State Information Technology Agency (SITA) on strategic and costed operational plan 2011: briefing

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18 April 2011
Chairperson: Ms L Chikunga (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The meeting revealed that there was a breakdown in the relationship between the South African Police Service and the State Information Technology Agency. In the eyes of the Committee it seemed as if the South African Police Service had already decided that it did not want to continue with its relationship with the  Agency since the Police Service had said that it could not mention the Agency in meetings and at the same time the Committee concluded that the Agency was not aggressive enough. The Committee asked the  Agency about its involvement in Property Control and Exhibit Management. The  Agency responded that it did not know anything about it. The South African Police Service explained to the Committee that Property Control and Exhibit Management was signed of by the State Information Technology Agency hence the  Agency was involved in it . At this stage the Agency retracted the earlier statement it had made and asked the Committee for its indulgence so that it could go and consult and submit the answer in writing. To the Committee the Agency’s answer on Property Control and Exhibit Management was unacceptable.

The State Information Technology Agency asked for the Department's patience in light of the fact that it was in the process of restructuring itself in order to meet the demands of its clients. The Committee urged both the South African Police Service and the State Information Technology Agency to mend their relationship. The State Information Technology Agency was given a deadline to submit its written response.


Meeting report

Chairperson's Opening Remarks
The Chairperson stated that she appreciated the work that had been done by the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) in relation to the protestor who had been beaten to death by members of the South African Service during a protest in Ficksburg. The death was not necessary and such actions were supposed to be condemned. There was no reason why the protestor was shot especially in light of the fact that he did not have a weapon in his hand. She stressed that such brutal actions were actions that undermined the Constitution. Poor people were not supposed to be the victims of democracy. Furthermore there was no reason why the protestor had to be shot on the left side of his chest. Such actions showed an intention to kill since the left side of the chest housed the heart and some major arteries.

The Chairperson hoped that the Department was conducting its own internal disciplinary actions. The police officers who were responsible for the murder of the protestor in Emelo were supposed to be held accountable also. The Committee had set aside a meeting with the Department later during the course of the year in order for the Department to brief the Committee on how it dealt with crowd control. She stressed that she looked forward to getting a presentation from the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) on how it intended to overcome the challenges.

State Information Technology Agency (SITA) presentation
 Mr Andile Pama, Acting Chief: Business Operations, SITA, began by giving an update on a submission that had been made by SITA in November 2010 and on the draft proposed budget. SITA had provided a report on the outstanding payments which totaled R8 million to LexisNexis. The contracts for LexisNexis had all been approved and all invoices that were due had been paid up in March 2011. SITA had also submitted a report on the total cost of the roll-out of the e-Docket system to 363 police stations. The additional costs for 2011 were R9 829 986. It was however stressed that there were no additional costs that had been incurred for SITA's labour and also for the training for the roll-out system since last year.

With regard to the draft proposed budget SITA said that there was a general 5% Consumer Price Index (CPI) labour increase which was 1.2% below the national average. There was a full year recovery of 18 additional Applications Maintenance Service resources of which only 2 months had been recovered in the preceding 2010/2011 financial year. In addition there was a 71.6% increase on IBM mainframe maintenance due to expiry of warrantee on the equipment. There was additional firewall maintenance and support on network services brought about as a result of the expiry of the warranty on Check Point Infrastructure. Furthermore there was a 5.7% growth in total equipment baseline from 179 788 to 18 992 units that needed to be supported and maintained [under the DSS Services]. Moreover there were no adjustments to the National Treasury rates for Bureau Services and SITA had successfully negotiated a 10% discount on mainframe software licensing.

Ms A van Wyk (ANC) stressed that there had been problems with regards to the Service Level Agreements between SITA and the SAPS. Both the SAPS and SITA needed to take responsibility for the Service Level Agreement (SLA). Furthermore she said that it was a reflection of the fact that there was a lack of joint planning and agreement beforehand between the two. She asked what SITA and the SAPS were doing in order to address the issue. Furthermore she noted that there was no backup system for the criminal record centre and this was a reflection of the lack of joint planning. In addition she asked what the 5.7% in the growth of total equipment baseline was and whether this included laptops and computers.

Mr Pama responded that the growth included computers and laptops.

Ms Van Wyk stressed that if it was the case then every police officer was supposed to have a laptop.

Mr Pama clarified that the devices included desktops, scanners and photographic equipment and not only laptops.

Ms Van Wyk said that there was need for a breakdown of what was considered equipment. Furthermore she asked whether SAPS was using IBM as the main frame and whether its use was in the best interest of the Department. Ms Van Wyk asked for the actual expenditure of the previous year. In addition she said that she had missed certain issues from the presentations such as that of terrestrial trunked radio (TETRA) and Property Control and Exhibit Management (PCEM) and where these were. She stated that if they were not with SITA then the SAPS was supposed to explain why they were not with SITA. She asked whether SITA was involved in the information technology (IT) needs for TETRA and PCEM and what was the involvement by SITA in the SAPS planning process.

Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) noted that SITA had recovered two months of Application Maintenance Service resources. She asked what had happened to the other months. In addition she asked why application maintenance had been presented as one heading.

The Chairperson asked whether SITA knew the requirements and needs of the SAPS. In addition she asked what role SITA played in the whole contract, whether there was no duplication of services and whether PCEM was cheaper than SITA. Furthermore she asked whether SITA was the right organisation for the job. The Chairperson asked where the problem was with SITA when it came to the provision of services. Finally she asked the SAPS what its plan was going forward in relation to the using of SITA in providing services and whether the relationship was going to last five years, or ten years or the relationship was going to be terminated.

Mr G Lekgetho (ANC) noted that SITA was a very important institution and its mandate was to improve service delivery and information systems. He asked whether SITA was visible to the departments and which were the departments. He asked what the staff complement was and whether it was coping with the work load.

Mr Blake Mosley-Lefatola, Chief Executive Officer, SITA, agreed with the observation that had been made with regards to Service Level Agreements and the lack of joint planning. In addition he said that SITA had had some interactions with Lieutenant General Mzondeki Tshabalala, Head: Information and Security Management, SAPS, and they decided that it was undesirable and could not continue and hence they put measures in place to address this. They also agreed to have a joint session before the beginning of the financial year in order to address the budget and other general service delivery issues.  Furthermore Mr  Mosley-Lefatola said that it was work in progress and in the future when SITA interacted with the Committee it would be a problem of the past.

The Chairperson asked what was different because the Committee had heard such statements for a very long time. She asked whether SITA had anything concrete so that it could be held accountable.

Ms Van Wyk noted that the Committee had been told such statements for the past 10 years. In addition she said that as long as it was at the beginning of the financial year Members would not see any changes.

Mr Mosley-Lefatola responded that SITA attempted to deal with all the tender backlogs. In addition it tried to have planning sessions prior to the beginning of the financial year. The way things were was not acceptable and it was not supposed to continue as it was.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee was working on time frames because the Committee wanted assurance. She asked when SITA planned on meeting with the SAPS so that the Committee could monitor them. In addition she asked how SITA was going to address the problems in terms of a programme that was there.  The Committee would not be accepting anything that was open ended hence the Committee wanted a plan. In addition the response was said to be too general and political.

Ms Van Wyk asked SITA to explain the content of tender backlogs and how much more it was suppose to spend before it could get to the criminal justice revamp.

Mr Ronnie Mabena, Chairman of Ethic and Governance Board, SITA, spoke to what the new board of SITA had done in respect to its relationship with the SAPS. The board took measures in the day to day running of SITA because it needed to change certain key fundamentals. Members of the board sat on numerous occasions in mapping out the situation. At the end of 2010 the board allowed the executive to come into play so that it would be able to implement its decisions.

Mr Pama responded that there was a fractious relationship with SAPS and SITA. The level of engagement was what made 2011 exceptional. In addition there had been some practical changes in the personnel,  hence some of the concerns that Lieutenant-General Tshabalala had raised had been addressed. He stated that SITA had not met with the SAPS to discuss its strategy going forward. The numbers that had been presented were a reflection of what SAPS needed to operate. Mr Pama stated it had not incorporated into the numbers some of the priorities that Lieutenant-General Tshabalala had set such as broadband or connectivity.

Lieutentant-General Tshabalala stated that a lot of changes had occurred within the SAPS and the SAPS was happy with the progress it had made. The SAPS, however, was very unhappy about the pace of services from SITA. SITA could not be mentioned in management meetings. In addition he said that it would like to improve its relationship with SITA but the question was whether the relationship was relevant. SAPS would interact with SITA on a business agreement and it would go back to the regulations that governed the relationship which stated services that "must" be provided by SITA and "may" be provided by SITA. The "mays" would be done by the SAPS. There was need to account for the R3.6 billion that he had been given and 70% of that went through SITA. Lieutentant-General Tshabalala stressed that he had made an undertaking in relation to e-Dockets and he would maintain the undertaking with or without SITA. Furthermore the General  stressed that the [BC] recommendation committee was an impediment to service delivery because it could take up to six months for a tender to be approved instead of a tender being awarded after 30 days.

The Chairperson asked at what stage SITA came into existence so that SITA understood the environment.

Ms Van Wyk said that SITA was looked at as a service provider and not as a partner and this was the problem. She questioned why there was no backup system for the criminal record system and why had the expertise not asked for a back up plan. Furthermore she noted that there was a complete breakdown in the relationship. In addition it was noted that e-Dockets were suppose to be rolled out a time ago especially with regards to the fact that a lot of money had been spent.

Mr Nogolide Nojozi, Government Relations Officer, SITA, responded that with regards to the replacement of servers backup was done on a daily basis with the exception of the system that Ms Van Wyk had made mention of. In addition no systems were being stopped in order for the backup to be done.

Lieutentant-General Tshabalala, with regards to the disaster capabilities went on to explain how Advanced Fire Information System (AFIS) was procured but it did not have a proper disaster capabilities. There was a refusal to upgrade the system because of a number of reasons.  The SAPS was testing the market and it would roll it out. SITA was tasked to respond to incidents in the IT departments. In addition Lieutentant-General Tshabalala said that "if SITA was established to advise me on technology, I have not experienced it.” The relationship between SITA and SAPS was a relationship that needed to be relooked at and redefined. It also had to be determined whether the relationship was imperative and moreover if the relationship was an administrative relationship.

Ms Van Wyk asked whether SITA had been given an opportunity to become more than just a middleman.

Mr Pama responded by referring to clauses 8.1.1 and 8.1.2 of the business level agreement and hence the relationship between SAPS and SITA was determined by the clauses.

Colonel Willem van Tonder, Provincial Head, South African Police Services, stated that since 2004 SITA had always been involved in the SAPS strategic process but along the line the relationship went bad.

Ms Van Wyk stressed that informing SITA about a relationship was not a relationship. The mandate of SITA was to provide value added service and integration but there was no integration and this was not SITA's problem. The Committee was not seeing any results and this was her concern. There was half admittance to the problem on both sides and there was no clear strategy on how to rectify the situation even an interest in rectifying the situation. She noted that it seemed as of SAPS had already decided that it did not want SITA because it was not adding any value. Furthermore SITA was not aggressively playing its role.

Mr Mabena responded that SITA could not change alone. SITA was supposed to change together with its people, clients and the market. The deadlines and timeframes were not an agreeable area and SITA might not have been changing fast enough but there was a movement towards change in SITA. SITA was said to be a circus because of acting staff within the executive but it was making progress in appointing permanent staff. He asked for a little more patience from its clients. However SITA was more than ready to listen and to act.

The Chairperson said that a lot of pressure had been placed on the Department. R3.6 billion was an amount that equated to the budget of one department and there was no way the Committee would not have that Department account to Parliament. The Department would account to Parliament every quarter. Expecting patience would impact on the quarterly targets of the SAPS Department and hence this would create some friction and hence patience would impact negatively on the Department. Services were needed despite the collapse of SITA. She asked SITA whether it was equal to the task. SITA's problem would create some impatience on the Department.

Mr Mabena responded to the question of contract management by saying that a new executive had been appointed hence there would be some improvement in the area. SITA was not supposed to be used as a procurement agency only since the tasks it performed went beyond procurement.

Mr Pama responded that it was not aware of the PCEM and TETRA systems.

Mr Lefatola responded that in trying to address the questions on service delivery SITA was embarking on provincial road shows and was setting up bilateral meetings with departments and directors-general and this would help SITA to become a customer focused organisation. SITA had about 3346 staff members and it also had contractors who it intended to make full time.

Lieutenant-General Tshabalala said that PCEM was a SITA contract. Schedule D was being republished and it was the only part of the contract that SITA could exonerate it from. The contract was signed off by SITA and it was sent to the SAPS offices by SITA.

The Chairperson asked who had signed the contract in SITA.

Lieutenant-General Tshabalala said that SAPS had an evaluation committee on which certain members from SITA served. The committee would evaluate and score a tender and the result would be taken to the recommendation committee which only had SITA members. Once the recommendation committee had approved it would be sent to SAPS who would accept and give SITA the mandate to procure.

The Chairperson asked what SITA knew about PCEM and how it was involved.

Mr Nojozi said that it needed to get feedback from the procurement department since it was not aware of PCEM because it was still new.

Mr Van Wyk stressed that the answer was unacceptable, firstly to deny that it did not know about PCEM and secondly to go back and consult, since SITA knew that it was going to discuss issues about the SAPS. It showed a lack of preparation for the Committee or that there were other things that were being hidden.

Mr Mabena responded that the IBM was a pioneer in the early systems that were used by the Government. SITA had engaged its technical division requesting a model so that it would migrate from the old to the new system.

Ms Van Wyk asked what specialised consultant services were and what the time frames were for the consultants.

Mr Nojozi responded that they were contractors and their specialties varied hence they complemented the skills that SITA lacked internally. SITA was in the process of trying to convert the contractors to permanent staff but there were a number of problems in this regard hence some of the contracts would be extended.

Mr Pama said that there were 367 conversions and 45 were outstanding. There were 112 extensions to fixed term contracts. In addition there were 711 contractors that needed to be converted.

Ms Van Wyk stressed that her question had not been answered. She rephrased her question. She asked whether any of the contractors were previously employed by SAPS.

Ms Molebatsi questioned the implementation of the e-Docket. She noted that there was a slow pace in the implementation of the e-Docket and it was very worrying. She asked where the hiccup was.

The Chairperson asked what services were being providers by the contractors and how long had it been providing the services.

Mr Nojozi asked for the Committee's indulgence so that SITA could go and consult its own records. He responded to the question of e-Dockets that the project was behind schedule and SITA was responsible for it. The reason the project was behind schedule was because of the transition from the contracting model. They did not have sufficient resources to go ahead with the project. However the board had approved the appointment of additional resources and SITA was racing against time and it was working on catching up.

Ms Molebatsi asked how many sites had been targeted.

Mr Pama said that SITA had targeted 341 sites that were supposed to be completed. 98% of the sites had been completed.

Colonel Van Tonder responded that in terms of the e-Docket that there was a commitment from Gen Tshabalala that by August 100 stations which would focus on crime and integrated justice system.
Ms Van Wyk asked what service was being provided by service providers and whether there was an end date to the services.

Colonel Van Tonder responded that he did not know the detail of the work that was being done by some of the service providers such as those at border control. Others were involved in technology, architecture and governance.

The Chairperson said that the management was supposed to be able to know what services were being provided.

Mr Mabena committed himself to brining more details about the PCEM.

Ms Van Wyk said that the question she had raised about consultants who had previously worked for SAPS was not limited to the four consultants that had been mentioned in the presentation.

Mr Mabena thanked the Committee for the opportunity to come before it and highlight the work that it was doing. In addition he further committed himself to providing adequate responses.

The Chairperson asked whether SITA had a turnaround strategy that talked to SITA's commitment.

Mr Mabena responded that SITA  had a turnaround strategy which could be made available to the Committee.

Lieutenant-General Tshabalala said that the target that was set in the annual plan would be achieved. The entire police management was focused on certain areas and it was working 24 hours a day. He requested that SITA's turnaround strategy be made available so as to see whether it talked to SAPS priorities. Technology was supposed to impact upon crime and it must speak to complexities within the SAPS.

Ms Van Wyk noted that the SITA turnaround strategy in the presentation was a general turnaround strategy. She requested that SITA provide a specific turnaround strategy that talked to SAPS.

The Chairperson said that when the Minister announced crime statistics murder had a high number. She stressed that murder numbers could be reduced. Whoever was given a mandate to reduce such figures had to do so and this included SITA. Both SITA and SAPS were tasked to ensure that there was a working relationship. The Department was expected not to frustrate SITA and it was supposed to provide assistance and cooperation to SITA. SITA was given up to the end of April to submit a written report on a number of issues that it could not answer during the meeting and this included the role of SITA in PCEM and who was part of the evaluation and recommendation committee. In addition SITA would be invited to come and brief the Committee on its turnaround strategy.

The meeting was adjourned.


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