The Select Committee’s researcher briefed Members on the priorities highlighted in the 2010 and 2011 State of the Nation Addresses, with particular reference to the Committee’s areas of focus – the Department of Public Works, the Department of Transport and the Department of Human Settlements.
The 2011 State of Nation Address continued an emphasis on the Department of Public Works in the key areas of infrastructure development programmes, access to basic services such as water, the financing of job creation initiatives over the next three years, and repairing of the road network under the Expanded Public Works Programme Phase 2. There would also be the rehabilitation of water reservoirs, windmills and irrigation schemes and youth development programmes, with a review of legislation on the provision of public and government services including maintaining of a database for job-seekers. There would also be a review of the entire procurement system. Parliament’s role would be to monitor Government progress in prioritising and adhering to the requirement of creating jobs and ensuring that job opportunities were available for all South Africans. As regards the Department of Transport, the emphasis was still placed on infrastructure development, the repairing of South Africa’s road network using Zibambele as a prototype and the creation of jobs. The need for a comprehensive rural development programme was highlighted again. As to the Department of Human Settlements, providing proper service to 400 000 households by 2014 was a priority while the delivery of rental accommodation was also of high importance.
Members were all very pleased with the presentation but were concerned with the lack of job creation and called for an improvement as many promises had been made. They observed the developments noted those priorities that had remained the same through the years
Members considered the Committee’s programme for the First Term. Two urgent bills - the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Bill [B20-2010] and the Community Schemes Ombud Service Bill [B21-2010] would have to be accommodated in the programme, together with oversight visits. Members asked about the possibility of conducting joint oversight visits with other committees.
Briefing by the Research Unit on Government priorities as highlighted in the State of Nation Address
Mr Tsepho Makhanye, Committee Researcher, presented the information gathered by the Research Unit on Government priorities as highlighted in the State of Nation Address (see attached document). He collected and segmented the information gathered in terms of the departments that were areas of focus for the Committee, namely the Department of Public Works, the Department Transport, and the Department of Human Settlements. In all these departments, he looked at the highlights in the 2010 and 2011 State of Nation Addresses. He advised though that most key areas that were mentioned from as far back as the 2008 State of the Nation Address were not that distinct from the 2011 Address.
The 2010 Address placed more emphasis around issues of poverty alleviation in society, ensuring labour intensive projects through Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) Phase 2, investing R 846 billion in capital works over three years especially through public infrastructure, creating jobs for the youth, expanding public works, public employment programmes and creating different jobs in the Department of Public Works. He further explained about the development of skills, production of additional engineers and technicians, improving health by building extra hospitals and clinics, improving provision of housing, water sanitation, electricity, improvement of waste management and roads by municipalities and the eradication of corruption in procurement and tender processes.
In the 2011 State of Nation Address, there continued to be a huge emphasis on the Department of Public Works in the key areas of infrastructure development programmes, access to basic services such as water, the financing of job creation initiatives over the next three years which would be financed through the R9 billion jobs fund, repairing of the road network under the EPWP Phase 2. There would also be the rehabilitation of water reservoirs, windmills and irrigation schemes. There would also be youth development programmes and a review of legislation as it related to policy for the provision of public and government services including maintaining of database for job-seekers and job opportunities. He advised that there would also be a performance and monitoring department that would report within six months on all Government funded vacant posts while the Special Investigations unit would be directed to open investigations to strengthen the fight against corruption and maladministration in all departments. There would also be a review of the entire procurement system to ensure efficient spending of funds and a continuation of the renovation and refurbishment of hospitals and clinics. The role of Parliament would be to monitor Government progress in prioritising and adhering to the requirement of creating jobs and ensuring different job opportunities were available for all South Africans.
Mr Makhanye advised that the priorities addressed in the State of Nation Address for 2010 with regards to the Department of Transport related to the spending of R846 billion on public infrastructure, improving and expanding the road infrastructure and road network and ensuring that the rail network was reliable, competitive and improved. The implementation of the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) would also be important as would investing in youth to ensure that skills were developed amongst them to support growth and job creation. The eradication of corruption and fraud would also be important when people applied for driver’s licences. Mr Makhanye then advised that, in the 2011 State of Nation Address, the emphasis was still placed on infrastructure development, the repairing of South Africa’s road network using Zibambele as a prototype and the creation of jobs. The need for a comprehensive rural development programme was highlighted again.
Mr Makhanye advised that, in the 2010 State of Nation address, the priorities addressed in the Department of Human Settlements were also related to the upgrading informal settlements and also providing proper service to at least 500 000 households by 2014. The implementation of a comprehensive rural development programme was also a priority. Mr Makhanye advised that providing proper service to 400 000 households by 2014 was a priority while the delivery of rental accommodation was also seen to be of high importance. The Special Investigations Unit would also pay attention to this Department, as had been indicated by the Hon. Tokyo Sexwale, Minister of Human Settlements, in 2010 when he stated that 10% of his budget was dedicated to fighting corruption. Also an amount of R2.6 billion would be spent in ensuring that water and other services were provided in rural areas and informal settlements. Mr Makhanye emphasised that these were priorities in 2010 and 2011 State of Nation Address for the Departments of Public Works, Transport and Human Settlements.
Mr M Jacobs (ANC, Free State) thanked Mr Makhanye for the presentation because now Members could ask the Departments what had been done for 2010 and what would be done for 2011 especially as to the priority of creating jobs. At least Members could ask for a strategy plan from the Departments for the coming year.
Mr H Groenewald (DA, North West) concurred with Mr Jacobs, advising that he especially wanted to see jobs being created because the President had made promises. These promises should be fulfilled, and he was interested to see how.
Mr D Feldman (COPE, Gauteng) also thanked Mr Makhanye for the presentation and requested a researcher to brief the Committee at every meeting on any developments.
Ms M Themba (ANC, Mpumalanga) likewise thanked Mr Makhanye and believed that the presentation would assist the Committee when it attended the strategic planning meeting of the Department to understand the progress from 2010 to 2011.
Mr Z Mlenzana (COPE, Eastern Cape) stated that Mr Makhanye had showed that priorities remained largely the same from 2010 to 2011 but had also noted a few things that had changed. He asked whether Mr Makhanye could next time go a little deeper into specifics of all the departments as to changes and progress.
The Chairperson advised that presentation was first step in arming Committee Members and giving them an oversight of what to expect from the Departments; however, on the other hand, it challenged Members as to what to do with this information.
Consideration and adoption of the Committee Programme for the First Term
The Chairperson asked whether all Members had received the programme for the first term and requested them to go through it and decide if they wanted to adopt it. He advised that if any bill was passed, it had to go via the two Houses of Parliament. There were two bills coming; one was on the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Bill [B20-2010], and the second was the Community Schemes Ombud Service Bill [B21-2010] – these were both extremely urgent. He advised that the bills could affect the Committee’s programme as they could come anytime. He advised that until the bills were sent to the Committee, Members should continue with the consideration and adoption of the Committee’s programme for the first term.
Mr Jacobs asked what the standard practice was, whether programmes were held quarterly within a year, and enquired about an oversight visit to Transnet which Members had still not visited. He asked if Members would ever undertake this visit. There was an oversight visit in KwaZulu-Natal from 28 February till 04 March 2011 and he wanted to know if this visit was still going to happen.
The Chairperson advised that the Committee could have a yearly programme but it was necessary for Members to check the programme periodically. He referred to the two upcoming bills which could have an impact on the programme. Oversight visits could also have an impact on the programme; this was why quarterly programmes should be introduced.
The Committee Secretary responded to the second question regarding the oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal by stating that the oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal was still being considered by the second committee; he asked whether this oversight visit should be done by Members of both committees as a joint venture on those dates.
The Committee Secretary advised that the Transnet oversight visit will not be undertaken.
Mr Feldman asked why Members should go to KwaZulu-Natal and if this was decided by the Portfolio Committee. He also stated that local elections would soon take place, and this should be kept in mind when planning for this oversight visit.
The Chairperson advised that details as to why the visit should be conducted were not attached. This oversight visit was put on the programme most probably as a proposal by the Portfolio Committee to inform the Select Committee that the oversight visit was being considered.
Mr Mlenzana advised that he would like a full year programme that was reviewed quarterly so that Members were able to include all that their requirements for the year. He also advised that long term projections would assist in budgeting to avoid over-spending or under-spending. He advised that he saw no problem with the oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal but the timing of the visit should be considered together with the fact that the two upcoming bills were much more urgent.
The Chairperson advised that every committee met quarterly for reviews. With regard to time constraints, time affected every member. On oversight visits there was need to check on the progress of the different provinces.
Ms Themba suggested that oversight visits be conducted with other committees sometimes to avoid duplication; it was easier to do a joint oversight at times.
The Chairperson agreed.
The meeting was adjourned.
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