HON PRINCESS PATN BUTHELEZI MPL,KZN LEGISLATURE
I would like to firstly commend our government for affording us these prodigious opportunities of learning and observing best practices across different countries that allow us improve the running of our province and our given tasks effectively and efficiently. We learnt a lot in Thailand and Ghana and we were able to benchmark our province’s performance and measured our progress.
OVERSIGHT AND PUBLIC PARTICIPATION MECHANISMS
To ensure proper implementation of government programmes and active public involvement in local government we can learn a lot from the Thailand strategy of empowering its citizens by giving them full power to monitor and oversee the results and performance of the local government officials. South Africa as a whole should look into adopting such critical leadership style. In Thailand, citizens are able sue any public official or state enterprises who fail to perform their authorized functions.
This could dramatically reduce the stinking corruption levels, fraud, maladministration and nepotism that our province suffers from. Again, in Thailand, in a case where are corruption allegations or non-provision of basic services to the people by government, 75 percent of the people who voted can impeach local officials and 50 percent of the registered voters can propose a new community regulation. Such power to the people enforces financial accountability, transparency and responsibility on public officials and institutions, an element our country is in dire need for.
In Ghana, the Parliament plays an effective role in ensuring that District Assemblies account on their budget on regular basis through a procurement entity at a local level that ensures that budget is used as planned. End of year audits and monitoring of projects by regional committee councils is conducted. Committees visit various Districts to check and monitor implementation of projects.
LAND ADMINISTRATION AND ACCESS
On land ownership, we learnt that local people have ownership rights to land. Foreigners and business from other countries cannot solely be granted land ownership rights. The law requires that foreign investors must partner with local citizens and they should be major shareholders. This could be useful strategy for our country.
Land in Ghana is owned and controlled by chiefs. Chiefs get a certain share on all land transactions and/or from all economic activities taking place in their areas of jurisdiction. Land transactions are handled in consultation with traditional leadership structures who also receive a share on funds related to these transactions. Funds allocated to royalties are paid to traditional councils and a small portion is paid to chiefs for their day to day needs and other support services. This money is not accounted for.
Disaster management and relief strategies in Thailand are quite good. Thailand Government also offers various training courses on disaster management which South Africa might benefit from. The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation should be established as a Department by our national government. Our government must build disaster management education and awareness, run effective disaster management work to help save people’s lives, assist victims of disaster and effectively assist in disaster recovery.
In Ghana, we learnt that Disaster management is still at a pilot stage through an organisation called National Disaster Management Organisation that deals and handles matters relating to disaster management. Other programmes such as Early Warning System Projects are being piloted in other Districts. Part of the efforts of this Project is to reduce flood and drought vulnerabilities in all pilot areas.
TRADITIONAL LEADERSHIP STRUCTURES AND THEIR ROLE
Just like in South Africa, the monarchy in Thailand is hereditary and under the constitution kings are given very little power but remain figurehead and symbol of the nation. The constitution stipulates that although the sovereignty of the state is vested in the people, the King will play an active role through one of the state branches of the government. Ghana has a formal structure on traditional leadership which is recognised by its Constitution.
This structure is entrusted with powers to manage within the regions. There are ten Regional Houses of Chiefs, which represent all ten regions and one National House of Chief where all Regional Houses are represented. Both Regional and National House have traditional courts that handle and rule on matters applicable to their jurisdiction. The final appeal from the National House goes to the Supreme Court, a final body that rules on chieftaincy matters.
The Houses of Traditional Leadership are supported by the state through the Department of Chieftaincy. This Department provides financial and administrative support to various royal households. The Districts administration has powers to make by laws on matters that affect their respective localities, as vested in them by the Constitution. The Constitution insulates chiefs from partisan politics, though not from appointment to public office.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, JOB CREATION AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES
Thailand is one of the developing countries that has maintained a stable economy with world class infrastructure. South Africa have many lessons to learn from the Thailand Government which governs population close to 70 million and still have less than 1% Unemployment. To reduce unemployment levels, this country implements various training programmes and provides support to SMMEs. We strongly encourage and lobby for active relations with South Africa to learn and share expertise which could assist in reducing unemployment especially among youth.
i. Student Exchange Programmes
Addressing youth unemployment issues, we are calling out for government to work closely with SA embassy to advance talks with other South African counterparts to recruit exchange students to be trained in Thailand.
ii. Investment Opportunities
As the IFP we urge our government and private sector to build and strengthen links with Thailand trade and industry. We would like to see more investors flooding our country like we saw with companies like Toyota, Mazda, and Mitsubishi; which are major companies in Thailand. May they expand investment opportunities in other sectors as well.
With regards to Ghana, the government run projects that are aimed at rehabilitating, developing local areas and to create employment opportunities especially for the vulnerable groups including women, youth and other vulnerable groups. Its government in 2011, implemented a brand of public works under, the Labour Intensive Public Works (LIPW) which is the same as our Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). These projects are implemented as part of a labour intensive public works and are funded by the World Bank. The main and objectives is to create employment opportunities and to rehabilitate infrastructure.
We hope that these lessons will be fruitful for the improvement of our beautiful province.
I thank you.