2012 Development Indicators: briefing with Deputy Minister of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

Standing Committee on Appropriations

05 August 2013
Chairperson: Mr Sogoni E (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) presented its report on the 2012 Development Indicators. The Development Indicators, which DPME prepared annually, was aimed at measuring the impact of South Africa’s policies. The 2012 Development Indicators however were different from past ones as it attempted a comparison between apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa, and examined the extent to which the work done since 1994 had impacted on the general populace. The ten thematic areas that the report focused on were economy, employment, poverty and inequality, household and community assets, health, education, social cohesion, safety and security, international relations, as well as good governance.

The 2012 Development Indicators suggested that although South Africa was making progress in many areas, challenges still existed in some thematic areas. South Africa’s economy presently, according to the 2012 Development Indicators, was a mixed bag of progress and challenges. The nation was still feeling the after-effects of the 2008 global economic crisis, but economic growth trends were becoming stable. Unemployment remained a challenge especially for South Africa’s youth, although the Expanded Public works Programme (EPWP) was contributing significantly to employment. The nation had a significant reduction in poverty levels, but income inequality remained stubborn. There were improvements in housing and basic services, but the rate of increase had slowed down. South Africa’s achievements in education and health had also been mixed although social cohesion had improved. There had been a steady decline in crime levels, but the violent nature of crimes posed a challenge. 

Members raised concern about the reliability and quality of data utilised in the report, noting that submissions in the report might be negatively affected if the data collection and analysis process were fraught with errors and irregularities. They asked about the authenticity and source of the figures on housing as well as access to water and sanitation infrastructure. Members also questioned the ability of the EPWP to generate long term employment, and the lack of details on evaluation and outcomes measurement. They asked if the findings in the report were consistent with those of the 20 Year Review, and whether departments were in agreement with the submissions in the report.

Meeting report

Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation briefing on the Development Indicators 2012
Ms Nolwazi Gasa, Deputy Director General in the Outcomes Monitoring and Evaluation Branch, Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation commenced the presentation by apologising for the delay in submitting the presentation and the Development Indicators 2012 Report to the Committee. She noted the Department had always been preparing the Development Indicators for South Africa. However, the distinction between the 2012 Development Indicators and past ones was the emphasis on reflecting on what the nation was before 1994, and what the situation was at present. The purpose of the Development Indicators 2012 was to enable South Africa to measure the impact of its policies, and to examine the extent to which the work done since 1994 had impacted on the general populace. There were 85 indicators grouped into ten themes, and each thematic area began with a reflection of what the nation inherited 19 years ago. The ten thematic areas were economy, employment, poverty and inequality, household and community assets, health, education, social cohesion, safety and security, international relations, as well as good governance. Data that informed the development indicators was sourced from government administrative databases, official statistics, and research done by local and international institutions. The Department embarked on an intensive quality assurance process to ensure consistency in data analysis, and many datasets were rejected if there were significant quality concerns. The extensive disaggregated data had been made available on the Department’s website and it covered provinces, gender, sectors, among others.

Ms Gasa noted that the Development Indicator report was being presented before it would be released by the Minister in two weeks time. There was a plan underway to release the report to the media before it would be circulated to Parliament, Executive, and the private sector. Even as previous media launches stimulated debate in society on key developmental issues, the launch would be followed by reflections by the different sector experts that would interrogate some of the assertions and findings in the report. The development indicators represented a reflection of what the nation was at a specific point in time and it did not begin to interrogate why certain things were in a particular way. They were not entirely in-depth as they focused on trend analysis. The indicators supplemented other key Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) products like sites visits, Outcomes M&E and Institutional M&E reports. The reflection on what was obtained in the past in the report was also coming at an opportune time when the Department was working on the 20 Year Review.

Ms Gasa expounded on the economic theme in the report, stating that data trends confirmed already known patterns in South African economy.  The economy presently was a mixed bag of progress and challenges. South Africa’s economy in the early 1990s was characterised by slow GDP growth, as well as a negative real per capita GDP growth, but this had improved significantly. The nation was still feeling the after-effects of the global economic crisis, but economic growth trends were becoming stable. Unemployment however remained a challenge, especially for South Africa’s youth. Progress, although slower than anticipated, was recorded with the second phase of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) which had created 5.46 million jobs. Gross expenditure on research and development which was quite low in 1994 had significantly increased, but still remained below the targeted goal of 1% of GDP. The racially and gender skewed economic development in the nation before the abolition of apartheid had been significantly reduced. 

Ms Gasa remarked that the nation had made significant reduction in poverty levels, but income inequality remained stubborn. The nation was characterised by high poverty levels, low living standards and high inequality prior to 1994. However, the social assistance programme had contributed to poverty reduction as over 15.5 million people had benefitted from it as at 2011/12. Analysis of asset ownership from 2000 to 2011 indicated that there was a decline in the lower asset bracket, and there had been significant increases in both middle asset and highest asset brackets. However the increase was more significantly pronounced in the middle asset bracket as it had recorded the greatest increase overtime. The opening up of the labour market had aided entrance into the middle asset bracket.

Ms Gasa stated that South Africa had made progress in terms of housing provision. The racial segregation that characterised the apartheid regime affected housing and its provision. About 3.38 million subsidised housing units had been provided but there was an ever increasing backlog of housing, and the nation still had challenges around informal settlements. There was also an improvement in basic services, but the rate of increase had slowed down. Significant stride had been made in water and sanitation infrastructure since 1994, as 95% and 83.4% had access to water infrastructure and sanitation infrastructure respectively. Challenges however existed in infrastructure maintenance and this was taking its toll on quality and functionality of basic services and assets.

She noted that in health, disparity existed across race and class lines and this was also noticeable in infant and child mortality. South Africa also had high incidence of tuberculosis and HIV before 2009, but progress had been made in reducing both incidences. The HIV and AIDS interventions in South Africa had led to increase in life expectancy to 60 years, and infant and child mortality rates were decreasing. Maternal mortality however remained a challenge and the nation would also not be able to meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) target.

Ms Gasa indicated that South Africa’s achievement in education had been mixed. There had been an increase in budgetary allocation to education and enrolment rates were excellent for the compulsory age. Grade R enrolments had also doubled from 300 000 to 705 000 between 2003 and 2011. There was however a challenge of getting value for money in relation to the quality of South Africa’s educational outcomes compared to similar developing countries.

Social cohesion in South Africa, according to Ms Gasa, had apparently improved since 1994.  Although there was no pre 1994 data on voter participation, there was an increase in voter participation in 2011 municipal elections and this suggested an increase in public confidence in the nation’s democracy and the legitimacy of the state. Sporting events such as the 2010 FIFA World Cup hosted also had positive impact on national pride.

She stated that crime levels in South Africa had steadily declined, albeit there was a worrying concern in the crimes being committed as some were violent in nature. A lot of crimes that were committed were also drug related and this might not be unconnected with the level of porosity of South Africa’s borders.

Ms Gasa also stated that South Africa had significantly improved its international relations, noting that there was hardly any diplomatic relations with most nations during apartheid. The nation presently however was a major player in African economy and relations, and also had a significant presence in the world.

Governance, Ms Gasa indicated, had also improved and this was manifested in the accountability of the government. Tax administration had been enhanced as there was an increase in tax revenue.  The nation had also been commended for having one of the most transparent budget processes in the world.   

Ms Gasa concluded that South Africa was making progress but challenges still remained. Poverty levels were declining, but the challenges of unemployment and inequality remained stubborn. Life expectancy gains were also having positive socio-economic implications beyond health.

Discussion
Ms R Mashigo (ANC) requested clarity on crime statistics, asking if crime was indeed reducing despite contrary reports of sporadic incidences of crime.

Ms Gasa replied that crime was indeed declining but concerns being raised in the development indicators were about the violent nature of some of the crimes reported.

Mr J Gelderblom (ANC) asked whether there was any indicator that addressed the electricity situation of the country in the report. He asked if the report utilised any study on students that passed their matriculation and proceeded into institutions of higher learning.

Ms Gasa replied that electricity was covered on Page 29 of the main report. Education analysis indicated improvement in education, but there was the need to improve resource efficiency.

Ms A Mfulo (ANC) expressed concern about the employment situation in the nation. She demanded clarification on the EPWP programme and the number of jobs it had created, questioning the ability of the programme to create sustainable jobs. She also asked why the report was not in depth especially in terms of evaluation. She noted that the report was not clear on what had been, what was happening, and what the nation needed to do to improve on all fronts.

Ms Gasa replied that the 2012 Development Indicators was a status of the nation’s performance around an indicator. It comprised a trend analysis but did not fully consider what the impact was as it would be done in an evaluation.

Mr N Singh (IFP) asked if the Department had a margin of error for their data analysis and report. He asked what government departments’ reaction to the report was, and whether they were all in agreement with the findings. He also asked if there was an exercise in the report that focused on measuring the efficiency or effectiveness of resources used vis a vis the output secured.

Ms Gasa replied that DPME had series of engagements with government departments, as well as inputs from these departments. There however had been areas of disagreements with some departments and while some were resolved, DPME ultimately had to put the interest of the nation first and reach submissions that were accurate and objective. There was also a consensus that resources efficiency must be improved.

Mr L Ramatklane (ANC) stated that there was a lot of information on the document the Department was presenting. He noted the presentation was like an introduction on the document, but the Committee needed sufficient time to engage with the document in order to be able to engender informed discussion.

Mr Ramatklane referred to the quality control of data, especially data gotten from other departments, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), as well as Census 2011, and asked how reliable the data were. He asked if the findings in the report were consistent with the 2003 and 2013 Review. He referred to the 3.3 million housing units that were provided, and asked the Department where the figure was gotten from and if those were the total number of houses provided since 1994. He requested clarification on the 95% access to water that was being reported in the presentation. He also asked what the basis for the calculation of jobs was, and what issues were always considered before a job could be deemed to have been created.

Ms Gasa agreed that it was important to interrogate the data behind the data vis a vis its reliability. She stated that it was possible for DPME to come back with its data experts and have a discussion with the Committee on data reliability. There were indications of data sources throughout the report. The report provided the sources of each indicator, and also noted the views that solely belonged to DPME. The 95% water access reported in the Development Indicators was a consolidated figure based on census data and information gotten from the Department of Water Affairs, although there were still concerns around maintenance, upgrading and refurbishment. DPME also undertook a study on sanitation which had been tabled in the Parliament, and also received mentions in the Development Indicators particularly addressing the extent to which it qualifies as a service. The housing statistics represented a cumulative figure from 1994, but the report did not give an indication of how many were rebuilt from the total number. This information would however be part of the 20 Year Review. There might be differences in actual figures, but there were areas of alignment between the 2012 Development Indicators and the 20 Year Review, especially in terms of trend analysis and the direction the nation was heading towards. The EPWP analysis considered opportunities, and not necessarily jobs. This was also raising ongoing debates even in government around the number people that had been employed. There were however significant strides achieved in terms of opportunities provided especially through the EPWP programme, but its impact on jobs were uncertain.

The Deputy Minister for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Mr Obed Bapela added that the Committee was right on the issue around water access. He noted that there was a problem with the operational definition of access to water due to the fact that while some considered water access to be associated with the presence of water infrastructure in a place, many were of the opinion that water access entailed a situation when water was available in a place at any point in time. There would however be clarity on the issue in the future.

Mr G Snell (ANC) suggested that the Committee needed the Department to unpack the indicators, as the presentation was not in depth.

Mr Bapela replied that it may be necessary for Committee Members to study the report in detail, and invite DPME back for interrogations.

Ms Mashigo asked whether the crime problems the nation had was connected with the quality and qualification of the police, as well as the justice system.  

Ms Gasa replied that the Development Indicators did not go into the details of whether the nation had recruited the right people, as well as the quality of policing. The report only analysed actual improvements and challenges on issues relating to crime.

The Chairperson noted that the Development Indicators cut across government’s service delivery issues. It would be useful to break them down going forward, so that specific Portfolio Committees would be invited to intimate them on what was happening in their respective sectors. The Committee would study the document, and consider having discussion on it in the future. It was also important to engage with relevant departments to discuss on the challenges such departments were contending with and explore actions that could be taken. It was imperative that the nation took stock of the number of jobs the EPWP programme had generated, and relate it with the target set out by the President in 2009. The Committee would be looking at engaging the Department of Works in order to explore how the performance of the EPWP could be enhanced and how to increase the period of time people would be engaged in the EPWP.

The Committee thereafter considered and adopted the Committee’s Draft Minutes for the period March to June 2013.

The meeting was adjourned.

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