Efforts to turn around embattled North West must continue — after three-year struggle

North West premier Job Mokgoro. File photo.
North West premier Job Mokgoro. File photo.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

Parliament's ad hoc committee on the section 100 intervention in the North West has recommended that efforts to turn around the embattled province continue.  

This amid collapsing municipalities as a result of parallel government structures and a lack of service delivery by several provincial departments. 

The recommendations are contained in a 78-page parliamentary report released on Monday evening.

“The committee notes some progress being made in the province. However, given the magnitude of outstanding challenges, which still persist in the province of North West, the committee is of the view that continuous and regular monitoring of the intervention as required by section 100(2)(c) of the constitution, which includes visiting government facilities and vigorous engagements with various organisations, IMTT [interministerial task team], provincial executive and communities in the North West until the situation has improved and the review process has been undertaken will be vital,” the report reads.

“The NCOP [National Council of Provinces} should ensure that parliamentary sector committees obtain this report so that they can follow up on the set of recommendations made by the ad hoc committee inquiring into the North West section 100 intervention.”

The decision to invoke section 100 was made by the cabinet after the collapse of governance systems and structures in the province, which led to social and labour unrest as well as damage to properties in 2018.     

Three years later, the committee says more work still needs to be done on a more regular basis.

According to the constitution, national government interventions in a provincial administration may take place when a province cannot or does not fulfil an executive obligation in terms of the constitution or legislation. 

Since 1994, it was the first time the national executive had intervened on such a large scale in more than 10 provincial departments. 

Among the most problematic provincial departments are health, public works and roads, community safety & transport, as well as education, which have all contributed negatively to a lack of service delivery. 

Detailing some of the progress made, the committee said several recommendations for criminal cases to be investigated and individuals to be held accountable had borne fruit. 

This as 28 senior managers had faced, and are still facing, disciplinary processes related to financial misconduct, fraud and corruption, and dereliction of duty.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) have told the committee they are pursuing 51 criminal cases related to public funds in the province. Of these, 17 had gone to trial. 

The committee said audit results for the 2019/20 financial year revealed that unqualified audits increased from four to seven, including the office of the premier. In the same period, however, the province recorded a decrease in annual irregular expenditure of R3.48bn from R4.72bn in 2018/19. 

The committee said capacity building had taken place across departments to strengthen supply chain management. As a result, irregular project management units and outsourcing arrangements had been terminated. Processes were under way to recover losses to the state. 

Members of the committee have previously expressed concern about the premier's office's failure to provide leadership resulting in a generalised breakdown in governance, accountability and labour relations. 

However, premier Job Mokgoro denied some allegations levelled against his office. In his last appearance before the committee, Mokgoro slammed the intervention which he described as unfair. 

“With the greatest respect, we are leaders, you cannot be sitting here and saying things that would give justification for members of the community to get incited and bring about instability,” he said at the time. 

“I just want to tell you that this is the most unfair oversight I've ever experienced. But I think, honourable chair, we as the provincial government, your community need to come back to these issues. We need to discuss very thoroughly your approach to oversight.” 

The committee in its report has said the North West co-ordinating committee led by Mokgoro had made progress on transversal issues. They put in place controls and governance which resulted in unqualified audits. However, a director-general was yet to be appointed.  

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