A delegation of IMATU’s Top Management structures met with the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Mr Richard Baloyi, on Monday 6 December 2011.
IMATU’s National President, Stanley Khoza, was accompanied by IMATU’s Deputy President, Keith Swanepoel, IMATU’s Vice President: Labour Relations, Ronald Veerapen, the General Secretary of IMATU, Johan Koen and the Deputy General Secretary: Legal, Craig Adams.
IMATU raised various matters of concern in the municipal industry, with the Minister and his delegation.
The future status of the Provinces and District Municipalities, the erosion of municipal services through privatization, the transfer of municipal services to the other organs of state, the transfer of primary health care practitioners, the future of the Metro Police, inconsistency with fixed term contract appointments and the possible restructuring of electricity distribution were raised in the discussion.
Uncertainty amongst the municipal workforce about the government’s intentions regarding a single public service, was also addressed.
IMATU raised the trend of casualisation which occurs in all municipalities whereby temporary employees are employed by municipalities outside of the conditions of service applicable in the SALGBC, with the Minister.
Infrastructure failures in municipalities were also addressed, while emphasis was placed on the need for eradication of nepotism, fraud, corruption and other criminal activities in and around the municipal structures.
The Minister was also informed of the deteriorating relationship with the employers’ organisation, SALGA, and the effect that it has on collective bargaining in the industry. Specific mention was made of last year’s unsuccessful salary negotiations that took place under the jurisdiction of the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC).
The Minister amicably addressed some of the matters that IMATU presented, ensuring his department’s commitment to partner with IMATU, and his intention to deal with the concerns and problems in a consultative manner.
He referred to the “regrettable and sorry state of affairs” of service delivery in the country and asked that partners such as IMATU should not lament on “run down services”, but instead assist the department with determining who or what is responsible for the deterioration.
‘’Run down services are not the same as services that are poorly delivered”, he said.
“Immediate intervention in instances where service levels deteriorated, can repair the systems”, he said.
He referred to the government’s discussion regarding the introduction of a Single Public Service. He ensured the delegation that government had no intention to disband local government as a third tier of governance. He said that “the Single Public Service debate does not exist anymore…Public Service Management is the debate now”.
Discussions involving the provisions of the Public Administration Management Bill are currently underway, and the government has intentions to amend the Public Service Act in line with the Municipal Structures Act, which may mean that employees of all tiers of government may be inter-transferrable.
He also expressed his personal preference to have District Municipalities’ capacity strengthened and “to do away with traditional municipalities”.
On the issue of privatisation, the Minster was adamant regarding the utilisation of municipal competency instead of the outsourcing of skills and services.
He also promised to look into the Extended Public Works Programme and the effects that it has on municipal service delivery.
Minister Baloyi was concerned about the deterioration of the trust relationship between IMATU and SALGA, and he promised IMATU’s delegation speedy intervention by his department.
IMATU was applauded for its “Start Working” campaign which was launched earlier in the Eastern Cape. “Count on us to become your partner with this National initiative”, he said.
Both the Minister’s and IMATU’s delegation expressed their satisfaction with the initial meeting of the parties, and mutual assurances were given of the parties’ intent to commit to excellent co-operative local governance.