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Oral responses by the Deputy President in the National Council of Provinces

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On progress on interventions to address service delivery
 
Honourable Chairperson,
Since the beginning of the 6th Administration, we have placed building a capable and ethical state as the first priority of government. In this regard, we are piloting the District Development Model as “a whole of government” intervention to coordinate and integrate development plans, budgets and mobilise all sectors of society in pursuit of inclusive growth and job creation.
 
This seeks to solve the horizontal and vertical silos in government planning and in the provision of integrated services. Through this model, we are able to effectively track at inter-governmental level, misalignment in government programmes, duplication of services that lead to wastage of resources, and risks associated with poor planning. Collectively, these often result in poor delivery of development interventions at local level.
 
This model, further enables government to profile all districts municipalites in order to proactively identify priority districts and hotspot areas in need of urgent intervention. As a result, government through the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, is bolstering municipalities’ internal capacity to plan, deliver, operate and maintain bulk service infrastructure.
 
Honourable Chairperson
 
Part of the challenges previously raised in the NCOP, which led to our ongoing intervention in Maluti-a-Phofung local municipality, were protests as a result of disruption in the provision of electricity, water and sanitation.
 
Our experience thus far from the oversight visits to the municipality as well as our interactions with local structures and provincial administration, reaffirm that effective interventions to address provision of services requires leadership and personnel with the right skills.
 
Apart from governance challenges resulting in the municipality being placed under administration, is prevailing distance between the leadership of the municipality and the people.
 
That is why part of our focus has been on facilitating inter-governmental collaboration, and reinforcing public participation in resolving prevailing challenges in the municipality. We are hopeful that this will continue, more so, as the municipality implements the court order around the provision of electricity and its management going forward.
 
These multi-sectoral partnerships are critical in monitoring the implementation of interventions being made, as well as serving as early-warning mechanisms. Any solution to prevailing challenges should be championed by the residents of the municipality to ensure their sustainability. This has been our emphasis during our engagements with local community structures and opposition parties in the municipality.
 
Whilst the issue of reliable provision of water has been one of the pressing issues in the municipality partly due to constant interruptions in electricity supply, we have found that sustainable resolution of this issue is dependent on resolving the municipality’s escalating debt to Eskom.
 
In this regard, processes are underway to finalise the Service Delivery Agreement between the municipality and Eskom including modalities for collection of revenue, as directed by the court on the 8th of this month. This will result in sustainable resolution of the municipality’s outstanding and escalating debt, which impacts on reliable provision of water, sanitation and other basic services.
 
A public participation process on the details of this agreement has begun and we expect this agreement to be signed before end of June 2021.
 
We have also directed that the construction of the Elizabeth-Ross Sub-station that will assist the municipality to de-load substations within its proximity, be fast tracked thereby addressing the issue of exceeding the Notified Maximum Demand that results to unsustainable penalties for the municipality.
 
Further, bulk water supply has been identified as another challenge experienced by the municipality. Efforts are underway to link the municipality’s current three water supply systems which include the Metsi Matsho Dam, Sterkfontein Dam and the Fika Patso Dam. This will ensure that when one part of the system fails to supply water, the other ones can augment supply thus ensuring continuous water provision in the municipality.
 
Our intervention team will undertake a visit to the Sterkfontein Dam, to track progress of this project that is meant to ensure sustainable supply of potable water to the greater Harrismith and QwaQwa areas. The municipality is also attending to challenges of aged infrastructure that leads to water losses in the bulk line reticulation system and within residential sites.
 
We also found that there are acts of vandalism and theft of infrastructure in the municipality. We thus call upon all communities in Maluti-a-Phofung as we do to all other municipalities across the country, to protect infrastructure for basic services against vandalism and theft.
 
As parliamentarians, let us all join hands and embark on public awareness campaigns within our constituencies, encouraging the people to pay for services they consume. As we work together in implementing these service delivery improvement efforts across the country, the performance of municipalities will be efficient and effective in servicing the people.
 
Thank you
 
 
 
On Eskom takeover of electricity distribution in Mlaluti-a-Phofung
 
Honourable Chairperson
 
Our expectation is that the concerned parties would reach an understanding on the modalities to give effect to the court order in the Harrismith Business Forum and AFGRI Operations matter of 08 June 2021, by concluding a working agreement that is in the best interest of the municipality, Eskom and the residents of Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality as soon as the end of June 2021.
 
In terms of the court order, it is envisaged that Eskom would subject to Nersa approval, start to operate as a Service Delivery Agent within two weeks.
 
This appointment is based on the terms contained in the Active Partnering Proposal, which was submitted by Eskom to the municipality on 08 December 2020. Whereas all indications are that a reasonable turnaround time projected for these processes is estimated to be more than the two prescribed weeks, given the urgency of the matter, the Department of Cooperative Governance is facilitating engagements between affected stakeholders to ensure that Eskom will be on the ground from the date of the signing of the Service Delivery Agreement.
 
These timelines take into consideration all necessary processes of ensuring that parties comply with applicable legislative prescripts, which apply in utilising an external mechanism to deliver services on behalf of the municipality.
 
Thank you 
 
 
 
On Government’s Covid-19 Vaccination
 
Honourable Chairperson
 
It is common course that when the Covid-19 pandemic broke, many countries including South Africa, moved with speed to contain further spread of the virus by among others, implementation of nationwide lockdown.
 
As the year went by, a risk-adjusted strategy was employed with different levels of regulations allowing for curbing of the spread of the pandemic and ensuring that the economy works. Of course, these measures assisted a great deal in preventing a catastrophe by saving a number of lives that could have been lost, had government not acted in a manner that it has.
 
It is regrettable that a number of lives have been lost as well as livelihoods due to equal adverse effects on the economy, especially in the manufacturing and hospitality sectors that led to job losses and rise in unemployment. 
 
As we seek to rebuild the economy and overcome the unacceptably high levels of poverty and unemployment, the Presidency is overseeing the implementation of the Presidential Employment Stimulus, which is focused on co-ordinating, enhancing, and upscaling a range of existing programmes across government, and through close partnerships with the private sector.
 
In addition, various government programmes such as the Social Distress Relief Grant and Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme, have contributed to countering the impact of unemployment and inequality at household level. Of course, in the medium to long-term, such measures will need to be supported through sustainable employment interventions.
 
We hold the view that had it not been for the united action by all of us as a country, as organised business, labour and broader civil society, we would have been worse off in our response to the Covid-19 pandemic. We continue to salute frontline workers who work hard to save lives and prevent further loss.
 
In our efforts of saving lives, the National Department of Health developed a Plan of action to mitigate and respond to a Covid-19 resurgence in South Africa prior to the second wave of Covid-19 infections.
 
Following the second wave, the Incident Management Team in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, reviewed the successes and failures with regards to interventions previously implemented during the second wave. From this, the Department identified what could have been done to improve the response including planning for the third wave.
 
The Department engaged with provincial departments of health, and provided support in the development of the province-specific resurgence plans which detailed activities to be implemented to improve the health system response going into subsequent resurgences.
 
There are two major components of the resurgence plans. First component is surveillance, where key resurgence monitoring indicators are described, and thresholds are defined to enable the close tracking of Covid-19 trends.
 
The second component of the plan is the so-called intervention toolkit, which stipulates action for ten intervention areas that include governance and leadership, medical supplies, epidemiology and response, risk communication and community engagement among others.
 
Thus, the measures put in place are the continued close surveillance of key resurgence indicators and deployment of rapid response teams to targeted areas. In essence, these measures are focused on ensuring that we continue to save lives through close surveillance of key resurgence indicators, and the deployment of rapid response teams to targeted areas.
 
The major response area in saving lives and achieving population health, is the ongoing mass vaccination programme under the coordination of the Inter-Ministerial Committee of Covid-19 Vaccines.
 
Initially, there was slow uptake to vaccination due to limited supply of vaccines as a result of global demand for vaccines as well as pessimism towards their use. This has been addressed by concluding negotiations with manufacturers and upscaling government risk communication.
 
Furthermore, we experienced regulatory issues with regard to AstraZeneca and later Johnson and Johnson, which cumulatively has impacted on the scale and pace of the vaccination programme.
 
Notwithstanding these challenges, we are forging ahead and the vaccines acquisition and distribution to provinces has also improved, hence we are witnessing the rise in numbers of those vaccinated.
 
Further interventions being implemented to save lives, are ongoing negotiations with vaccine manufacturers such as the Gamaleya Institute for the Sputnik V and manufacturers of Sinovac, that are at an advanced stage. The opportunity of receiving additional doses through the COVAX Facility, is being actively pursued.
 
We are also enhancing local manufacturing capability through collaborations with other partners within BRICS, which will enable us to overcome the current pandemic and respond to future health emergencies.
 
As government, we will continue to ensure that every citizen enjoys the right to life, equality and human dignity as outlined in the Bill of Rights. With the recent surge of new cases, we appeal to all of us to continue observing Covid-19 protocols to curb further infections whilst working on achieving population immunity through vaccines.
 
Thank you
 
 
 
On the implementation of empowerment models
 
Honourable Chairperson
 
The 25-year review by government, does indicate that corruption, real and perceived, has hampered the delivery of services and further entrenched inequality of opportunity including constraining the ability of state-owned enterprises to contribute optimally in regard to the developmental agenda.
 
However, in line with the National Development Plan, which envisages a well-run and coordinated state institutions consistently delivering high quality services, government has measures in place to prevent acts of corruption and nepotism in the implementation of economic empowerment models, as well as consequence management to address any breaches.
 
There is also a National Anti-Corruption Strategy adopted in November 2020, which seeks to strengthen the fight against corruption. The strategy rallies everyone towards a common goal in the fight against corruption.
 
At a broad empowerment policy level, government has since 2003 utilised the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment policy as a thrust to anchor empowerment models and enable socio-economic transformation of South Africa.
 
Through the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, government introduced guidelines on how to implement empowerment, and these are embedded in the Codes of Good Practice that introduce measurement principles based on best practice models. Therefore, social partners must ensure that there is accountability in their implementation of economic empowerment to increase the effective participation of the majority of South Africans in the economy.
 
In case of financial incentives provided by government to individual entities or bodies to support investment and employment, these are provided and regulated through widely publicised guidelines to limit the scope for individual discretion in decision-making.
 
These financial incentives are monitored and are subjected to regular, independent evaluations to ensure that they achieve the expected impact. This monitoring extends to cases of corrupt practices like fronting and collusion, which the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act regulates.
 
At the level of public employment programmes aimed at contributing towards the reduction of unemployment and alleviation of poverty, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure follows recruitment protocols in an open and transparent process.
 
For instance, in the case of the National Youth Service Programme, adverts for learners are placed openly to provide equal opportunities. In addition, the learners are selected through an assessment instrument that provides equal opportunities to the different potential learners to ensure fairness.
 
For different incentive grants administered by the Department, funds are only transferred once agreements with detailed project lists are signed with eligible public bodies. Furthermore, site visits are carried out to verify compliance to EPWP principles to improve monitoring. These Guidelines promote the principles of fairness, transparency and accountability.
 
Of course, we do need to be aware that in communities where there are high levels of unemployment and in which public employment opportunities will not be available to all, an impression may be created that exclusion is as a result of corrupt practices and sometimes based on party political affiliation or other grounds. That is why recruitment should always occur in a transparent manner that can be verified by the community at large.
 
As government, we are committed to not only root out corruption, but to strengthen the environment in which public representatives and officials alike can perform their duties and responsibilities to the highest standards of ethics and integrity.
 
Thank you
 
 
 
On the provision of critical infrastructure to farming communities
 
Honourable Members, 
 
There is no doubt that the success of our land and agrarian reform depends on the ability to provide enabling infrastructure to support the productive utilisation of available land, promote economic mobility and interconnectedness, as well as ensuring that rural communities participate meaningfully in key economic sectors of the economy.
 
The overall goal of our public infrastructure investment programme, is to improve the quality of life for citizens in underdeveloped and under-serviced rural spaces while ensuring that such investments in water, sanitation, electricity, and road infrastructure become enablers of private sector investment to boost the development of rural economies.
 
Our strategic infrastructure investment to advance rural development, is central to achieving greater productivity and competitiveness, reducing spatial inequality, and supporting the emergence of new job creating sectors. It is thus one of the non-negotiable foundations of transformation and inclusive growth.
 
In addition, our infrastructure build programme is geared towards localised production of key inputs that go into infrastructure projects. In this way, local small and medium enterprises and cooperatives are provided with opportunities to supply construction materials and services, and participate across the entire project construction value chain.
 
Over and above targeted investments in socio-economic infrastructure such as human settlements, schools, health facilities and roads, government has prioritised land reform as one of the key programmes at the heart of rural development. Government has embarked on the accelerated release of strategically located land for agriculture, human settlements and economic development to broaden access to land for productive use.
 
While backlogs remain, government continues to prioritise the provision of water and sanitation infrastructure alongside the development of human settlements in priority urban and rural development nodes.  Within the framework of the District Development Model, government is fostering effective coordination across all spheres of government to ensure intergovernmental collaboration and alignment of resources for high impact infrastructure investment in priority areas, especially underdeveloped rural areas.
 
Agriculture remains one of the key sectors to drive rural development and expand opportunities for economic participation by previously disadvantaged individuals. Strategies to enhance the growth of this sector are in place to ensure that rural economies continue to expand on the back of vibrant agriculture.
 
To enhance agricultural production, government has prioritised the provision of infrastructure and mechanisation support to beneficiaries of restituted and redistributed land. More importantly, support is also provided to communal farmers to ensure that communal land under the jurisdiction of traditional leaders is productively utilised to advance rural development goals.
 
As part of the post-settlement support to land reform beneficiaries and communal farmers, government has prioritised key infrastructure provision to unlock agricultural production. Among other support measures, these include:
 
·      the revitalisation of irrigation schemes to ensure sustainable water availability,
 
·      dipping tanks, and livestock vaccines to manage biosecurity risks,
 
·      storage and agro-processing infrastructure, as well as
 
·      rural access roads to enable logistical mobility for fresh produce and livestock products
 
In addition to critical infrastructure, government support also includes the provision of farming implements, equipment and production inputs to ensure that emerging farmers and beneficiaries of land reform experience no form of barriers to meaningful participation in the agricultural sector.
 
As government, we will continue to ensure that farmers access requisite technical and financial assistance to expand their farming operations through the creation of enabling platforms for domestic and international market expansion for their products.
 
Honourable Chairperson
 
With regards to the Northern Cape, the home province of Honourable Mmoiemang, we have been advised that the province has, over the years been involved in major infrastructure projects such as the Vaalharts Revitalisation Scheme and the Namakwa Special Economic Zone as part of ongoing efforts to revitalise the economy of the Province.
 
The Vaalharts Revitalisation Scheme covering over 35 000 hectares which includes the Taung Irrigation portion in North West, is part of the Strategic Infrastructure Projects 11 (SIP 11). The scheme seeks to refurbish bulk water and in-farm water distribution and irrigation infrastructure in the Vaalharts Area. The irrigation scheme contributes to supporting agriculture in the Province.
 
Government is aware of the challenges in the Community Property Associations that the Honourable Member has referred to in his question. We have been advised that efforts are being made to address challenges these CPAs are facing, including the provision of support through collaborative efforts across all the spheres of government.
 
We are aware of the need to strengthen inter-governmental cooperation and integration of programmes across the three spheres of government. The District Development Model provides that institutional platform to enhance integrated planning, leadership coordination and integration at programme implementation levels. This approach is intended to foster coordinated leadership contribution to resolving challenges facing our communities.
 
With regard to the Richtersveld Community Property Association, which is currently under administration, there is a Steering Committee made up of district and provincial representation facilitated by the Office of the Premier in the province to address settlement issues.
 
A panelist appointed by the department is assisting the Maremane Community Property Association to comply with the relevant legislation and to submit necessary reports. The panelist is busy working on the beneficiary list which is currently problematic in the Community Property Association. The same panelist appointed for the Maremane Community Property Association is also assisting the Schmidstdrift Community Property Association to address governance issues and organise the necessary and long-outstanding elections.  
 
While we appreciate the reports that we have received as the Presidency, we would like to commit to this august House that our own team will undertake a comprehensive investigation and analysis of challenges facing Richterveld, Maremane and Schmidstdrift CPAs.
 
Once completed, we will work with the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform, and the Province to implement key recommendations and interventions that will resolve challenges faced by these CPA.
 
In the intervening period, we discourage any form of illegal occupation of land and also call upon relevant municipalities to comply with the provisions of spatial land use management in the allocation of land for human settlements. Accordingly, we will also share the report with the members of this august House.  
 
Thank you
 
 
 
On the completion of Kusile Power
 
Honourable Chairperson,
 
The Eskom Board and management are committed to completing Kusile Power Station within the revised, Board-approved completion date in the 2024/25 financial year, and within the project budget of 161.4 billion Rands, excluding interest during construction. This project budget remains unchanged.
 
Not only has the Eskom Board and management been applying efforts to drive the completion of Kusile to meet these target dates, the priority has also been to unlock and resolve the issues hindering completion of the project.
 
 
Through the annual Shareholder Compact, Eskom is measured on the delivery of major milestones for both Medupi and Kusile projects. The status of the project schedule, progress and mitigation actions are monitored through regular executive engagements with the Department of Public Enterprises.
 
Delays on Units 4 to 6 were due to contractor financial, commercial, and/or contractual issues. However, the project team is pursuing rigorous schedule recovery plans for achievements of milestones that are at risk.
 
Honourable Chairperson
 
We are advised that the plans are sufficient to complete the Kusile Project within the set target dates. The commercial operation target dates for the remaining three units, is January 2023 for Unit 4, December 2023 for Unit 5 and May 2024 for Unit 6.
 
Furthermore, we can report that during our visit to Kusile Power Station last month, the Political Task Team on Eskom was encouraged by the progress being made and the commitment by management to implement appropriate risk management plans and design defect modifications.
 
Measures have been put in place to strengthen project monitoring, oversight and assurance capability, which will result in increased controls over productivity, and ensure contractor and suppliers quality inputs to avoid schedule and cost overruns.
 
Thank you