Electronic Communications Act Amendment Bill [B17-2013], ICASA Amendment Bill [B18-2013]: deliberations, Deputy Minister & Department of Communications on its 2012/13 Annual Report & 1st term expenditure report

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Communications

09 October 2013
Chairperson: Mr S Kholwane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee received short briefings from the Department of Communications (DOC or the Department) outlining the matters that were flagged for further discussion in relation to two amendment bills. For the Electronic Communications Act Amendment Bill, the Committee noted that it still wished to debate and decide upon broadband speed, the Minister’s right to make policy, spectrum fees; whether the references to “days” should be changed to “calendar days” and the suggestion that universal access should specifically include access for the disabled. Further debate was also needed on the management of the spectrum and the national plan, on transfer, ownership and control of a licence; and on inter-connection and facilities leasing. New amendments had been proposed to section 60 of the principal Act. One Member suggested that the definitions must be fully in alignment with the Consumer Protection Act.

In relation to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa Amendment Bill, the Committee flagged for discussion the question of fines to be applied to a councillor; whether the Minister needed to act in consultation with the National Assembly when making appointments, or whether the power should remain with ICASA under section 17, and the procedure around investigation of complaints, and whether the time periods were obligatory and applied to when investigations should take place.

The Department of Communications, in the presence of the Deputy Minister of Communications presented a report on its 1st quarter 2013 expenditure and performance. Some targets had not been met. The Deputy Minister said that although the DOC tried to meet its commitments, there had been delays caused by the change of Minister, and there was a review being done of all targets and plans. The Department had earmarked certain critical projects that it would deal with over the next seven months. Its budget programme structure had been revised after National Treasury indicated that there should be a consolidation. It was stressed that around 76% of the R2 billion budget allocation represented transfers to other entities, and about half of the remaining amount went to salaries, so that in effect the DOC was trying to run all programmes with around R200 million. A list of achievements was presented. Members were critical of the presentation, which did not give a clear picture of what exactly the Department was doing overall. They questioned the achievements on programmes to schools, and said that in their experience the students would rather download music and movies, and questioned why the Department consistently attributed under-achievement on targets to budget constraints, when it was not always spending the money that it did have. They asked why invoices were not being paid within the required 30 days, and said that this would probably lead to under-expenditure. They wondered why a Memorandum of Understanding had not been brought earlier to their attention, asked about the Policy Review, and wanted an explanation of when and why consultants were being used. They asked where the broadband documents were for public comment, if they had been finalised, asked about the subsidy funding figure for the Set Top Boxes, and whether Treasury had approved this funding from the Universal Services Access Fund. Overall, Members felt that the Department appeared to be regressing,  commented that “plans under way” was not an achievement, and asked about skills transfer, whether posts advertised were funded, and migration of staff. They wanted to know if the main building contractor for the cyber security hub had been appointed, and what was causing delays.

The DOC then presented its Annual Report for 2012/13. The Deputy Minister, in her introduction, conceded that a comparison of performance between this year and the past year led to the conclusion that the Department was failing itself and the people of South Africa. She said that challenges in human resources capacity meant that the Department had not been able to achieve as planned, and the whole ICT Policy Review had to be reviewed and aligned with international best practice. Bills had been delayed. Cabinet would still need to take a decision, in the last Cabinet meeting of the year, as the future of the digital migration broadcast. Broadband policy had been delayed because of consultation with relevant departments. Spectrum was another issue on which meetings would be held in the following week. It was noted that the total revenue of the Department was R4.6 billion although it was also mentioned that funding from the Finnish Government had to be returned. Expenditure was close to 100%, with R3.8 million recorded as under-spent. The DOC had generated r billion of revenue from license fees.

Members were not happy with several aspects of the Report, and eventually, after questions had been asked, concluded that nothing more would be gained from seeking more answers in the meeting and insisted that the Department submit a full response on all issues raised, together with a detailed report on the plans to address the numerous deficiencies outlined by the Auditor-General. The Chairperson asked why, given the almost full expenditure, only 50% of the targets were achieved, and the point was repeated that the Department must not attempt to cite under-funding as the reason for not achieving targets. Members asked why performance bonuses were given, and to whom, wanted a full list of consultants, and asked why matters such as the Supply Chain Management protocols had not been completed. They again questioned what was being done around filling of vacancies, particularly for the Chief Financial Officer post. There were severe question marks around the usefulness of the information given in the presentation. Members doubted that sufficient oversight was being exercised by the accounting officer. Members noted that every year, there were issues of wasteful and fruitless expenditure, IT and HR, asked if any results were measured from policies, if the Department followed up, and what exactly was achieved from the ICT and rural development plans. They commented that the absence of a properly functioning internal control unit was a recipe for disaster, and expressed concerns at the performance of the Departments audit committee. Further questions, not answered at the meeting, related to the emergency call centre, the steep rise in advertising, the communications policy, the increase in the audit cost, the debt write-offs, how the Department managed to over-pay on salaries, the large amounts recorded for traffic fines, and whether these were recovered, the spending on specific campaigns and the steep rise in contingent liabilities..
 

Meeting report

Electronic Communications Act (ECA) Amendment Bill [B17-2013]: Department of Communications briefing
Ms Rosey Sekese, Director General, Department of Communications, said the purpose of the presentation was to isolate issues in the Electronic Communications Act (ECA) Amendment Bill, and flag any items needing further discussions.

Ms Lerato Molete, Director: Legal Services, Department of Communications, said that following earlier meetings on the Bill, a number of matters had been highlighted for further discussion (see attached presentation for full details). She tabled a list of the proposed amendments, and summarised that they were related to:

- clause 1(c), on broadband speed;
- clause 3(1)(e), on the Minister’s right to make policy and on spectrum fees;
- clause 4(5), related to changing “calendar days” to “days”
- clauses 8(3) and 8(4), where the Committee wanted the definition of universal access to include access for the disabled;  
- the clause related to section 34 of the Act, on the management of the spectrum and the national plan;
- the clauses relating to transfer, ownership and control of a licence;
- amendments to section 37(3) and 43(4) on inter-connection and facilities leasing;
- the amendments to section 60 of Act 36 of  2005.

Mr Themba Phiri, Deputy Director-General: ICT Policy and Strategy, Department of Communications, said that the proposals around section 60 were new and had not been in the original version of the Bill. The issue was regulated by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) but the regulation was not satisfactory to the stakeholders, and they had asked the Committee to discuss the matter.

Mr Phiri said, in regard to the e-rate contained in section 70, that the Minister could give instructions regarding its execution. He said there had been submissions that the e-rate should be extended to include health facilities.

Discussion
Ms A Muthambi (ANC) asked the Department to check whether the definition, on page 4 of the presentation, was aligned with the Consumer Protection Act.

Independent Communications Authority of South Africa Amendment Bill [B18-2013]: Department of Communications briefing
Ms Molete gave a presentation to the Committee on the proposed amendments for the ICASA Bill (see attached presentation for full details). The Committee then decided to flag the following matters for further discussion:

- the matter of the fines that could be applied to a Councillor, as dealt with in section 12
- The question of whether the Minister should appoint “in consultation” with the National Assembly or whether the power should remain with ICASA alone
- The section dealing with the power of ICASA to investigate complaints, in which clarity was needed around whether the 30 days mentioned were for reference, or were intended to be the time limits for the investigation

Discussion
Mr A Steyn (DA) asked why the term 'licensee' had been substituted with the term 'a person'.

Mr Phiri replied that complaints need not only come from licensees but could come from any member of the public.

Ms R Lesoma (ANC) said the issue had been addressed at a previous meeting, where it was noted that licences could be sub-let to another person.

Department of Communications First Quarter 2013 expenditure report  
Deputy Minister Ms Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said that the first quarter 2013 expenditure report of the Department of Communications (DOC or the Department) reflected targets of the previous quarter, for example in regard to vacancies, which had not been met. The DOC had tried to meet its commitments but delays in appointments had occurred, mainly because of the change of Minister. The new Minister and Department had wanted to review the targets. The Department had decided to mark critical projects that needed to be embarked on for the following seven months.

Ms Sekese said the Department’s budget programme structure had been revised, and the Department would in future be working on five programmes. Interaction with National Treasury had identified the need to consolidate immediately. The Annual Report, however, still set out the old programme structure.

She then read out the achievements of the Department (see presentation on first quarter performance) in the first quarter.

Dr Sam Vilakazi, Deputy Director-General: Administration, Department of Communications, said that 76% of the R2 billion budget allocation related to transfers, which totalled R1.5 billion.

Discussion
Mr C Kekana (ANC) said the presentation should have been an overview, rather than the detailed exposition given because the Members were not getting a sense of the overall picture of the Department. For instance, he noted the DOC had mentioned that 500 schools had received the programmes. In his experience, students tended to download music and movies instead of educational material. He wanted to know, for instance, how the Department would be tackling this issue.

Mr Steyn said there were a number of targets that had not been achieved, which the Department had ascribed to budget constraints. He said it should be impossible to set the kinds of targets that could not be achieved if no funds were available. He questioned if, for instance, the DOC was intending to convey that there would be no money for the rest of the year. He said invoices had not been paid within 30 days, and wondered if this would result in a report of under-expenditure for this quarter. He also said that there was mention of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), but that it had not been brought to the attention of the Committee earlier.

Ms R Lesoma (ANC), referring to slide 7 of the presentation, said that there was concern at the on-going underperformance of the Department. 

Ms A Muthambi (ANC) wanted the Director General to address the Department’s use of consultants to do their work.

Ms M Shinn (DA) said that the first quarter report said that many things would be done by the end of the second quarter, but now the second quarter had ended. She wanted to know specifically if that work had now been done? For instance, if the broadband policy was finalised, she asked where the broadband documents were, so that public comment could be garnered.

Ms Shinn referred to the fact that Set Top Boxes (STB) had received subsidy funding of R240 million for 300 000 boxes, at R800 per box. Given the price increases, she asked if this figure was still accurate. She said there were a lot of objections from the people who contributed monies to the Universal Services Access Fund (USAF) on how that money was being utilised to subsidise the STBs. She wondered if the DOC had specific Treasury approval to fund the STBs from the USAF. Furthermore, she noted the comment that the media awareness plan for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) had not been developed because there was no budget, and wanted to know how the budget for this in the previous year had been spent.

Ms R Morutoa (ANC), referring to slide 13, asked whether the fact that “plans are under way” could be regarded as an achievement. She said the report gave no idea about the performance of the Department.

Ms S Tsebe (ANC) said she was disappointed that there was no improvement and the Department appeared to be regressing. She said there were a number of leadership challenges, and nothing had been done. She felt the team was being paid for no achievements. She wanted further information on the broadband infrastructure.

Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams apologised for how the Department had presented the report to the Committee. In answer to the question posed by Mr Kekana, she said the schools connectivity project was intended to give access to information for educational purposes, and would be locked, with only access to an education portal. The roll out of the project had been paused so that consultations could be done and frameworks developed to standardise requirements, because the Department did not want large variations between what different schools had in terms of computers and connectivity. Minimum targets had been set.

Mr Jabu Radebe, Acting Deputy Director General: ICT infrastructure, Department of Communications, said the DOC had developed the framework on how to connect the schools and confirmed that it would be an educational portal only.

The Deputy Minister noted that another reason the targets had not been met was, as the presentation said, because of budgetary constraints. When the Department presented its budget plans to National Treasury, Treasury had intimated that the budget needed to be cut by 50% and the Department had to reprioritise its plans. A budget plan had been developed, but the Department had been given 50% less than it wanted, based on Treasury’s assessment, not the Department’s. She added that the funding provided for critical projects did not address the skills needed to do the project.

The Deputy Minister commented on the use of service providers, and said she had also thought that if people did not perform, they should be dismissed. However, the matter was not as simple as this. The DOC was faced with problems around  labour laws, work backlogs and staff that had been inherited. The Department had said it would be re-skilling the staff who needed to be reskilled, and had conducted a skills audit to identify these skills gaps.

Ms Sekese added, in regard to the appointment of service providers, that the magnitude of the projects was unbelievable. Research had been undertaken covering the period since 1996. She said that there was a massive landscape change in the Department of Communications.

Ms Sekese said the Department believed passionately in communication being a key priority, but the Department was hamstrung as it did not control the purse.

Dr Vilakazi followed on from the earlier remarks on the budget. Major projects like the DTT remained under funded and the same applied to the issue of e- skills. He repeated that 76% of the budget was transfers to other entities, and of the remaining money, half of that went to salaries, which meant that the Department itself was left with about R200 million remaining for all its major projects. He said the Department did deliver public awareness programs, which included the DTT programme. It had started in December 2012.

Mr Themba Phiri, Deputy Director-General: ICT Policy and Strategy, Department of Communications,  added to the remarks on digital broadcasting budget, and delays in the manufacturing of STBs, and explained that the Department was rolling over its budget until it spent its initial allocation The Department had calculated that it would need R2.45 billion to attend the manufacturing of STBs.

Dr Vilakazi said in regard to non-payment of invoices that it was indeed correct that the DOC was unable to pay every invoice within 30 days. Where this did not happen, it was mostly because of incorrect company details being supplied, or incorrect products or services being supplied to the Department.

Mr Phiri said that the annual performance plan had several key programmes with other dependencies, such as the requirement for Cabinet approval that applied to the instances of digital migration. This could lead to delays.
 
The Deputy Minister conceded that that the Committee should have been informed about the ICT Policy Review Panel.

Mr Phiri apologised for not presenting the ICT Policy Review to the Committee. The report, which contained lessons learnt from Canada’s experience, showed that it was best not for this Review to be done in-house so that it would have a measure of independence. In other cases, it was sometimes the case that DOC might not be able to find suitable service providers, even after advertising three times. It might be that no one could be found because of the seriousness of the assessment tools needed for this kind of market. The ICT Policy Review had to undergo several rigorous stages.

Mr Phiri said that the broadband documents should be on the website for public comment. If they were not, it was perhaps because the website was in the process of being re-vamped.

Mr Gift Buthelezi, Deputy Director General: International Affairs, Department of Communications, responded to Ms Shinn’s question on why certain matters had not been done by saying that the Department was very short staffed with a complement of 15 people.

Mr Buthelezi also responded on the MOU, and said that sometimes MoUs were generated because of a state visit. He said the Department had secured money from the EU for the e-skills programme, for broadband and for SADC. He said many MoU were outdated, being 10 years or older, and the Department wanted now to update them and make them relevant.

Mr Radebe added that the Department had drafted a broadband policy and draft strategy. However, the Executive had not approved it and sent it back.  The Department was working to complete this by November.

Mr Harold Wesso, Programme Manager: e-Skills Institute, Department of Communications, said that virtual hubs were very important for all teaching institutions. The e-Skills institute was a new institution and it was also doing research. It was raining lecturers in multimedia and had taken hundreds through the apps factory. Internationally it was working with the World Bank, the United Nations and the European Commission (from which it got a grant) to e-skill communities and develop workers working in the Departments of Health, and Rural Development.

Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams spoke to issues of leadership and stability, and said that improving these was a critical target for the Department. The Department was now working with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) on the performance contracts of the Director General and the Deputy Director General. The posts had been advertised, and the Department would be interviewing for three Deputy Director General posts and a Chief Financial Officer post. She note that the senior management did not get performance bonuses.

Ms Sekese said the Department wanted an opportunity to present on the ICT Policy Review and on the MoUs at some stage.

Ms Tsebe asked how many consultants were used by the Department, for how long, and what skills would remain in the Department. She wanted to know whether the positions were funded, and budgeted for.

The Deputy Minister assured the Committee that all the positions advertised were funded.

Dr Vilakazi added that the Department needed to fill the vacant and funded positions by the end of the financial year. The Department had a list of all consultants. They were used mainly where the Department was lacking skills, for example in spectrum analysis and other technical areas. Documents and other information was available from the Department. In general, he also added that the website was being revamped to make it more user friendly.
 
Ms Shinn wanted to know if the Company Secretaries Forum was hosted in the second quarter. She also asked if the migration of staff to the new organisational structure had commenced.

Ms Tsebe asked Mr Radebe whether the e-skills programme in schools included the funding model regarding the e-skills programme in schools. She asked if it was a total solution which included provisions for maintenance and access to the internet.

Ms Tsebe was critical of the fact that the Department would repeatedly raise “lack of funding” as an excuse, when in fact it was consistently under-spending on the budget.  She asked why the Department always used lack of funding when it was always under spending its budget.

Ms Shinn asked whether the main building contractor for the cyber security hub had been appointed.

Mr Radebe said the Department was committed to establishing a virtual cyber security hub. The virtual hub needed to migrate to a building. The DOC was awaiting funding from Treasury to complete the task.

Mr C Kekana (ANC) asked what was causing the delay on Set Top Boxes (STB), and whether this arose at the local or the international part of the manufacturing process?

Ms Muthambi asked whether the Department had implemented the court order mentioned on slide 17.

Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams said the framework which had been agreed upon had been shared with the mobile operators, who had agreed to it, and the framework would also be used for the schools connectivity, driven via the Universal Service obligations. The Universal Services and Access Agency (USAASA) would roll it out, based on the framework.

The Deputy Minister said that the Cabinet was now realising that communications was a critical department and therefore needed support.  The Minister had stated that as soon as there was a plan for broadband, funds would be available.  

The Deputy Minister confirmed that the Department of Communications had lost the recent case relating to the set top boxes (STB), and had to comply with the court order, but the Department needed to understand what the judgment meant. If control of the STBs was dropped, the Department needed to understand what the policy implications of that would be and how would policy be implemented. This process would be finalised within the next week, because the Department did not want to miss the 2015 deadline.

She noted that the Department had issued a tender for the cyber security hub but it would only be appointed when Treasury approved funds.

The Deputy Minister wanted to expand on the role of the Department of Basic Education and the Dinaledi project which was started in 2010. The DOC had attended to the connectivity only, but it would take ownership of the project and introduce a total solution, and this was approved by the Department of Education. This would include maintenance.

She also referred to Cabinet taking decisions, and the implication that this was leading to delays. In fact, Cabinet was not responsible for the delays and it responded to reports received from departments. It was the duty of officials to act immediately on the recommendations of the Cabinet. Communications played a critical role in a country and the Department needed to be part of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission.

Dr Vilakazi said the Department only appointed credible service providers, and new service providers’ bank details needed to be verified to prevent fraud.

Dr Vilakazi also commented on evidence provided to substantiate achievements. He said the achievement would not be recognised if there was no evidence. Managers had to provide evidence before their achievement reports would be accepted.

Department of Communications Annual Report 2012/13
Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams gave an introduction to the Annual Report presentation of the Department of Communications. She said that if the Departments performance in this year was compared with its performance in the previous financial year, the Department had let down itself and the country. The Department had experienced challenges in human resources capacity, and had not achieved what it wanted to achieve regarding the ICT policy review. The entire policy process had to be reviewed and aligned with international best practise. The Department had also been delayed in the presentation of bills before Parliament. Broadband policy had been delayed because of consultation with relevant departments. Another issue related to spectrum and there would be a meeting in the following week on spectrum management as this also impacted on broadband. In relation to digital migration broadcasts, the Cabinet would have to take a decision on the matter and the way forward.

Ms Sekese then read out the achievements of the Department (see presentation on the Annual Report)

Dr Vilakazi summarised the financial situation. The total  appropriation of the Department was R1.6 billion, but he also noted that there was funding from the Finnish government of R281 million. Total revenue was R4.6 billion. Expenditure totalled R1.65 billion, which was fairly close to 100%. Some money had been re-directed to host the Cup of Nations There was under expenditure of R3.8 million. R3 billion of revenue, from license fees, Vodacom and Telkom, was surrendered to the State.    

Discussion
Ms Shinn said the Minister had said that performance had been at 50% for the past three years, yet noted that 75 people had been given performance bonuses, and she called for an explanation on this.

Dr Vilakazi said only two senior management staff had qualified for bonuses as far as performance was concerned.

Ms Shinn noted that the DTT awareness projects had nine consultants, at a total cost of R11.8million. She wanted to know if there had been any verification of the effectiveness of the projects.

Ms Lesoma said that in the next Annual Report she wanted reference to all the consultants used.

Ms Shinn noted that on page 166 of the Annual Report, it was stated that the call centre had been closed down while there were lease payments still to be made. 

Ms Shinn noted that the Finnish government grant of R281 000 had to be given back to Treasury because it was not spent. She wondered why that money was not spent.

Ms Shinn asked if the SABC did have the authority to sign away access control on STBs.

Ms Lesoma commented that the Supply Chain Management (SCM) protocol had still not been used. She said that there was information given in the presentation, but there was a question mark on the usefulness of the information.

Ms Newhoudt-Druchen asked for the terms ‘National Digital Repository’, ‘.ZACR’ and ‘.ZDNA’ to be explained.

The Deputy Minister explained that the .ZACR, she it was the central registry responsible to regulate email addresses

Ms Newhoudt-Druchen was insistent that the specifications for the STBs should have sub title captioning included.

Ms Tsebe wanted to know which province was used to benchmark the research, and what the e-commerce platform was.

Ms Tsebe said every year there was wasteful and fruitless expenditure from the Department. She asked exactly what were the challenges and what was the Department going to do, as it seemed that the Accounting Officer was not exercising oversight.

Mr Steyn said he was disappointed that the Department had not addressed the issues raised by the Auditor General, such as IT and HR. The Auditor General had been scathing on HR. There had been appointments to posts that had not been funded. There were issues on overtime and the recording of leave. He said this Department, more than any other, should have been on top of IT issues but both the DOC and its entities were lacking in this respect.

Mr Steyn wanted to know if the DOC had ever measured the results from developing a policy, if there was follow-up and was there any assessment of the actual outcomes achieved, particularly regarding ICT and rural development. What was the status of identifying interventions? He said more tangible things needed to be stated as achievements.

Mr Steyn commented that the absence of an internal control unit was a recipe for things to go wrong. There were grave concerns over the performance of the Department’s audit committee. There was no sense that issues in the Department were being addressed. He said no jobs had been evaluated in the past financial year.

Mr Steyn asked what was happening regarding the Departments emergency call centre.

Mr Steyn wanted clarification on the sharp rise in the costs for advertising. The DOC had said it was due to publicity for the DTT, but cost R30 million extra – was this correct?

Mr Steyn asked why there was such an increase in the audit costs, from R6 million in 2011/12 to R14 million in 2012/13.

Mr Steyn demanded more information on the write-off of debt. He enquired how the DOC had managed to over pay on salaries? He said employees should surely have had to pay for any traffic fines, so he questioned the material loss of R6 000 in traffic fines, and wanted to know for whom they were paid, and why. He also wanted clarity on the contingent liabilities totalling R833 million, which was double the previous year’s level of R403 million.

Ms R Morutoa (ANC) asked what the Department intended doing to get back on track, and what it was going to do about the Auditor General’s report.

Ms Muthambi asked why the post of the Chief Financial Officer had not yet been filled. She wanted to know exactly how many positions were filled.

Ms Muthambi wanted to know how the Department was engaging with the provinces in their work, whether anything was being implemented to support rural development and if there was anything being done to develop Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (Semmes).

Ms Muthambi enquired how much had been spent on the Go Digital and DT2 T- shirt campaigns.

The Chairperson said the problems in DOC “had become like a cancer”. He asked the Department to tell the Committee in terms how it intended turning the Department around.

Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams said the decision had been taken to develop performance agreements for the DG and then the DDGs. On the issue of State Owned Entities (SOE) and how they were managed, she said the Department had agreed with the Minister and the shareholder that performance agreements would be entered into with the individual board members of SOEs and they would be assessed biannually.

She noted that the DOC had started to address the poor administration systems. It was aware of the need to fill the vacancies and there was migration of the staff from the old structure to the new one. She said there were people in position, but no binding agreements with the executive. The DOC was aiming to have all the vacancies filled by December. She said the CFO post had been advertised but the Minister had had concerns over the candidates and the Department had redone the search.

The Deputy Minister said that the DOC was engaging with all the provinces except KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape in the roll out.

Ms Sekese said the Department had a strong audit committee and the action plan on how it would deal with the issues that had been raised by the Auditor General was a document it could submit to the Committee. She assured the Committee that where there was money owed, the DOC would recover monies from employees concerned.

Dr Vilakazi commented on the fruitless and wasteful expenditure, and said the DOC had to go through a legal process to recover monies, including consulting with the state law advisers and getting an opinion on who was held accountable, even if the report was concluded. Other factors for consideration were the economic cost of recovery. He added that there was control being exercised over the deficiencies in HR. The issue of leave had been corrected. The overtime money was being recovered, and the DOC had developed an action plan to avoid a recurrence. This was being verified by testing the controls. The audit committee was paid at a rate that was regulated by the Treasury.

Ms Sekese noted that the DTT had been advertised on billboards, radio and newspapers. There was a process to consolidate the two campaigns, DT2 and Go Digital. The verification was not done as the awareness campaigns were still running but at a slower rate.

Mr Themba Phiri responded on the return of the budgeted monies sponsored by the Finnish government for the ‘Inspire’ program for Limpopo and the Northern Cape. The Finnish funding had conditions attached and these were limiting as far as the Departments mandate was concerned.

Mr Phiri noted that the Repository was a free content platform.

Mr Phiri commented on the ICT rural development, and said the strategy was aligned to the 61 rural nodes. Business cases were developed to assess the gap and what funding was required. The Department was not an implementing agency, but it had only a monitoring and coordination role.

Mr Radebe said they had done mapping of the broadband infrastructure and this was sitting with ICASA. It contained sensitive commercial information.

Ms Lesoma commented on the remark on performance contracts and made the point that a letter of appointment was the equivalent of a performance contract.

The Deputy Minister differed and thought that the job descriptions in a letter of appointment and the content of performance contacts were different, and therefore the Department wanted to sign performance contracts. It had come up with a plan to ensure corporate governance which needed to be implemented.

Ms Lesoma said that the assertion that there was a robust audit committee was not enough, as nothing effective appeared to be happening.

Ms Morutoa asked what happened to the Cabinet directive of having 50% female representation at senior management.

Ms Tsebe said she was not happy with the response of the Department but believed that the Committee would not in fact hear what it wanted to hear at this meeting. She suggested that the Department must respond properly to all issues raised by the Committee.

The Chairperson said the Department had to come back to the Committee on how exactly it would respond to the issues raised by the Auditor-General. He asked why, if almost 100% of the budget was spent, only 50% of the targets had been achieved.

Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams said the Department would submit the required documents.

The meeting was adjourned
 

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