Chairperson, Acting Minister Mthethwa, MEC Bredell - I don't see the other MECs here - hon members, friends, comrades, in different ways, most of us, across political parties, are saying that the local government elections we've just had were seminal. More than any other election in our country, they signal the urgent need significantly to improve service delivery and development.
There has indeed been significant delivery - certainly more than is made out in public discourse, even if less than there should be. All of us, not least the ANC, agree that we need to do better. So, what do we do? My input will focus merely on some things we could do. It is by no means comprehensive and many of the issues raised will need to be processed further. Some will require substantial consensus.
Overall, we have done well, considering the magnitude of the challenges. So we have a good base from which to accelerate service delivery. But there has to be a new thrust to delivering services following these elections, which will have immediate, short-term and long-term aspects, and there have to be effective interconnections between these different aspects.
Perhaps what we need most urgently is a better sense of what we have in fact delivered. We have the statistics of delivery: That refers to quantity. But we also need to consider the quality, consistency and durability of the services.
Last week Minister Nathi Mthethwa also raised the issue of looking at the quality of services provided, and the Minister of Human Settlements has also been reviewing the quality of the houses we have provided since 1994.
The respective departments dealing with services, such as water, sanitation and electricity, set their own norms and standards for what constitutes a basic service. There is a need for a greater measure of consistency across departments on these norms and standards. These norms and standards also have to be reviewed over time.
We need a better sense of what we have delivered, so that we have a better sense of what we still have to deliver. The population census to be taken in October this year will be valuable in getting a more accurate picture of our population size, age and geographical distribution.
But we must be clear at the outset. The responsibility to accelerate service delivery does not rest with local government alone, nor with the Ministry for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs. All three spheres of government, other organs of state and state-owned enterprises need to work much more closely together to accelerate service delivery.
But the public, too, has a crucial role to play. We need a massive co- operative effort involving all stakeholders and the public to ensure improved and sustainable service delivery.
Consolidating and strengthening the Local Government Turnaround Strategy, or LGTS, as it's known, is important to accelerating service delivery. As the Minister indicated last week, over the next few months the Ministry for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, together with our partners, will give a new thrust to the Local Government Turnaround Strategy. We need to improve the quality of the municipal turnaround strategies, shaped in terms of the LGTS, including through more active participation by the residents of municipalities. Greater emphasis has to be placed on these municipal turnaround strategies prioritising access to basic services.
We need Parliament, not least the NCOP, not least the Select Committee on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, to play their full roles in this regard. They also have to continually monitor the progress of the LGTS and hold us strenuously to account.
Of course, key aspects of the Local Government Turnaround Strategy are now incorporated into the Outcome 9 performance agreement which the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs signed with the President. You will, of course, regularly call on us to give account of progress as part of your oversight role. To deliver services better, we need a far more integrated relationship between integrated development plans, IDPs, budgets and service delivery plans, programmes and targets. This also means a better alignment of the municipal infrastructure grant and the human settlement grants, and better alignment too of bulk infrastructure and reticulation plans. What, for example, is the value of having access to a tap but no water?
Municipalities also need to exercise far more effective oversight over municipal entities and public utilities. Many of our difficulties in speeding up service delivery revolve around two major issues: capacity and resources. The two are related. If we had capacity, we could make more effective use of our limited resources. And, if we had more resources, we could spend more on developing capacity.
What about capacity? What can we do about improving this? In the first place, we need to rationalise the many local government capacity-building programmes that are run by the different departments, the SA Local Government Association, the Institute for Local Government Management, the Institute of Municipal Finance Officers, the Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority and other organisations.
It must be stressed that the main focus should be on good governance and improved service delivery. Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs has begun a process with National Treasury to rationalise local government capacity-building programmes. This process needs to be speeded up. Importantly, the Local Government Seta needs to be far more active and effective than it currently is. Both the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs and Parliament need to put much more pressure on the Seta to do more and be more effective.
There is also a need to find the necessary planning, engineering, electrical, project management, financial management and other skills. The universities and other tertiary institutions, the state-owned enterprises and other relevant organisations need to play a more effective role in this regard. The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs is to meet the Department of Higher Education and Training on 24 June to take this forward.
The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs is also in the final stages of setting up a special purpose vehicle, the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency, to accelerate municipal infrastructure delivery. Particular attention will be paid to the weaker municipalities.
The special purpose vehicle would aim to support comprehensive infrastructure planning at municipal level; support municipal infrastructure development, maintenance, operations and service provision in low-capacity municipalities; support the management of operations and ensure a proper maintenance programme for their infrastructure; co-ordinate a focused technical support programme with existing support partners; monitor the quality of infrastructure; develop and co-ordinate the implementation of an appropriate sector-wide capacity development initiative; and assist municipalities to develop a capacity development plan to strengthen their institutions over the long term.
A fundamental focus will be on the effective maintenance, repair and operation of infrastructure, as this has been a major failing until now. Service delivery has often been compromised by this.
In view of the pending establishment of the special purpose vehicle, funding for the infrastructure component of the Siyenza Manje project, currently run by the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the DBSA, to which the Minister has just referred, has been transferred to the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, while the funding for the financial management support will continue to be administered by National Treasury.
A task team comprising senior officials from the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the DBSA and National Treasury is working on ensuring a smooth transfer of aspects of the project. If necessary, this will take place in a phased manner.
Consideration is also being given to the establishment of a bulk infrastructure grant. This is part of Output 2 of the Outcome 9 performance agreement. The following is noted in the agreement, and I quote:
Consideration must be given to the establishment of a bulk infrastructure fund to unlock delivery of reticulation services, fund bulk infrastructure, procure well-located land, align provincial infrastructure grants and municipal infrastructure grants with housing projects and grants, and to upgrade and rehabilitate bulk infrastructure.
The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs is still in the early stages of considering this.
As raised in the Budget Vote debate in the National Assembly last week, the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs is working with National Treasury and other stakeholders to review the financial model of local government. This includes a review of the intergovernmental fiscal system with the aim of increasing the share of the national budget allocated to local government. An important part of any increase to local government has to be directed at both building capacity and delivering basic services on a sustainable basis to more people. It is of no use allocating more money if municipalities do not have the capacity to spend it effectively. Last year municipalities were unable to spend 17% of their capital budget.
So, to ensure full use of the expanded funds, it's crucial that national and provincial government assist municipalities to develop the necessary capacity.
To improve service delivery, municipalities have to ensure more active participation by communities. The proposals of the Department of Co- operative Governance and Traditional Affairs on strengthening ward committees and community participation in general, as part of Output 5 of Outcome 9, would, if agreed on and effectively implemented, assist greatly in this regard. If communities are more involved in local government, they are more likely to have an understanding of the possibilities and limits of service delivery and to take greater responsibility for both the achievements and the failures of delivery.
Community involvement in service delivery and local government generally can be very challenging. But municipalities simply have to take communities more seriously and, as difficult as it can sometimes be, reach out even to the leaders of community protests. Municipalities have to respond to community protests more creatively and effectively. Community protests are an important aspect of a vibrant democracy, and can serve to put pressure on municipalities and government more generally to speed up service delivery. But, if they are violent and include the destruction of municipal offices, community halls, libraries, schools, clinics and other buildings, they undermine service delivery and development.
Whatever the challenges, responding appropriately to community protests is important in stabilising and improving service delivery. To improve service delivery we also need the public to use scarce resources such as water and electricity more sparingly and avoid waste.
As the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs and Parliament we need, for example, to support Eskom's demand-side management campaigns more actively. In our constituency and political work as MPs, we constantly need to make people we come into contact with aware of the need to save electricity, water and other scarce resources. Municipalities also need to act far more decisively on water leakages, for example. And they also need to ensure that councillors and administrators use electricity sparingly.
Although legislation passed since 1994 has been directed to service delivery and development, aspects of it have had the unintended consequence of serving to impede service delivery. Mandated by the President, the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs is spearheading a process involving 10 national departments, the provinces and Salga to review aspects of the legislation that impedes service delivery.
Among other restraints, the relevant legislative provisions are administratively burdensome; make consultation with stakeholders inordinately time-consuming and bureaucratic; and provide for approval from structures that don't have the capacity and resources to process issues within reasonable timeframes. Many of the provisions also substantially overlap, where they are not in contradiction with each other.
The interdepartmental committee working on this project has so far identified more than 350 provisions in 30 pieces of legislation that have the unintended consequence of impeding service delivery. The relevant departments have been approached to begin addressing the anomalies. The key legislation being prioritised involves housing, land-use management, and the prevention of illegal evictions.
It is crucial, friends, that we don't just deliver more and better, but that we also transform the municipal landscape, Mr MEC of the Western Cape. We shouldn't just chase statistics, as important as they are. We also have to ensure that the services are not delivered top-down but involve communities as far as possible. They also have to be of a necessary quality, they must be sustainable, and they must not produce inequalities either, Mr Bredell. The Minister will no doubt reply to those issues, if he has the time.
We must stress that improving service delivery is ultimately about transforming the society we live in. Many of the issues raised here, and many others not even raised, need to be taken further and concretised. To the extent that there is consensus on these issues, we need to discuss them further, especially in terms of how we do the things we agree on and how we do them faster. As part of the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs fulfilling Output 2 of Outcome 9, we are discussing these issues within our ranks and with other departments. We are keen to hear your voice, as the NCOP, and would welcome, chairperson, a sitting of your committee soon that focuses on how we accelerate service delivery and work together on this.
As I conclude, I would like to express our appreciation to the select committee and its wonderful chairperson, Mr Humphrey Mokgobi.
Now, I know this might be unusual, Chairperson, but these are unusual circumstances, and I must say this publicly: I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Acting Minister. He is not just a Bollywood actor, or a Hollywood actor, or a Nollywood actor - for those of you who don't know, Nollywood is the Nigerian film industry, which is really growing now - he is a very hands-on Minister, and he gives me a tougher time as a Deputy Minister than the Minister for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs does! [Laughter.] [Applause.] So I want to take this opportunity to thank him and tell him that he has a flair for and a sensitivity to the issues. He picks up on them so fast. I think it is time that I get a stint as Deputy Minister of Police, so that we encourage even greater co-operation! [Interjections.] Or maybe even as Minister! Who knows? [Laughter.]
Finally I want to say that the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs needs your support. We have read your report, chairperson, the 6 to 10 September report, on your provincial week, as well as the ad hoc committee report that came from the service delivery side. We have discussed these - chairperson, you would be pleased to know - in the Minmec, and we have asked the provinces to respond. Hopefully, it will be taken forward tomorrow.
Finally, we want to say that there is a lot of synergy between the reports you have produced and what we are doing. We want you to hold us to account. There is considerable synergy, but we need to act more decisively and faster in bringing in other stakeholders and the public more actively. Ultimately, we are saying that we are all in this together: government, Parliament, other components of the state and the people. We need a massive, co-operative World Cup effort to accelerate service delivery and development. We did it in 2010; we can do it again. Thank you indeed. [Applause.]