The Castle Control Board presented an overview of its strategic documentation highlighting the Board's plans to ensure it places the Castle at the centre of heritage and reconciliation debates, maximises the Castle’s tourism potential and pursues registration as a UNESCO world heritage site. The Annual Performance Plan indicates the Board has certain operational challenges, as well as “game changers”. An example is the lack of full control over all the precincts of the Castle is a challenge which could be a major element in increasing the Board’s performance regarding its commercialisation efforts. While a game changer is the involvement of the South African National Defence Force’s Regional Works Regiment, which does basic maintenance at the Castle. Lastly, a breakdown was given of the budget and indicators for its three programmes.
The report on the renovation and maintenance project stated that the project contractor is GVK Siyazama Construction, the budget for the repair and restoration work is R108.6 million with a expected completion date at 03 September 2016. The combating of crime and vagrancy has been aided by an agreement being reached between the Board and the City of Cape Town allowing the fencing off of the area under the adjacent bridge. This is a transitional measure with future plans depending on the Board gaining control of all the properties linked to the Castle.
Members concerns included whether the Castle will truly be sustainable within the medium or short term based on the current budget and the potential revenue from the commercialisation efforts of the Board. Further, despite indications that the board would use its R13 million surplus to fill critical posts to aid the commercialisation efforts, the Board had decided to spend the money on infrastructure projects such as the transformation of the Castle Chapel and expansion of conference facilities.
The Board’s response was that while the Castle is sustainable given its present revenue generating activities, the commercialisation efforts are seriously hampered by the fact that the governing legislation places other stakeholders such as the City of Cape Town and Iziko in an inappropriate position of control over the Castle. If this is remedied, then the Board would have the total control required to implement its vision for the Castle which would allow it to maximise its commercialisation. Other efforts at generating revenue identified in the commercialisation study include increasing gate takings by 10% by having a reliable online access point to purchase tickets and increasing rental income by ensuring that the rent charged to tenants is reflective of the market price. On the surplus funds, the Board had decided to use the funds on the infrastructure projects, because these were revenue generating assets and National Treasury had indicated that this would be an appropriate use of the funds.
The Military Ombud presented its first set of strategic planning documents since its inception in 2012. Its mission is “to provide an independent, impartial and expeditious complaints resolution process for serving and former members of the SANDF and public to promote good governance”. Its legislative mandate derives from the Military Ombud Act 4 of 2012. Key change imperatives identified during the planning process were the need to reposition the Military Ombud as a Schedule 3 Public Entity to achieve independence from the Department of Defence and the need to amend the Act to address the accountability and governance framework. The Military Ombud’s strategic outcome orientated goal is fairly and expeditiously resolved complaints, achieved through an independent, impartial and expeditious process for all complaints. The total costs projection for the Military Ombud in 2015/16 is R46.8 million, while the allocation is R41.8 million, leaving a funding deficit of R5 million. This largely has to do with the automated case and matter management system.
Major themes of the discussion included Members’ concern that despite having an approved staff establishment of 89, only 47 posts were filled; whether these unfilled posts were funded; had the Military Ombud begun consultations with the Minister on the proposed move to a Schedule 3 Public Entity and whether and what implications are foreseen for the approved staff establishment.
The Military Ombud responded that while there are 89 approved posts, these are funded upon request. This is because the Military Ombud is a new institution which does not have the historical data to determine what its workload would be. On the move to a Schedule 3 Public Entity, consultation process with the Ministry and other departments for the schedule 3 transition was started the previous year, with a document submitted to the Minister who then submitted it to National Treasury. Follow up meetings were held with National Treasury and the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), where red flags were raised regarding what the impact of such a transition would be for finances and annual budget. However, the approved staff establishment was not set to be altered through this process.
Castle Control Board (CCB) on its 2015-2020 Strategic Plan & 2015 Annual Performance Plan
Major General Justice Nkonyane, Board Chairperson Castle Control Board, referred to the matters of emphasis from the CCB's latest annual strategic session. These included the need for the Board to take control of the entire precinct and manage it as a whole, which has been identified as a shortcoming in the Castle Management Act 1994. The Board aims to develop and position the Caste as the premier heritage site with National and UNESCO World Heritage status. The drive towards sustainability is also important, given that the CCB does not receive an allocation from the fiscus and which means that it has to generate revenue to sustain itself. Lastly, the Board aims to provide leadership in contemporary heritage debates, transformation and empowerment of military veterans, in conjunction with the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans.
Maj Gen Nkonyane said the CCB’s vision is the Castle of Good Hope shall be a globally significant, truly accessible centre that showcases South Africa’s shared heritage. He added that the Board was joining the Presidency and government in condemning the scourge of xenophobia which has gripped the country. It is one of the values of the Castle that it will be a sanctuary of peace, justice and reconciliation.
Maj Gen Nkonyane said the CCB’s strategic objectives are drawn from the two pieces of legislation which it operates under. The Castle Management Act 1993 stipulates the following three objectives: to preserve and protect the military and cultural heritage of the Castle, to optimise the tourism potential of the Castle and optimise accessibility to the Castle by the public. The board has added another based on national priorities: to have a clean administration and good corporate governance. As a heritage site protected under the National Heritage Resources Act 1999, the strategic objectives must also include: promotion, development and interpretation of the Castle as a place of education and learning; development of the capacity of the Castle to promote understating, reconciliation and nation-building; and agreement with the Department of Defence (DOD) in terms of the management of the Castle as a defence endowment property.
Annual Performance Plan
Mr Calvyn Gilfellan, CCB Chief Executive Officer, said he would only outline the major challenges and opportunities which arise from the Annual Performance Plan (APP). This will aid the Committee's oversight in October to check whether the indicators are SMART and the deliverables attainable. The operational challenges from a management point of view include the lack of a consolidated permanent management structure. This will be addressed in the second week of May through a workshop run by the Department of Defence (DoD) Directorate for Internal Management Systems, to look at the structure in relation to the objective and vision of the CCB and its ability to deliver on the functions. Secondly, the CCB in the context of the lack of transformation in the heritage sector means that where refurbishment services are procured these are from companies owned by previously disadvantaged individuals. The fragmentation of control of the space of the Castle, undermines the CCB’s ability to implement its territorial philosophy of transformation and nation building. The CCB is often up against “conservative heritage conservation lobby groups” who object to certain infrastructural endeavours which the CCB tries to implement. There is also conflicting perceptions of the Castle historically and what it represents today, which influences what the Board and broader community expects from the Castle. The real cost of conservation management is a concern, given that the CCB does not receive any funding from the Department. This is alleviated through the Chief of Logistics of the DoD investing in the maintenance of the Castle. This allows the CCB to operate on a maintenance budget of R7 million, while the real cost is closer to R20 million.
Mr Gilfellan said the “operational game changers” are the unprecedented community and stakeholder buy-in, with the Deputy Minister of Military Veterans leading this by showcasing the Castle and involving people who used to feel excluded from the Castle. Secondly, the opportunities which will come with the consolidation of the Castle spaces, including the parkades, all the court yards and buildings. This will provide not only commercial opportunities, but heritage opportunities. Thirdly, cyber connectivity has come to the Castle and this is really changing the game with internet access in all buildings. Linked to this is the external wall lighting of the castle, which has 1.2 million colour options, which allows the Castle to match the theme of things like world AIDS day or breast cancer week. On the day to day maintenance, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Works Regiment has come on board to provide basic maintenance services such as plumbing. This has saved the Castle around R100 000 over the past six months on labour costs. The CCB has engaged international stakeholders to help fast track the application for UNESCO world heritage site, because this is a lengthy process. What will help is that the Castle is between two world heritage sites already, Robben Island and Table Mountain, meaning that it will be a secondary listing. The re-imagining of the Castle space and institution, will see the Castle chapel being dedicated as a place of peace. Further, there is no place on the African continent dedicated to African colonial history studies and there is a small resource centre which is being developed in collaboration with the universities in Cape Town. This will not require a large physical space, as this can be done online.
Mr Gilfellan said there is an overarching outcome for each programme, with a number of measurables under each. Administration’s is to ensure clean, sound administration and good corporate governance. Heritage’s is to ensure the maintenance, preservation, interpretation and showcasing of the history of the Castle. Tourism’s is to maximise the tourism potential of the Castle. Lastly, Public Access and Education’s is to increase public access to the Castle. The Auditor General had previously found that the CCB’s performance indicators were not SMART and this had been 90% remedied. On the Tourism programme’s targets, National Treasury had requested that these be tracked over a period of seven years for the purpose of Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE). Historical figures and other interventions to increase this have been looked at. The preliminary figures for the present year show that the CCB is on track regarding both visitors to the site and gross revenue generated. Opening up the Castle and bringing people to the Castle through marketing, awareness and schools programmes is important as the whole population of South Africa needs to take ownership of the Castle.
Mr Gilfellan said the CCB has grown from spending R2.36 million in 2011/12 to R7.5 million in the present year and a projected R8.3 million by 2017/18. The CCB does not receive funds from the fiscus, but there have been accumulated surpluses which National Treasury has assisted it with on how to account.
Progress Report on the Restoration and Maintenance of the Castle of Good Hope
Mr Bongani Mbatha, Chief Logistics Department of Defence, said the Department of Public Work (DPW) is on site and maintenance is currently underway and the project is registered as the Western Cape Department of Defence and Military Veterans, Cape Town, Castle Repair and Maintenance. He turned to a description of the project, saying that the restoration of the Castle has taken place over a period of 32 years. Since the late 1990s, the lack of proper maintenance resulted in the deterioration of the buildings. The work currently being done is essentially repair and it will not effect any changes to the structures. The appointed contractor is GVK Siyazama Construction, which started work on 4 December 2014. It has a level 4 BEE rating and level 9 General Building and Specialist in Heritage Building rating, meaning it is qualified to repair heritage buildings. The project finance tender was awarded R108.6 million and the practical completion date is 3 September 2016, which may be extended to 15 December 2016. There is a team of the Regional Works Regiment in the Western Cape which has assisted in reducing the cost to government.
Progress made with the combating of crime and vagrancy at the Castle of Good Hope
Mr Gilfellan said since the last meeting there have been positive moves towards dealing with this in a transitional way, but a permanent solution is on its way. There is an agreement with the City of Cape Town that the area under the bridge adjacent to the Castle can be fenced, to ensure that homeless people do not endanger the infrastructure by making fires and reduce the incidents of petty crime within the Strand Street area. Once this has been completed the results will be visible.
Mr S Esau (DA) said the most fundamental issue around the Castle is sustainability and the maintenance project is costed at R108.6 million. Due to the maintenance not being continued in the 1990s the DoD has had to inject amounts ranging from R30 million to R52 million. The normal arrangement for maintenance of buildings is 1.5% of asset value is set aside for maintenance. He could not see, in either the short or the medium term, how the Castle can be self-sustainable, without the DoD contributing to maintenance. Therefore, what are the financial implications of being awarded UNESCO world heritage site status and what would be expected from the institution to maintain that status. On commercialisation, he would like more detail on the products and programmes which will generate the revenue which the CCB sees as the means of sustenance in the future. The commercialisation also requires the management of all the spaces within the Castle and he would like to know what measures have been put in place to negotiate towards having one authority managing the Castle, although there may be service level agreements or memoranda of understanding with other stakeholders around the use of the Castle. If there is a plan what are the projections and how does the CCB envisage management being used to aid the commercialisation of the Castle. There are no figures presented, but the intention is good. The Integrated Conservation Management Plan (ICMP) is, as Mr Gilfellan indicated, minimal at this stage, but the actual implication is R20 million. This is a huge jump from a total budget of R7 million to more than R20 million. Has the commercialisation, management and ICMP been looked at to determine whether this is in fact a feasible project which will be sustainable in a set number of years. This will not be in either the short or medium term. The number of tourists is being increased by more than 2 000 and the APP indicates that there are no serious implications. Yet elsewhere it is indicated that there will be implications. He would therefore like to know if the restoration taking place impacts the tourism at the Castle, regarding mobility or a reduction of numbers. The use of the Works Regiment for maintenance is a good move, but this is the SANDF funding. Meaning that even the minor maintenance issues are being dealt with by the Department.
Mr Esau appreciated the role of the Castle in dealing with xenophobia and expected that programmes would be rolled out almost immediately, to avoid similar issues arising in the Western Cape. He encouraged this space being used effectively, to help overcome the discriminatory attitudes in society. On human resources, on the surplus of R13.9 million, there was talk of having to fill critical posts to optimise the marketing and optimisation of the commercialisation enterprise. However, according to the APP the plan is to allocate these funds over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) towards things such as the development of new heritage maintenance, development of the conservation management plan, development of new heritage and tourism products, refurbishing the restaurant and chapel, the drive for world heritage status and the expansion of events and conference facilities. This is to do with the infrastructural development and the conservation management plan. He asked how this gelled with the prioritisation of critical positions towards the optimisation of commercialisation. On the consultants whose rates range from R1 500 to R6 000 per day, he wanted to know about the tender process followed, the expertise and whether transfer of scarce skills to staff currently employed by the CCB is an essential part of the agreement. It is a government and National Treasury directive, that skills must be transferred in order to establish an in-house skills base to emancipate government from consultants. He expected a programme of how the 350 year celebration was to be conducted and if there is any way the Committee can assist or participate in this event. He was interested to know what negotiations have occurred around the African colonial studies institute with the universities and internationally, as it was important to get the proper perspective on this aspect of history and the Castle had an opportunity to do this. He asked for an idea of the 10 million hits and if there has been evidence of the surveys done, including who were the poll takers, as this would enable the Committee to advise other entities on how to make use of this type of marketing at a minimal cost.
Mr B Bongo (ANC) thanked the CCB for the good work it is doing. He wanted to know the extent to which military veterans are involved in the activities of the Castle, for example whether they are involved in the maintenance. He asked what plans are in place regarding the endowment properties.
Mr D Gamede (ANC) on transformation and the maintenance and repair project, asked how historically disadvantaged individuals and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises are benefitting, because the R108.6 million is “a large pie for one person”. He asked whether the repairs address accessibility to the castle and if not, it should be inserted as an addition to the project. He asked whether the SANDF Works Regiment was up to the task of undertaking the restoration work, rather than a private entity. What has been achieved by the Board regarding transformation, since its inception? He asked how the Castle benefits from relationships with institutions such as Iziko. Lastly, as the Castle is a property held by the SANDF on behalf of the country, how is ownership claimed.
The Chairperson said as the CCB has indicated that it is having trouble with transformation, how does it see the Committee assisting.
Maj Gen Nkonyane replied the Committee’s help would be useful in dealing with the misalignment of the legislative framework. The authors of the Castle Management Act in 1993 had certain objectives in mind and some of these may have been overridden by subsequent governance legislation such as the Public Finance Management Act. Secondly, there is the Endowment Properties Act which places the obligation for maintenance with the executive authority, being the Minister of Defence. Within the Castle Management Act there are various stakeholders including Iziko and the City of Cape Town, which have similar responsibilities to the Minister regarding accountability. This puts the running of the Castle by the Board in difficulty, because it does not have the full responsibility for running the Castle. The legislation does not clearly articulate the management role which the Board is to play regarding these other stakeholders. The CCB has objectives regarding improving the efficiency of the Castle and to optimise its tourism potential, yet without the control the Board’s hands are tied. This has led the Board’s previous target of engaging the Ministry around amendments, which is in progress and will empower it to effectively run the Castle. On transformation of the Board as an entity, the Minister appoints four regular members of the Board and the rest are appointed by other stakeholders. Since he took office, he had never interacted with the stakeholders in person and it has even been an audit query whether all the Board members have indeed been appointed. This is another mismatch between the legislation and the spirit and aspirations of the current government’s objectives.
On the ICMP, Maj Gen Nkonyane replied that the CCB has decided that it is a requirement that when a heritage site is being managed that such a plan be in place. For example the number of people visiting the Castle needs to be balanced with the effect this will have on its infrastructure. The revenue increasing efforts need to be guided by this plan, as well as in developing a preventative maintenance plan which has been absent in the past. The ICMP is necessary and keeps management of these aspects at the level of the Board. This relates to the resource constraints, the Board has decided that funding from the Department was not an option, as this would lead to the Castle being at “the bottom of the ladder”. This influenced the Board’s decision on the use of the surplus funds, because human resources are operational costs and the money could be better used on long term revenue generating infrastructure. One of the motivations to National Treasury for retaining the surplus funds was that they would be invested in programmes and projects which would benefit the Castle, which includes the ICMP. The human resources are hoped to be maintained through operational funds. He assured the Committee that it would be consulted about the 350 year celebrations, because this is felt to be a milestone in the country’s history. Contact will also be made with the Ministry to help drive efforts around this occasion. The major benefit which the CCB gets from other stakeholders represented on the Board is their expertise, because most of the Board members from other entities bring a rich experience and knowledge base in heritage management. However, it is felt that the balance of their being appointed to the Board could be better aligned with their actual contribution.
Mr Mbatha replied about the contribution which military veterans can make at the Castle, saying Chief Logistics has been instructed by the Deputy Minister for Military Veterans to increase its engagement with military veterans. He confidently reported that this was occurring outside the context of the Castle and there are plans in place, which would hopefully be positively reported on in the next sitting. It has been unfortunate that the project at the Castle is being managed by the Department of Public Works, but investigations into how veterans could be involved at the Castle are underway. There are around 55, if not more, DOD endowment properties in the country and a number of meetings have been had with DPW. This led to a memorandum of understanding being signed by the Defence Minister and DPW’s signature is awaited. In the next sitting it should report that all DOD endowment properties are under its control. On the involvement of the Regional Works Regiment, he said that there are a total of nine such regiments and this is a development structure, because training for operations in the construction environment takes approximately four years. Works Regiments have already undertaken first and second line maintenance projects. The renovations projects at the Castle cost a lot of money, but once the Regional Works Regiment is up and running it will be able to reduce this.
Mr Gilfellan said the significance of the Castle is much more than the bricks and mortar it is constructed from and there is a necessary tension between the drive towards commercialisation and the perception of what it represents for people. The 350 year celebration planning has been approached with circumspection, because in reflecting on the documents from the 300 year and 200 year celebrations it was seen that the essence of what the Castle means for people today was not honoured. Also it is necessary to look at the Castle as a site of memory, because the majority of people engaged believe there is nothing to celebrate at the Castle. It is important that a balance is struck and the bricks and mortar and colonial conquest represented by the Castle is not celebrated. In these engagements, Castle historians have made sure to meet with representatives of groups such as the Khoi and Nguni. A commercialisation study has just been completed and will be incorporated into the ICMP once the Board approves. One of the immediate recommendations that will be implemented is increasing gate taking by 10%, by offering a reliable online point of sale. Another element which came out of the commercialisation study is the real value of rent, because only one tenant is paying near to commercial rates and if this is corrected then rental income will increase 200% in year one. This will be done through engagement with stakeholders and this is not even considering after the renovation of these premises.
Mr Gilfellan replied that the Committee is correct that the budget is only R7 million at present, but the CCB is confident this will cover the running of its operations with its current mandate. The aspirations of reaching out to becoming one of the benchmark heritage institutions will require the Board to “up its game”. However, total sustainability will be impossible without support from the Department of Defence, unless the rates which the Castle charges go up drastically. As the paying customer cannot be relied on to pay for the upkeep of the buildings. While 1.5% of asset value may be the norm for maintenance, this does not apply to a building made of Table Mountain sandstone, Robben Island slate or crust shells from Robben Island and the coastline. He said the commercialisation strategy will be made available to the Members. On access to the Castle, he felt the CCB was in a good position and the Castle outreach campaign has shown that it has been marketed in sectors of the community which do not require it. The Marketing required was more hands on marketing to more relevant sectors of the communities, such as in the working class suburbs and townships of South Africa. Therefore, aside from more traditional marketing the CCB has marketed through social media and on community radio and newspapers. This is also done through having events which generate interest in the Castle, for example on 24 September 2014, 10 000 people came through the Castle which is the highest number of people coming into the Castle ever recorded. Being on all of the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s radio networks brings an audience of 23 million people, while its television stations have an audience of 7 million people. While the Castle may be accessible to the public, the question is how can meaningful access be generated. This will be done by engaging with the various Castle corners, such as where the placaarte were announced and where funerals or interrogations took place. The 350 year programme will be provided to the Committee and he noted that this programme is not the CCB’s, with the Department of Military Veterans taking the lead.
On the filling of critical posts, Mr Gilfellan replied these are being filled despite losing one critical staff member last year which will need to be advertised. The department of integrated management studies will help the CCB to get the optimum structure to deliver efficiently. While there is currently a lot of pressure, by June the posts of marketing and heritage managers will be filled. On the 10 000 hits which the Castle received, the marketing methodology of advertising value equivalent makes use of an independent media monitoring company, removing the subjective element. On consultants, minimal prudent use is seen in the APP, for instance, where high level heritage expertise is required which is not provided by a stakeholder such as Iziko. Whenever consultants are sought, the CCB is very sensitive to BEEE scorecards and the inclusion of small and medium enterprises. Also the transfer of skills is an important element, for example where the new website was developed, it was requested that two CCB members have access to enable them to make daily updates, avoiding the use of the consultants again. The centre for colonial studies is interesting and his thinking was influenced by two discussions which he had had. The first was at the Dutch Centre for Community Heritage, where he was informed that there is a lot of willingness to transfer skills from abroad. The second was with heritage officers at the University of Cape Town, indicating that South Africa has enough strong history and heritage departments to enable the effort to be launched here, even on the basis of small seminars. The colonial material stored in the archives should not be transferred to the Castle, as this could be done digitally allowing broader access. As much input as possible needs to be gathered, because the space is there and there are unique colonial artefacts in the possession of CCB which could start such an endeavour. He concluded by saying that if the current mandate is maintained the organisation is sustainable, but if the legislative changes including those around endowment properties happen, then consequent operation model changes will have to take place.
Military Ombud on its Strategic Plan 2015-2020 and Annual Performance Plan 2015/16
Mr Siviwe Njikela, Chief Director: Operations of the Military Ombud, thanked the Chairperson for acknowledging the apology of Mr Temba Matanzima, Military Ombud, who was away on official business. He hoped that Members would understand that as this is the first time the institution has tabled such as document there may be errors or shortcomings and that the Military Ombud (MO) had done its best to comply with the guidelines.
Strategic Plan 2015-2020
Mr Mamorapeli Makhalemele, Chief Director: Corporate Support Military Ombud, said the vision of the MO is “a world leading, independent and impartial Military Ombud”, while its mission was “to provide an independent, impartial and expeditious complaints resolution process for serving and former members of the SANDF and public to promote good governance”. Its legislative mandate derives from the Military Ombud Act 4 of 2012. The institution was created to investigate complaints by certain interested parties regarding their conditions of service in the SANDF or complaints by the public about the official conduct of a member of the SANDF. The performance environment is that since the promulgation of the MO Act the organisation has changed from complaints-driven to investigation-driven one. The planning cycle was informed by an assessment of internal and external operation environments within which its mandate falls. Some of the key change imperatives identified during this process were the need to reposition the MO as a schedule 3 Public Entity to achieve independence from the DoD and the need to amend the Act to address the accountability and governance framework. Internally key focus areas are automated business systems and the creation of a positive, disciplined organisational culture. The organisational environment is one where the present organisational structure is based on international best practice. The approved structure consists of two primary functional lines: operations management and corporate support. It has a total of 89 approved posts of which 66% is focused on delivering the core business.
Mr Makhalemele said the MO remains committed to government’s Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) and notional prescripts for planning, budgeting and reporting. The MO’s strategic objectives collectively speak to the desired impact for the realisation of the organisational vision. These are further devolved into programmes which are strategically geared towards generating the outputs and outcomes that will collectively achieve the given objectives. The first strategic objective is to ensure strategic direction to the Office of the Military Ombud in line with government intent and expectations. Secondly, the enhancement and maintenance of corporate operations within the MO and lastly, the administration of MO resources, as prescribed by the regulatory framework. The MO’s strategic outcome orientated goal is fairly and expeditiously resolved complaints, achieved through an independent, impartial and expeditious process for all complaints. The three “sub-sub programmes” were Strategic Direction, Corporate Operations and Corporate Support, each with a delineated area of responsibility within the MO.
Mr Njikela then outlined some of the specific outputs for the MO which included percentage of written complaints finalised where 50% is the target for 2015/16 growing to 95% by 2019/20. There were several outputs dealing with timely submission of planning and accounting documentation to the relevant authorities, where 100% compliance was aimed for throughout the MTSF. The MO will measure the percentage of complaints received against the per cent finalised. An indicator relating to cost effective financial management is included measuring the percentage of compliance with the allocated budget. On information technology, the MO measures the amount of down time versus connectivity. Lastly, the MO tracks security by measuring the number of security breaches.
Mr Njikela said there were two major areas for resource consideration. The first was regarding personnel expenditure, where the organisational structure consists of 89 posts of which 47 are filled. This is the major area of expenditure and it is further envisioned that consultants may be required to aid with the shift towards a schedule 3 public entity. Information technology is also set to be a main cost driver mostly dedicated to the development and procurement of an automated case management and matter management system, as presently case management is done manually. As a new office the MO is challenged by the implementation and maintenance of a local area network and is currently relying on the DoD, although a service level agreement has recently been concluded with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA).
Mr Njikela said a number of risks have been identified, including the Military Ombud Act not addressing the accountability framework, because there is a challenge with the limitations it imposes on the MO regarding governance and accountability. The MO’s budget still comes through the DoD and the Secretary for Defence remains the MO’s accounting officer, meaning that all procurement processes must go through that office. Linked to this the MO’s independence is at risk, because to what extend does the symbiosis between the MO and DoD effect the independence that the MO seeks to protect. The case management is also an identified risk. A major risk is the re-location of the office, because the present accommodation was based on the staff complement of the time and the new staff coming needs to be accommodated.
Annual Performance Plan
Mr Njikela said in the approved structure of the MO the position of Military Ombud is created at level 16, but remunerated at the level of a high court judge, the Deputy Military Ombud is level 15 and remunerated at 85% of a high court judge’s salary. There is one level 14 employee, eight at level 13, 23 at level 12, one at level 11, 18 at level ten, nine at level nine, seven at level eight, two at level seven, four at level six, 12 at level five and one at level four. This accounts for the full approved structure of 89 employees, however there has been a discussion within the MO on whether to fill the remaining posts. The decision has been to not do so, because it is not necessary at present. The case levels are being monitored and future staffing will be guided by the number of complaints received.
Mr Njikela said there are no discontinued or scaled down outputs or services for 2015/16 and the only new proposed output is the intention to have the MO registered as a schedule 3 public entity. This would entail three new outputs for the Corporate Support sub programme: governance risk and compliance, procurement function and chief financial officer. All of these are currently being provided by the DoD, with no provision within the MO’s structure. With the transition this capacity will have to be built, with obvious budgetary implications.
Mr Njikela noted that the same programmatic purposes and strategic outputs are repeated in the APP, as in the Strategic Plan, regarding the three sub programmes and their areas of responsibility.
Mr Njikela said the total cost for the MO in 2015/16 is R46.8 million, while the allocation is R41.8 million, leaving a funding deficit of R5 million. This largely has to do with the automated case and matter management system. He said that a major cost driver foreseen in the future is the move to new office accommodation, which is an on-going process managed by DPW.
Mr Esau congratulated the MO for an excellent first submission. From the presentation earlier in the year, the MO had expressed itself on what it envisages and required changes to legislation to give more integrity to the institution. Essentially it would like to move itself to a schedule 3 public entity, which has serious financial implications regarding human resources and the additional posts which have to be created. He would like to know how far the consultation process with the Minister has gone and to what extent is there agreement. As from the presentation it seems to be a fait accompli which must now be executed. This has an immediate impact on the legislation and he would like to know if all the gaps in the legislation been addressed, with the Committee having requested all this information to be shared.
On the automated case and matter management system which is going to cost R5 million, Mr Esau asked whether it has already gone out to tender and requests for proposals, so that the Committee can understand where this cost comes from and how it was determined. The MO reports to the Minister and he would like to know if there has been concurrence on the case and matter management system. While the MO has complained about the financial constraints, the Department of Public Service and Administration must agree to a proposed structure. Therefore, are all 89 posts funded and if not how many are funded, given that only 47 are filled. Further, this has implications for the performance of the MO and while it has indicated that it can cope with the present case load, its performance is only at 50%. Therefore, why have only 47 people been appointed, with only a further 15 being appointed in 2015/16 and a further five in 2016/17. He understood the MO planned transition to a schedule 3 entity and this may entail a restructuring to accommodate the necessary changes. The Committee needs to know how the transition impacts on the approved structure of 89 posts, if three critical posts have been noted, four set to change and a budgetary implication of around R3 million. The vacancy rate does affect the performance of the institution and this needs to be addressed, because there are already complaints levelled against the DoD that complaints do not get responses and this cannot be allowed.
Mr Esau noted that he has 500 files to hand over to the MO and if he had problems with the Department the MO is only going to add to the frustrations of military veterans. The MO is an investigation, rather than complaints driven organization, but this is incongruent with the low levels of staffing. It does not make sense to have a staff complement of 47 and yet want to be considered an investigative institution. He therefore was concerned that the resources and plans of the MO were not in sync. On dispute resolution, he said at present all policies are submitted to the DoD and how does the MO deal with this issue. He was concerned that while the MO claims it is compliant with the prescripts of National Treasury, yet it performs at 70% and therefore what do its indicators really mean? He asked for clarity on the indicator for finalization of cases versus those not finalised, specifically is it targeting 70% of cases finalised. This is also contrary to outcome one: dealing with complaints expeditiously. He would like to have an idea of what the 48 security breaches are, which are to be addressed. He wanted to know about the two consultants to be appointed for the schedule 3 public entity registration, because this is costed at R1.2 million over a six month period meaning that this will cost R100 000 per month. Further, a precedent has been set in government with a number of public entities registered under schedule 3. Has there been consultation with other line departments which have such entities, as this could help facilitate the process at a reduced cost? How has this figure been reached and has a request for proposal been issued. The downtime is indicated at 70% and an uninterrupted power supply needs to be considered. What needs to be determined is how services will be impacted and what measures are put in place. Otherwise we will be sitting with the problem that it would be a loss to government to pay officials who are unproductive due to downtime.
Mr Njikela replied that the consultation process with the Ministry and other departments for the schedule 3 transition was started the previous year, with a document submitted to the Minister who then submitted it to National Treasury. Follow up meetings were held with National Treasury and the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), where red flags were raised about what the impact of such a transition would be for finances and annual budget. A particular concern raised was the need for balance between operating budget and agent budget. This also has an impact on the posts already created, because some may not need to be filled. This would allow room for the conversion of some of these unfilled posts to cater for the three critical posts required after becoming a schedule 3 public entity. National Treasury indicated it would be prudent to investigate what new posts will be needed and what posts currently approved can be converted to accommodate the needs without increasing the budget. Benchmarking took place through consultation with other ombuds type institutions, such as the Banking Ombudsman, Insurance Ombudsman and Public Protector, to look at independence from their parent departments. This a “delicate and scientific process” which needs to be done by a suitably qualified person since the submission has to deal with all the financial implications so National Treasury and DPSA can make a decision. This may have to be done by an independent party, because there were doubts about whether the MO was the correct institution to carry out the study. This process has been initiated and if permission is given to make use of the consultants the MO will be in a position to conclude the matter within a number of months. On the envisaged legislative changes, the concern is that if the schedule 3 transfer proceeds then there will be changes in the way the MO is funded by Parliament. Currently, the MO is funded under the DoD vote, but this will require amendment. In the previous meeting, the MO had indicated its wish to move towards investigations on its own initiative vision. The law which governs the MO presently, means that it has to await a complaint. Further issues, such as whether the Military Ombud itself would become the accounting officer will need to be considered. This is why they raised the issue of chief financial officer, because proper capacity is required to allow for proper accounting capabilities. On the case and matter management system, this has not been put out to tender, although the specifications have been completed to be submitted to SITA. SITA will then develop the request for proposals to be managed by SITA as part of its normal procurement processes. On the impact of the change on the structure and accommodating certain posts, some may have to be accommodated rather than new posts created. This may reduce the budget in this regard, but this is subject to the study to be completed. On the dispute resolution policy, he said as a new office a lot of ground work must be done to determine what processes are used for dealing with complaints. The law gives the MO two mandates: investigating and resolution through mediation. Most cases will require mediation, more than investigation and it is felt that this should be concretised, perhaps a document should be developed to guide the entire office.
Mr Makhalemele replied about the funded posts, saying first prize is to make provision for the funding of the posts sought to be filled. For example for the 2015/16 financial year the posts identified for filling have been funded. This is done through a reprioritising of funds from the operational budget to the human resources budget. Not much history exists around the MO it being in its third year of existence and lessons are being learnt as time progresses. Therefore, the full costs are only now starting to be predicted and there is now a more accurate indication of what will be required against what is allocated. This has a relationship to the human resources budget itself, because if funds are continually channelled away from the operations budget this will bleed the operations of the MO. On the security breaches, he said the building is accessed through a biometric system and the bulk of the breaches are where people follow others through the entrance. Another cause is people leaving with their laptops, without first declaring that they will be doing so. To mitigate both periodic awareness campaigns are going to be embarked on, to help staff to appreciate the impact of not complying with security measures. On the uninterrupted power supply, this is part of the requirements for the new office accommodation being sought.
Mr Esau said usually the DPSA signs off on the personnel establishment and usually this will be followed by a corresponding allocation. He asked what the funded posts are where funds have been transferred. The slide indicates that there are 89 posts on the approved structure and this remains the same over the medium term, indicating to him that these were 89 funded posts. It does not make sense for only 47 people to be employed, while 89 posts are funded. If an entity is shifting funds dedicated to human resources this would also be irregular, because the committed monies are not placed correctly. On the investigative team which will not be staffed and the posts will be reconfigured to cater for the schedule 3 transition, how many people are dealing with complaints specifically given that an output of only 50% is achieved. He noted a travel and subsistence allocation and he asked what this is for, given that the operation is small and complaints are brought to it.
Mr Makhalemele agreed that once DPSA approves the structure, the funding for the posts follows, however because the MO is newly established, the historical requirements have not been set. The DoD took cognisance of the fact that the filling of posts will be a staggered process and funding of this will be ad hoc. There was no historical base which could indicate that x amount would be required for operations but once this is established, the DoD will make funds available. The travel and subsistence allocation is used to travel to investigations with complainants located outside Pretoria and to honour meetings such as the present. Further, there are benchmarking exercises which are to inform the push towards the MO becoming a schedule 3 public entity.
Mr Njikela said slide 34 reflects that within the MTSF there is no plan to increase the structure beyond what is currently approved. The filled posts are all funded and staffing will be a phased process, with additional posts being funded upon them being required. The 89 posts are approved on the structure, but are only funded upon need. Even with the planned transfer to a schedule 3 entity the number of approved posts is not going to be changed.
The Chairperson said the Committee may have to conduct an oversight visit to the MOO in Pretoria. He asked how many filled posts the MO currently had and further, what percentage of these are women or military veterans.
Mr Makhalemele said there were 51 filled posts, but he did not have the statistics on women or military veterans. The recruitment process took the form of a general advertisement attracting people generally, but gender equity is observed generally.
The Chairperson asked for the CCB to advise the Committee on ways in which the Committee could assist with transformation efforts.
Mr Esau repeated that he would like an indication of what the travel and subsistence allocation is used for.
Mr Makhalemele said the travel and subsistence allocation is used for investigations and for being at meetings such as the present one. There were also vigorous benchmarking exercises which informed the schedule 3 entity consideration. An example of investigations travel would be where complainants are outside Pretoria and the investigators will have to travel to the complainants.
Mr Makhalemele said the travel and subsistence allocation is used for investigations and being at meetings such as the present one. There were also vigorous benchmarking exercises which informed the schedule 3 entity consideration. Travel for investigations would be where complainants are outside Pretoria and the investigators have to travel to conduct interviews.
The Chairperson said the performance of the MO will really be seen in the presentation of its Quarterly Report.
The meeting was adjourned.
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