Questions raised over service delivery turnaround strategy

2010-02-03 11:41

WHILE Government is upbeat about its turnaround strategy to tackle problems of service delivery that have led to violent countrywide unrest, some members of the watchdog committee overseeing the plans are less convinced that it will work.

The Local Government’s Turn Around Strategy (LGTAS), which is intended to ensure basic service delivery, came under the spotlight during nationwide public Ad Hoc Committee on Service Delivery hearings that kicked off in Parliament yesterday.

They consist of three days of public hearings in all nine provinces and are aimed at finding out whether LGTAS is working – and how to ensure that there is proper service delivery.

Among the priorities government hopes to achieve by 2011, is to address immediate financial and administrative problems in municipalities, said Yusuf Patel, the deputy Director-General in the department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs.

It also intends introducing regulations to halt indiscriminate hiring and firing and also ensuring the implementation of a transparent municipal supply chain management system, Patel, told the hearings.

Patel said key turnaround interventions would result in national government organising itself better and would result in provinces improving their support and oversight responsibilities over local government.

In addition, municipalities would be forced to reflect on their own performances and develop their “tailor made” turn around strategies.

But despite Patel’s upbeat presentation, some members of the all-party committee said they had “heard this all before” – and believed nothing concrete would be achieved in improving service delivery.

DA MP Sejamothopo Motau said: “We get these nice presentations over and over, as it’s easy to write the nice words and say nice things.”

But lack of service delivery would continue to be a problem as long as officials responsible for the problems were not held responsible, he said.

Cope MP Thozamile Botha said the lack of collaboration between different departments had led to a collapse of existing infrastructure and a situation where houses were left with no running water or electricity.

Botha said that in the past responsibility for infrastructure fell under two different departments – Housing and Local Government – but there was poor collaboration between the two.

He questioned whether the turnaround strategy would improve communication between the two departments, adding that the “continuing to dish out grants and houses . . .” is definitely going to cause problems for the country in the future because this practice was not sustainable.
n his presentation, Patel set out in stark statistics the growth in service delivery, increasing from only 106 reported between 1994 to 2008, compared to 101 alone in 2009.

Twenty five percent of all municipalities across the country had experienced this type of protest. These protests happened in specific wards rather than across entire municipalities experiencing protests, with a third occurring in informal settlements.

The worst affected province was Gauteng, while in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, 56% of all service delivery protests took place outside of the metros, he said.

He added that 15% of all protests in 2009 were in the Western Cape.

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