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.