Hon Chairperson, Mahatma Gandhi once said that the characteristics of a good leader is the ability to reflect on efforts, and if they prove insufficient, to re-evaluate and correct them.
This is exactly what the Minister has done. The initial Local Government: Municipal Property Rates Bill was excellent in theory. However, municipal officials grapple with its implementation. This is because the legislation was largely theoretical.
We applaud the department for their extensive consultations with various stakeholders on the challenges posed with the implementation of the Act. Monitoring of the Act proved crucial, as it showed the necessity for the amendments. Stories of a lack of service delivery and corruption cast a dark cloud on the municipal structures and their efficiency in implementing national policies. This current Bill aims to provide more effective monitoring and reporting by municipalities, and the MF lauds the efforts.
The additional amendments concerning the exclusion of game farms from agricultural property is indeed welcomed. We cannot allow the elite to continue to benefit while the rest of the country is struggling to make ends meet. Anyone who is against this kind of amendment is stuck in an apartheid mindset.
We have a skills shortage in the country and we need to make sure that we tailor our education system so that, firstly, our youth get access to tertiary institutions and, secondly, the employment market has sufficient opportunities for them.
This is why we welcome the amendment that allows an associated valuer to serve on the board. We simply must have enough professional valuers in this country. This must indeed be rectified. The department needs to direct more money into this field to ensure that we grow the field of professional valuers, while simultaneously upholding the high standards associated with the profession.
While it is evident that challenges do exist, we should acknowledge our progress under the auspicious leadership and united mechanics of our democracy. The MF lauds the department for their well-devised plan of action to deliver. We acknowledge that this delivery is dependent upon co- operative governance between the department and municipalities.
Therefore, we must consistently endeavour to cement the spirit of a good working relationship based on mutual understanding, giving true meaning to President Zuma's call of ensuring the harmonisation and synchronisation of all spheres of government.
We cannot take South Africa forward with old and outdated problematic pieces of legislation. This Bill will deliver efficiently and effectively, and the MF will support it. [Applause.]