Scales of Justice: Picture: THINKSTOCK
Scales of Justice: Picture: THINKSTOCK

LEGISLATION was urgently required to govern the intervention by national and provincial governments in the administration of other spheres of government, the director-general of the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency, Sean Phillips, said on Wednesday.

These interventions currently occur in terms of provisions of the constitution which are insufficiently detailed, resulting in disputes over, for example, who the accounting authority is when one sphere takes over a function from another. Such disputes have arisen in departments in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape which have been taken over by the national government.

The constitution does stipulate that legislation is required to govern such interventions, but this has not yet been adopted.

Mr Phillips said in an interview after a meeting of the parliamentary committee on public service and administration that the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs was finalising a draft Monitoring, Support and Intervention Bill. This would supplement the constitutional provisions, which were "very high level" and did not address several detailed questions.

"The bill will clarify the constitutional provisions for interventions by national government in provinces with regard to concurrent functions where minimum norms and standards are not being met, and also with regard to provincial interventions in local government where norms and standards are not being met with regard to local government service delivery."

Democratic Alliance MP Deetlefs du Toit agreed that the proposed law was urgently needed and stressed that it should include sanctions against government officials who failed to implement national norms and standards.

Mr Phillips also believed national departments responsible for concurrent functions needed to "put in place more comprehensive appropriate minimum norms and standards for the quality of provincial and local delivery of services". These needed to be monitored regularly and support or corrective action taken when necessary.

He presented the findings of the mid-term review of government priorities, published last November, to the committee.

The review dealt with progress made in governance and service delivery and concluded that one of the main reasons for the lack of proper implementation by the government of its policies was poor management.

Mr Phillips warned that the slowdown in the rate of growth in gross domestic product (GDP) made it unlikely that the target of achieving a 45% rate of employment by 2014 would be met.

He was concerned that broad unemployment in rural areas had risen rapidly from 44% in 2009 to 52% this year, partly due to the slow rate of overall national economic growth, inadequate progress with smallholder farmer development, and the lack of growth in employment in the commercial agricultural sector.

The government was making slow progress in implementing policies to reduce inequality, such as improving basic education and small business development. He argued for effective policies to promote youth employment.