Africa: On 10 May, a country marked 28 years since the first democratically elected President made his inaugural address. On that occasion, President Mandela reminded the country that “Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long … a society of which all humanity will be proud, [was born]”.
Over the past financial year, Madiba’s words rang so true as they were simultaneously confronted by many disasters, which included tropical storm ‘Eloise’, droughts, the COVID-19 Pandemic and most recent floods.
The recent floods robbed South Africa of 448 people. It has also destroyed over 6 500 houses and partially destroyed over 10 000 houses.
While speaking in KZN alone, more than 7 000 people are housed in 91 shelters. Government wish to extend their condolences to those who have lost their loved ones. They also offer our sympathy to those whose loved ones are missing.
Gov’t will not rest until each, and everyone is rescued or accounted for. The floods also caused untold damages to schools, hospitals, clinics, roads, bridges, and places of business which experts are still quantifying. The administration intends to rehabilitate and reconstruct all the damaged infrastructure so that we risk proof it as we ‘build back better.
They have also been warmed by the empathy and solidarity displayed by millions of South Africans who have individually and collectively contributed to the 129 000 affected residents. The government also have received support from the non-governmental and private sectors as well as the diplomatic corps from the continent and beyond.
We would have loved to mention all of them by name, but due to time constraints, we are unable to do so. Kodwa sithi nangamso nize nenze njalo nakwabanye, said speaker.
These disasters and calamities have worsened the situation in relation to the challenges of hunger, poverty, unemployment, and inequality. They also contributed to further depressing our economy.
According to STATS SA, over 55% of South Africans live below the upper poverty line, and 25% are experiencing food poverty. Unemployment continues to rise, recording a 35,5%, which is the highest over the past 15 years.
Youth unemployment at over 70% continues unabated. Inequality also continues to increase, with the OECD telling us that the poorest 20% of our households earn only 1,7% of total income.
Despite the extent of these challenges and the effect of disasters, we have had to implement our programmes which seek to build resilient, safe, non-sexist, sustainable, prosperous, cohesive, connected and climate-smart communities. This is in the context of reprioritisation measures which have been implemented throughout the government.
Nonetheless, thanks to the sacrifices made by millions and the resilience of many, out of the experience of extraordinary human disaster, the government must rebuild, reconstruct, and build back better.
Thus, they must heed the advice of scientists, which tells us that, in future, the Eastern parts of our country are bound to experience wetter conditions. This means that those parts will be more prone to floods. On the other hand, the Western parts will be drier, meaning that they will be more prone to droughts.
The administration must therefore plan appropriately.
Honourable Chairperson, in addressing the effects of disasters, in this past financial year, we allocated R157.1 million from the Municipal Disaster Relief Grant to address the aftermath of tropical storm “Eloise”, in the affected municipalities. The storms were accompanied by summer season rains which led to the displacement of 3 200 poor people in Mpumalanga, KZN, North-West and Limpopo.
The government also allocated R221 million to deal with the crippling effects of the protracted droughts in the Western and Eastern Capes. These resources complemented the efforts of the provinces and municipalities to secure livestock feed and improve the water supply.
Honourable Chairperson, infrastructure and its maintenance play a major part in building the resilience of communities, and must turn them into smart climate communities that care for the environment and who do not build in dangerous ways or places.
This requires supporting municipalities whilst facilitating the ramping up of the capabilities and capacities of municipalities.
As part of the Municipal Support and Intervention Package during the past Financial Year, 50 Civil Engineers, 15 Electrical Engineers, 15 Town Planners, 9 Assistant Provincial Managers and 9 Provincial Managers from MISA were deployed to various provinces across the country.
These professionals are supporting various infrastructure projects and are supported by the 519 municipal officials who were trained by MISA, in this past financial year, in infrastructure management.
Additionally, a total of 382 young people were supported through technical skills apprenticeships, leadership, graduate programmes and bursaries. This is complemented by assisting some 100 young graduates in practical experience so that they may complete their professional registration processes.
This is our contribution toward functional municipalities that promote the growth of our local economies. In further stimulating local economies, MISA has also trained 2 800 municipal officials in Labour Intensive Construction methods through the R50million allocated by the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme.
Going forward, the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCOG), through MISA, will accelerate support to municipalities that struggle in implementation. Such support will include the R50,6 billion allocated through the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) over the MTSF.
The grant will support municipalities in delivering basic services, roads, and social infrastructure for poor households in 218 municipalities. 10% of this allocation is directed at fulfilling the gap as it relates to repairs and maintenance, and an additional 5% will address Infrastructure Asset Management Planning.
The government remains concerned that 39 of our municipalities continue to spend below the 70% benchmark in the third quarter. It is also alarming that 30 of these municipalities are water service authorities, meaning that in those communities, the quality and reliability of water and services continue to be of concern. In implementing the DDM, we will work with MISA and the Department of Water and Sanitation to support these 39 Municipalities.
They have also prioritized the availing of capacities through the District Development Hubs to the municipalities that are Water Service Authorities. For them, water is a survival issue, which is second only to oxygen. Of course, sanitation is dignity. These cannot allow people’s aspirations to be dimmed by the challenge of water.
The honourable Chairperson has recorded progress in the implementation of the DDM and the One Plans. They are finding that the plans must go through a quality assurance process and have also found that the current intergovernmental framework architecture may not be entirely adequate to facilitate the One Plans and One Budget.
The government has revised the IGRFA Regulations to enable better joint planning. The proposed revisions are currently in front of the State Law Advisor after months of intensive and extensive consultations.
As part of the DDM, they are also jointly hosting the Post SONA Presidential Izimbizo, with the next leg being at the end of the week in Mpumalanga.
They will also accelerate the implementation of the Eastern Seaboard Development through the interdepartmental and multi sphered project teams. Key projects include the outstanding land audits, the integrated master plan and the ongoing N2 project.
The administration also recently received assurance that SANRAL will take over the repairs of the very dangerous and unmaintained R61 between Port St Johns and Port Edward.
They have also received interest from local and international investors as well as finalized all the consultative processes related to declaring parts of the Eastern Seaboard as a region.
Since its straddles two provinces and four districts, the Minister for Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, in line with the National Spatial Development Framework, has agreed to urgently Gazette the declaration of relevant areas as a region.
This will be supported by a Special Purpose Vehicle which will drive developments in that area.
Honourable Chairperson, our existing cities, towns, and developmental landscape also require focused attention. Thus, as part of the Integrated Urban Development Fund Intermediate City Municipalities Support Programme will accelerate the rollout in 8 Intermediate City Municipalities.
This will complement the work we are undertaking under the Smart Cities Framework, which Deputy Minister Thembi Nkadimeng will elaborate on.
Suffice to say, these frameworks and plans must be supplemented by practical projects, which can bring about quality jobs and livelihoods in the short term.
One such programme is the Innovative Waste Management Programme which has employed 7 444 participants since its inception in December 2021. The participants are currently engaging in solid waste management activities such as street cleaning, litter picking, and management of illegal dumping.
In this financial year, govt intends to create 8 238 additional jobs. This will be complemented by the revised Community Works Programme.
The honourable Chairperson will continue to monitor and implement actions which are directed at addressing the issues raised by the Auditor General in her report. This shall do through the forum we have established, which includes the National Treasury, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), the Auditor General and the Provincial Departments responsible for Local Government and Finances.
Bringing the necessary skills, capabilities and capacities to a local level is an important lever by which they can address the issues raised by the AG.
The gov’t is also paying special attention to the Mangaung Metro as well as the Enoch Mgijima and Lekwa Local Municipalities. Section 139 (7) of the Constitution was invoked in Mangaung Metro in March 2022. This was after Section 139 (5) invoked by the province in the metro in December 2020 did not bear fruit.
Consequently, a team of interdepartmental experts has been dispatched to Mangaung. These come from the Departments of COGTA, Human Settlements, Transport, Treasury, and Water & Sanitation, as well as MISA.
The team and workstreams are expected to turn around the dire financial status of the metro and address and duly escalate the political challenges whilst addressing the governance and administration challenges which include consequence management.
Enoch Mgijima and Lekwa have been identified as financially distressed and are challenged by governance and political issues. Following Court Orders against the Provincial COGTAs, municipalities have been placed under Section 139 (7), working with the National Treasury.
Honourable Members, since our last budget presentation to this House, welcomed the President assenting to the Local Government Municipal Structures Amendment Act, which came into operation on 1 November 2021.
Amongst others, it brings into being an enforceable revised Code of Conduct for Councillors. This amendment provides for the MEC to remove a councillor from office for a breach of the code of conduct.
The amendments were also introduced in section 79A of the Structures Act, which prohibits Municipal office-bearers, such as mayors, and members of EXCO or MAYCO, from being members of the Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC). We believe that this will ensure transparency, effective oversight, and accountability over council matters.
The administration will also submit to Parliament the Independent Municipal Demarcation Authority Bill. The amendments to the Municipal Demarcation Act are largely based on proposals received from the Municipal Demarcation Board based on lessons learnt over time.
These lessons also form part of the 21 Year Review of Local Government, which is expected to conclude this year. By utilizing the 21 Year Review prism, and shall be in a better position to introduce further reforms.
During this month, the National Assembly passed the Municipal Systems Bill and referred it to the President for assent. This Bill also standardises the processes related to the appointment of municipal managers and managers directly accountable to municipal managers.
It also provides for competency criteria for such appointments whilst prohibiting the holders of such offices from political positions. We firmly believe that this legislative intervention, together with the provisions introduced through amendments to the Structures Act, will address many of the governance challenges that are facing municipalities.
On 1 November 2021, govt successfully held our fifth free and fair local government election, as well as also noted the declining levels of voter participation where 23 million of the 26 million registered voters voted.
Following the elections, we have also seen 70 municipal councils with no outright majority, which could potentially result in instability in these ‘hung councils’.
Honourable Chairperson, last year we reported that we would remodel the Community Works Programme, which in fact, had been the main source of our negative audit outcomes. They are pleased to say that from the piloting of the remodelled CWP, they have already seen some improvements in the operational efficiency of the programme.
The savings realised through remodelling allowed us to increase the daily stipend paid to participants from R97.50 to the current R110 per day. We have also increased the target number of participants from 250,000 to 255,000 within the existing budget allocations.
This financial year will have allocated R4,3 billion to the CWP. Gov’t intends to integrate the CWP into the core work of the Department as we build community level resilience and ensure that we support community initiatives in the context of the DDM approach.
We are confident that our new approach and the training of participants will ensure sustainable development through meaningful work and economic activity, said the activist.
Honourable Members, the DCOG is reviewing its organisational design. This will enable the Department to entrench the District Development Model approach across all three spheres of government whilst building the resilience of our communities.
Through these budget votes, they are strengthening the capability and capacity of municipalities, institutions of traditional leadership, community organisations and all organs of state to implement and mainstream inclusive disaster risk reduction management strategies.
We are also drawing lessons from the all of society approach we adopted in combatting COVID-19. Even though we have not entirely won the battle, we take this opportunity to once again salute you, the people of South Africa, who have heeded our calls and applied difficult safety measures.
The government must continue to apply non-medical and preventative measures, which include masking, sanitising, and maintaining social distance, as well as full vaccination. Such sacrifices have contributed to building resilience and minimising the costs and effects of COVID-19.
Unfortunately, the measures have had to adopt are not always entirely understood and accepted by all. Consequently, we have had 109 cases before the courts since March 2020. So far, 92 of those cases have been finalised, and only 4r of the orders were in favour of the applicant.
It means, by and large, the courts and South Africans understood why we had to take such measures.
Honourable Chairperson, I wish to conclude by acknowledging the progress recorded by the National House of Traditional and Khoi-san Leaders. For the first time in the history of the House, it is under the capable leadership of a woman.
In iNkosikazi Mhlauli, they are confident that the landscape of rural South Africa will change, and the hopes and dreams of the rural masses will be realised with the Invest Rural Master Plan as the lodestar.
The Master Plan was developed by the traditional leaders after consultations with communities. It guides potential investors and all of society with regard to the areas of community investment, infrastructure, and the economy.
With regards to community development, it prioritises health, education, financial inclusion, and food security. It also prioritises investment in rural infrastructure, including ICT, renewable energy as well as water and sanitation. With regards to economic growth areas, it prioritises agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, and enterprise development, amongst others.
It is, indeed, a plan by the people, for the people. Thus, we intend to request the government to integrate it into the economic development plans of the country.
Amongst other progress areas is the implementation of the Customary Initiation Act of 2021. It regulates the registration of initiation schools so that it ensures that the initiation surgeons are trained and competent, thus protecting the initiates.
The administration has also recorded progress in the appointment of the Khoisan Commission under the capable leadership of Professor Nico Botha to facilitate the formal recognition of the Khoi-San Communities and Leadership.
This will also add to the number of legally constituted tribal councils, which according to legislation, should be completed by 31 March 2023. The formula for determining the number of members of traditional councils was therefore gazetted on 4 February 2022, giving way for the legal constitution of traditional councils. Deputy Minister Bapela will elaborate on this and other promising plans in the traditional affairs space.
For now, I wish to thank the Deputy Ministers, the Chair of the National House of Traditional and Khoisan Leaders, the President of SALGA, the Directors General, Heads of the Entities and Agencies of COGTA, and the staff in the ministry and Department who continue to work tirelessly and under difficult conditions to ensure that we deliver on our mandate.
I also wish to request the support of this House for Budget Votes 3 and 15, which allocates R358 billion and R545 million over the MTSF. We believe that these Votes will go a long way in building resilience in our communities so that they eradicate hunger, poverty, unemployment, and inequality. Together we can do more, said the spokesperson.