The ANC’s national conference has resolved to have an independent presidential commission review the role of provinces.

“This independent presidential commission needs to review, reform and strengthen provinces,” legislature and governance commission chairwoman Nomaindia Mfeketo said yesterday.

She told reporters in Mangaung delegates did not decide whether the number of provinces should be reduced in order to assist national governance.

“There is nothing to say that provinces must be reduced. You can’t reduce before the independent committee reviews (provinces),” Mfeketo said.

“The issue is not really on the agenda, it is something that the NGC (ANC national general council) would look at, and in 2019 would probably know how to go about it then.”

In the past year, several provinces have been placed under administration by the national government, primarily for financial and budgetary concerns.

At the ANC’s policy conference in June, several reports emerged that delegates at the conference had agreed to reduce the number of provinces from nine to six.

Co-chair Lynne Brown said the reduction of provinces was not discussed at the commissions or plenary, and that she had only heard the idea from the media.

Mfeketo said there “needs to be a consideration” on what the national government’s role would be for “unviable” municipalities.

“If there is a municipality that needs infrastructure and would not be able to afford the infrastructure, there needs to be an intervention (by the national government), even if it is once-off.”

Municipalities that did not bring in revenue could be turned into district councils that dealt primarily with administration.

Mfeketo said a proposal for a single public service could become finalised within the next nine months.

“With the question of a single public service, we acknowledge that there are very complex issues,” she said.

“We have given that process (of discussing a single public service) nine months to be finalised, with (the other members of) the tripartite alliance,” Mfeketo said.

She said the conference made a recommendation for a remuneration commission, which would be chaired by a judge, to examine remuneration in all public sectors.

“This will speed up the... (implementation) of a single public service.”

Mfeketo said though the proposal for public servants to be banned from business was not discussed in commissions, it was nevertheless supported by the ANC.

The proposal for a single election was not adopted.

“The recommendation (of the conference) is that we must have staggered elections,” Mfeketo said.

She said aspects of an insurance scheme for councillors and their property had been discussed, but it was a work in progress.

Mfeketo said councillors were the face of municipalities during service delivery protests and were often targeted by residents. – Sapa