Debate by MEC Hlomuka on 2019/20 Budget for National Department of Cogta




NCOP: 19 JULY 2019

Honourable Chairperson;

Honourable Members;

It is said that time and spaces are significant determinants in history as they define the actuality of any period. They tell us about the challenges and opportunities of any period and the possibilities permitted by such period.

The Honorable Minister, during the Budget presentation eloquently defined the actuality of the period we are in as a country and quite succinctly sketched the bright possibilities ahead – particularly the mission to grow South Africa and create nothing but jobs! Jobs! And more Jobs !

In her articulation of our radical socio-economic agenda to grow South Africa, the Honourable Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, took full charge of the cooperative governance and traditional affairs, vehicle that will transport this country on a journey towards achieving NDP vision 2030.  There can be no doubt that in Honourable Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, we have a driver who knows where she and her team are heading.

The 2019/2020 budget for national Cogta, was bound to be an impressive budget because it presents a vision that will take the sector of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to another level. This comes from a minister with a stellar career in championing ground breaking developments as a former Minister of Health, Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs and Chairperson of the African Union Commission.  Many of her achievements in each of these portfolios now form part of the collective legacy of our successive democratic governments.

We are lucky to have Dr Dlamini-Zuma in charge of Cogta at a time when this portfolio is seeking reclaim its role of being a developer of choice for South Africa. We are confident that Dr Dlamini-Zuma will bring her vision, her special brand of energy, her hands-on management, her judgment and her woman’s touch to Cogta addressing the stubborn challenges facing the local governance sector such as precarious finances, governance issues and service delivery shortcomings.

As articulated by the Minister, policy continuity and change will define the work we will collectively perform in this sector. The ongoing Back to Basics programme is a good starting point for any discussion of local government in South Africa today. The programme rests on the pillars of governance, financial management, service delivery, capacity building, and public participation. Dr Dlamini-Zuma has made clear how she intends to deal with each of these areas in her budget speech.

Coming from the province of KZN – which has the largest number of municipalities of any province, the largest number of deep rural and the largest number of traditional leaders, we would like to bring our own experiences and solutions to the vibrant debate in this House and the debate on the future of local governance in our country as a whole.

In many ways, KZN is the microcosm of local government in South Africa. We are representative of both its successes and its shortcomings. In order to maximise the successes and minimise the shortcomings, we have undertaken an assessment of the current state of local government in our province. Its aim was to get to the bottom of the multiple challenges and to sharpen our own response as Cogta to them.

We have collected up-to-date information, reconciled it with the existing municipal reports and corroborated it with the municipal leaders, both administrative and political, in each one of KZN’s 54 municipalities. We have found municipalities with unfunded budgets, high levels of irregular expenditure, unspent conditional grants, high vacancy rates and poor state of service delivery to communities.

With all of this information on hand, we have formulated in details how our support programmes will have to change to offer comprehensive and targeted support to municipalities that is tailor-made to their specific needs and challenges. Going forward, we will support as best as we can, but we will also demand strict consequent management for all manner of wrongdoing.

We are determined to build on the successes we have, such as the 34 municipalities with unqualified audits, all of which we will support so that they can graduate to the clean audit category where we already have Okhahlamba. We will also build on the successes of municipalities that have excelled in the provision of universal access to electricity, such as Kokstad and Danhauser which have electricity in every ward. We will respond comprehensively to the challenges of non-payment for services.  We will roll-out campaigns to encourage communities to pay for what they use.  We commit to ensuring that we will write a new narrative for local government in the coming years and we will ensure that this sector is repositioned to achieved its sustainability phase as envisage in the local government white paper.

At the same time, we will be uncompromising when it comes to maladministration, fraud and corruption. We will continue to conduct forensic investigations, speed up the tabling of our reports in the affected councils and sharpen our tools in ensuring that our recommendations are implemented even when this means that those fingered in the investigations are brought to book and lost funds are recovered.

We are encouraged by the recent judgment by the Western Cape High Court where a custodial sentence has been imposed on a former Municipal Manager for offences relating to irregular expenditure. This adds bite to the provisions contained within the MFMA and we hope that our Municipal Managers will note the possible consequences for failing to prevent irregular expenditure in their municipalities.

As we consider our best response to the challenges in our own municipalities, we rest assured that our counterpart department at national level is in the best possible hands of Hon. Minister Dlamini-Zuma. We pledge to work with her as she tackles the day to day running of one of South Africa’s most contentious portfolios and we also pledge to give her our unwavering support.

In conclusion Honourable Chairperson, I want to say.  We are led by a woman of less talk and more action, indeed as Thomas Sankara instructed us, in this sixth administration “Our revolution will not be a public-speaking tournament. Our revolution will not be a battle of fine phrases. Our revolution will not simply be for spouting slogans that are no more than signals used by manipulators trying to use them as catchwords, as codewords, as a foil for their own display. Our revolution is, and should and will continue to be, the collective effort of revolutionaries to transform reality, to improve the concrete situation of the masses of our country”.

As KZN we welcome and support the budget presented by the Honourable Minister of Cogta.

I thank you!