Category: PSAM in the News

Concern at call for administration

Concern at call for administration

Council officials expressed surprise at a demand from a coalition calling themselves Concerned Citizens of Grahamstown,  acting with the support of attorneys Wheeldon Rushmere and Cole, that Makana Municipality be placed under administration in terms of Section 139(5) of the Constitution. And an expert has expressed doubt that the Province has the capacity to implement full administration.

The details of the demand were contained in a letter addressed to the Mayor, and circulated to media, councillors and political parties as well as municipal officials.

Signed by the chairperson of a group called the Concerned Citizens Committee, Ron Weissenberg, the letter refers to a special council meeting on 27 June in which alarming details of the municipality’s financial state were disclosed by councillors and officials.

The letter cited items in the agenda, most of which were discussed in the council meeting, including Makana’s debt of R146 184 978 as of the end of May 2017, and uncollected debt due to Makana of R366 812 651. Also discussed in the June meeting was the excessive overtime and wage bill. This is cited in the letter:

“80% of the municipality’s income is spent on salaries and on servicing debts. Overtime payment amounted to R5 000 000 per annum whilst only R2.1 million was budgeted for.”

READ THE FULL DOCUMENT HERE:
2017 Administration call by Concerned Citizens 05072017_150614

However, while the letter points out the Mayor’s and the Council’s admission that the financial crisis means they are unable to perform their Constitutional obligations, Council officials believe the demand for administration flies in the face of a decision taken in the Council meeting.

Acting municipal manager Dali Mlenzana said he was taken aback.

“The Council openly admitted the financial crisis and a resolution was taken, among other things, to mandate the Mayor to form a task team to work together in addressing it. The very people we had earmarked to be in this think tank are the ones now going ahead before any discussions on strategies to turn this municipality around,” Mlenzana said.

“This is how a democracy works, however, and just because we didn’t see the punch coming, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t meet with these groups to try and understand their position. Even though we are baffled by this action, we will speak to them.”

Spokesperson for the DA’s Makana caucus Mlindi Nhanha was sceptical about the value to Makana of another round of administration.

“We can call for administration tomorrow,” Nhanha said. “Bhisho will bring a deployee who will earn a fat cheque and nothing will happen – instead pushing us back two or three months.

“This group should rather put their energy into insisting that National Treasury and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta)  provide the support they promised when they agreed to the terms of Makana’s financial recovery plan.”

ANC chief whip in Makana Mabhuti Matyumza Thursday declined to comment on the document, saying the caucus was yet to discuss it.

“There are a number of procedures to be followed when calling for administration, and these have implications. We will consider the document as a party; however, we will respond according to what we feel is best for the whole community, rather than a party-based response,” Matyumza said.

Local government researcher at the Public Service Accountability Monitor Lungile Penxa said there was a risk of the Province intervening for the sake of compliance.

“Makana civic organisations are mostly calling for the municipality to be placed under full administration,” Penxa said. “If It is feasible, Cogta, the office of the Premier and Provincial Treasury can intervene in Makana Municipality under section 139 (1) (b) (i) (iii) and s139 (5) (a). If the previous interventions by these three provincial departments were implemented by the Municipality, this will increase chances of them intervening again. If not, it means they will be intervening for the sake of compliance.”

Penxa said it was important to also think about whether these provincial departments had capacity to implement full administration. “Most municipalities in the province and in the entire county are in a financial and administrative crisis,” Penxa said.

“The Makana Unity League is proposing an intervention under section 139(5) of the RSA Constitution. Section 139 (5) of the Constitution is about a financial assistance which is not the root cause of the problem in the Makana Municipality; the municipal problems require more than just money.”

Penxa said when the municipality was previously placed under administration based on Section 139 (1) (b), there was a financial recovery plan in place to assist the municipality.

“Did the municipality implement this recovery plan? How effective was it to address the problems of the municipality, which still persist today? Did the Eastern Cape Cogta, Premier and the Eastern Cape Provincial Treasury monitor the implementation of this recovery plan? The current financial problems are clearly signs that the Municipal problems are more than just money.”

READ PENXA’S FULL COMMENT HERE:
Comment on call for full admin of MM

Recent events in the political arena have left many South Africans wondering what can be done to legitimately remove Jacob Zuma from his position as President of South Africa. Below is an overview of the options permitted by the Constitution of South Africa provided certain conditions are met.

Before I launch into these options, it is necessary to explain why our President’s removal is considered necessary by some members of civil society who are at the forefront of the ‘Zuma must Fall’ movement. Not only has a court ruled that the 783 corruption charges against Jacob Zuma should be reinstated,[1] but the Constitutional Court found last year that the President breached the Constitution when he failed to implement the findings of the Public Protector’s Nkandla report.[2] Jacob Zuma has also failed to pay back R7,8 million out of the R 246 million of tax payer money that was used to build non-security features at his Nkandla homestead. This is R7,8 million of YOUR money which could have been used to provide YOU with a better education, better housing and better healthcare. Jacob Zuma’s blatant disregard for the wellbeing of citizens is also apparent in his disastrous decision to keep our incompetent Minister of Social Development whose irresponsible actions could have left approximately 17 million people without social grants.[3] The State Capture report is further evidence of our President’s disregard for our Country and its citizens. The report shows how our Country is being run, not by our President, but by a wealthy family in accordance with their business interests.[4] These decisions are all to the absolute detriment of accountable public resource management, governance and – ultimately- to the effective delivery of public services.

Apart from the President taking a decision to resign from his post, the Constitution allows for the impeachment of the President (in terms of s89) where the President has; seriously violated the Constitution or the law; behaved in a way which constitutes serious misconduct, or where the President is found to be unable to “perform the functions of office”. In such circumstances, the National Assembly, can vote for the President’s impeachment, provided two thirds of its members support such a resolution.[5] A significant consequence of this avenue of ‘removal’ is that the President will not be entitled to receive the benefits afforded to him by virtue of being the President, and he is also prevented from holding public office in the future.[6]

In terms of s102(2) of the Constitution,  a ‘motion of no confidence’ can be brought against the President. It is this option which has increasingly gained traction in recent years. In order for the public to get to grips with this avenue and to understand why the previous 7 motions of no confidence have been unsuccessful, it is necessary to explain the intricacies around this issue.

Section 102(2) of the Constitution, states that if a simple majority of the National Assembly votes in favour of a motion of no confidence in the President, the President along with his Cabinet and Deputy Ministers must resign.[7] This process seems simple enough, however, there are many underlying factors which influence the way members of the National Assembly vote.

One of the underlying factors is that members of parliament (MPs) within the majority party (the African National Congress (ANC)) may lose their seats in the National Assembly if they vote in favour of a motion of no confidence in their current President. South Africa’s electoral system consists of proportional representation informed by a party list system. While MP’s are representatives of their constituencies, recent history has shown repeatedly that loyalty to their political bosses remains their guiding priority, especially where their oversight actions may result in action against them by their superiors.  This latter point has been reiterated by the Premier of Mpumalanga who recently warned that ANC MPs will be removed if they vote in favour of a motion of no confidence.[8] With this in mind, it is understandable that a considerable number of MPs are reluctant to vote in favour of such a motion as it could affect their own political livelihood.

Of course, a solution to this problem would be to conduct the voting on a motion of no confidence using a secret ballot which would conceal which MP’s voted for and against the motion. Currently, there is confusion surrounding the use of a secret ballot in this regard.

Rule 103 of the 9th Edition of the National Assembly Rules directs that decisions are to be made using an electronic voting system if the chamber in which the decision is taken is equipped with this type of technology. Furthermore, Rule 104 states that, where electronic voting is not possible, MPs must vote manually. In both scenarios, the identity and the way in which the votes were cast are public knowledge. The only motion which specifically requires a secret ballot is where the National Assembly is electing the President and the name of more than one person has been put forward for this position.[9]

In 2015, an application was brought in the Western Cape High Court to ask, inter alia, that the Court hand down an order allowing for a vote of no confidence to be exercised using a secret ballot.[10] In this case, the Court held that s57 of the Constitution directs that rules and regulations of the National Assembly are to be determined by the National Assembly itself.[11] Furthermore, if the Court were to direct the Speaker of the National Assembly to conduct a vote of no confidence by way of a secret ballot, it would be violating the principle of separation of powers which is sacrosanct in our constitutional democracy.[12] However, the Court specifically stated that “it is within the power and privilege of the National Assembly to amend the Rules of the National Assembly to provide for voting by secret ballot”.[13] It is therefore possible that a vote of no confidence is exercised by way of a secret ballot, but the decision to do so would need to be affirmed by a majority of the National Assembly.[14]

While the Speaker has contended that she does not have a discretion to allow a secret vote during the upcoming motion of no confidence, Constitutional Law expert Professor Pierre de Vos has highlighted that in fact, the Speaker has a discretion to order that a vote be conducted by way of a secret ballot.[15] After declaring that votes must be exercised electronically, rule 103(1) of the National Assembly specifically states that the presiding officer may direct otherwise. Furthermore, rule 104(1) directs that, “where no electronic voting system is in operation, a manual voting system may be used in accordance with a procedure predetermined by the Speaker and directives to be announced by the presiding officer”.[16]

If the Speaker does not direct otherwise, the majority of the National Assembly may decide to vote on the motion of no confidence via a secret ballot in accordance with s57 of the Constitution.[17]

In addition to the above and as Prof. Pierre de Vos explains, members of Parliament must be reminded that in terms of s8(1)(c) of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliaments and Provincial Legislatures  Act[18]; “a person may not… attempt to compel a member to declare himself or herself in favour of or against anything pending before or proposed or expected to be submitted to Parliament or a House or committee”. This significant provision supports the view that MPs should (a) have the right to vote according to their consciences and beliefs rather than according to the dominant views of their  political bosses and (b) that MPs should not be subjected to intimidation and compulsion in the lead up to and whilst exercising their constitutional obligations.

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) has filed papers at the Constitutional Court asking that a secret ballot occur during the upcoming vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma. Yet again the highest court in South Africa is being called upon to adjudicate (at the expense of the taxpayer) the extent to which MPs and the Executive should be held accountable for their decisions and actions. Having said that, the judgment will at least provide us with much more clarity on the issue of the use of secret ballots.

 

By: Nicola Sülter

[1] http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/concourt-refuses-to-hear-npa-appeal-on-zuma-corruption-charges-da-20161007

[2] Economic Freedom Fighters v Speaker of the National Assembly and Others; Democratic Alliance v Speaker of the National Assembly and Others [2016] ZACC 11 para 36.

[3] https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2017-03-08-sassas-forgotten-17-million-are-real-people/#.WRFgQtwlHDc

[4] https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2017-04-11-iss-today-south-africa-pays-the-price-of-state-capture/#.WRFdX9wlHDc

[5] S89(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

[6] S89(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

[7] S102(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

[8] http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/anc-mps-must-toe-party-line-or-be-replaced-mabuza-20170403.

[9] Schedule 3, section 6 of the Constitution of South Africa.

[10] 2016 (1) SA 534 (WCC) at 5.

[11] 2016 (1) SA 534 (WCC).

[12] 2016 (1) SA 534 (WCC).

[13] 2016 (1) SA 534 (WCC) at 123.

[14] S53(1)(c) of the Constitution of South Africa.

[15] http://constitutionallyspeaking.co.za/on-a-secret-ballot-in-the-no-confidence-vote-against-president-zuma/.

[16] R104(1) of the Rules of the National Assembly, 9th ed.

[17] S57 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

[18] Act 4 of 2004.

WHAT ROLE DOES THE MUNICIPAL INFRASTRUCTURE GRANT (MIG) PLAY   IN THE CASH-STRAPPED MAKANA MUNICIPALITY (MM)?

07 April 2017

By Lungile Penxa

The Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) is a conditional grant from the national government that goes to local government for maintaining and improving municipal infrastructure. The Municipal Finance Governance (MFG) programme of the Eastern Cape Provincial Treasury monitors the MIG expenditure, because it affects the allocation of resources from the National Fiscus.

Within the Makana Municipality jurisdiction, it is widely known that Makana Municipality has ageing infrastructure. In the 2015/16 financial year, the Municipality was allocated their portion of the MIG to maintain and improve their infrastructure. Has the Municipality appropriately spent their MIG on its infrastructure? What was prioritised in the spending? It was definitely not roads because the results are not positively showing. If the MIG allocations for 2015/16 financial year were appropriately and fully spent, this guarantees to National & Provincial Treasuries that Makana Municipality is needy and deserves to be allocated MIG from the National – Provincial Budget for 2017/18 financial year. If the MIG for 2015/16 financial year was inappropriately spent, the Eastern Cape Provincial Treasury makes proposals for rescheduling of the unspent grants to fund needy municipalities. Can the financially needy Makana Municipality afford to inappropriately spend their MIG? Can they afford to have the balance of their MIG taken and given to other needy municipalities?

MAKANA MUNICIPALITY (MM) BUDGET MISSES THE IDP

07 April 2017

By Lungile Penxa

On the 30th of March 2017, the Makana Municipality had a Special Council Meeting, amongst others, to consider the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) (2017-2022) and the 2017/18 draft Budget. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO), who is responsible for aligning the IDP with the budget, confirmed that the IDP is aligned to the Budget. What is an IDP? What is a municipal budget? And what does alignment mean?

An IDP is developmentally orientated planning document given effect by chapter 5 of the Municipal Systems Act (MSA) of 2000. The IDP is a process of consultation, participation and information sharing at municipal level for a five year period. It outlines the time frames of scheduled development activities, and co-ordinate structures and resources involved in the processes. It addresses the municipal budget and more.

A Municipal Budget is the financial expression of the municipal plans and policies that will be implemented in a financial year (i.e. 2017/18 in Makana Municipality). The budget process involves the municipality planning, collaborating, negotiating and deciding together on a comprehensive plan for spending money over an agreed period (2017/18 Financial Year in Makana Municipality).

Is the IDP aligned to the Budget?

The IDP (2017-2022) reflects the current socio-economic situation in the Makana Municipality. The 2017/18 draft Budget complies with the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) and its regulations. However, I argue that the IDP is not aligned to the draft Budget 2017/18.  The IDP developers may defer with me due to our different understanding of the concept ‘align’. In the context of IDP and budget, my understanding of the term is that the IDP is only aligned or corresponds with the Budget when the IDP developers incorporated the latest socio-economic needs of Makana residents, so that the Municipality can deliver on these needs in the 2017/18. Throughout of the IDP document, there is heavy reliance on the 2006 -2011 statistics for information as opposite to the latest 2016 statistics. This   misleads the drafting of a budget that reflects the present socio-economic needs of the Makana communities.

The importance of citing the latest statistics (i.e. 2016) is that the IDP reflects the latest socio-economic needs of Makana residents. The challenge of citing old and outdated statistics in early 2017 is that it misleads the budget development for 2017/18 by under budgeting for socio-economic needs that have increased between 2011 and 2016/17 including the population of Makana Municipality which stands at 82.060 according to Statistics South Africa 2016. The reliance on old and outdated statistics for information also questions the regular performance and capacity of officials responsible for the IDP management. The production of an IDP is a collective effort from the municipal staff, communities, and civil society. The municipal staff are involved in the following roles: The Municipal Manager (MM) prepares, decides and monitors the IDP process; the IDP Manager deals with the day to day management of the IDP process; the CFO & the IDP Steering Committee aligns IDP with Budget. The state of the current IDP suggests that the IDP Manager is not daily managing the IDP process unless ‘day to day management’ does not involve updating information in the IDP document. Moreover, the role of communities is to correctly identify their socio-economic needs. This IDP & Budget Roadshows planned by the Municipality from 03 April – 17 April 2017 will assist in verifying the socio-economic needs of the Makana communities as opposed to the exaggerated figures indicated in the current IDP document according to Wards. Moreover, civil society also has a responsibility to give input, monitor, analyse the IDP development and alignment to the Budget, and to ensure that the budget is spent in an accountable manner. Post the IDP & Budget Roadshow, the Public looks forward to reading an updated, improved IDP that will assist in refining the 2017/18  Budget projections.

 

Parliament watch ahead of PSAM

 URL link: http://www.grocotts.co.za/content/parliament-watch-ahead-psam-08-02-2017

Increased securitisation of Parliament hampers accountability, according to Parliament Watch

Better accountability in South Africa’s decision making structures, along with better oversight over service delivery and public spending, is key to

proper service delivery. Two days before the official opening of Parliament, a grouping of civil society organisations gathered to scrutinise the state of South Africa’s legislatures and the effectiveness of Parliament and parliamentary committees as a tool for oversight, openness and accountability.

Parliament Watch is a collective of nine independent civil society organisations working towards the advancement of social justice, the realisation of human rights, and strong constitutional democracy in South Africa.

“The legislatures’ duties to oversee effective service delivery and advance social justice and transformation in South Africa are crucial,” said Zukiswa Kota of the Public Service Accountability Monitor.

“Enhanced accountability and improved oversight over service delivery and public spending can impact positively on the performance of government departments and ultimately on service delivery.”

While recent years have seen an increase in public attention to debates and events in the National Assembly, the day-to-day work of parliamentary committees often escapes public engagement.

“Committees are the engine rooms in the legislatures, tasked with the development of laws and the critical work of interrogating the performance of the executive,” Kota said.

“The legislatures ongoing weaknesses in delivering on their mandates and their apparently worsening performance since the 2014 elections have made monitoring their performance even more necessary.”

During 2016, Parliament Watch members monitored meetings of committees at national and provincial legislatures, examining the ability of the members to critically engage with service delivery in an open and effective manner.
Monitors developed a scoring system to assess these criteria, and were in the process of preparing a comprehensive report on their findings, Kota said.

With good practices taken into account, Parliament Watch scored the overall performance of the legislatures below average.
“The blurring of the separation of powers between the legislatures and executive is a great concern, because the will of the executive is dominating,” said Right to Know Campaign’s Mhlobo Gunguluzi. “The impact of the increased securitisation of Parliament is also a serious problem.”

Measures to ensure public access could also improve.
Dalli Weyers, from the Social Justice Coalition, said, “After 22 years, you’d expect the legislatures to have made more progress in ensuring that a wider range of the public can access information from the legislatures to strengthen public engagement.
“But the measures for openness have become stuck and wide access is dependent on members of the public having support from civil society organisations.”

The following is Parliament Watch’s scoring of Parliament, parliamentary committees and the Eastern Cape legislature.

PARLIAMENT WATCH SCORING

Independence from the executive: 1/10
Parliamentary committees continue to appear weaker than the members of the executive over which they should exert accountability. In spite of shifting internal politics within the ANC which brought demonstrable improvements to the quality of authority over the executive at the end of 2016, the impact of this has yet to be seen and the norm, in which partisan allegiance influences committees and committee chairpersons to be protective of the executive, has not changed significantly.

Committee chairpersons’ performance: 5/10
The monitoring resulted in a diversity of experiences. There were many chairs who showed commitment to ensuring due process and a few who were willing to challenge members of the executive. However, we witnessed numerous situations in which committee chairs were protective and or deferential towards members of the executive, or where they blocked processes that could ensure accountability. Considering this range of factors, committee chairpersons scored 5/10.

ANC MPs’ meaningful engagement in committees: 4/10
We observed a small proportion of ANC MPs playing an active and effective role in committee meetings. Those few scored 8/10; however, the majority of ANC committee members scored a low 1/10, rendering an overall score of 4/10 for ANC members for their meaningful participation in committees.

DA MPs’ meaningful engagement in committees: 6/10
Overall, DA MPs came across as well prepared and as playing an engaged role in committees, often asking challenging questions of members of the executive. Parliament Watch monitors also observed that DA MPs frequently take positions for impact in committees, without committing to follow up actions themselves. Parliament Watch considers their input to increase deliberation and increase transparency, as should be the case in any parliamentary system.

EFF MPS meaningful engagement in committees: 4/10
Many EFF MPs in Parliament are new to working in the legislatures, and like all minority parties must divide a limited number of members across the committees. However, monitors strongly indicate that the EFF, a party that has attracted media attention through its strategies in the Assembly since 2014, is generally absent from committees and, for the most part, is not getting down to the nuts and bolts of committee work that could impact positively on service delivery.

Accessibility of national Parliament: 5/10
On the issue of accessibility, our constitutional provisions alone would result in a score of 8/10. However both national and the provincial legislatures monitored are not sufficiently improving their practices to increase public access and openness. Civil society organisations augment the measures taken by legislatures to increase access. The National Parliament thus scored 5/10 on the general implementation of the Constitutional obligations.

The Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature scored 4/10 for public access. The score is positively affected by the efforts of support staff to enable access for NGOs.

Securitisation of national Parliament: 1/10
The increased securitisation of Parliament over the past two and a half years is of grave concern and impacts on accessibility. This is plainly demonstrated by the more frequent use of barbed wire outside the parliamentary precinct, the increased police presence and the more frequent use of police force to disperse public protest. In addition to these more threatening measures, the newly implemented access control processes to enter the national Parliament contribute to a mood of suspicion.

Responsiveness to the Public: 4/10
We recognise that the legislatures have been responsive to the major politically charged issues such as the #FeesMustFall protests and the crisis of mismanagement at the SABC board. However, committees have failed to properly address other urgent issues affecting poor and marginalised people, including school infrastructure, inequitable police resourcing, and women’s inequality.

Oversight over departments: 4/10
On the oversight over departments, the regular oversight cycles were taken into account and the attempts of committees to perform these functions; however, the haste with which the oversight cycles are undertaken and the lack of follow-though on issues from all political parties has a negative impact on the score.

President Jacob Zuma will deliver this year’s State of the Nation Address on Thursday 9 February and the speech will be broadcast live on several channels, including SABC, at 7pm.

#ParliamentWatch
Parliament Watch collaborators include the Dullah Omar Institute, UWC (DOI); Equal Education Law Centre (EELC); Heinrich Boell Foundation (HBF); Livity Africa (LA); Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG); Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM); The Right to Know Campaign (R2K); Social Justice Coalition (SJC); and Women on Farms Project (WFP).