Budget speech for 2010/11 financial year presented by the MEC for Local Government and Housing in Gauteng, Mr Kgaogelo Lekgoro, Gauteng Legislature, Johannesburg
25 May 2010
Comrades Speaker and Deputy Speaker
Members of the Executive Council present
Respected Members of the Legislature
Traditional leaders present
Ladies and gentlemen
The past fifteen years since the dawn of our new democratic dispensation has been a journey characterised by growing demand and urgency to address the pressing developmental needs of our communities particularly the poor and the vulnerable.
Since the adoption of the Freedom Charter more than fifty years ago, our people have always been determined to define their destiny through their resolve to fight the apartheid system of separate development in all fronts in order to realise their dreams.
The Freedom Charter remains and continues to inspire our people to appreciate the value of their sacrifices for the benefit of generations to come. This historic peoples’ document remains the living conscience of every one of us and embodiment of a vision of a better life for all our people in South Africa.
We continue to wage our struggles against poverty; inequality and exploitation truly determined that these struggles are essential about our people enjoying the fruit of freedom so many have sacrificed for.
It remains our belief that solutions to challenges of development facing our communities lie with the communities themselves. It is through their collective wisdom and active participation in defining what development means to them that as government we will succeed.
Sustainable human settlements
We continue to celebrate the successes we have made in the delivery of houses to our people. We also celebrate these successes fully aware that we still need to continue to invest more resources in our push to provide sustainable human settlements.
Madam Speaker, in Gauteng over the past year we committed ourselves in making sure that we pay attention to:
* Creating more decent houses for our people
* Ensure security of tenure
* Formalisation of informal settlements.
* Secure more land suitable for human settlements
* Working with our municipalities, ensure the provision of other basic services like water, sanitation and roads
* Through our urban renewal programmes revitalise strategic urban localities by harnessing cooperative partnerships with the three spheres of government, various provincial government departments and the private sector.
We are happy report that we have been able to build and complete 33 654 houses in the previous financial year through a number of our programmes like the mixed housing development, informal settlement upgrading and urban renewal programmes.
We have also been able to service 12 812 mainly through the formalisation of informal settlements programme in order to ensure access to water, sanitation and electricity.
Honourable Speaker, we have already started a process of reviewing existing public land and busy with institutional arrangements for acquisition, assembly and transfer of state land and develop comprehensive framework as a basis for facilitating its utilisation for low income housing, to fast-track availability and affordability of well and appropriately located land for sustainable human settlements.
Our approach is geared towards realising a functioning property market across both economies and an enabling environment for agents and institutions to carry out work towards sustainable human settlement development. This result speaks to all aspects of cooperating with the private sector and intervening in property markets, e.g. unblocking private sector finance for low and middle-income housing.
The Premier in her State of the Province Address and during his presentation of the MTEF for 2010/11 the MEC for Finance, they made a commitment to set aside an amount of R34 billion over the MTEF period for infrastructure development projects including bulk services. Ours will be to ensure that we mobilise these resources to be directed towards a more coherent approach in building sustainable human settlements working with other departments and local authorities. Our plan for this financial year is to deliver 37 780 houses and stands and 2140 units that will cater for hostels and other affordable rental stock.
To this end I also wish to inform the house that during this period we will implement the Sedibeng Sewer Master Plan whose intentions is to alleviate the pressure on the existing infrastructure between the South of Johannesburg and the Sedibeng region.
We are working in close cooperation with the City of Johannesburg and Sedibeng District municipality in this regard.
Urban renewal programmes
The primary focus of our Urban Renewal Programmes will continue to be centred on the revitalisation of strategic urban localities by harnessing cooperative partnerships with the three spheres of government, various provincial government departments and the private sector. The objective continues to be to stimulate local economies and create sustainable jobs fundamental to poverty alleviation and improving the quality of life of communities.
Our flagship programmes will remain Alexandra, Bekkersdal, Evaton. EXCO has recently approved the Winterveld Urban Renewal Plan. Our urban renewal programmes will always have a range of high impact and high visibility projects including infrastructure and housing. We will continue to involve local community stakeholders as important partners to ensure the success of these programmes. We will continue to make sure that working with the local community stakeholders and local government we make sure that communities become the primary beneficiaries of all the projects.
Formalisation of informal settlements
The movement of people from the periphery of economic development to urban areas and cities is unstoppable and a worldwide phenomenon. From time immemorial people have moved from their places of their origin in search of survival. No amount of authority and force or creation of political borders has ever stalled the movement of people in search for survival. At the core of our global city region approach and the metro system of government must be the realisation that this movement of people is better planned for than trying to stop it.
The inability or unpreparedness to plan for this eventuality will express itself in urban sprawl. The result of which is more informal settlements, inability of government to deliver basic services, urban crime and social disorder which will eventually lead to social upheaval.
As government we are committed to the target of formalising all informal settlements by 2014. The strategy to achieve this target also includes finding a mechanism to stop the emergence of new informal settlements in Gauteng. In 2005 there were 405 informal settlements in our province and have presently shot up to 485.
This is mainly as a result of organised groups forcefully invading and occupying empty land. In an effort to meet the 2014 target, we have submitted a plan to the EXCO that outlines our intentions to formalise and service those we can and relocate the rest of those who occupy inhabitable land.
Central to the success of eradicating informal settlements is our ability and resolve to prevent further illegal invasion of land. Our municipalities must develop the capacity to detect and forcefully remove anyone who illegally invades land. Municipalities must budget for this eventuality.
We must commend Tshwane for being a leader in this regard and as a result are well on their way of meeting this millennium development goal.
We will work closely with our local municipalities especially our metropolitan municipalities in making sure that we take collective responsibility in stopping the illegal invasion of land. We say this mindful of the fact that objectively we are still sitting with a challenge of inward migration which is the biggest contributor to the escalation of informal settlements in Gauteng.
20 priority township programme
Since its inception the 20 poorest township programme now dubbed 20 PTP the on cooperation with sister departments, national, local government and business have implemented about 500 projects that include providing decent schools, clinics, sports, parks and recreational facilities, street lighting, storm water drains, multipurpose community centres, libraries, taxi ranks, etc.
This programmes while coordinated by our department it relies on the support, capacity and resources of all spheres of government, sister departments and private sector. We believe that this programme provides an opportunity for provincial government to focus its approach to human settlements development in a coordinated way and make sure that capacity and resources that are available in its disposal are used optimally.
EXCO has taken a decision that Tembisa will remain our flagship project under this programme until its end of term in 2014.
Sustainable energy strategy
Our province has experienced in the recent past a number of power outages. The impact of this problem to the delivery of service by municipalities has been enormous and equally its negative impact to the provincial economy was also very evident. In responding to this challenge, we have also finalised a sustainable energy strategy which was adopted by the EXCO.
The strategy seeks to rally all provincial resources in order ensure that we explore alternative sources of energy. The strategy seeks to respond to challenges of energy and their impact to our provincial economy. The strategy, once implemented will also introduce measures for both households and businesses that will ensure a more efficient use of energy in the province. To this end we have also committed to install 36 000 solar geysers to households. This will be done working closely with our municipalities.
Service delivery protests
Notwithstanding the efforts government is taking, after many years of waiting for these services our people in the most distressed areas are showing signs of impatience.
After a thorough analysis we conclude that the protests are as a result of various factors ranging from a long wait for services to be rendered, instigation by those who just stand opposed to government and internal political and community strife.
We would be the first to acknowledge the conditions under which those who protest find themselves under are very harsh, and that as government it is our responsibility to rid them of those hardships.
What remains an objective condition is that we only have little resources to respond to the problem. It is a matter that we can only solve over time and not in the short term. What we commit is that we will continue to do everything to cut the red tape, maximise the outputs and from one financial year to the other continue to tackle the problem. Strengthening a responsive, accountable, effective and efficient local government
Madam Speaker, you may be aware that recently as Gauteng we undertook a very extensive exercise of developing the state of local government report.
This was part of the national initiative headed by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in support of municipalities in South Africa.
Since the development of the State of Local Government Report in Gauteng, we have also adopted our provincial framework on the Local Government Turnaround Strategy (LGTAS) together with our municipalities. We have worked together with municipalities to develop their own municipal specific turnaround plans. These plans will be the main feature of their IDPs which in turn will find expression in their budgets for 2010/11 municipal budgets.
Operation Clean Audit (OPCA)
The prudent financial management of resources by our municipalities remains a very critical ingredient in ensuring the provision of basic services to communities on a sustainable basis.
This entails making sure that we support our municipalities and further encourage them to embrace the spirit of the municipal finance reform agenda as expressed by the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA). This will go a long way in restoring the confidence of our local communities on the municipalities in as far as the management of financial resources is concerned. These support interventions will also be coupled with programmes directed at enhancing good governance, accountability and effective political and administrative oversight over the use of financial resources.
We have seen a very encouraging improvement in the audit outcomes of our municipalities. We remain a leading province in this regard and are happy to confirm that 71 percent of our municipalities achieved unqualified audits.
This number represents those municipalities that have unqualified audits without matters of emphasis and those with matters of emphasis.
We have also seen a decline in the number of municipalities that received disclaimers; currently we only have Nokeng Tsa Taemane and Kungwini that have received disclaimers. We are paying close attention to these municipalities and giving any support possible.
Revenue enhancement and debt reduction programme
The continued financial sustainability of our municipalities as going concerns is dependent to their ability to raise revenue through the services they provide to communities. Speaker it is important to make the point that municipalities unlike their provincial counterparts, they are run like business.
They must receive money from residents for the services they provide in order for them to continue to provide. If they don’t receive they cannot provide and if they do not provide they cannot receive. So the culture of paying for services rendered is at the root of whether a municipality will hold or collapse. Remember division of national revenue is from provinces while municipalities are by and large required to find own revenue.
The problem of municipal consumer debt in Gauteng remains a cause for concern. We have not been able to significantly reduce this debt over the past years. Currently the Gauteng municipalities are owed over twenty billion rand (R25 billion) in services and property rates by households, businesses and government.
The department has implemented a debt management and revenue enhancement program to support municipalities. The programme methodology was based on an analysis of baseline revenue information; strategies for debt management and revenue enhancement; and implementation plans with specific activities to effect the required changes. The programme has three broad objectives, which are Debt reduction, billing integrity and revenue collection improvement.
The programme will mainly deal with:
* data cleaning which will focuses on collection from the top 300 debtors,
* cleaning and collection of what government departments owe to municipality
* partnering with private sector investors who have excellent experience in debt collection.
Enhancing local democracy and popular participation
Our work in trying to enhance local democracy and popular participation will continue to take the centre stage of our programmes as the department. The participation of our communities in all matters relating to all spheres of government remains the only solution to bridging the gap between government and communities.
While the role and operational details of Community Development Workers (CDWs) will remain a matter of public discourse and policy interpretations we can say it continues to be an instrument that assists communities to identify and communicate their needs and concerns to government. The CDWs have played a pivotal role in ensuring that government is accessible to citizens.
Part of the turnaround strategy is to review the work of ward committees. At issue here is how to optimise the work of a ward committee as a focus of local government at that most localised level. How do the various groups such as SGBs, CPF, Health workers etc find expression in the ward committee. How do local NGOs on AIDS, child care, sports etc find expression in the ward committee?
How do the local academia, religious leaders, business etc find expression in the ward committee? Can the ward committee be the referral point for all local government activity, and if so what is its standing and authority to the municipal administration in which it operates.
Enhancing governance, accountability and effective oversight
In the interest of the tried and tested methodology of checks and balances applied in democracies, we have paid considerable attention to the Municipal Public Accounts Committee and section 79 committee systems. We believe this is a serious requirement if we should realise effective political oversight to municipal executive authorities.
With MPAC the members of the mayoral committees are forced to account to elected local representatives how and for what they use their allocated resources, just as is the case in national and provincial legislatures. Section 79 committees remove the MMCs from heading a committee that should otherwise exercise oversight over them.
This allows a sound and much needed check and balance and advances the doctrine of separating those who make the laws from those who execute them.
The real challenge remains the will of local authorities to resource these committees and thus enables the local representatives to truly perform oversight on the executive. The paradox is that the executive is expected to help resource a system that will later bite them.
A framework has been developed to respond to some of the challenges identified during the establishment phase of these committees and it will be discussed with municipalities for implementation.
Madam Speaker, the legislature today has been graced by the presence our two traditional leaders in Gauteng. Their presence in this house is just not a symbolic gesture but a show of our commitment to work with institutions of traditional leaders in improving the lives our communities.
I am happy to report to this house that our previous engagements with the traditional leaders have been very fruitful and have made us as government to appreciate their role in the governance system in the province. To this end we have submitted in the house the traditional leadership bill which we hope the house will have time to consider and pass it so that we are able to give more meaningful effect to their place and role in Gauteng.
Part of what we intend to do going forward is to engage with the municipalities where these traditional leaders are located to also ensure that they are included in the governance system and are given their rightful place as required by the constitution.
Reincorporation of Merafong into Gauteng
Speaker, I am pleased to announce that the reincorporation of Merafong back into Gauteng has gone well. The programme of integration had many elements that had to be addressed and majority of those critical elements have been concluded between us and the North West province. A close out report has been finalised and will be presented and be shared with the house at the appropriate time. The other most important work that will continue is the rehabilitation and moral healing of the community of Merafong which is being undertaken with the South African Council of Churches (SACC).
Merger of Metsweding and Tshwane
The process of the merger of Metsweding and Tshwane is getting on well so far. All the municipalities in the process are involved and we are making progress. The process relating to redetermination of boundaries is also getting on well. We will continue to support the process working closely with the municipalities in order to make sure that the transition into a bigger metropolitan municipality is managed in a very systematic way.
We believe that in terms of our vision of a global city region and a metro system of government this is a step in the right direction.
Speaker, this has been a difficult year for both government and private sector in order to deliver on their mandates whilst the global economic recession was in full force and thereby had to implement prudent financial management in discharging our duties. Although I would have loved to have been allocated more resources, the budget allocated is readily accepted and we commit ourselves to putting these resources to good use without a cent of the allocation being misused.
Let me express appreciation to this house particularly the Portfolio Committee on Local Government and Housing under the Chairmanship of Mr Errol Maggerman for continuing to hold the executive and department accountable.
Let me also introduce to you our newly appointed Head of Department Mr M Mnyani. I should also thank my counterparts the MMCs for housing and infrastructure in local government without their support our work would not have been possible.
To the entire staff complement of the department, thank you for all the hard work and selfless manner in which you serve the department and our people.
May I also thank all our partners, stakeholders, service providers and ordinary individuals for their continued support and cooperation.
Lastly, I want to convey a great sense of admiration for the support that I am enjoying from Madam Premier and all members of the Executive Council.
In ending I wish to restate what the ruling party said in its 1994 January statement that “as we advance towards the new, we carry with us the great pride that millions of our people, both black and white, defied all dangers and death itself to be where they are today.” We therefore owe it to them to work even harder in making a better life for all
I thank you
Issued by: Department Local Government and Housing, Gauteng Provincial Government
25 May 2010
Source: Department Local Government and Housing, Gauteng Provincial Government (http://www.housing.gpg.gov.za/)
Issued by: Gauteng Local Government and Housing
25 May 2010
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