THE DISTRICT DEVELOPMENT MODEL WILL NOT SAVE OUR COLLAPSING MUNICIPALITIES
- The District Development Model – Central Planning gone mad.
- Cost of Employment is out of control!
- Cadre Deployment in Local Municipalities is shaking the foundations of good governance.
Honourable Speaker, Honourable Premier, Honourable members and guests, good afternoon.
The District Development Model – Central Planning gone mad.
Honourable Speaker, we keeping hearing about the District Development Model.
However, it appears that government is unable to fully articulate the rationale behind it or even explain what it actually means!
The Democratic Alliance believes that this proposed model will lead to over-centralisation and ‘soviet-style’ centralised planning.
The Democratic Alliance further believes that this plan is being ‘punted’ under the false veil of a ‘response to Covid-19’ but that this is nothing more than ‘smoke and mirrors’ to disguise what it truly is: a macro-re-organisation of the state!
Accordingly, this model aims to establish permanent command councils with executive powers, which would, of course, be unconstitutional.
Not only does the Constitution not provide for such bodies, if they were to be given decision-making powers, they would be accountable to no legislature and no electorate.
Honourable Speaker, this in itself is preposterous!
Last week, the Economic cluster embarked on oversight in which DEDEAT joined Public Works on oversight.
The question, through you honourable Speaker: When was it decided that this model must go beyond pilot phasing in OR Tambo District Municipality, to implementation? When did this become government policy?
In a presentation to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee of COGTA, the Eastern Cape government stated that in the OR Tambo Municipality the district model had been “validated” and “institutionalised.” This while some of the worst abuses of Covid-19 relief funds and outright misgovernment have happened in the OR Tambo District.
This includes the payment of handwritten invoices to the value of millions of Rands, for door-to-door Covid-19 “awareness” campaigns that never happened!
Honourable Speaker, let us be under no illusion – the District Development Model will not save the 14 distressed municipalities in the Eastern Cape.
As my colleague in Parliament, Cilliers Brink MP sums it up: “The municipalities that are failing and have repeatedly been cited for misgovernment by the Auditor-General, have … fundamental problems in common – besides being mostly ANC-controlled”.
The first problem – Cadre Deployment “is that for decades these councils have appointed and promoted officials in technical jobs on the basis of politics instead of competence. Race-based employment equity plans have further narrowed the pool of available expertise, especially in rural areas.
Many qualified professionals of all backgrounds and persuasions no longer apply for local government jobs, repelled by what they believe to be a toxic and politicised work environment”.
Honourable Speaker, let is us be frank, the ANC’s policy of Cadre Deployment is shaking the foundations of Good Governance. This policy must be rejected!
Instead of changing its ill-fated course of the past 20 years, the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was recently reported as saying municipalities need only appoint the “right cadres for the job”.
“Cadres” refer to deployed ANC members in government, including the civil service and other bodies that require political impartiality and technical (instead of political) expertise.
The Democratic Alliance stands firmly behind the Constitutional principle that there must be a separation between party and state, as well as a politically impartial civil service.
The second problem is that municipal supply chains have been devastated by corruption and ill-conceived preferential procurement laws.
Thirdly, as more municipalities approaches the fiscal cliff, the national government and most provinces are slow and reluctant to use their constitutional powers to intervene – as in the case of Makana, where residents had to drag government to court, to dissolve the municipal council.
Two weeks ago, the town of Makhanda in the Makana Municipality was hamstrung by violent protests. Businesses suffered, learners couldn’t get to school and people couldn’t get to work to put food on their tables.
The reality is that people in Makhanda have had enough of non-existent service delivery, dodging potholes, living with the stench of rivers of sewerage flowing down the streets and a total collapse of infrastructure in their town.
The fact is that this situation could have resolved two years ago already, when the application for leave to appeal by the Province of the Eastern Cape against the initial judgement to dissolve Makana Municipality was denied.
Instead of accepting that the municipality has failed dismally in its executive obligations to deliver basic services to the people, the province decided to appeal the judgement again.
Valuable taxpayer’s money that could have been used to deliver services – being used to fund frivolous lawsuits.
Honourable Speaker, if we want to turn around local government, the District Development Model will not save us!
Instead, we must outright reject cadre deployment, rehabilitate municipal supply chain management and provincial government must embrace its duty to support local municipalities and effectively exercise its right to intervene in local municipalities with the necessary due diligence!
Lastly, Cost of Employment is out of control – this Department is spending 89% on Cost of employment, only a slight improvement from the previous financial year, in which the Department spent 93.8% of its budget on the cost of employment!
The Department’s budget is is still completely consumed by its payroll, turning it into a glorified employment agency. This while local government in the Eastern Cape is on its last legs in many of the municipalities, and needs all the assistance from the Department that they can get.
Cities and towns link people to the National economy, which in turn link people to the international economy.
If it does not function as it should, it has a knock-on effect on the entire economy. Cities and towns only function well if they are governed well. Local government is the bedrock of politics and the bedrock of the economy. It is the sphere of government closest to the people.
If local government fails, government fails.
The effectiveness and efficiency of local municipalities can be severely hamstrung, and their problems exacerbated by failures of provincial and national government to provide the necessary guidance and assistance.
The Democratic Alliance continues to fight for the people to ensure that they can live a life of value, protect their livelihoods, dignity and hope for a prosperous future.