Department of Public Works Cape Town Regional Office operations, programmes and challenges: Departmental briefing

NCOP Public Services

19 November 2012
Chairperson: Mr M Sibande (Mpumalanga, ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Public Works: Cape Town Regional Office presented on organisational structure of the Cape Town regional office and showed there were 148 vacancies and the vacancy rate was 14.26%. There was a need for more young professionals. The Department spoke to the internal audit findings  and the action plans to address these findings. The budget vs expenditure was covered in terms of Compensation of Employees, Goods and Services, Leasing, Unplanned Maintenance, Planned Maintenance, Capital Works, Cleaning & Gardening Services and Municipal Rates. The total amounted to R 1 328 376 300 in terms of budget and R862 948 278 in terms of expenditure making the spend in percentage terms at 31 Oct 2012 65%. A brief overview on the rates owed to the Western Cape municipalities showed R46 million pre-devolution debt due by the national Department of Public Works (Cape Town). Only R17 034 695.80 of 616 invoices had been presented to Property Management Regional Support. Challenges included schools built on municipal land, rates payments allocated to old services, rates payments allocated to old services, private owners (Sanparks; Nature Conservation; National Housing Board), compound interest and legal fees, services debt still not transferred to Province, and capacity. The way forward was to continue with one-on-one engagements with municipalities, for the City of Cape Town debt to be revised, for a proposal on payment of interest, and for an investigation of ownership confirmation to be fast tracked.

The active project beneficiary list was outlined. The Built Environment Services were responsible for all projects inclusive of Prestige, Islands: Robben, Marion, Gough, ‘and Antarctica', recoverable projects for Defence and Parliament, and for health and safety. The challenges included integrating the computer system, filling of critical posts, a position of previously identified senior project managers as supervisors, no or limited support from head office and limitations on the goods and services budget.

Property management was outlined with the Department providing services at Robben Island, Marion and Gough Islands as well as the South African National Antarctic Expedition research base in Antarctica (SANAE Base).

Property Management effectiveness and efficiency had been curtailed for various reasons. An information break down of the immovable asset register (IAR) was given as well as the numbers of workshop staff within various areas. The presentation outlined the numbers within artisan programmes in terms of how many had attended and qualified. The Finance and Supply Chain Management sub-directorates and legal services were also covered. Lastly the Department spoke to human resource management.

Members asked about vacancies and the communication with head office in terms of filling vacancies, funded and unfunded posts, the maintenance plan within the regional Department, the identification of property, for more information on the islands, the maintenance and equipping of parliamentary villages, the staff complement in terms of gender, the lack of support from head office (national Department), artisan training for women, projects in the townships, the transfer of skills, the asset register, satellite offices, unknown properties and the vandalisation of these properties, the filling of critical posts, acting positions, the issue of the Cape Town municipality and the renovation of buildings. As not all questions were answered and time had run out the Committee asked for responses in writing.

There was also the complaint that the regional Department’s building was falling apart and this was the case with many Government buildings.

Meeting report

The Chairperson said it was good that the challenges were being stated as initially rosy pictures were given; however, when the issues went to the Auditor-General it revealed something else. The Committee was here to help. Setting out challenges would also aid in the budget vote by empowering the chairperson.

Mr Frederick Johnson, DPW Regional Manager: Cape Town Regional Office, presented on organisational structure of the Cape Town regional office. He said there were, 890 employees, 17 were disabled, 12 were contract workers, four were Young Professionals, one was a Management Trainee, 13 were Interns. There were 148 vacancies. He said the vacancy rate was 14.26%. There had been a strategy to fill posts, advertising, short listing and interviewing in respect of all funded posts. He said there was a need for more young professionals.

Ms Nomalanga Kani, DPW Senior Manager: Finance and Supply Chain Management, Cape Town Regional Office, presented on the internal audit findings and the action plan to resolve them. She presented on the findings and the action plans for various ailments including missing employee files, payments not made in 30 days, a lack of credit check done on rental debtors and deficiencies identified in incomplete tax invoices and inventory count process. She also spoke to the findings and action plans in terms of excessive travel costs incurred, fruitless expenditure in terms of leases not being recorded and expenditure not accrued for. Incorrect amount paid to the supplier in terms of leases, misclassification of expenditure in terms of unplanned maintenance and site inspections not being performed.

Mr Johnson presented on the budget vs expenditure in terms of Compensation of Employees, Goods and Services, Leasing, Unplanned Maintenance, Planned Maintenance, Capital Works, Cleaning & Gardening Services and Municipal Rates. The total amounted to R 1,328,376,300 in terms of budget and 862,948,278 in terms of expenditure making the % Expend at 31 Oct 2012 65%.

A brief overview on the rates owed to the Western Cape municipalities reported R46m pre-devolution debt due by NDPW (Cape Town). Only R17 034 695.80 of 616 invoices had been presented to Property Management Regional Support (PMRS) (Portfolio of Evidence available). PMRS had forwarded the claim to Cape Town region on 20 June 2012 to verify, reconcile and pay. He said only money that could be proven to be owed would be given. 

Challenges were outlined as schools built on municipal land, rates payments were allocated to old services, private owners (Sanparks; Nature Conservation; National Housing Board), compound Interest and Legal fees, services debt still not transferred to Province and capacity. The way forward was to continue with one-on-one engagements with municipalities, City of Cape Town debt to be revised, a proposal on payment of interest and an investigation of ownership confirmation to be fast tracked.

He ran through the active project beneficiary list. There had been challenges with Arts and Culture and some had related to Robben Island as well as delays at Iziko Museums. Defence was merely a project that started late. Justice also had some delays that were due to its requirements. This was also the case with some of the other projects. There was under spending in terms of the planned maintenance in terms of Public Works.

He stated that the Built Environment Services were responsible for all projects inclusive of Prestige, Islands: Robben, Marion, Gough and Antarctic islands, recoverable projects for Defence and Parliament, and for Health and Safety.

The challenges included:

●Integrated computer system
●Filling of critical posts
●Position of previously identified Senior Project Managers as supervisors
●No or limited support from Head Office
●Limitations on Goods and Services budget

He outlined property management stating that that the Department was providing services at Robben Island, Marion and Gough Islands as well as the South African National Antarctic Expedition research base in Antarctica (SANAE Base), administering 550 leases in 12 Proclaimed Fishing Harbours, servicing three Parliamentary Villages, Ministerial Estates and Parliamentary Precinct. The Department also had workshops executing small Planned Maintenance projects.

Property Management effectiveness and efficiency had been curtailed because of:

●Current policies and procedures relating to leases did not speak to the actual needs for management of leases.
●Lack of Human Resources in several sections.
●Current staff structure of Workshops impacted negatively on Minister’s undertaking to resurrect Workshops.

He gave an information break down of immovable asset register (IAR) and said that the number of national land parcels in the Western Cape was 4650, number of item 28 (I) certificates on the records was 1 240, number of properties vested 2 413, number of properties vested regional offices records was 3 323, the number of properties still to be vested was 910, and the number of title deeds to be endorsed prior to project end date was 4 000. The number of duplicates removed from IAR was 90% complete.

The current staff component on IAR was six comprising of one Senior Admin Officer; one Admin Officer and four contract workers. The staff required to meet the deadline was 18, one Assistant Director;  two Senior Admin Officers; three Admin Officers; 12 Admin Assistance

In terms of workshop staff within Cape Town there were 109; at Langebaan Weg there were 22, on Robben Island there were10, at Oudtshoorn there were 11,  and at Wynberg there were 14. The total number of officials in the workshop was 166 and the number of vacant positions was 38. The 38 vacant positions were at various levels.

In terms of artisan training the numbers were:

●Plumbing course and trades test: five attended and four qualified.
●Bricklayer course and trades test: four attended and three qualified.
●Carpenter course and trades test: six attended and four qualified.
●Electrical course and trades test: nine attended and four qualified.
●Painting course: seven attended and they were still waiting to write trades test.  

He presented on the Finance and Supply Chain Management dub directorates in terms of Financial Accounting and Budgeting, Provisioning and Auxiliary Services, Movable Assets and  Information Technology

He said finance’s effectiveness and efficiency were curtailed because of:

●Need to Reconfigure of Finance and SCM structure and filling of vacant posts
●Review of delegations, processes and standardization of reporting framework
●Thorough review of current financial systems, e.g. debtors system
●Communication challenges between RO and HO affecting turnaround time

In terms of legal services the volume of work was large due to the Proclaimed Fishing Harbours and Parliament.

Legal Service’s effectiveness and efficiency were curtailed because of a challenge with turnaround time from State Attorney’s office, in terms of evictions and debt recovery, access to legal documentation and inadequate system to maintain contracts.

In terms of human resource management the organisational structure and size of the establishment was not meeting delivery requirements and service Prestige clients including Parliamentarians, Robben Island and other islands such as Marion Island, Gough Island, and Antarctic islands were suffering at times.

Human Resource Management’s effectiveness and efficiency were curtailed because of capacity / Structure; most work was done by lower ranking officials and inadequate HR systems and Business Processes

Discussion
Vacancies
Ms L Mabija (Limpopo, ANC) asked about the vacancies that had not been filled. She asked because the President had, since 2009, encouraged all departments to create jobs. She saw there were 148 vacancies which was not good when there was unemployment. She requested the Department to state how many vacancies it had filled up since 2009.

Ms Nosizwe Mtsulwana, DPW Head of Human Resources, Western Cape, replied that in terms of the positions filled since 2009 said that these stats could be attained. The actual number of positions that had been filed could be located.

Ms M Themba (Mphumalanga, ANC) asked how far had the Department gone on the strategy to fill posts?

The Chairperson said that there was a need to clarify if it was a paid or unpaid vacancy. There had also been talk of a lack of human resources which meant a lot. There was a need for clarification as this meant the Department was ‘dead’ and there was ‘nothing’.

Ms Mtsulwana replied that the director of recruitment had submitted the recruitment needs to ‘the authorities’. She did not know who these authorities were. There were no vacant funded positions. She said there were documents to show that there had been follow up from the regional office in terms of filling the vacancies. Regional office did not fill vacancies, Head Office did.

Mr Johnson replied that there had been a submission to Head Office for the filling of posts to aid with the capacity issue. They were guided by Head Office in terms of posts.

Auditor-General Report
Mr M Jacobs (Free State, ANC) asked if the issues within the Auditor-General's report really were as minor as had been presented, as they were on the level of management?

Maintenance Plan
Mr Jacobs asked if there was maintenance plan within the Department to service the departments?

Mr Johnson replied that the
Government Immovable Asset Management Act gave the Department direction in terms of forming a maintenance plan through various processes it outlined.  There was a maintenance plan but the implementation was not immediately visible.

Mr Jacobs said it was always claimed by Government entities that it was the responsibility of the Department of Public Works to maintain buildings however most buildings belonging to departments were not in good condition. That was why he had asked about the maintenance plan. The Department were said to not be responding.

Regional or national budget
Mr Jacobs asked if the budget that had been presented was a regional or national one and were the issues regional or national?

Identification of property
Mr Jacobs asked how had the regional office helped the national Department identify the land that had been identified as belonging to Public Works?

Islands
Mr Jacobs said he had never heard of the islands mentioned; he asked where they were and suggested the Committee visit them.

Mr Johnson replied that Marion Island was 1 800 km away and Gough was 1 200km west. They were mainly weather station islands.

The Chairperson asked how big the islands were and how many people lived there?  Did  these islands need to be monitored?

Projects
Mr Jacobs asked if some of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) projects were in house or outsourced?

Mr Johnson said that the projects done by EPWP were mostly outsourced.

Villages
Mr Jacobs asked who maintained the villages?

Consolidated information
Ms Themba said it was best to have consolidated the information and have gone through it with the regional department team beforehand. This information should have come beforehand.

Staff Complement in terms of gender
Ms Themba asked about the staff complement and asked for a break down in terms of gender. She asked for an organogram.

Ms Mtsulwana replied that she did not have the gender breakdown but it would be in the organogram.

Mr Johnson said he the organogram had been provided within the information pack given to the Committee and the split between the male and females would be provided.

The Chairperson urged the Department to address the issue of gender equality.

Lack of support from Head Office
Ms Themba asked whether there was something written that confirmed that the Regional Department had communicated with Head Office  and there had been no support given as was claimed in the presentation? This would allow the Committee to assist when interacting with Head Office.

Ms Ellne van der Hoeven, DPW Director: Projects, Cape Town Regional Office, replied that the lack of support from Head Office was due to the fact there were no clear policies on projects. When there were problems the regions had looked to Head Office on how to implement projects. There had been a look to Head Office on how to uniformly implement projects but there had been a lack of leadership in this regard.

Parliamentary Village
Ms Themba said that parliamentary villages were not equally serviced. She asked how the three parliamentary villages were monitored. She said that officials and Members of Parliament should not be able to choose where they got immovable assets from. She asked why Members' homes in Pelican Park where she lived did not have nice furniture. She said the sofas ‘felt like plastic’. Who chose this furniture? Could the Department buy from the Sheltered Employment? She asked if there was a possibility of visiting the flats in which Directors-General stayed.

Mr Johnson replied that the selection of the furniture had been based on three show houses prepared and the Minister and the residence committee of the time had assisted in picking the furniture from these options. This was the role the Parliamentary Villages Board would play along with the residence committees. There had been complaints in regards to the sofas and the Department was in the process of changing the sofas. The parliamentary board and the Department would come together to select sofas for the houses. He said that in the past there had been quite a bit bought from Sheltered Employment but they had focused historically on office furniture. The Department had not enquired  if Sheltered Employment manufactured other furniture.

Mr H Groenewald (North West, DA) said there was still a great deal of renovation happening within the parliamentary villages. How many of these people were working for the Department?

Mr Johnson replied that there was a facilities management contract in place in which a company had been made responsible for providing maintenance services to the parliamentary villages. The goal had been to provide an equal service to all the villages. There was a parliamentary villages board which had been inactive for quite some time which would have been helpful in this regard.  This also covered the prestiges. There had been a parliamentary villages board which ensured that the regional Department provided a service. Once the board was actively involved then public works would be informed early if there was not equal services rendered to everyone. The monitoring of the work being done was done by a project manager who did random checks on the activities of the service provider. Currently there was not a dedicated team that did the monitoring.

Ms Themba said that it was like the Department did not exist. There were issues of health within the parliamentary villages, especially Pelican Park where she lived. There were things flying around and she said that some went in her nose and the like.

Artisan training
Ms Themba asked if the Department could break down artisan training by gender?

Ms Mtsulwana replied that there was only one female among the artisans. The workshops had all been male. The number was soon to increase to three.

The Chairperson asked how many were males.

Ms Mtsulwana replied that she did not know.

The Chairperson said there was to be no compromise in this regard. There needed to be an inclusion of females.

Projects in townships
Ms Themba asked if there were projects in Khayelitsha and Nyanga?

Mr Johnson said there were currently no Expanded Public Works projects in Khayelitsha or Nyanga. This was due to the fact that the regional department ‘went into projects for the national department’.

A member of the regional delegation stated that there had been some cleaning projects.

The Chairperson said that an honest answer would have had been to say there was nothing. Now that there were ‘projects’ where were the numbers? The Committee demanded details within 14 days. This needed to be noted.

Mr Jacobs asked if these were Expanded Public Works Programme projects as these sorts of projects were meant to pass on skills? What skills were being given with cleaning?

Mr Johnson replied there would be more information provided by the Expanded Public Works Programme projects.

Silence ensues as delegates drink water
Mr Johnson replied that within the pack there were outlines of Expanded Public Works projects within the region.

Transfer of skills
Mr Groenewald asked if there was a transfer of skills to the youth? Had there been a programme in which retirees transferred their skills?

Mr Johnson replied that there were no initiatives where retired people were used to transfer skills. In the Department as a whole there was an initiative being looked into

Asset Register
Mr Groenewald said that  in many of the provinces the asset register was not up to date. How far had this been done in the Western Cape? Was the register completed?

Mr Johnson replied that as regional office it would be hard to meet the 2014 asset register goal without assistance but the national Department had said that it would provide a service provider to help. It would see if the help given would allow for the regional office to meet the deadline.

Mr Groenewald said that he did not think that the problem with asset register was in Cape Town but in the main office. There was no way that the Department could not say how many assets they had. This was a waste of tax payers' money.

Satellite offices
Mr Groenewald asked how many satellite offices were in the Western Cape. This was a big province.

The Chairperson said that in terms of satellite offices the Department needed to maintain the correct standard so that work was done properly.

Mr Johnson replied that there were no satellite offices, only workshop facilities. The staff needed to travel whenever there was a requirement.

Unknown properties
Mr Groenewald said the state did not know how many buildings and flats it had. Had people occupied some of the unknown ones with no rent being given? Was there a similar situation within the Western Cape?

Mr Johnson replied that the Department could provide a list of the vested properties. This could be done from the asset register. He said that the Government had assigned assistance to identify the properties that belonged to Public Works so that it could register them. The Department worked with provinces and municipalities to assist them.

Mr Malizole Ngoyi, DPW Senior Internal Auditor: Cape Town Regional Office, replied said that the issue of whether the Department knew about its property was a difficult one. The Government had been trying for years to know what property was its. There was no one going to check repeatedly on the Government properties. To have this meant that no work would be done in the office.  This was a luxury that could not be afforded.

Mr Johnson replied that site visits were not done due to a lack of capacity.

The Chairperson said that it was not legitimate to say that sending staff out to inspect government buildings was a waste of time because there was a lack of staff. He said that the Committee needed to be given the copies of all the staff requests given to national office.

Mr Johnson replied there were a lot of state houses occupied by the South African Police Service (SAPS). When they vacated they did not tell anyone. This had happened often and left houses vulnerable to vandalism.

Ms Themba asked for the list which showed buildings that were vandalised. The list had been requested long ago.

Supply chain management
Mr Groenewald asked why there was a shortage of staff in the supply chain management? What was being done to resolve this?

Critical Posts
Mr Groenewald asked how the Department was managing without people in the critical posts.

Mr Johnson replied the regional office had identified critical posts and had indicated them to Head Office. The regional office was waiting on a response. As a regional office it did not advertise the posts but prioritised them to Head Office.  He said the critical posts would be filled.

Ms Themba said that there was a need to remind the regional office of the posts.

Mr Johnson said that Human Resources followed up with emails and he raised it at meetings of the regional offices.

Abbreviations and acronyms
The Chairperson said that it was not best to present with unexplained abbreviations and acronyms as only the Department understood them.

Mr Johnson apologised.

Forest villages

The Chairperson said it was not professional to present on areas without giving names - an example being ‘the forestries’. What were the names? There was also the issue of forced evictions within forestries as no one knew who owned them. People had used this confusion to evict people.

Mr Johnson replied he would give the names for the forest villages.  He said that in terms of forced evictions the Department was aware about all the forest villages, thus if there was an eviction then the Department intervened.

Acting positions
The Chairperson said there was a problem with having so many people with acting positions and when they were called to account they resigned. This was a problem.

Cape Town Municipality
The Chairperson said there was a need for clarity on the issue of how much money was owed to the Cape Town municipality. The media had painted a negative image and the Department kept quiet and did not defend itself. There was a huge difference between R46 million and R14 million. Why did the Department remains quiet?

Parks
The Chairperson asked who was responsible for the parks as they were not being monitored. Some of them were being vandalised. He said that it had never been done as there had not been a tender.

Mr Johnson replied that the Residence Committee would aid with the issue of discipline within the parks and manage the parks more effectively.

Renovation on buildings
The Chairperson asked how long did it take for the Department to recommend renovation in a certain building or did it have to be told to do the renovations? When he walked around the building which housed the regional office there was a great deal that needed fixing.  He asked how the country was meant to value Public Works when people within it were doing the opposite of what they were meant to.

Delay of documents
The Chairperson said that the delay of documents must never happen again. The documents needed to come to the Members in advance as this was how they knew what questions to ask. He said that the national Department should be told. This would not be tolerated.

Management letter
Ms Kani said there was a regional management letter. There were major issues raised from the regional office such as payments not being made within 30 days. There was an effort to address these. Another major issue was irregular expenditure. There was challenge with the ‘listening environment’ as everything was done in Head Office which meant that processes were not clear. The regional office had little idea how to assist. There was a task team to go back to past transactions to check if there was irregular expenditure in those cases.

Prestige
The Chairperson asked how many prestige places there were around this area?

Mr Johnson replied that Prestige was one area in which the Department knew exactly how many buildings there were. The former president,  Mr F W de Klerk, was the only former president the Department dealt with as it had done security work on his estate.

Monitoring tool
Ms Mabija said she was surprised that the Department did not have a monitoring tool. She did not understand this and did not accept the notion that the Department was short staffed. Could this be explained further?

Database
The Chairperson said that the issue of a database was a sensitive one. The Department was failing people and the nation saw it as the failing of one party within Parliament.

Responses in writing
The Chairperson requested that the responses for unanswered questions be given in writing.  He said that the Committee would not accept apologies that were not written as people needed to come and account.

The meeting was adjourned.

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