STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS- WHAT DO YOU EXPECT?

What are you thinking ahead of President Jacob Zuma’s second State of the Nation address on Thursday?

We picked up some comments raised in the media about what citizens are expecting from the President this year.

Dennis from the Western Cape says:

Well if he was indeed going to address the ACTUAL state of the nation it would take a broadcast of marathon proportions. Just to chronicle the collapse of municipalities, the billing crisis, failing education, the lack of planning at Eskom, the corruption and ANC meddling at the SABC, the dysfunctional SAPS, the water crisis across the nation, the staggering murder rate of farmers, the complete disarray of the SANDF and the South African Air force, the lack of proper border patrols, the continuing inefficiency of Internal Affairs, the abject failure of BEE, the downward spiral of healthcare, the upward spiral of crime, the destruction of the rail system, the ongoing implementation of stealth taxes, the growing corruption within the ANC, which are all really just the tip of the iceberg, The President’s address would have to last for several days.

Mandla from Gauteng says:

Zuma should be brave and swallow the bitter pill. The country is in a mess and I am not a DA sympathizer or any other party which is concerned about the state of our country. I am concerned as a loyal citizen with a dream to see this country prosper. The dawning of democracy meant an improvement in the lives of the majority of the people in this country. We are yet to see this upliftment, as we continue to die in shack fires, shacks which have also increased in number since the birth of democracy. Where are the RDP houses? Service delivery in all municipality institutes is a nightmare, can’t get drivers license appointments have to queue for months. We even fear going to hospitals, we now seek the services of midwives to assist with births, how many babies die from state hospitals due to negligence? Please do something about the taxis, the police have failed these drivers put the lives of their customers at risk from the time they embark on these mobile coffins. I have no problem with the taxi industry as it contributes to the economy by providing a vital service to the work force, but it should operate within the traffic laws. SABC should justify why they want us to pay for TV licenses when they fail to keep us entertained. We are not retards to be fed the same films that we have been watching since the introduction of broadcasting here back in 1975. Zuma get your machine gun and fire all those who think appointments to cabinet posts and other senior positions are a quick fix to getting themselves rich. We want to see value added into the lives of the ordninary people who vote the ANC into power, We want to be proud of Mzansi. We want to be able to say Joburg a truely world class city without shame, right now we are not. All this can be put right by you our President JZ, long live, AMANDLA

Send us your thoughts at info@imatu.co.za

BILLING CHAOS CAUSES MINISTERIAL INTERVENTION- SARS TO THE RESCUE?

Co-operative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka is to hold crisis talks this week about the billing chaos besetting the country’s richest metro. Shiceka has called Gauteng co-operative governance MEC Humphrey Memezi to a meeting to discuss the City of Johannesburg’s revenue shambles and its inability to send accurate accounts to tens of thousands of residents.

“Yes, the minister wants a provincial picture, but he is also aware that its not just a Johannesburg problem. This is the first step toward the resolution of this issue countrywide,” his spokeswoman Vuyelwa Qinga Vika said.

The meeting with Gauteng MEC Humphrey Memezi would be a “listening” one, she said.
“This is a listening meeting. There is a program highlighted by the City of Johannesburg to address the problem.”

Shiceka also revealed  that he was considering introducing legislation that would give the SA Revenue Service (SARS) control of billing, and collection of rates and services levies, for all municipalities.

“I’m looking at making a law that billing and revenue collection become a national matter to be taken care of by agencies like SARS,” he said.

SARS spokesman Adrian Lackay said it “was possible” for SARS to do the job but “we will need the relevant legislation to be in place first”.  Shiceka said he too had been a victim of Johannesburg’s billing chaos. “The billing system in Johannesburg has been a serious problem. The situation there is not getting better … That situation can’t be left unattended.”

The City of Johannesburg runs on a budget of R28-billion.

Shiceka said he had asked for a meeting with Memezi. “I will talk to him and I will take issues from there and then I will engage with the city. They will probably have to submit a report on what’s going on down there,” he said.

The high-level meeting follows the city’s disconnection of the services of more than 41000 households – many of them reported to have received inaccurate and vastly inflated bills, often for tens of thousands of rands. For the past year, the city has been unable to bill residents correctly because, it says, of the failure of its R580-million Project Phakama – an IT system which was intended to integrate all municipal services accounts into one billing database.

Instead, the system has been unable to process meter readings, resulting in residents being billed with estimates.

The billing chaos has also led to pre-paid water and electricity users receiving bills.

On 20 January 2011, irate ratepayers staged a sit-in at the city’s revenue offices in Thuso House, Braamfontein. Project Phakama was bound to have glitches.

City revenue spokesman Stan Maphologela said it would take between six and 12 months to fix project Phakama. “They are very complex systems and people have not been properly trained for the system. They are ill-prepared and we will have a revolt from taxpayers,” he said.

Last year, mayoral committee member for finance Parks Tau promised that all billing problems would be resolved by November.

IMATU MEMBER PAYS ULTIMATE PRICE FOR BRAVERY

IMATU has learned with shock and sadness of the death of one of our members and a respected municipal employee, Mr Henry Knox form the Wonderboom fire station in Pretoria.

The firefighter who drowned while searching for two people in Centurion on 17 January 2011, died before he was able to receive an award for saving two people from the Apies River in Pretoria on December 16 last year.

Henry Knox, 42 – who was sucked in by a whirlpool while searching for missing flood victims in the Hennops River in Centurion – was so dedicated to his work that he had his first proper holiday in 18 years in November last year, according to his fiancée, Francis van Vuuren.
Knox and his colleagues, as well as several police divers were searching on Monday for seven people who, according to a witness, were swept away by floodwaters after heavy morning rain.

Experienced, exhausted rescue workers from the Tshwane fire brigade cried openly and hugged each other on the banks of the Hennops River in Irene, Centurion,  after he died trying to save flood victims.

“Henry has been a fireman for nearly 24 years. Everyone knew him. He’s the first firefighter from Pretoria to die while on duty. Many a grown man is in tears today”, said Johan Pieterse spokesperson of the Tshwane Metro.
“My brother was a very special man who absolutely lived for the fire department and to save the lives of others,” said Donn Knox at his brother’s house in Dorandia in northern Pretoria.

Henry’s burial is on Friday 14 January 2011.

REDS DISAPPEAR

 

In one of the most controversial decisions of the year, an announcement was made by National Government in early December 2010 that the restructuring of electricity distribution will be stopped immediately.

The decision by the Cabinet in December to scrap the RED’s followed a resolution at the ANC’s national general council in September. That resolution called for electricity distribution to remain in the hands of the Municipalities.

The ambitious 13-year plan to establish semi-autonomous state-owned Regional Electricity Distributors collapsed in early December.

In its statement released on the 9 December 2010, Cabinet stated that:

“Cabinet decided to terminate the electricity distribution restructuring and to discontinue the process of creating the Regional Distributors (REDs) with immediate effect. Although EDI Holdings (EDI) had made significant progress in establishing the RED’s, Cabinet approved the recommendation that the Department of Energy (DOE) take over programmes previously executed under the EDI Holdings mandate. The Department will review the whole electricity value chain with a view to developing a holistic approach to revitalize the electricity infrastructure, energy security as well as financial implications. An Administrator will be appointed to attend to the winding up of EDI Holdings. The Board will remain accountable until the end of the 2010/2011 financial year. “

The announcement comes shortly after the CEO of the EDI Holdings Company; Phindile Nzimande addressed delegates at IMATU’s fourth Congress on the operations of the EDI.

As expected, no hint was made by her then that Cabinet will announce the termination of the restructuring process. 

Nzimande published the following statement on the EDI website after Cabinet’s announcement:

 “On behalf of the Board, the management and staff of EDI Holdings we welcome the Cabinet decision as we have taken the Electricity Distribution Industry Restructuring (EDIR) process as far as we could and we remain committed to ensuring that the invaluable work done by EDI Holdings to improve the efficiencies and to make the industry viable so that the industry can meaningfully contribute to sustainable social and economic development, are put to good use for both industry and the country.” 

EDI’s short lived history 

Electricity distribution performance was initially raised during the first term of former President Thabo Mbeki.  National Government, at that stage committed to certain poverty alleviation and job creation goals for the year 2014. 

The National Government’s concern was that Municipalities were not utilising the income derived from electricity distribution for electrification purposes and that too many households were still without electricity. 

It said that electricity distribution was “dysfunctional and existed without coordination.”

ESKOM held the responsibility for electricity distribution in some areas whilst Municipalities were responsible for the same function in other areas.  These areas of jurisdiction overlapped in many instances.  The argument was also raised that ESKOM and Municipalities rendered electricity distribution services at different rates; prejudicial to consumers and no uniform billing structure existed.  Government’s opinion was that ESKOM should concentrate on the generation and transmission of electricity rather than distribution. 

National Government decided that six wall to wall Regional Electricity Distributors (RED’s) should be established in order to address its poverty alleviation and job creation goals. 

This would have the effect of removing electricity reticulation, a Constitutional responsibility of Municipalities from the scope and ambit of a Municipal service.  Municipalities were no longer constitutionally responsible for the supply of a Municipal electricity distribution service. 

In order to create the RED’s as national electricity distribution entities, staff assets and resources had to be transferred from ESKOM and the municipalities to the RED’s.

IMATU’s warning to National Government 

A number of potentially serious pitfalls were identified and communicated to working groups during the restructuring process and IMATU discussed the following aspects of the proposed restructuring at National Congress in October 2010;

  • The impact on the institutional structure of Municipalities as an independent sphere of government if the current revenue from electricity distribution does not form part of the municipal budget and is to be collected by the RED’s.
  • The impact on the structure of municipalities as separate spheres of government if Municipalities are forced to participate in RED’s.
  • The status of Municipalities who wish to continue with electricity distribution functions since no legal agreement and / or constitutional amendment which prohibit municipalities from rendering an electricity distribution service has been formalised.
  • The impact and ability of Municipalities to render other constitutionally imposed Municipal services if the revenue derived from electricity distribution is lost.
  • The ability of municipalities to retain, remunerate and offer other benefits to the employees who will not be transferred to the RED’s
  • The job security and continued employment of the employees who will be transferred to the RED’s

The transitional state-owned EDI Holdings had to cross-subsidise funds from stronger to weaker RED’s for five years. 

These plans are now placed on the back burner as it was announced that the Department of Energy, assisted by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CGTA), will drive the rehabilitation programme of the electricity redistribution network in the 284 municipalities.

A new plan for old problems

A “special purpose vehicle” will be established by the Co-operative Governance Department to accelerate and improve the provision of municipal infrastructure, which will include electricity supply and management.

The special purpose vehicle had not yet been defined, but it was widely speculated that it would have to be spelt out in a draft Bill.

“It could take the form of a company with public and private sector involvement”, were some of the comments made in the media recently.

The spokesman for the Department of Energy, Bheki Khumalo, said the “special purpose vehicle” would target all infrastructure, “not only” electricity, and would be directed at failing municipalities.

The Department of Energy, however, will be the principal department to police the maintenance and upgrade of the electricity infrastructure.

Originally, plans were made to have six RED’s.  Only one, RED1 was partially formed in the Western Cape. IMATU repeatedly said the establishment of RED1 had “put the cart before the horse” as the legislative basis for the system was never put in place.

Buyelwa Sonjica, the then Energy Minister, said in March that the EDI restructuring model was costing the country up to R8bn a year and the distribution maintenance and refurbishment backlog “was amounting to about R27bn”.

EDI’s CEO Phindile Nzimande in November said to reporters that EDI Holdings’ plan to wipe out the maintenance backlog had not been implemented because of a lack of funds.  “A 10-year plan to improve municipal infrastructure was due for implementation in 12 municipalities during May this year, but the necessary funding had not been provided”, she said to reporters.

CGTA said that the special purpose vehicle would help poor municipalities with infrastructure planning and in turn, “mobilization of private sector funding will be accelerated.”

The plan includes the establishment of a bulk infrastructure fund which aims to ring-fence dedicated funding to address bulk infrastructure backlogs in Municipalities.

IMATU demands good corporate governance.          

Corruption in all its formats should be urgently addressed.

IMATU has always been outspoken about the fact that corruption has contributed to the current chaos in the state of disrepair of electricity distribution infrastructure, the lack of maintenance of electricity distribution assets and the inability of Municipalities to invest any meaningful amount of capital expenditure on electricity distribution.

“The root of this evil lies in the fraud, theft, corruption and other criminal activities in tender processes, procurement fraud, supply chain management, theft and fraud and a total lack of accountability during such processes”, said the General Secretary of IMATU, Johan Koen.

IMATU is of the opinion that a special purpose vehicle operating under the auspices of Department of Energy and CGTA will not solve this problem.

Any meaningful results in improving electrification will only become visible if corruption in all its forms is rooted from society.

Unless the political will and leadership amongst the governing party exists to address corruption, no improvement in electrification of the country will be achieved.  Corruption must be addressed on a policy, legislative and administrative level across all spheres of Government.

This problem is worsened by the fact that our IMATU members are not offered any protection in making protected disclosures in disclosing corruption. Members are victimized, harassed and dismissed when they disclose corruption. This creates a situation where they rather turn a blind eye towards exposing corruption rather than risk their livelihood.

IMATU is of the opinion that the proposed special purpose vehicle to address service delivery under the auspices of CGTA should rather be geared towards addressing corruption. This will inevitably result in improved service delivery of all Municipal services. Corruption can not be addressed in all spheres of Government if the bodies which should eradicate corruption, are controlled by the state.

The institutions designed to protect our democracy as envisaged in Chapter Nine of the South African Constitution Act 108 of 1996 are total and dismal failures in addressing corruption. The absurd report published by the Public Protector in respect of corruption in Municipalities in the Limpopo Province demonstrates the serious flaws of these institutions to combat corruption. IMATU is of the opinion that this is due to the current Government’s doctrine of “cadre deployment” in all its institutions and public entities.

If this so called special purpose vehicle is to be controlled by cadres deployed from the highest echelons of Government, such a “vehicle” will be doomed even before its creation. There is a general lack of accountability, absence of management and proper operation under a climate of no transparency in our Government sectors.   

EDI disguised in another form?

IMATU is also concerned that this so called special purpose vehicle will be created as a corporate entity registered under South African corporate laws.

If established, it will be EDI Holdings Company or RED under another disguise which will inevitable have teething problems at the expense of tax payers.

IMATU is aware of the fact that there will be private sector involvement resulting in partnerships and / or stakeholders in such an entity.

This is nothing else than privatisation. Previous attempts to privatise Municipal services were dismal failures. IMATU is certain that service delivery as a whole will be adversely affected if private entities are allowed public partnerships. These entities only aim to achieve maximum profit for its shareholders at the detriment of service delivery.  

IMATU will secure its members’ interests          

IMATU’s members were during the existence of the EDI Holdings Company and the RED’s extremely troubled by their future employment security.

On behalf of our members, IMATU demands from National Government to once and for all pronounce them as to where all employees performing any direct or indirect function relating to electricity distribution in any Municipality belong; in or out of the jurisdiction of the SALGBC?

This is in IMATU’s opinion a primary requirement for improved service delivery. Any employee and all IMATU members who are constantly bombarded with uncertainty as to their continued employment can not operate in an environment where service delivery is improved.

These aspects need to be pronounced upon by National Government before there will be an improvement in all service delivery in the Municipal environment.

IMATU’s members demand transparency from National Government before it embarks on another experiment with electricity distribution and service delivery to the community.

“We also demand an explanation from Government regarding the wasted expenditure that has since been incurred. R 8 billion per year could have been invested in what the public demand- proper corporate governance and service delivery”, said Johan Koen.

38 MUNICIPALITIES UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR FRAUD AND CORRUPTION

Some 38 Municipalities around the country are being investigated by the Special Investigations Unit for fraud and corruption, Local Government Minister Sicelo Shiceka said on Tuesday 14 December 2010.

A huge number of officials had already been arrested – including Municipal Managers – and some had been dismissed, Shiceka told journalists in Pretoria.

North West topped the list, with all of its 25 Municipalities being investigated, followed by six in the Eastern Cape, five in Mpumalanga and two in Gauteng.

Other Municipalities, such as KwaZulu-Natal’s Msunduzi Municipality, had been taken over and put under provincial government control in terms of Section 139 of the Constitution.

Shiceka had harsh words for corrupt Municipal officials, saying they betrayed the trust given to them.

“We are clearing the system,” he said. “There is no forest to hide.”

IMATU is in full support of any effort to permanently eradicate criminal activity from Municipalities.

“We are pleased that the message is finally driven home” was Johan Koen, General Secretary of IMATU’s reaction.

WE WELCOME YOU TO THE NEW-LOOK IMATU WEBSITE!

At long last, it is here! After months of planning and hours of dedicated co-ordination, our new-look website is here.

 

It was totally re-developed with a “new look” and relevant, user friendly information

Our newly designed website leaves the first-time visitor with various impressions- style, dynamism, professionalism…the list continues.

 

Together with LA Health, a strategic partner of long standing we have created a new-look electronic image for the trade union of choice in local government.

 

Matters that are relevant to the workplace, our member’s personal finance and how IMATU operates for the benefit of our members will be regularly posted.

 

We have even provided for a blog where regular discussions on a variety of subjects will take place as well as a poll section where you can express your likes or dislikes on various subjects.

 

Once a subject appears on the blog, you are welcome to mail your response to us (sylvia@imatu.co.za). This will be published and (hopefully) stimulate positive debate!

 

The website was designed with ease of use as first option. All icons lead directly to the relevant documents or links.  Through links from the website, you can access the sites of the SALGBC, Salga, and various Seta’s, IMATU’s facebook page and the homepages of government departments.

 

Our latest documents section usually contains documents which were in demand lately. Other documents (i.e. collective agreements and acts of Parliament) can be accessed through the various links icons.

 

New members have direct access to a downloadable application form and the contact particulars of their Regions. 

A gallery with photographs from the latest memorable occasion involving IMATU will also be updated regularly.

 

We hope that you will visit our site regularly and use the site to communicate effectively and comprehensively with the members and officials of the trade union of choice in local government- IMATU.

 

IMATU – working together for you.

IMATU – the trade union of choice for local government. 

MINISTER ADMITS THAT CURRENT MUNICIPAL FUNDING FORMULA IS FLAWED, UNSUSTAINABLE, AND REQUIRES IMMEDIATE REVIEW

MINISTER ADMITS THAT CURRENT MUNICIPAL FUNDING FORMULA IS FLAWED, UNSUSTAINABLE, AND REQUIRES IMMEDIATE REVIEW