The meeting continued the Department of Defence and Military Veteran’s Annual Report presentation, beginning with continuing questions on Programme 1 that was presented at the previous meeting. Most of the questions were directed at how the Department of Defence’s Supply Chain Management was being run, and when and how members were being vetted, and whether the suppliers’ registration details were checked, as there had been allegations that the head of Supply Chain Management may have an interest in some of the companies to whom contracts were awarded. Members noted that the media had further reported on issues concerning Origin Exchange, and asked what was being done by the Department to investigate it. Members proposed formally that the issues around Classic One Consortium also be investigated, and that the Minister be asked to investigate and report back on supply chain management. The Chairperson reminded the Acting Secretary for Defence that, as the Accounting Officer, he ought to ensure that he had the information and be able to respond. Members also queried whether the Military Veterans Association were being remunerated, the large wage bill for consultants, how the contract with Aero Manpower Group would be handled if the Bill in relation to labour brokers was passed, how grievances were being addressed, and how many remained unresolved, the figures in relation to the Military Skills Development Service, and the large amounts under misuse of telephones.
The Castle Control Board presented its annual report.
The Castle Control Board report for 2008/2009 was presented. The components under this report included the Composition of Castle Control Board, Management aspect, Performance information and Corporate Governance, which further included the establishment of a strategic business plan. Other aspects raised within the report included the Human Resources Management. The achievements during the year 2008/2009 included successful management of the Castle and an unqualified audit report. Members queried the numbers of visitors to the Castle, why the organogram still reflected uneven distribution of race, why a retired person was doing the books of account and how his or her salary compared to an acting member doing the same. The Department responded that recruitment and placings were done by the Department, due to shortage of finances at the Castle.
Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DOD) Annual Report 2008/09: Continuation of presentation and questions
The Chairperson opened the floor to additional questions on Programme 1 of the Annual Report 2008/09 of the Department of Defence and Military Veterans, presented on 27 October 2009.
Mr D Maynier (DA) wanted to know when the Committee would receive a report into the investigation of Project Vistula, a project meant for the procurement of vehicles.
Mr Tsepe Motumi, Acting Secretary for Defence, answered that the report would be made available to the Committee as soon as it was cleared with the Minister.
Mr Maynier wanted to know if Mr Zondi, Head of Supply Chain Management within the Department of Defence, was a permanent employee.
Mr Motumi responded that Mr Zondi was a permanent employee of the Department of Defence although he was on a fixed term contract.
Mr Maynier wanted to know if Mr Zondi had been vetted and, if so, whether his vetting status was active.
Mr Motumi responded that he was not in a position to give the current status of Mr Zondi’s vetting, but he was aware that the vetting process was under way. It usually took some time to be completed, depending on the level of security clearance required.
Mr Maynier wanted to know when the Committee would receive documents relating to Mr Zondi’s declaration of business interest.
Mr Motumi responded that the documents of financial disclosure were not available to him, but could be sourced, if needed, through the Public Service Commission.
Mr Maynier wanted to know if officials that were awaiting vetting were allowed to be active within the Department.
Mr E Mlambo (ANC) wanted to know if there was a remuneration system operating within the South African Military Veteran’s Association.
Mr Motumi responded that the members within the South African Military Veteran’s Association were not remunerated, but were given some allowance when they engaged with the Department on official Department programmes.
Mr Maynier wondered whether the Department verified if companies listed to provide the Department with services were registered with Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (CIPRO), since an enquiry that he had carried out revealed that Cross Roads Consulting house and Classic One Consortium were not registered companies.
Mr Motumi responded by saying that he could not respond in relation to these companies but he was sure that the Department always checked on consultants’ registration status.
Mr J Lorimer (DA) wanted to know if Mr Motumi was aware that the directors of Classic One Consortium were former directors of Origin Exchange, a company in which Mr Zondi, the Head of Supply Chain Management, was known to have an interest. He further wanted to know how the company was offered a contract despite not having had the necessary requirements of money and experience in clearance of unexploded ammunition.
Mr Motumi responded that he was not aware of the issues raised by Mr Lorimer but he would confirm and get back to the Committee.
The Chairperson wanted to know how the procurement process worked and if Mr Motumi was informed of the decisions made by the Procurement Committee.
Mr Motumi responded that he did not sit on any Procurement Committee and so would not have particular information regarding company activity. He informed the Committee that there was perhaps a need to review this position.
The Chairperson wondered how the Department had generated a wage bill for consultants to the tune of R4 million. This issue had been raised by the Auditor-General (AG).
Mr Motumi answered that the DOD used consultants in areas where the Department did not posses capacity. Some of that bill was generated from public-private partnerships that the Department had entered into, in accordance with Treasury regulations that required transaction advisors.
Mr Maynier requested that Mr Motumi make available the names of the officials who handled the awarding of the contract to Origin Exchange, and the contract documents. He also wanted to know if Mr Zondi instructed that the contract be awarded to Origin Exchange.
Mr Motumi answered that he was not aware of what transpired and that the allegations warranted an investigation into whether Mr Zondi instructed the officials to assign the contract.
Ms N Mabedla (ANC) reminded Mr Motumi that he was the accounting officer and as such he was supposed to be aware of what was happening within the sectors in the Department.
Mr Motumi answered that he received reports from all sectors in the Department.
Mr Maynier wanted to know if Mr Motumi had launched an investigation into the Origin Exchange deal as it was not possible that he was not aware of it, since the matter had been raised in the press six weeks earlier.
Mr Motumi answered that he had received a note in relation to the matter and that he had launched an investigation, to be conducted by the Inspector General, which was still under way. Once that was completed the report would be made available to the Committee.
Mr Maynier requested that the issue of Classic One Consortium be included into the investigation and that Mr Motumi must give a time frame for the investigation.
Mr Motumi answered that all questions asked by the Members of the Committee would be taken on board in when carrying out the investigation.
Mr Maynier wanted to know how the contract with Aero Manpower Group (AMG) would be handled if the new regulation banning labour brokers was passed in Parliament, and what impact this would have on DOD functioning.
Mr Motumi responded that the contract of AMG was of concern to DOD, and that was being looked into, but that he was not aware that they were labour brokers.
The Chairperson wanted to know how grievances were being addressed within the Department and what the procedure was.
Dr Mary Ledwaba, Chief Director: Human Resources, Department of Defence, responded that the system was uniform system and if any person was not satisfied with the response given in relation to the grievance they could appeal to a higher authority, up to the level of army commander.
Mr Maynier wanted to know how many grievances there had been and how many remained unresolved.
Dr Ledwaba responded that she was not in a position at the time of the meeting to give the exact number of grievances but they would be provided at a later date.
Mr Maynier requested that that the Department give an estimation of the number of grievances, as he was of the view that the Department had a grievance problem.
Mr Motumi requested that the Department’s official be given time to make a call and obtain the answer as to the number of grievances.
Dr Ledwaba informed the Committee that the number of unresolved grievances was currently at 153, of which 118 were army and 35 civilian. These had followed the proper channel of grievance lodging.
Mr Maynier wondered whether the figure of grievances presented was accurate.
Dr Ledwaba responded that this figure was an estimate, and it was further a reflection of those that had followed the proper channel of lodging a grievance.
Mr Maynier wanted to know how many members were recruited into the reserves through the Military Skills Development Service (MSDS).
Dr Ledwaba responded that the figures as at 1 October 2009 reflected that there were 4 491 recruited, of whom 162 exited within one month of joining, 2 318 finalised their contracts and 1158 had exited before two years. There were currently 10 372 MSDS members within the system.
Mr Maynier wanted to know how many members left the MSDS.
Mr Motumi responded that the figure was not available but that it would be provided in future.
Mr Maynier wanted to know why these were abuses of cellphone/telephone facilities within the DOD as one member of the Department had accumulated an unpaid bill of R22 000.
Mr Motumi assured him that the funds would be recovered according to the procedures, and that the Department had embarked on a programme to improve the use of this facility.
Castle Control Board Annual Report 2008/2009: Briefing
Major General JT Nkonyane, Department of Defence and Castle Control Board, presented the report. The components under this report included the Composition of Castle Control Board, management aspects, performance information and corporate governance, which further included the establishment of a strategic business plan. Other aspects included the Human Resources management and the Auditor Generals Report. Some of the achievements during the year under review were the successful management of the Castle, and an unqualified audit report.
Mr L Tolo (COPE) wanted to know if the number of visitors to the castle (135 948) indicated on the report were for a period of one year, and who mostly visited the castle.
Major General Nkonyane responded that the numbers were for a period of one year, and that most of the visitors were school children.
Ms N Mabedla (ANC) wanted to know why the Castle’s organogram still reflected uneven distribution in terms of race composition.
Major General Nkonyane responded that most of the people working at the Castle were recommended to work there by the Department of Defence.
Ms Mabedla wanted to know why the Castle was using a retired person to do its books of accounts.
Major General Nkonyane responded that due to the financial constraints the Castle was facing, it was more affordable to engage a retired person to do its books of account.
Ms Mabedla wanted to know what the costing for the pensioner responsible for the Castle’s books of account was, in relation to that of other permanent members.
Major General Nkonyane responded that the costing was not available at this meeting, but he would provide the comparative figures.
Mr E Mlambo (ANC) asked what Major General Nkonyane was doing to address the racial imbalance at the Castle despite the fact that these workers were just recommended to the Castle.
Major General Nkonyane responded that the concerns raised had been taken note of but the problem was that the Castle did not have the funds to carry out its own recruitment programme.
Mr Tolo wanted to know who established the Castle and if the Castle could be named after that person.
Major General Nkonyane responded that he did not know, but that historian on site at the Castle would provide answers to the query.
Mr Maynier proposed formally, through the Chairperson, that the Minister be approached to mandate an investigation and report to the Committee on concerns raised about the supply chain management at the Department of Defence.
The Chairperson noted that since no Member had objected to the motion, this message would be forwarded to the Minister in writing.
The meeting was adjourned.
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