COGTA’s poor performance an indication to department’s incompetency

Issued by Kate Lorimer –
03 Dec 2019 in Speeches

Madam Speaker, having a small budget such as that of COGTA makes it easy to fall into the trap of trying to deliver on too many small projects and not getting to grips with one’s core mandate.   The mandate of COGTA is supposed to be to support municipalities to enable them to do their work properly, yet we see the department trying to be all things to all people and because of this, not succeeding at any of them.

Instead of fixing the completely broken municipalities of the West Rand District and Emfuleni, the MEC spends his time having a snide go at Johannesburg and Tshwane.  No matter how much you shout about DA Municipalities, it will not hide the fact that the ANC municipalities in Gauteng are in big trouble.

It amazed me that the financial recovery plan for the West Rand District barely cracked a mention in the Annual Report.  Breaking a municipality doesn’t just happen overnight, it is a long slow progression and if anybody had been paying attention, perhaps they would have noticed it before it became a crisis.  Perhaps the money-grubbing tendencies of the officials and politicians were overlooked by the Department because they were ANC cadres.  VBS is a scandal and in any normal world, anybody fingered in the investigation would face the music, would be criminally charged and would not be allowed to work for government ever again.  However, in the world of the ANC, a year after the Motau report was released, not one politician or official has been arrested.  It is not OK and you should all be ashamed that this happened on your watch.  You have been given the trust of the residents of Gauteng and you have spat in their face.

A sign that things are still not being watched is the latest development in Lesedi, yes, they of the unfunded budget.  The administration has seen fit to hire new staff in the face of a National Treasury instruction regarding cost containment regulations.  Warning lights are flashing.  Another ANC municipality is on its way out.

Just as in the previous financial year, not one of the departmental programmes expended their full budget.  This shows a distinct lack of planning and control.  Perhaps the senior management positions that were not filled ostensibly due to the confusion caused by the Bank of Lisbon fire have resulted in this.  We are left with a department that is pretty much incapacitated. 

Two municipalities were targeted for support to implement bulk infrastructure projects to allow for the mega housing developments.  The “red-tape” programme that deals with developmental planning, new developments and the issuing of title deeds did not meet a single one of its targets. All resulting in a negative impact on the delivery of housing.

One of the small projects that the department should not be engaging in is the installation of rainwater harvesting systems in schools.  This is not the purview of COGTA and should be left to education and infrastructure development. 

As a woman, I do not want to achieve because I am a woman, I want to achieve because I have worked hard and earned it and deserve it.  It would seriously dent my self-worth should I get something on any other basis. The department talks about training of women councillors in municipalities and how targets were not achieved.  Well what about training male councillors? Why are women singled out? Are women inferior or less knowledgeable? Do men know it all? Somehow, I don’t think so.  The more you differentiate between men and women the more you widen the gap.  You have to treat people equally to make it so.

Last week I went to visit the Western Cape’s Disaster Management Centre. It was an eye opener.  Their commitment and capacity to address risk is way beyond anything we have in Gauteng.  They have recently completed a Provincial Risk Profile that identifies and prioritises the potential hazards they may face, allowing them to put proper preparedness and mitigation plans in place.  Their department is structured differently to ours and capacitated technologically to allow for faster reaction, response and rehabilitation.  I fear to think what would happen if we had a major disaster in our province. Disaster management requires money. It is not the “compromise candidate” because if they don’t have the resources when it counts, we are lost.

It is hard to decide which is worse in terms of delivery, Human Settlements or COGTA.  Unfortunately, they are dependent on each other and poor performance in one results in poor performance in the other. MEC Maile, get your house in order and focus on the real business of fixing the broken municipalities by employing people who can do the job, not your friends, family and political allies.