The first part of the meeting outlined the recommended template for compilation of the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Reports (BRRR), in terms of the Money bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act, by portfolio committees. The Committee Section outlined the various sections in the template and indicated what should be included in each, as well as the sources of this information, stressing that the process could start when a committee considered the budget and strategic plans of departments, and should compare those strategic plans to the results reported in the Annual Report. Other sources of information could include committee oversight, reports from other committees, including the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, National Treasury Section 32 reports on monthly spending, and public hearings. Some possible challenges were highlighted around the time periods and it was suggested that in order to address this, departments could be asked to submit their reports earlier than currently stipulated, or that consideration could be given to requiring them to submit at another date. Members agreed that these were valid concerns and suggested that it was necessary to escalate the decision on this to National Treasury. Members also raised their concerns about the provision for virements currently, and asked what could be done, particularly for this Committee, since virements even of the permitted 8% by a department such as South African Police Service ran already into substantial figures. Members asked why recommendations by a committee could not be enforced either against the Standing Committee on Finance or against the Department concerned. They also stressed that provision of adequate research facilities to Committees by Parliament would be vital to the success of the process.
Parliamentary Researchers then gave an analysis of the SAPS Annual Report, to prepare the Committee for its later discussions with SAPS. Although SAPS had received an unqualified financial report, it was stressed that no performance report had been given, and that there were a number of discrepancies apparent in other respects. It was also noted that SAPS had not provided some information to the Auditor-General, which must be further explained. In the first instance, it was suggested that SAPS needed in future to provide annual costed plans, particularly showing amounts allocated to every aspect, since substantial sums of money had been shifted between programmes, many of them after October, seemingly to avoid reports having to be made to National Treasury and in order to achieve full spending on all programmes. Lack of detail made it difficult for the Committee either to make a full analysis or to verify information. Although the number of police stations completed was given, there was no indication how long this had taken, or why the cost of those completed by SAPS was higher than those done by the Department of Public Works, why targets for completion were not met earlier, and there was doubt that at least one station was in fact completed in this financial year. The Researchers pointed out that many targets were low, with some not being set at all, and there were discrepancies in the references to legislation, the numbers of Victim Friendly Facilities and numbers of arrests at Ports of Entry. Members had noted shortages of both staff and vehicles at the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI) although the report reflected that targets were met, and suggested that SAPS be asked to explain how it had financed purchase of vehicles.
The researchers also highlighted that the firearms strategy was not mentioned. The numbers of members killed and numbers of escapes from police custody had not decreased. Contact crimes against women increased, despite a general decrease in crime overall. Crime intelligence was not being shared. There was insufficient correlation between sources mentioned and the Annual report, and this was compounded by the lack of a clear strategic plan. Some members expressed concern that there did not appear to be openness and transparency, and there was lack of leadership and control. Members also believed that SAPS should be questioned as to why it held so much cash on hand, how it had paid for travel and subsistence, and how the figures had been reached. Members suggested that quarterly performance reports were needed. Members were also concerned about the extensive use of consultants, the costs of computer hardware, and irregular expenditure on training. They asked the researchers to compare the findings and recommendations of the Auditor-General for this year with those of the previous year, and said SAPS must indicate how it intended to address the issues.
Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed Members back from the constituency period, and commented that some Members may have visited police stations and would have reports to deliver.
Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) template
The Chairperson noted that a workshop had been planned in respect of the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR), a new report that each Portfolio Committee would need to prepare. In future, this Committee must be particularly alert to and critical of issues that the Department tabled in its reports, so that the targets were achieved. This would also enable the Committee to look into whether systems were in place to ensure that the Department utilised funds adequately. The Committee would be considering each programme of the South African Police Services (SAPS) each day.
Mr Mkhethwa Mkhize, Committee Section, Parliament, gave a presentation on the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Reports. He summarised that Section 77 of the Constitution read: “All money Bills must be considered in accordance with the procedure established by Section 75. An Act of Parliament must provide for a procedure to amend money bills before Parliament”.
In compliance with this, the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act (MBAPRMA) had been drafted, and had finally been passed in 2009. He noted that money bills were instruments used to appropriate funds. He pointed out that the main users of such bills were the National Treasury, the Portfolio Committee on Police and the Standing Committee on Finance of Parliament.
Section 5 of the Act was of particular importance. This provided that the National Assembly, through its committees, must annually assess the performance of each National department, and that the BRRR must be tabled annually by each Portfolio Committee in the National Assembly, and would be submitted to the Finance Minister and Cabinet Minister responsible for the relevant department. He highlighted that a template had been drafted, to ensure that the committees would structure their BRRR in the correct and consistent manner. This template had been submitted for approval and it was endorsed by the Chairman of the House.
He noted that the cover page should include the name of the Committee, the title “Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report”, the calendar year, and the name of the Chairperson. The contents page must include an introduction, set out the strategic priorities and objectives, contain an analysis of strategic and operational plans, an analysis of the Department’s Annual Report and financial statements, and also include any considerations around the reports of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) in respect of that department, and any other information. There was also provision for a conclusion and recommendations.
The introduction must outline the mandate of the Committee and the methodology that the Committee had used, which was very important. The mandate of the Department, and its vision and mission statement, but also be stated in the introduction.
In relation to the strategic priorities and objectives, there should be inclusion of a performance assessment, which comprised performance measurement and performance evaluation. Performance evaluation related to an assessment of the Department’s performance, and consideration whether the department had performed satisfactorily, based upon what it had said that it would do in its strategic plans. The section for strategic priorities and objectives needed to include a subheading relating to measurable objectives. He highlighted that periodic oversight visits needed to be strategic in nature and had to be informed. Whenever the Committee conducted an oversight visit, it should be aware of the need for a report in the BRRR. He pointed out that an independent performance assessment of the Department was crucial. He warned the Members against relying on what the Department would tell them. He stated that oversight activities were important in that they assessed the non-monetary performance of the Department.
Another section dealt with quantitative matters. He noted that Section 32 reports were monthly and quarterly reports compiled by National Treasury on the spending of the various departments. He suggested that the Committee should look at these quantitative reports, which, although not available for public consumption, could be made available to the Committee. These reports aimed to identify spending patterns such as under or over-spending, and unwarranted expenditure. He stated that Departments were cautioned against over spending. There were reasons behind both under and over spending, and these could be considered in relation to the operational plans of the departments. Under spending could reflect that a project had been delayed, and if this was the case, then the Committee should enquire what and how the department concerned had acted to address and minimise the delay. Financial spending patterns should be linked directly to the strategic plans of the department. He further added that the Committee could supplement the Section 32 reports by using reports from the Standing Committee on Appropriations, which focused on the spending patterns of certain departments. A possible challenge could arise because that Standing Committee might not have considered the reports on a particular department, because of the number of departments to be considered.
Mr Mkhize then elaborated further on the annual reports and financial statements of departments. He noted that the annual reports wee supposed to be tabled by the end of September, and this did pose a challenge, as it meant that the committees had a few weeks to look at the annual reports. The process of the reporting by Parliament coincided with the BRRR. He recommended that the BRRR should subsume a report on the annual report and financial statements of the departments. He pointed out, however, that the success of the analysis of the annual reports and financial statements was highly reliant on the timely submission of these documents. He added that committees should liaise with departments in this regard, and should encourage the relevant ministry and department to submit the annual report and the financial statements as early as possible. For the future, it had been recommended that the submission date should be moved from end September to the end of October.
Once a committee had seen a department’s annual report, it should call in the auditors who prepared the report to give comments. He noted also that the Act required that committees should also consider the reports from SCOPA in respect of the departments’ annual reports. The Auditor-General could, for instance, report that there had been fruitless and wasteful expenditure, or irregular expenditure, or over-spending or unauthorised expenditure. All of these were clearly defined in the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), and unwarranted expenditure was summarised in Section 5 of the MBAPRMA. Members from SCOPA could also be requested to brief the portfolio committees. However, since SCOPA did not report on every annual report, for the purposes of the BRRR process, this could be a challenge.
He said that all reports that could be used were reports that were adopted by the House. He then outlined other sources of information which could be useful to a committee in considering the reports, which might include the State of the Nation Address (SONA), reports of the Auditor-General, recommendations of the Financial and Fiscal Commission, fact-finding or oversight reports, prior BRRRs and reports on budget votes.
He highlighted that all Departments needed to work towards a common goal. For instance, making sure that people were employed was not only the sole function of the Department of Labour. If all departments did not assist in helping to implement a national plan, then South Africa as a whole would not be able to meet the targets in Vision 2020. Mr Mkhize stressed that the budget vote was very important, because it was the first stage at which the committee would engage with the department and formed the first step for the BRRR
Each committee would then have to summarise its key findings in a coherent and logical format, under the section for “Committee’s observations”, and this would serve to update Members. He again stressed the importance of oversight and fact findings by Parliament, and the fact that each committee must do its own assessment, not simply rely upon what was said by a department. It was very important for each committee to establish tracking mechanisms, to ensure that it could do a follow up on its recommendations.
The conclusion section of the report must similarly be based on the committee’s own observations. The committee would sit alone to formulate its conclusions, without the department being present. The findings by the committee should be summarised in a clear and logical format. He advised against including information from unacceptable sources, such as rumours. He furthermore highlighted that the committee should make a clear statement as to whether it was satisfied with the Departments’ service delivery performance. A committee could make recommendations based on tangible evidence, and it was important that a committee did in fact do so. A committee could not force a department directly to implement its recommendations, because of the principles of separation of powers and of cooperative governance. However, the recommendations should be clear, both in terms of who they were directed at, and what action was expected. They should be practical and should also set realistic time frames.
The BRRR would, in the case of this Committee, be submitted to the Minister of Finance, and the Minister of Police. This BRRR would also be used by the Standing Committee on Finance.
The Chairperson stated that Mr Mkhize had raised many important issues. She agreed that the issues around time frame did pose some difficulties, particularly since the Committee also had to deal with annual reports from the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) and Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA). The Committee would be focusing on the BRRR for SAPS.
Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) asked why the Committee was not supposed to give instructions to the Departments.
Mr Mkhize responded that the Committee had to adhere to the principle of separation of powers. However, a strong recommendation could certainly be made.
Mr G Schneemann (ANC) stated that it was difficult to ask Departments to submit their reports earlier than the existing required time frames. If this was expected, then this should be taken to a much higher level, such as National Treasury.
Mr Mkhize responded that in respect of the submission of annual reports, there were two options, either to delay the submission of the BRRR, or to have the annual reports submitted earlier by Departments. He agreed that the issue needed to be taken up to the highest level.
Mr Schneemann noted that much focus had in the past been placed on spending patterns, but performance was also important. The Portfolio Committee on Police had never received Section 32 reports, and he suggested that a follow up be done on this so that the Committee did in future receive these reports.
Mr Mkhize confirmed that the Section 32 reports were available from the National Treasury, as well as on their website. The reports themselves could be accessed by the public, but a special analysis on those reports was available for Committee use only. He would enquire if these could easily be made available.
Mr M Swathe (DA) asked whether it was possible for the Committee to use independent institutions to assist.
Mr Mkhize responded that independent institutions did not need to be excluded, as long as they reported on reliable information.
Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) agreed with Mr Schneemann’s remarks. Much of what was suggested had already been done by this Committee, which meant that it would not need to change its manner of working too much. She did not believe that it was possible to persuade departments to submit their reports earlier. She also was concerned about the past focus on financial spending rather than on real performance. In the past, the Committee had voiced its unhappiness over the spending of the SAPS, particularly on issues such as virements. She asked how the Committee could ensure that its reports were going to be taken seriously by the Auditor-General, the National Treasury and the Department. She further asked which part of the BRRR report would include the oversight report.
Mr Mkhize responded that there was nothing stopping any portfolio committee from writing to the Standing Committee on Finance, and asking that a cap could be placed on the virements.
In relation to the comments that the BRRR template biased towards finance, he noted that this template had been guided by Section 5 of the Act. However, each financial plan needed to be aligned with strategic objectives. He pointed out that the oversight needed to be included when assessing the performance of the department.
Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) asked whether other options were available for the Committee instead of using the suggested template and methodology. He wanted clarity on the recommendation that BRRR should subsume a report on the annual and financial statements. He also asked how unacceptable sources were qualified.
Mr Mkhize responded that the Committee needed to undertake a fact finding mission. He advised that the Committee should not base its decisions on any evidence that was not tangible, but it would be up to the Committee to decide what was acceptable, to avoid it using unacceptable sources.
Mr G Lekgetho (ANC) shared concerns about the time frames and the need to address this issue. He was happy that the oversight visits undertaken by this Committee were geared to fact-finding.
The Chairperson asked for the difference between those instances where the Committee “may” or “must” do something.
Mr Mkhize responded that it was not necessary for the Committee to make recommendations, but this was advisable.
Mr Schneemann asked whether the recommendations could relate to performance. He also asked how early the BRRR process could start.
Mr Mkhize responded that the BRRR process could start as early as the budget report.
Ms Van Wyk asked whether the Committee was supposed to look at the 2009/10 financial report or they had to look at the 2010/11 financial report.
Mr Mkhize responded that the Act indicated that the Annual Financial Report of the Department would be included, from the 2009/10 Annual Report. The BRRR was supposed to be done during the course of the financial year.
Mr Mkhize added that some of the questions posed required political answers. He pointed out that recommendations included in the BRRR would have been adopted by the House, and should therefore be seen as recommendations by the House. However, the Police Portfolio Committee could not force the Standing Committee on Finance to take a decision on a certain matter.
The Chairperson asked whether there was a procedure for the Standing Committee on Finance to take a decision.
Mr Mkhize responded that the Act provided for rules on the roles of other committees that were involved. However, the rules on this had not yet been adopted. If the Standing Committee on Finance was not sufficiently convinced, on the basis of a Portfolio Committee report, then there was little that the Portfolio Committee could do.
Mr Schneemann asked whether adequate research facilities would be provided if the Committee had to make a recommendation.
Mr Mkhize responded that there were two ways in which money bills could be amended, and the Committee could make amendments per programme, within the appropriate fiscal framework.
Ms Van Wyk stated that the success of the process depended on the Parliament support staff making information available. She further stated that this challenge needed to be addressed.
The Chairperson asked whether methodology for the reports could include hearings.
Mr Mkhize responded that this was possible.
Mr Lekgetho pointed out that the tabling of Annual Reports was a challenge that Parliament already faced, and the timing would have to be further discussed.
Preparatory Workshop relating to SAPS Annual Report Hearings: Presentation by Parliamentary Research Unit
The Chairperson noted that the Committee Researchers would take Members through the Annual Report and highlight some issues, but would not be able to answer some of the questions that would be raised by the Members, because she was not part of the SAPS.
The Chairperson noted that during a recent visit to the Forensic Laboratories, Members had discovered unused machines still packed in their original boxes, and this was of serious concern.
Ms Nadia Dollie, Senior Researcher, Research Unit, Parliament, stated that there was a need to correlate the Annual Report of SAPS with what would be required for the BRRR.
Ms Dollie suggested that SAPS should provide an annual costed plan, showing how much money had been budgeted for a project. She further suggested that the Department should give a report on the first two quarters of a financial year. If a department wanted more money, then it was supposed to ask for it and to motivate its request.
In respect of this Annual Report and financial statements, she noted that substantial sums of money had been shifted between programmes. After October 2009, R55 million had been shifted to “buildings and other fixed structures”, and because this movement took place after October, no explanation had been given. Moving money impacted on the principle of transparency. She stated that the Department should be asked to explain why that virement had not been included in the financial statements, and specifically the report of the accounting officer. A number of shifts had been done after October, and this resulted in 100% expenditure.
Ms Dollie noted that the lack of detail in the SAPS annual report made it difficult to analyse this report. She highlighted that although a number had been given for the police stations completed, there was no indication of when those projects had begun, to allow the Committee to assess how long it had taken for these projects to be completed. For instance, two SAPS projects completed during 2009/10 had taken longer to complete than three Department of Works (DPW) projects which had also been completed in the same year. In addition, the final costs of both SAPS stations were much higher than the final costs of the three DPW projects. She stated that the “expenditure to date” which had been projected for the construction of new police stations was not the final amount, and that it would have to increase. The Annual Report did not give any projected dates for completion of the stations, and also did not say whether SAPS or DPW was responsible for the projects. Most of these stations had been mentioned in the 2008/9 Annual Report and thus were now long overdue for completion.
Mr Mpumelelo Mpisi, Researcher, Research Unit, Parliament, pointed out that the targets that had been set by the SAPS were very low, and in some cases there had been no targets stated at all. He pointed out that the references to the legislation that empowering the Community Police Forums (CPFs) was also incorrect. There was a discrepancy in the number of the Victim Friendly Facilities (VFFs) that had been established, between the 2008/9 and the 2009/10 Annual Reports. There was also an inconsistency in the number of arrests that had been made at Ports of Entry (PoE).
Mr Mpisi noted that there was a shortage of employees at the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) although this was supposed to be a well oiled machine. It was worrying to hear about these shortages. The number of ex- policeman who had been reappointed had not been mentioned. Apparently, there were extra vehicles purchased, and he suggested that the Committee should ask how SAPS had financed the purchase of these vehicles. Although the Annual Report stated that the targets for purchase of vehicles had been “exceeded” the Committee, during an oversight visit, had noted shortages of vehicles as a problem.
Mr Mpisi also noted that there had been no setting out of the firearms strategy in the Annual Report. He pointed out that sector policing had been implemented in all 169 high-contact crime police stations. He further pointed out that CPFs had increased, and so had Victim Support Facilities.
Mr Mpisi said that the number of SAPS members who had been killed, and the number of escapes from police custody had not yet decreased.
Mr Mpisi thought that it was worrying that all the 20 serious crimes had been grouped together. There had been an increase in all the contact crimes against women, yet the overall national statistics reflected that crimes had decreased. He stated that crime intelligence was not being shared and this was seen in the increase of crimes. He highlighted that more could be done in terms of crime intelligence. He pointed out that questions had been raised about how crime statistics empowered citizens.
Ms Van Wyk stated that the issue of crime statistics was an issue of politics, and this should be left to the politicians.
The Chairperson agreed with Ms Van Wyk.
Mr Mpisi noted that the Auditor-General had issued an unqualified audit report. However, there was irregular expenditure. This Annual Report did not match up with the sources mentioned. He suggested that SAPS should be asked why it was not providing documents to the office of the Auditor–General.
Mr Mpisi also said that lack of leadership was apparent in the areas where SAPS should be exercising oversight, for instance as evidenced by the Kwa Mhashu Police station.
The Chairperson stated that the report was difficult to read and thus it was difficult for the Committee to verify the authenticity of many of the statements. Many targets that had been set by the SAPS, and they were difficult to oversee, and these problems of oversight by the Committee were compounded by the fact that there was no concrete strategic plan. She stated that a strategic plan should be redone if it was not clear.
Ms Van Wyk noted that, once again, there were contradictions about the properties. She agreed that no estimates or plans for costing were given for the stations that were to be built by SAPS. This should be provided to the Committee. She also expressed her concerns about the virements after October, including those for Detective Services, and wondered if these had been timed so that it was not necessary for SAPS to account to National Treasury. She stated that it did not reflect well on openness, transparency and accountability. She suggested that the Committee should look more intensively into the financial statements. She also raised the issue of cash in hand, asking why SAPS would want to have R 23 million as cash on hand. She noted that although smaller amounts were specified, the larger ones were not. She wondered where the money for travel and subsistence came from. She stressed that the Committee should receive Section 32 reports so that it could see how money was being spent.
Ms van Wyk asked if the DPCI (Hawks) had submitted a separate Annual Report.
The Chairperson stated that she had not received any such report from the DPCI.
Ms Molebatsi raised her concern about the issue of incorrect reporting. One police station which had in fact been completed long ago was listed as having been completed in 2010.
Rev Meshoe stated that there seemed to be a deliberate attempt to mislead the Committee. He too voiced his concern on the apparent lack of transparency, especially in relation to the contradictions in information and the withholding of the documents that were needed by the AG. The Committee needed to know how SAPS had worked its figures. He believed this Committee should make a strong recommendation.
Mr Schneemann stated that he agreed with Ms Van Wyk that more focus should have been placed on the financial statements. He suggested that SAPS should be publishing quarterly progress reports, so that the Committee could monitor more effectively what SAPS was doing.
Mr Schneemann wondered whether the references to “SITA computer services” and “external computer service providers” were related. He also wanted to know what the actual costs of the hardware were.
Mr Lekgetho stated that there was disparity between what was stated in the Annual Report and what the Committee had seen. He agreed that the Committee should receive progress reports on police stations under construction. He also raised his concern about the extensive use of consultants.
The Chairperson agreed that there was need for more information in the SAPS Annual Report. SAPS could probably not prove what was in their own documents. The mere fact that Members were raising these questions and providing suggestions was a sign of the frustration that Members felt.
The Chairperson also noted that the unqualified audit related to financial performance. SAPS was not able to verify its performance.
Ms Van Wyk stated that the Annual Report should have placed some emphasis on what the AG had said, and how SAPS intended to address the issues raised. She asked that the researchers should obtain and compare the findings of the AG in respect of the previous financial year. The way in which SAPS were reporting was artificial. Access to the previous year’s findings would be of assistance to the Committee.
Ms Dollie suggested that the Committee should ask the SAPS to explain the blatant inaccuracies in its reports. The researchers had not been comfortable with the financial report.
Ms Dollie added that there was also irregular expenditure in respect of training, and that this was supposedly condoned by the financial officers.
Ms Dollie said that she was not entirely surely of the position of the DPCI, but would research this further.
The Chairperson stated that the same issues were being repeated year after year for SAPS.
Mr Lekgetho wanted to know if there was adequate information on the numbers of SAPS members who had been killed.
The Chairperson stated that these numbers were released recently so they were not part of this Annual Report.
Mr Mpisi stated that the researchers would address the issues that had been raised. He agreed that the SAPS should be questioned on the issue of irregular expenditure.
The Chairperson stated that Crime Intelligence accounted to the State Security structures in closed meetings. She stated that at the Maseru border, corruption was rife, and the role of Crime Intelligence was superfluous, since all crime was being conducted quite openly here.
The Chairperson agreed that the Committee needed to ask many questions of SAPS. The reports presented had armed the Committee with sufficient information to address the vital concerns, and would address those issues that were of particular concern to the public.
The meeting was adjourned.
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