Spatial Planning & Land Use Management Bill: Adoption; Public Service Commission update on evaluation of Department Rural Development and Land Reform, in presence of Deputy Minister

Rural Development and Land Reform

12 February 2013
Chairperson: Mr S Sizani (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform was present at the meeting. Members adopted the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Bill, B version, and the short and long versions of the Committee’s report on the Bill, with amendments.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) responded to the Committee’s request to follow up on the 2010/11 evaluation that the Commission conducted of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR). Although another formal evaluation had not been done, the Department was asked to do a self-assessment, and reports by other entities were considered. PSC summarised the points against which it assessed departments, and set out its recommendations, the DRDLR’s response and made further comment. The matters addressed included misconduct matters, steps to comply with the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, reporting formats, filling of vacancies, audit results, systems for asset register and transfer of state land, legal claims and the large amounts of fruitless, wasteful or irregular expenditure. Other indicators examined included the website, employment equity, high spending on consultants. PSC noted that it was now examining the quality, as well as quantity, of spending, and stressed the need for full accountability, particularly the completion of performance agreements. Many of the DRDLR’s problems related to planning, capacity and targets and outputs, as well as tracking of spending, were not unique to this department, and although the DRDLR had showed improvement, it still needed to achieve more synergy between budgeting and planning. It had contributed to poverty reduction, but the scale of the problem was huge and the PSC had already expressed concerns that some of its projects could become prohibitively expensive unless its methodology was revised. It also expressed concern about the time taken to resolve disciplinary processes, the risks of corruption, and potential conflict of interest.

Members asked how accountability could be improved, and questioned whether the PSC had the power to take the executive authority to task where it was responsible for delays or inaction. They questioned several aspects of the disciplinary processes, including why the DRDLR had failed to recover amounts defrauded. Members also raised points on bonuses, the apparent disconnect between targets, achievements and scoring, and whether the DRDLR’s own assessment processes had been evaluated. Questions about personnel included the vacancy rate, the South African Qualifications Authority delays, the reduction in the number of disabled employees, the risks inherent in continuous turnover of staff, and whether value for money was achieved from the consultants. Members also raised questions on the value for money from spending, and the possible cost per household of the interventions. After discussion, the Committee concluded that it would be useful to ask the PSC to conduct further studies, and report back in three months, on the constraints to successful rollout of the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme, why the deadlines for the land audit were not met, and whether the executive authority had complied with time deadlines for signature of performance agreements, further information on suspensions and whether matters were reported to the police where appropriate.

The Committee adopted its minutes of 29 January 2013.

Meeting report

The Committee Secretary noted the apologies of the Minister and Director General of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (although the latter was able to join the meeting later).

Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Bill B14B-2012
The Chairperson announced that the B version of the Bill, and a summary of all the changes, had been circulated to the Members of the Committee by e-mail earlier. He noted that there were two draft Reports on the Bill – a shorter and a longer version. He asked the Committee Secretary to read out the shorter version, which he suggested that the Committee should then table to the House.

The Committee Secretary read out the report, which noted that the Committee had considered and decided to adopt the B-version of the Bill. The report noted that after the Bill was referred to this Committee, public hearings had been held, and 22 organisations had made submissions. The Report briefly summarised that those related to the constitutionality of the Bill, and the conceptual understanding of the Bill. The Bill was intended to address the incoherent and diverse land use management systems and it was intended to allow the provinces to plan, taking into account their peculiarities. The Committee had given careful consideration to a number of issues, including constitutionality, public participation in decisions on land use, transitional arrangements, delineation of powers and functions, time frames, and the consultation procedures with the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL). The process had involved discussions with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR or the Department) and the Office of the Chief State Law Advisor (OCSLA). The Committee had also sought an independent Counsel's opinion from Advocate I Jamie, and had, after extensive deliberations, decided to adopt the Bill with the proposed amendments.

Mr A Trollip (DA) said he was happy with the content of the draft report, but suggested several grammatical changes, or corrections to syntax. In relation to paragraph 1.3 he suggested that the phrase “which currently exist in South Africa” be used, and noted that the word should be “legislation”, and not “legislations”. He suggested that the reference to land use schemes and development applications must both reflect the plural. He also suggested new wording for the last sentence of paragraph 2.2.

Ms P Ngwenya-Mabila (ANC) asked which spelling of “adviser / advisor” should be used; whichever was chosen it should be used consistently. She also asked whether the report should not comment on the public hearings, and the deliberations on points raised.

The Chairperson said that this was given in the longer version of the report, although he would have no objection to more detail being inserted here.

The Committee Secretary corrected a reference to section 76(1).

Members voted to adopt the Report.

However, once this had been done, the Chairperson raised a further point. There had been some individual Councils of Traditional Leaders who had given input, although this Report focused on the NHTL, and he thought that perhaps this point needed to be amplified.

Mr Lechesa Tsenoli, Deputy Minister, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, suggested that “lack of formal consultation” be used, as the Department had briefed the House, albeit not in a formal way.

The .Chairperson noted that the longer version of the report did contain all the details, and the shorter simply focused on the substance.

Mr Tsenoli requested again that the word “formal” be inserted. This was a technical point, but it had political import.

Ms Ngwenya-Mabila, who had proposed the adoption of the report, indicated that she would be happy with the insertion of “formal”.

The Committee then adopted the Report, as amended.

Mr Trollip asked what would be done with the longer report, saying that there were some points in that which he wished to address.

The Chairperson said that it was still a “draft” but confirmed that it should be correct, as it would be made available to members of the public, and be lodged in the Committee's records.

Mr Trollip then summarised the changes that he wanted to propose to the longer version. Most were questions of grammar, wording, or syntax, with insertion of the definite or indefinite article in some instances. However, the more substantive changes were as follows:
- In paragraph 2.5, a change to the wording relating to Counsel's opinion
- In paragraph 3.1, a reference to a “framework”, instead of a “system”
- In paragraph 3.1, the last sentence should read “this will provide a national framework which prevents parallel planning”.
- On page 4, reference should be made to the Committee adding clause 10(6)
- A sentence on page 5 should be corrected, for greater clarity.

The Chairperson suggested, on this point, that the sentence could end at “environmental legislation”.

Ngwenya-Mabila suggested that the word “inspector” be changed to “inspection”, in paragraph 3.9.

The Chairperson pointed out that that this was quoted text, from clause 32 of the Bill.

Mr Tsenoli noted that both “inspection” and, later, “inspector” were used in the Bill.

Mr Theo Hercules, State Law Advisor, Office of the Chief State Law Advisor, agreed, and said that clause 32(1) did read “an inspector should issue a compliance notice” and he suggested that perhaps “in the prescribed form” must be inserted.

The Chairperson questioned whether the Bill was written correctly.

Mr Hercules said that it was correct. His suggestion was merely to align the Report with the Bill.

Ms H Matlanyane (ANC) suggested that the reference to “dwelling”, in the same paragraph, needed to be corrected. She also noted a correction to a reference in paragraph 3.5.

Mr Trollip noted that the use of “a” and “the” could not be changed, as there was one national government, but multiple provincial governments.

Mr Trollip set out some further changes, some of which were grammatical. However, he also suggested that paragraph 3.8, at line 3, should read “it is common knowledge that..”; that “schemes” (plural) should be referred to in paragraph 3.9, and that “strict regard for the law” should be used, in relation to search and seizure.

The Chairperson pointed out that the wording in the Bill had been agreed upon during deliberations.

Mr Trollip argued that decency and order could not trump the law. Perhaps “strict regard to lawful provisions” might answer the concerns.

The Chairperson asked if it would be necessary then to change the Bill.

Mr Tsenoli thought that “decency and order” were mere elaborations.

Mr Sisa Makabeni, State Law Advisor, OCSLA, said that the concept of regard for the law was already included, as the duties of inspectors were set out in detail.

Mr Hercules added that clause 32(12) was saying that when an inspector entered premises, s/he must conduct that search and seizure with strict regard to decency, and with respect to rights. The inspector would act within the framework of the Constitution, so the rights to privacy, security, freedom and dignity were all protected under this clause. It was therefore not necessary to insert any references to “in accordance with the law”. The clause was worded consistently with similar legislation.

Mr Trollip accepted this explanation, but wondered, without wanting to pursue the point further, why some of the rights and freedoms were being elaborated upon, when it may have been easier to refer to this in general.

Mr Tsenoli agreed that in principle, legislation should be drafted simply.

The Chairperson reiterated that the Committee had debated this fully already, and noted the point that the inspectors needed to be guided on the procedures as they were not trained police officers.

Mr Trollip suggested changes to paragraph 3.11, using the phrase “should not be the only deciding factor”. He also suggested that the reference to “Advocate” needed to be changed to “Advocates”.

Ms Ngwenya-Mabila suggested a grammatical correction to page 3.

Mr Hercules noted another correction on page 2, at paragraph 2.4. The first sentence should read “the Committee discussed the Bill clause by clause, making proposals on clauses” (not sections).
He also said that the A-list was the list of amendments, not the B-list.

The Committee then adopted the long version of the Report.

Adoption of Bill
The Chairperson noted that all Members had received the Bill. They voted unanimously to adopt the Bill.

Public Service Commission briefing on follow-up to assessment of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
Mr Ben Mthembu, Chairperson, Public Service Commission, expressed appreciation for the invitation to brief the Committee on the progress of the recommendations made by the Public Service Commission (PSC) in September 2011. He was particularly complimentary of the fact that the Committee was taking the PSC’s recommendations seriously, as the recommendations made would become meaningful only if oversight bodies ensured that the executive carried out its responsibilities. This was the first time that the PSC had received a request from a portfolio committee for a report-back on whether its recommendations were being carried out.

Mr Mthembu briefly summarised that although the PSC did not conduct assessments of every department, every year, it would select around 30% of departments yearly. Not only did it rely upon its own investigations, but also considered other sources, including the Auditor-General (AG), to determine whether departments were complying with the values and functions assigned to them. The follow up would determine any blockages and map the way forward.

Professor Richard Levin, Director General, Public Service Commission, summarised that the PSC was required by the Constitution to provide an evaluation of the extent to which Constitutional values and principles were being met. The PSC had developed an indicator-based tool. This had been applied to the DRDLR in the 2010/11 cycle, and the results were presented in September 2011 to the Committee. Although the PSC had not re-assessed the Department since 2010/11 (because it would not do so annually), it had developed another tool, the Public Service Barometer, using information from Annual Reports, Persal, AG’s reports, including official statistics from Statistics SA, to monitor the progress. In addition, the departments’ responses were used as a self-assessment.

He explained that in 2010/11, scores were awarded against a number of principles (see slide 5 of attached presentation). A summary of the recommendations, and the Department’s response on each, was summarised in the following slides.

The slides showed the progress in shortening the time taken to resolve cases of misconduct. In relation to good project management standards, the DRDLR had implemented a number of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) governance documents, and a draft guideline. The DRDLR had been given recommendations on the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) but the response from the Department related to the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), which was not helpful, and the PSC would be following up further. In relation to the fraud prevention plan, the DRDLR indicated that there was now a directorate for Forensic Audit and Investigations and posts were being filled.

The DRDLR had taken note of the comments regarding compliance with reporting formats and was now changing the 2011/12 Annual Report. The PSC had expressed concerns about the long time taken to fill vacancies, and the explanation was set out on slide 8, which referred to a number of factors. Professor Levin noted that he would return to some of these points. He summarised the concerns around the persistence of qualified audits. In 2011/12 the AG had found that there were not adequate systems in place for asset registers and transfer of state land, noted the legal claims of R2.042 million, and commented on irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure. The DRDLR had a large portfolio, comprising about 13 million hectares, and a number of land parcels. Many were temporarily held by the State, and there were difficulties in effecting transfer. Much of the land was “inherited” from the former homelands. Despite all these difficulties, DRDLR claimed that significant progress was being made. Prof Levin noted that many of the explanations given to the PSC had probably also been offered to the Committee.

Professor Levin said that PSC wanted the entire public service to be able to demonstrate not only an ability to spend, but to spend in line with objectives, outputs and targets. PSC was looking at quality of spend, and asking questions about efficiency and effectiveness. From 2010/11 to 2011/12, there was an improvement in the level of spending, and it was within the generally accepted margin of 2%. However, DRDLR’s achievement of pre-determined outputs was still low, at 45% (compared to 30% in the previous year). There were difficulties in filling posts, restitution procedures and institutionalising the Comprehensive Rural Development Plan (CRDP).

This problem was not unique to the DRDLR. Only 7% of the 148 departments in the public service achieved 80% of the planned outputs during 2010/11. The problems related to planning capacity, setting targets and outputs, and tracking spending properly. Some departments were doing well – for instance Provincial Treasury in KwaZulu Natal achieved 100% of its planned outputs. The PSC was trying to ensure that planning was not merely “malicious compliance”, but was actually realistic, well-understood and achievable.

In the following financial year, DRDLR showed a 15% improvement, but in relation to performance information in 2011/12, 46% of the indicators were not well defined, 30% of reported performance was not verifiable and indicators and targets were not suitably developed. This clearly showed that the DRDLR still needed to achieve more synergy between budgeting and planning.

The DRDLR had contributed to poverty reduction projects, through the CRDP and Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD) grants. The statistics for assistance to households, individuals, projects and farmers’ training were set out (see slide 12). However, the achievements must be seen in context. There were 2 920 rural wards and 6.5 million rural households with greater levels of poverty than their urban counterparts. The cost per household of the interventions of the DRDLR was very high, so the Department needed to examine what innovations it could effect to ensure that the limited resources achieved the greatest impact. The CRDP and Recapitalisation and Development Programmes faced problems around integration, administration and engagement with strategic partners, but PSC believed that if the DRDLR continuously tested its practices it could become more efficient.

Slide 15 summarised the findings on accountability, where performance management was a major indicator. Prof Levin stressed the need to develop a performance culture across the public service. Performance agreements of the Heads of Departments (HoDs) were supposed to be submitted on a set date. DRDLR had managed to meet this deadline in the 2011/12 year, but although the current HoD qualified for evaluation in the 2011/12 year, nothing had been submitted. This was not a unique problem, and Prof Levin noted that it did often happen that HoDs would submit documentation but the executive authority (EA) did not finalise the process.

PSC saw improvement in professional ethics as fundamental to rooting out corruption and maladministration. The internal audit unit within the DRDLR, and the Special Investigating Unit were both investigating cases in the DRDLR. Although 87 cases were referred from the National Anti-Corruption Hotline, 77 were still outstanding and the feedback and closure rate was not acceptable, although DRDLR had given feedback, but PSC needed to verify when cases were closed, and that disciplinary action and sanctions were taken.

Prof Levin said that the financial disclosure framework was an area of concern. The most basic compliance was that the financial disclosure forms must be sent to the PSC by 31 May each year. PSC, recognising that this was basic compliance, had now begun to scrutinise the content of the forms, to pick up potential and actual conflicts of interest, particularly officials with large numbers of businesses, who, although there may not be an actual conflict, may not be able to perform their public service work efficiently in view of their other interests. PSC believed that tracking the numbers of forms received after due date was not helpful, and was instead trying to improve submission by due date. It had picked up 42 cases of potential conflict of interest, or 21% of senior management service (SMS) members, in DRDLR, which, although not as high as the national average of 31%, was still cause for concern. The Department and Minister needed to look into the matter and take action. The methodology of scrutiny had also been strengthened. From this year, the PSC was introducing a departmental supplier checking database, to ensure that the companies disclosed did not supply to the department.

Slide 19 set out the management of precautionary suspensions in cases of serious misconduct. The numbers, average days on suspension and costs were summarised. There were about five financial misconduct cases each year, which was quite low, given the AG’s finding that the Department did not take steps to prevent irregular or fruitless or wasteful expenditure. More effective action was needed, and the DRDLR needed to pursue recovery of funds as well. DRDLR said that it had capacity constraints in managing discipline, coupled with inadequate reporting systems, that some of the hearings were causing delays, and that there were structural difficulties between head office and provinces. A better reporting system was now apparently in place, and there was monthly monitoring through progress reports, as well as an electronic tracking system. Targets were set for finalisation of cases, which were included in performance agreements, and other improvements were summarised. A disciplinary policy had been developed, and legal representatives were being limited to minimise the delays. 30 employees had, since April 2011, been disciplined for financial misconduct. All appeal cases had been finalised. The feedback was promising, and the PSC looked forward to seeing the effect of these new measures in the next audit.

The DRDLR website was regarded as user-friendly, with documents easily accessible, although there was a comment that the 2011/12 annual report was not uploaded to the DRDLR’s own website.

The DRDLR’s vacancy rate at 31 March 2012 was 11.47%, but it had since increased, due to attrition and more stringent requirements for filling posts. In 2011/12, 6% of the total budget (R496.3 million) was spent on consultants, for 48 different services. In DRDLR, a high percentage of staff was additional to establishment, because of the restructuring. Prof Levin said that PSC, as well as the Department of Public Service and Administration, did recognise that contract appointments, when used strategically, could be of benefit to the state. DRDLR’s employment equity statistics showed that the target for black employees was exceeded, but those for women and the disabled were not achieved, as the number of disabled employees had fallen from the previous figures.

Prof Levin summarised that since colonial and apartheid land dispossession was a major cause of poverty, the DRDLR was tasked with huge issues to resolve. Although there had been some improvements, there were still serious concerns around DRDLR’s governance and management, including the failure to get a clean audit, the need to improve performance management processes, and better management of the integrity system. DRDLR must follow up to close cases on corruption, with actual reports given to the PSC. Whilst it recognised the re-engineering, the PSC was concerned that continuous restructuring had a negative impact on performance that diverted attention from the core functions.

Mr C Msimang (IFP) wanted to address the question of accountability. Slide 19 spoke to amounts recovered, and not recovered. He questioned whether enough serious action, including arrests, was being taken.

Ms Ngwenya-Mabila also questioned the recovery of amounts, asking why this was so low, and what interventions could be made to ensure that money was recovered.

Mr Mthembu shared the concerns of the Committee, but said that the PSC could only refer matters and allegations of corruption to the departments, who must then report matters to the police. If disciplinary processes were carried out properly, they should not be lengthy. PSC had raised similar concerns in other contexts, and he agreed that criminal sanctions should be pursued.

The Chairperson noted that the function of PSC was to make recommendations. If it did so, and no actions were taken, he questioned what the PSC could then do.

Mr Mthembu responded that this was a continuing concern. The current legislative framework merely allowed the PSC to make recommendations and give advice. The departments themselves had to implement the recommendations, and portfolio committees should also follow up. Because the PSC currently had no “teeth” the decision had been taken to amend the PSC Act, to provide greater enforcement powers, including attaching criminal sanctions. He urged Parliament to support the amendments, when they were presented.

Mr David Mkhwanazi, Commissioner, PSC, commented that another of the problems was that by the time PSC became aware of the issues, some of the claims may have prescribed. He noted that according to the legislation, any financial misconduct of over R100 000 should be reported to SAPS, but this was in practice not happening. Executive authorities were supposed to deal with disciplinary matters in relation to HoDs, and often the PSC would recommend that action be taken by the EAs, but it was not. At the moment, PSC had no jurisdiction over EAs in such instances, as it was currently limited to giving directions on promotions, transfers and appointments. He too pleaded for Parliamentary support for the amendments to the legislation, so that directives could be given on financial misconduct cases.

Mr Paul Helepi, Commissioner, PSC, agreed that the HOD had a responsibility to recover, but often nothing was done. Sometimes the response was given that the pension fund was refusing to deduct money, but that he did not see as a valid excuse. It was not their responsibility, but that of the HOD.

Prof Levin confirmed that PSC had been concerned that criminal sanctions were not always pursued consistently, especially in relation to financial misconduct. In general, he commented that only 26% of departments were processing disciplinary cases within the 60-day period, and had staff on precautionary suspensions for far longer. That was related to performance questions. Managers would often complain of poor quality of work, but this was in part due to their own failings and whether there were serious enough consequences for misconduct. Lack of consequences was of major concern and the reasons were numerous; including kinship, reluctance to translate to action, and provincial problems. One of the ideas that he and other DGs were discussing was that perhaps a more centralised approach to managing misconduct might be appropriate. The disciplinary systems were cumbersome, there was not internal capacity and it was necessary to have access to chairpersons for disciplinary inquiries.

Mr Trollip was pleased to hear that the HoD’s performance agreement had finally been handed in on time, pointing out that senior management was unlikely to comply when HoDs did not. He noted the comment that sometimes the EAs were responsible for delays, and thought this should also be treated seriously.

Mr Singata Mafanya, Commissioner, PSC, reiterated that sometimes HoDs signed their performance agreements on time, but EAs did not.

Mr Mthembu agreed with Mr Trollip, but stressed that the PSC had no oversight over the executive authorities, only over the department. PSC supplied information to the portfolio committees in the hope that they would then hold the EAs accountable.

Prof Levin noted that there were reports given to EAs, and PSC was currently compiling a report on the steps taken by EAs. If the powers of the PSC were augmented, PSC would probably choose to issue more directives on compliance matters.

The Chairperson said that when this Committee had considered the question of bonuses, it had questioned on what basis bonuses were given where there were no performance agreements against which to benchmark. One of the problems was that the Committee was not aware, until it received the annual reports, of whether performance agreements had been completed and submitted and unless something could be done to change this situation, the Committee would essentially be complicit in the problem.

Ms Ngwenya-Mabila asked what interventions PSC would make if people were failing to disclose, and whether it had any powers to act in such cases.

Mr Mthembu agreed that this was a matter needing further attention. The PSC would normally check the quality of the performance agreements, and compile a report showing which departments had, or had not, submitted, which was presented to the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration. Perhaps a mechanism was needed to get that information also to other portfolio committees. He also agreed that there were weaknesses around the systems of performance bonuses, saying that too often there was not a cumulative and ongoing review of performance and achievement of targets throughout the year. More extensive reporting was needed on this point, as noted by the PSC in its State of the Public Service Report.

Mr Trollip was encouraged by the follow-up, which was likely to improve the situation. He questioned, however, the apparent disconnect between targets, achievements and scoring of the DRDLR.

Mr Mthembu agreed that this was a valid concern. The monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system used by the PSC from 2001 had been more compliance-driven than outcome-driven, but had since been reviewed so that in future the PSC would be looking not only at compliance, but how this translated into outcomes. It was looking again at some of the indicators, since some covered a host of areas, and it was hoped to achieve a better balance. The nine principles applied were broad, but PSC also assessed performance through other tools.

Ms Phelele Tengeni, Deputy Chairperson, PSC, added that slide 5 explained the methodology. Principle 2 related to effective and economical use of resources, which examined the relationship between high spending but low achievement. The PSC found it worrisome that there was not really a proper evaluation of, or proper accountability, of many HoDs. Portfolio committees should be assisting the PSC by ensuring that HoDs were held accountable for their spending, and one of the mechanisms was that of HoD performance evaluations.

Mr Trollip asked what the PSC had discovered about the DRDLR’s methodologies for evaluating its own projects, since the outcomes were listed as 45%, yet the experience on the ground was that more projects failed than succeeded.

Prof Levin noted that there had been some good evaluations done by the DRDLR over the years but when the PSC was looking at the discrepancy between budgets and targets, it had noted its concern about the fact that no project management method was inculcated that tied together budgets and targets.

Mr Trollip was concerned about the increasing vacancies, and asked if there were policies around attracting and retaining staff, and holding exit interviews. A continual turnover of staff posed potential for fraud.

Prof Levin took the point.

Ms Ngwenya Mabila also asked if PSC had assessed whether, in the case of DRDLR, there was value for money achieved by using consultants.

Ms Ngwenya-Mabila said it was of serious concern that the 2% disability target was not achieved, irrespective of the reasons.

Prof Levin noted a general trend that one department tended to poach disabled staff from another. This was an area of concern that PSC had raised, although that might not be the reason for the numbers drop in DRDLR itself.

Mr Mkhwanazi said that when PSC asked departments about disability targets, they proffered a variety of excuses, ranging from inability to find staff, to lack of qualifications and difficulties in training. There was often no purposive strategy to employ those with disabilities, and their employment was often by default, with some departments not even aware of falling percentages.  He added that there was a general trend, when departments restructured or re-evaluated, that they would put a moratorium on hiring of staff, but that had longer-term effects. He also noted his concern that although HR issues carried financial implications, they were most often delegated to officials other than the HoD. Human resources delegations were crucial to stability of the public service. In the most stable systems, it was often the case that HR was centralised in public service commissions, or given to specific officials to exercise. Negative impacts were apparent from high turnover of staff, and the effects on service delivery. Perhaps there needed to be guidelines on moratoriums, and on issues like suspensions, to avoid disruption. The PSC was aware of the need to tighten up and was considering policy changes and legislative amendment to deal with these issues.

Mr Trollip said that the comprehensive and credible state land audit had been under discussion for some time. He asked if PSC had any recommendations on how to achieve finality on this.

Prof Levin responded that this was not an issue that the PSC had considered in depth, but could do further studies if requested by the Committee.

Mr Trollip noted the concerns around CRDP, and questioned what was meant by PSC when it referred to “institutionalisation” of the issues. Value for money in the CRDP programme was also of concern; the actual numbers of households and people benefiting showed a poor return for the investment. Referring to the concluding remarks of the PSC, he said that land reform would require more than mere rhetoric; it was failing because of the sheer size of the problem, because officials were not accounting and because there was not value for money. He asked when the public would know of the real outcomes, and how much land was transferred.

Ms Ngwenya-Mabila also asked for an explanation of “institutionalisation” of the CRDP.

Ms Ngwenya-Mabila asked for details of the cost per household of the interventions.

Mr Kobus van der Merwe, Chief Director: Governance and Monitoring, PSC, responded that when the PSC applied its M&E system, it did not go very deeply into value for money. He did not have a figure for the cost per household of the CRDP, although the PSC had, in the mid-term Review done for the Presidency, made the point that the programme had the potential to become prohibitively expensive. The Barometer added other parameters against which questions might be answered, often available from official budget data. It might be possible to assess the ratio of administrative costs against the value actually delivered to the land reform beneficiary, similar to what had been done in the housing arena. The PSC was intending to do more in-depth studies to determine whether institutionalisation of CRDP was appropriate and implemented to deliver results.

Prof Levin added that the State of the Public Service Barometer was being used to glean information, rather than calling upon departments to supply it. These tools were used in the back office, to analyse departmental information, to try to achieve consistent scoring.

Mr Levin noted that the PSC had not really applied itself to the land audit, although this Committee could ask the PSC to make a special study and submission. He commented that land issues were in a very complex framework, including pilot projects that extended for years, and stronger institutionalisation and frameworks were needed, which would impact on value for money.

Ms N November (ANC) was concerned to hear that DRDLR had challenges in getting confirmation of qualifications from the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). She asked if there was nothing that could be done to speed up on this point.

Prof Levin noted that the self-assessment by DRDLR had highlighted that there were problems with SAQA but PSC may need to verify that independently. 

Ms Irene Matlenjwa, Acting Deputy Director General, Monitoring and Evaluations, PSC, added that a couple of years ago the PSC engaged with various institutions. There were some capacity constraints in SAQA, but also problems in the departments in adhering to the time frames. Recommendations were being made to SAQA but departments were also being asked to send requests as early as possible. This report was also made available to the Council for Higher Education.

Ms Ngwenya-Mabila commented that there were numerous outstanding cases, which indicated that there were problems in the processing of disciplinary cases. She asked if the PSC was providing any assistance or interventions to ensure fast-tracking. She also asked what the role of the PSC was, after the AG had made findings.

Prof Levin referred to the earlier remarks on the disciplinary matters and their complications. He noted that there were certain areas in which the PSC would follow up, where relevant, on issues around efficiency, economy, effectiveness and accountability. Whilst it did not want to duplicate what the AG was doing, PSC did want to see if the issues were being addressed.

In general, Prof Levin reiterated that in relation to service providers, value for money and misconduct matters, this Committee could request further assistance from the PSC. Although it had limited resources, it would try to respond to both EAs and departments.

Mr Mdu Shabane, Director General, DRDLR, said that the Department would deal with any specific issues, on request by the Committee, and would be guided by it.

Mr Trollip suggested that there were three issues that needed to be addressed by the PSC. The first related to concerns around the CRDP, where it would be helpful to get an in-depth understanding about the constraints around successful roll out. The DRDLR had missed its own deadlines on land audit and the Committee had to understand why. The Committee, in line with its oversight function, needed reports on whether EAs were complying with signature of performance agreements.

The Chairperson added that there were many questions asked about the consequences for financial misconduct. Lack of action by senior management may be a reflection of its own weaknesses, which junior staff may be exploiting, and it would be useful to get further reports from the PSC. He would like to get information not only about suspensions, but also about non-reporting to the police. In relation to the vacancy rate, which was rising, he pointed out that this Department was restructured in 2010, and this begged the question why a further restructuring was considered necessary now, and how underspending on filling vacancies (so often described as “a saving”) could be balanced against high spending on consultants. He pointed out that it was impossible to further the developmental state through continuous use of consultants and non-filling of permanent posts. He suggested that it would be useful to meet again with the PSC after three months to get further reports.

Adoption of Committee Minutes 29 January 2013
Ms Ngwenya-Mabila asked for correction of her initials. Members adopted the Minutes, subject to that amendment.

The meeting was adjourned. 


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