Appropriations Standing Committee: Report on Oversight Visit to Kwa-Zulu Natal

Standing Committee on Appropriations

13 September 2010
Chairperson: Mr E Sogoni (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee discussed the report on its oversight visit to Kwa-Zulu Natal. The purpose of the visit was primarily to provide feedback as to how the Expanded Public Works Incentive Grant was being utilized in the various projects and programmes in that province. Members questioned whether an alternative wording could be found to describe the term Full-Time Equivalent. Some time was spent debating whether there had been compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and if reference to Msunduzi Municipality should be removed or retained in the report.


Meeting report

Report on Oversight visit to Kwa-Zulu Natal
The Chairperson tabled the report for consideration and requested Members to give their input.

Mr L Ramatlakane (COPE) described the term Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) as an unknown term, and said that alternative wording was needed to define what it actually meant. He also felt that the monitoring and evaluation structure established by the Department of Transport (DoT) should be classified as a role of co-ordination and not of consolidation as it was an ongoing process.

Mr Ramatlakane felt that the 40,000 contractors mentioned under the Zimbambele Project should be defined as FTE's since this number was definitely not referring to contractors. He also felt that the word inception used in this paragraph was incorrect since it did not acknowledge the continuous work being done by the community based Public Works Programme, which was long standing.

Mr M Swart (DA) directed the Committee’s attention to the omission of words in paragraph 2 of page 4 namely, the word 'methods' to follow 'in implementing the labour intensive' and 'jobs' to follow 'implementation of labour intensive'. He also pointed out a few other spelling errors.

Mr Ramatlakane pointed out that two entities were being discussed in paragraph 1 of page four and therefore the two matters needed to be addressed in two separate paragraphs. He also pointed out other sentences that needed to be corrected.

The Chairperson sought clarity on why the Msunduzi Municipality was discussed in the report at all since there was nothing much to report about. He therefore asked if reference to it could be removed.

Mr Swart recalled that the municipality was mentioned since it concerned the resolving of their capacity constraints. This fact was omitted in the sentence.

Mr Ramatlakane felt that the Committee needed to come to an agreement concerning the presentation that was done and whether the Msunduzi Municipality should be included in the draft since this Municipality was not a priority at the time. The Committee should therefore decide whether the Msundizi Municipality warranted attention and inclusion in the draft.

A Member felt that since the Msundizi Municipality was not discussed at the time it should not be included.

The Chairperson suggested that the mere fact that the Msundizi Municipality appeared in the report meant that it was included for a reason.

Mr Ramatlakane was not clear about what was being conveyed in paragraph 4 on page 5 regarding the recession and needed some clarity on that. He was satisfied with the rest of the paragraph indicating areas of savings but did not understand why reference to a recession was made.

The Chairperson explained that the whole paragraph arose from the comments made in the meeting. The DoT had indicated that it had to stop certain projects because of the circular it had received from the National Treasury about cost cutting measures.

Mr Ramatlakane suggested that the sentence referring to recession be rephrased.

The Chairperson suggested that this particular issue be addressed outside of the report until clarity is found.

Mr Ramatlakane suggested that the portion of thanks to the Head of Department mentioned on page 5 paragraph 5 of the draft, be included in the minutes and not in the draft report

The Chairperson queried the reference made to 10,580 person days mentioned on page 6 and asked whether this too was a parallel to FTE.

The Chairperson informed the Committee that the detailed report they had requested from all the Provincial Department of Public Works mentioned on page 8 had not as yet been received. The report was to provide a breakdown of the 397 jobs created, outlining the areas they were in.

Mr Ramatlakane referred to several issues on page 8 of the draft report. He felt that the contract value of R43.3 million mentioned was in excess of this amount. Due to the misinformation received regarding the King George Hospital project (Provincial DPW project) the contract value appeared to be much more. This sentence should be rephrased to indicate some unhappiness with the misinformation. The Committee had been misled by the presentation and this became evident during the question and answer session. The Committees' unhappiness was expressed at the time and therefore this particular paragraph in the report should reflect unfinished business and not be finalised until more information was received in this regard. The Committee had requested a report reflecting a total contract value which had not been received by the Committee at this stage

Mr Swart mentioned that the presentation done by the Provincial DPW had indicated a contract value of R43.3 million for just one contract with expenditure at R36.7million and yet the 13 completed contracts out of the 34 mentioned had already amounted to R270 million. It therefore appeared that funds had already been overdrawn.

The Chairperson agreed that there was unhappiness about this issue since the province concerned could not provide satisfactory answers to questions raised about the balance of funds and the remaining contract period of 18 months. The Chairperson had asked the province to abandon its report and provide the Committee with a full picture of the project.

Mr Ramatlakane posed a question regarding the recommendations. He needed clarity about whether the needs of workers mentioned under recommendations were actual needs or whether it related to compliance.

A staff member mentioned that some challenges were identified on site, namely the lack of toilet facilities and appropriate clothing and felt that this was a compliance issue.

Mr Swart indicated that the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act made provision for the needs of these workers and suggested that the Department concerned make regular visits to sites to ensure that compliance was adhered to.

Ms R Mashigo (ANC) felt that the provincial department should indicate what funds were utilised towards health and safety for the workers on these projects. She could not remember seeing any manager or contractors when visiting the sites even when they new the Committee was coming. It appeared as if there were no compliance measures in place and she considered this matter to be a serious one. She requested that some feedback be provided as to what steps had been taken in this regard.

Mr Ramatlakane emphasised that the responsible department must do something about the concerns that had been expressed and ensure that there was compliance in terms of the OHS Act. The Department should provide a report on full compliance within a time frame in the form of a letter. The alternative would be for the Committee to do a revisit to see whether compliance was adhered to without informing them of visit. 

Mr Swart felt that a time frame was not an option since the department did not have a choice but to comply and should report to the Committee on measures taken to comply with the OHS Act.

The Chairperson asked whether the absence of managers on site should be addressed separately from the Act or whether this issue be addressed as a non compliance issue.

Mr Ramatlakane replied that the contractor being on site would form part of the contractual agreement.

Mr Ramatlakane felt that the recommendation referring to the provision of a detailed report by the Provincial DPW on the King George Hospital revitalisation project be amended to include a time frame of 60 days from visit by the Committee, within which to submit their report.

The Chairperson felt that much attention was paid to the negative findings as a result of the Committee’s visit and reminded Members of some of the positive observations that were made. He referred to the students, who as a result of the original plan of the EPWP had received relevant training and also the women involved in one of the projects who were graduating. These positive findings should be included in the report.

The Chairperson asked Members whether they were ready to adopt the report and the minutes in the next meeting.

Mr Ramatlakane felt he was hesitant to finalise the draft report since the Committee was not sure about the finances and expenses of the King George Hospital revitalisation project and the Committee needed to work on that particular section. He however felt that the Committee could easily agree on the rest of the report.
He suggested that the draft report be finalised the next day once all the corrections and amendments were made and then circulated to members for scrutiny.

Mr J Gelderblom (ANC) felt that if the minutes were going to be ready the next day only then the report should be finalised the next day as well.

Mr Ramatkalane felt that focus should be placed on finalising and adopting the report.

Outstanding Minutes

The Chairperson tabled seven outstanding minutes for consideration. These were dated 10, 11, 13, 17, 23, 24 and 27 August 2010. All were approved with minor amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.


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