Monday, June 5, 2023
President Cyril Ramaphosa says government needs to urgently address service delivery issues at local government level that can mostly be ascribed to a lack of the requisite skills and competencies, governance failures, lack of accountability and inadequate consequence management.
President Ramaphosa convened the Presidential Coordinating Council (PCC) on Friday. The meeting was the first regular President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) meeting in more than three years.
The PCC is the President’s platform for consultation and crucial engagement with provinces and organised local government in order to raise matters of national interest, coordinate the alignment of priorities, strengthen strategic priorities, and discuss performance.
President Ramaphosa directed the PCC to focus on the acceleration of service delivery improvement in response to the needs of communities.
The meeting centred on the theme of accelerating service delivery and addressing challenges in relation to legislation, governance and capacity constraints, including the strengthening of intergovernmental coordination within the existing legislative and governance framework.
“It is vital that we enhance the mobilisation of resources to be provided by national and provincial government to support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities in the exercise of their powers and performance of their functions, in accordance with section 154 of the Constitution. Our Constitution acknowledges that local government is everybody’s business,” President Ramaphosa said.
The President said despite the support that Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) provides through the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA) — which deploys built environment professionals to provide technical support to municipalities on infrastructure development, infrastructure asset management, as well as building a skills pipeline for local government — significant challenges continue to afflict local government.
MISA further supports municipalities to implement all other sector departments’ infrastructure projects, in accordance with the District Development Model (DDM), which aims to break silos and ensure alignment across government departments and between the different spheres of government.
However, service delivery blockages continue, despite these existing mechanisms, legislation and cooperation agreements.
The PCC deliberated on the urgent task to review the funding model for municipalities and to re-evaluate the skills acquisition processes in order to enhance the capacitation of local government.
The meeting considered further validation and enhancement of the DDM as a mechanism for improved intergovernmental coordination and service delivery.
On the urgent task and ongoing efforts aimed at reducing load shedding, the meeting noted the process that is underway, coordinated by the Minister of Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa.
The process includes the introduction of the net-billing framework currently being considered by NERSA, the development of a wheeling framework and a feed-in tariff regime for municipalities, which will enable households and business to add additional megawatts to the grid.
Water resources and services
On the delivery of water resources and water services, the meeting noted the critical task of improving the management of waste water and restoring high levels of water quality and reliability of supply.
“Improving water provision services requires increasing investments, ensuring revenue sufficiency and the appointment of professional and capable technical and managerial skills,” a statement released after the meeting read.
The meeting further considered proposed reforms to the Water Act and Water Services Act, which will provide for better service delivery of water and enhanced regulation of the water sector. The Department of Water and Sanitation will provide further details on the Water Act amendment process, including stakeholder consultations.
The PCC affirmed several interventions required for the upgrading and maintenance of the country’s road network.
“These include direct budget interventions by the national Department of Transport, funding for emergency works and routine maintenance over the next six months, further funding over the MTEF [Medium Term Expenditure Framework] for medium term maintenance over the 12-month period and primary road transfers from provincial authorities to the national road network for better management of provincial roads by SANRAL,” the statement said.
The PCC welcomed the adoption of new technologies in the resurfacing of gravel roads as a necessary innovative and cost reduction measure. This includes the deployment of Nano technology, which will reduce surfacing costs by 50%.
As part of the National Waste Management Strategy of 2020, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) will focus on immediate interventions aimed at mass employment, cleaning and greening over the next 12 months and beyond.
The accelerated greening plan will be implemented in partnership with other role players. The greening plan targets 13 municipalities that are mostly capital cities of the nine provinces in the country.
It is scheduled to commence in June 2023 and aims to plant 72 500 trees by the end of March 2024, with 40 000 scheduled to be planted by the end of September (Arbor Month).
The mass employment element will cumulatively target 13 municipalities with 18 000 participants of about 2 000 per province. The recruitment process will be conducted in line with Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) guidelines by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), which stipulates 60% women, 55% youth and 2% people with disabilities (PWDs).
Currently, the programme has 682 participants, who have already been on-boarded and are present on the ground.
To address the challenge of illegal dumping, the DFFE will finalise a proposal to assist 13 municipalities with the purchase of fleet for improved waste collection, clearing of illegal dumps and proper landfill management.
The PCC supported the interventions for accelerating service delivery in human settlements, with particular focus on the vulnerable and special groups, and providing speedy responses to housing emergencies and upgrading informal settlements.
The meeting noted the importance of partnerships in the implementation of bulk infrastructure in identified prioritised settlements in non-metros, working together with the private sector. The Department of Human Settlements will also finalise the Housing in Human Settlements White Paper within nine months.
Furthermore, the department committed to tighten recommendations regarding regulatory reforms and provide trends analysis in respect of funds transferred to all other organs of State, and propose reforms in respect of payments milestones, unblocking blocked projects and title deeds management processes. –SAnews