Government extends its North West intervention by another three months
The national government has decided to extend its control of the North West province by another three months.
President Cyril Ramaphosa's cabinet was scheduled to withdraw its intervention in that province at the end of March. But it has been extended to June 2021 to address outstanding priorities.
The interministerial task team — led by co-operative governance & traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, which is tasked with overseeing the section 100 intervention which saw the entire North West provincial government put under the administration of the national government — revealed on Monday that it will review progress registered in the intervention only in June.
The task team previously told parliament that they would scale back from the province by the end of March.
Dlamini-Zuma told an ad hoc committee of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) which is overseeing their intervention that, while challenges remained in that province, there has been sufficient progress.
“The task team has worked diligently to restore calm in the province, the services that were disrupted during the period of unrest have also been restored and there is ongoing work to build the capacity of the provincial government,” said Dlamini-Zuma.
She suggested that the recruitment of people who are capable of continuing the work her team is doing was the main reason of extending their stay in the province to avoid regression. She said the decision to withdraw will be based not only on the financial management and audit but they have to look at the capacity they are leaving behind, and to ensure systems are in place to ensure continued stability.
“That is why we are looking at ensuring that critical posts are filled before we leave ... to hand over properly so that there is continuity and sustainability” she said.
The department's Jonathan Timm told MPs that the director-general of the province, as well as the heads of department for health, social development, and agriculture and rural development, are vacant following resignation, dismissal, retirement and expiry of contracts.
“Filling these vacant positions is a critical milestone for leaving the province on a stable footing and enabling the withdrawal of the direct intervention,” he said.
Timm said the recruitment processes for all four positions were on track for the new leadership to be in place by the end of March.
“The contracts for four other heads of department positions are expiring in the new financial year and will need to be filled to ensure stability,” said Timm.
The national government put the North West government under administration in May 2018. At the time, government said it decided to intervene in the province because of instability from community level to a labour level, especially in the health department.
The constitution provides for the national intervention in provincial administration.
When a province cannot or does not fulfil an executive obligation in terms of the constitution or legislation, the national executive may intervene by taking any appropriate steps to ensure fulfilment of that obligation, including issuing a directive to the provincial executive, describing the extent of the failure and stating any steps required to meet its obligations; and by assuming responsibility for the relevant obligation in that province to the extent necessary.
The intervention affects 11 provincial departments.