Review of White Paper on Corrections 2005-2012; Ministerial Task Team resolutions: progress reports

Correctional Services

24 April 2013
Chairperson: Mr V Smith (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) briefing on the Corrections White Paper review emphasised the participation of stakeholders in the external review and self review processes. A credible review team would be established which would identify the scope and design of the review. They would be responsible for the final analysis of data, drawing conclusions and identification of priorities. The review would be submitted in November 2013.

In discussion, the DCS was questioned about salary negotiations for officials, vacancies and strategies to attract professionals. There was interest in the filling of the Chief Financial Officer position and the population of the Government Information Technology Officer branch. DCS was asked what would happen on completion of the review and how would the Portfolio Committee fit into the review. It was suggested that the early phases of the review be compressed into shorter periods, as the intended completion date did not allow for timely assessment of the review. The DCS was asked to provide an update in June.

The briefing on implementation of  Ministerial Task Team resolutions indicated that the team was established during a Ministerial Consultative Forum held in February 2013. The briefing touched on matters such as pay progression; non-payment of overtime for nurses; conditions of service for nurses and social workers; artisans; promotion policy; educator labour relations; backdated overtime; control room operators; non-implementation of collective agreements; housing allowance, and absorption of learners.

In discussion, there was concern about frequent DCS appeals against arbitration awards. There was interest in the position of control room operators, the housing allowance and artisans. There were questions about uniforms. The possibility of outsourcing health and education to the government departments responsible, was discussed. Backdated overtime caused concern, as did the DCS involvement in litigation. The DCS was confronted with the allegation that they had not engaged in arbitration in good faith. The DCS indicated its willingness to settle out of court. There were questions about the recognition of a new labour union.

Meeting report

Review on the implementation of the White Paper for Corrections 2005-2012
Ms Nontsikilelo Jolingana, DCS Chief Operations Officer, noted that the review of the implementation of the White Paper for Corrections of 2005, would encourage the participation of stakeholders. The review would include the external review and self review processes. The Department would establish a credible review team that would consist of external and internal researchers. The review would be divided into stages: the development of key questions and development of indicators and research instruments; establishment of the scope of the review; gathering of raw data using questionnaires and interviews; analysis of data and summarising findings, and presentation of findings. The report would be submitted in November 2013.

The Chairperson asked about a recent incident where a DCS official had been suspended because of violation of the dress code. The official had taken the matter to the CCMA. The DCS had said that he would be reinstated.

Ms W Ngwenya (ANC) referred to negotiations between the Department and unions about staff salaries. The DCS had said that they would negotiate. She asked about progress on that.

Ms Ngwenya asked about the filling of vacancies, and whether there was a strategy to attract professionals such as social workers, educators and psychologists. It was a challenge that impacted on programmes.

Mr Selfe asked about the filling of the CFO position.

Ms Ngubeni (ANC) asked if the DCS had received a report about the suspension of officials at St Albans.

Ms Jolingana replied that the National Commissioner had received an investigation report. The DCS would provide a written report on the matter.

Mr Abram asked that the report be delivered within 14 days.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee had been told on 6 March that the Government Information Technology Officer (GITO) branch would be populated. He asked for an update on the matter. The Committee was supposed to have received a report a week after that meeting.

Mr Selfe asked about the review team.

Ms Jolingana replied that the DCS had a research component team. External reviewers were bodies such as the Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative, and the National Corrections Council.

Mr Selfe asked what would happen once the report had been finalised.

Ms Jolingana responded that it was hoped that the report would fill a gap. The White Paper on Corrections would run for 20 years, and the current review was seen as a midterm review. It would indicate what could be done differently over the next ten years. Rehabilitation strategies might have to be reviewed.

Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) asked where things were headed with Stage Three.

Ms Jolingana replied that it was important how both staff and offenders viewed the impact of the White Paper. There were sections in the White Paper that dealt with each of them. It was also important how stakeholders were affected, including the Portfolio Committee.

Mr Ndlovu asked where the Portfolio Committee fitted in as stakeholders.

Ms Jolingana replied that the answer would emerge from interviews with the Portfolio Committee and the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS). Experienced researchers could provide inputs about the oversight role of the Portfolio Committee and JICS.

The Chairperson remarked that the Committee hoped to receive submissions, so that they could already plan during the drawing-up stages.

Mr Abram remarked that he had reservations about the submission date of November. It was close to the end of year recess, and nothing could be done during the recess. In February 2014, all attention would be on the State of the Nation Address. The budget speech would follow, and after that everybody would rush off for the elections. The process could only be resumed after the elections.

Mr Abram noted that the Department had established a credible review team. The scope and design of the review had to be identified. He asked if the Committee could play a role in defining the scope of the review. The Portfolio Committee had a Committee Researcher who could help to identify the scope and design. He asked when the Department had decided to engineer the process.

The Chairperson remarked that the Committee sometimes had to propose. There was the suggestion that the deadline be brought closer than November. The review had been decided upon collectively at a meeting with the DCS earlier in the year. The deadline looked at then had been September. He advised that when scoping was done, an earlier deadline than November be kept in mind. The role of Parliament had to be spelled out in the review.

Ms Jolingana replied that there was as yet no certainty about the role of Parliament in the scoping and reviewing. When interviews had been done, more value would be added. It would be good if the Committee Researcher could critique the report.

The Chairperson remarked that Parliament was a legislator, and could not get involved in the business of the Executive. The Executive had to be independent. The Committee was not there to micromanage, and would await a product. He asked that the DCS at least keep the Committee in the loop as they went along.

Mr Abram urged that serious note be taken of time frames. Appointment of the review team did not need to take that long, as did the other preparatory phases.

The Chairperson said that the DCS could provide an update on the review on 5 June. The Department could then tell if they could squeeze the review into a shorter period.

Mr V Magagula (ANC) asked for an update on tendering and contracts.

The Chairperson commented that detail was not needed but he wished to reiterate that there would be no extension of the Bosasa contract. The contract had expired on 31 January, and had been extended till the end of July. He told the DCS not to come back then and ask for an extension. There had to be work performed by 1 August.

Implementation of Ministerial Task Team Resolutions: progress report
Mr Teboho Mokoena, Chief Deputy Commissioner, Human Resources, noted that the Ministerial Task Team was established during a Ministerial Consultative Forum meeting held on 11 February 2013.

His briefing reported on the pay progression less 3%; non-payment of overtime for nurses; pay progression for social workers; Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) for artisans; ring fenced students of 2008; promotion policy; Educator Labour Relations Council resolution on educators; backdated overtime; control room operators; non-implementation of collective agreements; housing allowance; and absorption of learners (see document).

Mr Selfe asked Mr Mokoena to the amusement of all, if the Task Team could be likened to the oil that would get the machine working again.

Mr Selfe referred to disputes where the unions got awards in their favour. The DCS could not afford to be in court.

Mr Selfe referred to control room operators. The private contractor had moved out, and the DCS had moved in untrained people. Control rooms were then shut down, and the DCS corrected the training situation. He asked about the fate of the control rooms, and who would man them.

Mr Mokoena replied that the Committee had been told that control room operators would be trained for deployment elsewhere, and apply for other positions. But it would not do to have people come back from college and say that they would not work in control rooms. Migration had to be avoided.

Ms Ngwenya asked about challenges regarding housing allowances, as set out in Slide 10.

Mr Mokoena replied that Labour was saying that people who were appointed by the Department of Public Service and Administration, were staying on the terrain. The DCS had asked for names of those who qualified for housing allowances.

Ms Ngwenya asked if housing allowances covered the quarters of members. During their oversight visit, staff were saying that they did not have living quarters. There were challenges such as men and women having to share bathrooms. She asked if people living in the quarters had to pay the same as those who lived in big houses.

Mr Mokoena replied that housing allowances were based on salaries. The Department would report on the disparities.

Ms Ngwenya asked about the non-payment of overtime for nurses.

Mr Mokoena responded that overtime had huge implications. If weekly payment for overtime was allowed for one group, it would create a precedent.

Ms Ngwenya asked about the less than 3% outstanding overtime (Slide 2). The Department had to explain who had been paid. There were complaints about overtime not paid due to the seven day establishment. 

Mr Mokoena replied that overtime was a challenge. The position of Labour was that overtime had to be paid when more than 40 hours were worked per week. The DCS wanted to calculate overtime on a monthly basis. The DCS felt that overtime per week was too narrow. It might be that an official would work 47 hours in one week, and less than 40 hours in the next week. At the last evaluation the overtime claim was more than R1 billion. Officials were seeing overtime as accumulating, because they were viewing it in terms of weekly overtime. There had to be an averaging agreement with labour. Officials continued to clock overtime. There had to be mediation. It was a big issue, as officials had expectations that the DCS owed them overtime. Overtime for nurses was lodged within the general overtime challenge. They also claimed overtime per week. There had to be rostering per month in the management areas.

Mr Ndlovu said that it was a confusing situation. The problem had not been created by the seven day establishment. The question was if the DCS would have to revert to the situation before the seven day establishment to cover themselves.

Mr Mokoena replied that staff used to be paid overtime for weekend work. The overtime bill skyrocketed. The DCS response was to roll out an appropriate shift system. The Department was doomed without overtime averaging. There had been a pilot in Johannesburg, to identify the staffing challenge, and to determine the numbers needed to implement the seven day establishment. In the absence of an averaging agreement, overtime was constantly mounting. It was not possible to revert to the situation before the seven day establishment. The question was how it was being managed. Overtime expectations had to be dampened, and the DCS needed help with that. If overtime per week had to be paid out, the Department would have to find R2 billion.

Mr Selfe suggested that the DCS invoke a court to give a ruling on averaging.

Mr Mokoena replied that the DCS wanted to avoid courts. When the court decided, someone lost. There had to be mediation on overtime and the second phase of OSD. If the DCS went to court, the legal team would naturally want to win cases for the Department.

Mr Ndlovu asked what the problem was with artisans.

The Chairperson asked what was meant by an artisan audit.

Mr Mokoena replied that with the introduction of the OSD, artisans did not have the opportunity to choose between centre based or non-centre based. More money was to be made at centre level. People did not know the difference in renumeration between centre based and non-centre based. An audit was needed.

Mr Ndlovu asked about the promotion policy (Slide 8).

Mr Mokoena replied that the OSD had done away with the in and out of turn promotion policy. Promotions could currently only happen when there was a vacancy. Posts were currently only advertised internally. The possibility of a promotion policy similar to that of the police, was presented to the task team

Mr Ndlovu asked what would be engaged on, with reference to Slide 9.

Mr Magagula asked about uniforms.

Mr Mokoena replied that a study on uniforms had been done at Witbank. Uniforms had been delivered but not distributed. There were only six junior officials manning the store. An experienced person was brought in to rectify matters. There would be even distribution across the regions. It was necessary to get proper service providers. The last procurement was in 2008. There were issues related to the disposal of an oversupply of larger sizes.

Mr Abram asked about the value of oversize uniforms. The question was how to get the best deal for disposal. A service provider was needed.

Mr Magagula remarked that medically unfit people were being paid. There was a total lack of occupational therapists who could declare a person unfit.

Mr Mokoena replied that there had been inconsistent application of the leave policy. The DCS was looking for a service provider for health and wellness services. There were confidentiality issues. The DCS was facing a lawsuit from an official who claimed that his doctor had declared him sick. The DCS needed a second opinion. 

Mr Mokoena responded to questions about filling professional posts posed during the first presentation. Educators were treated like other educators in the public service. The Department of Public Service and Administration were saying that there were idiosyncrasies. The snag was what was meant by a master educator. The question was whether such a person resembled a school principal with oversight capabilities, or simply a subject specialist.

The Chairperson asked if the same applied to health workers. Ideally health workers and educators did not have to be the responsibility of the DCS.

Mr Mokoena replied that a social worker was the same everywhere. The Ministry of Health had been approached to procure health workers and place them. It was hard to attract nurses to work with anti-social people. The matter was being pursued at the Director General level. Educators had to find workers for the DCS.

The Chairperson referred to the endless litigation, which the DCS kept on losing.

Mr Mokoena replied that the DCS would not appeal against claims that proceeded from the application of old policies, such as the one regarding hairstyle.

If it did not make sense to fight, the Department would not do so. The DCS would like to deal outside of court, but state interests had to be protected. DCS would fight Solidarity about affirmative action. They wanted protected promotion for their candidate, which would mean that two people would have to be paid for one position.

Mr Selfe remarked that there was a pattern emerging. The DCS had to agree to arbitration results. The DCS "had the money" to take matters to the Labour Appeal Court. It had been alleged that the DCS did not engage in arbitration in good faith.

Mr Mokoena responded that with regard to the payment of Group One of 2008, the DCS appeared in court, decided not to fight, and paid up. With regard to Group Two, the account officer was asked to approve translation. The DCS would not fight in court just because they had the muscle.

Mr Abram referred to the backdated overtime. The DCS were saying that the parties were engaging on the matter, but there was no time frame. He said to general laughter that the parties could not be engaged forever, they had to get married sometime.

Mr Abram asked if it would not be better for education to be the responsibility of the Department of Education.

The Chairperson agreed with that.

Mr Abram referred to the statement that outsourcing would proceed when a feasibility study had been done (Slide 19). The problem was that the DCS made commitments and did not keep to time frames.

Mr Ndlovu asked what was meant by “at the Labour Court” in Slide 10.

Mr Mokoena responded that  there was an issue around the interpretation of Clause 11, regarding how to prepare for Phase two. There was a directive from the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA). It possibly had to be reviewed with the DPSA and Labour.

The Chairperson said that the Committee was getting letters from a union that was asking to be recognised.

Mr Mokoena responded that the union in question did not meet the threshold. They had been granted six months to meet it, but could not. The union took the matter to the Department of Labour. 

The Chairperson asked if there was a real structure for the Government Information Technology Officer (GITO). He asked in terms of the June organogram, if there were warm bodies.

Mr Mokoena answered that he had not responded yet, but would write a reply to the question.

The Chairperson told him that the Secretary was going to fight him.

Mr Magagula asked about the appointment of a Chief Financial Officer.

The Chairperson asked that the Committee be informed where the process was with the GITO and the CFO, on 29 May.

Mr Mokoena replied that the CFO position would be re-advertised that week.

The Chairperson asked when the Department would have a CFO.

Mr Mokoena replied that it would be by the end of July.

Ms Jolingana added that the CFO appointment panel was chaired by the Minister.

The Chairperson remarked that if it was "beyond the Department’s control", questions would be raised in Parliament if it went beyond the end of July.

The Chairperson asked how far the feasibility study had progressed (Slide 19).

Ms Jolingana responded that there would be a report by the end of May.

The Chairperson noted that the next meeting with the Department would be on 8 May.

Committee business and minutes
The Chairperson noted that the study tour could not happen because the proposed slot for the visit had fallen away. The Committee had received a progress report from the DCS about the Correctional Matters Amendment Act (No 5 of 2011) and the gang management strategy. There had been a meeting with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), where the Chairman of the SITA Board had undertaken to resolve the deadlock about the Remand Detention Offender Management System (RDOMS) with the DCS and the service provider. SITA had been given until 22 May to sort out the matter. There would a written report by 15 May. A meeting could take place in the week of 4 to 8 June.

Matters arising from minutes were discussed. It was felt that the committee had to visit Durban-Westville centre. However, it was mentioned that the DCS was saying that a visit would disturb its investigation.

Mr S Abram (ANC) insisted that visits had to take place, also to St Albans. Parliament represented 'the people', and inmates, in this instance, were 'the people'. A principle had to be established. Parliament had to keep the executive and the administration in check. The Corrections portfolio dealt with human beings. There had to be immediate interventions on issues. The Portfolio Committee needed to know what was going on. Officials did not want oversight. The object of a visit would not be to find out who had been responsible, but why things were happening. The Committee had to establish a reputation for rapid response.

Ms W Ngwenya (ANC) asked when there would be a report on salary negotiations.

Mr Abram remarked that the Committee had not had the chance to undertake a study tour. He asked if restrictions on study tours applied to other committees also.

The Chairperson replied that it was not unique to the Committee.

Minutes of 27 February and 6 March were adopted.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.


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