Helping hand benefits all

2015-06-24 06:00
ELROY PHETE, Mayor of the Tsantsabane Municipality in Postmasburg.


ELROY PHETE, Mayor of the Tsantsabane Municipality in Postmasburg. Photo: Supplied

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THREE major institutions have combined resources to make a huge difference by building capacity in 11 municipal areas in the country.

The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), the Investment Climate Facility (ICF) and Anglo American South Africa (Anglo American) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate in capacity-building interventions in 11 identified pilot municipal sites located in five provinces across South Africa, including the Ga-Segonyana, Gamagara, Joe Morolong and Tsantsabane Local Municipalities in the Northern Cape.

The aim of the programme is to implement the necessary capacity-building initiatives in Anglo American’s mining operations and labour sending areas with the purpose of building the requisite capabilities and enhancing the ability of municipalities to provide the basic services.

A key theme is also to improve the investment climate of these municipalities so they attract additional businesses and improve local economies.

Since the MoU was signed, the DBSA, ICF and Anglo American have conducted municipal assess­ments, consultation and engagement to identify the common weaknesses in the targeted municipalities, in order to focus attention on where the greatest challenges were experienced.

This included several alignment discussions and positioning with the provincial and national government departments that also provide capacity-enhancement projects to local municipalities, that is the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), the South African Local Government Association (Salga) and the National Treasury.

All parameters have been defined, and the service providers are on the ground already implementing the improvement initiatives. The DBSA has assumed the implementation role on behalf of the two programme funders (Anglo American and the ICF), working closely with the provincial and local government stakeholders, and managing various governance structures at provincial levels.

Primary goal

The primary goal of this programme, which represents an investment of R120 million for the first three years, is to strengthen institutional capacity in the areas of personnel skills and administrative systems in order to promote municipal sustainability in the long term.

The programme’s main objectives are to:

) build capacity through training and hands-on skills transfer;

) enhance capabilities of municipalities through support in the development of systems, processes and plans;

) improve basic service delivery and impact; and

) promote stable municipal management systems which are accountable, efficient and effective.

The partners recognise the constraints that many municipalities are experiencing and are therefore investing in partnerships with the municipalities to address meaningful interventions that benefit communities directly and sustainably.

Communities to benefit

According to George Benjamin, the Kolomela Mine’s Public Affairs Manager at Kumba Iron Ore, a business unit of Anglo American, this is a partnership aimed at enhancing skills and capabilities at municipalities for the benefit of local communities.

“For us as Anglo American, government is always our strategic partner, and where our operations are, it is important to have a healthy, sustainable local government system through municipalities resulting in sustainable communities,” says Benjamin.

He says municipalities should ultimately be run as businesses. The key challenges to municipalities are to have the right skills and capabilities, as well as financial backing or assistance, to be able to invest in basic services, enhancing the livelihood of people and communities.

“Where Anglo American has operations, local government – essentially municipalities – are key partners, because they represent the zone of influence in the communities where we operate, which are our key stakeholders. Working together to build stronger communities by making a real difference is not just a promise; it is an ethos, which governs how we engage in strong partnerships with the communities around us.”

The municipalities identified are where the company’s operations are based, and these communities are the ones that will benefit, says Benjamin.

People will benefit by having better functioning municipalities, with spin-offs and benefits for job creation, business development and for the local economies, he adds.

Regarding expansions and the increasing of the projects in future, Benjamin says the programmes will be closely monitored over the next three years to ensure the initiatives and interventions have the required impact. Only then a position on possible expansion will be taken.

Programme progressing well

At present the programme is being implemented across the country. A successful procurement process has deployed service providers at certain municipalities and the work of the programme is progressing well.

Edward Ntefang, Municipal Manager of the Ga-Segonyana Municipality, admits that technical help was critically needed.

He says the municipality is, among others, in need of a proper business plan. The need for infrastructure grew too fast and the municipality could not keep up with the demand.

“We are happy that this initiative is supported by Anglo American (Kumba’s Sishen Mine) and we are extremely happy with the technical assistance and advise we are receiving from the DBSA,” Ntefang says.

“Once we receive clean billing data, we can increase our cash flow and customers will receive the correct statements on time.

“If all the services we provide are paid for, the municipality will save money and the customers will enjoy proper services.”

Kevin Khoabane, Chief Financial Officer of the Ga-Segonyana Municipality, mentions that through the help of the various role-players and the DBSA, it has been discovered that some municipal accounts were closed and some customers have moved and they did not have the correct addresses for them.

“We will sustain our new data set with properly-trained staff,” Khoabane says.

“We are assessing all the information regarding service bills, and proper accounts distribution will improve the services that we can deliver.

“Less billing will be done and this will save the municipality money. Our customers will also be happier.”

Elroy Phete, the Mayor of the Tsantsabane Municipality in Postmasburg, says the municipality is grateful for the initiative between the DBSA and Kumba’s Kolomela Mine.

“We are grateful for the revenue-enhancement programme from the private sector,” Phete says.

“We are in the process of having public meetings with the community, because we need to get their views on service delivery.”

He says that with this help, service delivery can be improved and it will happen on a continued basis.

“We want to build a culture of payment for service delivery. We also need to better our personnel and focus on skills development.

“We want to take the municipality to another level.”

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