SERVICE DELIVERY

New capacity building programme

Khanyisile Kweyama, Anglo American CEO and Africa's most influential woman in mining.
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The launch of a new a capacity building programme at eleven municipalities across five provinces in South Africa will help to strengthen institutional capacity in local government, writes Kgomotso Penyenye.

The primary objective of the newly launched municipal capacity building programme, which represents an investment of R120-million for the first three years, is to strengthen institutional capacity in the areas of personnel skills and administrative systems in order to promote municipal sustainability in the long term. The programme’s key deliverables are to develop and implement plans and procedures to improve municipal billing systems and controls, and reduce electricity and water distribution losses at pilot municipal sites.

The programme will also focus on attracting inward investment into the eleven municipalities.

The project, the brainchild of Anglo American, the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and the Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF), represents the ultimate in public private partnerships (PPP’s) in local government.

The programme’s key deliverables are to develop and implement plans and procedures to improve municipal billing systems and controls, and reduce electricity and water distribution losses at pilot municipal sites. The programme will also review municipal infrastructure plans, asset management and co-ordination of the sector policies that guide provision of municipal services and provide technical support to address any shortfalls in the infrastructure necessary for basic service delivery.

The programme will also focus on attracting inward investment into the eleven municipalities, says Khanyisile Kweyama, Executive Director for Anglo American in South Africa. “In an effort to ensure the sustainability of our initiatives, Anglo American has adopted a partnership approach when it comes to helping to build South Africa. In the past we’ve forged strategic public private partnerships, which are successfully empowering municipalities and developing their capabilities. The key purpose of this latest initiative is to improve service delivery and shape social development that depends so critically on competent municipal operations. This is one of the ways we’re managing the expectations of the communities in which we operate.

“Furthermore, since municipal capacity building is outside of the core area of expertise for a mining company such as ourselves, Anglo American sought a collaborative approach through a partnership with the DBSA and the ICF to develop and implement the municipal capacity building support programme that we’re celebrating today. Both these stakeholders share our commitment to aligning with the objectives of the National Development Plan. System strengthening is a key focus of the NDP and we’re proud to partner with stakeholders of the calibre of the ICF and DBSA to support and add value to practical interventions that will address the most important needs of local municipalities.

“We recognise that the performance of many municipalities across the country is being hindered by institutional incapacity and severe skills deficiencies. As a result, municipalities struggle to generate enough revenue to maintain basic service delivery to their local communities. As we have seen time and again in the media, when municipal operations fall short of delivering on their mandate and in turn community expectations, service delivery protests frequently occur, weakening municipal operations and impacting businesses operating in these areas — including our own mining operations,” says Kweyama, who was recently accolade as Africa’s most influential woman in mining.

The struggle by our municipalities to deliver basic services has increasingly resulted in their local communities turning to private companies, development institutions and NGOs to address these challenges. The private sector is indeed uniquely placed to contribute to a solution, by aligning its efforts with the critical milestones in the NDP. And, as a major player in corporate South Africa, Anglo American says it is committed to identifying programmes and seeking partnerships that focus on alignment with these national strategies.

“As the largest employer in the South African mining industry, we’re driven by our obligation to the principles of the Mining Charter, particularly when it comes to contributing to the transformation of this strategic industry. However, in our efforts to achieve this, we’re totally interdependent on the communities that we serve.”

Although provision of municipal services is the constitutional responsibility of the local authorities, Anglo American’s pledge to assist in improving standards among the communities in and around our mining operations, has often involved collaboration with these local authorities. “We therefore identified the Municipality Capacity Development Programme as a viable and very worthwhile investment mechanism through which this collaboration could be managed.”

According to Kweyama, programme implementation is already underway and a successful procurement process has deployed service providers at certain municipalities and the work of the programme has begun. A number of engagements with all relevant national government departments, which include all stakeholders, have taken place to ensure alignment and a collaborative effort.

“Enhancing municipal capability will be achieved by developing and implementing procedures to improve municipal billing systems and controls, and to reduce electricity and water distribution losses. The programme will also address municipal infrastructure plans, asset registers and co-ordination of sector policies — as well as provide technical support to establish what infrastructural needs there are to enhance basic service delivery.

“Revenue enhancement, including data cleansing, billing systems, and water and electricity loss reduction are among the main focus areas of this innovative programme. There will also be comprehensive infrastructure planning and focused operations and maintenance, including replacing water and electricity meters. In addition, the programme will place a strong emphasis on improving internal communications and modifying, reinvigorating and upskilling personnel behaviour,” according to Kweyama.

She says it is through strategic partnerships such as this, that Anglo American is empowering governments and municipalities. “Our aim is to assist Government to create fully functional and sustainable municipalities that are capable of delivering distribution of good quality basic services like water, sanitation and electricity infrastructure — cost-effectively and efficiently.” It is also indicated that not only will this programme empower municipalities fulfil their roles and meet public demand for quality basic services, but it will also empower local communities to understand their rights and responsibilities.

“This initiative offers benefits for all stakeholders, including Anglo American, allowing us to invest further. Reduced pressure on all collaborative organs within our stakeholder universe will free our corporate social investment budgets to focus on activities that leverage our core competencies. A functioning municipality will also support a stable local economic environment while in turn, creating a suitable business climate at municipal level. This will provide a foundation for entrepreneurship and new businesses, which could help us achieve higher levels of local employment and local procurement,” Kweyama concluded.

For the municipal capacity building programme, the ICF, along with Anglo American are providing funding, while the DBSA is the management partner and will provide governance and oversee procurement matters. This includes managing the service providers appointed to implement hands-on skills training at municipal level. The DBSA has highly regarded expertise in building the effectiveness of public institutions, while the ICF is well known for the work it does to improve the climate for investment in Africa by removing barriers to doing business.

ICF CEO William Asiko, commented: “ICF is pleased to be part of this important initiative that will help local municipalities in South Africa improve service delivery in their areas, and thereby improve the business environment of these municipalities. When services such as water, electricity, road maintenance, sanitation and waste management are provided in an efficient and reliable manner, businesses are attracted to invest, providing jobs and contributing to the local economy.

“The commitment of the Municipal Councils, through their financial contribution and their willingness to bring lasting change to their local communities, gives ICF assurance that the reforms being implemented will be sustainable.

“As partners, we anticipate that the stabilisation of the business climate at municipal level will also provide a foundation for entrepreneurship and new businesses, which could help achieve higher levels of local employment and local procurement.” Says Asiko.

DBSA CEO Patrick Dlamini added: “The ability of many municipalities to render services to their communities, including access to financial resources for infrastructure programmes, is under increasing pressure. Support to municipalities as key delivery agents for social services remains an important focus area for DBSA”.

Other stakeholders involved in the programme are the provincial Departments of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the South African Local Government Association and Treasury Departments in the Northern Cape, Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga. 

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