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Source: Ministry for Public Service and Administration
Title: Fraser-Moleketi: Salga Consultative Conference
PRESENTATION BY THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION,
GERALDINE FRASER-MOLEKETI, AT THE SOUTH AFRICAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT
ASSOCIATION'S (SALGA) CONSULTATIVE CONFERENCE, 7 August 2003
Chairperson of Salga,
Salga office bearers,
Mayors of municipalities and
To address such an august gathering, the Consultative Assembly of
284 Municipalities, represented by their mayors and municipal
managers, is indeed an honour; it is an opportunity for us to share
our experiences and to assess the challenges we face as agents for
development - a role that derives its mandate from the essence of
our democratic state, the Constitution. It is a pertinent moment in
our history as we enter the 10th year of our democracy, to review
Often the circumstances in which we try and fulfil our role are
beset by difficulties that threaten to undermine the essence of
what we are trying to achieve - amongst others service debts and
capacity shortfalls. I am sure that each one of us has sometimes
felt that there is no appreciation of these difficulties and our
efforts are not recognised.
Let me assure you that the country is proud of the work that you
are doing and we, in national government pledge our continued
support to you, who, perhaps more that any other sphere, are at the
coalface of delivery.
The issue of the single public service has been raised in the
public domain at a very early stage. It raises expectations that it
will be a reality very soon. Yet we know that the achievement of a
single public service will be a medium to long-term process. I
would therefore urge you to be cautious in your pronouncements on
this matter, to allow the process to unfold in good time.
We must be conscious of the realities that we face on the ground. A
study conducted last year found that there are notable
discrepancies between the remuneration and conditions of service of
the public service and local government. As you will also know,
there are even more significant discrepancies between
municipalities. There may even still be discrepancies within
municipalities, as a result of the amalgamation process that
preceded the elections of December 2000.
So clearly there is a great deal still to be done.
For there to be a single public service, there must be uniformity,
or at the very least compatibility, with regard to conditions of
service, both in terms of administration and management on the one
hand, and mechanisms to facilitate mobility between the spheres on
President Mbeki focused on these core issues in his State of the
Nation Address in February this year. Our President said: "We will
this year finalise the proposal for the harmonisation of systems,
conditions of service and norms between the public service in the
national and provincial spheres on the one hand, and the
municipalities on the other."
This is our challenge. The Governance and Administration (G&A)
Cluster has established a task team to assist in taking this
process forward. Salga officials serve on this task team, as do
officials from DPSA, DPLG and the National Treasury. This is the
same team that conducted the comparative study into conditions of
service last year.
It has been reconstituted under the G&A Cluster and has just
begun its work.
One of the areas of achievement thus far this year has been the
development of a draft policy document by DPLG on the assignment of
powers and functions to local government. The document argues
strongly for the use of the more formal assignment procedure to
transfer functions to local government, in preference to
delegations. This is because the municipality gains the full
responsibility for administering the function in the long term,
with secure access to grant finance - and in some cases even the
protection of legislation.
The policy framework sets out detailed procedures for the
assignment of functions. The most important test relates to the
principle of subsidiarity, reflected in the Constitution in section
There are three main provisos. Firstly, that the matter or function
must necessarily relate to local government. Secondly, that it
should be most effectively administered locally. And thirdly, that
the municipality must have the capacity to administer it.
For it is very important that assignments and delegations do not
simply add to the burdens of municipalities. Various criteria must
be weighed before a decision on assignments can be made.
* the capacity of the municipality;
* a comparative assessment of the capacity of the assigning
* whether it is important for the function to be exercised across
the whole province or the whole country;
* whether there will be efficiency gains in managing the function
broadly across the whole province or the whole country;
* the importance of proximity between those accountable for
delivering the service and those receiving it;
* whether there is access to alternative revenue sources; and
* the cost of transition.
These criteria are weighted by agreement between the assigning
party and the proposed assignee. This seeks to ensure that the
assignment of functions is carefully thought through and does not
impose unwarranted burdens on municipalities.
The policy document also addresses the challenging area of the
transfers of human resources in terms of assignments and
delegations. In some instances, functions have already been
allocated to local government, and public service personnel are
Because of the problem I mentioned earlier - the discrepancies in
terms of remuneration and conditions of service - sometimes staff
working alongside one another have different conditions of service,
benefits, working hours and leave dispensations.
I have quoted before, the concerns raised by my colleague the
Minister of Health, who said last year already that the incomplete
merging of provincial and municipal health services presented
problems in terms of the effective management of facilities. For
this reason the Minister views "the incorporation of municipal
workers into the public service, effectively creating a single
public service, as the most significant contribution that could be
made at this stage to the building of our district health
This is an urgent challenge for the G&A team.
The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry is also engaged in
transferring staff from the public service to local government, and
is doing a great deal to provide support and resources to local
government in taking on the staff and functions. We would like to
learn more about the procedure employed by the Department, and may
be able to assist the process by providing mechanisms for the
smooth transfer of staff.
Because these transfers are already happening, and in some
instances causing problems at departmental and municipal level, as
well as within service delivery institutions, we must attend to
this issue as a priority.
We will develop mechanisms to assist the departments and
municipalities, as well as a broader framework for ongoing
restructuring, which can be included as part of the policy document
Our aim in this work is to facilitate the mobility of staff between
the public service and local government. It will also help us
understand all the complexities involved in making the public
service and local government more compatible. We would also like to
learn from the R293 transfers which have already taken place.
We must also bear in mind that the transfer of powers and functions
also has financial implications, and we must diligently apply the
rule that finance must follow function. We cannot have a situation
where unfunded mandates are foisted upon local government. So this
will be an important chapter of the finalised policy on
The National Treasury is conducting a focused study into the
financial implications of incorporating local government into the
public service. Four municipalities will be selected for the study,
a metro, a district municipality and a large and a small local
municipality. The financial implications of incorporation will be
investigated in detail and a report will be drawn up. From this we
will get an idea of the overall cost implications.
One of the most important areas of work currently underway, is the
internal rationalisation of conditions of service and restructuring
of collective bargaining arrangements in local government. This is
being undertaken by SALGA as part of the broader process of the
transformation of local government envisaged in the White Paper on
You will no doubt be aware of the work that has been done this year
towards rationalisation. The achievements to date include:
* The adoption of the TASK job evaluation system for the local
* The establishment of a task team of revisit the grading of
* The reduction in the number of accredited medical aid schemes in
* The reduction of the employer contribution to pension funds to
18% with effect from next year;
* Initial work on a local government remuneration policy; and
* The adoption of a performance management system.
We applaud these positive steps, especially the attention that has
been paid to aligning your processes to public service medium-term
strategy. We hope that SALGA will continue to implement its
internal rationalisation and restructuring processes, note that
there is bound to be opposition to this initiative - by those whom
have been privileged in one way or another.
So it is fair to say we have made a promising start on this
At the Cabinet Lekgotla held last month, the Governance and
Administration sector put forward various proposals regarding a
programme of action for the way forward.
We proposed that Phase One be completed when the policy on the
assignment of powers and functions is finalised, by September
Phase Two entails the development of a mechanism for human resource
transfers by January 2004. This will be ready to present to the
January Cabinet Lekgotla.
Phase Three is the internal rationalisation of the local government
conditions of service and bargaining system. This is already
underway and the target that has been set for completion is January
During 2005, Phase Four will be implemented, including the
development of framework legislation and the overall finalisation
of conditions of service.
These targets are very ambitious, and we must focus our efforts to
meet them. In particular, DPSA, DPLG, Salga and National Treasury
must work together to ensure that the strategies for the reform and
rationalisation of systems, conditions of > service, financing
and norms are aligned and steadily converged. My Department looks
forward to working closely with Salga on these issues.
By now there has been much debate on the issue of an integrated
public service. There is broad consensus in government on the
creation of an integrated public service, although the details of
the transition and the eventual regulatory framework must still be
In particular, we must take into account that local government,
like the provincial and national sphere of government, is a
distinctive sphere of government in terms of the
Local government has its own transformation imperatives, as well as
detailed systems, structures and legislation. It will soon receive
new financial management legislation in the form of the Municipal
Finance Management Act.
Any public service regulatory framework that seeks to incorporate
local government will need to respect the integrity of local
government legislation and policy, as well as the experiences
gained from the transformation process since 1994.
Finally, I would like to remind you that we are not pursuing the
goal of an integrated public service for its own sake. We believe
very strongly that it will improve service delivery, specifically
in two ways:
* An integrated public service can help address service delivery
problems associated with the current fragmented machinery of
government. We can achieve cohesion and greater impact;
* It can also help facilitate mobility of skills between the
spheres of government, effectively enabling a more equitable
distribution of skills in the public sector.
We all have different roles to play in this process. It will only
be through working together that we will be able to achieve our
goals. By improving service delivery at the local, provincial and
national levels we improve the lives of all South Africans.
As we approach the end of the first decade of democracy, we can
look on our achievements with pride. But we have only walked a
short way along the road to building a truly developmental state
where the citizens of our country are able to fulfil their true
potential in a creative and prosperous society. The journey remains
a challenging one, but one that we should travel with excitement
and anticipation as we build a better life for the people of South
Media inquiries should be directed to Tembela Kulu, 082 497
Issued by the Ministry for Public Service and Administration, 7