South African’s National Liberation Movement

Close this search box.


National Conference​

Report of the Secretary General

10: Provincial Government Reports

17 December 1997


Since the 1994 National Conference, the Eastern Cape has made significant in-roads by way of improving the quality of life of the people of the province. These achievements were made against the backdrop of the vicious legacy of apartheid, which has left the province impoverished in a number of critical areas.

Development of government capacity

The province began in 1994 with the mammoth task of uniting the former homeland administrations, the RSA government and those administrations of the Houses of Delegates and Representatives into a single cohesive administration.

In this process a number of structural deficiencies and structural weaknesses have been observed. Measures have been put in place to address such problems, which has been assisted to a large extent by the intervention of the national government.

The time it has taken to complete the rationalisation process has added insecurity to those people whose jobs were threatened. The province has over 18,000 supernumeraries, who continue to draw salaries.

All the government’s departments are up and running, although they haven’t yet achieved an acceptable degree of decentralisation to bring services closer to the people. Another critical problem is that of ‘departmentalism’, which leads to limited coordination and integration of service delivery among different departments.

Functioning of Executive Council and Legislature

Both the Executive Council and the Legislature have been functioning well. The Executive Council has been reshuffled and certain portfolios shifted. Structures necessary for the efficient running of the legislatures have been put in place.

There has, however, been a lack of coordination between the Executive Council and the Legislature, despite the ANC’s dominance in both. The organisation has therefore not been able to maximise its impact in these institutions. An ANC caucus workshop has recently been held to address these shortcomings.

State of local government

Democratic local government elections saw the establishment of ‘wall-to-wall’ non-racial and amalgamated local authorities. But since these elections, service backlogs have tended to increase rather than decrease. Most local authorities suffer serious viability problems.

The province has decided on a two-tier system of rural local government, which has seen the transformation of the erstwhile regional services councils into district councils. These councils are beset by constraints like a lack of capacity among councillors; lack of a sound revenue base coupled to high poverty; historical backlogs in the provision of basic services; and overlapping of local government functions between traditional authorities and local councils.

Major achievements

Through a consultative process, consensus has been rallied among all stakeholders on a provincial growth and development strategy, which means that all government departments now have a common frame of reference in planning their budgets.

The departments have within their line functions recorded significant achievements, including:

  • transformation of agricultural parastatals and irrigation schemes into viable privately-owned entities;
  • establishment of the Eastern Cape Development Agency to provide financial support to small, medium and micro enterprises;
  • holding successful investment promotion conferences;
  • increased allocations for primary health care with emphasis placed on disadvantaged communities;
  • improved immunisation coverage to well over 80 percent of the province.

Despite the approval of over 68,000 housing subsidies, difficulties regarding land accessibility and tenure continue to plague the province’s housing programme.

Specific achievements with regard to RDP implementation

Specific RDP achievements include:

  • free primary health care services have been introduced throughout the province;
  • more than a million children in 4,608 schools are beneficiaries of the Primary School Nutrition Programme;
  • thirty-eight clinics have been built in under-served areas;
  • special integrated presidential programmes in line with urban renewal have been implemented in Ibhayi and Duncan Village;
  • the municipal infrastructure assessment programme, an extensive database of state infrastructure in all towns, has been completed;
  • in promoting the culture of learning, 2,004 emergency classrooms have been built, and renovations to 10 teacher training colleges are underway.
Evaluation and problems

The most critical problem which bedevils the provincial government is the rationalisation of personnel, and the high number of supernumeraries. The state of finances in the province points also to incapacity and a lack of strategic leadership and direction on the part of senior managers in government.

The province still lacks the capacity to coordinate activities of government towards a common vision, and continues to have problems with the national funding formula.

Future plans and priorities

The future plans of the provincial government include:

  • strengthening the administration to deliver more effectively and efficiently;
  • introduction of effective management information systems;
  • stamping out corruption and fraud;
  • creating a safe and secure environment;
  • creating opportunities for investment.

Development of government capacity

Capacity building in government has proved to be a most challenging and daunting task, particularly with the inheritance of a fragmented administration. Although amalgamation has been completed, rationalisation is incomplete, and there is a noticeable shortage of skills, particularly around financial management.

Reprioritisation and human resource development have been identified as being key in the development of government capacity. To this end, a number of departments have been engaged in targeted training programmes.

Functioning of Executive Council and Legislature

Both the Executive Council and the Legislature were adversely affected by political tensions within the ANC in the province. Since January 1997, however, the situation has stabilised and the Executive Council has been able to finalise the clustering of its departments into Housing and Infrastructure Development, Job Creation and Human Resource Development.

In the Legislature, all portfolio committees have been functioning well. The Finance Committee, in particular, has been able to monitor the progress of government in relation to expenditure, and has made strategic interventions where necessary.

A weakness with the legislature remains poor attendance by certain members of committee meetings, as well as attendance of MECs during sittings.

Relationship between executive and legislature

The political tensions in the province had a negative impact on the relationship between the legislature and the executive. A workshop held in January 1997 with all members of the legislature helped to improve cooperation. A structured interface between legislature and executive was achieved and presented to the PEC.

State of local government

Local government is confronted by inadequate sources of funding, lack of credit control measures and lack of financial control measurers. A national intervention programme to monitor municipalities has met with poor response from local councils in the province.

Major achievements

The biggest achievement of government is the present political stability. Each department has however been able to achieve progress on a number of fronts.

The Local Government and Housing Department has completed 81 projects related to water, sewerage, electricity, refuse removal, roads and stormwater drainage. The Primary School Nutrition Programme has reached over 500 schools, and the District Health System is being implemented successfully.

Community Police Forums have been established at all 106 police stations in the province. Improving communication and cooperation between the police and local communities. The department has initiated a number of crime prevention strategies which resulted in a significant reduction of serious crimes.

A noteworthy achievement in the Agriculture Department has been the decentralisation of services to the regions, as well as a major restructuring of the budget in line with RDP principles. Eighty percent of time and resources is focused on servicing new clients, mostly peri-urban and newly settled farmers.

A White Paper on Tourism has been drafted and a marketing and promotion drive succeeded in attracting around 70,000 foreign tourists in 1996. The Finance Department has been successful with the implementation of multi-year budgeting in accordance with the Medium Term Expenditure Framework.

The registration of taxi associations has met with great success. To date 91 taxi association have been registered and are subscribing to the Code of Conduct.

Evaluation and problems

Although integration of the previously fragmented administrations has been completed, rationalisation is still incomplete. Some key strategic positions remain vacant. The structure of the provincial administration is still to an extent over-centralised.

The lack of skilled personnel at the management echelon has had a negative impact on government’s ability to deliver, as has budgetary constraints. This is evident in the fact that of the total target of 69,000 housing units given to the Free State only 14,000 houses have been built.

Other problems encountered by government have been around maladministration and corruption. This can be attributed to a lack of skilled financial managers, inadequate financial control measures, as well as low morale within the ranks of the administration.

Future plans and priorities

The three key areas of priority of the provincial government are:

  • housing and infrastructure development,
  • job creation,
  • human resource development.

Development of government capacity

The Gauteng provincial government tasked itself with the establishment of a public administration that is developmental, representative, conscientious, non sexist and non racist. While great challenges remain on this score, great successes have been achieved thus far.

Structural weaknesses with the ANC have impacted on consultation and coordination of government policy at various levels.

The province has also had to deal with mismanagement of funds, which is a big problem given that the government has had to rely on the services of officials of the old regime whose loyalties do not lie with ANC policy. A huge challenge is the transformation of the old institutions, and not allowing comrades deployed there to be transformed by the institutions.

The withdrawal of the National Party from the provincial government has made planning and implementation of programmes much easier.

Major achievements and evaluation

The various departments in the province have put in place effective administrations. Despite problems like lack of skills in financial management, problems related to voluntary severance packages and capacity, Gauteng has been identified as the best administered province.

The issue of public safety has been a prominent issue in the province. A total of 144 Community Policing Forums have been established. In an endeavour to transform policing action has been taken against 400 police officials for various crimes. In accordance with the National Crime Prevention Strategy, the province has brought on board many role players in the fight against crime, and has been instrumental in the resolution around issues such as taxi violence, hostel violence and violence in some informal settlements.

On the education front, 390 schools have already been renovated and a number of additional classrooms built. Prefabricated classrooms to accommodate the increasing number of school children in informal settlements are being erected. Nearly 9,000 additional adult learners have taken part in Adult Basic Education and Training Programmes.

The Department of Finance and Economic Affairs has done a tremendous amount of work to tighten budgetary processes and bring them on par with national economic strategies.

The major achievement of the Department of Health has been to ensure access to a caring, accountable and high quality public health service. To date 26 new primary health care facilities have been established. A total of 204,000 children have been fed under the Primary School Nutrition Programme.

In housing, a total of 67,000 stands have been developed and 32,000 houses have been built. Repair to damaged houses outside Kathorus has also been conducted and nine projects supplying bulk and connector services to low cost housing developments have been completed. The Department of Local Government has allocated R87 million to Municipal Infrastructure Programme projects.

Development of government capacity

At its inception in 1994, the Northern Cape province found existing administrative capacity wholly inadequate. This has to some extent been remedied, thanks in part to assistance from a number of foreign countries and international agencies.

Capacity building programmes will have to remain for an unlimited period of time an integral part of the provincial administration.

Until 1996 the Executive Council was the only decision-making body. The approval for the establishment of the Management Committee, comprised of the MECs and provincial heads of department, introduced a new approach to jointly debate matters and formulate recommendations for final adoption by cabinet.

The search for an appropriate and integrated forum to collate and discuss provincial development issues gave rise to the establishment of the Provincial Development Coordinating Committee, which is key in the finalisation development projects in the province.

State of local government

Provincial analysis indicates that certain municipalities are simply not economically viable, lacking in administrative and technical skills and capacity at both political and administrative level.

This is compounded by a lack of proper credit control procedures; inadequate training of councillors and officials; lack of a tax base in certain towns; and insufficient right-sizing of municipal services and expenditure savings.

Major achievements

Most PEC and extended PEC resolutions affecting government have been successfully addressed. Regular meetings are scheduled and special ones are arranged as the need arises.

The Office on the Status of Women is in full operation, and is presently arranging programmes for implementation by line departments and participation by other agencies and the public. Since its inception the Provincial Youth Commission, working in tandem with the National Youth Commission, has developed various programmes and projects to deal with unemployed youth and initiated training programmes.

The province initiated an investigation unit and programme in 1996 to promote clean administration. It has to date unveiled various cases of abuse of state assets in the Provincial Administration.

Evaluation and problems

The country does not currently have the necessary capacity to render the quality of services it envisages. This is complicated in the province by the migration of staff from one department or province to another. The impact of this job hopping of phenomenon has been negative for the province, and it is against this background that most staff members need to be equipped to become multi-skilled and to develop a career path.

Development of government capacity

Emphasis has been placed over the last three years on the creation of a new administration out of the remnants of the bantustans and the Transvaal Provincial Administration. Focus is currently on building administration systems, management capacity and formulation of a long term strategic direction for the province.

Lessons of the transitional phase indicated a need to realign functions of ministries, and a number of changes have been effected. There have also been efforts to delegate the respective authority of the Provincial Tender Board and the Provincial Service Commission to line-function departments to speed up transformation and delivery.

A number of initiatives around building management capacity are underway while other are still at a planning stage.

Functioning of Executive Council and Legislature

The Executive Council is comprised of nine ANC MECs and one Freedom Front MEC. In addition to meeting fortnightly, the Council functions on a committee basis according to areas needing close coordination and monitoring.

The Premier and MECs have a programme to frequently visit the regions to assess the impact of delivery of projects and to get feedback from various stakeholders. The first Intergovernmental Forum on local government will be held soon, where the Northern Province Growth and Development Strategy will be presented to the Transitional Local Councils.

The Legislature is performing relatively well, although the oversight role played by some portfolio committees needs to be improved. The non-existence of study groups and the weak link between the PEC departments and the caucus inhibits the effectiveness of the ANC in the legislature.

The Legislature is presently grappling with the task of ensuring that its participation in NCOP activities is both qualitative and effective.

Relationship between executive and legislature

The sub-committee of the ANC PEC on Legislatures and Governance coordinates the work of the Executive Council and the Legislature. The Executive Council is involving standing committees in the formulation of the medium term budgetary processes and strategic planning exercise. The various standing committees are invited to participate in the Intergovernmental Forum on local government.

State of local government

There are 49 local authorities, comprised of 13 urban and 36 rural TLCs, as well as two district councils. Discussions are underway regarding representation and participation in the TLCs by the 194 traditional leaders in the province.

Given the rural nature of the province and unemployment levels, the revenue base of local councils is very weak. The province is in the process of capacitating local council offices. The Masakhane Campaign is progressing very well, though with limited funding.

Major achievements

The main achievements of the provincial government include:

  • the rationalisation, integration and transformation of the development agencies of government;
  • the launch of major human resource development programmes;
  • the completion of the province’s Growth and Development Strategy;
  • the establishment of the House of Traditional Leaders, and the creation of local councils throughout the Province which are playing an important role in the delivery process;
  • delivery of essential services like schools, clinics, water, electricity.
Evaluation and problems

The province has succeeded in creating an administration from a state of collapse and chaos. The next challenge is therefore the creation of an efficient, effective civil service. The skills levels are very low, with very poor management systems. The civil service is consuming a bigger percentage of the provincial budget, with a danger that investment in infrastructure may not be sufficient.

The capacity of the rural local councils, and their relations with traditional leaders, is an area which needs a lot of attention.

Future plans and priorities

In the light of fiscal constraints and the social spending orientation of the budget, the provincial government will continue to promote five priority areas:

  • facilitating economic growth that produces employment;
  • maintaining existing services and addressing backlogs;
  • maintaining existing infrastructure;
  • an enabling framework for human development;
  • building the administration.

Development of government capacity

The North West provincial administration came into office amid intense tension in the former region of Bophuthatswana which resulted from the strife in 1994 which ousted the Mangope regime. The new administration inherited three administrations – Bophuthatswana, Transvaal and Cape – together with numerous parastatals and government supported institutions, which in the main did not focus on the implementation of the polices of the new administration.

Several processes of reorganisation and restructuring were undertaken by government during the period under consideration both at the political and administrative level. In 1996 a number of functions were restructured to enhance efficiency of delivery as well as coordination in the province. The restructuring process is still continuing at this stage, but it is mainly concerned with parastatals and government supported institutions.

Functioning of Executive Council and Legislature

The Executive Council has functioned smoothly and as a cohesive team during the past three years.

The Legislature, at an early stage of the administration, embarked on the process of setting up a legislative framework for the province. Twenty-four laws were enacted in 1994, fourteen in 1995, four in 1996 and three in 1997. The decrease in legislative activity is accounted for by the change of focus by the legislature towards transformation and consultation.

New mechanisms were put in place by the Legislature in 1996 to ensure the accountability of the executive arm of government. A particular focus was placed on the scrutiny of the provincial budget and on departmental budgets.

State of local government

The province has 54 local authorities, which are important components of government strategy of delivery and Masakhane.

Most of the local authorities, particularly those in rural areas, lack sufficient revenue bases and still depend on provincial government for support. Measures are under consideration to improve the financial capacity of local authorities through the expansion of their revenue bases and cost recovery strategies and the expansion of the tax base.

Major achievements

The province has made substantial progress in meeting basic needs and implementing programmes.

The province has made every effort to create and maintain an enabling environment for the development of small, medium and micro enterprises, involving financial institutions, development corporations, government departments, local authorities and business organisations.

The North West is continuing with efforts to attract foreign direct investment in order to increase the growth of the provincial economy and employment opportunities.

Some 600 classrooms have been constructed, and 3 500 people have received Adult Basic Education training. The improvement in health services is evidenced by the construction of 82 new clinics, with an estimated 820,000 beneficiaries. The province provides daily meals to 390,000 pupils.

The province established a Youth Commission in June 1995, whose main role is to serve as a monitoring and advisory structure to see the mainstreaming of youth development issues in government.

Processes are underway to set up an Office on the Status of Women. The gender programme has been actively pursued by the administration through workshops aimed at educating women about the law and their rights as citizens, and programmes and opportunities which exist in the province.

Conclusion and future plans

The North West provincial government has managed to successfully move from restructuring mode to delivery mode.

The province needs nevertheless to redouble its efforts towards job creation and economic development. Over 42,000 jobs need to be created annually just to keep pace with new entrants into the labour market. The government also needs to improve communication with its constituents.

Reports on the state of provincial government in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu/Natal and the Western Cape were not available at time of going to print.