Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi recently appointed a task team to investigate matters that have prompted the North West Provincial Government to consider placing Madibeng Local Municipality under Section 139 intervention.

The task team is expected to finish its work during September 2012 – having started its investigation on 13 August 2012. The appointment is a result of the ongoing engagement among the Ministry for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), North West Provincial Government and Madibeng Municipal Council.

The minister has requested the team to establish facts on the following key issues that serve as terms of reference:

  • to establish whether reasons for the considered intervention wholly or partly exclude issues the minister requested the provincial government to investigate and report on earlier in the year
  • to consider whether the circumstances differ with terms of reference that necessitated intervention in the previous municipal council whose term of office ended in May 2011
  • to consider whether constitutional obligations were fulfilled after the intervention in the previous municipal council
  • to establish if there are no other processes to best support the municipality without evoking Section 139 intervention
  • to establish if there is no other reason for the minister to hold a different view to that of the provincial government once the intervention takes effect
  • to ensure that the spirit, intervention, letter of the constitution and enabling legislation on cooperative governance are respected (Bill).

The provincial government has in the meantime deferred the implementation of the intervention in terms of section 139 (1)(b) of the Constitution. This is to allow the minister to consider the outcome of the task team’s investigation.

Baloyialso recently shared the ideals of cooperative governance with a delegation from the Ethiopian House of Federation, which met the minister to learn about the South African governance system. The House of Federation is an upper house of the Ethiopian Parliament. The department’s Intergovernmental Relations Act prescribes the rules of engagement among the three spheres of government.
The Cooperative Governance department and South African government have important lessons for Ethiopia, which has a federal system that operates almost similar to the country’s three sphere government system.
COGTA also recently concluded its three-year Network of Tuscan and South African Local Governments (NETSAFRICA) partnership, which was funded by the Italian government. Its aim was to consolidate the role of local institutions in the realisation of effective policies and services to alleviate poverty and improve community access to basic services.

NETSAFRICA is a network of Italian and South African local governments aimed at promoting partnerships, exchanging expertise among partners and strengthening targeted institutions using a “practitioner to practitioner” approach.

Under the NETSAFRICA partnership, four municipalities were supported to enhance their capacity to formulate policies and implement initiatives to alleviate poverty and improve people’s, within the selected municipalities, access to basic services within the context of the National Framework for Local Economic Development.

In November 2007 the government of Italy and the regional government of Tuscany undertook a joint assessment mission to identify possible areas of cooperation between the two countries. In 2008 the programme’s proposal was approved with an overall budget of € 4 million (R41.51 million), and this marked the official beginning of the programme which resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding that was signed in 2009.

In the conference held in Pretoria recently to mark the end of this partnership, the delegates from both countries reflected on its successes. Under the NETSAFRICA partnership, four municipalities – Buffalo City Metro, OR Tambo District Municipality, Ekurhuleni Metro and Metsweding District Municipality – were supported.

In Buffalo City, the partnership improved the ward-based planning system, which capacitated ward 15 and 40 communities to proactively identify their developmental needs and engage their municipality through a participatory approach. The municipality was also assisted with its pilot project to promote agricultural cooperatives.

In OR Tambo District the partnership contributed to the development of local informal trade at Lusikisiki and the learned lessons will be shared with all municipalities in the district.

In Ekurhuleni the NETSAFRICA partnership is assisting with the testing of a model aimed at improving municipal waste services by involving community-based organisations in the two pilot areas of Wattville and Actonville.