Launch of the Development Indicators 2012 Report by Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation
20 Aug 2013
Ministerial Spokesperson, Mr Harold Maloka opened the media briefing and introduced the panel: Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation - Mr Collins Chanbane, Deputy Minister – Mr Obed Bapela, Deputy Director-General: Outcomes and Monitoring (Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation) - Ms Nolwazi Gasa, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, and Director-General of the Department - Mr Sean Phillips.
Minister Chabane read the press statement.
Journalist: Regarding the increase in tax – it is an interesting figure. There is a massive increase from 1994. At the same time there is massive increase in the number of social welfare grant beneficiaries. The number of youth that are unemployed remains consistently under 24 percent. What is the Presidential Task Team doing to address that matter?
Answer: With regard to the comparison between those who receive social grants and those who are paying taxes - Issues of grants in South Africa are quite wide ranging. It is the aged, and we also have child support grant, which are one of the elements of the support system that we give, and the people with disability grant. That is quite a large number given the social problems, which we face, as a country. As we know its not only social grants, there are quite a number of measures that government uses to deal with the poverty issues. We provide free basic services to people who are indigent in society. That quite increases the number of resources that are required to sustain that. We think it’s an important element for government to be able to provide these programmes, without doing that the level of poverty would be much higher. With regard to the number of unemployed youth, other studies do show that quite a number of our young people without skills and proper education are unemployable in our industries. The measure that we try to skill our young to, and the enrolment at FET Colleges, increases enrolment at universities. We have done all the studies that would be needed in the Presidential Infrastructure Programme. The last problem should be viewed within a particular context. If you go to immigration you will find that South Africa attracted a large number of immigrants and refugees from all over the world, and this was placing a strain on services provide by the government. The more investment we make, the more people come here.
Ms Gasa: Thank you very much for the questions, I’ll start with the last question. Throughout the document as the Minister noted we did indicate that while there were some improvements in terms of matric passes, we noted that there is a concern around areas where we did not get value for money on the quality of education. In the area of health care and the stubborn persistence around maternal mortality ratio, which refers to women who die while giving birth. As colleagues indicated earlier on, there are concerns around youth unemployment. Essentially, throughout the document while we note achievements that have been made, we do indicate what potential areas of concern are.
Journalist: The way you presented the data, everything looked rosy. What would you say are the negative trends? There must be some negative trends.
Deputy Minister Bapela: On worrying and negative trends - amongst them is the issue of good governance, such as when the Auditor-General comes out and says municipalities are not achieving clear audits. It is indeed a worry, and something we ought to focus on as leadership. In South Africa we need to go deeper and follow up on those recommendations. Efficiency on service delivery is a problem. We need to look at the Department of Home Affairs, because that Department has managed to be efficient. We should look at those areas that would improve service delivery. The last point is inequality. In South Africa we inherited an economy that is structured to benefit other sections of the population over the other. We should look at how we could narrow that particular gap of income. It is something that society really needs to engage in. Some people say we want to be a Cuba, but in Cuba salaries are not the same as in South Africa by top earners in the private sector and the public sector. What is it that we need to do to elevate the poor people out of the misery they are in? Those are the interventions that we will use such as the National Development Plan.
Journalist: You have quite a big section on transformation. I would like to check the pulse of transformation, and how you see it at the moment. In the corporate sector there are quite a few managers as far as BEE goes.
Ms Gasa: Perhaps I will start with the question around the pulse on transformation. There were some strides made on women empowerment, especially in the area of black and female managers and transformation, but progress is very slow. If we look at that section, we highlight improvements. The report indicates that there is some work to be done.
Minister Chabane: With regard to what skills are lacking, it would mirror what skills are lacking in the economy. What we are looking at is the skills that are lacking in the economy in the context of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC). We have done such an interesting study, which includes amongst others what skills levels would be required in construction or the infrastructure, what the skills are that are available in government institutions, parastatals, in municipalities and individual government departments. What engineers do we have? Architects, land surveyors, and quantity surveyors? That study has been done, with the assistance of the Human Resources Development Council, which is the responsibility to assist the country to go through those skills. What skills will be required beyond the construction phase? They would be able to release a report and what steps are taken to address other issues that are not necessarily linked to infrastructure.
Journalist: With the election coming up in the next nine or ten months, you clearly have a political agenda by releasing these stats now. The Deputy Minister talked about inequality. South Africa’s inequality levels have increased. At what stage will there be a decision on the basis of Development Indicators that it is time to “crack the whip” and say that the time for more surveys has come to an end, that there would be no more pleading for skills.
Ms Gasa: The publication is released annually; the 2012 Indicators are used as markers for progress as well to indicate areas that needed intervention. The timing of the release might coincide with upcoming elections but it was indicating markers for greater intervention. The mandate of the Department was to measure progress and look at how the Government could turn the tide in delivery and fix bottlenecks. Consistently over time we worked with government departments to look at areas and what needs to be done.
Minister Chabane: On the pace of transformation, quite a number of people have been raising concerns especially in the economic sector. We should be able to address those issues through the NDP. As Government we have integrated our plans to be aligned to the NDP. The NDP is not a government document; it is a societal document, and we have been working with different partners. The PICC was meant to address the skills shortage while alleviating unemployment. The release of the Indicators was no political tool; if political parties wanted to use the facts then it would be better because facts speak for themselves. The Department has been evaluating government programmes for the past four years, and they are ready to take the recommendations to the parliamentary process. We are at a point where we can say to South Africans where we are going.
Journalist: I am looking at page 95 of the Development Indicators under Good Governance and Anti Corruption. Transparency International had ranked South Africa 69 in 2012. It has pushed South Africa from being ranked 64 to 69. Minister can you maybe give a comment, and if you have made an analysis, what has motivated this shift?
Deputy Minister Bapela: There are perceptions of corruption, but the Government is doing much more to address it. As more corruption cases were dealt with at courts, more negative perceptions were duly reinforced.
Journalist: What recommendations would you give the education departments to make sure that the country is getting value for money? Would you engage the teacher unions and the Department on teacher performance to make sure we get value for money?
Journalist: The number of households using the bucket system has increased slightly in 2011/12. Would you like to comment on that?
Ms Gasa: Around the concerns on sanitation, certainly there is a slight increase as indicated there. In the indicators report there is a significant concern with municipalities and the extent to which they prioritise maintenance. I think that is a factor, to the point where some of our targets cannot be met. But, essentially another key contributor might also be the persistent challenges around informal settlements. We make the point throughout the document especially in the household and community.
Mr Phillips: On the bucket system on page 38, the key change is the decrease from 2006/7. A minor increase from 2011/12 was not a significant increase because most of the bucket system was in informal settlements. As Nolwazi has said, the bucket system was a moving target and the number of households changed rapidly in the informal settlements over certain periods of time.
Minister Chabane: On the bucket system, a lot of people seem to be moving from the rural to urban areas, which are growing nodes. The infrastructure there and the availability of things like accommodation are not able to mach the inflow; they don’t mach the inflow that comes from time to time. Which is sometimes because we do not have influx control, so it is unpredictable. Suddenly you have a very huge informal settlement in the city. Most of the cities are suffering from that. The second element is that South Africa is a water scarce country and therefore if you have to do water based sewer system for everybody it would take time to get proper strategies. It would take time get environmental issues on how then to utilise the water and recycle it. There is a range of issues that have to be dealt with. The PICC has adopted this issue of sanitation as one of its issues so that it is not left to municipalities, most of who are overwhelmed. It needs a nationally coordinated strategy so that we are able to deal with those issues. We are confident that we will be able to deal with these issues, we are confident that we will turn the tide at some point. It also relates to unemployment; it is quite a complex issue we are dealing with. With regards to the NDP, we have started with the implementation phase quite quickly irrespective of the governing structure or the bureaucratic structure.
Journalist: What kinds of skills are lacking to improve youth unemployment? Then on education, how does government plan to measure teacher performance and school managers?
Ms Gasa: There was also a question around teacher performance as part of the current outcomes approach and outcomes in terms of learner performance. Unlike before, we look at how performance of children and how well children are performing below grade 11. We make reference to Annual National Performance results of Grades 1, 6 and 9. We look at how South Africa performs compared to other East African countries. We also point to challenges around how we can help build on what we see as positive results in terms of early childhood development - positive results that we are noticing in terms of doubling performance results.
Journalist: I am not sure if it is appropriate to ask this question, and I am not sure if it has come up - perhaps I missed it. The NEC of the ANC proposed another sort of task team to find out about problems in the economy, particularly youth unemployment. Was that task team set and what did it find out subsequently? The Deputy Minister said the economy was structured to benefit certain sections. Can we unpack that? How does the economy benefit the interest of whites? How is the economy structured to benefit certain sections?
Deputy Minister Bapela: On the issue of the ownership economy, the higher economy is in the hands of the whites - the Apartheid structured the economy to be in the hands of the whites, so it is a structural challenge that we want to undo over a period of time. That is why there is government intervention in the environment of BEE, and the development SMME. It is also why we study other international experiences on SMME. That is why all big tenders have to comply with the 70 percent localisation rule to make sure that the benefits would be felt by the disadvantaged groups and SMME can enter into that group. On the issue of targets, it depends on the global environment as to whether we will be able to achieve our targets. Remember the target is three percent, and the NDP says that by 2030 we should reach six percent if we are to create 10 million jobs. The economic global crisis plays a big part in this. China, Europe and the big economies had a negative impact on our economy. Part of the Presidential Task Team is to look at what we could do to stimulate domestic demand. Currently our economy is dependent on exporting minerals; we sell our raw materials very cheaply. Beneficiation is one of the interventions that we will have to look at, and looking at beneficiation means that we will have to look at the skills. We need to fast track certain skills, especially engineering skills. There are a number of interventions that the Presidential Task Team is going to do. Quite a number of countries are reviewing their domestic markets to see if they can stimulate their economies, so that by the time the world recovers our economy is ready to increase the volumes of export.
Minister Chabane: Let me start with the ANC question. Obviously once the ruling party has made a decision it has to be implemented by government to be translated into a government programme. In this instance this commission or committee who will be suggested has not yet been proposed. As you know its nature needs to involve a lot of stakeholder such as the private sector and everybody else for a consultative process. In that regard we would go ahead to see how it could be implemented.
Journalist: On the economy, to achieve so many of South Africa’s goals, it depends on the economic growth. How optimistic are you on achieving goals of the NDP and realistically achieving all the other goals?
Ms Gasa: Thank you, I will just take one or two, the last one around realistically ensuring that the NDP is achieved. Perhaps the DG might add on. But, essentially, as we have indicated in the previous answers, as the Presidency we have worked with Departments to develop the Medium Term Development Framework around what can be realistically achieved in the next five years of next term of office. Work is underway in this regard and essentially we have looked at the key problems as articulated in the National Development Plan and have begun with the National Development Framework around the 2014 period.
Mr Phillips: Just to elaborate a little bit further on the work that we are doing to implement the National Development Plan, she said we are focusing to develop the 2014/19 National Development Framework. The key thing is to align the goals and targets of the National Development Plan with the Annual Performance Targets of departments and provinces. As you know, the departments have to report to Parliament and the audits have to be conducted by the Auditor-General and reported to Parliament. So, we are trying to ensure that the focus of departments is on the targets of the Annual Development Plan and then we will have a high level of certainty that the National Development Plan is implemented across the board.
The media briefing came to a close.
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