Media briefing by the Governance and Administration Cluster

Briefing

07 Nov 2013

A briefing by the Governance and Administration Cluster on service delivery was followed by a question and answer period. Minister for Public Service and Administration, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Mr Lechesa Tsenoli, and Minister of Home Affairs, Ms Naledi Pandor, attended the briefing. 

Minister Sisulu read out the statement.
 

Minutes

Journalist: Could you perhaps just expand or extend on this Public Administration Ethics and Integrity Disciplinary Unit - what is the thinking behind it? Are we looking at something that cuts across all departments, and is it a last resort type of appeal? If I remember correctly your Director-General (DG) moved to establish the office of compliance. You had given him about three months to do that. Is he still there? Will he be heading that unit permanently or is he coming back? And perhaps to Minister Tsenoli maybe you could update us on progress at Bekkersdal but perhaps more importantly, given the work that you are doing with the ward committees - Bekkersdal and elsewhere across the country, one of the things that keeps on coming up in many of the protests is that “we never see our councillor”. Now, legally, councillors have to give at least four community report back meetings a year. Does your Department or the Ministry keep records? Presumably it would be up to the council to keep records, is this something that has been checked and verified?

Journalist: I’m asking for some clarity on this government debt owed to municipalities recorded at R250 million. What is the outstanding amount, and is this money government owes to the municipalities? Bills that the government departments haven’t paid, it’s just a bit unclear. 
 
To Minister Sisulu - what is the budget for the School of Government Leadership? I’m just trying to get a sense of how it’s being established and a timeline for getting it up and running. Is it going to be starting off at the Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy (PALAMA), as that is what PALAMA is or is it a whole new school that is being built?

Journalist: Minister Sisulu, I think this might be for Minister Pandor but firstly I just want to find out, on page 5 you cited a number of ten thousand and something in terms of permanent residents permits where as the number in the document is different and was significantly increased. I just want the final total, as I was kind of caught off guard there.

Minister Pando, with the electronic refugee papers; was there widespread fraud or corruption and if so do we have any figures on that, or how prevalent it was?

Minister Sisulu: The reason why we leave the statistics open in some areas is so that the Minister responsible can actually give the correct statistics.  The ones in your document were incorrect and the Minister just corrected me, but she is here now to give you the correct statistics.

Minister Tsenoli: Thank you for the questions - I’ve tried to anticipate the first question about Bekkersdal. I haven’t received the latest but what I do know is that there is an agreement that has been reached with the representative with the concerned groups in Bekkersdal. The agreement says that a series of things will be done. Essentially we agreed with service delivery related issues, and their major call was that they would have preferred the municipality be placed under administration and to suspend councillors and so on.  But following subsequent discussions with them, broadly speaking, there was an agreement imagined because of the complexity of the matter that we’d focus on service delivery issues, that they’d participate in a task team that has been set up to deal with matters that arise from that issue, including on the investigations, some of which are already underway. The municipality itself has reported having instituted two forensic audits.  So that work is still proceeding, but we are glad that we appear to be reaching an agreement, the sort of things that were happening there might be coming to an end.  We appeal to communities there and elsewhere that we must give communities relief from protests leading to their inconvenience, including the destruction of infrastructure. We think it is a very costly way to communicate concerns.

On ward committees; municipalities are supposed to report on an annual basis to their provincial departments who then report to the national department on performance of municipalities overall, including issues such as public participation.  But we work with municipalities to build capacity and one of the areas that have been identified is ward committees and their effectiveness.  But there are instances, such as in Bekkersdal, where there are issues that people are protesting about that are unrelated to things that a municipality itself is unable to deliver on because it depends on provincial initiative.  In other words, it’s not up to the councillors and councils to provide but it is depending on the responsiveness of the entire government, so human settlement is an interesting example because one of the biggest problem in Bekkersdal is the increase in the number of people who now want to buy land, the numbers have increased over the last ten years and resulted in putting pressure on an infrastructure that was designed for a limited population, increasing overall demand. Whatever the ward committees have been doing or saying would have no effect, because it didn’t depend on them. But most importantly, working with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) in the provinces, they are the first line in doing the work and helping municipalities and their interaction with ward councillors. In many instances ward committees do exist, some of them are not as functional as we’d like them to be and this is part of the capacity building initiatives.

On the debt; this is the debt that relates to the problem of municipalities being unable to effectively specify the monies owed to them by specific departments, thus making it difficult for departments to pay them.  In many instances this is a conflict about how much the department, who is often acted upon by Public Works, owes the municipality. The overall amount was R4.5 billion and this R250 million figure is from that overall amount that is owed from various government departments to municipalities. The biggest amount, I don’t have the figure here, is what residents owe municipalities, that one is the biggest amount.  I don’t have in now but we can get it to you in 20 minutes. The amount that is owed from residents to municipalities is R86.9 billion. That’s the global figure for what residents owe municipalities. The government owes R4.2 billion now, and of this R86.9 billion owed to municipalities, R606 million is current debt and about R3.2 billion has been owed for over 90 days. Those are roughly the figures. This is a result of a number of factors, we can talk about one of the things that are a result of poverty, which is that more people are unable to pay their rates, and some of them are losing their jobs. We spoke about one million people losing their jobs across the country; one of the consequences is that municipality’s mirror these losses. But also it is the weaknesses in the system of collecting revenue, so part of the overall support work is that the treasury is assessing municipalities, and municipalities are working with provincial treasuries to help them develop strategies for effective collection of revenue so that they can make up the debt. The other strategy is to create jobs; the overall intention is to enable people to pay for the services they use.

Minister Pandor: The correct figure for the number of permanent resident applications that have been processed out of the backlog is 10 757. The electronic printing is part of the modernisation programme; we have to introduce technology and higher levels of security within the Department of Home Affairs.  There has been fraud, I don’t have the figures, certainly when you have paper based processes and the human hand having a great deal of influence in an area that is extremely explosive, which is immigration and asylum seeking, you obviously have the propensity for significant levels of fraud. You would know that out of the office here in Cape Town we arrested several officials that were selling permits just outside the office premises; we had a similar incident last year in Port Elizabeth. So clearly two levels of security open you up to fraud and you have to work on enhancing security and being certain as to who can access the system, who is able to print the appropriate permits or certificates, what form of marker you have to be able to trace and track the officials who are involved in this particular area. So all of our work is directed at enhancing security but also at becoming a far more modern department, there have been so many advances in technology that it is laughable to still be writing certificates in the 21st century.

Minister Sisulu: I can attest to the advances in the use of technology in Home Affairs, I went to get my Smart Card and it took them one hour to find my husband on the system.

The Office of Compliance - when we established it we took the DG to head up this Office of Standards and Compliance. Is he back in his office now? We sent off the DG to establish the Office of Standards and Compliance because we had been informed by the Auditor-General over many years that the biggest problems in adverse findings in our audits is non-compliance with regulations and all those matters.  We did find that there are huge bloated structures all over the country causing us enormous problems with our wage bill, so when we established this we dispatched the DG to Limpopo, not because he is from Limpopo, because he is the DG of this area. We thought we needed someone senior there to test and see whether it is working or not and they did very good work out in Limpopo. In the time they were there they managed to remove 30 000 unfunded posts from the structure and assist with the disciplinary process there and we are happy with the outcome of that. The DG is now back in his post and we’ve established the Office of Compliance and Standards and we think that will be up and running soon.  We’ve put in place an acting head of that until the necessary processes have been put in place, the DG is here in front of us back at his post, very bored, but back. 

The second question was about the Ethics and Integrity unit; yes the Ethics and Integrity Unit deals with all of those matters, whether it is issues of absenteeism which is a problem, whether it is an issue of delays in disciplinary action, or corruption, all of those things within our framework that are considered ethics and integrity issues and this unit will cut across all three spheres of government. The reason why it is in the PAM (Public Administration Management) Bill is to allow it to transcend the normal constitutional boundaries if the Bill is allowed. It will work in conjunction with the executive authority of any entity, it will not invade the space that is the preserve of the Minister or Premier, but we work at the request and collaboration with all and with the concurrence of the particular head of an institution. 

What is the budget for the School of Government? The School of Government has been re-designated from PALAMA to the School of Government, which is why we launched it on the 21st of October. It now exists. But we are working on it on an incremental basis. We are working right now on the budget we have from PALAMA - we had a shortfall of R120 million we had borrowed from the stable of DPSA (Department of Public Service and Administration) to meet the immediate and essential needs of the school, we’ve got that funding now. We’re hoping that, increasingly, as we spread the reach of the school we will be able to persuade Treasury to allow us to do a top slicing, as I do that I’m offering the Deputy Minister to think kindly on this. The Government spends something in the region of R4 billion on training, now we are not able as DPSA to assess whether that training is useful for the purposes of which our public servants need to be empowered and what we are intending to do is that all our education will go through the School of Government.  We can harness those resources and get better results, but we are still trying to get the plan to the Deputy Minister of Finance so that they allow can us to do the top slicing. If they allow us to do the top slicing then it would mean that we would be able to direct most of the resources to the school, it is absolutely essential element.  The first section of the programmes that we are dealing with will be opened by the President on the 9th or the 12th, we haven’t quite got the date yet, and it will target the DGs of Government.  The programmes have got to be a collaborative programme where we learn what the problems of the public service and we respond to what they are, so we are taking in the DGs for the first few days and after that we will be able to roll out the programmes for the rest of the public service.

Journalist: I would like to understand more about this school, like what informs this school, the level of underperformance.  What is the outcome of this school?  What measures of performance are there? Which level of government will it affect most?  Are you going to talk about discipline and rehabilitation? Where are the teachers for the school going to be sourced?

Journalist: The public protectors are saying that corruption in South Africa is in everything, you’ve introduced a sea of change in terms of procedures. What gives you confidence in that you can really tackle it and that what you are proposing doesn’t just rest on paper that it really focuses on where corruption is.

Journalist: This question is for Minister Tsenoli and is a follow-up on the R86.9 billion that residents owed the departments. Can you give us more, what does this mean for municipalities providing services, and does it come up as an issue as whether the small municipalities are able to provide services?

My second question is about turnaround that has improved capacity on applications taking ten days to two days. What are we attributing this to and can you also tell us when was it that it took ten days to process the applications, was it a few months ago or years ago? Lastly on the Presidential Hotline, how many calls on average does it get in a month and what are the issues on this?

Journalist: Just a quick follow-up. If I remember correctly, senior public servants need to declare their financial interests by April. It’s not five months down the line and we have still an outstanding 15%, despite what Minister Sisulu earlier said that a lot of Ministers were trying to be proactive to get everybody to do what they need to do.  What happens to those Senior Managers that have not complied with the legal requirements?

Journalist: Why is it only 85% (senior public servants who have declared their financial interests), why isn’t it 100%? It is said that it is a condition of the performance agreement, but it is still a struggle to get 100% compliance on something like this. The National Anti-Corruption Unit that was going to be under Public Service, what has happened with that, there is nothing about that in the PAM Bill, has that gone away, is it a budget issue?

Minister Tsenoli: In the next two weeks I can give you a detailed report on all the calls we’ve received, where did they go to and what happened to them, and an evaluation of the impact. This matter of debt owed to municipalities is a serious problem when people don’t pay for services from a municipality it means that there is not sufficient revenue to spend on on-going services and to improve on those that exist, so it is a big problem. Part of the reason, when it comes to government owing; it’s their own incapacity. In other words the professional ability to keep records properly so that the billing itself can say you owe us this amount. Our inter-departmental teams are working on helping, especially the small ones, to sort out their records so they can lead effectively, not only in government departments but residents as well. So those are the things that are important, for a small municipality to owed ever R150 000 that is a lot of money considering the things they can do with it in that area so this is why we say, the Minister of Finance, that we call on those who can actually pay to do so. Because of the consequences of them not doing so and us not doing so creates a huge problem for any municipality big or small. Obviously the work they do depends on the money they have.

Minister Sisulu: We’ll start with the School of Government, we’ve moved away from what we had in PALAMA. PALAMA was an administration leadership academy and essentially it was an outsourcing facility. What it did was to take public servants and take them to the institutions that were out there and offering courses. We discovered that it didn’t answer problems that we are seeking solutions for. Because institutions out there teach courses that range from whether or not they should join the public sector or whether they are suitable for the private sector. We are unable to create a public servant, as we want them; with an ethos and culture of a public servant, because half the time we are just an outlet for other institutions. We decided that it wasn’t working for us. We needed programmes and curriculum that would be suited for a particular purpose and we would like to have an efficient and effective public servant. So we’re taking back that responsibility of creating the curriculum and the modules of the teaching. Institutions of higher learning will assist us, but the curriculum will come from us, we will determine what will be taught to students as opposed to what was happening in the past. This will be a de-concentrated approach. We will have a campus, the campus exists right now it is the current PALAMA campus, but we will still continue to utilise those institutions that used to be an assistance to us and we will be giving them the modules. It will be a better way of covering the number of public servants we have and dealing with the geographic spread that we are finding ourselves with. The courses that we are offering will be courses that are directed at improving those areas that we find need improvement, they will be directed at in-service training, directed at ensuring that we can improve the capacity and level of efficiency that we are getting from the public servants. For instance if we have the beginning someone coming in with the lowest grade, with no literacy skills, our responsibility would be to provide them with the literacy skills and they can go to the second module and we hope that that particular public servant might end up with enough modules to qualify for a degree, we are working on the degree issue in collaboration with the Minister of Higher Education and Training. As far as certificates are concerned, that is in the scope of the Minister of Public Service and Administration. Who will be taught? All public servants are required to be taught there. We’ve already talked to the DGs, and they have volunteered and given us time to come and teach them and we will learn from them too as to what is wrong in the public service and what we need to concentrate on in our modules offered. 

Where will the teachers come from? We have enough resources and skills in this country to be able to tap into those skills, we are hoping to call back all former DGs who are out there to come and offer training courses.  We have enough academics in the country to be able to utilise them, we’ve been recruiting a former secretary of Parliament to come and teach the parliamentary processes, we’ve just recruited the Auditor-General to come and teach on auditing and we are trying to get as much capacity to teach.  We have enough lecturers in our higher educational institutions and we are depending on them to do some teaching for us.

Why do we have a 15% deficit in compliance? We’re working on it. We started off with 35% and we’ve got it down to 15% in just one year. So we’re hoping by next year there will be no 15% outstanding. There are various reasons why there is non-compliance and some may be our fault but we are making sure we are dealing with this. We are now going with e-compliance which means that they will now comply online. That way we will be able to trace it wherever they are and make sure that they are complying and it will make it easier for us and make it more secure for us.  I promise you that next year there will be 100% compliance in the governments. We are assisted by Ministers and their performance agreement indeed does require that they do comply.

What happened to the Anti-Corruption Unit? The Anti-Corruption Unit does exist in the Department of Public Service and Administration, but what we decided as Cabinet is that if we’re going to deal with the issue of corruption each and every department needs to ensure that they have their own anti-corruption unit. Our job will be to coordinate this and to make sure that we can give them all the necessary assistance they need and that we can help them in tracking cases of corruption related misconduct and it would work better that way. Ethics and integrity cover a greater scope than just corruption, although it is a part of it, ethics and integrity covers all the areas that we find unacceptable in the public service. Every department needs to report cases of corruption as they are dealing with it to the ethics unit so that we can follow and fact check. We run the disciplinary cases, as they are labour related and then the police deal with the case if it is a further case of corruption.  We’ve broadened the scope to ensure that we cover all the areas that we are concerned about.

Minister Tsenoli: To address the question about the amount of calls received on the Presidential Hotline, if we can get the reporter’s information we can send you the full details.  But I can tell you that we’ve received over 150 000 calls on the hotline since it started and they range from requests from more information about government to people who are experiencing troubles with areas of government, particularly housing and where people can get jobs.

The briefing came to an end.
 

Governance and Administration Cluster media briefing: Speaking notes by the Public Service and Administration, Minister Lindiwe Sisulu

07 Nov 2013

Good afternoon,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Directors-General and programme managers
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen.

This report focuses on Outcomes 9 and 12 led by the G&A Cluster which seeks to achieve the following:

  • Service delivery quality and access;
  • Human resource management and development;
  • Business processes, systems, decision rights and accountability;
  • Corruption tackled effectively;
  • Nation building, national identity and civic empowerment; and
  • Public participation and creation of social capital.
  • Improved access to free basic services
  • Improved coordination of intervention impacting on local government.

Outcome 12 Part B: An empowered, Fair and Air and inclusive citizenship

As we pay tribute to those who contributed to the liberation struggle as well as those who laid the foundations for our freedom in 1994, work has already commenced on a statue of our beloved Madiba to be unveiled at the Union Buildings in December 2013.

The DAC has initiated a process to review the White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage that has been the guiding blue-print for the arts since the advent of democracy.

As part of providing access to most of the South Africans, to Government and its facilities, the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) has worked on the Use of Official Languages Act which took effect on 2 May 2013.

This Act enforces Government to provide services in three of the most used Official languages in each of the provinces.

In terms of these regulations, each national government department and its national entities must have a National Language Unit and adopt a language policy within eighteen months of the commencement of the Act.

The DAC has gradually been transforming the heritage landscape of this country with accomplishments that include:

  • The 4th Phase of Freedom Park, //Hapo; the 2nd Phase of Ncome Museum, e Matola Memorial and the Interpretation Centre in Maputo, Mozambique which speaks to the raid of the South African regime in 1981 during which they killed South Africans and supportive Mozambicans.
  • The Steve Biko Centre‘s huge community resource centre was built in honour of the iconic freedom fighter and leader, Steven Bantu Biko, who was killed 36 years ago by members of the South African regime.

In a few months, South Africa will celebrate 20 Years of Freedom on 27 April 2014. As we celebrate, this is an opportunity for us to reflect on what we have achieved since the dawn of democracy and how best to improve the living conditions of our people in pursuit of the National Development Plan.

Once again, we take this opportunity to call on all South Africans to timeously apply for IDs to enable them to exercise their democratic right to elect a government of their choice.

We call on all our people, particularly the youth of our country, to register to vote this weekend, on 9-10 November 2013, as proclaimed by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). Holders of both the current green-bar coded IDs and the Smart ID card will be eligible to register and vote in the 2014 National Elections.

This afternoon we reflect on the implementation of the Delivery Agreements by the Governance and Administration (G&A) Cluster.

Outcome 12 Part A: An efficient, effective and development oriented public service

When this administration took over we committed ourselves to ensuring that government gets value for money it pays to its public servants. In turn government will provide a conducive working environment to public servants, ensuring that they have all resources required to perform their work at levels expected of them.

In this regard we undertook amongst other things to develop a Service Charter and establish the National School of Government. The successful launch of the National School of Government and the signing of the service charter with labour strengthen our efforts to build an efficient, effective and development-oriented Public Service.

The implementation of the Charter will raise the standard of service delivery experience and further improve on the progress we have made in the first 20 Years of Freedom.

Cabinet recently approved the Public Administration Management Bill for the submission to Parliament.

The Bill covers among other things the following:

  • Prohibiting public servants from doing business with the state;
  • Disclosure of financial interest;
  • Establishment of the National School of Government;
  • Establishment of the Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit; and
  • Establishment of the Office of Standards and Compliance.

The Public Service Integrity Management Framework was tabled in Cabinet on 16 April 2013 with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) having developed a set of guidelines to support the implementation of the Framework.

In collaboration with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), the DPSA has developed the eDisclosure System for the capturing and management of financial disclosure, which will keep a database of disclosures used by the Executive Authority, the DPSA and the Public Service Commission (PSC).

This is to monitor compliance, verify information and determine potential or actual conflict of interest. 

Efforts to improve the effectiveness of the State Information Technology Agency have resulted in 8.4 per cent savings in economies of scale.

On matters of Human Resource Management and Development, the percentage of Senior Management Service (SMS) members Financial Disclosure forms filled with Public Service Commission on time increased from 74 per cent in 2012/13 to 85 per cent in 2013/14.

The average number of days taken to resolve disciplinary cases improved slightly to 108 days as at June 2013 from 113 days in March 2013. Notwithstanding the progress, this output still requires the attention of senior management in government.

The target for the average time to fill vacancies in the public service was set at 4 months for 2014 and it has already been achieved. The target for vacant funded posts in the public service was also set at 10 per cent for 2014 and it has also been achieved. The vacancy rate as at the end of May 2013 was 8.6 per cent.

Progress with regard to the output on Business processes, systems, decision rights and accountability; indicates that Quarterly Strategic Human Resource Performance Reports, for each National and Provincial department, were compiled and disseminated as a mechanism to improve PERSAL functionality.

The cluster has made major inroads in improving service delivery including:

  • A decrease in processing of social grant applications from 30 to 2 days;
  • 92% resolution rate for received calls to the Presidential Hotline by June 2013;
  • Drop in invoices not paid within 30 days from 82 685 in February 2013 to 69 825 as at the end of May 2013;
  • Cases from the National Anti-corruption Hotline closed by departments improved marginally from 39 per cent in February 2013 to 37 per cent as at 15 July 2013.

We envisage the delivery timeframes as set out in the Charter will improve the national average turnaround time to reduce waiting times for renewal of drivers and car licences; and increase the efficiency in the processing of permanent residence permits applications.

In this regard the permanent residents’ backlog project is progressing well since its inception in September 2013. The Department of Home Affairs has adjudicated 10 720 applications out of 23 945 that are in a backlog stage.

The Department of Home Affairs has established a permanent residence project to ensure that all applications which are over eight months are adjudicated within twelve weeks. Additional human resources have been put into the project to clear the backlog by December 2013.

The temporary residence area has stabilized after the clearing of a 46 000 backlog in 2012. Currently there are 54 641 approved but not yet dispatched. This represents a backlog of permits that must be dispatched to offices of application. A plan will be implemented to address this backlog of applications that have been adjudicated.

In an effort to enhance security and productivity, permanent resident permits will in the near future be printed, unlike the present practice of issuing handwritten certificates.

Also temporary permits, including asylum seeker permits and refugee permits will in future be electronically printed.

Outcome 9: A responsive, effective and effective local government system

The final Local Government Equitable Share formula (LGES) which caters for a model for financing that is conducive to, and allows recognition of the varied social, economic, technical and administrative contexts of municipalities, was approved by Cabinet, and published in the 2013 Division of Revenue Bill.

Twenty five municipalities with small towns as well as 55 rural municipalities have gained more than 10% (compared to what they were receiving previously) in their 2013/14 LGES allocations. Sixty six of the 70 rural municipalities B4 - and 12 of the 21 water and sanitation  - C2 - municipalities have benefited from the new formula. The project has been concluded.

There are an increasing number of households with access to basic services:

  • 89.43% of households now have access to basic electricity, indicating an increase of 8.43%; There is marginal improvement of 1% on access to basic level of sanitation, from 85% recorded in the 4thquarter of 2012/13 to 85% during this quarter.

The Community Work Programme had created 204 494 work opportunities as at 31 March 2013. During this quarter 184 339 participants - 7% over target - enrolled for the Community Work Programme. The current overall participation rate is 175 966 – 2% over target. A site with a target of 500 participants has been introduced. Recruitment and placement will continue to ensure that the programme maintains the targeted 172 000. An additional 9 sites were up-scaled to operate with 1500 participants. In total, formal budgeted up-scaling achieved in 18 sites operates with 1500 participants, 6 sites operate with 2 000, 1 site On deepening democracy through a refined ward committee model the Department of Cooperative Governance managed to assist in the establishment of additional 506 ward level operational plans and also facilitated implementation in 40 municipalities across 5 provinces (Western Cape, Limpopo; Northern Cape; Free State and North West).

Administrative and financial capabilities of municipalities are enhanced with the average collection rate on billing of services improved. Government debt owed to municipalities has been recorded at a net reduction of R250 million.

In order to establish evidence based information to support coordination and cross-departmental interventions, the Municipal Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT) was finalised. 

Conclusion

In pursuit of accountable and transparent governance, our objective is to inform the public of the progress made through you, the media. To assist you, we are available to respond to questions related to our report. 

I thank you.

For enquiries:
David Jacobs, Acting Chief Director: Governance and Administration Cluster Supervisor
Cell: 083 681 8904
E-mail: davidj@gcis.gov.za

 

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