'Our race is not yet over': Dlamini- Zuma on intervention in North West
Opposition parties have slammed the government's three-year effort to turn around the embattled North West province, saying the ANC should first get its own affairs in order.
The province was placed under section 100 of the constitution in 2018 after the collapse of governance systems and structures, which led to social and labour unrest as well as damage to property.
Three years later, several municipalities are collapsing as result of parallel government structures and a lack of service delivery.
Efforts to turn the tide had not borne fruit, the DA and EFF told the National Council of Provinces on Wednesday while debating a report recommending the intervention, which has already cost taxpayers millions, be continued.
The report by the ad hoc committee made recommendations including that the province needed regular monitoring due to work that was outstanding.
DA MP Isaac Seleku cited an inability to fill multiple senior management positions across various provincial departments and the lack of service delivery as the most problematic issues.
“The issues identified by parliament's ad hoc committee are still unresolved with no indication as to when they will be.
“It is clear that the ANC is an enemy to itself and intervention implemented by them will never give us value for money. They need to fix their house instead of wasting taxpayers' money fighting their political battles,” he said.
It is clear that the ANC is an enemy to itself and intervention implemented by them will never give us value for money. They need to fix their house instead of wasting taxpayers' money in fighting their political battles.Isaac Seleku, DA MP
EFF MP Sam Zandamela echoed similar sentiments.
“Nothing has been achieved by the intervention as the perpetrators are still out there and not in jail. Previous interventions were unsuccessful. In the case of North West, it demonstrates that not only intervention was needed but a complete takeover by the national government.
“Chairperson, all they key areas are still not resolved for the North West to be back on its feet and provide services to our people.”
Co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma defended and applauded the work done by the committee, chaired by Thamsanqa Dodovu.
She said the intervention had in fact yielded fruit, citing reduced irregular expenditure.
“Though there has been improvement in the audit outcome, much more still needs to be done to promote transparent governance and accountability.
“We are gradually reducing the combined expenditure in the departments. So far we have reduced it by 47% from R4.2bn to R2.2bn. Our target is to [get] as close to zero as possible,” Dlamini-Zuma said.
It was not immediately clear if indeed the intervention would continue, but the minister conceded that issues in the province had built up over time and as a result the solution would take time.
“The intervention has not been a sprint, but a marathon. It requires appropriate pacing and capacitation, so our race is not yet over. Service delivery remains of concern especially at local government, with key areas such as access to water,” she said.
The intervention has not been a sprint, but rather a marathon. It requires appropriate pacing and capacitation, so our race is not yet over. Service delivery remains of concern.Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
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.
It was the first time the national executive had intervened on such a large scale in more than 10 provincial departments.
Dlamini-Zuma said progress was made in some departments but not in others.
“In Cogta, it was unfortunate that we did not have continuity and stability in the department in terms of the leadership. You will recall that we have had three MECs in three years in that department, which oversees the municipality.”
She said many lessons had been drawn from conducting the intervention. “One of the things we found is that there was a lack of consequence management and the intervention instilled that.
“Of course we know that is not enough — many crimes have been committed. We must prosecute, and where public funds were misused and misappropriated, we must recover them.”
The Asset Forfeiture Unit was pursuing cases involving R2.3bn, according to Dlamini-Zuma.
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