Dying diggers of Namaqualand need saving
Democratic Alliance press statement by
Andrew Louw, MPL
DA Provincial Leader
Let’s work with municipalities, not against them
25 May 2016
Note to editors: The following is an extract from a speech delivered by the provincial leader of the Democratic Alliance, Andrew Louw, in the Northern Cape Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs budget debate held during a sitting of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature yesterday.
It has been said before that the Democratic Alliance will give credit where and when credit is due. Allow me, therefore, the opportunity to congratulate the Northern Cape Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs with the great strides that has been made with the eradication of the title deeds backlog. It should be noted and welcomed that the department aims to increase the amount of title deeds issued by more than 240% between the previous and the current financial years.
As a member of this Legislature, I have spoken often about the need for a title deed to accompany the key to a state-subsidised house. Recipients of state-subsidised housing must have legal ownership of the property where they reside or from which they operate businesses. Not only does it provide the recipient with full ownership and an economic asset to leverage, but it also restores dignity and brings back humanity. I am happy to see that the department is taking the Democratic Alliance seriously on this matter.
One of the challenges in the provision of housing opportunities is the lack of available, affordable and suitable land. It sounds strange to say that there is a lack of land in the wide open spaces of the Northern Cape. But we understand that the department simply cannot afford to procure land for municipalities to develop housing opportunities. There are, however, solutions to this problem which will claim less money and a little more time.
The Democratic Alliance wants to lobby national government to release land parcels owned by national for housing development. One of the Democratic Alliance’s strategies is to make land parcels available for development through private-public partnerships with the private sector. With these partnerships, we can improve access to housing opportunities and strengthen the local economy.
As it is an election year, it is only fitting to focus on interventions aimed at strengthening governance at municipal level. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with the Northern Cape Provincial Treasury in this regard. Hopefully the budget of the department is geared towards implementing the Memorandum, as we definitely need a solution to the problems created by municipal maladministration, poor service delivery and empty promises.
We need a change which can take our municipalities forward, with clean and honest governments that provide good services and opportunities to all of its residents. Caring local governments which respond to the socio-economic needs of its residents are the potential drivers of change; well-run cities inspire the confidence of business and attracts the job-creating investment which we so desperately need in our province. The proof of this pudding can be seen in the DA-run City of Cape Town, Midvaal and other areas where the DA governs. While unemployment skyrockets in the rest of the country, these areas continue to work for its residents.
We cannot circumvent the authority of municipalities to govern their own affairs, as this would be a violation of all the principles of intergovernmental relations. Yet we need to ensure that interventions contained in the Memorandum of Understanding are targeted and actually have the effect of improving service delivery on municipal level. For this to happen, we need the buy-in and cooperation from municipalities. It has been raised in previous engagements with Treasury on the Memorandum of Understanding that some municipalities are unwilling to accept assistance. When it comes to programmes aimed at improving capacity, for example, some municipalities will send their interns to attend the training instead of the permanent administrative staff. In the financial year ahead, we need to find ways of working with municipalities, not against them.
We don’t just need administrative solutions for administrative problems at municipalities; we also need political solutions for the political problems created by lazy councilors and corrupt politicians. As elected leaders of political parties it is our communal duty to ensure that municipalities are functioning; it is not just the role of the department. It is easy to criticize from the sidelines, but it is difficult to jump into the fray and ensure that your political friends are being brought to book for their mistakes.
As political leaders, we must lead by example and make it easier for municipalities to deliver services. For municipalities to deliver services, however, there has to funds. I want to pose one question to the MEC – what is the current state of your municipal account? Are you up to date or behind on payments? Premier, are you settling your bills? I ensure that my accounts are up to date and I hold my councilors responsible for paying theirs.
I want to urge the department to ensure that state departments also pay their municipal accounts, so that it is economically feasible for municipalities to deliver services without charging an arm and a leg in rates.
We cannot and do not underestimate the importance of the oversight role which must be played by the department of COGHSTA. The Democratic Alliance suggests that the department’s oversight must be based on ensuring that district municipalities also serve their purpose of supporting local municipalities. It is the task of district municipalities to provide the necessary support and capacity when local municipalities lack the required resources and not the responsibility of the department alone. Let us use the guidelines provided in the Municipal Structures Act and the Municipal Support Act to ensure that the districts do what is demanded.
DA Provincial Leader
082 383 6914
076 551 0312