The Provincial Week is one of the key mechanisms established by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to achieve its mandate of representing the country’s provinces in the national sphere. It was established in line with the provision of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act No. 108 of 1996), which obligates the NCOP to “ensure that provincial interests are taken into account in the national sphere of government”.
The concept of a Provincial Week first found expression at the First Preparatory Workshop for the Launch of the NCOP that was held in 1996. The Workshop concluded that such a Programme would ensure that the NCOP becomes: “a centerpiece for the articulation of local government and provincial concerns at national level”. The Provincial Legislatures spoke of the Provincial Week as: “a mechanism to ensure that Provincial Delegates to the NCOP keep in touch with the provinces with the aim of receiving mandates on to be placed on the national agenda”.
The Provincial Week is also in line with the move to build an Activist Parliament that playsan active role in giving expression to the needs and challenges facing communities. Thus, it accords Members of the NCOP an opportunity to:
(i) Interact with the provinces and report back on their activities in the NCOP with the aim of obtaining new mandates on issues to be placed on the national agenda;
(ii) Undertake oversight visits to projects to monitor the delivery of services to communities; and
(iii) Convene public hearing and meetings in order to interact with communities to get “first hand” information on the delivery of services to communities. Since its inception the Provincial Week has grown to be one of the key mechanisms used by the NCOP to oversee and collect information on the progress that provinces and municipalities are making in delivering quality services to the people. It also affords the NCOP an opportunity to undertake joint oversight and work together in ensuring the continuous monitoring of progress in the delivery of services to communities.
The Provincial Week of 21 – 24 July is intended to create a platform for members of the NCOP to examine the current state of local government in respect to its developmental mandate, service delivery and institutional capacity by visiting the best performing municipalities and municipalities under distressto look at the following issues:
(i) Delivery of basic services to communities: (water and sanitation, electricity, etc.);
(ii) Financial viability:(quality of financial statements, credit rating, revenue base, revenue collection rate and systems such as billing systems and debt to state entities, including owed to the municipality by other state entities);
(iii) Local economic development:(targeted economic sectors and initiatives); and
(iv) Governance:(compliance with legislation, political stability, interventions, administrative deficiencies and malpractices such as maladministration, corruption, etc).
(v) Spending on the Municipal Infrastructure Grant.
The theme for the Provincial Week of 21 – 24 July 2015 is: “Advancing the developmental agenda of municipalities for a better life for our people”.