Municipal Demarcation Board; CRL Commission on their 2014/15 Annual Reports

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

15 October 2015
Chairperson: Mr M Mdakane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) presented the MDB’s annual report for 2014/15. It had previously advised of an expected shortfall and had identified issues around incompatability between its resources, mandate and strategy, negative public perception; and lack of a provincial footprint that created disconnection with the public. The programmes and their activities were described. A first draft mapping of ward boundaries was done during October and November 2014, and after technical sessions, public consultations on wards officially commenced on 9 December 2014, with meetings from January to March 2015. They were scheduled for all wards but then the Minister issued a request under section 22 and not all meetings took place. Three leadership and team interventions had also not been held. Other stakeholder consultations were described. Financial constraints prevented the publication of four advertorials and only one was done. Despite the aim to avoid irregular expenditure altogether, there was R3.3. Million of it this year.

MDB had ls in the year under review, but due to financial constraints, only one advertorial was published, in the Leadership section of a Local Government magazine. Pamphlets were printed and distributed in Ugu District Municipality to advertise the ward delimitation launch event.

The MDB planned to aim for zero irregular expenditure. However, R3.3 million in irregular expenditure was incurred. The total government allocation was R4.4 billion with some other income, but MDB ended up with a deficit of R7.2 million. Its expenditure was 14% higher than in the previous year. The Auditor-General (AG), although issuing an unqualified audit result, had made various findings in relation to the audit, including variation amounts on contracts more than ideal, overstatements of commitments, flags on some outcomes and misstatements that had to be rectified by adjusted statements. The performance information was then presented, detailing numbers of section 26 notices published and the numbers of redeterminations, and it was noted that proposals on Rustenburg and Kgetleng River were withdrawn. Settlements had been reached in the Midvaal application, and confirmation of Eastern Cape boundaries would be published shortly. The 2013 decision affecting Emfuleni, Midvaal, Ekurhuleni and Lesedi had been set aside until after the 2016 local government elections. Public meetings on ward delimitation were due to be held shortly in four municipalities. MDB's major challenges were related to the fact that it had had neither a Chief Financial Officer nor Chief Executive Officer for part of this year, but the appointments of both were pending. Forensic investigations into the capacity assessment tender had been concluded and strategies to address them were developed. The litigation in which it had been involved was described. Another major challenge arose from the hostility encountered in communities around historical provincial boundary problems. The legislation limited the MDB, and there were constraints to the ward delimitation process. The legislated function of wards, particularly Schedule 1 of the Municipal Structure Act, was not in line with the practical use of wards by municipalities and the criteria for demarcation was quickly becoming irrelevant to reality. There was a pressing need for regulations under the Demarcation Act.

Members asked for more detail on the irregular expenditure and the investigations into it and suggested that a register of such payments should be kept. The fact that MDB had held so few meetings was criticised as demonstrating lack of sufficient engagement. Questions were also asked about the loss of personnel, for more detail on the irregular expenditure and whether it was linked to staff shortages and how the deficit would be dealt with. They commented that the MDB seemed weak on internal policies. They were not satisfied that it seemed to rely quite heavily on data from other government departments instead of doing independent investigations, which threw some of the conclusions into question. Questions were also raised about the termination and settlement paid to the former CEO.

The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) then presented its Annual Report. This Commission sought to impact on society and create social cohesion. It ran five programmes, and had managed to conduct 17 education and awareness campaigns, nine provincial mini-conferences, and active marketing. It had produced four reports out of four research projects on initiation, ukuthwala, re-use of graves and animal slaughter. 54 cases were received and 31 were finalised. Religion cases counted for 18, culture counted for 10 and language counted for three. Its operations improved substantially with the new commissioners being focused and energetic. New policies had been drawn and implemented. The Auditor-General issued an unqualified audit again, but the CRL aimed to achieve a completely clean audit. It had used funding well and had a surplus of R10 billion or 29% of budget. Staff costs had been reduced to 51% of total expenditure, but the CRL had lost staff and needed to do more work with less headcount. Its operational expenditure still exceeded its allocation, and thus it had severe financial constraints. The CRL asked that its funding be brought in line with the other Chapter 9 institutions, to enable it to contribute better to the National Development Plan.

Members felt that the CRL had done some good work but asked how the points raised by the AG would be addressed, and wanted more detail on the staffing situation. Performance management was not doing very well and the Committee wanted to know how this would be addressed. They asked about the reliability of its information and called for more details on the supplier database and why not all suppliers were correctly identified. Noting that 27% of audit queries were not resolved, and some of these arose in the previous financial year, Members commented that this was something that would need to be addressed, but urged CRL not to focus solely on this at the expense of its other work. Members asked how it was getting involved in legislation around witchcraft and the Traditional Health Practitioners.

Meeting report

Municipal Demarcation Board Annual Report 2014/15 briefing
Ms Jane Thupana, Chairperson, Municipal Demarcation Board, presented the Annual Report of the Board (MDB) for 2014/15.

The previous briefing session with the Committee was held on 19 May 2015. In that meeting the Board announced an expected budget shortfall in 2017/18.The Committee was also informed of the following key challenges: strategy and mandate incompatibility with current resources and capabilities; negative public perception; and lack of a provincial footprint that creates disconnection with the public.

She noted that the Medium Term Expenditure Framework key cost drivers included: research activities to support Board decisions, adding value to its advisory role and increasing revenue streams; public participation and stakeholder agreement; and regionalisation.

The strategic objectives for 2014/15 were conceptualised within three programmes. Programme 1 related to operations and research. Its objectives included delimitation and redetermination of municipal ward boundaries for local elections. Programme 2 related to finance and the strategic objective related to having an efficient and effective organisation. Programme 3 related to corporate services, with strategic objectives related to optimal performance and a service-focused culture, ensuring good corporate governance and enhancement of stakeholder communications.  

The first draft mapping of ward boundaries was done during October and November 2014. Technical sessions were conducted and nationwide public consultations on wards officially commenced on 9 December 2014. Public consultation meetings were held from mid January 2015 to early March 2015. Ward delimitation public consultation meetings were scheduled in all qualifying 224 municipalities. Due to the Minister’s Section 22 request not all meetings took place, as meetings in affected municipalities were postponed.

In the interests of providing optimal performance and a service-focused culture, three leadership and team cohesion interventions were planned, but were suspended.

MDB’s performance outcomes included that it should render advisory services in respect of demarcation matters, be an effective and efficient organisation, and enhance stakeholder relations and communication.

The MDB had planned to hold four stakeholder engagements/collaborations with established national stakeholder forum. However, ward delimitation or educational campaigns were held with provincial offices of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), and Provincial Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Party Liaison Committees in all provinces, Houses of Traditional Leaders (National and provincial HTLs) and with Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA). A ward delimitation launch event was also held.

The MBD had planned to publish four national/regional advertorials in the year under review, but due to financial constraints, only one advertorial was published, in the Leadership section of a Local Government magazine. Pamphlets were printed and distributed in Ugu District Municipality to advertise the ward delimitation launch event.

The MDB planned to aim for zero irregular expenditure. However, R3.3 million in irregular expenditure was incurred.

The summary of financial results was tabled. The allocation was R4.4 billion for 2014/15, compared to R4.2 billion for 2013/14. Total other income was R45 million for 2014/15, compared to R43 million for 2013/4. The financial results indicated that the MDB has a deficit of R7.2 million.   Expenditure increased by 14% in comparison with the last financial year.

There were comments to do with the regulatory audit. The variation amounts on contracts at time exceeded 15% of the contract amount. In order to deal with this contracts would be monitored closely and the Contracts Listing database had been updated to include the remaining contract balance. An electronic reminder would be set to alert the conclusion of contracts, six months prior to expiry date.

The commitments amount had been  overstated. MDB had adjusted the financial statement on 31 July 2015. In addition, the amount for Related Parties had been understated, and again the financial statements had been adjusted.

There were flags on some of the audit outcomes. Misstatements were identified in the cash flow statements and the financial statements were adjusted accordingly and submitted to National Treasury and the Auditor General.

Overall, the MDB achieved an unqualified audit opinion in 2014/15.

Ms Thupane moved on to presenting on the performance information. In relation to municipal boundary redeterminations, Section 26 notices were published during February and March 2015. The Board considered all Section 26 considerations and took decisions in terms of Section 27 in March 2015. The Board resolved not to proceed with 13 of the 34 proposed redeterminations. The Minister withdrew the proposal affecting Rustenburg and Kgetleng River. Public meetings and /or formal investigations were conducted for 21 of the 34 cases.

In the Midvaal High Court application, she noted that on 22 September 2015, a settlement agreement between applicants and respondents (led by the Board) was made an order of the court. The confirmation of the redetermination of boundaries of Baviaans, Camdeboo and Ikwezi would be published in the Eastern Cape Provincial Gazette within the next few days. The 2013 decision affecting Emfuleni, Midvaal, Ekurhuleni and Lesedi had been set aside until after the 2016 local government elections.

In relation to municipal ward delimitation, the MEC published the number of councillors for Midvaal, Mfuleni, Lesedi and Ekurhuleni on 9 October 2015. Public meetings on ward delimitation in these four municipalities should take place before the end of October 2015 and be completed in December 2015. Wards affecting Baviaans, Camdeboo and Ikwezi would be determined immediately the MEC had published the number of councillors.

She highlighted the problems in relation to HR. The MDB had been without a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for six months, but one had recently been appointed  and was due to commence within the next few weeks. The process to appoint a Chief Executive Officer were at an advanced stage, and the process would be concluded in due course. Recruitment of the Executive Manager of Corporate Services and of the Board Secretary were to be concluded before the end of October. Forensic investigations into the capacity assessment tender had been concluded and human resources and communication strategies had been developed.

She noted that the financial statements showed the   total income for 2014/15 as R45 million whereas the budgeted total income budgeted was R46 million. Total expenditure was R52 million for 2014/15, although budget for the next year would be R65 million.   The trend indicated that the MDB had a deficit  of R7.2 million  for the period. 

MDB had been involved in litigation over the last year. Matters included Baviaans High Court Application, where the court decided that the radio broadcast did not comply with Section 26 (2) of the Media Diversity Act and granted an interdict against the Board, calling on it to comply with Section 26 (2). In relation to the 2013/14 capacity assessment project tender process, the Board had approached the High Court, after protracted negotiation with the party claiming a successful bid, and asked for the tender to be set aside. The DA had brought application to set aside all the decisions of the Board regarding the Minster’s Section 22 (2) proposals. Another case involved the Masia Traditional Authority and Others, challenging the Board’s decision to include this traditional authority within the boundary of the new municipality in the Vhembe Municipality District.

There was hostility from communities with historical provincial boundary problems, who had the perception that the MDB was refusing to deal with their requests/proposals. This was one of the main challenges. Others related to limitations in the legislation, related to the small margin of deviation by the MDB, constraints to the ward delimitation process that constrained the delimitation of optimal wards. She explained that sometimes, when people put in proposals for changes, the deviation was so small that there was no way that the MDB could take any further proposals. Dissatisfaction would arise when people expected MDB to go beyond the wards. The legislated function of wards, particularly Schedule 1 of the Municipal Structure Act, was not in line with the practical use of wards by municipalities and the criteria for demarcation was quickly becoming irrelevant to reality. There was a pressing  need for regulations under the Demarcation Act.

She concluded that the MDB had a challenging year with many learning curves. It would like to hold a session with the Committee to share what it had learned, in an integrated process that could inform policy review and legislation, in order to shape the local government sector.

Discussion
Mr K Mileham (DA) asked about the irregular expenditure and the nature of the investigation into that irregular expenditure was. He asked that the Board should keep a register of payments made outside of the proper timeframe. He commented that the MDB had not held enough public meetings to interact with all communities, and this meant that the MDB was not actually engaging with the relevant stakeholders in the delimitation process.

Ms Thupana noted, in regard to capacity assessments, that the MDB had its own investigation into the matter and a number of irregularities were picked up. The Board had already decided to cancel the tender to the service provider. MDB still spent a lot of time with that service provider, as it had hoped that negotiations would resolve the matter. When the service provider continually threatened to take the MDB to court, the MDB cancelled the contract and started the legal process. Initially the service provider’s intention was to oppose, but then the MDB received documentation from the service provider’s lawyers a few weeks ago saying that it wanted to withdraw and to settle. The Board had not gone into the nature of the engagement with the service provider, but this would now clear the way for the MDB to re-advertise. 

She said reports can be made available to the Committee in which the wrong doings of any MDB members would be set out.

She noted that when MDB visited the wards for consultations, it would often happen that the community did not come to those consultations, because the MDB had already provided the community with a plan of what is going to happen. Sometimes, however, stakeholders representing a municipality might be involved – when it was possible either to get a consolidated perspective or that of the municipality’s stakeholders. In either case, consultation would be done  in each and every ward. The MDB also used the financial majority capacity model when commissioning its own formal investigations. It did not only use government information as its source of information. Ultimately it would refer to the Demarcation Act, as the background for interaction as a ward, but it was not the only source of information used. She added that several of the wards were marked in 2014, with public consultation set for January to March 2015. However, because many of those meetings were scheduled for after the Minister’s Section 22 request, many were postponed. That was why there was a discrepancy in the number of wards and the number of public consultation meetings. MDB was now going into the consultation process again.

She noted that resignations of key financial personnel affected the MDB because the invoice had been sent to the CFO, who had resigned.

Mr Mileham asked about irregular expenditure.

The Board representatives responded that this is also related to resignations, because the document was completed, but the CFO resigned and the document could not be signed. The other explanation was related to a mistake with the internal audit, which should include an evaluation of the fees, but MDB had included a fixed amount for the contract. This had been checked and would not recur.

Mr N Masondo (ANC) appreciated the presentation and the good work. He asked for assurance that the issue of the deficit had been dealt with. He asked that issues around litigation be highlighted.

Mr P Mthethwa (ANC) asked the MDB what its plan was to address issues raised by the Auditor General, particularly the issue of irregular expenditure. He also asked about the quality and procedures surrounding the financial statements. He wanted to know if the MDB had a clear plan on how to address some of the issue raised in the current audit report. He noted that the MBD reported that it was very weak with regard to internal policies and asked whether there was a plan to deal with that.

Mr Mileham asked two follow up questions. He repeated that the MDB, in holding just 147 meetings, had clearly not had meetings with all 278 municipalities. That was problematic. He wanted to go back also on the capacity assessments. MDB had indicated that it used COGTA and National Treasury information. The MDB was an independent entity, and although it is funded by Parliament, it should be doing its own research, and providing its own input, not relying on government figures that may be accurate and verifiable or not. Some MDB reports, for example, noted that financial and fiscal viability of the new municipality was not sound, that  there was no benefit, it was expensive, and may result in negative impacts. He questioned the inputs the MDB was using as the basis for decision, and the reason for continuing to use them.

The MDB representatives noted that the Board would hold public meetings in each municipality. In general, when the Board had a proposal from the Minister, it allocated the number of wards. It would then hold public consultations in the municipalities that might have been affected by the proposal. Based on the Minister’s proposal, the MDB had planned to have a particular number of meetings. However, in light of the subsequent Section 22 request from the Minister, MDB cancelled outstanding consultations. The shortfall related to the numbers of public consultations. However, there was no municipality that did not have public participation before wards were delimited.

Regarding plans to address the deficits, Ms Thupana confirmed that MDB did have engagement with National Treasury and the results should be known by October.

She added that the MDB was working very hard to address the HR problems, but the Committee must appreciate the challenges regarding vacancies in critical positions, which of itself created limitations in dealing with HR matters. The MDB was now appointing a CEO. There were challenges in not having a CFO for 20 months.  Both new appointments were due to start soon. When the MDB stopped using consulting firms, most of the challenges would have been addressed. Some matters were already before the courts. The MDB was not independent and was subject to the whims and wishes of the Minister, and must follow ministerial requests. She added that the Committee must please bear in mind that the Minister's Section 22 request had not been included when the budget was drafted.

She wanted to give context to the environment in which the new Board had started operating. There were many vacancies and acting positions. The Auditor General had expressed the view that the MDB was only a couple of steps away from a clean audit. She wanted to reiterate that the MDB did not rely only on information from government, it also did its own investigations. The MDB also conducted public hearings, but was under no obligation to accept proposals from the public, even if it had engaged with them on a particular proposal. People made proposals and wrote submissions to the Board, but the Board was under no obligation to accept those submissions.

Mr Masondo asked the MDB to inform the Committee what processes were used to appoint the new CFO, as soon as they were concluded. He reminded the MDB that the Committee had asked to be briefed on the settlement amount relating to the former CEO, but the Committee had yet to be briefed on the matter.

Ms Thupana responded that the former CEO’s services were terminated, after a protracted process following her suspension. Investigations into her misconduct  had already cost the board about R6 million. It is true that the nature of charges put by the MDB’s predecessors weakened its position, because the board did not handle the pre-suspension processes properly, as she was not given the opportunity to answer allegations put to her. The courts had also ceased to be sympathetic with government. The MDB did not want to spend a lot of money on legal fees, only to have the former CEO reinstated.

Mr Masondo thought that, given the amount involved, it had not been helpful to settle rather than proceed with a court action.

Ms Thupana noted that the MDB had not been worried that the former CEO would win her case, but rather did not want to spend more money on legal fees, having spent so much already.

The Chairperson took the point made. He noted that whilst the MDB was an independent institution, and the Committee wanted to respect that independence, it must provide oversight to help it continue to do its work effectively. He hoped that the new staff team would assist the MDB

Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) on its annual report for 2014/15
The representative of the CRL tendered the apologies of the Chairperson of the CRL, who was absent due to illness.

It was noted that the main essence of what the CRL seeks to do is to impact on society and create social cohesion. It was noted that this Commission was particularly important because it “ speaks to the totality of a human being”. It operated five programmes covering communication and marketing; public engagement and education; research and policy development; legal services and conflict resolution; and financial and corporate services.

Ms Mlulami Manjezi, Acting CEO of the CRL, said the Commission managed to conduct 17 education and awareness campaigns in the previous financial year. Initially it had planned for nine but because it wanted to disseminate results on research that was conducted it had held additional campaigns. It also managed to conduct three cultural, religious and linguistic rights dialogues; some of these dialogues focused on the mandate of the Commission, others were conducted around the issues of religion and still others around indigenous languages.

The public engagement and education unit held nine provincial mini conferences. In these mini conferences, the CRL went to all of the provinces in the country to introduce the commissioners to the communities so that the communities could know and meet the leadership is, since the commissioners had just been appointed in the previous financial year.

The CRL had been actively marketing itself, and this was evidenced by many interviews on TV that the Commission was engaged in. It also had coverage in newspapers, evidenced by newspaper cuttings that the CRL kept on file.

Speaking to research and policy development, she noted that the CRL had, in the previous financial year, completed four research projects resulting in four reports, an initiation report; an Ukuthwala report; a report on the re-use of graves; and a report on animal slaughter. The CRL had previously shared some of these reports with Committee members, for instance the initiation and Ukuthwala reports, and would still be bringing a report on the re-use of graves to the Committee. The recommendations of the CRL in these reports should be used for the purposes of drafting legislation.  

In the legal services and conflict resolution unit, 54 cases were received and 31 were finalised. Religion cases counted for 18, culture counted for 10 and language counted for three.  

The Commission’s operations improved substantially over the past financial year. The newly appointed commissioners were focused and energetic and under their leadership the CRL had been able to review its organisational values, vision, goals, strategic objectives and outcomes. Management had focused more on internal processes than in the previous financial year. The CRL had realised that it lacked policies and targeted March 2015 as the month to work on more policies relating to information technology, finance and human resources, so that it could do its work with ease in the future.  

The opinion of the Auditor General remained unqualified. It has been the CRL’s vision since last year to achieve a clean audit report, and it has set itself goals to make this possible. The findings that the CRL received from the Auditor General this year helped to set those goals, and CRL would hopefully achieve a clean audit report in the next financial year, in line with its mandate. 

She was pleased to note that  in the year under review, the CRL utilised the allocated funds effectively, reporting a surplus of R10 billion, which was 29% of the allocated budget. It also improved operational expenditure to 49%, compared to the previous year’s 38%. Staff-related cost were reduced to 51% of total expenditure. The CRL was trying to address the concerns that were raised in the previous Auditor-General’s report. Although the staff related cost had improved, this had been at the expense of dwindling staff numbers. The CRL needed to do more work with less people.  

The CRL’s overall operational expenditure still exceeded its allocation. Total expenditure over the period remained constant over the last three years. Operational expenditure was expected to increase over the three-year period, maintaining current service levels. 

The CRL remained constrained in terms of financial resources. It sought to improve response times, as well as increase the scope of delivery, but this would require financial resources and capacity. It was submitted that the funding of the CRL therefore had to be brought in line with other Chapter 9 Institutions, to enable the Commission to contribute to the National Development Plan. The CRL fell behind its peer group institutions on a funding level, although it had proven its ability to deliver services, and had managed to employ its limited resources effectively and in compliance with legislation. Ms Manjezi reiterated that improving service delivery further would require more investment.

Discussion

Mr Mthethwa thanked the CRL for the improvement reported, although he could recognise its cash flow problems, but he also remained concerned about the points raised in the Auditor-General's report. He commented that there were gaps in Human Resources (HR) management and people were also leaving the Commission, and he asked if the CRL could give some explanation of what was happening with leadership of the Commission. The CRL was one of the entities that was not doing very well in terms of performance management, and even on its finances, and he asked how those issues were going to be addressed. He asked the CRL if it had a defined plan to reassure the Committee that it would be in a better position in the next financial year.  

Mr Mileham expressed concern over the reliability of the CRL's information, and said that he would like to know what the CRL was doing about this issue. A major point related to the performance indicators was the question of the supplier database. The CRL had indicated that it had not reached its target of having all of its suppliers registered in its database. If this were the case, and suppliers were not registered in the database, then the CRL should not surely not be using them. There needed to be a concerted effort on the part of the Commission and its officials to rectify this.  

He further noted that the MDB had also indicated that 27% of audit queries were not resolved, and some of these arose in the previous financial year. He noted that if the CRL wanted to get a clean audit, it would have to first address the concerns of the previous audit. A big concern was that it was very difficult to see how the CRL was spending its money, and it would be helpful for the Committee to get a programme and activity list of what the CRL was spending on; to see if it was prioritising properly.

He requested the CRL to expand on its role around the Traditional Health Practitioners Act. His Act had been around for about eight years and to his understanding, was being handled primarily under the Department of Health.  

The CRL had also referred to the Witchcraft Suppression Act of 1957, and how that was problematic for a number of reasons, such as discriminating against women,. He also asked if there had been any research done into the legislation in Mpumalanga and its constitutionality. Given that the CRL was opposed to the 1957 Act he asked if there were plans to remove it from the statute books.

Ms Manjezi answered that the CRL was taking the findings from the AG report very seriously, as also issues of performance management, and had developed plans of action to address the points. She conceded that the CRL may have a little late in starting to implement but it was on tract and there should be even better improvements in the next year than what the CRL had originally indicated to the Committee.

She noted that there were some things over which the CRL had no control. For instance, if staff members received better offers, the CRL did not have sufficient funding to make good counter-offers, and the Commission was losing staff. Many had left the organisation voluntarily; they had not been forced to leave.

The CRL had recognised that performance management was a critical area. One issue was that the performance management system had not been updated in about five years. In relation to the quality of the financial statements, the CRL's performance management had also been reviewed and the issues would be monitored closely as soon as the issues were raised. Monthly staff reports were now instituted for the 10th of each month, and the Board would provide oversight on those. These were part of the system that the Board used to ensure that there would be quality control and to provide oversight.

It was correct to note that the Commission should not be using suppliers who were not registered on the database. However, there was a system in place to ensure that all suppliers were registered. CRL did not previously have enough human resources to do so, but it now had a temporary staff member updating its database, so that all of the suppliers were compliant and it would use only those whose details had been updated.

The Chief Financial Officer added that the review of the financial statements, and ensuring that this review was actually being done correctly, was a major focus area of the office, and that was included in his performance contract. This should assist  CRL to improve the quality of the financial statements. He added to earlier comments on the supplier database, saying that it was not quite correct that 50% of the suppliers were not registered in the database; rather, their details had not been updated but this was now being done annually so that the details would be updated on procurement. This caused a delay when the CRL wanted to process the procurement requisitions, and so in the future the supplier details would be updated on an ongoing basis and no procurement would be done with any suppliers who had not supplied updated information.

The CFO apologised that he had not included expenditure per programme in his slide presentation.  

Ms Manjezi then answered questions about the legislation. The CRL’s research unit conducted discussions pertaining to the Mpumalanga Witchcraft Act while it was conducting a national dialogue on ritual killings and witchcraft, in the interests of the Constitution and national legislation and to feed into the inquiry of the South African Law Reform Commission to provide input on the review. At the commencement of its tenure, the Board of the CRL had visited Mpumalanga, as it believed that traditional leaders were the custodians of culture, and had also visited the Eastern Cape and Limpopo to discuss culture.  It had also visited the Eastern Cape and Limpopo on matters of culture. It took the same role in regard to the Traditional Health Practitioners Act.  

She noted that when audit findings were received, the CRL prioritised issues raised in the report, so that it could then provide updates when next addressing the Committee, to indicate that there was progress, albeit slow, but steady.

She also added that appointing as they provide an indication of how far the CRL  still has to go, so that the next time that they address the Committee, it will be able to see that the CRL is making progress, slowly but surely.  

The CFO replied that the CRL has put registers and plans in place, and was prepared to put in the effort to make sure that this year no new audit queries arose. It was focusing on reducing the numbers of queries to remove them altogether in the current financial year.

The Chairperson, in thanking the CRL, said that the CRL was a very important institution that could help the Committee in achieving social cohesion, as it contributed a lot to the renewal and revival story of the country. It was very important that the Commission made sure that it worked in all parts of the country. He recognised that the CRL did not get enough funding, which made its work difficult, but also said that it needed to have more impact and utilise its resources to their maximum capacity. There was a lot of work for the CRL to do and they were facing many challenges. It was very important to use constituencies and to have interaction with communities to raise consciousness. This was a difficult area, and he wished it well in its attempts to build and to attain a clean audit. However, he also cautioned that it should not focus solely on that to the detriment of achieving its work on the ground.  

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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