Speech notes by Kobus Botha, MPL, Local Government and Traditional Affairs budget vote debate — 23 July 2014

Local government is the closest level of government to the people, it is at this level that the most basic service delivery takes place or does not take place.

Unfortunately, in this province, we have all become accustomed to the latter.

The citizens of the Eastern Cape have seen, heard and experienced service delivery going from bad to worse; in our towns, our metro’s and in various government departments in general for that matter.

To deny this fact! Honourable Speaker is to say that the multitude of departmental reports, investigations and more importantly the Auditor General’s yearly reports are all lies.

The continuous failure to deliver adequate, corrupt free, quality and efficient service delivery outputs, coupled to compromised political leadership has led to the re-awakening of the masses’, pre- 1994 political conscious.

Late states men and beloved international icon and South Africa’s first democratically elected President, Nelson Mandela had this to say to the masses about bad government;

“If the government of the ANC, does to you what the Apartheid government did to you, then you do to the ANC, what you did to the Apartheid government”.

Based on the above, I am warning the governing ANC political party: that you will not rule till Jesus comes!

The ANC’s in-ability to ensure good, clean, efficient, productive and credible governance, and to unite South Africans of all races, will lead to your own downfall, mark my words!

I am warning the ANC today, like many other voices of the past did; do not to take the citizens of South Africa for granted.

It is clear that from the 2014 voting patterns of the national and provincial elections that voters are maturing, grasping and taking control of their hard won democratic system.

No longer can the ANC continue on its current out dated political policy trajectory, these policies have failed to deliver better local government services; and failed to establish a conducive environment for business to grow and create real long term sustainable jobs.

The ANC will continue to face the punishing wrath of the voters at the coming elections if service delivery standards do not increase visibly and drastically.

Honourable Fikile Xasa, MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs is now the political leader who must stop our municipalities to move from one crisis to another crisis.

I am referring to crises such as local municipal debt that is growing, billing mismanagement, exasperating rates, water and electricity hikes, water problems and rolling electricity black outs.

Not to mention the frequent and large scale looting of public coffers in ANC controlled councils such as BCMM, NMMM, OR Tambo and KSD.

Honourable Speaker, based on an overview of Audit Outcomes dated as far back from 2003/4 till 2009/10, the following is evident;

  • Over the period 2003/4 till 2008/9, sixteen (16) municipalities, out of 45, received year-on-year disclaimers, over the period 2003/4 till 2008/9 from the Auditor General.
  • Over the same period nineteen (19) municipalities received qualified reports for more than two years.
  • Six (6) municipalities received adverse reports for more than two years, from 2003/4 to 2008/9.
  • Nine (9) municipalities receive un-qualified reports for two years and more, over the period 2003/4 till 2008/9.
  • Over the period 2009/10 till 2012/13 nineteen (19) municipalities, out of 45, received year-on-year disclaimers for two years and more.
  • Over the same period eighteen (18) municipalities received qualified reports for more than two years.
  • Eleven (11) municipalities received adverse reports only for one year, from 2009/10 to 20012/13
  • Fourteen (14) municipalities receive un-qualified reports for two years and more, over the period 2009/10 till 2012/13.

Honourable Speaker, from 2003/4 to 2012/13, the Eastern Cape Government had nine (9) local municipalities and three (3) District municipalities, totalling twelve (12) out of 45 municipalities that had totally performed dismally, till today.

They have embarrassingly received disclaimer after disclaimer for bad governance over the last ten years.

Let me name and shame these municipalities, it is; Emalahleni, Makana, Ngqushwa, Nxuba, Intsika Yethu, Great Kei, Mbizana, Engcobo, Sundays River valley, Alfred Nzo, O R Tambo and King Sabatha Dalidyebo.

Madam Speaker, comparing the stats it means that in ten years this government only managed slightly to improve audit outcomes by four (4) municipalities.

The Auditor General has revealed that not a single municipality in the Eastern Cape received a clean audit for the last financial year leaving the government’s Operation Clean Audit plan in tatters.

Speaker, does the MEC know how much money we spent on OCA? And, does he believe it had the desired outcomes?

There is definitely no good story to tell in the Eastern Cape, as more than half of the municipalities are bad-news stories of underperformance in good governance aspects.

In addition, this province has had the second highest number of service delivery protests in the country.

Honourable Speaker, the Democratic Alliance has made numerous calls for decisive action against political leaders and municipal officials that deliberately or negligently ignore their duties; to be fired.

Honourable Speaker, the ANC responded to our calls by merely recycling the ‘’old” MEC for Local government, Mlibo Qoboshiyane to a new portfolio.

This in spite of various calls that he must resign, following yet, another AG’s damning report of continued audit regress of Eastern Cape municipalities.

It is now incumbent on the Premier, and the new MEC, Honourable, Fikile Xasa, to end the bad story, to end ANC closed crony style of government in municipalities, which operates under closed doors and secretive deliberation.

Speaker, the above two leaders must at all costs promote a spirit of transparency, hard work, honesty and service delivery among the councillors.

I want to highlight programme 1 which relates to Administration where it will cost the department R 577 521 500.00 million rand to establish a new district coordination and LGTAS model, with the aim to streamline, improve and coordinate support to municipalities and Tradition institutions by decentralizing the department to the district;

  • How is it possible that we can agree to approve a budget for a sub programme we have not even received a concept document which outlines all the feasibility and functionality of the proposed initiative to improve service delivery.

 

  • The current placing of the proposed initiative also requires debate, as it is in my opinion a municipal support function, rather than a standalone activity that drives up employee cost without posts.

Honourable Speaker, I am sceptical about the functionality of this model.

I my view, it’s just another clever ploy by the governing party to create jobs for pals, family and factions.

This model will only add to Local Government’s misery and lead to wasteful expenditure.   It will add additional pressure on our budgets for operational costs as we would have to hire offices, furniture, additional staff, and other equipment.

This is a futile exercise that will cost taxpayers millions again for little in return.

Honourable Speaker, isn’t it time to really start a radical national debate on how to transform the tragedies of local government’s failure in South Africa?

The time has come for us to seriously consider restructuring local government in its entirety.

Local government has seen little structural change from the old command and control model of pre 1994.

During my research for this speech, I came across basically two models of local government – the managerial on the one hand and the governmental on the other.

Pre-1994, Speaker, we relied on managerial but should have shifted to a governmental system under the new constitutional dispensation.

This did not happen, mainly because of a poor grasp of what was actually required.

We have not yet modelled a suitable system and rolled it out; instead we attempted to shift from authoritarianism toward participative democracy while simultaneously stripping away institutional memory and expertise.

The municipal systems amendment Act of 2011 was meant to address structural problems but instead it exacerbated conflict by polarizing the relationship between political players, workers and unions.

Madam Speaker, as we all should know by now, more than half of South Africa’s local municipalities are profoundly dysfunctional.

Trust relationships between municipalities and communities are at a low as service delivery protests escalate.

Silo governance and buck-passing are the order of the day by officials and there is a lack of bold leadership in local government.

The so-called new Public Management (NPM) model remains entrenched, way past it’s sell by date.

But Honourable Speaker, change is possible, change is inevitable and the DA will lead that change.

I thank you.

MPL Kobus Botha

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