Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation: briefing
20 May 2009
The Minister in the Presidency responsible for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Collins Chabane, addressed the media on the structural changes that are being introduced by the new Government. The government's macro structure was representative of the ruling party's election manifesto. The ANC had determined that the state was not positioned in a manner that would efficiently deliver these priorities and there was a lack of coordinating planning capacity within the state and across the spheres of government. This had necessitated the establishment of a Planning Commission. Another consideration had been the fact that despite the development of good policies by the ruling party, there were problems with implementation. Minister Chabane pointed at the lack of an early warning system. This was a critical factor for government's ability to monitor and remedy situations where problems had been identified. The nation was also faced with significant challenges in the form of an energy and food crisis which had made it necessary to revise government's macro structure so that these problems would be addressed. Significant changes had also been introduced in order to strengthen cooperative ties between the three spheres of government to deliver efficiently on services. The South African economy was a huge economy with links to the rest of the world as evidenced by its participation in all regional and international bodies on the economic front. Changes were necessary and that reflected the initiatives taken by SADC and the African Union as well as other markets such as Europe, Asia and the Americas. The Minister stated that these changes would be effected as smoothly as possible to avoid disruption in the work of the different departments or any budgeted programmes.
Q: The Minister was asked to clarify whether the Department of Economic Development was in fact a department for Small, Medium Enterprises (SMEs). How would he define his own Department's function?
A: The Minister responded that the Department of Economic Development would play a significant role in co-ordinating policies on economic development in the country. His own portfolio's functions were yet to be developed since it was a new invention. Its functions would be developed in terms of policies that had to be approved by Cabinet. The mandate was to monitor government's performance and evaluate outputs. The Planning Commission would pool together reports from different monitoring mechanisms. It would ensure systems were put in place which created an early warning system to government and to departments to say there were problems in these areas, these problems needed to be fixed and hopefully that would help government's capacity to deliver and ensure that they were able to meet the expectations of the electorate.
Q: The Minister was asked whether the change of name from Housing to Human Settlements was meant to indicate a more people-friendly approach toward building communities?
A: The Minister responded that when they started the Housing Department way back in 1994, they were saying they would build homes and habitable dwellings. Therefore their housing approach was not just about the provision of the structure, but also included other elements, such as the habitat where people resided. Secondly they felt there was little co-ordination between state departments about the provision of housing. It should not only relate to these structures but look at the planning of the whole settlement. They wanted to build settlements in a more co-ordinated way.
Q: The media asked if there had been a preliminary costing of the changes. The Minister was asked to confirm if reports suggesting that these changes would cost a billion rand were accurate.
A: The Minister responded that Treasury had been involved from the very beginning. He could not at present provide an exact amount save to say that Treasury had assured them that there was money available for these changes.
Q: The Minister was asked if he had the experience to run the Department considering his background - where he had been running a provincial department.
A: The Minister responded that there was nobody who was born a Minister so there could be no issue to say that he did not have the experience to do the work. He felt the experience gained in the past 15 years across the spheres of government, in local government, provincial government and national government made a collective capacity of experience of the executive as a whole to be ready to tackle any challenge. The issue of whether he had run a provincial department was not much different. He knew how the laws worked. Both used the same Acts and they used the same procedures to do budgets. They used the same procedures to employ staff so there was no difference. It could be difference of scale and level and probably the exposure which people would have but there was not much difference between a national and provincial department.
Q: The Minister was asked whether there would be changes to freehold title given that it was one of the biggest obstacles to rural development. The Minister was asked to comment on the fact that despite his statements about co-operative governance, there was the 17thConstitutional Amendment Bill before Parliament shortly which would give national government power to intervene willy-nilly with local government. The journalist asked the Minister to explain this contradiction.
A: The Minister responded that they were quite conscious of the constraints and the limitations they were going to have on the issue of rural development. There were cordial relations between government and traditional leaders and hopefully they would be able to maintain a good relationship between traditional leaders and municipal councils. However, in their endeavour to develop rural areas, they should not work in the manner which would finally destroy the fabric of South Africa's rural societies and therefore they needed to find a balance between the two.
With regards to the constitutional amendment, the Minister wanted to emphasise collective government. He pointed out that in the past 15 years there had been experiences which had been gained as to how they provide services and how they co-ordinated between the three spheres of government. The Cabinet or the Executive at that time had identified that there were problems they had faced from time to time. They had to try and address that relationship. In that context they had decided to do an amendment to make that co-operation between the three spheres of government more efficient. However, once the Bill was in Parliament, then Parliament would have to decide as the voice of the people.
Q: A journalist asked what the Presidency’s response and comment was on the sparring match between COSATU and Vodacom?
A: Minister Chabane responded that South Africa had a consistent and a reliable regime of laws and regulations to protect and ensure that the investments which come into the country were not negatively affected and he thought that point had been proven because Cabinet agreed to the sale of the shares and they also recognised the rights of any citizen, both individuals and also organisations, to exercise their right in the normal course as permitted by law. The CEO of Vodacom had proposed a meeting between themselves and COSATU. Hopefully they would be able to sit down and resolve those issues themselves.
Q: The media asked about the oversight groups such as the Auditor General that already did monitoring. Did this mean that they would also be reporting to the Presidency. How would they be gathering their information to find out how these government departments were being run? Another journalist also asked about the 2009 /10 strategic plans and the split departments, with regards to how they would be done in this financial year and how they were going to account to Parliament. Were there mechanisms in place to deal with those technicalities?
A: The Minister responded by saying that they should look at government as a unit. The executive authority of the state was vested in the President who would then delegate to ministers or whoever he deemed necessary. So one had to look at the executive authority of the state as one. But in order for it to be performed and executed properly there was need for a division of labour and to give other people responsibilities to do that. Now if that was the intention of the Constitution then one had to look at the state as one, one had to look at Cabinet as one institution which need to work as a collective. It was obvious they would know that the ruling party had been very consistent in ensuring that there was collective leadership and collective responsibility of people who were in executive positions. Cabinet accounted to Parliament, or Cabinet Ministers, both in their individual capacities and also as part of the executive. So there was a collective responsibility or co-responsibility over the actions and activities of Cabinet as a whole. From that concept it would be very clear that any Cabinet member or member of the executive executing the functions of the executive would have to work in the context of this collective responsibility.
Q: A journalist asked the Minister for further information on the Department of Economic Development. If it was going to be responsible for SMMEs, did that mean that Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) was going to go from DTI to that department? And secondly, there was still a bit of confusion with all these economic ministries, who exactly was going to have the final say on economic policy, on macroeconomic policy, on fiscal policy, and those sorts of things?
A: The Minister thought there was not much confusion. A number of ministers had spoken on this question, that is, Minister Gordhan, Minister Patel and Minister Manuel. He thought it would be important for them to leave this with them, because they were the people who were responsible for all these issues. The Minister felt that it would be unfair at this stage to indicate whether SEDA would remain in the DTI or would be relocated to Economic Development since restructuring was still ongoing.
Q: A journalist asked about the restructuring and reconfiguring of departments and whether they would not have the problem of capacity, or if they had a plan to deal with that.
A: The Minister's response was that although people said that the state departments did not have capacity, and that public servants were not well trained, interestingly the private sector still found them very valuable because they poached them. If the situation was so desperate, public servants would find it difficult to find a job in private sector. He believed that they had capacity. They needed to give them the necessary support for them to execute their tasks.
Q: A journalist asked what the Planning Commission’s exact mandate would be.
A: There were various permutations that were raised such as whether it should be composed of ministers, whether it should be just a small unit, or whether it should be an State Owned Enterprise. There were a lot of permutations, looking at models from across the world. But they had opted for the one which said you appointed a minister in the Presidency because basically it was the President’s responsibility to set up the Planning Commission, and the President had appointed the minister. The next step was to appoint the commissioners, and the President had taken a view that it was better to get people from outside with expertise in the planning area but as bureaucrats. One had to separate between the commissioners, the actual people who must take the decisions when evaluating the reports, or the plans which came from the technocrats which could be presented to Cabinet. So that was the model which had been adopted.
Q: The Minister was asked on the Department of Human Settlements, whether additional financial support would be provided since the previous minister of housing had complained that one of the reasons why houses could not be built faster was because the budget had been too little.
A: The Minister's response was that although they would like to have more money for that portfolio, the resources were limited. They had limited resources and they could not satisfy all the needs at the same time. However, they did need to put resources where government’s priorities stood, and if Cabinet said in terms of the ruling party's manifesto, and in terms of their approach, that housing was one of their priorities, then they needed to add more resources there. If government added more responsibilities to any section of the department, they would have to try and find resources for it to be able to perform its function.
Q: The Minister was again asked a question about the specific mandate of the Planning Commission and how it would operate as well as any plans that may have been made regarding its work.
A: The Minister responded that Minister Manuel would soon elaborate on what the plans were and what they thought was required. However, in general the Planning Commission was supposed to coordinate the planning framework for the entire country, wall to wall, including municipalities or provinces.
Q: A journalist asked the Minister how his ministry related to provinces? Did he have any powers over provinces: whether to dictate or to assist with their programs when they were not on track?
A: The Minister responded that South Africa was not a combination of municipalities or a combination of provinces, like a federal state, but was a unitary state. It was one country which for governance purposes had been divided into three spheres. And further for governance purposes those spheres themselves had been divided in specific geographic areas for purposes of management. And therefore if a decision had been made by the national government to act in a particular way as long as they did not encroach on the Constitutional responsibility of the other sphere of government, then there would be no problem. But one had to take into account that the Planning Commission and the monitoring department were not established in terms of legislation, meaning their operations in terms of their establishment, in terms of the law, the proclamation by the President, but in terms of their activities, unlike what you would find with the Auditor General, the Public Service Commission and those areas that had specific laws which looked at that, and which give them certain responsibilities, powers, or access to information.
The meeting was adjourned
Media briefing by Minister Ohm Collins Chabane, Minister in the Presidency responsible for Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation, on the macro structure of government
Chairperson: Themba Maseko, Government Spokesperson
Date: 21 May
Statement read by Minister Chabane
Thank you very much and good morning everybody. I have been requested to do a briefing on the changes which are taking place in government. And I will gladly take questions at a later stage. Firstly, the changes which are taking place within government have been started, you would recall that the ANC before going to Polokwane went to a policy conference in Gallagher Estate. There were lots of debates which took place around a number of issues involving the state and what should be the priorities of the ANC government going forward. Those discussions were taken to be concluded in Polokwane at the end of 1997 at the national conference, which as you would know is the highest decision making body of the ruling party. And further deliberations took place in what I think you know at an alliance summit which worked on some other details related to the changes which are necessary.
Later on just before the beginning of the election campaign the ruling party went through a manifesto which identified priorities, which need to be implemented by the ruling party should it win the elections.
Clearly, looking at the priorities, it became clear too that the state is not positioned in a manner which we’ll be able to deliver efficiently on the priorities which have been identified.
Secondly, that in the earlier discussions there was an agreement that there is lack of coordinating planning capacity within the state and across the spheres of government, and therefore a proposal to establish a planning commission was adopted. You would also know that within the Presidency there is a unit which we call PCAS, the policy unit, which has been assisting government in coordinating planning and also to monitor the first services which are being delivered. But it was felt that PCAS is not at a level where you can be able to do long term planning as envisaged by the conferences which took place, and the resolutions. And therefore there was a need for us to establish a planning commission.
The second element attached to that was whilst the ruling party has good policies as people say, but there is a problem with implementation of those policies. And the critical factor there was our inability to monitor, to be able to get the early warning system on issues which relate to delivery, and only discover them at a later stage, and in most cases we are not able to respond adequately to remedy the situation should we identify those problems. The monitoring mechanisms as you would know, and the performance management, you would know that there are quite a number of institutions which performed that function. The Public Service Commission will deal with the public service, the Auditor General deals with the financial issues, the are performance management instruments in Treasury. You have StatsSA which measures the outcomes of what is the impact of the programmes which government has, so there’re quite a number of instruments which are there, but they are not collated and formatted in a manner which will make it easier and simpler for government to take urgent steps to remedy the situation should there be a need and therefore it was felt that you need a monitoring capacity.
The other issue which has been identified is the fact that we have as South Africa a shortage of capacity to provide adequate energy in all its aspect to the economy, and if we have grow the economy we have to attend to that question. Your fuel supplies, your electricity. There’s a greater need now to implement renewable energy sources. And we felt that the manner in which the Department of Minerals of Energy is structured there’s too much focus on the mining areas. Whilst mining is one of the critical contributors to the economy, it is important for us to begin to focus and to get involved in the energy politics of the world to ensure that going forward we are able to supply the economy with sufficient energy which will be affordable. And that led to the separation of the Minerals and Energy Department into two ministries, which is the Mineral Resources and the Ministry of Energy.
The other area which has been identified as an area which we may need to look at is the fact that we especially after the food crisis clearly South Africa as one of the food producing countries we should not suffer the consequence of any downturn or upturn in terms of our food production and affordability of our food, particularly with regard to food security. And that will then be linked to fighting poverty, particularly in developing rural areas. We thought we need to take a special focus in developing rural areas, because though in almost all our programmes we continue to say rural areas becomes our priority, but we have not made significant impact in developing rural economies which will then prevent migration from rural areas to urban areas which cause other social problems in the urban centres. To that extent we thought it may be reasonable for us to establish a Department of Rural Development, but then remove Land Affairs from Agriculture and Land Affairs, to establish a new ministry and department which will be Rural Development and Land Reform. Part of the elements of that is for all the land restitution programmes which were done there have never been serious effort by us to try and make sure that those land which is returned to its original owners does not deteriorate and because that has not happened a number of very viable commercial farms found themselves deteriorating in the hands of ordinary people in the villages. And we think the state needs to play a greater role to ensure the sustainability of these agricultural assets which we have, not only to maintain food security but also to ensure that agriculture remains a major contributor to the GDP. Having done that we then said what are the things which we need to do to ensure that our agricultural production at least increases, or there is a bit of a focus on them. As you would know that agriculture is responsible for aquaculture and that we have one of the longest coastlines in the African continent as a nation. And we are at the southern tip of the African continent, towards
We Tourism is one of the critical contributor to the economy and is sustainable and it’s growing. And we thought it’s important for us to try and emphasise and build capacity in our tourism sector, because it’s one of the largest employers in our economy. And therefore we left tourism on its own with the hope that going forward we will be able to provide resources which would make tourism one of the most viable economic sector of the economy.
Now those changes have got a significant bearing on how we think we are going to deliver on the mandates which have been assigned to us by the electorate after elections. Other changes which took place apart from splitting departments and moving one area to the other would include the change of names of departments. There are a number of them whose names have been changed into something else new.
Amongst others is what used to be called the Department of Foreign Affairs. At the request of foreign affairs and people working in that area, they requested that they think it will be much better for them if the name foreign affairs should be changed to international relations. But part of the reason is that we’ll have to put more emphasis on building cooperative relationships with our partners and the states across the world. And particularly focusing on the African continent, which is our immediate client or partner in diplomatic relations.
The other one which saw a significant change of a name is the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. You would know that before elections there was a process which was undertaken by the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) at that time, to establish a Department of Traditional Affairs within DPLG. But we thought given the new approach of the new government of trying to strengthen cooperative relations between the three spheres of government, that we should not be seen as a prefect of other spheres of government as a national government. We need to build a cooperative relationship as enshrined in our Constitution, and empower the other spheres of government to be able to deliver efficiently on the services which they are required to do so. And we thought changing the name it actually send a signal and changes the posture of the department not to be every time there is a problem we think of section 100, but it is to assist and build capacity in those spheres of government where it does not exist, and provide for cooperative relationship to exist between the three spheres of government across the country.
During the deliberations on the changes there was three areas which were raised also. The other one was to say, look, the programmes which we have on women are not sufficient to address the poverty and the underdevelopment which affect women throughout the country. And therefore there was a proposal to establish a ministry responsible for women affairs, and that’s what we did, we established a ministry responsible for women affairs, but because those programmes were run jointly with other aspects we established a ministry to look at that.
The other one, it was a complaint from the veterans, not only those coming from the non-statutory armies in the past but also those who were coming from the statutory arms of service. That they feel that their issue as veterans, military veterans, are not attended to significantly, and therefore requested that there should be a ministry responsible for veterans. You do find it in other countries, but we thought for our purpose it’s not one of the priorities which we have to deal with, and therefore we need to establish a significant presence and restructure the Department of Defence to ensure that it caters for military veterans. As you know the Department of Defence is basically an oversight, a civilian oversight mechanism over the defence force which is under the secretary. And therefore you need to establish and remove the military veterans from where it is located within the defence force now and put it properly within the department of defence to be able to attend to the issues which have been raised.
The other area which has been identified is the fact that
And obviously on Sunday the 10th of May the President did announce what would be the new government and structure, and fortunately it coincides with what I just related now. The next step probably would be what then do we do to address the challenges which are facing us.
One of the issues which we had to look at is that the changes which are going to take place should not be too disruptive for government to deliver the services to the people. To that we need to find ways of mitigating against the costs for this transition. Thirdly, that we need to try and make the transition or the changes, the implementation of the changes as short as possible, the period. Though we know that the organisation continue to change and re-engineer themselves as the situation changes, you can’t afford a situation where there’s a perpetual merger, changes taking place in government departments or state departments. The government then put mechanisms in place to ensure that the changes takes place at least as smoothest as we can. We know there’s nothing which can be called smooth in the circumstances, but we thought we need to do it that way.
If you look at the changes which have been proposed, basically we are taking sections of departments which were standing on their own with their own programmes, moving it to another department or moving it to a new department completely.
So there is budget, there is a structure which exists, except for those which are new. And that will then minimise the disruptions which are going to take place. So there is no programme which has been budgeted for, which will be significantly affected by these changes, because the units are not cut in such a way that it will render them ineffective or non-functional. The second point is that when you separate two departments we have got what we call shared services. To mitigate against that is to ensure in the transfers of the functions and the transfers of personnel from one section to the other, you’ll retain the capacity to manage the two portfolios of those aspects in the smoothest way, using the same capacity which we have. Obviously in separations like those we’ll have to go into an exercise of verifying the assets, making sure that we close the books for those sections which need to be transferred. That is technical work which needs to be done between government departments, the Auditor General’s office, the department of finance and treasury.
While the Department of Public Works will be providing office space and accommodation and facilities required for departments to function optimally. One may ask why did you go into this process without ascertaining that there’re buildings available. But I’m sure we’ll appreciate that you can’t look for a building until you know what you are going to use it for and the only time we knew is when the President pronounced on the 10th of May when he was appointing Cabinet, that it is true that you will have a Department of Economic Development, and therefore from that point you then begin to say what are the resources which we need to be able to accommodate these new responsibilities. In some of the areas it may take a bit of time to even to get office space, because in order to get office space you need to know what is the personnel which we’ll need so that they are able to calculate and know what they are going to do.
And thirdly that in order to get to that point you’ll need to have policies in place and programmes which will tell you what type of structure you need, so for those departments which are completely new you’ll have to get into the first phase where you have to develop policy, develop these, and arrive at the point when you say this is what we are going to do and therefore we need these type of personnel, which will then tell you what type of facilities and type of resources you need, including the budget to be able to do that.
The other area is that we have currently set up task teams in state departments involving departments which are affected, backed up by the executive to ensure that we provide the support which is necessary for the administration to carry out its task in accomplishing that. We estimate that if we work flat out, at least by the beginning of November we should be very close to completion. Most of them will be done earlier. But we think the major issues should be concluded by the end of October.
We hope we’ll meet that target but obviously this is a subjective. It’s the desire, it’s our aim to do that. But obviously we might have miscalculated as to whether it may take longer or shorter. But we think by that time we should significantly have moved to make sure that there’s stability because at that point in time we need to be certain about the budget processes for the next financial year, specially for areas which might not have been catered for in this current financial year. I think let me stop there. I would respond to questions.
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