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Yunus Carrim, deputy minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) is committed to making the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency (MISA) work. It simply has to.

We are under more pressure than ever before to accelerate service delivery. To do this we have to expand municipal infrastructure.

We have financial obstacles but the main problems are around capacity. After all, municipalities did not spend about 14% of their R9.9 billion municipal infrastructure grant (MIG) budget during the last financial year.
And it is basically to address these capacity challenges, that MISA is being established – to support municipalities with planning, management and other technical expertise to roll-out infrastructure more efficiently and effectively.

MISA will not take over the core responsibilities of local government. It cannot. Not constitutionally, not legally. Local government remains a sphere of government with its specific powers and functions, and that is not to be interfered with.

MISA will merely assist municipalities to fulfil their functions, especially in respect of municipal infrastructure and service provision, which we all agree have to be accelerated. Municipalities will have a major role in making MISA work.
We will, indeed, involve the provinces, SALGA, municipalities, experts and other stakeholders to play a role in MISA. If there’s a role for communities to play, we should make space for this.

In a sense though, MISA is not an entirely new initiative. For some time now, CoGTA has been working with other departments and other public sector institutions providing municipal capacity-building programmes to rationalise these programmes and provide greater cohesion. MISA has to be located in this context. It builds on some of the collaborative work already done.

MISA must also be located in terms of the Local Government Turnaround Strategy).
The draft National Development Plan and the New Growth Path also provide a framework for MISA.

Too often a government department and its potential partners, including other government departments, talk past each other, and so the cooperation we could otherwise get on programmes and projects of common interest simply does not materialise! We can’t afford that luxury – or is it stupidity – anymore. There’s too much at stake. It’s the needs of the people out there, especially the poor that are an issue. And we can’t fail them. And they can’t fail themselves.

We have to all work together to get things done better and faster.

“The government has a huge infrastructure development programme of over R800 billion. We are aware that we are not rolling out this programme fast enough. It has been decided that the President should head a Cabinet Infrastructure Commission to accelerate this programme.

Among the decisions taken were that:
• There should be a greater focus on coordinating and integrating service delivery in priority areas where backlogs are the highest and on transforming apartheid special development patterns. These include 21 rural districts. It was noted that less than 30% of the people have access to basic services in these districts, which are in six provinces.
• The projects to be implemented will address water, sanitation, electricity, waste management and access roads. Other very important services such as education, health, policing and housing will also be included.
• The infrastructure cluster service delivery task team will compile a set of integrated project plans for each district.

The Lekgotla also focussed on metros, large towns and cities with large informal settlements, and it was agreed that:
• There will be an informal settlement upgrading plan in 45 metro, large cities and towns. Projects will cover security of tenure, water, sanitation, public transport, area lighting, electrification and waste management. There will also be provision of social services and amenities, including public open spaces and recreational facilities.
• There will be a focus on improving the infrastructure delivery management process, eradicating under-expenditure and improving value for money.
• All provinces and relevant national departments will participate in the Infrastructure Delivery Improvement Programme.
• All struggling municipalities will participate in the CoGTA special purpose vehicle to address key blockages in service delivery.
• There will be a focus on accelerating the building of infrastructure delivery skills and capacity where it is lacking in government and municipalities.
• National government will put in place stronger norms and standards for infrastructure delivery, and monitor and enforce these measures.

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