SPEECH BY DACRE HADDON IN THE EASTERN CAPE PROVINCIAL LEGISLATURE ON THE 2011/12 BUDGET FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT & TRADITIONAL AFFAIRS

Honourable Speaker, Madam Premier, Members of the Executive, Members of the Legislature, Departmental Officials, Ladies and Gentlemen.

The recent local government elections have given this province a wonderful opportunity to make a fresh start in municipal governance.

With new Mayors and councillors elected in the national elections held last month it is hoped that indeed a new broom sweeps clean!

The time has come for new accountability by municipal officials.

The signing of “sweetheart “performance agreements by Municipal Managers and Section 57 staff must stop!

The public must start playing a far bigger role in the governance and performance of municipalities.

Municipal officials and politicians in this province must become frightened of the public and the voter.

Non performance and you are out the door.

It is that simple!!

Honourable Speaker, chapter 6 of the Municipal Systems Act focuses on Performance management.

With this in mind I refer to sub section 42 of the act and quote:

“A municipality through appropriate mechanisms, processes and procedures established in terms of chapter 4 must involve the community in the development, implementation and review of the municipality’s performance “

Speaker, public involvement in the setting of performance targets for municipalities is probably the single most important aspect to ensure their success.

When referring to the report Speaker, we note how programme 2 Local Governance is 18.46 percent less funded from R255,55 million last financial year to R208,37 million this year.

However, Speaker, while acknowledging the seriousness of this underfunding it is the capacity of people in an organisation that is most important.

However, Speaker we must stop using underfunding as an excuse for poor municipal performance.

The underfunding of municipal budgets is probably an anomaly that is here to stay. In such instances one must cut ones cloth and utilise both material and human resources to maximum benefit.

Speaker, what is happening at present is that Municipal Managers get given performance bonuses when they have not adequately performed.

This practice is occurring because the process of not consulting with the public or in some cases not even bringing performance plans to a council for ratification.

Honourable Speaker there has to be one main ingredient to ensure active public participation in the setting of performance plans for municipalities.

There has to be political will to ensure that this section 42 of the Systems Act is adhered to at all times.

However Honourable Speaker, the current political will is not there to implement this requirement.

The political will carried out with most senior municipal appointments is the policy of “cadre deployment” by the ruling party.

So Honourable Speaker here is the dilemma!

“Cadre deployment” is taking precedence over section 42 of the Systems Act which mandates the public to set performance targets for municipalities.

Speaker, this community participation is easy to implement and has the following spin offs:

Firstly, by engaging seriously with the public there will be public buy into the process.

This would result in a natural public interest involvement in civic affairs.

Speaker, this process would then negate the problem of municipalities having community outreach programmes merely as compliance obligation exercises.

Honourable Speaker, too little emphasis is placed on the responsibilities of the Municipal Manager.

In section 39 (b) of the same act there is a specific requirement for Municipal Managers to adhere to.

The municipal council committee or Mayor must assign the development of the performance management system to the Municipal Manager.

Speaker this question must be asked to the MEC for Local Government in this province:

Are all Municipal Managers in the province taking responsibility in developing a performance system for their municipality?

If not then he must tell us which ones are not adhering to the legislation and then the MEC must explain to this Legislature why this is not being done and what he intends doing to ensure that this requirement is carried out by his department to these managers.

The time has come where individual performance of Municipal Managers and section 57 Managers and all other municipal staff excellence is rewarded on individual performance.

Is it fair that a non performing Municipal Manager should get the same incremental raise as the hard working diligent manager?

Speaker I hope what has been said in this speech is being taken seriously by this legislature and will be implemented by the MEC and his department.

Speaker, I will as a matter of course be following up regularly with the MEC through portfolio committee meetings and questions and letters to ascertain progress in this matter.

Furthermore, Speaker, i will be requesting the portfolio committee on Local government to ask for quarterly reports on progress of public consultation of performance target setting in municplaities.

The sooner communities play an active and meaningful role in setting performance targets for municipalities and indeed Municipal Managers the quicker local government will transform into the accountable, transparent and efficient organ of state we all desire for it to be.

I thank you.