Statistics South Africa briefed the Committee on the proposed amendments to the Statistics Act. The coordination function of the Statistician General (SG) has not been fully implemented. The failure to implement all aspects was ascribed to weaknesses in the current Act. There was therefore the need to strengthen the role of the SG and the Minister to ensure that the organisation can meet the data needs of the government and other stakeholders.
The Committee was interested the rationale behind the strengthening on the powers of the Minister, given that statistics are supposed to be free from the interference on any political principal. Members were also interested in understanding the relationship that existed between StatsSA and other entities that collected statistics.
The NYDA presented on the Integrated Youth Development Strategy and its objectives. The Committee was interested in knowing the feasibility of some of the proposed solutions to problems that the strategy aimed to eradicate. Furthermore, Members asked if there were measure in place to encourage the private sector to participate in the youth development programs.
The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) presentation addressed the five-year implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP) and the Budget Prioritisation Framework which was introduced as an innovation to the budgeting process of the country. The Budget Prioritisation Frame work identified the key priority areas that are likely to receive a budget increase.
The Committee was impressed with the five-year implementation plan but advised that the Department should be presenting yearly updates on the progress made. Members also wanted to know who was responsible for consequence management and was also interested in knowing the impact of objections from some sectors.
Briefing by Statistics South Africa on its progress regarding the legislative reform
Mr Desmond Booysen, Chief Director: National Statistics System, StatsSA, briefed the Committee on StatsSA’s progress in terms of legislative reform.
The Act provided for a decentralised statistical system consisting of StatsSA together with other producers of statistics in accordance with their mandates. However, since its inception in 1999, the coordination function of the Statistician-General (SG) described in the Act has not been fully implemented. Failure to fully implement all aspects of the Act was ascribed to weaknesses in the current Act.
The Act did not give the SG sufficient authority to coordinate the statistical system. The lack of sufficient authority has resulted in the failure to implement the coordination role of the SG. Consequently, there was an inability to adequately meet the data needs of government and other stakeholders.
The key changes to the structure of the Act included expanding the role of the SG beyond StatsSA. Section 2 describes the role of the SG as serving both the Republic and the heading of StatsSA. It also included explicit mention of the National Statistics System (NSS). Section 3 covered the purpose of official statistics and statistical principles and the NSS. This extended the sphere of influence of the SG to include members of the NSS (see Section 7). Section 14 makes provision for the creation of a coordination framework by the SG
Mr S Motau (DA) noticed that the presentation talked about the need to expend into a state-wide operation. He asked if Stats SA wasn’t currently covering the whole state.
Mr Y Cassim (DA) asked for clarity behind the rationale on the extension of the powers of the Minister. According to the presentation there was a need to strengthen the coordination mandate and powers for both the Minister and the SG. However, earlier it was mentioned that StatsSA wanted to ensure that the statistics are completely free from any interference from any political principal. The SG was an independent individual that has been mandated accordingly. The Minister, on the other hand, was a political principal. The Minister should not have powers to interfere in the work of the SG or to direct the coordination effort. The presentation was proposing strengthening the Minister’s coordination mandate and powers. What will that mean? Why can it not he be the SG that did that?
Mr D Khosa (ANC) said the SG stated that the statistics released by Johannesburg Metro are just quality statistics but not a true reflection. The understanding was that something that was of quality should be very good. He asked for clarity on what was meant by the statement. He wanted an explanation on the nature of the relationship between StatsSA and other entities that released statics that did not give true reflection. The presentation mentioned that each department must have a statistical unit. He asked what the current situation was.
Mr Risenga Maluleke, SG, StatsSA, explained that the statistics that are produced by Johannesburg Metro Police are neither official nor quality statistics. They are just acceptable statistics. There are different stages of quality in the South African Quality Assessment Framework. There are poor statistics, acceptable statistics, quality statistics and official statistics. Official statistics are those that are released by the SG. He added that these official statistics are clean and there cannot be any interference. When the SG started a series, not even a President or Minister can tell the SG to stop it. This is because future generations will need the information.
He reminded the Committee that at the fall of apartheid, a decision was taken that all the information should be destroyed. Part of the information that was destroyed, which was under the control of independent people, was weather pattern statistics. This affected today’s national partial framework. The ever-green areas are, somehow, for white people and the dry areas are for black people. All this resulted from the fact that there was interference in the people who deal with numbers. So there cannot be interference.
Mr Maluleke said that the police crime statistics by SAPS are not official, but rather quality statistics that went through the quality assessment framework. The crime statistics by Johannesburg Metro are in bad shape which qualified as acceptable statistics. This was because they took into consideration crime collected by the Metro alone. There are certain crimes that were not reported that were picked up in the victims of crime stats. When StatsSA looked at the SAPS crime statistics, it looks at what they get as reported and it looks at its victims of crime. Domestic violence, for example was rarely reported. Even if someone has their chicken or cow stolen – they did not report, because they thought too small. Johannesburg Metro did not have that information so it cannot be said that such statistics are representative of what occurred in the Metro. It was only exclusive to those people who were arrested or stopped by Johannesburg Metro police.
Mr Maluleke said that the relationship between Stats SA and other statistics collecting entities was voluntary and not binding. The biggest problem now was that there was a small municipality that decided to collect information through a private sector company that quoted R8 or R10 million. That was the same amount StatsSA used to collect the labour force survey data for the whole country. The private company then used StatsSA data for free, they put it in fancy document and they give it to the municipality or a province. The municipality then sends the statistics to say that they have a report and that StatsSA should confirm if it was in line with what they are thinking. Stats SA responded that it was in line because it is their data. He said there cannot be duplications.
He agreed that StatsSA did not produce all the statistics needed by the country – it did not have the capacity and it will never be able to do so. What it will need to do is to work with other producers. For example, the job of the Department of Health was to provide good health. A nurse in a village or in a township collected data on everyone who came, but the nurse was not a statistician. At the end of the day the nurse did not care what got recorded. A teacher in a classroom collected data every day. At the beginning of the year, for example, there have been cases where they might have a high number of registrations of children and come end of the year, those children are nowhere to be found and there was an assumption that those children have dropped out of school. The fact was that in many cases those children were never there in the first place. This because there has been an agreement that the salary of a school principal can be adjusted based on the number of children. When the enrollment dropped those children were ‘created’ to not lose the money. Policy makers then go around and say the children have dropped out, but we did not find them in the survey because there are no children who dropped out. In one school, for example, it was said that they had almost 700 children when in fact they had 360 children. The job of the teachers was to provide education, not to collect statistics. They did not even know the fundamental principle of official statistics or the African charter of statistics, but those that reported the truth did have very good records and when StatsSA do the household survey, their register will be confirmed. In the end StatsSA might not have to go to the field to strengthen the registers that they produced, which will be cheaper. The point was that people with incentives interests should not be collecting statistics because they are not independent.
Government also did a lot of imbizos and people thinking government was bringing jobs will raise their hands when asked who was unemployed. Those people will get registered, but once they learn that it was for volunteer work, suddenly nobody was available and all the people are working. So, when people have an incentive, they can falsify data and there was a need to strengthen that.
Mr Maluleke said, on the powers of the Minister, that currently the SG has a lot of independence, but there was a risk, because the SG did not define policy – that remained with government. The “what” was defined by government and the “how to measure” was defined by StatsSA or by the SG. The current Act said the Minister or any organ of the State can only advise on a collection that StatsSA needed to take. If tomorrow morning, the province of KZN, like it happened recently came to StatsSA to conduct a citizen satisfaction survey, the Minister would not know about that and that the SG was not supposed to be involved in policy for whatever reason and a project might be running counter policy to a position held by the province or the national. For example, in the Western Cape there was a municipality that wanted to conduct a survey which was counter to both provincial and national. Coordination was more on the policy space, but the powers of the SG cannot be interfered with and StatsSA will make sure to put better clarification. The processing of the bill will follow directly from this committee in terms of how to move.
Briefing by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) on the Integrated Youth Development Strategy (IYDS) and its impact thereof
Mr Waseem Carrim, CEO, NYDA, briefed the Committee on the IYDS and its impact. The purpose of the IYDS was to enhance the participation of young people through targeted programmes initiated by government, business and civil society, as well as support for programmes that encouraged youth innovation, entrepreneurship development, skills development, including income-generating and wealth-creating activities.
Section 3 of the NYDA Act required the Agency to develop an IYDS and Section 7 required that organs of State must consider national priorities in respect of youth development when planning their activities and submit annual reports to the Agency regarding their implementation of priorities.
The following are the objectives of the IYDS:
-Provide a partnership and stakeholder engagement framework, enabling public, private and civil society
-Lobby all government sectors to create a more youth friendly, supportive regulatory environment
-Facilitate programmes aimed at job creation and economic security of youth in government, business and civil society organisations
-Initiate catalytic programmes designed to benefit youth from disadvantaged backgrounds (primarily youth from rural areas, youth with disabilities, and young women)
-Coordinate youth focused programmes across all sectors of government and industries to align resource allocation
-Provide a monitoring and evaluation framework and system which will enable coordinated nationwide tracking of youth development programmes implemented by public, private and civil society organisations
The anticipated outcomes of the IYDS include:
-Coordinated youth focused programmes across all sectors
-Facilitated programmes aimed at job creation and economic security of youth
-A monitoring and evaluation framework and system which will enable coordinated nationwide tracking of youth development programmes
-Optimised integration and maximised impact of youth development programmes
-Enable effectiveness and efficiencies through existing programmes
-Unlimited opportunities for development of many young South Africans
-Respond to emerging needs and aspirations for South African young people
-Innovate and create ground breaking interventions
Mr Khosa was interested in finding out to what extent the goals of the IYDS are achievable and if there was time to review objectives to ensure that those that have been achieved did not become objectives in a certain period. He asked if NYDA knew where the learners are who dropped. Are they accounted for? What number are we talking about? The SG said that sometimes drop-outs can be reported whereas there were no drop-outs. The majority of the youth did not pass maths and science and sometimes the reason was that the country has a poverty of teachers teaching those subjects. On the other hand, at TVET colleges it was a requirement that if you want to do plumbing, carpentry and other courses, mathematics was required. Where on this earth will they get a mathematics pass in grade 12 if we have got that poverty of teachers of that subject?
Mr M Ntombela (ANC) asked the SG to verify if the statistics presented in the presentation are official statistics. On slide 12, with regards to the challenges of the IYDS, the first bullet talked about private sector involvement and bullet number five talked about commitment support from the business and private sector. The involvement of the private sector or business has always been sluggish when it comes to assistance. How do you propose to deal with this? Have you come up with a method on how you are going to encourage them to do this? He referred to the NYDA youth fund and the skills fund. Have you thought about how this is going to be managed? Is there a blueprint on how you are going to manage this? On page 23, bullet number eight talked about offenders to participate in skills development programs. What is meant by offenders? Dagga was recently legalised and has become a subject of negotiation. How do you propose to deal with this because mostly it is going to affect the youth?
Mr Cassim said the proposed solutions in the document are very good solutions. However, has there been any exercise to determine the feasibility of some of these proposed solutions? For example, a proposed solution such as “provision of primary health care services on a 24-hour basis.” will be great. The worry was its feasibility, where feasibility is not only limited to the context of physical environment but also the political environment. The other one was the proposed solution around the cutting of the red tape to facilitate the private sector and civil society involvement in youth programs. There could be political constraints with the current government attitude in that respect. There are some gaps, e.g. the constraints in the basic education environment that talked to the fact that South Africa has the highest number of teaching days lost to strikes on the Continent. There are over 5 000 teachers who are not qualified to teach but are currently teaching in our schools. The country has got teachers that cannot pass the tests that they are setting for the student. There is need to start giving some considerations, because some of the solutions are very vague, very broad, and we have not pressed on some of these things.
Mr J Londt (DA) said the presentation indicated that the gaps are going to be addressed in deeper content. He asked for an explanation on how the Department was going to address that. He said he was concerned about teachers that are not willing to go through the basic tests to see if they are competent in teaching the subject that they should teach. Advocating for the right of youths but not being vocal about the quality of teaching they get showed that NYDA was just paying lip service. The aim was to have 90% pass rate with 50% in math and literacy. He asked for an explanation on what was being done on a whole range of subjects to ensure that the 90% pass rate. He asked StatsSA to explain what was being done about the school principals that are inflating the student numbers.
Mr Sifiso Mtsweni, Executive Chairperson, NYDA, said that this process has been going on for some time. It has gone through a lot of stages. The latest Cabinet reshuffle, which could not produce a Deputy Minister that will directly look at youth issues, would have one or two impacts. This year there was supposed to be what what usually called the Presidential Youth Working Group. It was chaired by the President, but the Deputy Minister has the responsibility to meet with departments periodically.
According to the Act itself, the NYDA was supposed to report directly to the President because issues of youth development cut across. These issues included health, education and social development. Almost every aspect of government has an element of youth development. NYDA has been put under the Monitoring and Evaluation Department, because when DPME did its own monitoring and evaluation, it must also evaluate how NYDA was doing on matters of youth development. The adoption of this document will also ensure that the framework of monitoring and evaluation integrated the issue of monitoring youth development initiative.
The schooling system ran grades one to grade 12. There was specific number that enrolled in grade one and there was a specific number that completed at grade 12. In between there are some who leave school due to certain challenges they face. There are also some of those who when they reach grade 8 or 9, went into the TVET colleges. The CEO spoke about what is called the NWET group. These young people are neither in employment, education or training. That was the number of people who are recorded as school drop-outs. These mostly ended up in a life of crime and the IYDS wanted to be able to work together with StatsSA and other government bodies to have an accurate number of these young people to develop a coherent intervention for those young people.
Mr Mtsweni said that the view of NYDA was that teachers must be qualified to teach, but there must be a deeper discussion about the teaching profession. At some point there used to be teacher colleges in the country. These teacher colleges used to produce teachers at a higher level. It was NYDA’s view that there should not be teachers that teach a subject that they are not qualified for. There has been a sustained attempt on NYDA’s part to engage the private sector. South Africa was in a situation where government was the biggest employer in the country. However, the government must create a conducive environment for investments to happen. In the process, those who invest in the country have the obligation to create jobs in the country. Over the past few years companies have come into the country to invest, but jobs are being lost rather than being created. The government must play a role in fighting unemployment when the private sector did ensure that at the primary level, they start employing young people into the private sector.
He said that in some instance, companies advertise jobs all the time, but still require five or more years of experience. NYDA is of the view that part of the solution for fighting unemployment is to be engaging private sector to start moving towards removing the experience and entry requirements. There needs to be a serious discussion between NYDA and the private sector and NYDA will continue to make that call.
Mr Mtsweni said substance abuse also included alcohol abuse. In many cases a lot of social ills are perpetuated by the abuse of alcohol and NYDA should ensure that the youth are educated about the dangers of using certain substances. The organisation also has the responsibility to say, through this IYDS, that government from national all the way to local level, needed to make sure that in villages and townships, part of the planning must include increased recreational facilities for young people. Currently in townships, the need for building of housing has resulted in lesser and lesser provision of leisure facilities, especially for the girl child. When a girl child come from school, they cannot participate in sports because when it comes to sports and recreation, only soccer fields are built. Facilities that are put in place through municipalities and provincial governments do not favor young girl children. That resulted in teenage pregnancies and other ills. Mr Mtsweni said teaching days being lost to strikes was not NYDA’s terrain and teachers have unions that must be dealt with at that level.
Mr Carrim said that, in terms of feasibility, when NYDA consulted with national government, many of the elements are already contained in the APPs of national departments and provincial departments. The NYDA was consolidating it and the most important aspect was monitoring those targets set and that was really what NYDA was trying to work towards.
The private sector has committed to the youth employment program – to a tangible number, i.e. 1 million people. NYDA’s relationship with the private sector was around changing the narrative around youth issues in the country. In a case where private companies committed to creating jobs, NYDA needed to make sure that those jobs go to young people who are unemployed. There was no point if those jobs benefited those who are already employed. That kind of intervention with the private sector was important. There was also the need for the private sector where they have funds available; to put those funds to into youth development either through venture capital or private equity so as to contribute to economic growth in this country.
The point on offenders referred to offenders from the criminal justice system. This included juvenile detention centers or youths in conflict with the law. How those people are integrated in society was critical. Many young people, once they leave the detention centers or prison centers, are lost in the system and they will either find themselves back in prison or abusing substances. Getting them integrated into the society was an important part of the correctional services.
Mr Maluleke confirmed that the numbers presented were official statistics. The only thing was that they were not up to date. The reference was made the second quarter and the third quarter statistics were only released now so there was no ways NYDA was expected to have the third quarter data.
Briefing by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation on its efforts to strengthen and enhance planning coherence sector monitoring, alignment of the planning and budget
Ms Nompumelelo Mpofu, DG, DPME, briefed the Committee on DPME’s efforts to strengthen and enhance planning coherence sector monitoring, alignment of the planning and budget. The NDP five-year implementation plan is aimed at reinforcing a coherent vision and plan to achieve the long-term priorities expressed in the National Development Plan (NDP) and aligned with regional and international obligations such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 which the country has committed to.
It will be a national strategic direction for the country’s development in the medium-term period, considering the autonomy of the provincial and local governments to do their own planning. The plan will allow for necessary prioritisation of a few key interventions and the sequencing of their implementation to enable effective and optimal resource allocation. Furthermore, it will form the basis for developing the five-year institutional plans that will guide the realisation of the NDP priorities over the remaining 10 years.
In 2016, Cabinet identified the need to strengthen the alignment of the national budget with the developmental agenda set out in the NDP. The budget prioritisation framework was introduced as an innovation to the budgeting process of the country. The objective of the budget prioritisation framework was to establish a strategic framework for decision making by National Treasury on identified budget priorities that will advance the goal of the NDP. The framework will be used as a mechanism to ensure that the resources are allocated to priorities as provided through the NDP five-year implementation plan.
Mr Khosa asked what possible gains there would be after it has been introduced. There were some objections which were dealt with as per the report. What was the impact of such objections? The issue of consequence management is a problem. Who should be dealing with consequence management? He asked for an explanation on the reasons for incapacity. What are the plans going forward to correct the issue of incapacity in the implementation of the NDP? For how long are we going to be stuck with these as a country?
Mr Motau said that there was very little to show for the plan. It was good that there was the NDP five-year implementation. One of the biggest concerns has been the lack of implementation. The plan was adopted eight years ago, and it needed to be implemented. He added that it was not desirable to wait five years to know what has been achieved. At least every year for this five-year plan, there need to be an update to the people on the progress made.
Ms W Newhoudt-Druchen (ANC) said that the reality needs to be looked at. In schools, the staff was striking and the trains in Western Cape are burning, making it more difficult for people to get to work. How does the reality of what is happening in South Africa fit in with the plan? It is a very good plan, but what is really happening out there?
She asked for an explanation on how the filtering down of the vision 2030, will happen within the local government. Who does that and who monitors it? She suggested that it should be done monthly to ensure that there was a better flow from top to bottom.
Ms Mpofu responded that slide 22, of the presentation, contained projects that are likely to get budget increase now and going forward. That was the very clear result of the budget prioritisation framework. Unlike other areas, the multiplier effect of funding these areas has been understood. The benefit to the community will be that the spending is on the right things that will help them to get out of poverty and ensure a better future for them. Just knowing that government was now going to focus on these areas helped the private sector to know with certainty that this was where government money was going to go so that they can start planning, instead of not knowing and then they wait for the budget speech. This helped to create stability in the South Africa economy.
There are two priority groupings which aligned themselves with what had been said earlier. The priority for job creation was the youth and women. The people who must get all those jobs created, as a matter of urgency, are the youth and women.
On the impact of objections, she said the Department got some objections from sectors that thought their plans were being removed. Transport sector, for instance, objected to this because they had NETMAP. They can continue with NETMAP but, it must be aligned to the NDP and it must be aligned to the five-year plan. Plans must be aligned with these two instruments.
Ms Mpofu said that, regarding consequence management, power lies in the hands of those empowered by the government. That line of defense was principally about the authorities and the accounting officers. Those are the people who are supposed to take decisions for consequence management. At the micro level, those consequence management instruments must come in the form of performance management and in form of disciplining the individuals that failed to perform.
The Department was trying to find the formulation that says that where potentially applying consequence management will have an adverse effect on the community, the solution is not budget reduction but substitution of the people who are responsible for the project. So, if the project is a priority and something goes wrong, those people responsible for that project should move, and new people should come and deal with the project because it was a priority. If those people given the responsibility do not produce the results, they will be replaced with new people who will take the responsibility. This was necessary to protect the community from the failures of government in the areas where there is lack of performance.
The shortage of skills in South Africa was a societal problem - not a government problem. The problem was that there has been a mismatch between where skills are being produced and where skills are really required. This happened when universities produced people in an area that was not a priority of the economy or a priority of industries. Whilst there exist some training interventions across the whole system, these training interventions are not adequate. The training of people to up skill, therefore, has not been as efficient as it should have been, and this has affected their capacity to deliver on the mandate.
The current government inherited a government that was catering for 10% of the population. The current mandate was to serve 100% of the population using the same capacity that served the 10%. That was where the capacity problem came from. Suggestions have been made about alternative ways of finding that capacity which did not necessarily mean there must be government employees, but that society depended on a very complex skills delivery mechanism beyond government officials sitting in offices. That would relate to using NGOs more effectively, engaging the whole of society, and really getting away from the culture of “we want something, government must deliver”. There was a need to create a more complex environment where societies themselves are assisted to provide solutions.
Ms Mpofu agreed that, regarding the five-year implementation plan, it will be necessary for the Department to update Parliament, on the progress made, every year.
The meeting was adjourned.