Parliamentary Villages; Expanded Public Works Programme job creation: Public Works briefing, with Deputy Minister

Public Works

14 November 2017
Chairperson: Mr H Mmemezi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Documents Presented: Narrative by DPW on jobs created through EPWP [awaited]; Brief on Prestige programme with focus on Parliamentary work on Parliamentary Villages Board (PVB), Ministerial residences and Fernwood [awaited]

The Committee was briefed by the Department of Public Works (DPW) on the progress made with the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), and on the status of the prestige accommodation programme at the Parliamentary villages.

The DPW described the progress made since the beginning of the EPWP n 2004, the training of participants in the programme, the challenges encountered during its implementation and the reporting process, as well as proposed actions to improve performance. The total achievement on work opportunities had been 42%, while full time equivalents (FTE) -- how many days a person was employed within the year -- had reached 24%. Social sector programmes had led to more work opportunities for women, while infrastructure programmes had provided more work opportunities for youths. The main reasons for under-performance were under-reporting of targets achieved in the EPWP by the provinces, and poor record-keeping by public bodies. The Department would include the reporting of work opportunities in its annual performance plan to ensure that provincial DPWs were held accountable for their targets. Approval was awaited for the development of EPWP recruitment guidelines.

The Committee welcomed the Department’s detailed report, which indicated the levels of the work done in the provinces, the remote rural communities and informal settlements throughout the country. It was also encouraged by the information that 12.5% of those trained on the EPWP had been employed permanently. Members observed that the programme assisted South Africans without formal education who would otherwise have no work, but remarked that there were areas that needed improvement. These included increasing the number of people on the EPWP in some provinces, getting municipalities and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) to understand Community Works Programmes (CWPs), and training municipalities on reporting guidelines. What were the strategies to assist with recruitment, because the Committee received complaints that recruitments were done through political affiliations? The Committee expressed concern over whether the DPW had the skills and capacity to achieve its EPWP targets, and advised it to ensure that its future target achievements matched its budget expenditure.

Highlights of the brief by the Property Management Trading Entity included progress with the work on access control, intercoms and voice systems at the Parliamentary Village Board (PVB), the list of people who benefited from furniture, and the status of Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) equity in the PMTE’s contracts. The Committee asked questions concerning the vetting of contractors, the breakdown of the amounts spent on the PVB and Fernwood, the renovations at Good Hope, services at official and private residences, tax payments on the renovation of residences, upgrades on air-conditioning systems, the time frame for enlarging the small gate hindering bus access, and procuring gym facilities and accommodation for Parliamentary support staff.

Meeting report

Department of Public Works (DPW) on Expanded Public Works programme (EPWP)

Mr Devan Pillay, Acting Deputy Director General (DDG): EPWP, said that the major reasons for under-performance were the under-reporting of targets achieved in the public works programme by the provinces and poor record keeping by public bodies. In achieving targets, the EPWP had asked the provincial DPWs to include reporting of work opportunities in the annual performance plans (APPs), so each provincial DPW was now accountable for its targets. Also, national coordinating committee meetings were now being held to ascertain progress, and the reports were now escalated to the President's Coordinating Council (PCC) and information could be accessed electronically.

Dr Eric Musekene, Chief Director: EPWP Monitoring and Evaluation, said that the purpose of the brief was to highlight the progress on EPWP in achieving its Phase Three target of over six million work opportunities by 2019. The brief contained progress made since the beginning of EPWP programme in 2014 up to the second quarter of 2017/18, and progress made in the training of public works programme beneficiaries as at 6 November, 2017. The brief also highlighted the challenges encountered during implementation and reporting of the EPWP as well as proposed actions to improve performance.

The total achievement on work opportunities had been 42%, while full time equivalents (FTE -- how many days a person was employed within the year) had reached 24%. The breakdown on work opportunity achievements as at the second quarter of 2017/18 was 46% on environment and culture, 35% on infrastructure, 37% on the community works programme (CWP), 85% on non-profit organisations (NPOs) and 53% on the social sector. The breakdown on FTE achievements was 28% on environment and culture, infrastructure 23%, CWP 117%, NPOs 25% and social sector 32% respectively.

An analysis of the percentage performance against annual work opportunity targets as at the second quarter showed that the Eastern Cape (71%) and KwaZulu-Natal (56%) had performed well overall. Social sector programmes had led to more work opportunities for women, while infrastructure programmes led to more work opportunity for youths. The challenges were non-reporting of work opportunities created through own funding, poor reporting by key programmes, and poor record keeping by public bodies. A lot of projects were also excluded from the reporting because these projects did not meet EPWP standards, and reporting bodies delayed capturing data on the EPWP reporting system. The interventions put in place were a review of EPWP phase three, the development of EPWP recruitment guidelines (approval awaited), initiating an EPWP policy, and elevation of under-reporting for policing interventions through the PCC and the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC). There would also be a more focused reporting of EPWP successes, and an improvement of monitoring and evaluation requirements for reporting on the EPWP. The linking of conditional grants to public bodies’ meeting of targets and compliance to reporting requirements were used as interventions.

Discussion

Mr K Sithole (IFP) expressed concern over the capacity of the DPW to achieve the EPWP targets, and. asked what monitoring and evaluation system the EPWP used for municipalities.

Ms Masehela (ANC) said that the work done by the EPWP was vital because it led to job creation, so the DPW had to do more to ensure that unemployment was reduced. How did the DPW assist municipalities to report on the EPWP? What were the strategies to assist with recruitment, because the Committee received complaints that recruitments were done through political affiliations. She was concerned that the EPWP was approaching Phase IV and there were still challenges. She suggested that the DPW should provide more training to municipalities on reporting.

Mr M Figg (DA) observed that there seemed to be under-spending on goods and services and compensation of employees, and advised the DPW to recruit people who were skilled and capable. He concerned at the performance against the annual work opportunities targets. He asked for the significance of the cut-off date of 6 November for the training of EPWP beneficiaries. He also observed that the impact of beneficiaries receiving permanent employment was not seen in Municipalities.

Mr D Ryder (DA) appreciated the progress made by the DPW on the EPWP, but remarked that officials should remember that when targets were not met, the EPWP’s mandate of creating jobs was affected and the impact was that families who relied on the EPWP were not fed. He asked how much money had been spent on achieving 42% of the overall work opportunity targets. He observed that provinces such as Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West had challenges with work opportunities and asked if these had been addressed. Why was there such a large difference between the overall work opportunities and the FTE data? He commented that the Community Works Programme (CWP) and the EPWP were too technical, so the municipalities did want to incorporate them. The controversies surrounding the EPWP were that people received work opportunities through political affiliations or sexual favours, so he advised the DPW to craft the recruitment guidelines for work opportunities to avoid such insinuations.

Dr C Madlopha (ANC) asked the DPW to match its achievements with the funds expended in its next report. It had to fast track the timelines for the processing of approvals, and make officers responsible for each stage of the recruitment guidelines. The under-reporting challenges had been on-going and it looked as if the interventions were not yet having the desired impact. She asked for the status of the reporting clerks who had initially been proposed as intervention mechanisms. When had the PCC and IMC interventions started, and how would this change the challenge of poor reporting?  Did the EPWP have terms of reference that served as a guide at steering committee meetings for the infrastructure grant? She agreed with Mr Ryder that municipalities did not understand the CWP and EPWP. She observed that although the EPWP was meant to assist poor people, the EPWP officials were the ones who were putting them at a disadvantage.

Ms D Mathebe (ANC) suggested that the DPW should organise training on reporting for the municipalities, and asked it to address the lack of capacity in the EPWP.

Ms P Adams (ANC) asked the DPW to indicate the benchmark for setting the work opportunities targets for Phase III of the programme. She asked why there had been a decrease in the work opportunity targets set between 2015/16 and 2016/17. She expressed concern about the work opportunities targets being used to achieve equity targets.

Mr F Adams (ANC) complimented the officials of the EPWP on the targets achieved in the tourism and creative sectors, but asked the DPW to clarify the contributions towards jobs from Department of Tourism. What was the contribution of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) towards CWPs?  He asked what incentive was given to women to increase targets achieved on waste disposal, and the extra strategy used in the EPWP to graduate people from work opportunities to jobs created. He also asked why the EPWP officials had not been able to develop a proper reporting mechanism on targets.

The Chairperson emphasised the importance of the work done by the EPWP in supporting people to get jobs, to feed and take care of poor people. He appreciated the work done by EPWP officials in the rural areas, but asked the team to listen to Members’ concerns. He advised the team not to wait for the Auditor General’s opinion before measuring the programme’s impact. It should ensure that the budget matched its performance in its next report so that the Committee could measure if the programme was adding value for the money spent.

DPW’s response

Deputy Minister Jeremy Cronin said that Phase One of the EPWP had been from 2004 to 2009, with a target of one million jobs. It had set an ambitious target of over four million in the second phase and a further target of over six million in the third phase. Information from Statistics South Africa showed that 12.5% of those who had been trained by the PWD as part of the EPWP had been employed permanently in other areas. Also, 4.8% had set up their own businesses, 47% were in temporary work and 14% had further training. He appreciated Mr Ryder’s comments that Members were happy with the progress of EPWP and accepted that the DPW needed to tidy up its efforts on the public works programme by ensuring municipalities understood the CWP.

Although the EPWP had a clean audit record, there were under-reporting challenges. He assured the Committee that the programme had a reporting format, but smaller Municipalities had difficulty in following the format. The performance had dropped because the Auditor General had questioned the reporting records.

The EPWP had not done well in the care of people living with HIV initially, but had funded NGOs that were working on public works programmes. The EPWP had reached a compromise with labour unions on the minimum wage by agreeing to a 55% tier of the national minimum wage by explaining that participants in public works programmes could not compete in the labour market.

Recruitment guidelines had challenges because there were many sectors, and controversies occurred because few positions were available. However, the DPW was working on making the process transparent.

Targets were difficult to set because some jobs were of a temporary nature. The EPWP was an intervention that involved training, and was faced with either increasing the number of participants or increasing training programmes. It chose to give people appropriate training in Sector Education and Training Authoritys (SETAs), but the training was not certificated.

The EPWP subscribed to the intervention by the PCC and IMC because it was difficult for a Director General (DG) to coordinate DGs from other departments, and this measure had assisted with the programme.

The conditional grants were not much, so the DPW had tried to prioritise the public works programmes.

The EPWP engaged with COGTA on the CWP, and the  DPW was doing well in the non-state programmes, such as the NGOs.

Mr Pillay committed to submitting reports that matched budgets with performance. The CWP contributed to the EPWP, but its modalities were different. The EPWP had had organised training on reporting for municipalities for over a year, and was reaching a point of common understanding with COGTA. The EPWP officials engaged with municipalities that had challenges, and grants were not stopped. The EPWP had not withheld grants from any Municipality, and the only department whose funds the EPWP had withheld, had complied and the funds had been restored.

The Chairperson mandated the DPW to send written reports on the questions and concerns that had not been addressed. It should inform the Committee about public works programmes that had the potential to assist communities, as this would enable the Committee to motivate why these programmes needed to receive grants. The EPWP was worthy of emulation, but officials needed to do the right things to ensure better performance. He encouraged the DPW to work on the AG’s concerns.

Property Management Trading Entity (PMTE): Parliamentary villages

The Chairperson invited the Property Management Trading Entity (PMTE) to brief the Committee on the prestige programme which focused on Parliament and the work of the Parliamentary Villages Board (PVB), Ministerial residences, and Fernwood.

Mr Bassie Kgasoane, Chief Director: PMTE, said the report would be on the functions of the prestige programme, the support structure, areas of operation and the work of the PVB.

Mr Fred Johnson, Regional Manager: Western Cape, PMTE described the progress of the work on access control, intercoms and voice systems at the PVB, the list of people who benefited from furniture, and the status of Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) equity on contracts. He also indicated the initial contract values, the revised contract values, and the project completion dates.

Discussion

Ms Adams asked if the information on prestige clients had been passed through state security mechanisms. She asked the PMTE to indicate where the Parliamentary support staff were accommodated, and asked for clarity on domestic services. She asked for an update on the renovations at Good Hope, and for an explanation of services at official and private residences. She sought clarity on the tax payments for the renovation of residences, and if a budget was allocated for renovations to residences.

Mr Sithole observed that the exercise facilities and air-conditioning system needed upgrades. He also asked PMTE what it was doing to grant a German contractor access to the PVB for renovation purposes.

Dr Madlopha appreciated the quick fix on intercoms and the improvements at the gates. She asked PMTE what provision it had made to upgrade the small gate, because it could not be accessed by Parliamentary buses.

Mr Ryder expressed concern on the availability of the contractor, Nolitha Pty, on the internet, and asked for a breakdown of the amount spent on the PVB. He also asked for more information on the breakdown of funds for Fernwood, and noted challenges on the turnaround time of six to eight months for maintenance of PVB.

Ms E Masehela (ANC) asked how the DPW would address the problem affecting the entry of buses because of the small gate. Did donation of furniture occur only at the Cape Town Parliamentary Village? She requested the PMTE to address the renovation of baths before the next term.

Mr Adams observed that the complaints about buses were still ongoing and requested that the PMTE mandate a contractor to allocate clean buses to Members. Who vetted the contractors that worked at the PVB?

PMTE’s response

Ms Lydia Bici, Acting Head: PMTE, said that the generators were donated to community organisations in terms of the law.

Mr Johnson said that the challenges faced at Good Hope initially did not allow for renovations of the toilets, but this was now ongoing. The PMTE was working on air-conditioning repairs at the Marks Building. The State Security Agency (SSA) had cleared the German contractor to work in buildings at the PVB, and the terms of the contract included the transfer of skills. BBBEE had been incorporated into PMTE contracts. The PMTE could provide information on Nolitha Pty, and could provide additional information on the breakdown of funds spent on PVB and Fernwood.

Mr Kgasoane stated that there was a provision in law for Members to designate residences either as private or official.  He indicated the services paid for in both residences, but said that if the official was recalled, the payments were terminated immediately. The services paid for were only at Cape Town and Pretoria, because both cities were seats of Government.

Mr Sam Vukela, Acting Director General: DPW, said that furniture donations would be advertised in the future.

Mr Adams asked for clarification on payments for services, because the rule book accommodated payment for services after 30 days.

Mr Johnson said the PMTE would engage with contractors on the buses, and would deal with renovations before the sixth Parliament resumed. The contractors were vetted by the South African Police Service (SAPS). Payments for services in residences accommodated the 30-day period.

The Chairperson said he was happy that the PMTE was giving Members’ welfare priority, but Members wanted to see the impact. He asked for time frames on enlarging the small gate and procuring gym facilities.

The Deputy Minister said that the gym equipment was on a Parliamentary budget, hence the delay.

The Chairperson asked the PMTE to inform the Committee where it had problems so that could assist it at Parliament. He asked for more information on the Good Hope renovations.

Mr Johnson replied that information on the Good Hope renovations was in the report.

Mr Ryder said that the Committee wanted more information on the renovations.

The Chairperson asked PMTE to note the areas of Members’ concern and provide more information.

Approval of minutes

The minutes of 7 November were considered.

Mr Ryder said that the first bullet on page three was incomplete, and asked for the insertion of more information. The bullet was re-crafted by the Committee Secretary, and approved by the Committee.

Ms Adams moved adoption of the minutes, with corrections, and Ms Masehela seconded.

The meeting was adjourned.

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