SOUTH AFRICAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION (SALGA)

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

PUBLIC HEARINGS ON THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS FRAMEWORK BILL (B3-2005)

15 MARCH 2005

 

Introduction

SALGA, in principle, welcomes the initiative taken by the Department of Provincial and Local Government, as is required by Section 41(2) of the Constitution, to introduce legislation that formally establish intergovernmental structures at all levels of government, and in addition provide for appropriate mechanisms and procedures to facilitate the settlement of intergovernmental disputes.

Historically the informal nature of intergovernmental processes and structures were and still are very discretionary, resulting in the "establisher" deciding what processes to follow and also who to invite to these structures. This, in itself, gave rise to the exclusion of local government, at times intentionally, in other instances purely through genuine lack of understanding the role of local government and certainty as to when to include local government.

SALGA is strongly of the view that this bill, when enacted, will go a long way in facilitating and ensuring coherent government; a coordinated process of implementation of policies, programmes and legislation; and most importantly effective delivery of services, which is a priority at local government level.

The IGR Framework Bill has, since introduction in 2003, gone through a lengthy, inclusive consultation process. SALGA is privy, as a stakeholder, to have been involved in the development of the bill since its introduction. It is largely during this consultative process that SALGA was given the platform and opportunity to make early comments and clarify uncertainties on the bill. The department can confirm that SALGA raised a number of concerns, the majority having already been taken on board during the drafting process, with a few still to be addressed.

Outstanding Concerns

Part 2 - Composition

Section 9(d) stipulates that organised local government may participate in a national intergovernmental relations forum if "the functional area for which the forum is established includes a matter assigned to local government in terms of Part B of Schedule 4 or Part B of Schedule 5 to the Constitution or in terms of national legislation". This provision is drafted in this manner to ensure that local government is to only participate in those structures that are within their powers and functions. However, section 156(1)(4) of the Constitution provides for the assignment of certain Part A of Schedule 4 and Part A of Schedule 5 functional areas to municipalities by national and provincial governments, by agreement. The question arises whether section 9(d) of the bill, as it now stands, is broad enough to also include these types of arrangements and whether in these types of arrangements organised local government would form part of the established intergovernmental forum.

Meetings of intergovernmental forums

The provisions in the bill dealing with meetings of intergovernmental forums at Presidentís Co-ordinating Council, national and provincial level (Sections 7, 13 and 18 respectively) are limited to who is to convene meetings, agenda of meeting, suggestions for inclusion in agenda and the administrative responsibility for the said forum. Whereas with District intergovernmental forums the provisions for meetings go much further by dealing, in addition, with:-

The aforementioned additional provisions are included, only for district intergovernmental forums, despite the bill making provision for Internal procedures of intergovernmental structures (Section 30) and Standard Internal Rules (Section 31). The question that arises is why these provisions have been included only for local government and not for the PCC, national and provincial intergovernmental forums. Why is it that these provisions could also not form part of the Internal Procedures and Standard Internal Rules of all intergovernmental forums?

Provincial policies and legislation affecting local government (Section 33)

SALGAís understanding is that provincial policies and legislation that affect local government in the province, would affect the entire sphere of local government in the province, that is all municipalities in that provinces. If this is indeed the case, why the need to consult with "specifically affected municipalities" (S 33(1)(c)) when developing policies and draft legislation. SALGA proposes that the provision should be re-drafted to specify either consultation with all municipalities in the province or consult the local sphere of government, which would be represented by organised local government in the province.

Consequences of declaring formal intergovernmental disputes (Section 39)

Section 39 makes provision for the different parties to a dispute. No provision is made and consideration given to the Minister being a party to a dispute.

Role of facilitator (Section 40)

Section 40 is silent on the cost implications and the party that is to pay the costs should an external facilitator be required to assist the parties to settle a dispute.

Conclusion

As previously indicated the majority of SALGAís concerns and comments were taken on board during the consultative process and therefore only a few outstanding issues remain, as indicated above, which we as SALGA hope will be considered by the Portfolio Committee during deliberations on the bill.

SALGA would formally like to commend the department for having given us the opportunity to participate in the processes leading to the promulgation of the draft bill. Last, but not least, we would like to thank the Portfolio Committee on granting SALGA the opportunity to again make an input on the bill.

SALGA has come a long way in participating in the processes leading to the bill now being before Parliament and pledge to remain involved in the deliberations until both Houses of Parliament adopt the bill.