The Department of Public Works (DPW) had been asked to brief the two Committees, meeting jointly, on the expansion of its infrastructure and maintenance projects, with a focus on the Lebombo and Skilpadhek border posts. The Lebombo site was prioritised prior to the World Cup. It was originally intended to be a one-stop border post. He noted that there had been progress, but there were many challenges, which included the lack of ablution facilities, which were not built during the initial contract due to lack of finance, but which had since become urgent, lack of security structures for guards, lack of accommodation for staff, the need for a bypass road, problems with contractors and issues with the Youth Development Project that had been used for “soft” projects like cleaning and horticulture. The immediate concerns for Lebombo included the need to acquire land, the configuration of the pedestrian section of the post, the upgrade of the perimeter fence and other associated civil works, the relocation of the Government Vehicle Garage, the expansion of the bypass road and truck parking area, the upgrading of the current building for operations, and the conversion of the old ablution block to an immigration building to process incoming passenger vehicles. The total budget allocated for the proposed Refugee Reception Centres, for the current financial year, was R110 million, and this was ring-fenced under the Border Control and Operations Coordinating Committee (BCOCC), although only Lebombo was being considered for a Centre at this stage. The Skilpadhek development was informed by the potential growth in traffic between South Africa and the SADC countries, via Botswana and was conceptualised as a two-stop port of entry. Old buildings had had to be bought and then demolished to make way for the development and it was hoped that staff would be able to relocate in November 2012. Because of its remoteness, a residential development was also required, but similar challenges were faced in acquiring land. The civil contract was complete but the housing and border operations contracts still had to be completed. The reasons for delay also included non-performance by sub-contractors, negligence on the part of consultants, and relocation of infrastructure.
The joint Committee was very concerned about lack of progress at these sites, saying that there was nothing new in the reports and all these problems had been noted some time ago, during oversight by the Members. They questioned the lack of apparent progress, the poor management, the way the budget was being spent, the appointment process for the youth, and whether the DPW was in fact giving an honest picture. Various Members expressed dissatisfaction with the information given about contracts, budgets and timeframes, commented that the answers seemed evasive, and concluded that there was no point in belabouring the issues at this meeting, but requested, instead, that the Department and the Minister return and give a new presentation, addressing specific issues, at another meeting.
In its second presentation, the DPW focused on the leases that it arranged for 50 client departments. It was explained that the Government Immovable Asset Management Act (GIAMA) was originally conceived to address various problems with leases, and to try to set up standardised systems. However, there were various challenges that prevented effective implementation of this Act. At the moment, there was a model that used six key account managers to try to service 50 departments, but this had not worked, developments were needed in both front and back offices, some leases ended up being negotiated by junior staff, to the detriment of client departments, and there were instances of possible collusion and errors that had forced DPW now to examine every one of the lease agreements. Each department was supposed to compile User Asset Management Plans (UAMP) setting out the likely accommodation requirements for the next three years, but these were complex, required specialist skills to complete, with the result that very few departments submitted them, instead sending in requests on an ad hoc basis. There were further challenges in departments getting budgets from National Treasury. DPW was taking steps to assist client departments in fulfilling their UAMPS and clearing the backlog, and it was also, in some cases, devolving budgets so that individual departments were authorised to attend to repairs below R100 000. An explanation was given of the budget of R110 million for the relocation of Refugee Reception Centres. Members felt that, once again, this presentation did not always address the real issues and said that the UAMPs were nothing new, questioned why DPW made the forms and processes so complex if it was not going to help departments, noted that the comments concerning budget were a red-herring and asked several questions about who had responsibility for border posts and refugee offices. Members also cited a number of problematic buildings, leases, inadequate arrangements, delays in departments moving into new offices and other problems that hindered service delivery.
The Members of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs bid farewell to outgoing Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Dlamini-Zuma, who was leaving to take up her new post as Chair of the United Nations Commission in Addis Ababa. All parties expressed their sincere thanks and appreciation for her immensely hard work, her commitment, the way she had interacted with the Committee, and wished her every success in her future. The Minister for her part expressed her thanks for the work of the Committee, and stressed that achievements in the Department of Home Affairs were the result of collaborative efforts. She appreciated the fact that not only had Members offered constructive criticism, which forced her to question her own ideas and had taught her a great deal, but they also offered praise where it was due. She urged the Committee to show her successor the same support, noted that further work was needed on immigration issues, and that the DHA’s civil section must be supported to maintain the improvements it had already achieved.
Chairperson’s opening Remarks
Co-Chairperson Ms M Maunye (ANC), Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, welcomed Members of the two committees, and representatives of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and Department of Public Works (DPW). This meeting had been called to address concerns raised regarding infrastructure for DHA, and to deal with issues identified during oversight visits, which included space in offices, general accommodation and overall infrastructure. It was hoped that the bottlenecks in infrastructure could be identified, and the departments would find a coordinated way to move forward. She asked the presenters to be upfront and completely honest in their assessments.
Department of Public Works presentation on Infrastructure Expansion for Department of Home Affairs
Mr Mandla Mabuza, Deputy Director General, Department of Public Works, said he would concentrate on outlining the infrastructure expansion projects for two of the ports of entry, at Lebombo and Skilpadhek, outlining the scope of work and future developments.
In giving an introduction to Lebombo, Mr Mabuza sketched the background, saying that the border post was co-ordinated by the Border Control Operations Coordinating Committee (BCOCC). In 2007 the South African Revenue Services (SARS) assumed leadership of that committee. The development of commercial ports of entry was prioritised for the 2010 World Cup. Currently, Vioolsdrift and Golela had been completed, Lebombo was partially completed (Phase 1) and Skilpadhek would be completed by the end of 2012.
Lebombo was initially intended to be a one-stop border post between South Africa and Mozambique, a design preferred by the BCOCC, and it was designed to be positioned on the borderline between the two countries, with multi-level floors to cater for passenger cars, pedestrians and buses. A freight path would be cut to lead to a Freight Clearing Facility on the Mozambican side. In 2008, the estimated cost of the border post was R1.4 billion, but the DPW could not secure funding from National Treasury. The bypass road was completed and handed over on both sides in 2010. Canopies were built for the inspection of trucks on a routing basis. However, the post was not fitted with ablutions facilities, and that was now a great problem. An inspection by the Portfolio Committee on Public Works showed that South African Police Service (SAPS) was now using the canopies as permanent vehicle inspection sites, so ablutions were vital.
Mr Mabuza wished to emphasise that after a plan of work had been approved and the Supply Chain Management processes had been executed, it was very complicated to start changing the scope of work during construction. The contract also stated that if a contractor who had been hired started the job, then left it, he could not be re-hired. This had created delays, as it was now necessary to start the hiring process afresh to adapt the canopies to contain ablution facilities.
DPW was aware of the needed for a freight processing area and a freight bypass road, as truck volumes had increased by the border as the Maputo harbour had become busier. DPW had consulted with stakeholders in regard to the conversion of temporary structures into a permanent pedestrian facility, in line with instructions from the Director General of the Department of Home Affairs on 31 July 2012. This was to become Phase 2 of the work, and the pedestrian portion of the building was presently unoccupied.
The DPW had initiated a needs assessment, and following that, a procurement instruction would deal with confirmation of the DHA’s needs, and confirmation of funding. The next stage would be a supply chain management process, in which DPW would go out to tender, and appoint contractors who could deal with additional requests, such as installation of bullet proof glass, ablutions in the canopies, and other needs for pedestrian facilities. The DPW aimed to complete the additional work by the end of the current financial year.
Mr Mabuza explained that DPW was using its Capital Infrastructure Investment Programme to create jobs. In the past, it had appointed a facility maintenance contractor for “soft” development such as cleaning, painting and horticultural services. However, it was now of the view that this posed an opportunity for youth job creation, so that it had hired youths for horticultural upkeep at the border posts. The municipality had been asked to supply lists of unemployed people, who were interviewed and offered jobs if they complied with the requirements. Those who showed commitment and discipline during the first twelve months would have their contracts renewed. Unfortunately, some did not meet the required standards, and disciplinary action had to be taken against them for theft, whereupon their employment was terminated. At the beginning of the programme there was no permanent supervisor to oversee the youth, because of the level of the supervisor’s employment, and the geographical location of the border post, but DPW was now appointing a supervisor.
The future developments for the Lebombo border post would include the configuration of the pedestrian facility (including bullet proof glass, ablution facilities and other requests), the upgrade of the perimeter fence and other associated civil works, the relocation of the Government Vehicle Garage, the expansion of the bypass road and truck parking area, the upgrading of the current operation building and the conversion of the old ablution block to an immigration building for incoming passenger vehicles. The development of the operational buildings would be done according to joint operation needs for both countries, unless informed otherwise by DHA.
The total budget allocated for the proposed refugee centres, for the current financial year, was R110 million, and this was ring-fenced under BCOCC. However, only Lebombo was being explored as a possibility for a refugee centre at the moment, with R30 million allocated for that. There were, however, significant challenges with land. Much of the land around the border was owned privately, but there were negotiations for purchase of that land ongoing. The next areas of focus would be Maseru and Beitbridge. DPW was awaiting approval from the Inkomazi Municipality and Provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism, for the purchase or lease swop of land presently in the hands of the Department of Tourism, as well as the building at Komatipoort.
Mr Mabuza then moved onto the Skilpadhek development, which was informed by the potential growth of freight traffic connecting South Africa to SADC, via Botswana. This was conceptualized as a two-stop port of entry. The old buildings lay within the development path of the traffic circle and would be demolished once the relocation to the new operational building had been completed. The old buildings were currently occupied, but the staff would be able to re-locate to the new building by November 2012. The area was remote, so there was a needed to develop a residential area, although here too there was a challenge for government in acquiring land from the local Tribal Authority. Some possible alternatives included a land swap or the DPW acquiring the land at market value, with the Tribal Authority being compensated.
The Skilpadehek project was being developed in three major contract components. The civil contract was now completed, whilst the remaining two contracts were in respect of the housing complex and the main border operation contract (which was 89% complete). A breakdown was given of the various components of the main border operation contract. The civil contract had included the construction of bulk water main and boreholes, a sewerage pump station and line, reservoir rehabilitation work, sewer and sewer line manholes, and sewerage treatment works.
Mr Mabuza noted some issues that had led to delays. These included the needed to acquire a motel and tavern, which were privately owned, as they had to be demolished to make way for development. The relocation of telecommunication infrastructure, by Telkom, and electrical communication, by Eskom, had taken twelve months to complete once the site was handed over to the contractor. Some of the sub contractors did not perform, and they had to be replaced. There was negligence on the part of the appointed consultants in failing to identify the existence of a mine, which had led to a cancellation of the residential contract. This matter was still being investigated by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).
Ms Maunye suggested that questions address first Lebombo and secondly Skilpadhek.
Mr M Sithole (ANC) complained that nothing new had been said in this report since the last presentation to the Portfolio Committee. The same issues had previously been identified as problems.
Mr L Gaehler (UDM) emphasised that when the Portfolio Committee had visited the Lebombo site, ablutions were already identified as an issue. He referred to the claim by DPW that the building of ablutions was not within the original scope of work. However, if the contract cost was not particularly high, then he wondered why the DPW could not simply have attended to a Variation Order. He also wanted to know the start and completion date of the project, and how much money remained in the account at the end of Phase 1, as he believed that any money remaining could have been used for the ablutions.
Ms M Madlala noted that she had seen no progress at Lebombo for the past two years, and queried why the sub-contractor, and not the main contractor, was removed, since the latter surely had the responsibility to monitor the former.
Ms P Ngwenya-Mabila (ANC) also questioned the completion date of Phase 1, and the reasons for delay, noting that there were in fact still requirements outstanding. She asked if the DPW had the land or space available to extend the parking area and, if not, then what it planned to do to deal with the problem. She also wanted to know what the additional work was, and how much it would cost.
Ms Ngwenya-Mabila asked how many young people were initially employed, how many contracts were signed, and why the DPW had consulted the municipality rather than doing an open advertisement. She thought that the problems encountered with some of the youth had to do more with the appointment process. She also emphasised that full training should have been given. However, she noted that this was a pilot project, and emphasised that it was necessary to improve the scheme in the future. Finally, she asked what monitoring was done of the young people, and emphasised that it was necessary to have supervisors to ensure the project achieved the Department’s objectives.
Mr M Mnqasela (DA) also asked how much budget was allocated for youth recruitment, and what the future prospects were to run a similar project elsewhere. He also expressed the needed to do a thorough critique on the processes of recruitment, to avoid it being politicised, and also felt that if only the municipality was consulted, some young people who did not find favour there might have been ignored.
Mr Mnqasela was concerned that the budget did not cover everything needed and suggested that in future a better approach be taken. He had no doubt that the budget for Lebombo would exceed the R1.4 billion allocated.
Mr Mnqasela identified the lack of vehicle scanners at any border posts and expressed a concern that investigations by the naked eye were not good enough, and did not protect the nation properly. He asked how the departments intended to deal with this.
Ms P Maduna-Petersen (ANC) asked when the next phase of development would commence, noting that it was merely quoted, without identifying any timeline. She asked if the facilities were built to be compliant with disabled access. She also asked if the DPW was meeting its quota on employing women and the disabled.
Ms Mabuza outlined the issues that had been identified as problematic during her Committee’s last visit to Lebombo in January 2011. These included the needed for landscaping, paraplegic ramps, all gates to have spikes, disabled access, ablutions, and horticulture. Her understanding was that the building of ablution facilities was cut, as there was not enough money. The Department had recommended that all the above issues were addressed.
Ms Mabuza wondered if the Dow’s completion date of April 2013 for Lebombo was a realistic timeframe, or if there would be fiscal dumping.
Ms Mabuza also asked how many youths were employed, and how they were made for each area, in the sectors of horticulture and cleaning, noting concerns expressed by the youth as to how the appointments were made.
Ms Mabuza was concerned about accommodation for the staff, pointing out that people had to drive far to reach the office as many homes in the area had been turned into offices.
Ms Mabuza expressed great disappointment at the lack of progress at the border posts in all areas, such as getting shatterproof glass, ablutions, poor security, and quality of doors installed. She was particularly concerned at gold being taken across the border, at lack of control over foot and mouth disease, issues around hawkers, and cleanliness at the border. She expressed anger that the Department had not met any of the promises it made in response to urgent concerns around safety of the facilities for security guards. She felt that there was no proper communication between the six departments working at the border. She asked for an honest reflection of the situation at Lebombo.
Ms Mabuza asked why cars leaving the Lebombo border post were driving on a different side of the road to other border posts.
Ms Madlala complained that the department was not serious about the Lebombo border post, as seen by the serious human trafficking and drug issues.
Ms Maunye reiterated the concern that the departments were not talking to each other. DHA said it did not know how to handle Lebombo, as the DPW was not being helpful. She asked if the specific DHA requirements and recommendations were considered when DPW had planned the developments. She too asked how much the whole building cost.
Mr Mabuza emphasised that all information given to Parliament reflected the true situation, to the best of the officials’ ability and knowledge. If he could not give answers now, then DPW would provide the information when it became available.
Mr Mabuza noted the concerns about the hawkers and taxi ranks, but said this did not form part of the statutory mandate of the DPW. DPW could only use its budget for the purposes allocated. The areas of complaint in fact fell within the responsibility of the municipalities and if the national DPW were to try to address them, this would constitute irregular expenditure.
Mr Sithole interjected to emphasise that these issues were a priority. He reminded DPW that it had previously promised to engage on this topic with the municipality, and had hoped to see some sort of progress by now.
Mr Mabuza explained that the DPW was busy with these engagements, but challenges such as the availability of land were delaying that process. DPW would be happy to provide a detailed report on all negotiation progress.
Mr Mabuza said that the DPW had not issued a Variation Order for the building of toilets or ablutions since the first contract had already expired. Once that had happened, no contractors or contract were in place in order to issue a variation. He offered to share with the Committee the letter outlining all additional work.
Mr Gaehler interjected to say that a contract could have been extended, when the contractor was still n site, by issuing an extension of time that would then take care of the variation order.
Mr Mabuza explained that the Lebombo contractor who was on site was dealing with horticulture and cleaning works, but it was the civil works contract that had expired. He noted that there were three contractors.
Ms Mabuza asked if the data points had been installed, as her Committee had previously been told that this was one aspect delaying the handing over of the building to the DHA.
Mr Mabuza responded that the building had not been handed over to the DHA, as additional requests have been made.
Ms Mabuza asked for a response from the Director General of Home Affairs, commenting that nothing seemed to have changed since January 2011.
Mr Muesli Alpena, Director General, Department of Home Affairs, explained that there was in place an Inter-Agency Clearing Forum (IACF), which included the Departments of Defense, Police, Agriculture, Health , State Security, Home Affairs and Public Works, as well as SARS. This structure was set up for the 2010 World Cup, when the failure of the Lebombo Border Post was already apparent. IACF sent a team to Lebombo to evaluate the issues and try to find a solution. Mr Alpena, as the Head of the IACF, had addressed a letter to DPW outlining the problems. IACF calculated that it would require R5.5 million to make the border post operational, all issues were identified, and everyone was aware of them.
Ms Ngwenya-Mabila asked if the contents of that letter could be read to the Committee and suggested that the responses from DPW should also be given.
Mr Mabuza offered to circulate the letter and expand on what the DPW did to comply with the recommendations made by the IACF. He explained that the R1.4 billion DPW budget was for all projects. Of that, R8 million was allocated for the youth employment project. He acknowledged that DPW might have erred in approaching only the local municipalities to supply names of the youth, and indeed the list might have been biased. However, DPW had some influence, as it insisted on an even geographical spread and employing those without skills who could be trained. A temporary supervisor was currently in place, who would be replaced with a permanent appointment.
Mr Mabuza explained, in regard to questions about the delays, that the supply chain management processes of government were complex and long and DPW had no option but to comply. He reminded Ms Mabuza that the installation of the data points was not the responsibility of DPW, but of SARS, and they had been installed at the pedestrian facility.
Mr Mabuza noted that the contract period for Phase 1 covered 2009 and 2010, and once this had lapsed, a further retention period was specified, at the end of which the contract would come to an end completely.
He reiterated that the DPW had a budget of R1.4 billion. Of this, R585 million was allocated for the BCOCC portfolio. It would cover the priority of land ports of entry.
Mr Mnqasela reminded DPW that he wanted to know the budget allocated for each border post, and for each upgrade. He asked if there was a plan to ensure that the budget was augmented, as lack of budget would lead to lack of control at the border posts.
Mr Mabuza explained to the committees that the budget for the redevelopment of the Lebombo border post was R132 million for 2008/9, R166 million in 2009/10, and R70 million in 2010/11. In spite of these figures, the border post was still non-operational.
Mr Gaehler was concerned that the Committee was being misled and that the figures changes each time the Department addressed the Members, with no start or completion dates being given. He felt that officials were being evasive.
Mr Peter Chiapasco, Acting Deputy Director General, DPW, said that the DPW took the contents of the letter and issued a procurement instruction to the Nelspruit Regional Office so that it could implement the work more speedily. However, when it became clear they did not have capacity, the procurement instruction was given to the Head Office, which had caused severe delays. He maintained that the work would be completed by April.
A delegate from DHA added that when the plans were drawn there was provision for space for scanners, but the actual purchase of those was within the mandate of SARS. The DHA would still have to continue with the one-stop border post, but it was not known when this would be completed. It was a priority to separate passengers and freight. Since 2010, operational procedures had changed, and new features had been put in place. If development started now, it could be complete by March 2013, but new operation features having to be discussed with Mozambique would lead to further delays.
Ms Maunye was very dissatisfied by the responses from the DPW. She suggested that the meeting be stopped, and reconvened when the DPW could produce proper dates and timeframes.
Mr G McIntosh (COPE) suggested that perhaps the DPW should give its second presentation, which might help the Committee understand its challenges. DHA had a bigger footprint of physical facilities and a very good branding, with good physical presence. All government departments used DPW to provide Facilities Management, but the problem arose if DPW could not perform. He questioned if the departments should then use the private sector.
Ms Ngwenya-Mabila recommended that the Minister of Public Works should attend the next meeting. She failed to understand why the issues were referred back to the Head Office due to the lack of capacity at the Nelspruit office, and enquired what “a lack of capacity” actually meant. She noted that services were not being provided, while the public works mandate was going backwards and forwards between departments. If DPW did not have the capacity to perform the tasks, then it must let those who did have capacity take over.
Ms Maunye offered to read the letter from the IACF to the Committee, but Ms Mabuza argued that it would not solve the problems. Skilpadhek was also a huge problem, as this was supposed to have been completed by November 2011.
Members, after debate, resolved not to take the Lebombo or Skilpadhek issues further at this meeting, but leave them over to the next meeting, which the Minister should attend. They also asked that DPW must, at the next meeting, and provide the Committee with a report saying who did the first environmental impact report, what the results were, as well as explain what happened to the R33 million that was paid to the contractor who did nothing. DPW must also give a report on how much the Department paid for purchasing and demolishing the hotels and taverns at Skilpadhek, the contract figure, and period for both sites, and if the contractor was nominated or responded to a tender.
Infrastructure Expansion in Relation to the Department of Home Affairs: Leases
Mr Peter Chiapasco, Acting Deputy Director-General: Inner City Regeneration and Key Account Management, DPW, explained the import of the Government Immovable Asset Management Act (GIAMA). It was passed to address the then-deficiencies in the processes of procuring and managing accommodation leases, between DPW, as custodian, and user departments. GIAMA entrenched a rigorous and planned approach to the provisioning of accommodation requirements, aligned to Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) cycles. The benefits were intended to include better coordination of the use of immovable assets, and improved service delivery by the DPW as a result of proper planning. This applied to capital works, as well as leases, acquisitions and disposals.
The DHA, along with 50 other user departments and entities, were serviced by the Key Account Management Branch of DPW, based at Head Office, as well as implementation units in the 11 regional offices. Current service delivery arrangements were not sufficiently responsive to the needs of individual user departments. Currently, there were only six key account managers servicing all 50 departments.
DPW had recently adopted a client-centric model offering dedicated resources to all key customers, as far as possible, through front and back office dedicated systems. This was a short to medium term initiative for dealing with the requirements of the clients. The requirements had been forwarded to National Treasury to implement the system, and this was part of the turnaround initiative to bolster service delivery across the accommodation value-chain.
The GIAMA legislation required that all user departments must compile User Asset Management Plans (UAMPs) on an annual basis, covering the next three years, and showing what immovable assets would be required. This allowed the DPW to prepare for acquisitions; and here Mr Chiapasco reminded Members that acquisition of property was a lengthy process. The DHA was working on, but had not submitted, its UAMP, to enable DPW to fulfil its custodial obligations and deliver the range of required accommodation services on time, qualitatively and within budget. He noted that it was not only the DHA at fault, as this was a challenge identified with several departments. Specific skills were required to fill out the complex templates and forms. During a meeting on the previous day, DPW resolve to intervene and ensure all departments had a robust UAMP by the end of the fourth quarter. Because of this failure to submit, many of the accommodation requirements were provided in a reactive manner, and this impacted on delivery timeframes. The full benefits of GIAMA were not yet being realised.
DPW was cognizant of the fact that user departments were required to render important services in rural areas, and here there were major challenges around the land availability, electricity, sewage and water access, all of which must be in place before DPW could build. As part of the UAMP, all user departments operating in rural areas must provide an asset footprint, stating where their presence was required, and this would enable DPW to acquire suitable sites or buildings timeously, and to consult with Tribal Authorities, where necessary. Forward planning would also allow DPW to complete its acquisition and due diligence processes thoroughly.
The accommodation requirements in support of service delivery imperatives had to be reflected on the UAMPs, and these essentially then became a “bidding process” document with National Treasury. Once approved, the DPW executed the approved, funded accommodation programmes, and billed the user departments for the services it had rendered. In the case of DHA, the DPW’s ability to render service would depend on whether the UAMP had been completed that was responsive to its service delivery imperatives, and whether DHA had obtained the necessary funding.
Mr Chiapasco reported that in 2006, DPW devolved its budgets for maintenance, property rates, municipal charges and leases to all user departments, based on the number of properties they occupied at the time. However, in respect of any new or additional requirements, user departments had to approach National Treasury for approval of funding. The intention of this was to promote visibility and accountability for the user departments on where the money was being spent. The amount originally devolved in 2006 was claimed back in four equal quarterly instalments, via the Accommodation Charges mechanism, and was intended to cover the operational costs incurred by DPW. A growth factor of 15% was added every year, in line with the original framework document (Framework on the Devolution of Budgets – version 17; December 2005). Although amounts increased by 15%, they were in fact not broadened to include any additional requirements.
In the current financial year, DHA had been granted R110 million for the relocation of Refugee Reception Offices (RROs) at border posts, and for the construction of refugee reception centres in close proximity to selected land Ports of Entry. This amount was ring-fenced in the budget of DPW. DPW was in consultation with DHA to identify, prioritise and programme the required projects.
Mr Chiapasco then turned to the DPW’s responsibility and action on border fences. DPW was mandated to construct and maintain border fencing, with inputs aligned to MTEF cycles, arising out of recommendations from the Departments of Defence, Environmental Affairs and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. DPW would plan, budget and develop appropriate specifications for maintenance and construction of border fencing and roads, together with other participating departments. Where those other departments indicated their capacity and capability to undertake construction and maintenance of border fencing and roads, they would be granted permission to do the work, with the requirements being quantified and costed by DPW Professional Services. The Departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and Environmental Affairs had already been given permission to be implementing agents.
Ms A Dreyer (DA) expressed concern that the presentation was very idealistic and unfortunately, once it was also compared with the situation on the ground, it was also unrealistic. She asked how DPW intended to do what it had outlined when it was incapable of maintaining the current structures. She cited ruined, derelict buildings in Johannesburg that were being leased by DPW, and suggested that it must rectify the current problems before looking to the future.
Mr McIntosh was encouraged by talk of GIAMA and the UAMP, as rules and laws enabled action to be taken. He asked if there was an official in DHA whose bore responsibility for preparation of the UAMP, and whether the DHA was involved in the UAMP bidding process once this was submitted to National Treasury.
Ms Ngwenya-Mabila noted that the issue of accommodation was a challenge for all departments and wondered whether the challenges with the UAMP process accounted for the delays in getting offices on time. She asked whether DPW ever noted the needs in a department, but simply ignored the fact that a UAMP may not have been submitted. Many departments ended up losing their accommodation due to the delays in the DPW, or ended up with sub-standard premises and spaces, or tried to fulfil many roles in only a tiny space. She was concerned that the DPW was deliberately causing delays, particularly in the rural areas. She also asked about turnaround times, norms and standards, and asked how long it took for DPW to approve a request.
Mr Gaehler asked if DHA was happy with the scope of the work, in light of the R110 million allocation for home affairs and Lebombo work. He commented that border fences were in many places non-existent, and asked what DPW was doing to address issues such as foot and mouth disease in a proactive way. The maintenance of existing office accommodation, for instance in Mthatha, was very poor and he wondered how often DPW conducted inspections.
Mr D Stibbe (DA) observed that there were over fifty departments working with DPW, and it was failing most of them. He asked how DPW planned to deal with the fact that it was insufficiently responsive to the needs of individual user departments.
Ms N Ngcengwane (ANC) asked when the DPW was intending to fill its vacant posts, which were causing delays. She asked if the DPW could give its budget for the maintenance of buildings. She noted that some time ago it was mooted that the National Youth Service would be providing maintenance, but the discussions seemed to be running in circles.
Ms Maunye asked why the DPW was not servicing the DHA properly. The DHA seemed to be reliable clients who paid on time.
Mr Chiapasco offered to look into the buildings in Johannesburg that Ms Dreyer had mentioned and explained that most derelict or vacant buildings in central Johannesburg had been earmarked for refurbishment and rebuilding, as a priority.
He reiterated that UAMPs were a challenge for all departments. They needed to be addressed by the new user departments and the DPW would deal with the applications, and assist them. He conceded that work was needed by both DPW and user departments to use the UAMP effectively. DPW would prioritise those applications submitted via a UAMP, but other applications were received in an ad hoc fashion. He noted that although DPW had prioritised the needs of DHA, and had even met with DHA despite the lack of a UAMP, it was reacting to, rather than identifying the need. There were certain procurement processes. For instance, for a new lease, the DPW must advertise the needs in a newspaper and identify a suitable landlord.
Mr Chiapasco explained that the role of DPW in regard to the border fences was reaffirmed in 2012 as, prior to that, the fences were overseen by the Department of Defence. Via the BCOCC forums, DPW would be informed where the problems and blockages were, and these would inform the building programme. DPW had prioritised the Kruger Park borderlines between South Africa and Mozambique and Northern Lesotho boundary, due to poaching problems.
Mr Chiapasco claimed that DPW was open and transparent, and under the leadership of the new Minister and Acting Director General the turnaround and stabilisation project would be effective. It was not failing its client departments. The DPW recognised the need to intervene with a Lease Turnaround, given the public exposure about leases in the previous year. One initiative under the Stabilisation Project was the withdrawal of delegations from Regional DPW offices, back to Head Office, so that DPW had greater oversight over procurements, and was able to check that everything was above board. However, one unintended consequence was that the process of finalising leases took longer. National Treasury and DPW were discussing putting interventions in place at the level of executive authorities and accounting authorities. DPW has commissioned an investigation into the problems with current leases, and was currently examining every single lease.
Another of the Stabilisation Projects was the Problem Capacity and Skills Programme. DPW did have challenges with accounts, in front and back offices, when junior leasing officials had taken on very powerful leases and landlords. The turnaround measures here included a rapid review, and inter-management committee meetings with Ministers, Departments and National Treasury. The transformation would also include the six key account managers being increased to 51 account managers, to offer clients a better and personal service.
Mr Chiapasco summarised that the DPW’s priorities were to fill vacant posts in the department, and noted that advertisements would soon be placed. DPW was hoping to get joint teams of expertise, sourced from within, appointed to client departments, to ensure that UAMPS were developed properly, to check tenders, and to avoid lengthy variations after signature. It was also re-establishing the DPW Workshops, in order to maintain the buildings. DPW had a Works Inspectorate that inspected buildings, but its staffing capacity was insufficient to inspect all buildings. He also added that the DPW had a variety of different budgets for maintenance but the budget for planned maintenance was not adequate, and in fact showed severe shortages.
Mr Mkuseni Apleni answered the questions directed to the DHA. By January 2012, DHA had cleared all debt owing to the DPW, but had then received a letter saying it owed R60 million, due to the devolution of funds.
He explained that the R110 million allocation was additional to the 2012/13 budget to deal with the challenges at the borders. He also said that it was not allocated only for the RROs. In the first year, R110 million was granted to DPW, and this was broken down for Lebombo, Maseru, Beitbridge and Kopfontein. The expenditure was R94.5 million in total. The remaining budget was distributed for spending between the Ports of Entry at Cape Town, Durban, Saldanha Bay, Richards Bay, Mossel Bay, East London and Port Elizabeth. This breakdown of this budget was submitted to the DPW.
Mr Apleni said that despite the information being provided, there had been many problems, including the fat that DHA was not able to occupy buildings on the date it requested. He maintained that the problem was not the lack of budget, but the challenges that DPW had in implementing the proposals. He said that whilst it could be true that 80% of departments did not submit an UAMP, the major problem in getting money in fact was not linked to the UAMP. Instead, there were problems around change of lease delegations. The Government could not wait for submission of an UAMP before setting to work. A chief Director of Facilities had now been appointed at DHA to oversee the writing of UAMP.
Ms Maunye asked how often the departments visited and inspected the borderline.
Mr Chiapasco responded that he had never visited the border line, but DPW received regular feedback from the evaluation committee about the borderlines, although departmental officials were unable to attend for themselves.
Ms Maunye recommended that DPW officials must visit and see the lack of border fences and poor conditions for themselves.
Ms Ngwenya-Mabila noted that other departments were refusing to pay DPW, as there was no contract, and therefore the amount to be paid was not clear. She asked how DPW could claim from them when no paperwork was in place. She stressed that the DPW must get its documentation in order, particularly to cover itself if a department did fall into arrears. She reminded the DPW that it was accountable to the Committee on Public Works. She asked why a template was not provided for the UAMP and questioned why technical skills were necessary and why departments should need to hire consultants to fill them out. DPW should not use such complicated documents if it was not willing to provide the necessary expertise first. She also asked what departments had been using, prior to UAMP, to access their accommodation.
Ms Ngwenya-Mabila noted that the DPW had a maintenance budget. There should be no problem in financing maintenance. However, in reality, other departments were establishing their own maintenance units, to allow for immediate fixes, since it took six months to get any maintenance done by DPW.
Ms Ngwenya-Mabila wanted to know exactly when DPW would advertise for vacant posts, how many there would be, if DPW had budgeted for those posts, and, if so, why this had not been attended to sooner. She reminded the DPW that it would be regarded as fiscal dumping if it only attended to this at the end of the financial year.
Mr Gaehler reminded the committee that Gate 6 was a “total mess”, with meat crossing the border illegally, and urged the DPW officials to go and visit those border posts.
Mr Gaehler reminded the Committee that UAMP was in fact not a new issue. This project was meant to start in April 2008.
Mr Gaehler asked for a copy of the break-down of R110 million allocated for the border posts, and also stressed the need to meet with other departments, as he felt that this Committee was not being told the truth about what was happening.
Mr Mnqasela stated that a lack of a UAMP could not be used as an excuse for DPW not to serve its client departments, as this led to the people being denied services. He reminded the Committee that the intention behind the One-stop border was to ensure positive interaction and relationships between countries. He requested a thorough presentation, not only stating what the challenges of the DPW were, but what it intended to do to overcome them.
Mr Mnqasela wanted to know how far the investigation into the failures of the contractors at Skilpadhek had gone.
Mr Chiapasco responded that the billing system was as new for DPW as it was for the client departments and that the accommodation charge process had taken a few years to put in place. The trading entity of DPW was in the process of acquiring an accounting and billing system that would enable the Department to put the information into billing format. Bids had been adjudicated, and were in the process of being awarded.
The DPW was currently ironing out disputed issues with DHA and was dealing with the backlog on those issues.
Mr Chiapasco added that the UAMP system had been requested after the passing of GIAMA in 2007. Extensive training was required by the DPW key accounts managers who were working with all the client departments, to help them understand what was required of them, and the envisaged benefits. He agreed that a new round of training sessions would be beneficial.
Mr Chiapasco acknowledged that there was a maintenance budget, but reiterated that it was not adequate for the 36 000 assets of the DPW. This was the main cause of the maintenance backlog. The client departments had now been delegated to undertake repairs of anything up to R100 000 per item, following their own procurement processes if the repair work was within that limit.
Mr Chiapasco noted the numerous comments about the problems on the border posts and agreed to prioritize these issues.
In regard to the budget of R110 million, he said that to the best of his knowledge it was requested as DHA had stated, but the needs in that request were defined through meetings between DHA and DPW. It was only recently that there was a full understanding of the issues, and these were now being attended to.
Ms Maunye outlined exactly what the DPW should bring to the next meeting. She insisted that this must include a clear progress report, proposals for the way forward, budgets, and timeframes. She said she was tired of excuses about how long the processes of government took. Instead, she wanted to see clear results. She requested that another joint meeting between these Committees could be held in early 2013.
Farewell to Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, outgoing Minister of Home Affairs
The Portfolio Committee for Home Affairs then met with outgoing Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, to commend her influence as Minister for Home Affairs, to thank her for her support, and input to the Committee, and to congratulate and wish her well on her new position as Chair of the African Union Commission.
Mr Mnqasela, on behalf of the DA, thanked the Minister for the opportunity to work with her. He said the Committee was proud to have had the opportunity to work with such a competent person, who led by example. She showed respect for, and nurtured, the human rights of all people in the country, as reflected in the care she had shown for refugees as well as citizens. Everyone looked up to her to represent the country and the continent. He believed her biggest successes were the “Look and Feel” project and the “Track and Trace”, He quipped that she was given the nickname of ‘Madam-do-it-right’, and the border control issues would be done right. He offered the Committee’s support to Dr Dlamini-Zuma, wherever she went, and wished her well.
Dr C Mulder (FF+) said that his father taught him to try to make a difference, and commented that Dr Dlamini-Zuma had made a huge difference to the DHA, and he had commented that wherever she went next, she would continue to do so.
Mr A Gaum (ANC) thanked the Minister for her contribution to the ANC study group, saying it was an honour and a privilege to have worked with her. She had always had a reputation as a hard-working woman, even prior to her appointment as Minister of Home Affairs, and the Committee really appreciated this when she managed to turn around the Department, due to her strong and decisive and style of leadership. In addition to those skills, she was compassionate and cherished by this Committee. Although she and the Committee might be sad that she was leaving South Africa, the nation was proud of her and her time in South African politics had been preparation for what she was made to do. He said there was now consensus that Africa and South Africa’s economic hour has come and concluded that “ Come of the hour, come of the woman, come of you, Minister, we will never forget you - Bon Voyage”.
Ms Maunye told the group that when her daughter wanted to study medicine, Dr Dlamini-Zuma had offered her help and assistance, which had humbled Ms Maunye. She was proud to say that today her daughter was a doctor.
Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma thanked the Committee and said she had worked well with all, including the opposition. Although individuals may have differed on how to achieve things, they all agreed on what needed to be done – such as documentation and permits for citizens and foreigners. She was appreciative of the fact that during debates, nothing destructive, but only constructive suggestions and ideas were given, as everyone had understood that no one had the monopoly of wisdom, and everyone wanted to assist the same people. Wherever any complaint emanated, it came from a South African, and therefore justified being acted upon. She had never felt that she and the Committee sat on opposing sides, reiterated that everyone wanted the best and was encouraging of government’s successes as well as questioning where it had failed.
Dr Dlamini Zuma said that when she had first taken up her portfolio, she was told that she must work well with the study group and Committee, and she had always respected them. She hoped that the Committee would treat the new Minister in as constructive a way. Challenges were easier to overcome when it was known that the public representative were the ears and eyes of the nation. She said that she had been grateful for disagreements, as this had made her question her own ideas, and helped her to learn a great deal. She had learnt a lot in Parliament, and interactions had been positive. She asked that the Committee continue its support of the new Minister and the Ministry team. She thanked the Committee for the comments on the changes, but stressed that these were effected through a collective effort. She asked the committee to continue its focus on the immigration side of matters, which still required work, as well as to maintain the good work on the civil side. She wished the Committee well and good luck.
The meeting was adjourned.
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