This meeting was the fourth in a series regarding the National Development Plan, commissioned to be a plan for where South Africa would like to be in 2030, and the steps that needed to be taken to get there. The Minister and two Commissioners from the National Planning Commission gave a presentation on the subject of Peace and Security which included addressing topics like building safer communities, building a capable state, promoting accountability and fighting corruption. The key proposals included the following:●Continuous assessment for policemen and a restructuring of the police force
●Greater coordination within the Criminal Justice System
●Clear and objective criteria on behalf of the Judicial Service Commission for the appointment of judges
●Increase in resources for anti-corruption agencies, and create effective governance and active citizenry.
During the discussion, Members of Parliament asked about cyber crime, gender-based crime, the reform of correctional facilities, expanding the capabilities of departments, community service requirements for law graduates and open data access. As a whole, the National Development Commission and the cluster were on the same page, agreeing that South Africa needed to work towards streamlining and coordinating different parts of the criminal justice system, limit corruption, and engage its citizens more about the political process.
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister, his delegation and Members of Parliament to the meeting. She explained that the President had commissioned the National Development Plan. The Plan aimed to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. According to the plan, South Africa could realise these goals by drawing on the energies of its people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society. She said members would have an opportunity to ask questions and give comments after the presentation. The presentation would focus on peace and security issues.
Presentation by the National Development Commission
Mr Trevor Manuel, Minister: National Planning Commission, thanked the Chairperson and the members for the opportunity to present. He introduced Professor Phillip Harris and Dr Vuyo Mahlati (both Commissioners), who would give the presentation.
Mr Manuel reminded Members that this was the fourth cluster meeting in that week- meetings had already been conducted with the governance, economics, and social clusters. The Commission was inaugurated in May 2010, and released a diagnostic report. This was a consultative process, not just with Parliament, but with political parties, communities of faith, trade unions, and other organisations as the Commission believed the Plan needed to be owned by all South Africans.
The Minister asked Members to look at the chapters of the Plan, and noted that safer communities, rural development, social protection, and the positioning of South Africa in the world were not addressed in the original nine challenges the Commission released, but after consultations, the Commission realized that additional work needed to be done and added them to the original document.
One of the challenges the Commission faced was constructing the South Africa that is listed and explained in the Constitution, especially in the Preamble, which was used as a starting point for the basis of their work. Those values were extremely important, and the Commission tried to bring the Plan in line with those values but also build trust and a sense of community.
Professor Harrison thanked the Minister and the Members of Parliament for being at the meeting. He noted that Chapter 12 of the Plan acknowledged that safety was a core human right, and was necessary for human development. The chapter also noted that crime statistics were unacceptably high and discussed how safety and security were related to socio-economic development and equality, though it could not be looked at simplistically. In broad terms, the chapter addressed safety and security on three levels: integrated long-term, stable security as it impacted many levels of development in society, fixing the criminal justice system throughout, and activating citizenry in dealing with this project.
Many of the recommendations about building a capable state dealt with building institutions in the criminal justice system as well- one such example was professionalising the police service. Bringing attention to this would hopefully make joining the police force as a career of choice and attract new skills into the service.
Prof Harrison then listed the policy goals of increasing safety:
●ensuring all staff at all levels had the authority, experience, and support they needed to do their jobs
●establish a graduate recruitment and training programme
●making the police service professional
●a recommendation on the National Policing Board, which would be discussed later on in the presentation
A key proposal was that the 2007 Review of the Criminal Justice System be implemented in its entirety. This review had only been partially implemented. This 7-point plan was created in 2007 and was approved by Cabinet. There needed to be an immediate alignment in the justice and security cluster and a project manager would be appointed to implement this. This Project Manager would coordinate the plan’s activities and programmes, create dedicated budgets, and monitor reporting, and give an annual evaluation of implementation. Essentially, the Commission was recommending was what the South African Parliament said it would do five years ago.
Prof Harrison also presented several proposals that related to professionalising the police service. It was meant to develop the police service strategically, so it could be used when it was necessary. Specific recommendations include the establishment of a professional code of conduct, the establishment of a National Policing Board which would create standards of recruitment, selection, appointment, and promotion within the service, and developing a code of ethics based upon international norms and standards. The recruiting system would be two-tracked for both commissioned and non-commissioned officers. This would ensure that commissioned line officers would be selected based upon the standards set by the National Policing Board. Non-commissioned officers would be focused on professional development. Another recommendation was that senior officers and deputies be appointed on a competitive basis. A selection panel would be established, which would conduct interviews and also ensure candidates met the selection criteria that were established. Furthermore, it was recommended that the police service be demilitarised, as there had been concerns over the militarisation of the service. Finally, he said there was emphasis on active citizenry. A Community Safety volunteer programme had been created but this needed to be fully implemented in all nine provinces and funding should be made available to this project. There needed to be a holistic approach taken to address women, children, and vulnerable groups, and the police service would need to develop plans in relation to these groups, and to address the problems of drugs, alcohol, and violence.
Prof Harrison said this chapter of the National Development Plan (NDP) was about building and creating a long-term, sustainable approach to community safety that cut across all sectors, getting institutions right, and building an active citizenry.
Prof Harrison also noted the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) should set clear criteria for the appointment of judges. There were provisions for a judicial training unit to be launched to enhance skills in the sector, and expand access to justice for all. One proposal was that all law graduates complete a year of community service in poorer communities and that the JSC structure should be reviewed. The Plan however, did not explicitly deal with defence, and one of the questions the Commission had was whether or not one should be included and welcomed comments from the Members on the matter.
Again, he stressed the Plan did not deal with correctional services explicitly, but the Commission had received a number of inputs such as juvenile detentions should be managed more carefully in consideration to children’s rights. Other comments targeted the parole system and awaiting trial regime. On Home Affairs, he stated that the Commission’s work was complimentary to what had already been achieved, and collectively they needed to recognise the turn around that had taken place in the Department. At the same time, the Plan encouraged the Department to ensure this turn-around was applied to all its branches.
Mr Manuel wanted to make a point about Defence. The Defence Review Committee (DRC) was sitting at the same time and the Commission did not feel it was appropriate to zoom into an area that had such a wide panel, but noted there would be consultations with the DRC.
Dr Mahlati began to cover chapter 14 of the NDP which dealt with accountability and corruption.
The Commission’s vision for 2030 was for a South Africa that had zero tolerance for corruption with an active citizenry that held public and private officials accountable. What was notable was that the proposal included building an anti-corruption system with anti-corruption agencies that worked together collaboratively. The Plan addressed tackling corruption as it existed in public and private sectors. The Commission also believed that anti-corruption agencies needed legal and political steps to isolate these agencies from political interference. This would be possible with an increase in resources for anti-corruption agencies, not just enabling them, but to give them the resources needed to carry out their work. The Commission also called for dedicated prosecution teams and special courts, speeding up the judicial processes, and expanding the protection of whistle blowers.
The diagnostic reports highlighted the fact that there had been a high level of corruption with regards to procurement, so the Plan proposed giving the Tender Compliance Office more powers to investigate corruption. The Commission also believed it was important to centralising the rewarding of large tenders with long duration. It was also important to make it illegal for civil servants to operate or benefit directly from certain business activities. Proposals on this topic included restraint of trade and agreements for civil service members and politicians.
The next chapter dealt with the positioning of South Africa in the world. In this regard, Minister Manuel had already talked about global realignment in terms of who were to be the drivers of change. The Commission believed that it was important for South Africa to remain an important player in the international community, using their geo-political location to allow them to be a leader in the region. The Commission also stated the role of South Africa in BRICS (an acronym for emerging industrialised economies including Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) was to its advantage. Focusing on regional cooperation and economic integration should continue to be priorities for South Africa. The Commission also emphasised the need for coordination in terms of the country’s approach to formal and informal multi-lateral organizations, and also better coordination between global economic and political imperatives. This should be driven by a paradigm shift that the NDP put forward and three areas of central leadership in all areas of society: effective governance to ensure their vision was achieved via implementation, and active citizenry to ensure a democracy that hold everyone accountable. The goals of the Commission were possible if enough attention was given to these three main areas, saying that these conditions needed to be created and opportunities needed to be made accessible to all South Africans, and enhance capabilities so everyone could create a sustainable economy.
She said that outcomes were also important to the discussion. The Committee believed that with the paradigm shift there would be an improved social cohesion environment in South African society.
Dr Mahlati then brought up key issues the Commission believed that Parliament needed to address. These issues related to gaps as the NDP was being finalised. This referred to multiple proposals regarding gender aspects of safety, especially gender-based violence. The Commission recognised the public sector and civil society for their work, but pointed out that more needed to be done on policy, resource, and coordination levels. She stated that more training needed to be given to training police in specialist skills in areas like forensics. She also mentioned substance abuse issues, as those affected community safety as well as the economy. The Commission welcomed views and inputs from Members on these subjects. Despite having cooperation established in the criminal justice sector, it did not translate into effective operations, and the Commission asked Parliament for help in achieving these proposals.
Finally, she said that in order to meet national defence and security needs, policy changes would be necessary. Based on the information the Commission had, the subject needed to be discussed and debated as clarity would be needed to move forward. In order to go forward, the Commission would be seeking consultations until 11 May 2012, so the Commission welcomed inputs as it refined the plan which would then be submitted to Cabinet for approval. The successful implementation of the Plan would start with the support of South African society.
Mr Manuel said that was the end of the Commission’s presentation, and offered to clarify anything that the Members had questions on. He welcomed further discussions and submissions.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister and the Commissioners for their presentation.
Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) was concerned that there was little reference to the future of cybercrime. There was large-scale and high-tech looting by banking syndicates, pornography and other problems. This was something that could not be underplayed. Crime knew no boarders and this gave syndicates a large advantage over national crime-fighting institutions as no boarders existed for those institutions. She also agreed on the demilitarization of the police service. She also noted the role of the metro police and if that was referenced to in relation to municipal bylaws.
Mr J Jeffery (ANC) said he found the report interesting, but his concern was that these areas were extremely complex and hoped the Commission was not looking for quick fixes. For example, juvenile detentions must be managed with consideration to children’s rights, but asked if that was not covered already by the Child Justice Act. He asked if implementation was the greater problem at hand. He also advised the Commission not to deal too superficially with complex legislation like the Protected Disclosures Act. He agreed that the scope of this legislation was too narrow, but the whole issue was to protect people in employment situations, not regular citizens. He also noted a conditional amnesty for whistle-blowers implicated in corruption, which he thought was unclear. The point he wanted to make, was that it was important that the protection of whistle-blowers was strengthened and the Protected Disclosures Act reviewed, and discouraged quick-fixes that sounded good.
He also noted the Commission supported the idea of not having a single anti-corruption agency, but that topic merited a debate, as it was a large, complex issue. He noted the Commission did a good job of identifying important criminal justice issues, but hoped that the Commission was not getting to specific on aspects of the Plan, which the Commission might not be able to address fully. Furthermore, he hoped the Commission had consulted or would consult Mr V Smith (ANC), Chairperson of the Correctional Services Committee, as the Commission had not really dealt with prisons. He noted a fundamental issue the Commission needed to look at was that over 90% of people serving a term in prison spent less than two years there. He said by doing this, it caused these people to lose their job and affected the possibility of obtaining employment in the future. Finally, he noted there were already forums for citizens to participate in policing issues, but admitted that Community Policing Forums (CPF) were not very functional.
Ms M Smuts (DA) wanted to address the Seven-Point Plan on the review of the criminal justice system and the proposals relating to the JSC. She said when the document was published, the Seven-Point Plan’s assessment was correct, but things had progressed since then. Until late last year, only the Department of Justice was paying attention to the Seven-Point Plan, but the plan had dropped down in priority. However, since the appointment of the new Director General, Ms Nonkululeko Sindane, there had been a renewed vigour. More people sat on the Integrated Justice System (IJS) board, and she received monthly reports and coordinated the other DGs. The Seven-Point Plan was now in sight of all the DGs. Previously there was no coordination between the three departments. In addition, Ms Smuts asked the Commission if it could give the Members more information on the separate officers mentioned who were supposed to be driving this. She wondered if this person was outside the three departments, questioning if it were better that Ms Zendani drive it.
Ms Smuths further expressed concern that government departments were expected to use South African State Information Technology Agency (SITA) for their private networks. This had been an ongoing problem for the Department of Justice. The Portfolio Committee on Justice had used its new powers of to amend budgets and gave the Department an additional R100million, specifically for IT purposes. It was for this reason, that the Department was able to start doing more work again. She suggested that the Commission explore whether or not this officer was to come from in or out of the Department, and to attend to SITA. Additionally, she said in the open governance section, the Commission supported the idea of an Information Regulator; that this would allow systems to be checked for security, which would be beneficial.
She also noted that cyber-crime was not a new phenomenon. Legislation like Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, which contained hacking offenses, but was updated to allow for better implementation, and that Cyber Security, which just went to Cabinet, should go through the Department of Service and Public and Administration (DPSA), not Intelligence Services as originally planned. Finally touching on the JSC, she mentioned that work could be done in setting criteria for the selection of judges, as she did not like the criteria that had previously been suggested. Her objections came in the phrasing of this section of the NDP, which was embedded in socio-economic realities, but asked for progressive judges, as the Plan does, is a philosophical, jurisprudential criterion that was not in line with the Constitution. She felt that this needed a second review. She also noted that she was in favor of a structural reform of the JSC to move away from political appointments as was currently the case.
Ms D Schaefer (DA) also spoke about JSC appointments and highlighted that qualified candidates were not coming forward to be judges as they saw the process to be political and predetermined. She noted that candidates would not apply without the process being objective and independent. Secondly, she addressed the role of the Executive in its review of Court decisions, which had lead to the view that rule of law was not being observed. Attacks by members of the executive on the judiciary and their decisions did not help to build trust in the country as a whole. She then asked about having law graduates doing community service, and if this had contributed to the dearth of the supply in doctors, and if there had been any research done on the topic. Often community service obligations deterred people from entering certain professions. Would this limit the number of lawyers if it was implemented? She also asked how the Commission envisioned this occurring as it would assist with access to justice, as legal cases took time, which might not be the most practical if graduates were continuously going in and out. She also touched on the SITA problem, as there was supposed to be a new case docket system, which would aid in combating corruption and monitoring the process. A large part of this problem was SITA.
As far as corruption was concerned, Ms Schaefer noted that the centralization of the awarding of tenders, as proposed by the Commission, would increase, rather than disseminate it. She was pleased to note, however, the Commission was requesting submissions regarding the gender aspects of safety as specialized courts had been more successful in getting conviction rates in sexual offenses, which largely affected women. The issue had been discussed by many different groups on different levels, but Magistrates had taken issue with the idea saying that sexual offenses courts were career limiting, and magistrates did not want to focus on one aspect. She argued that expertise and special skills were needed in these cases, and that there needed to be a mechanism to assist those magistrates, but did not doubt that special courts were the way to go. She also noted a need for coordinated efforts with the police, increasing training and skill level of the police in order to prosecute cases successfully. It seemed that the police was not willing to give special support for vulnerable groups, which she found to be worrying. Moving on to active citizenry in the police, she noted this had caused problems in the past with unemployed then expecting jobs in the force, but noted many people just wanted to help, and could do so by taking over administrative functions so the police force could go out and work.
Mr D Maynier (DA) noted that the Portfolio Committee on Defence had been briefed by the Defence Review Commission, and the NPC was identified as a stakeholder and the Committee would be interacting with the NPC in a structured way. His question dealt with safer communities and the deployment of the defence force in support of the SAPS. His concern was that were was now a trend in which the Defence Force was routinely deployed in support of the SAPS, and there seemed to be an increased desire within the government for the increases in these deployments. Looking at the Defence Review, it provided for routine deployment of these forces. He asked that in the light of this, and the Commission’s desire for a demilitarised police force, if the Commission had taken a stance on the consistent deployment of the Defence Force. He asked if this would be something that would be discussed with the Defence Review Committee going forward.
Ms W Ngwenya (ANC) asked the Commission why the Plan did not deal with correctional services, as she believed it to be a protector of the country. She expressed concern that the Commission did not view this matter as important. Secondly she wanted to know if the Commissioners were going to respond or recognize the input that had been submitted.
Mr M Masizole (DA) stressed the importance of implementation and expressed concern that the Plan did not address the topic of “mob-justice” in informal sentiments, which had increased recently. He also expressed concern with the term “active citizenry.” According to his understanding, it meant people were getting involved in the decisions government made. The reality was that on ground level it might have a different meaning, as he was worried about violent responses to government decisions and officials if people were unhappy, and having it thought to be active citizenry. He was also concerned about the lack of investigation in cases and thought the process needed to be tightened up. He also noted that the report was honest, but said the only problem that needed to be admitted was that of the turn-around strategy needed to be shared among members of government so that issues pertaining to border posts, which often lead to the trafficking of materials. Finally, he addressed MP interactions with foreigners legally in the country, who wanted to invest and create jobs, whether permanent or temporary, saying he saw it as chaos.
Mr L Max (DA) stated that his 27 years in the police force largely influenced his point of view, and asked the Minister how he defined demilitarization, and what he wanted to achieve with that. Changing the rank structure would be the solution to the violent attitude that was experienced in the police. He suggested that there be a distinction between people who would maintain civilian titles, and those involved in hardcore policing. The promotion system needed to be reviewed, as it often lead to many people sharing the same titles leading to disorganisation and confusion. He also mentioned that positions were being created so people could get salary increases and hoped there would be a system to keep the best people at grassroots levels.
Another point was oversight, noting that provincial oversight was not covered in the current cluster, and asked if the Commission would consider the oversight role in the provinces regarding correctional services, justices, and NPA in order to insure more active implementation. He also noted that the previous system did not allow a detective to go to a branch without already being in a community service center for a few years to learn about the challenges and lines of work to do their job properly. Finally, he believed that there was too much power invested in the National Commissioner of Police because it created so much ineffectiveness and was costly and problematic.
Mr S Swart (DA) wanted to follow up on a few issues that were raised with the implementation of the Seven-Point Plan, saying a number of the issues had been implemented. The domino effect was perhaps the most crucial element that he had been dealing with since he was elected to Parliament. He stressed that if all elements of the criminal justice system were not working together, in an integrated way, there were going to be problems. He asked how Parliament proposed this be remedied. He suggested that this go down to the local level, and asked how this cooperation could be enforced, suggesting binding protocols resulting in disciplinary action being taken against those individuals. He continued by asking what problems were being encountered in administering disciplinary action against public servants. From his experience, he noted the Magistrate’s Commission faced difficulties that seemed to be prevalent in all aspects of the public service, and there needed to be ways to expedite disciplinary actions. He also addressed corruption and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), and spoke about the high levels of corruption, which cost around R25-30 billion per year, with different departments funding the SIU. The other issue was a lack of funds for investigation, and the point was made that the capacity of anti-corruption units must be increased, but the SIU was already asking for increased capacity resources. He noted that the Plan also noted a desire to bring corruption cases to trial more quickly, but a concern was expressed that this would decrease the capacity in other types of cases, which was unfair, and said all sectors needed that.
Mr V Smith (ANC) touched on the reformation of public service. The Commission said that DGs must report administratively to a Super DG, he was not sure if that was the best route to go, as it would add another level of bureaucracy. Instead, he suggested that the Commission make the political authority more accountable within the department, having the Minister being held accountable. On the restraint of trade, he said that from an affordability and practicality point of view, how much this would cost the state, and from a practical point of view what that meant. On the issue of SAPS, the constitution specified that the President must appoint the National Commission of Police but the Plan suggested that a Board must make such appointments.
There was a brief moment of tension in the room, as another member objected to a statement made by Mr Smith. The Chairperson reminded the members that they were not debating.
Continuing on, Mr Smith stated that he was asking the Commission that in spite of what the Constitution said, the Commission was recommending that a Board make the appointments to the National Police Commission. He was trying to understand what exactly the Plan was saying, but received clarification from elsewhere in the room, indicating that a change to the Constitution was not the case, and continued. The next point he wished to address was the extent to which Parliament could influence the judiciary. When looking at the number of people sentenced for less than two years, those people were not rehabilitated at all, and the majority of the people released fell into this category. He wondered if the Commission and Parliament should be looking into alternative sentences for people under two years, which he thought to be more cost effective and better from a human point of view. He asked if the Commission would be able to influence the judiciary to seek alternative sentences for petty crime. He also differed with a member of the DA on community work for lawyers, saying he believed it would make a difference. This was a gap that offered an opportunity to be filled with community service. He also said that Mr Max seemed to support militarization in the police force, which was clarified as not to be the case.
Mr L Landers (ANC) began by addressing the NPC proposal that all offices within the police undergo a competency assessment, saying he hoped it would include a psychometric test that had been abandoned years before, despite its effectiveness. He also said he supported the demilitarization of the police service, offering a less than flattering critique of the behavior of the members of the police. He continued by asking what the militarization of the police had achieved. He agreed with Mr Jeffery about whistleblowers. He chose not to go into deeply into information regulators, but said that Parliament needed to be mindful that they created these structures, and once those were established, members sought to undermine them, and hoped it would not happen again with the NDP. The Promotion of Access to Information Act was cited as being a good piece of legislation, saying that more open data should be made available, but there also needed to be a willingness of behalf of civil servants to make the data available. Without that willingness, nothing would be achieved.
The Office of the Chief Justice had just been established by proclamation and the staffing process was being done incrementally, additionally there were two pieces of legislation before Parliament that would legitimise the office. The Judicial Education Institute would be receiving its first budget which would formally establish that it, and said that the Committee agreed that special consideration must be given to the role of the JSC, particularly regarding the enforcement of the judicial code of conduct. To finish, he addressed the restraint of trade, and said that he did not have the same document as Mr Smith did, and that what he understood the document to be was post-tenure regulations. These regulations had to be viewed from the perspective of access to tenders and contracts from government for those who had left the service of government either as an elected public servant or as a DG. That knowledge, experience, and networking made it easy to stay in contact and get the contracts. Constitutionally, he was not sure that Parliament could restrain trade, but they could implement post-tenure regulations to limit the advantages of those people.
The Chairperson thanked the members for their comments and said the cluster would now allow the Minister and the Commissioners to respond to the questions and comments from the honourable members.
National Development Commission Responses
Mr Manuel expressed appreciation to all the Members that asked questions. He said that he would deal with a few of the questions which were more political in nature. His general point was that the mandate of the NDP was to “define the country they wanted in 2030 and how to get there.” He noted that the 25 commissioners had day-jobs, and so the Commission did not have the same capacity of detail as the departments, or the capacity for implementation. He was mindful that the Commission needed to be careful because competition from departments would send things tumbling down. The way many of the recommendations were crafted were similar to those circulating in the departments, but combined in different ways, which he saw to be a strength, as the Commissioners’ knowledge did not come from government departments.
On cyber crime, he did acknowledge that it was an issue and should probably be included in the NDP. Touching on issues raised by Mr Jeffery, he agreed that there were a lot of complex issues and the NDC was not pretending to understand those things. There was clearly a difficulty with whistle blowers, but the bulk of it related to the employment relationship, but he thought the Protected Disclosures Act allowed for information not from an employee/employer relationship. This was something the Commission should look at. The example cited by Mr Jeffrey dealt with the treatment of juveniles, but it would not surprise him if not all provinces adhered to proper places of safety. Despite good intentions and laws, there were still fundamental problems, and he asked how this needed to be corrected. Looking down the line, he said the same excuses could not be used.
Once the Plan was amended, it would go to Cabinet and be a matter of public record, and the implementation should start immediately, and then there would be a discussion on implementation plans. It was the Commission’s hope is to then change its focus to doing reports on particular areas the Commissioners felt they had not been able to do justice to. A number of members raised the issue of active citizenry, in many instances legislation provides for citizen participation and fails. For a whole host of reasons, there may have been bad experiences, or good ones. Democracy, the Commission believed would be better served through active engagement and empowering people through information. During the implementation process, it would be important to note why and when it does not happen and how it could be improved upon. Part of what needs to be engaged with is how citizen information operates differently than it does at the moment, and in dealing with that, catalyze local leadership that engages with issues.
Mr Manuel then wanted to weigh in on the issue of IT, and the implementation of a seamless system in the criminal justice system. He said as long as the system was paper-based, there would be failure. He agreed that SITA was not dependable. When he thought back to the excitement over e-government, the only thing South Africa was credited with now was the track-and-trace system in Home Affairs for passports that seemed to work. The Commission would take the points made on legislation. Addressing Ms Shafer’s comments, he said he was not sure if IT system problems could be dealt with by outsourcing them. The Commission thought that managers would manage, so when the Public Services Act and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) were introduced, DGs would be in charge of employment and oversight. Regarding procurement, the large tenders, lend themselves to better value for money and fewer prospects for malfeasance.
He assured Mr Maynier that the Commission would be meeting with the Defence Review Commission. He noted Ms Ngwenya’s concern about the lack of consultation with the Department of Correctional Services. The Commission did not deal with all the departments in the same way; however it should be noted that this Department was difficult to deal with. This was a problem that needed to be resolved otherwise the country’s ability to rehabilitate prisoners would be severely constrained. Turning to Mr Masizole’s comments, he was aware of the issues that were brought up regarding group-based violence, this was not something the Commission was able to look at. Looking at the issues raised by Mr Max, he said the problem was the intention was clear in the context of the Constitution, the police force was replaced with the police service, and ranks were changed, but there was no training to replace the command and control system. He acknowledged Mr Landers’ earlier point that militarization had not solved this, and posed a question regarding the best practice available to the country to resolve problems.
Touching on the comments made by Mr Swart, he said that it was not possible to say “here is a 100million dollars just in case,” because what needed to trigger the action was formal action or instruction. It should be something the Commission could look at. He then turned to the comments made by Mr Smith, saying that he did not think executive authorities were spared in the Constitution or the PMFA, but the fact that it did not happen was the responsibility of Parliament. Expressing his own opinion, he said that as a Member of Parliament, the Plan should discuss its failures more boldly.
Throughout the public service, what the Commission was articulating was the need for merit based appointments. The country needed public servants immersed in the development objective, but removed from political interference. The development objective was a political task because after an election, there would be a different party and different policies, and civil servants needed to be able to implement those policies. The issue of warehousing was not something the Commission was able to deal with yet. For community service in law, he said Parliament had to find ways that professions like law were not spared community service. There was lack of research regarding if it was a deterrent in medicine, but said he did not think it to be much. On the competency assessment, the Commission had not yet gone through everything yet, but there was a series of issue specific requirements. In the public service, the Commission was of the view that there needed to be periodic evaluation as job content changed, to make sure those people were capable of delivering that service.
Dr Mahlati said engagements the Departments were continuing with the Department of Communications and other relevant structures to address cybercrime. The other issue of sexual offenses, she felt it was interesting that a comment was made regarding this, because the Members recognized the importance of sexual offenses, and one of the gaps in linking the psycho-social aspects and its coordination of the various departments in justice. She said South Africa had managed to do something right despite all the complexities, but needed to make sure it was properly coordinated and built upon, particularly the link between the public sector and civil society especially the funding mechanism.
The issue of the deployment in police forces was something the Commission needed to pay attention to. Lastly, the question of community service: When the Commission talked about professionalisation, competency, and effective government that good performance linked to competency. If the government was not going to encourage its professionals to understand community service and incentivising that, it would be a loss, and it needed to be appreciated in terms of service delivery and closing inequality gaps. It was something that the government needed to put into perspective, and just not say it was not working, and the Commission understood the need to build upon that.
Prof Harrison said most of the issues had been addressed, and there had been some very helpful feedback. He said that additional gaps had been raised, but wanted to make a few small points; on page 355 there was a reference to cyber crime and an indication that a specialist unit could be set up, though it was not dealt with in sufficient detail. Regarding juvenile detentions, rather than it being a proposal that the Commission was making, it was a comment it had received that needed to be taken into consideration, especially knowing there was legislation on the table. On the issue on demilitarization, it was important to note that it was not the solution, but part of the package towards changing the environment. For the appointment of senior police officers, he thought the intent was fairly clear, but more attention would be given to the wording of that. It would be the President who made the appointments, but there would be a panel to assist him. In terms of open data, more data should be open, but there needed to be more willingness to make it available. He suggested that what the Plan could say to strengthen it were examples provided where open access data should be made available, and deepen the requirement for the open access data. He said there was a lot of detail, and there were helpful proposals such as structural changes to match intuitions should come to a forum, the promotion system must be reviewed, and coordination at a local level.
Mr Manuel thanked the Chairperson and the members of the cluster for their questions. He wanted to express appreciation to the Commissioners for their contribution to the Plan. He emphasized that there was no particular emotional attachment, that members were mindful of the deficiencies, whatever assistance and written submissions it received would be considered, and it was not active in party engagement. The NPC would continue to work to make sure South Africans knew what the content of the plan were, and hoped MPs would take it back to their constituents. He said the Commission wanted people to be involved in the process and discussions were very helpful to them.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister and the Commissioners for their presentation, as well as Members for their inputs. She noted that a consolidated cluster report needed to be submitted to Parliament by the end of April, and their inputs could still be made to enrich the document and be a part of the journey towards 2030. From her position, she thanked the members for being a very good audience. She agreed with the view that Parliament was about the safety of the country, and it was important for all them to ensure everyone felt safe there. She thanked the Minister again, and hoped that parties could engage more with the documents and make more suggestions they could do so, and a final document would be consolidated and submitted at the end of the month.
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