become qualified sends a shameful message that we condone and accept mediocrity in government. Yesterday we learned that the municipal manager of Mbhashe Municipality in the Eastern Cape has resigned, making him the 6th municipal manager to leave that municipality in just three years! This municipality can at best be described as dysfunctional.
The second group of fat cats we need to get rid of are the tenderpreneurs gnawing on the carcasses of our municipalities. Here, Minister, it is critical that transparent, equitable and efficient supply chain management processes are implemented. Open these deals up and let the sun shine in! The more the deals are done in back rooms behind closed doors, the more likely they are to be nepotistic, fraudulent or irregular.
The issues facing local government are not new, or startling. They arise from our divided past, as much as they do from our dysfunctional present. Yes, there are enormous backlogs in service delivery. Yes, we need to build infrastructure to provide those who were disadvantaged under apartheid with access to roads, water, and sanitation. Yes, we must provide housing and refuse collection and health services to all segments of society. Thank you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Chairperson, hon Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Pravin Gordhan, Deputy Ministers Nel and Bapela, hon members, fellow South Africans, mayors and councillors, the SA Local Government Association leadership, and senior managers, I rise to take part in this important debate on Budget Vote 3 - Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
The highest law of our country, the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996, has, as we all know, rendered any law or conduct not consistent with it invalid and requires that all obligations that are imposed by it should be fulfilled. The 1998 White Paper on Local Government came into existence following the adoption of the Constitution, thus paving the way for a new democratic local government.
One of the things that is often said, but sometimes not fully appreciated, is that the South African model of local government became and continues to be the envy of the world. [Applause.] It is no exaggeration to say that local government practitioners and activists across the globe marvel at the opportunity that both the Constitution of the Republic and the White Paper on Local Government present to the people of South Africa, in particular to local communities.
We will do well to remember that elsewhere in the world the powers and responsibilities of local government are dependent on the whims and fancies of local and regional government Ministers, who may not be progressive. I guess that the same can be said of related political parties. If they happen to be conservative you are dammed; if not, you are supposed to be eternally grateful.
It is important to state, as section 151(3) of the Constitution says:
A municipality has the right to govern, on its own initiative, the local government affairs of its community, subject to national and provincial legislation, as provided for in the Constitution.
The objects of local government are stipulated in section 152(1) and 152(2).
In this regard, the successive ANC-led governments, now under the leadership of President Zuma, are an example of how things should be done. To keep on keeping on, as the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, says, "beyond the utmost bound of human thought", is to remain focused, to refuse to be distracted!
Many would agree that it is indeed an excellent achievement that this model of local government is in place in every local area, side by side across the length and breadth of South Africa. We are a nation at work. In the light of the many socioeconomic challenges, the ANC continues to chart the way forward.
Despite the many ill-informed criticisms, which sometimes border on extreme forms of bitterness and outright reactionary conduct, we remain steadfast in addressing the task at hand. [Applause.] We seek to build a strong local government that is a meaningful instrument to improve the quality of life of all our people.
We remain aware of the many challenges that face local government and municipalities. These include, amongst others, the complex intergovernmental system of government and the unevenness in the capacity of provincial and municipal administrations; the burden brought about by the incorporation of dysfunctional homeland administrations in the post- 1994 period; the many poverty-ridden areas; the many municipalities that do not have any tax base; the huge infrastructure backlogs; and, of course, failure by some municipalities to address the basics. The apartheid colonial legacy will continue to be one of those issues that we need to address.
We will do well to remember that the district system at municipal level was meant to help address these issues by allowing for skills and capacity to be shared across several local municipalities. Indeed, I was quite impressed and encouraged by the words of the Minister with regard to district municipalities.
We in the ANC would be amongst the first to acknowledge that the road we have travelled thus far has been long and arduous. We have not only spoken well and developed ideas - which has been a suspect, dubious speciality of some people in this House - but we have actually rolled up our sleeves and intervened in many complex and difficult situations in order to improve the quality of life of all our people in general, and that of the workers and the poor people in particular. [Interjections.] Needless to say, only those who do the actual work dirty their hands, make mistakes, and in our case learn from them. [Applause.] These interventions include rationalising municipalities and reducing them from 843 before the year 2000 to 283 just before the 2011 local government elections. At present the figure stands at 278.
A new fiscal framework has been instituted and it guarantees local government, which we see as work in progress, a share of national revenue, building improved local capacity in an ongoing manner to enable a more effective and efficient delivery of services.
In this regard, we undertook specific steps to set up the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent in the year 2011, with a focus on planning, management and other technical expertise in the process of infrastructure roll-out. As we speak, there are 107 municipalities with a total of 77 technical experts, engineers and planning professionals who are assigned to this work. The Siyenza Manje Programme spent R933 million in the periods 2006-07 and 2009-2011.
In response to identifying poor recruitment practices and political interference in appointments, the national government has developed minimum competency requirements for all senior managers. We can assure hon members that as we proceed we will be able to recruit the right skills for the job, strengthen ward committees, ensure their functionality and enhance community participation.
We initially set a target of developing 2 000 ward operation plans. We have increased the development and implementation of these ward-level operation plans to 2 059 municipal wards, out of an overall total of 4 277 municipal wards.
The implementation of policy and legislation by government to strengthen co- operative governance across the three spheres through the Intergovernmental Monitoring, Support and Intervention Bill has been submitted to the ministerial cluster. This Bill will proceed through Parliament in the 2014- 15 financial year, ensuring an improvement in overall government professionalism, and national and provincial government oversight in the implementation of local government legislation.
In this regard, regulations governing the appointment criteria of municipal managers, and those managers that are directly accountable to municipal managers, have been finalised and promulgated.
A database, from all nine provinces, of municipal staff members dismissed for misconduct or those who resigned prior to finalisation of their cases has been created. The definite figure by the end of the past financial year was 36 officials.
We welcome the Ministry's commitment to active collaboration with other spheres of government. This takes co-operative governance beyond mere commitment to a higher level.
We welcome the commitment by the Ministry to the idea and principle of performance management across the local government sector.
We also welcome the acknowledgement of the SA Local Government Association as a voice of municipalities and a partner in development. Salga has a critical role to play indeed. Together we will be able to take local government to a different level.
There are some amongst us who remain frozen in a negative discourse of yesteryear, who at the core of their arguments believe there is nothing good that can come out of local government. [Interjections.]
There have been instances where the DA has gone out of its way to be alarmist, to distort reality, and even to become economical with the truth. [Interjections.] There are many examples of this kind. Who can forget the allegation that the City of Johannesburg was insolvent? To this Municipal IQ responded by contradicting this assertion and stating that the City of Johannesburg was "downright healthy". It went on to say that "the allegation of insolvency is unfair" and further stated that "coming from a councillor ...", meaning a DA councillor, "... of the city itself", this was "somewhat irresponsible." [Interjections.] This does not come from me; it is the Municipal IQ's statement. [Interjections.]
Then there is the DA's Milaham. [Interjections.] "Mileham", thank you very much. Apart from being so negative, can you please tell us: What are the policies of the DA on local government? [Interjections.] [Applause.] Can the DA answer the question: What is to be done? [Interjections.] All the hon member says, which is ridiculous in the extreme, is, "Set up a commission; do a comprehensive investigation." This is the best he can say. [Interjections.] This is the best he can muster. [Interjections.]
Very briefly, let me conclude by saying that the ANC is not a debating society. [Interjections.] So, many of the opposition parties enjoy the special luxury of standing up and saying things that are neither here nor there - no substance! [Laughter.] [Applause.] I think that these hon members need to be assisted.
Chairperson, I would like to know if hon Masondo is prepared to take a question. [Interjections.]
No, no! [Interjections.]
On the Constitution? [Interjections.]
Order! The hon Masondo will not take a question. Continue, hon Masondo.
In the work we do ... [Interjections.] ... we are inspired by the injunction of the Freedom Charter: "The people shall govern!" Thank you very much. [Interjections.] [Applause.]
Chairperson, firstly, let me thank those speakers who made a positive contribution to the debate that we have just had and who haven't allowed themselves to descend to the level of cynicism and sniggering, rather than engaging in a constructive conversation.
So, let me thank the chairperson of the portfolio committee, Mr Mdakane. Indeed, we will work with you to do things differently. I trust that you will also join us in cracking the whip. Indeed, I would like to borrow your whip, if you do not mind! Let me reiterate that Parliament - all parties - have an important role to play in holding everybody accountable to the laws of South Africa. So, we will work with you in that particular regard.
Secondly, let me reiterate that the problem that hon Milaham has is that ... [Interjections.]
Well, it doesn't really matter. [Laughter.] Having written a speech beforehand, he can't actually listen to what we have said - the programme that we have laid out and the determination that we have spelt out to do our best to change the system of local government so that we can take another kilometre's journey forward toward the destination we want to get to. Regrettably, the only destination our colleagues on the left have - this part of the left in particular, which is not the EFF left but the other left - is to be critical and to denigrate and actually offer no solutions.
A former colleague of theirs, Gareth van Onselen, said in one of the newspapers in the past week that the DA should avoid two things. One is that they must stop using the word "must", because the ANC is never going to listen to their "must". [Interjections.] The second is that they need to overcome this DNA of theirs, a serious genetic failing, which is that they never come up with solutions that can work. [Interjections.] [Applause.] We have an offer to make, and thank you, Mr Bhanga. We accept your extended hand. Teach your colleagues how to extend their hands as well. [Laughter.] We will work with you to ensure that the initiation process takes on a very different shape from this point onwards.
We have spelt out very clearly that this journey to transform local government is decades long. Secondly, in the next five years we will certainly take it from where it is currently and make improvements to it. Thirdly, we said in our original speech that there are operational challenges. Nobody can deny them. The question is what we are going to do about them. The next thing is that these failures are not just political failures. They are part of the genetics of apartheid; they are part of the structural defaults that we have in our society.
I want to quote a famous economist, Dani Rodrik, who says that none of us actually have answers to the key questions of growth, jobs, etc. Yet, our colleagues on the left will pretend that they can produce 8% growth. Nowhere in the world except China and India have you had 8% growth. [Interjections.] However, these magicians on my left are going to produce 8% growth. They mislead South Africa, hon Matsepe. They mislead South Africa into actually believing that by removing constraints alone, they are going to produce 8% growth. [Interjections.]
I think you are slipping back into your old portfolio! [Interjections.]
Don't worry. I don't have an identity crisis like you do!
Order! Order, hon members!
With regard to the question of billing in Johannesburg, we have had a long set of meetings with Mayor Tau and his colleagues. One of the issues that I wanted to raise earlier on is the following, and I quote from a statement that they have given me:
A concerning phenomenon has been noted in Johannesburg which may also be occurring in other municipalities and metros.
(Johannesburg) has identified a misalignment between the consumption of services and revenue, resulting from the collusion between certain customers and individuals to deliberately avoid payment.
Currently, that avoidance of payment amounts to some R200 million. They will also work with us to ensure that we overcome this.
Secondly, regarding the question of corruption in the supply chain process, I want to announce that we will shortly make public the setting up of an advisory panel, which will include civil society, government representatives and other representatives, to advise on how we can tighten up systems at the local government level, and also how we can go about creating a different ethic and a different system of values amongst those who operate within local government.
So, let me say to Mr Mileham that there will be a long list of complaints like there will be in any system, but that is not the real issue. The issue is whether we have and can command the maturity and constructiveness that are required to work together to create a system that will serve many generations of people after us. That is the challenge that the DA must respond to. Thank you, Chairperson. [Applause.]
Too late, hon member. [Interjections.] Thank you very much, hon Minister. Thank you, hon members. [Interjections.] Order! Hon members, thank you for the lively debate.