The Department of Communications briefed the Committee on the Performance Management System that was being implemented to perform oversight on the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) Council. ICASA was in attendance and contributed to the discussion section of the meeting. The management system set key performance indicators, measurable performance targets and a procedure to measure and review the performance of the ICASA Council at least once a year. The development of ICASA’s strategic priorities, Key Performance Indicators and Targets were outlined as was evaluating the performance of the ICASA Council, the Evaluation Panel, and responsibilities of the relevant role-players.
The Committee asked if the eight strategic priorities were too much for ICASA to handle; how ICASA measured the number of jobs it created, if it would be advertising internationally given that they wanted an international expert on broadcasting on the panel, how they would ensure that the international expert did not have any interest in the industry, and if the Performance Management System would apply to other parastatals within the Department. Members were satisfied with the Performance Management System.
The Committee had an informal deliberation on the South African Post Office Bill. The final matter that was a bone of contention was whether the Minister “may” or “must” appoint a selection committee to make recommendations for the appointment of board members. The ANC proposed that the Minister “may” appoint a selection committee, which would allow the Minister to exercise his/her own discretion whether to appoint the selection committee or not. In a previous meeting, parties had decided to caucus on the matter. The ANC had also proposed that “granted with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance” be removed from certain clauses.
The Democratic Alliance said it was fine with “may” for the selection of non-executive board members, as the Minister was appointed to make those kinds of necessary decisions. However, the party’s biggest issue was with the removal of the Minister of Finance from certain decisions. After consultation with the National Treasury and the DA Finance Committee, they remained of the opinion that it was of absolute importance that the Minister of Finance be consulted. It was then agreed upon by the Committee that wherever the statement “in concurrence with the Minister of Finance” appeared in the Bill, it would be amended to “after consultation with the Minister of Finance”. Voting on the Bill would take place on 15 June 2011.
The Chairperson informed the Committee that formal deliberations on the South African Post Office Bill (SAPO Bill) would take place on Wednesday, 15 June 2011. The Committee had the Bill for a very long time and it was eager to finalise it on that day.
ICASA’s Performance Management System: briefing by Department on Communications (DoC)
Mr Norman Munzhelele, DOC Acting Deputy Director-General: ICT Policy Development, noted that Section 6A(1) of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) Act required the Minister, in consultation with the National Assembly, to establish a Performance Management System (PMS) for the chairperson and other councillors of ICASA. The PMS should set key performance indicators, measurable performance targets and a procedure to measure and review the performance of the ICASA Council at least once a year.
The primary purpose of monitoring and evaluating the performance of the ICASA Council was to comply with the ICASA Act. The National Assembly had to ensure that the ICASA Council performed in accordance with set goals and targets, and that the goals and targets were consistently being met in an efficient, effective and measurable manner.
Government as a whole was working towards an outcomes-based based approach in terms of managing performance and results. Therefore the strategic priorities of ICASA as well as the setting of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and targets had to be aligned with overall government objectives. KPIs must be measurable, relevant, objective and precise. Section 6A of the ICASA Act required the Minister to determine the targets in the Performance Management System, after consultation with ICASA for each financial year. Subsequently, the KPIs must also be determined. As soon as the KPIs were set, ICASA must develop an Annual Work-Plan. The targets as determined by ICASA had to be commensurate with the resources and the capacity of ICASA.
The strategic priorities consisted of:
▪ Ensuring effective participation by Historically Disadvantaged Individuals (HDIs) in the industry
▪ Ensuring the provision of broadband services
▪ Optimising the use of the radio frequency spectrum to the support the widest variety of services
▪ Promoting the protection of consumers and accessibility for persons with disabilities
▪ Promoting the development of public, community and commercial broadcasting services within the context of digital migration
▪ Ensure compliance with legislation and regulation
▪ Strengthening and modernising ICASA
▪ Promoting competition
The presentation explained the KPIs and Key Performance Targets (KPTs) for each priority [see document titled “The Performance Management System for the Chairperson and Other Councillors of ICASA – Word Document”].
A robust mechanism was needed for evaluating and measuring the performance of the ICASA Council. It was also necessary if government, the National Assembly and the ICASA Council was to engage constructively on the allocation of resources to maximise the achievement of outcomes as aligned by the government. The salient points about the PMS included:
▪ The PMS would take into account the issues of compliance and timeframes
▪ The rating system to be adopted by the Evaluation Panel should link directly with the targets and KPIs as stipulated in the Annual Work-Plan
▪ The PMS would be linked to the Authority’s financial year
▪ As soon as the National Assembly approved the PMS, individual performance agreements must be signed between the Minister and all the councillors
▪ The Evaluation Panel’s final report must be submitted to the National Assembly for consideration.
Section 6A(4) required that the Minister in consultation with the National Assembly constitute a panel to evaluate the performance of the chairperson and councillors of the ICASA Council. It was proposed that the Evaluation Panel consist of at least five members, one of which must be the designated chairperson. The Panel must have the necessary skills, knowledge, qualifications and experience. It was proposed that the Panel should constitute a retired High Court Judge, a representative from the Office of the Auditor-General, respected experts from academia, a representative from an organised consumer group, and an independent consultant/expert in the electronic communications, broadcasting or postal sector from outside of the country.
In terms of roles and responsibilities of role players, the Minister of Communications must put in place the PMS of the ICASA chairperson and other councillors if ICASA in consultation with the National Assembly, must enter into individual performance agreements with councillors, must ensure the Evaluation Committee evaluates the performance of the Council at least once a year, and must implement the findings of the National Assembly following the evaluation. The chairperson of the ICASA Council had to provide overall leadership to the Council and manage its activities, and ensure the Annual Work-Plan was developed and tabled before the Minister. The National Assembly provided an oversight role in respect of the performance monitoring and evaluation of the ICASA Council, it approved members of the Evaluation Panel prior to their appointment, and it considered the performance evaluation report of the Panel.
Once approved by the NA, the PMS would be implemented on an immediate basis. The Minister had to sign individual performance agreements with the chairperson and other ICASA Councillors, and the appointment of the members of the Evaluation Panel would commence.
Ms N Michael (DA) thanked the DoC and ICASA for handing the presentation to the Committee well before the time, as it gave Members enough time to look through the document completely. The document was exceptionally well written and easy to understand.
Mr C Kekane (ANC) noted that there were eight objectives. Experts usually said that there should not be more than six objectives, as the PMS should not be overloaded. His concern was that if ICASA took on too much, they would not do as well as they wanted to. The DoC said that ICASA wanted to work within a system of government, while still being independent. He liked this statement. He noted that the government was under pressure to create jobs. He asked how ICASA would measure the number of jobs they created.
Dr Stephen Mncube, Chairperson: ICASA, replied that ICASA and the DoC put together the eight objectives at a workshop that lasted two days. They started with approximately 32 objectives and worked it down to eight. These eight objectives were definitely within ICASA’s reach. He said that one of the areas that ICASA was lacking in was doing impact studies. They would implement this practice once the budget allowed for it.
Mr Munzhelele added that they recognised that the government had adopted an outcomes based approach. ICASA’s role and responsibility should be able to support the job creation initiative, which spoke to creating employment through economic growth. ICASA would need to provide a framework that supported initiatives such as the reduction of barriers to entry in order to spur economic growth.
Ms T Ndabeni (ANC) thanked ICASA and the DoC for finally presenting on a matter they had been working on for some time. She hoped that the PMS would apply to other parastatals under the DoC as well. She did not see how there could be functional or healthy coordination between the DoC and other entities if they did not have the same system. The DoC said that it was going to advertise for its evaluation committee. She asked if they would be advertising internationally given that they wanted an international expert on broadcasting on the panel. How was ICASA or the DoC going to ensure that this consultant expert did not have any business within the country?
Mr Munzhelele addressed the DoC parastatal question, saying this was the direction the DoC should take, as it would enable them to ensure that all parastatals deliver on their mandates in support of government objectives. This would be considered going forward.
On an international expert, he said ICASA participated in international institutions of governance, for example, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). He thought ICASA could look into getting someone from these institutes to sit on the evaluation committee panel. However, they would have to guard against having a member on panel that had any interest in the sector.
Mr N van den Berg (DA) hoped that all the suggestions made in the presentation were going to be implemented as soon as possible. He urged the DoC and the Minister to implement the PMS now.
Ms S Tsebe (ANC) joined the other Members in congratulating the DoC and ICASA for the good work they had done. She said she would be more comfortable if there had been a separate template or column that focused on the timeframes for the strategic objectives.
Mr Munzhelele replied that the DoC and ICASA welcomed the Member’s suggestion about timeframes. They would add another column to the document that focused on time frames.
The Chairperson noted that Members were satisfied with the PMS. He understood that a formal process would be entered into, where the Minister would table the document to the Speaker of Parliament, as it had to be referred to the Committee formally by the Speaker. Members would then deal with the document as a Committee and refer it to the National Assembly to be adopted.
South African Post Office Bill: deliberations
The Chairperson referred the Committee to the document on the ANC’s proposals and the new Companies Act. He reminded Members that the proposal that was a bone of contention was the matter of whether the Minister “may” or “must” appoint a selection committee to make recommendations on the appointment of board members. The ANC proposed that the Minister “may” appoint a selection committee, which would allow the Minister to exercise his/her own discretion whether to appoint the selection committee or not. In the previous meeting, parties decided to take some time to discuss the matter. He hoped the issue would be finalised by 15 June when they planned to finalise the Bill.
The Chairperson noted that the amendments regarding the Companies Act were inserted into the Bill as agreed upon by the Committee.
Clause 3(5)(b) said that the memorandum of incorporation of the Post Office must inter alia provide that the Post Office “shall not have the power to perform the following acts without the approval of the Minister, granted with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance”. The ANC had proposed that “granted with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance” be removed. The same argument was made for clause 3(5)(c), and clause 8(3).
Ms Michael said she did not remember such a big deal being made of the “may” or “must” issue. She was fine with “may” for the selection of non-executive board members, as the Minister was appointed to make those kinds of necessary decisions. However, her party’s biggest issue was with the removal of the Minister of Finance from certain decisions. After consultations with the National Treasury and the DA Finance Committee, they remained of the opinion that it was of absolute importance that the Minister of Finance was consulted with, especially on matters such as the distribution of shares. It was too much pressure to put on the Minister of Communications, who was not a financial expert. She did not think that there was any explanation good enough to excuse not needing the Minister of Finance. She took into consideration that processes would be slowed down with the continual need for the concurrence of the Minister of Finance, but she was told that all it took was a letter to the Minister of Finance. An answer could be given within a period of 48 hours.
Mr van den Berg agreed with Ms Michael. There had to be a lot of regulations in place to ensure that corruption did not take place.
The Chairperson thought that the problem was that including the concurrence of the Minister made the clauses “too tight”. He asked if the Committee would consider rephrasing the sentence so the clause was “lighter”. He suggested that they amend the clauses to say “after consultation with the Minister of Finance” instead of “with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance”. He asked parties to engage on the suggestions for a few minutes.
After the caucus break…
Ms Ndabeni said that the ANC agreed with the proposal made by the Chairperson. Instead of saying “with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance”, the clauses should be amended to say “after consultation with the Minister of Finance”.
The Chairperson noted that the relevant changes would be made to the Bill. He noted that the Committee was done; there was no clause that was in dispute. Formal deliberation would take place next week.
Mr van den Berg asked Members to focus on clause12 of the Bill, which looked at the appointment of non-executive members of the board. The Minister had to advertise the positions in at least two newspapers and in the Gazette. He said that the Committee had to make sure that the ads reached the people they wanted it to reach. He suggested that the Committee consider amending the clause to say that the ad should be placed in at least two national newspapers in at least two official languages. He wanted to ensure that the adverts were placed in national newspapers and not local newspapers. The point was for the adverts to reach a lot of people. Not all people read newspapers in rural areas, but they listened to the community radio stations. He did not want these people to be excluded as well.
The Chairperson replied that he had raised this matter himself, but he did not get the support of the Committee so he accepted that he had been defeated. Nevertheless, the Committee would call the DoC into Parliament to ask how they were utilising community radio stations and community print media. The clause contained in the Bill, clause 12(1)(a), was a standard clause. However, the Committee had to start engaging on this matter.
The meeting was adjourned.
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