Speech by Honourable Mninawa Mahlangu, Chairperson of the NCOP during the debate on the Women`s Day

17 August 2010


Honourable Deputy Chairperson

I would like to welcome back members after a wonderful break that we had which coincided with the successful hosting of the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Having experienced the success of this tournament, to which all South Africans contributed, I am sure we are all proud of what our country can do.

I am not too sure how many people went to the stadia. Hon member, are you one of them? Are you telling me that the rest of you did not buy tickets to watch matches at the stadia? Oh! Only three people went to the stadia? You have missed a lot, I am telling you.

From 23 to 26 March 2010, we visited the Greater Sekhukhune District, as part of the Taking Parliament to the People Programme. As you are all aware, this programme assists us to promote public participation in line with the constitutional injunction of providing a national forum for public consideration of issues affecting provinces.

The important element of this programme, hon members, is that it provides an opportunity for different spheres of government to act together. It is an epitome of the co-operative government, whereby the three spheres of our government co-operate with one another in order to the service our own people.

It is important, however, to ensure that this co-operation becomes a daily practice. Our biggest challenge is to ensure that while our government is constituted as three spheres, it must also at all time work together as one. Now, I want to emphasise this point: We had a debate on the 26 August in this very House and you would remember that we called that debate. I once more want to emphasise that: I was in the Free State yesterday and we debated this issue with the local government sphere. We emphasised and asked all three spheres of government - national, provincial and local government - that they should co-operate to avoid frustrating the service delivery on the ground.

That working together within the three spheres of government will assist us to speedup the service delivery because the other hand will also know what the other hand is doing; it does not matter in which field we do co-operate. Whether it is financial or working to provide services together, let us try to co-operate. From this year and onwards, we need to work on that and make sure that we are successful in bringing the co-operative government together. This depends on the collaboration, of course, of the public representatives and administrators who are allocated in these different spheres and how they interrelate.

All of us, for an example in the legislative sector, we have now created the Speakers Forum level and the legislative level to say that we have formed a sector. We are no more just calling ourselves a Parliament or provincial legislatures, we are a sector of legislators that can be able to sit down and discuss things which commonly affect us and be able to address them on the ground together and co-operate with each other.

Through this programme, we have an opportunity to educate our people about the work of Parliament and we also conduct hearings under the sight visits in order to check the quality of the work which is done there.

As you know, this programme brings together also the poor communities with a view of facilitating and upliftment in order to realise a better quality of life. This has been also an approach in the programme since inception. We do not want to leave the seats of Parliament only to go and meet people who could easily interact with Parliament, we want to go to those people who do not have resources so that we afford them the opportunity to come to talk to us in Parliament.

In this regard, our choice of the Greater Sekhukhune District Municipality was informed by the fact that 97% of the people in the district live in rural areas. Poor service delivery in that area was confirmed by the recent report of the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs on the delivery of basic services. The report shows that the level of delivery of basic services in the province is at 15%. You can imagine, that`s what the report says. That`s where we have got to concentrate. That`s where our efforts have to be, all of as public representatives, and make sure that we assist those structures that deliver services. You and I don`t deliver services because we don`t have money. But you and I give or allocate the money to the government to deliver services. That`s why we`ve got to come back and account on the money used.

At the workshop, which was held on 10 August 2010, which was also attended by the provinces, we painted the picture on how the provinces should spend their monies and how their municipalities are actually co-operating with the Auditor-General as well and on expenditures of money.

Another workshop will be held in October to look at the expenditure trends in all the provinces so that we give you that information which you can basically use on the ground to deal with those issues.

This is a true reflection of the effect of the pre-1994 policies and laws that we have passed, and to assist those small communities on the ground. Unfortunately, reversing such negative legacy will take longer than we would like. But we have to move with speed to do that.

Members will be aware that the visit to Limpopo, under the NCOP Taking Parliament to the People Programme, was the first since we assessed the impact of this programme and strengthened it.

Evidence of this is that we started engaging with service delivery challenges in the area long before our visit in March. This gave us an opportunity to engage the executive in the period leading to the visit. The result of this was that some interventions were made even before our visit. We want to strengthen this programme by improving on this approach because we see that it has the potential to instil confidence in our people that indeed we are taking the issues they are raising very seriously.

During the visit, as you know, people raised a number of issues which are captured in detail in the report that we are considering today. To mention just a few, these include: The backlogs in the service delivery; difficulty for local communities in accessing jobs; shortage of water and lack of sanitation; backlogs in the land claims; poor road conditions, etc.

As you will recall, I committed myself to returning to the province to meet the leadership there in May to put up the small plan that when you go there as committees, you will have a plan that you could follow not just at the national level, but at also at the council and provincial levels. We`ve not yet held that meeting because of the commitment of the leadership in the province, but we have all agreed that early next month we will be in the position to put up that plan so that we can all work together and make sure that the service delivery takes place as we want them to do.

I am happy to inform you that actually the work has been started in that area of Sekhukhuneland. Since we have left there, there is what we call the true reflection of our work that follows after we have left. For an example, the construction of the Sekhukhune One Stop Development Centres in Schoonoord, Mphanama, Saaiplaas and Mohlaletsi have already commenced.

Addressing the issue of houses that are of poor quality has also commenced in that area and 90% progress in the construction of the Modibeng Dairy has already been done. What I have done in the mean time is being able to send the officials to go and check some of the projects that we have visited. Therefore, progress with regard to road construction, maintenance and some of the mines have already started with the social investment initiatives they had promised.

Inevitably, there are still many challenges that are facing the province and the district towards attending to the needs of the people. This requires that we work together and see how, as this House, we can assist by facilitating the resolution of all service delivery challenges.

I am happy that a delegation, led by the House Chairperson for Committees and Oversight, hon Tau, with counterparts from the province and district and everybody including the local municipalities, is planning to visit the area soon. The plan is already there and it will take place very soon, and they will report on some of the things when they come back. This will help us to bolster our follow-up mechanism that we have agreed in this House.

Oversight does not only entail identifying problematic areas, it also entails making the process of delivering services by government easier. I have often noticed on many occasions that by merely providing space for the three spheres of government to come together to raise issues and find solutions, we succeed in facilitating the unlocking service delivery bottlenecks.

Further, the Constitution states in section 154(1) that the national and provincial governments, by legislative and other measures, must support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities to manage their own affairs, to execute their powers and to perform their functions.

Now, that`s where all of you together with myself play a vital role in making sure that this other two spheres assist the third sphere of government in order of service delivery. For that reason, the NCOP has the responsibility to make sure that the local government sphere is supported. It is against this context that we would like to work with the different spheres to facilitate co-operation in the manner in which government responds to the needs of our people.

Where is Mr Mokgobi? I thank you that you are here. The other reason why I touch Maloti a Phofung - maobane mane Qwaqwa - it is because that municipality is also under section 139, currently as I speak. We are not going to leave the committee to do the work alone.

From the senior level where I am, a delegation will also assist you to go and sit down with the senior politicians and discuss the issues to addressing what has to be done on the issues mentioned under section 139 interventions. I had a very wonderful discussion with the senior politicians there and they have already put plans. We are going to monitor those plans and make sure that they come out of section 139 very quickly. By the way, I am very much impressed about your work you are doing in terms of the municipalities. Wherever I go people are telling me about the work that you are doing and I wish you can continue to do so. [Applause.]

In presenting the report of the NCOP visit to Limpopo for a debate, I must thank all members who participated in the programme. At times, conditions were not easy for you, particularly in Sekhukhuneland, some of you were the first time to climb those mountains, bad roads and all those things. But I am happy that you have seen that the people who elected you to come here, they leave in such conditions. I hope you will represent them and raise their voice all the time when we are in these Houses. I will repeat again that the conditions were not ease, but these are the conditions that our people are facing everyday, and that unfortunately we have to improve. That is our job to do.

We will always welcome inputs from you, hon members, on how we can make sure that the programme continues to improve on day-to-day basis so that our people can benefit from this program. I thank you very much. I present the report to you.