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Mashego-Dlamini: Mpumalanga Local Government and Housing Prov Budget Vote, 2007/08 (31/05/2007)

31st May 2007

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Date: 31/05/2007
Sources: Mpumalanga Provincial Government
Title: Mashego-Dlamini: Mpumalanga Local Government and Housing Prov Budget Vote, 2007/08

Budget speech for Mpumalanga Local Government and Housing delivered by Honourable MEC C Mashego-Dlamini, Mpumalanga Provincial Government

Honourable Speaker and Deputy Speaker
Honourable Premier, Mr TSP Makwetla
Honourable members of the Executive Council
Honourable members of the Provincial Legislature
Honourable executive mayors and councillors present
Honourable Chairperson of the House of Traditional Leaders Inkosi Mthethwa
Your Excellencies Amakhosi
Our social partners
Officials from the three spheres of government
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

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Madam Speaker, l rise to table the 2007/08 Policy and Budget Speech for the Department of Local Government and Housing.

In March this year our public office bearers at local government completed their first year in office. This first year has gone undoubtedly with numerous achievements and challenges. During this first year, 2006, we have been able to meet one of the national targets, of eradicating the bucket toilets a year in advance of the 2007 target. If meeting this target is a benchmark we can go by, then indeed we can safely say that we are well on course to achieve greater successes in local government.

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We are still destined to achieve government's commitment of Vision 2014 that has a number of objectives and targets. These include:
* reducing unemployment by half through new jobs, assistance to small businesses, opportunities for self employment and sustainable community livelihood
* reducing poverty by half through economic development, comprehensive social security, land reform and improving household and community assets
* creating a compassionate government service to the people, national, provincial and local public representatives who are accessible, and citizens who know their rights and insist on fair treatment and effective service
* accelerating the delivery of basic services and increasing access to services became core priorities for the term of government.

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to join our Honourable State President, Thabo Mbeki and Premier Thabang Makwetla in affirming the good successes and achievements the African National Congress (ANC) led government has been able to proudly achieve over the years. In the 2006/07 financial year at local government we have been able to make some of the following achievements:

Redemarcations

The 12th Amendment of the Constitution and the proclamation of the Local Government Cross Boundary Repeal and Related Matters Act enabled the successful disestablishment of the cross-boundary municipalities.

As you are all aware the Kungwini Municipality together with its Metsweding District were all incorporated into the Gauteng province including a small area of Etwatwa in Ekurhuleni that was extending into our provincial boundaries.

Greater Marble Hall, Greater Groblersdal, Greater Tubatse and the Sekhukhune District Municipality were incorporated into Limpopo province.

The Bohlabela District Municipality was totally disbanded reducing the number of total municipalities in the country from 284 to 283. The local municipalities that fell under the disbanded Bohlabela District were incorporated into Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces respectively. Maruleng local municipality was incorporated into the Mopani District and Bushbuckridge Local municipality was incorporated into the Ehlanzeni District Municipality.

The province further took a conscious decision by amending the Section 12 Establishment Notices of all our municipalities, and changing the local government system from collective executive system to executive mayoral system with a designated number of full-time councillors. This was done after careful consideration, where the province was of the view that we needed councillors who would be wholly dedicated to the work of serving their communities.

This is already bearing results as a team of dedicated and committed politicians are there round the clock to make expeditious management decisions and to ensure proper management of the daily affairs of the municipalities.

2006/07 service delivery

Madame Speaker, basic service delivery continues to be one of the key deliverables on which our successes and failures are measured. Since the advent of democracy we have continued to reduce under development and poverty.

Indeed we are aware that there have been and still continue to be huge backlogs of underdevelopment that face our communities. We have made some strides in our battles to fight and reduce these backlogs.

Today more than 732 980 households have access to water whilst 474 961 are served with 6 000 litres of basic free water per household per month. We have also been able with the partnership of Eskom and the Department of Minerals and Energy to raise the number of households who have access to electricity to 551 649 whilst a total of 42 319 enjoy free basic electricity of at least 50 kilowatt hours per household every month. However I must hasten to add that we are still faced with a huge challenge in the provision of free basic electricity.

Challenges such as fraud, maladministration and lack of accountability on free basic electricity tokens distributed to indigents must be immediately put to an end. The department has developed an anti-corruption strategy to arrest the situation. It also appears that there is still serious lack of information on the supply of free basic tokens to indigents in some communities. Some people still do not come forward to collect their tokens from their respective municipalities. Strategies have already been initiated with our municipalities and Eskom to deal with these problems.

Madam Speaker, although we have made some strides in terms of providing free basic services to our people, we must acknowledge that we still need to put more effort to accelerate our programmes of providing these services to reach many of our people, especially the indigent who are still without these services.

We are pleased to be one of the first provinces that have eradicated the bucket system well before the target of December 2007. Once again let me reiterate it to the members of this House that indeed we have met the target for the eradication of the bucket system in the formal areas of the province

The province was able to rid a total of 18 617 bucket toilets in the formal areas. Municipalities that benefited include:

* Albert Luthuli
* Dipaleseng
* Govan Mbeki
* Lekwa
* Msukaligwa

Other municipalities that were able to tackle this challenge on their own included:

* Mkhondo
* Pixley Ka Seme

Madame Speaker, as the Premier said in his State of the Province Address "when an over enthusiastic hasty male lion isolates a buffalo-bull for a showdown, and in the process acts recklessly in anticipation of its glorious conquest, it will invariably take a few knocks each time it forgets that it must never find itself in front of the buffalo bull. Even if in the end, the episode ends with the buffalo-bull's neck broken and its huge carcass shining lifelessly under the sun, the lion may temporarily lie under the shade without much energy and appetite for its glorious kill, and nurse its sore muscles from the punishment incurred during the un-calculating and reckless moments of the attack". Just like the lion, although we have conquered and eradicated all bucket toilets, as we did this we have made some un-calculated moves and taken a few knocks in the process. These knocks have taught us some very critical lessons, which will be very important to both the department and the province in implementing similar projects of this magnitude in future.

Some of these lessons include the following:

* There must be effective utilisation of intergovernmental relations when rolling-out projects at local government. We must integrate resources.
* Proper planning and co-ordination amongst the three spheres of government must be done in time.
* Ensuring that we have efficient project managers who have the capacity to monitor these projects.
* Ensuring that we have accurate data of what is happening on the ground.
* Ensuring that there is clear and unambiguous communication amongst all stakeholders and the communities.

We would like to appreciate the good work that was done by my predecessor, Honourable J L Mahlangu and the hard-working team of officials in the department, during the rollout of this very taxing and challenging project.

Institutional capacity and management

The year 2006/07 saw a number of municipal managers' contracts coming to an end. This invariably left a void in most municipalities. I am pleased to announce that a total of 20 out of 21 municipalities have already appointed or extended contracts of their municipal managers.

Madame Speaker, perhaps what is disturbing to note is that of the 20 municipal managers appointed only one is a female. This shows that we still have a lot to do to make sure that we increase representation of women in senior positions at local government.

We are also working closely with our municipalities to ensure that they appoint their Section 57 senior managers. The department will find a way with South African Local Government Association (Salga) to address the question of gender representation in positions of senior management. One way or another, this must be done at all cost.

I am also informed that there has been a serious skills drain in the technical and financial departments of some municipalities. The departure of these skilled personnel has had a negative impact on our municipalities. As these people leave they do not only take their expertise along but also leave with the corporate memory necessary to continue with service delivery. This therefore means that in future, clear succession and retention plans must be put in place to curb any sudden loss of valuable technical know-how that should always be in-house.

I must also add that we have seen an improvement in the submission of annual financial statements by our municipalities. Sixteen municipalities out of 21 submitted their 2006/07 financial statements in time.

Madam Speaker, the victory of Nkangala District Municipality in succession for both provincial and national Vuna Awards as well as the sterling achievements by the Steve Tshwete Municipality will stay for much longer in our memories. What we however need to have is the replication of Nkangala and Steve Tshwete by other municipalities in the province. I have no doubt that this year will see an even difficult and interesting competition due to commitment and dedication of our municipalities.

Local Government Strategic Agenda (LGSA)

Project Consolidate was launched in October 2004 as a programme of hands-on support centred on the deployment of service delivery facilitators in 139 out of 284 municipalities. This province was one of the main provinces that took the lead in the shaping and implementation of Project Consolidate in the country.

It is for that reason that Minister Sydney Mufamadi determined that of the 22 municipalities countrywide that were ready to implement quick-wins or early deliverables, 11 were in Mpumalanga. These municipalities were able to achieve 98% completion of early deliverables in six months in areas of:

* bucket eradication in Siyathemba
* improvement in the refuse removal services through additional skip-bins
* drilling of water boreholes in the rural areas of Marble Hall, Greater Tubatse, Greater Groblersdal and Nkomazi
* construction of taxi and bus routes in Kameelrivier (Dr J S Moroka) and places called television and eNkomeni (Mbombela)
* purchase of refuse removal trucks and tractors for Greater Tubatse, Albert Luthuli, Lekwa, Thembisile, Nkomazi, Emalahleni and uMjindi municipalities.

The challenges and lessons learnt assisted the Department of Provincial Local Government (DPLG) to develop a five Year Local Government Strategic Agenda (2006-2011). The three priority areas of the Agenda are:

Priority one: Mainstreaming hands-on support to local government to improve municipal governance, performance and accountability.

Priority two: Addressing the structure and governance arrangements of the State in order to better strengthen, support and monitor local government.

Priority three: Refining and strengthening the policy, regulatory and fiscal environment for local government and giving greater attention to the enforcement measures.

Madam Speaker, Key Performance Areas (KPAs) of the first priority are:

1. municipal transformation and institutional development
2: basic service delivery and infrastructure development
3: local economic development
4: municipal financial viability and management
5: good governance and public participation

As provincial sector departments including the departments of local government are required to organise resources in support for the implementation of this Strategic Agenda, allow me therefore Madam Speaker to table the Budget allocations in line with the Agenda for 2007/08 financial year.

Municipal transformation and institutional development

During the first 2006/07 year of implementation, the successes achieved include:

* training and induction programme for councillors offered by Salga
* improvement in the appointment of municipal managers and other senior managers
* improved rate of senior managers performance agreements signed to 58%
* developed provincial and municipal action plans for Project Consolidate Programme implementation

An amount of R2,4 million has been set aside to strengthen Project Consolidate in the province to support and monitor municipal transformation and institutional development of local government .This will further be augmented by an additional R2,3 million for capacity building programmes and hands-on training for both councillors and officials. Leadership development programmes shall be key and linked to the Accelerated Capacity Building Flagship Project in the Office of the Premier. This is in support of KPA one of the LGSA.

We also intend improving our performance in monitoring the signing of employment contracts and performance agreements by all senior managers employed by municipalities. Madam Speaker, we are reminded of the local government: Municipal Performance Regulations for municipal managers and managers directly accountable to municipal managers, 2006, Regulations Number 805 of 1 August 2006, that stipulate as follows under clause 4(4) and (5) of the said Regulations: "(4) Employment in terms of the employment contract must further be subject to the compliance with the following terms and conditions:

* the signing of a separate performance agreement within 90 calendar days after assumption of duty and annually within one month after the commencement of the new financial year
* the submission of original certificates or certified copies thereof of the employee's academic and professional qualifications and proof of previous employment prior to the signing of the employment contract
* the Code of Conduct as stipulated in Schedule 2 of the Act, which must form an appendix to the contract
* disclosure of financial interests on the date of assumption of duty and on an annual basis within one month after the commencement of the financial year, which shall be lodged with the municipal council.

"(5) The employment contract and the performance agreement must be submitted to the MEC responsible for local government in the relevant province as well as the national minister responsible for local government within 14 days after concluding the employment contract and performance agreement."

Surely Madam Speaker, most of our municipalities are defaulters when it comes to the compliance with these two sub-clauses. It is for this reason that our Municipal Administration Directorate together with the Project Consolidate Team shall co-ordinate, facilitate and liaise with all municipalities and Salga to ensure that, not a single municipality is unable to comply with the Regulations.
Our aim is to improve the current 72 out of 124 senior manager contracts signed, a rate of 58% of performance agreements signed by municipal managers and their Section 57 managers to more acceptable levels.

This unit shall also further ensure that municipalities have performance management systems in place that serve as a balanced score cards for performance on key areas of municipal priority. The municipal managers are evaluated in terms of the Key Performance Areas and core competency requirements supported by the performance management systems. We will focus our assistance and attention to all defaulting municipalities that have possible systemic performance deficiencies.

Chapter six of the Municipal Systems Act, 2 000, requires municipalities to develop performance management systems linked to the Intergrated Development Plans (IDPs) and Budget Key Performance Indicators. Further to this is the requirement to compile and submit an annual performance report to the MEC for local government in terms of sections 46. Although 16 municipalities have performance management frameworks, it still however remains a concern that the municipal annual performance reports are not submitted as frequently as required. This therefore brings about a limitation with regards to submissions to the province and the Minister of Provincial and Local Government.

Other interventions include the general assessment of current policies and by-laws, evaluation of the frequency of council meetings and their effectiveness, regular meetings with the general municipal staff who should always be kept informed, evaluation of municipal customer services and Batho-Pele, general evaluation of powers and functions between Category B and C municipalities as assisted by the Municipal Demarcation Board and the assessments in terms of capacity to implement functions as provided for in terms of Section 78 of the Municipal Systems Act.

Basic service delivery and infrastructure development

During the 2006/07 financial year we experienced a number of challenges, which have hampered service delivery. These included:

* the Municipal Infrastructure Grants (MIG) expenditure at a rate of 53% by end of March 2007
* deficiencies regarding multi-year planning of MIG projects and poor technical capacity for project management
* delays regarding registration of business plans, procurement of service providers and the implementation of projects.

We have however seen some positive improvement with regards to:

* expeditious submission of technical reports and business plans through the assistance provided by service delivery facilitators deployed by the department
* the development of the Water Blue Print and the Water for All Flagship Project Plan to meet the universal targets of 2008 and higher level of service by 2010
* the total renovation of additional eight Multi-Purpose Community Centres (MPCCs) now branded as Thusong Service centres from unused municipal buildings.

Eight experts were deployed during 2006/07 in seven municipalities. Two were in Nkomazi, and the rest deployed each in Albert Luthuli, Dr J S Moroka, Bushbuckridge, Mkhondo, Lekwa and Govan Mbeki under Siyenza Manje Programme. The department further appointed three consultants to assist other additional municipalities in all three districts with the development of project business plans and technical reports. This programme is sure to assist troubled municipalities with lesser capacity to manage their own affairs and to accelerate delivery. Further refinements will be dealt with at a provincial Municipal Infrastructure and Support Workshop planned for June 2007.

A budget of R11,3 million has been allocated for ensuring that the Multi-Purpose Community Centres are fully functional. Posts have already been advertised to start the recruitment process to fill the senior management posts of these centres by 1 July 2007. Our plans are to ensure that at least eight of the fourteen MPCCs earmarked are effectively operational by the middle of 2007/2008.

We have also budgeted R5 million to ensure that there is adequate support and intervention to improve on Municipal Infrastructure Grant spending and programme implementation. We are aiming at ensuring that at least 25% in each quarter is spent on MIG allocations. This shall be done through unblocking challenges related to planning, project management, procurement of service providers and the required technical skills. We intend doing this by augmenting the Siyenza Manje Programme by further appointing additional experts to provide hands-on support, and embark on trouble-shooting work in all municipalities that have since shown deficiencies in their capacities.

Madam Speaker, R15 million has been allocated for the construction of the state of the art provincial Disaster Management Centre. This amount will only cater for the first phase of the two phases to complete the Centre. The Centre, whose site is on the right-hand side of R40 to White River just before Drum Rock offices, is required in terms of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 to be established by each province. It goes without saying Madam Speaker that gains from the establishment of the Centre will go beyond compliance purposes.

Benefits such as improved civil protection within the province, the country and neighbouring countries of Swaziland and Mozambique would be achieved through this massive development. Other benefits include prevention, preparedness and early warning systems, effective rapid response and an opportunity for a successful hosting of the World Cup in 2010.

Madam Speaker, if everything goes as planned, the construction of the Disaster Management Centre will commence not later than June 2007 and it is projected that it will be complete no later than September 2009. We should be ready for the World Cup dry run in 2009. We will be hosting our Disaster Management conference in August 2007 to discuss these matters broadly.

An amount of R6,3 million is set aside for the delivery of free basic services. Critical municipalities without water infrastructure and who require immediate attention shall be assisted.

To reflect our seriousness to eradicate backlogs on water infrastructure, a Water for All Flagship Project has been identified and approved in the province to assist in accelerating the eradication of the backlogs. We know by now that the eradication of these backlogs will cost in the region of R4,2 billion for the next three financial years and secured funding through collective contribution from MIG sources, Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and the province is just above R2,1 billion for the same Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period. A lot of work still needs to be done to synergise resources to meet our targets

Part of the aims of the project is to accelerate the eradication of water infrastructure backlog for 171 586 households whilst ensuring we at least provide universal access to basic water provision by 2008.

This will include the provision of communal standpipes in areas where there is no infrastructure and progressively target a higher level of service for household connections by 2010. This will require far more capacity, dedication and commitment than before and our development partners such as the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF), Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) and financial institutions have already pledged interest in assisting in the project.

I would be doing a dis-service to our province Madam Speaker, if I do not mention the support we are receiving from DPLG that nominated Emakhazeni as a pilot in the country for the universal eradication of all infrastructure backlogs due to its minimal quantity of infrastructure backlogs in the province. Starting with its minimum MIG allocation of R3,4 million for the 2007/08 financial year and rising to higher proportions subsequently, this Municipality shall be assisted to ensure that all targets are met in terms of eradicating water, sanitation, electricity, roads and other crucial community service infrastructure.

Local Economic Development

Madame Speaker, I am pleased to report that all district municipalities were able to host their district Growth and Development summits during the 2006/07 financial year. They also further embarked on reviewing and the development of Local Economic Development (LED) plans and strategies for the 2007/08 financial year. The department shall ensure that these plans and strategies are cascaded to their local municipalities, that key sets of LED related capacity are mobilised, promote institutional LED capacity, stimulate competitiveness and the local market zones during the course of the 2007/08 financial year.

An amount of R1,9 million has been budgeted to fund some of these interventions in support for LED KPA three. It will further assist in realising capacity building programmes, mobilising learnership programmes through the recruitment of at least 10 learners from institutions of higher learning such as universities and other key institutions. We have also planned an LED summit that shall integrate issues of traditional leadership and governance in order to explore opportunities available at our disposal and advantages and roles of Amakhosi on land matters and economic opportunities that complement them. The summit is planned for September 2007.

Municipal financial management and viability

Madam Speaker, the department has assessed the performance of our municipalities with regards to their financial viability. Regrettably, we noted with despair that the debtors have been accumulating at a high rate totalling more than R1,5 billion owed to municipalities currently. This situation is surely crippling the financial viability of our municipalities and we need to do our utmost to assist them to come out of this problem. Focused assistance will be provided to municipalities to effectively recover outstanding debts from national and provincial sector departments including state owned enterprises. Sound, credible and effective credit controls and debt management systems shall be introduced to all underperforming municipalities in order to:

* improve the public confidence on the billing system
* improve the financial and economic viability of municipalities
* provide adequate control measures within the legal framework for debt recovery.

We further need to ensure that the credit control policies are passed as by-laws in all municipalities as required by the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act.

We have set aside an amount of R1,2 million to support these activities as KPA four interventions. With this amount, we will add on other provincial and national resources to continue to:

* support municipal compliance with Municipal Finance Management Act
* guide implementation of the Municipal Property Rates Act
* refine local government fiscal system
* improve local government financial management, improve accountability, strengthen transparency and to fight corruption.

This programme will largely be informed by the information on the status quo of municipalities which is generated quarterly through the monitoring exercise and information from the Auditor-General reports on crucial issues that have to be attended to. Obviously municipalities with qualified reports will not escape this intervention.

Our directorates of Municipal Finance, Monitoring and Support in consultation with the Provincial Treasury shall ensure that we continue to monitor, support and strengthen municipalities to comply with the Municipal Finance Management Act for the implementation of the provisions of the Act in terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in sharing the powers and functions with provincial Treasury.

Madam Speaker, remarkable improvements have been achieved in Thaba Chweu since our intervention as a province in terms of Section 139(b) of the Constitution. We have been able to finalise the outstanding financial statements, establish a primary bank account, appoint Municipal Manager and Section 57 senior managers, investigated successfully a number of fraud and maladministration allegations, assisted with improvement in revenue generation and collection of debts, reconciled outstanding accounts, improved payment of creditors, recovered funds owed to the municipality by some officials and councillors, laid charges and held disciplinary cases where necessary.

As a result a number of finance staff opted to resign when an intense investigation was conducted. There are certain areas of our investigations that have not been completed yet which is why we thought we should prolong our stay until all dirty and corrupt roots have been totally removed. We however intend handing-over the responsibilities we took over from this municipality hopefully during the course of this year.

A number of allegations or concerns, concerning the functionality of Mbombela Local Municipality and the irregularities surrounding the preparations for the 2010 World Cup were raised with my predecessor MEC J L Mahlangu and myself as the executive authorities responsible for local government in the province.

On receipt of these concerns, my department arranged a meeting with the Mayoral Committee of Mbombela in an attempt to deal with some of these issues that l felt could be handled immediately. I also met with the MEC for Finance as part of the consultation process prescribed in the Municipal Finance Management Act, to discuss the extent of the allegations relating to the financial irregularities and maladministration reported.

Subsequently we then agreed to establish an investigation team composed of officials from my department and provincial treasury in terms of section 106 of the Municipal Systems Act.

A preliminary report was recently tabled to the provincial executive council stating a number of issues, financial irregularities, as well as some breach of the current local government legislations. It is expected that provincial treasury will submit a status quo report relating to the finances of the municipality to the Executive Council. The two reports will determine the extent of support and intervention that might be needed for the municipality.

Although the situation has been improving on one hand, other issues remained a cause of concern as further fraudulent activities in the finance department of the municipality were emerging including prepaid electricity funds that were stolen. Additional instances of malpractice were reported which were the remnants of the corrupt legacy that has been operating within the municipality.

Public participation and good governance

Madam Speaker, the department has taken good governance and public participation very seriously. To date all 365 ward committees have been established in all our municipalities in the province. A Train the Trainer Programme is already being rolled-out to add on human capital of providing capacity to the ward committees.

In addition to this Madam Speaker, the province was again nominated through the ward committees of Emakhazeni Municipality to pilot the training material that will be used for the training of ward committees in the country. To further improve on functionality, South Africa is about to enter into an agreement with the European Union for the amount of 10 million Euros (approximately R90 million) for the training of ward committees in the following fields:

* ward committee system functional in accordance with the relevant legislation
* awareness of participation rights and responsibilities
* community engagement mechanisms effective in municipal wards
* accountability mechanisms effective in municipal wards
* systematic monitoring and evaluation of community based participation system
* project management
* project review and evaluation
* project audit and visibility

The participants will receive a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level two accreditation on completion of the training programme. This programme will be commencing by September 2007 and shall continue with at least two phases of intense support towards 2012

We further have been able to make a positive impact with the Community Development Workers Programme. A total of 360 Community Development Workers (CDWs) have been employed at level six from the 2006/07 financial year and were successfully deployed to municipalities in different wards. During this financial we will employ, three CDW co-ordinators, one for each district. These co-ordinators will enable us ensure that we supervise and monitor the monthly programmes of the CDWs effectively.

Linked to this is a further need to make in-roads for the development of our communities in the rural areas through the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Programme (ISRDP). These are areas that rely on active participation, responsible ward committees, responsive community structures and a band of CDWs that make it possible to convey their needs and close the information gap that they are faced with.

The department has set aside R1 million for training of Ward Committees and R51,7 million for the remuneration of CDWs.

Madam Speaker, the Izimbizo programme both at national and provincial levels are very crucial on our governance and participation matters. The department in consultation with the Office of the Premier will form partnerships with the district municipalities to ensure the successes of these programmes. This will enable us to make sure that we tighten the void that seems to exist in as far as addressing the issues raised during the Izimbizo as well as giving feedback to the communities.

Intergovernmental relations

We will continue to further the objectives of co-operative governance through our Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) structures as supported by our Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act, 2005. Structures such as the Premiers Co-ordinating Forum, MEC and Mayors Forum (MuniMec), Integrated Development Plans forums will remain key to advance the objectives of the five Year Local Government Strategic Agenda (LGSA). By this we shall ensure that the LGSA is a standing item in these structures including the district co-ordinating forums that have to be strengthened during the course of the year.

The department with the assistance of the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) will embark on a capacity assessment exercise within the province, during 2007 to ensure that we improve our capacity to:

* monitor and support municipalities
* undertake integrated spatial development planning
* co-ordinate intergovernmental relations

We will also use these structures to ensure that we fast track the implementation of monitoring, reporting and evaluation (MR&E) policies. The DPLG is currently assisting us in developing a Government-wide Monitoring and Evaluation policy and implementation plan. For this to be successful, we will have to include these issues in our IGR structures and ensure that appropriate forums are in place as shall be advised by the DPLG.

Madam Speaker, the proclamation of the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act, 2005 also assisted in forging cooperation between all three spheres of government in aligning plans and to support municipalities to improve their capacity and performance. The process of the Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) engagement has helped improve the implementation of credible municipal plans and LED strategies due to closer working relationship between national, provincial and local governments. As a result, there is not a single municipality during the 2006/07 financial year that was not able to adopt its IDP and budget in time. We are hoping that all efforts shall be done to keep this momentum throughout.

Further to this will be the engagement of the Youth Commission during the course of the year in a bid to lure the youth and young talent in governance issues so that they could play a meaningful role in the development of our communities. We will this year screen the IDPs of municipalities to trace whether programmes of development do involve the special groups such as women, the youth and the people with disabilities.

Having said all of this Madam Speaker, I would not have completed my task if I do not come to the point of acknowledging the municipalities that worked very hard to develop and adopt credible Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) for their municipalities. Gone is the time when the IDPs were said to be wish lists and consultant driven processes that aimed at producing a document, very bulky and hard to follow, and so uninteresting that the best thing municipalities would do is to find a shelve or store room for it to be hidden. We are glad to announce that this is not possible anymore.

The department guided by the DPLG has produced a template to assist in ensuring credibility in the IDPs that are developed. The template identifies key components and crucial areas to be included in the IDP. It further emphasizes the consultative processes that must be followed, sector plans that must be developed within the IDPs and the financial plan that accompanies it.

A total of 21 IDPs for all municipalities were adopted in time and received by the department for the 2006/07 financial year. I was also fortunate to be part of the Handover Ceremony at Emnotweni that was organized in 2006 for the new councillors. I listened with interest when some municipalities requested more time to complete sector plans which I found a bit unreasonable. This time around, we have this opportunity of completing the IDP development and the required sector plans with the involvement of relevant sector departments through thorough engagement processes.

The district municipalities are already completing these cycles. We will also continue to produce summarised versions of different municipal IDPs in localised languages for distribution to communities and the circulation of the IDP newsletters to share experiences and good practices in the name of enhancing our good governance.

During the 2006/07 financial year, the department conducted the following surveys:

Physical verification and impact assessment of the bucket toilet system eradication programme. This entailed conducting a survey to check, count the number of new ventilated improved pit-latrines (VIP) and waterborne toilet system installed and secondly assess whether the communities were satisfied with the product. Eighty-nine field workers were contracted for a month to collect the data. All fieldworkers appointed were from wards where the bucket toilet system eradication programme was implemented.

We also conducted a survey on socio-economic levels and housing typology of informal settlement at Mbombela (Mataffin, Woodhouse, Skomplas, Compound Boschrand no one, two and three Marathon Dingwele and Phumlani).The findings of this survey have a very interesting dimension in that not everyone needs an Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) house. From 847 respondents 69 had property elsewhere in the country which indicated that they needed rental stock and 778 needed assistance and full subsidy from government as their income range from R0 to R3 500 per month.

The last survey conducted by the department in 2006/07 was on the assessment of the level of satisfaction of departmental customers on service delivery. The survey was conducted provincially using a systematic sampling approach to choose respondents. Mbombela, Thaba-Chweu, Umjindi, Emalahleni, Emakhazeni, Thembisile, Lekwa, Govan Mbeki, Pixley ka Seme and Mkhondo were municipalities used in this survey. About 6 449 respondents participated in survey and most indicated their satisfaction on services provided by the department. The sore points were on poor quality of houses, the co-ordination of Traditional Leadership programme and the co-ordination of community participation programme.

Our gratitude goes to all executive mayors, mayors, speakers, municipal managers, municipal officials, traditional leaders and all departmental officials who gave the research team assistance and support during the data collection process.

In the 2007/08 financial year we will conduct the following surveys:

* survey on the level of satisfaction of departmental employees
* survey on the upgrading of informal settlements at Mbombela, Umjindi and Thaba-Chweu.

We would like to thank all the citizens of the province who co-operated with us during these surveys and we trust that you will continue to work with us.

Traditional leadership

Our traditional leaders continue to play a very important role in our governance system. Through the House of Traditional Leaders in the province we continue to engage and work with our traditional leaders to bring about development to our communities. During 2006, the department embarked on a road show with Chairperson of the House of Traditional Leaders, iNkosi Mthethwa, where our executive mayors and their mayoral committees were meeting traditional leaders in their municipal areas. These interactions were positive and we will continue to hold such gatherings as agreed upon. We are humbled by the dedication and commitment shown by our traditional leaders in matters of governance.

We have set aside an amount of R6 million for the implementation of the Mpumalanga Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act (Act No. 5 of 2006). This implementation will require that we establish and build capacity of traditional councils in the province. We have completed the process of establishing local council at district levels. A set of regulations relating to the process of establishment of traditional local councils that will guide the processes for establishment of 59 traditional councils will soon be gazetted. 60% membership of the traditional councils will be selected by the traditional leader, whilst 40% will be elected by the community under the jurisdiction of that Traditional Leader. We hope to set up these traditional councils by December 2007.

We have further allocated an amount of R5,525 million for the remuneration and the operation costs for headmen (Tindvuna/ Izinduna). This amount will be utilised to pay for the allowances of headmen to close the gap between headmen incorporated from Limpopo and those that were already appointed in Mpumalanga.

We are glad to announce that the Ingoma Bill is at its final stages. All consultations have been made and the Executive Committee has approved the bill. The Premier will be signing the Bill to become an Act and shall announce the effective date of the Act. The purpose of the Bill is to regulate the running of initiation schools in the province. The regulations shall deal with aspects of forced entry into initiation schools, improved or observance of health practices, age of entry, investigations on alleged irregularities, duration and placation of deaths.

Madame Speaker, the Mpumalanga Local Government Laws Repeal Bill has undergone all the steps that must be followed. Public hearings have been held and the Executive Council has also approved the bill. The purpose of the Bill is to repeal all old era laws that governed local government. Most of these Laws were apartheid laws that were oppressive to the people of South Africa and others were the former homeland laws which were different from each other. The Bill therefore formalises the uniformity of local government laws.

I am sure that you are all aware that the province is drafting the Mpumalanga Witchcraft Suppression Bill. The purpose of the bill is to suppress Acts of witchcraft including naming and pointing of any body as a wizard or witch. To deal with the violence associated with allegations of witchcraft and deal with killings including ritual killing associated with witchcraft and empowering Traditional leaders to deal with witchcraft aspects.

Administration

Madam Speaker, the department is operating on a staff compliment of 70%. The vacancy rate has impacted negatively on our efforts to deliver on our targets. We are still faced with a challenge to attract women for senior positions, attract people with disabilities for senior and middle positions and to retain people with scarce skills especially engineers. We are also faced with challenge of lack of capacity in the department.

We have embarked on a programme to recruit high performing students with maths and science subjects. These students will be financed by the department to pursue engineering courses at institutions of higher learning. We are already funding three students to pursue such studies.

We are also faced with a challenge of ensuring that we tighten up the security of our personnel and buildings, so as to ensure that the workplace is conducive for our employees. The department has begun a process of building internal capacity to deal with the vetting of personnel.

The issues of gender, disability, children issues, the aged and HIV and AIDS are matters that are very important in our societies. In the department the transversal unit continues to strive to make sure that these issues take centre stage in our programmes. In this financial year, we will be assisting municipalities to establish transversal units. Currently only four municipalities, namely Emalahleni, Mbombela, Pixely Ka Seme and Ehlanzeni have established these units.

We have implemented a fully-fledged supply chain management unit in the department. This unit allows for an appropriate procurement and provisioning system, which is fair equitable, transparent, competitive and cost effective. In line with the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act, 5 of 2000 and the Provincial Growth and Development Summit resolutions, both which state that government will actively promote the use of provincial based business in government contracts and that government will set procurement preferences for targeted groups in respect of women, youth and the disabled. It is in this light that the department has evaluated all bids. We will continue to do so.

Housing

One famous singer once said "akukho ubuhlungu njengeku swela indawo yoku lala". These words were used by our people as they depicted the situation they found themselves in during the days of the apartheid regime. Sadly enough 13 years into our democracy many of our people still find themselves in the same plight of not having houses of their own.

Housing continues to be one of the major challenges that face us as a department. That many of our people still have to wait several years for a house is a clear indication of the challenges that we are still faced with. We have put in place some measures to try and address the challenges that we have faced but they have not yielded the desired results adequately. When the department delivered its budget speech in the 2005/06, it announced a bold decision it had taken to complete more than 17 000 houses which had been left incomplete over the past years. As of 31 March 2007, we had 3 593 of these houses still outstanding. Our failure to complete these houses depicts the huge challenges that face us as a department.

We have identified a number of challenges that have continued to hamper our housing delivery. In our quest to turn around our housing approach and accelerate housing delivery we have put in place a number of interventions that we hope will assist us to address some of the challenges we faced in the past. These challenges include:

Insufficient long-term development planning in consultation with stakeholders

Planning has been one of our biggest if not the biggest shortcomings in the department. We are all aware that if there is no proper planning then there cannot be any proper implementation.

Madame Speaker, We are going to change the way that we have dealt with our planning. Our planning will be in two phases. The first phase will deal with issues of land, infrastructure, land use change, geotechnical investigation, and environmental impact assessment. The second phase will deal with the rollout of the projects. All this will be done as part of our multi year planning for the different projects. This therefore means that as we start the 2007/08 financial year, we are also starting to plan for the 2008/09 financial years. This financial year we will begin to put in place all the processes that need to be embarked on for the 2008/09 projects such as township establishment, environmental impact assessment and land use change, so that come the beginning of 2008/09 we immediately start with construction. All municipalities must present their housing needs to the department together with the list of beneficiaries by June 2007, for the planning of the 2008/09 financial year. Municipalities must also indicate the availability of land closer to centres of economic activity, so that we can bring our people closer to these centres. Land closer to economic centres must not just be made available for private developers.

Our planning has also been affected by lack of sufficient consultation with the various stakeholders in housing related matters. As part of improving on this we will be engaging our municipalities and other stakeholders more extensively.

In this financial year we will also be introducing housing chapters in municipalities. We have budgeted for this process. The future allocations will be in line with these housing chapters.

Insufficient project management and technical skills in the department

Our developmental approach is changing towards partnering with the private sector for greater efficiency and effectiveness. A larger portion of the budget will be allocated to bigger projects, and a smaller portion will go towards smaller projects.

We will also augment the skills that we have by using the Mpumalanga Housing Finance Company to assist us with inspectors, engineers, quantity surveyors and property evaluators.

In the past we have identified houses of poor quality, and these were demolished and rebuilt at the cost of the contractors.

We have also been besieged with a lot of inaccuracies in our data. This has also affected our approach to dealing with problems because it is difficult to deal with a problem if you do not know its magnitude. We will be drawing in our Community Development Workers (CDWs) to be our eyes and ears in the communities in order to assist us to monitor our housing projects and help us with the verification of data in this regard.

We need a bold and robust approach to turn around housing. We must begin to show that we have learnt from our mistakes. As one famous Nigerian writer, Ben Okri wrote "the new era is already here; here the new time begins anew".

We are well aware that the challenges that faced us as a department ten years ago are not the same as the challenges that face us today. The department has also begun a process of reviewing its organogram in order to deal with the issues of capacity. The review of the organogram will assist us as department to strategically position ourselves to be able to deal with the challenges that face us. I am sure that this is what Okri refers to as "here the new time begins a new".

To bolster our technical capacity in December 2006 we appointed 12 Cuban professional engineers of civil engineers, hydraulic engineers and architects. They have been deployed to assist the Inspectors and Technicians in the three regions. They have been stationed at Nelspruit, Witbank and Ermelo to ensure quality in the construction of houses and in water supply.

Inadequate capacity and entrepreneurship by contractors

Madame Speaker, the department has emerged from a painful encounter with the reality of the challenges brought about by the shortage of credible and capacitated contractors. It is our intention to embark on a programme to train contractors on construction and elementary project management. To address this challenge all the contractors that the department will appoint will be accredited by National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) so that they can access free training and mentoring. We are also piloting a youth training programme that will empower 100 prospective young contractors through the NHBRC. If we are successful with this training we will roll it out to other areas in the province. We will also be engaging some of our social partners and other institutions to assist us develop the capacity of our contractors.

Despite the challenges that have faced us since the advent of democracy, we have built 111 963 housing units, thus providing adequate housing to approximately half a million people. The size of these houses varies from 45 square meters to 68 square meters. We acknowledge that this is not enough; however we must applaud ourselves in that we have managed to build such a number of houses despite the challenges that we faced. During this period 163 225 subsidies were approved.

The hope that 2007/08 will be a better year is what drives us as a department in our quest to provide a better life for our people. Indeed all is not lost. We have developed programmes that should help us achieve our goals in the 2007/08 financial year.

Eradication / upgrading of informal settlements

Informal settlements are increasing at an alarming, fast and disturbing pace in the province. Daily, informal settlements are mushrooming in every Municipality unabated. Most of the municipalities are unable to curb the gradual increase of those illegal occupations of land because of their inability to enforce various pieces of legislation, like the provisions of the Prevention of Illegal Evictions Act and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act No.19 of 1998 and also applicable By-Laws on the curbing of informal settlements. The last survey conducted in 2005 reflected that the province has 88 397 informal households, however the department has embarked upon a process of updating this information. The department has, however, taken a conscious decision to combat the scourge and the mushrooming of informal settlements.

For the 2007/08 financial year, the department has set aside R126 million for purposes of ensuring that proper human settlements are created. The department has identified the following municipalities Lekwa, Emalahleni, and Mkhondo as pilot projects for eradicating informal settlements during 2007/08 financial year. However it should be noted that the target for eradicating informal settlements in the country is 2014. The department has further set aside for the servicing of 3 138 sites an amount of R56 million in all the three districts.

Farm-worker housing - agrivillages

We are continuing to provide services on farms targeting both farm dwellers and labourers. Some farms have been bought by the national Department of Land Affairs whilst others have been donated by some farm owners for the development of agrivillages. These farms are situated in the following municipalities: Thaba Chweu (Naauwport 1&2), Umjindi (Verulam/Dixie), Nkomazi (Esparado), Steve Tshwete, Emakhazeni (portion six of farm Van Wykvlei), Delmas (Dryden) Govan Mbeki, Lekwa and Msukaligwa (Nooitgedacht). An amount of R21 million has been set aside for these agrivillages. Four hundred and four farm-worker families will be accommodated in the 2007/08 financial year.

Integrated human settlements

This program is intended to deliver housing in line with the Comprehensive Plan for the Creation of Sustainable Human Settlements (the Comprehensive Plan) as presented by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and approved by National Cabinet on 1 September 2004.

It focuses on the integration of the Human Settlements in a manner that will address the apartheid type spatial planning and also on the accelerated delivery of housing in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2014. The department has identified the following Economic Development Areas in the province.

* Govan Mbeki
* Mkhondo
* Bushbuckridge
* Thaba Chweu
* Mbombela
* Msukaligwa
* Dipaleseng
* Steve Tshwete
* Emalahleni
* Lekwa.

The process is informed by Breaking New Ground (BNG) (a comprehensive housing plan) that seeks to establish sustainable human settlements and ensuring that integration is arrived at. The policy was rolled out in 2005, however the province made resources available for the 2007/08 financial year. The above mentioned municipalities are ideal in starting this noble policy. It should also be noted that the department has partnered with banks on this initiative.

In realising the aspirations of Breaking New Ground (BNG) which seeks to ensure that well co-ordinated sustainable human settlements are put in place, there is a need to develop more appropriate settlement designs and housing products to ensure appropriate housing quality in both the urban and rural environments. The Breaking New Ground accordingly proposes the following of which the department is already implementing:

* enhancing settlement designs

The department has already embarked upon the introduction of enhancing measures and incentives to include design professionals at planning and project design stages.

* Enhancing housing design

Within the rural context, there is a need to make housing interventions more effective, to enhance the traditional technologies and indigenous knowledge of housing construction and delivery which will improve shelter, services and tenure where these are priorities for the people living there.

* Addressing housing quality

Through the appointment of qualified project managers and technical professionals, the department will continue to undertake an audit of and develop a programme to address the poor quality of houses built before the introduction of national norms and standards and the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) Warranty Scheme.

Rental stock / social housing

Madame Speaker, one of the major challenges facing us as a department is creating suitable housing for people who do not want to buy, but want accommodation next to their places of employment. Once these people's working life has been completed they want to return back to their places of origin, which is usually in the rural areas. No matter how hard you may try to convince these people to own properties in areas next to their work places they are simply not interested.

The unavailability of suitable land has also impacted negatively on our initiatives to provide integrated housing delivery through the usage of rental stock. Some of the land and properties that were identified for rental stock were too small to make the projects viable. The banks could not fund such projects due to their viability and therefore the department had to identify alternative land. The areas most affected were and still are Mbombela and Govan Mbeki.

The department has taken a decision to help municipalities purchase land and buildings in areas that have been identified as economic development areas namely: Mbombela, Steve Tshwete, Govan Mbeki and Emalahleni estimated at R150 million. This will deal with the problem of unavailability of land that has negatively affected some of the projects that the department had budgeted for.

The department has also identified land that belongs to the Department of Public Works and the various municipalities. Planning on these properties will commence in the beginning of this financial year in order to get them to a state of readiness that will enable the department to deliver integrated human settlements in the 2008/09 financial year.

Not withstanding the above, the department has identified rental stock in the following municipalities in order to accelerate housing delivery: Diplaseng, Mkhondo, Emalahleni, Mbombela and Steve Tshwete. For the 2007/08 financial year we will be doing planning in preparation for construction in the next financial year 2008/09. For this financial year 2007/08 we will be constructing 200 rental stock at Govan Mbeki and 120 rental units at Thaba Chweu at an estimated cost of R14 million. The department has set aside R100 million for this programme.

Rental stock is desirable in all cities, however this does not mean we will develop associations in every city, but we are proposing as a department to have district associations with satellite management abilities. Our intention is to have well managed viable and sustainable housing associations. The Social Housing institutions are playing an important role in the development of rental housing units. There is a need that their capacity to deliver on their mandate be strengthened. Attention should be given to the governance component. A strong board will ensure effective and efficient governance. All the rental stock that we are planning for will be delivered through the housing associations. The initiative of purchasing land by the department will assist those housing associations that could not move in the past due to the non-availability of land.

We have observed that the operations of the Housing Associations are at the Local Municipality Level. We have therefore engaged the affected municipalities with a view of re aligning the operations of these housing associations, such that they became municipal entities. The Housing Associations will become municipal entities established in terms of Chapter 10 of the Local Government: Municipal Finance Management Act, 2003. We feel this will give municipalities more control over these associations thus accelerating sustainable housing delivery.

The department will be piloting along with eight other provinces the Social Housing Restructuring Programme. This entails a departmental contribution towards spatial social and economic restructuring of South Africa cities. The outcome goal is the governmental commitment to ensuring racial integration of our cities thereby increasing the participation of the poor from places of economic opportunities. It is envisaged that this inclusionary housing programme will ensure that a percentage of affordable housing units will be built in well-located areas in the city centre. Mbombela is our pilot project for inclusionary housing.

Rental housing tribunal

The growth of the rental housing sector, which includes both formal and informal letting of properties, has nudged the Department to give even more attention to this programme.

We have increased the publicity given to this programme. This has increased the number of complaints that have been brought to the attention of the Mpumalanga Rental Housing Tribunal. These cases have been reported by both landlords and tenants, many of which have been resolved. One hundred eighty nine cases have been reported to date, of which we have resolved 135. The remaining 54 are in the hearing process. Countless other cases are resolved without going for a hearing. We intend to do much better this financial year.

Accreditation of municipalities

We are well aware that we cannot win the battle of providing adequate housing on our own. We need to work together as the three different spheres of government in conjunction with our social partners. In this regard we are working on building the capacity of municipalities, so that they can be accredited to perform housing functions. Thus far only one municipality has been approved for level one accreditation. The Emalahleni municipality is the only one approved for level one accreditation after a thorough assessment of capacity and potential for growth was established. This accreditation means that Emalahleni Municipality will do beneficiary subsidy administration, which includes capturing of applications and verification on the system. This process has already started with allocation of resources for Emalahleni municipality. The capture module of the Housing Subsidy System has been installed and the necessary training given. Municipal staff has already started with the process of capturing beneficiaries.

Four other identified municipalities namely Govan Mbeki, Mbombela, Dr J S Moroka and Steve Tshwete have applied for accreditation. They are currently finalising their applications inclusive of preliminary business plans for operational support.

Pooling of public and private sector funding

We have a challenge to maximise housing delivery utilising funding from the private sector and government provided housing grants. The Banking Council's pledge of R42 billion should benefit our people in this province. Through the Finance Linked programme applicants who earn between R3501,00 and R 7000,00 qualify for a once off grant towards their bond. The value of the grant is based on a graduated scale based on the income of the applicant.

The application process is initiated by the relevant financial institutions including the Mpumalanga Housing Finance Company. These applications are then submitted to the department for approval.

The modes of housing delivery in these areas are Social Housing (Rental Stock) and Affordable Bonded Housing which will be co-financed together with the Banking Sector. We will continue to provide for low income earners through a quality-enhanced house with plastered internal walls, roof tiling, big windows and electricity. Some financial institutions have already submitted proposals of a proposed development of 12 500 mixed housing units in a single integrated housing estate in Klarinet and Pine Ridge, Emalahleni Municipality. This proposed development is a joint initiative by Emalahleni Local Municipality, Mpumalanga Department of Local Government and Housing, National Department of Housing and ABSA Bank. We are currently finalising the Memorandum of Understanding that will be signed with ABSA and other relevant stakeholders. This is a multi year project that is expected to run from 2007 until 2010. The total cost of this project is R1,1 billion. Financing institutions like the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) and our own Mpumalanga Housing Finance Company (MHFCo) have indicated interests in partnering with the department in other areas.

Madame Speaker, for the 2007/08 financial year the subsidy quantum is R38 984, 00 for a 40 square meter house. The department has planned to build 8 583 housing units and install services in 3 138 stands for this year. For this the department has set aside ands amount of R526 286 000.

Corruption

The department is committed to zero tolerance to corruption. A few Inspectors in the department as well as in a few municipalities were found to be colluding with corrupt contractors and have approved payments for the houses not built. Such officials have been charged, tried and dismissed. We will continue to track the corrupt contractors and we are laying charges with the police and the special investigations units. These are the officials who have undermined our attempts to bring about a better life for our people.

Seven Inspectors were implicated. Three inspectors were dismissed. One of them was reinstated owing to the decision of CCMA. Two municipal inspectors were also involved.

Fifty contractors have committed irregularities and legal action has been instituted to recover the undue payments. A firm of attorneys has been appointed to institute a civil claim against these contractors to recover all fraudulently claimed monies. Simultaneously a charge of fraud against these contractors has been laid within the Commercial Branch of the South African Police Service (SAPS). These are being investigated and the due process of law will take place.

As a part of the remedy, the department has brought-in Independent Inspectors to conduct final assessments of the houses before the final release of retention monies. This has remarkably reduced the irregularities in payment.

During this financial year the department will establish an anti-corruption unit that will assist us to curb fraud and corruption in housing delivery.

Conclusion

Indeed Madame Speaker, as we begin this financial year, we do so very well aware of the challenges that lie ahead, however we are convinced that the course we are taking is the right one and will lead us to our destination, which is a better life for our people. I concur with Ben Okri "the new era is already here; here the new time begins anew".

As we begin the second year of the current term of local government, we must once again recommit ourselves to our 2006 local government elections manifesto: "A plan to make local government work for you". Let us strive to make this plan work so that our people's hopes and desires for a better life are not disappointed. Our success will depend entirely on our commitment to dutifully execute our tasks. We must remember that our people are counting on us as public representatives and public servants that the democracy that they have fought for will indeed bring a better life for them. I want to assure this house that the Department of Local Government will work tirelessly in its endeavour to ensure that it makes local government work, and that we bring an improvement to our people's lives. Our Local Government Summit planned for early October 2007 should be able to reveal the challenges, successes and strategies for our way forward towards 2011.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to my family for their unwavering support, the Portfolio Committee led by Honourable Member NJ Mahlangu, the Head of Department Ms GN Sibeko, the management team and staff of the department for working as a collective to improve the lives of our people.

Madam Speaker, allow me to table the budget for the Department of Local Government and Housing and to accordingly request the House to approve the amount of R839,586 million for the 2007/08 financial year, to be allocated as follows:

Programme allocated amount 2007/08

Programme one:
Administration: R84 111 000

Programme two:
Housing: R582 995 000

Programme three:
Local Governance: R80 246 000

Programme four:
Development and Planning: R56 177 000

Programme five:
Traditional Institutional Management: R36 057 000

Total: R839 586 000

I thank you.


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