'What happened in the North West, must not happen again' - MPs slam province's failures

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ANC MP China Dodovu
ANC MP China Dodovu
Susan Cilliers
  • Politicians across the political divide slammed the collapse of governance in the North West province.
  • In May 2018, the entire provincial government was placed under administration after major financial, governance, and capacity challenges.
  • On Wednesday, the NCOP debated a report from the committee that oversaw the national government's intervention.

The collapse of governance in the North West has been slammed by political parties in Parliament.

During Wednesday's debate in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on the section 100 intervention in the North West, politicians across the political spectrum slammed the lack of social infrastructure, financial mismanagement and political instability in the province.

Despite several audit and financial management improvements, there were still significant challenges, especially water and electricity infrastructure, while wasteful and irregular expenditure still bogged several departments.

READ | North West municipalities have all but collapsed, as councils face litany of challenges

The province's municipalities were also in turmoil, faced with a litany of challenges.

ANC MP China Dodovu said interventions were drastic and required tough action against those the intervention was aimed at.

Dodovu said:

An intervention was a measure of last resort, and despite the assistance, it became clear that problems of the North West government persisted. When it intervened, violent labour unrest and community protests had paralysed services and destroyed lives and property.

Cabinet invoked Section 100(1) of the Constitution on the North West health department on 25 April 2018, placing it under the national government’s administration.

In May 2018, the entire provincial government was placed under administration after major financial, governance, and capacity challenges were recorded at provincial departments.

Section 100 allowed the national executive to intervene in a provincial government, if it had been established the provincial authority could not fulfil its constitutional obligations.

Dodovu, also chairperson of the ad-hoc committee overseeing the intervention, said the national executive should monitor the performance of the North West.

He said:

They should institute early warning information systems to detect problems before it escalates to a deeper crisis. Departments should also be fully capacitated at senior management levels with qualified personnel. The inter-ministerial task team (IMTT) should look at the devolution of property management functions from public works to other departments. What happened in the North West, must not happen again. We need to learn from this experience. Our people are yearning for services.

Another ANC MP, Yunus Carrim, said: "This failure to govern is not just a reflection of the provincial government and legislature. It is also crucially a reflection of us as the NCOP ... what are we, if not a national forum, to advance the needs and interests of provinces on a national scale. If the national government has to intervene in a province, it also reflects on the failure of the NCOP to effectively fulfil our oversight."

FF Plus MP Stephanus du Toit said the North West was the first province to be placed under administration post-apartheid.

"The ANC is making history again. And again, it is not something good. It is clear the intervention's failure was the failure of governance in the province that led to violent protests. The collapse of governance structures was the reason for the protests, but how did this happen? It happened as a result of failed political leadership, self-enrichment and greed," he said.

READ ALSO | Clover factory can still be saved, says North West government - as mayor hits back

DA MP Carin Visser said no significant progress had been made since the start of the intervention period.

She said:

We need ... to ensure the North West provincial government is functionally restored and capacitated to their mandates of good governance.

EFF MP Sam Zandamela said several public servants accused of financial wrongdoing had not been dealt with.

He also said the completed investigations had not yielded the desired results.

Dodovu said that while the criticism of some was unfair, it would motivate the NCOP to do more to address challenges in the province.

The NCOP adopted the report, with eight provinces voting in support.

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