The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Mbulelo Bara MP, during the Budget Vote on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
South African Local Government Association (SALGA)
The mandate of SALGA is to transform the local government sector for it to have capacity to contribute to poverty alleviation, drive economic development and improve service delivery.
However, what we have noticed is that more than 32% of SALGA’s budget goes towards salaries. Of the R619,2 million projected revenue for the 2017/18 financial year, R277 million goes to the administration programme with the bulk of this for salaries. A whopping R4,4 million goes to the CEO of SALGA, Xolile George. That’s more than double the salary of the president, any cabinet minister, or the highest paid municipal manager in South Africa.
This makes you wonder, Minister, how such bloated salaries at this entity help in improving the capacity of the 257 municipalities that SALGA represents. And how does that improve service delivery in these municipalities? It does not, Minister.
Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission)
Out of all the Chapter 9 institutions, this one is the least funded by the government. This institution is entrusted with the task of investigating the exploitation of masses of our people by bogus churches using poisonous substances like Doom, swallowing snakes etc. The sexual abuse of young women by self-proclaimed pastors is part of what the Commission is currently working on. The Commission also has to come up with a regulatory framework thereof.
The CRL Rights Commission also deals with issues around stereotypes about Albinism, the commercialization of religion and the protection of grave sites. There is a lot that is entrusted on this entity. Then, Minister, how do you expect this Commission to do its work with a mere budget of less than R40 million?
Clearly, the lives of South Africans are not important to this government. What happened to the famous slogan of a better life for all?
Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency (MISA)
This is an initiative focused on improving municipal infrastructure provisioning and maintenance for accelerated service delivery. That is supposedly in keeping with the “Back to Basics” strategy.
MISA has been marred with poor controls in supply chain management, weak performance management and human capacity deficiencies. Surprisingly, their budget increased from R349,9 million to R381,5 million in the 2017/18 financial year. Without an effective supply chain management unit, MISA has been unable to deal with irregular expenditure. Is this another way of extending the patronage network? The ANC government has demonstrated too many times that it is incapable of properly handling taxpayers’ monies.
Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB)
The objectives of the MDB is to determine and re-determine municipal boundaries and to delimit wards to facilitate local government elections.
It is incomprehensible that the budget allocation for this financial year has been dropped from R59 million to R50,5 million. How is the board expected to fulfil its mandate and increase its capacity with a budgetary cut?
The task of MDB remains crucial in the determination of the viability of municipalities. That is work that must be continuously done not only just before elections. Extremely concerning though is the fact that no municipal capacity assessments have been conducted in the last 3 years. This is a core function of the Board and permits a review of the municipality’s ability to deliver on their mandates.
National Disaster Management Centre
In the 2015/16 financial year, the National Disaster Management Centre had an underspending of 56,3% and as indicated in their annual report this was mainly due to the uncertainty with the payment of the Disaster Relief Grant. How is it that there was an underspending by this entity when the whole country was ravaged by the drought?
Cape Town currently has a challenge of water scarcity as we speak. What contingency plans are in place by this department to respond swiftly to that situation? Why has the Minister not declared a National Disaster, as the DA has advocated since 2014?
All the above reaffirms that effective and efficient leadership is what this department needs. This department is at the heart of service delivery. The current Minister is unable to provide that kind of leadership. Obviously, his priorities are elsewhere. South Africa deserves better.