Speech by George Phadagi on the Department Of Provincial & Local Government Budget Vote Debate

06 June 2007

Madam Speaker
Minister For Provincial And Local Government
Members Of Parliament

The financial increases and improvements in intergovernmental transfers for this financial year represent a financial commitment and contribution to improve performance at provincial and local government.

Historically, the work of the department placed more emphasis on local government, but lesser focus on provincial government. It is encouraging that the department has now adopted a strong focus on provincial government and created a unit whose only task would be to monitor and evaluate municipal performance.
This is also in the light that provinces and SALGA are also positioned to assist local government in developing both infrastructure and capacity to deliver services.

This year's budget saw staggering improvements and the developmental initiatives by the department are consistent with our Local Government strategic 5-year agenda. However, it must be brought to light that the aim needs to be spreading growth to the poor through favourable conditions for local economic development.

Madam Speaker, the commission for the promotion and protection of the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities in short CRL Commission is an independents and impartial commission accountability to the National Assembly.

Its mandate is to promote and protect the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities. It is founded and established in terms of chapter 9 of the Constitution to strengthen constitutional democracy. It is created to meaningfully contribute to the social transformation and national building of a truly united South Africa. It exists to attempt to restore the diminishing human and African values of Ubuntu.
It also exist to unite us in our diversity and to create space for dialogue amongst the different communities and religious groups.

With this short background, I am proud to report that we have satisfied ourselves as a committee with the way the commission has conducted its finances and welcome the increases in their budget and view it as further confidence in what they are doing.

Many of us in this room may be aware that as part of our response to the matter of resource and financial challenges faced by municipalities, the year on year financial allocation to municipalities has vastly increased. For instance, while the total intergovernmental transfers to local government amounted to a little over 13 billion in 2004, in this financial year, it is R32 billion and is expected to increase to R37 billion in the next financial year. These budget increases are made by the national government to supplement the financial resources that are required in order to enhance service delivery in our municipalities.

As a result, the most recent review of municipal budgets and expenditure performance reported in the 2006 Intergovernmental Fiscal Review indicates a number of significant accomplishments, including the increased number of households receiving electricity and clear running water, as well as those accessing modern forms of sanitation.

These achievements are real and they make a material difference in the quality of peoples lives.

Madam Speaker, in a recent SALGA conference, the President highlighted some challenges that SALGA as organized local government needs to respond to. In his speech the President said: it is clear that there are many areas where our councillors are not responding as they should to the needs of our people.
There are many instances where there is either no communication or sufficient engagement between our councillors and the communities they are supposed to serve.

He further went on to caution that: all of us together with organized local government have to make it clear that those who decide to stand for elections as councilors must be aware that they have committed themselves to serve the people.

The Auditor-General in his audit report on SALGA said amongst other things that: SALGA did not ensure that its business plans had measurable objectives against which a proper monitoring and evaluation of identified key action could take place. It is clear judging from the findings of the Auditor-General's audit report that there are many areas for improvements when it comes to the financial management of SALGA and this is an area of concern for us.

Madam Speaker, we had in the previous financial year, raised concern about the Municipal Demarcation Boards spending trends including administrative, budget trends, income and expenditure, assets and other related financial matters.

The Board has conducted research on municipal capacity assessment and the findings arising from this report are going to assist us in terms of identifying what is needed in order for municipalities to strengthen their role as service delivery agencies. We are pleased that in this financial year the Board has improved compliance with applicable financial laws and regulations. Again the Board must be commended for improved management of expenditure in terms of budget and funding constraints.  

The Board's work as an independent body was outstanding in the process of delimitation of wards for local government elections and the re-determination of municipal boundaries and their contribution significantly informed the decisions of this House.

Allow me to report that in the recent SALGA conference, councilors re-affirmed their commitment to serve our respective constituencies and the people of South Africa with honesty, dignity, dedication and the collective will to realize the spirit and objective of strengthening local government to alleviate poverty and create jobs through accelerated service delivery.

With those last words, Madam Speaker and Honorable Members, I thank you!!