The National Youth Development Agency briefed the Committee on the Second Quarter performance for the 2018/19 financial year. The agency had been struggling to persuade the SETAs to collaborate with the Agency and that was a major concern for the Members. The Agency had developed eight district centres in the provinces. The grant programme designed to provide young entrepreneurs with an opportunity to access both financial and non- financial business development support had been allocated an additional R31 million in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement as it was in high demand.
Members asked how those centres were going to be managed, especially regarding the compensation of employees who would be working at those centres. The Committee asked how the NYDA could play a role in ensuring that the organisations that dealt directly with disabled people received enough funding, given that most of the funding was currently going to companies that did not know anything about people living with disabilities.
Statistics South Africa presented its Second Quarter performance report. The main challenge facing the organisation was the lack of funding. The budget allocation was inadequate to cater for current employees. The lack of funding had led to the resignation of many employees whose posts had not been filled. The Committee asked if the organisation had a retention strategy. Members also asked if Stats SA had incentives in place to attract young people from universities to work for Stats SA. The Committee asked for an explanation of the inconsistences in the finances of the organisation. There was either underspending or overspending in most of the programmes.
Currently, the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation was consulting with relevant stakeholders to develop a framework for monitoring State Owned Enterprises. The Framework would assist in monitoring the work of the State Owned Enterprises and ensure that the work of State Owned Enterprises contributed to the attainment of the National Development Plan goals. In partnership with the Department of Public Service Administration, the Department had facilitated the submission of performance agreements for Heads of Departments and had developed a Quality Assurance checklist to ensure compliance with the Head of Department Management and Development System. The Department was evaluating the National Youth Policy with a view to ensuring its effective implementation as the per the National Development Plan targets.
The Committee asked about the deadline for the 25-year review, and for more clarity on the Department’s Citizens-Based Monitoring Target.
Briefing by the National Youth Development Agency on the Second Quarter performance for the 2018/19 financial year
Mr Waseem Carrim, Chief Executive Officer: National Youth Development Strategy (NYDA), briefed the Committee on NYDA’s performance for the Second Quarter of the 2018/19 financial year.
The NYDA achieved 77% of its Key Performance Indicators and had spent 44% of its allocated budget. The Agency was allocated an additional R31 million in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, specifically for the grant programme designed to provide young entrepreneurs with an opportunity to access both financial and non- financial business development support. That would be used to address the demand for the programmeme.
The Provincial Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs had committed R1.5 million to the grant programme. The Agency contributed to both the Jobs Summit and the Investment Summit, releasing its position papers on the labour and capital markets and the need to address the national crisis of youth unemployment.
The NYDA had established eight of its planned seventeen district centres for the financial year under consideration.
More stringent verification measures were applied in Quarter Two based on inputs from the External Audit process. Data collection measures had been applied across all programmes.
Mr K Khosa (ANC) was concerned that the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) were not interested in assisting. There was a need to engage with the SETAs to ensure that they were able to assist the NYDA. It was important for NYDA to achieve its objectives.
Mr Khosa noted the presentation reported on the establishment eight district centres. He wanted to know the extent to which the establishment of the district centres would affect the budget of NYDA, more especially with regards to the compensation of the people who would be employed. How many people would be employed? Of those who would be employed, how many would be permanent and how many would be employed on contract? Who would be responsible for the compensation of those employed by the district municipalities?
Mr Khosa inquired about the curriculum design of the Department of Basic Education. What role was played by the NYDA in that regard?
Mr S Motau (DA) said that the situational analysis was good. He encouraged NYDA to come up with what they were going to do about the stumbling blocks that they had identified, so that the stumbling blocks could be removed. It was important that some of the ideas presented should come into play in order to move forward.
Mr Motau noted that at the beginning of the presentation, the issue of young entrepreneurs had been raised. NYDA had targeted 335 young entrepreneurs but only managed to assist 315. He asked if this was because there was a lack of funds, or a lack of good applicants.
Ms Z Dlamini-Dubazana (ANC) proposed to the NYDA that the Chair and Deputy Chair of the NYDA and the CEO should meet with the Ministers of both Higher Education and Basic Education. They need ed to discuss the monetary issues with the SETAs. That money always came back as being underspent.
Ms Dlamini-Dubazana told the NYDA that it was not utilizing the school of governance. She encouraged NYDA to use it.
The Chairperson supported the comments that had been made about the SETAs. It was a huge concern.
She noted that there was a Facebook page for people with disabilities on which some companies, who knew nothing about people with disability, were advertised. Those companies got funding to provide learnerships. They asked where the disabled people were so as to get their names. However, many organisations that worked directly with people with disabilities did not want to give their databases to those companies because they did not know anything about disabilities. The funding for NGO's that worked with people with disabilities, was decreasing rapidly because the funding was going to those other companies. She asked NYDA how the Committee could assist in terms of that scenario.
The Chairperson said that although the NYDA did not have the capacity to go all the schools, it should try to meet the Minister of Basic Education. Furthermore, if NYDA had any connection with the Student Body Government (SBG) Association, they could meet the chairperson and tell him or her about the Matric student struggles, the barriers that they faced, and the challenges that they experienced.
The Chairperson asked NYDA to mention the provinces where they had established the District centres.
Response by NYDA
Mr Carrim said, regarding district centres and deepening access, the NYDA would not pay for rent. It collaborated with local municipalities to obtain rent-free office space. In terms of HR capacity, there were typically three to four people working in an office. The NYDA was not planning to create new positions because it did not want to exceed the compensation ceiling of 35 percent of the budget.
He explained that NYDA encouraged provincial governments not to consider a whole new youth development programme from scratch. NYDA already had youth programmes as well as monitoring and evaluations which worked very well. So, NYDA would bring youth centres to the province and would transfer its employees there. However, the provincial government could assist with funds so that NYDA could equip their offices with products and services. Some of the provinces where the youth centres had been established included Limpopo, Western Cape, North West, and Gauteng. NYDA was trying to set up an office in every province. Every district would be reached by 2020.
Mr Carrim said that in terms of curriculum design for Basic Education, according to the NYDA Act, NYDA was responsible for young people between the ages of 14 and 35. NYDA did not play much of a role in Basic Education.
Mr Carrim agreed with Mr Motau that there were, indeed, stumbling blocks. Changing the narrative was one way of addressing the stumbling blocks. NYDA was negotiating with employees, talking to private sector collaborative groups, and talking to DPSA in terms of how they hired for the public sector. Perhaps there was a need for policy which was favourable to young people, and which favoured the absorption of youth into the labour market.
Mr Carrim said that in terms of the proposal about using the National School of Governance, NYDA would certainly take it up. University students could also be utilized to improve outcomes at the Basic Education level.
Mr Carrim added that two critical areas where NYDA needed to play a bigger role were with disabled youth and youth who were in conflict with the law. NYDA had requested Disabled Youth South Africa to make a presentation to the next NYDA board meeting on how NYDA can further support young people who had disabilities. Steps could be taken to ensure that the NYDA training manuals were available in braille. The NYDA training centres were disabled-friendly, so that access was not denied to disabled young people, especially as it related to NYDA products and services. NYDA believed it could do more to broaden accessibility to the government and the private sector.
Ms Bavelile Hlongwa, Deputy Chairperson: NYDA, said that NYDA had access to the South African Union of Students which was a union of all the student representatives in the country but focused on the university unions. NYDA should also interact with SGBs, particularly to share some insight into the analysis of the youth and the status of the youth, considering that NYDA had already issued the Status of Youth Report. NYDA would also meet the Ministers of Higher Education and Basic Education to discuss some of the issues, particularly around the SETAs.
Ms Hlongwa said that the reality about expanding access was that there was always a need for more money to do that. The call for expanding access to the NYDA meant a call for the expansion of the budget, particularly where human capital was concerned. The reality was that NYDA did not even have enough staff to cover even the 54 municipalities.
Ms Hlongwa said that district centres provided an opportunity for Members to work with NYDA and also appreciate that exercise. Sometimes it made a difference when government representatives speak to each other. They quickly agreed to some things that no amount of discussion with NYDA could achieve.
Ms Hlongwa said that NYDA would love to be a part of the curriculum design process. NYDA was invested in the knowledge deposited in young people. Some of the challenges in the situational analysis came from the type of education offered. NYDA would love an opportunity to contribute to the curriculum design of basic education. That would allow NYDC to share some of the challenges that NYDA has seen when young people have completed basic education and to suggest some changes.
Briefing by Statistics South Africa on the Second Quarter Performance of the 2018/19 financial year
Mr Risenga Maluleke, Statistician-General: Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), briefed the Committee on the Second Quarter Performance for the 2018/19 financial year.
The presentation highlighted some key achievements against strategic outcomes. Every effort was being made to expand the statistical information base in the second quarter, including the:
- publication of 64 statistical releases and reports on the economy and society,
- commencement of the Census of Commercial Agriculture,
- release of the statistical report on the second KwaZulu-Natal Customer Satisfaction Survey
- compilation of 2018 Poverty Lines in July 2018
- publication of the General Household Survey Environment Report focusing on solid waste services and recycling
- publication of a report in the Gender series: Economic Empowerment.
In terms of enhancing cooperate governance and administration, the Annual Report of Stats SA had been produced, the vacancy rate had increased to 15.9%, so no appointments had been made during Quarter Two.
Mr Khosa asked for clarity on the issue of over-worked staff members. He asked if the organisational structure spoke to the needs of Stats SA. He was concerned about Stats SA’s loss of staff members every month. He asked if the organisation had a retention strategy. If so, was it effective? What was the organisation’s policy towards those that have been trained by Stats SA? Could someone be trained today and then just leave the organisation two months later?
Mr Khosa asked about the financial implications regarding Stats SA's support to Namibia. He noted that the presentation had said nothing on people living with disabilities and employment. Those were the people who frequently marched into constituent offices to say that they are being disregarded by all sectors.
Mr Motau asked if the Minister knew about the skills bleed and what was being done about it.
Ms Dlamini-Dubazana said that the quality of the content in the book distributed by Stats SA to Members was very bad. On page nine of the book, there were eight risks in the progress on strategic risk. The third and eighth points, on expanding statistical information base, seemed to be talking about one and the same thing. Risks number five and number six, on enhancing cooperate governance and administration, were talking about the same the same thing. It was not clear why they were presented as separate risks. Risk number seven was to "becoming the employer of choice". However, it was well known that for ten years, Stats SA had been talking about human capital retention. That was the highest risk, and that was why the staff were working on Saturdays and Sundays. She suggested that "becoming the employer of choice" be replaced with Stats SA's retention strategy.
Ms Dlamini-Dubazana advised that the next time, the Statistician-General (SG) should go through the book before it went to the public. The quality of the content was unacceptable.
Ms Dlamini-Dubazana said that the finances on page 12 were not consistent. In every programme, there had been over-spending or under-spending in the Second Quarter. For Programme One, the organisation had an underspend of R 57.7 million and the organisation was short of staff. She wanted an explanation of the figures in Programme One.
She said the pace at which the money was being distributed was uneven. There was underspending on both core functions, economic statistics and social statistics. Instead of the R169.9 million actually spent, Stats SA should have spent R191.6 million so that at the end of the day the organisation was able to account for the original appropriation. The CFO had to be consistent. The allocation of the funds had to follow the activities. The monitoring of how the funds were moving was critical.
She asked how the organisation was going to expand its information base. It was worrisome that a Department was set on destroying itself, especially a department like Stats SA that did not have enough specialized human capital.
The Chairperson asked how Stats SA attracted young people into the organisation. Did Stats SA headhunt the youth, especially students at university? How were they enticed or invited into the organisation?
The Chairperson said that Stats SA must be very good if international organisations were poaching staff. She asked how Stats SA got people of that calibre and trained them for over ten years, only for them to be poached. How did the SG attract them into the organisation? Did they really leave because of the money?
The Chairperson said that the citizen satisfaction survey was a very good survey. However, only one province was doing it. It was a good survey for other provinces. She asked if Stats SA encouraged other provinces to conduct the survey. She also asked how it was possible for Gauteng to release statistics without the consent of the SG. What could Stats SA do to make sure that any official statistics, particularly by government or provincial departments, went through Stats SA?
Response by STATS SA
Mr Maluleke said that the money allocated to Stats SA did not even cater for people already in service. In January 2017, the SG had to meet with National Treasury and plead with it not to stop the salaries of employees because of the over-spending. The matter was so serious that since October 2016, Stats SA had not hired a single staff member, except the SG, and the organisation had been losing staff. He said that government had decided that Stats SA had to scale down in terms of the public service. Scaling down had been prioritized on the assumption that when people retired, they retired with their jobs and when they resigned, they resigned with their jobs. For instance, if the head of census resigned, there was an assumption that the census had to cease. However, it did not work that way with the census, and the country had to undertake the census with no people to do the work.
Mr Maluleke said that Stats SA did entice young people to study mathematics and statistics. In the Maths4 Stats programme, Stats SA employed provincial Maths4Stats coordinators who, together with the 49 educators in the programme, assisted in the roll-out of the project in the provinces. Mr Maluleke said that Stats SA had nine provincial offices and it also had district offices. There were 87 district offices. Those offices assisted the organisation, with publicity and as an outreach to schools where Stats SA worked with young learners as part of the dissemination strategy get learners to like and enjoy mathematical statistics. Stats SA had consistently worked with the Department of Education. Stats SA even provided statisticians to teach learners and to train teachers as there was a section in the syllabus that dealt with statistics, but statistics was not taught in teachers’ training colleges.
He said that the biggest problem was that Stats SA was no longer taking anyone on internship. Stats SA used to go out to universities and take people on internships. However, if the organisation could not even afford to pay staff salaries, it could no longer encourage young people to take on internships.
Mr Maluleke said that the KZN Citizen Satisfaction Survey was a user-paid survey, just like the Census of Commercial Agriculture. Users paid Stats SA to conduct a survey.
He said that Stats SA had written to all the other provinces and documents had been sent to the Minister of CoGTA recommending that all the provinces conduct the Citizen Satisfaction Survey. The organisation learnt that that worked with municipalities. However, once the money had been appropriated to municipalities, CoGTA did not have a say in what the municipalities did with the money. So, Stats SA had done everything from its side to harvest that money. The organisation was aware that municipalities did, from time to time, release their own statistics.
He said that Stats SA could not provide all the statistics the nation needed. Some statistics came from administrative records, such as a teacher collecting, on a daily basis, data relating to learners coming to class, being present or absent. Stats SA could not be in classes every day. Instead, Stats SA needed to harvest those administrative records.
Mr Maluleke explained that data came in at four levels. Firstly, there were poor statistics on which the SG could not even express an opinion. One moved from poor to acceptable statistics and then to quality statistics. However, the fact that Stats SA had quality statistics did not make them official. Official statistics were released only by the SG.
He said that the law made stats official. The law states that once statistics entered the official realm, they formed what was called a Serie. Nobody, not even Parliament, could stop a Serie. Parliament could not refuse to fund the SG and stop a Serie. That would be illegal. However, the same law was being undermined by not being funded. There was nothing that the organisation could do about it. What Stats SA would do was to degenerate statistics from official to quality. The worst-case scenario was when the statistics became poor statistics.
Mr Maluleke said that Stats SA had 3 500 positions in its structure. However, out of those 3 500 positions, 500 positions were vacant. National Treasury had said that it was not going to fund all the vacant positions, but only the critical one. Stats SA then responded that it needed funding for 300 critical positions. Again, National Treasury said it was not going to fund 300 positions. Stats SA then reduced the number to 147 positions. Those were the core critical posts which would allow people to do two jobs at once.
He said that the latest indication was that Stats SA was not getting funding for even the 147 positions. So, if people continued to resign, there was nothing that the organisation could do. The retention strategy did not work. If the organisation did not have money to fund its current staff members, and it did not have money to stop those that were leaving, it was difficult to come up with a retention strategy.
He said that the second issue was panic because staff knew that Stats SA did not have a budget. Once, organized labour had asked Stats SA if it was going to retrench given that that it did not have a budget. Stats SA responded that it did not have the powers to retrench. So, the panic was there, and people did not want to stay in an organisation where there was panic.
He said that retention was a very complex issue where the organisation did not have money. There were things the organisation could do, like training, but if the organisation could not promote people, and they had to stay in the same position for years, they would leave.
Mr Maluleke said that there were no cost implications to the support that Stats SA gave other agencies. If Stats SA assisted a country like Namibia or Botswana, that country funded everything. It funded the cost of travel, the accommodation and everything that was required.
Mr Maluleke said that, regarding People with disability, the organisation had been at 1.2% but it had now improved to 1.4 %. It was a matter that the organisation was working on.
He notes that the relationship that Stats SA had with provinces in relation to surveys was only as good the organisation was able to enforce. If Stats SA could not enforce it strongly with legislative reform, it was not going to help much.
Mr Maluleke said that regarding pages nine and ten, the points were not "risks" but "strategic objectives." A strategic objective could talk to many risks. The problem was that lumping all objectives in one place, would mean that some of the risks would not be eliminated. It was, therefore, okay to repeat them from time to time, as long as when it came to risk mitigation, there was no repetition.
Mr Maluleke said that Stats SA was in a project mode and, in a project mode, certain services could not be acquired, such as vehicles. If Stats SA conducted a quarterly labour force survey, it had rules of collection from the beginning of one quarter to the next quarter. But, in the case of the general household survey or the census of commercial agriculture, the survey ran throughout the year. So, it could not be said that the organisation should pay because the quarter had come to an end as the organisation could not pay for services that had not been rendered in full. Even software licenses could not be renewed from quarter to quarter. The biggest problem was the project nature of the organisation, because every survey was done on project basis. If payment was to follow the annual or financial year quarter, it would fail because statistical collection does not work like that.
Ms Dlamini-Dubazana said that the main concern of the Committee was about Stats SA's human capital. The Committee was talking to senior officials who were supposed to allocate more money for the human capital within Stats SA. If the budget was more project-based, the organisation needed to change the model. When reporting, the organisation should indicate the story behind each programme, so that Committee was able to back the organisation. Currently, the report showed under-spending and over-spending according to the quarter because that was what the PFMA said. The Committee was required to monitor quarterly.
Briefing by the Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation on the Second Quarter Performance for the 2018/19 financial year
Mr Pieter Pretorius, Chief Financial Officer: DPME, and Mr Siphiwo Mahala, Acting Chief Director: Strategy and Communication Services: DPME, briefed the Committee on DPME’s Second Quarter performance for the 2018/19 financial year.
In the first half of the financial year 2018/19, the Department had developed an Annual Budget Mandate Paper. Cabinet had approved the mandate paper for decision-making on budget priorities required to advance the goals of the National Development Plan (NDP).
Currently, the Department was consulting with relevant stakeholders to develop a framework for monitoring State Owned Enterprises (SOE’s). The Framework would assist in monitoring the work of the SOE’s and ensure that the work of SOE’s contributed to the attainment of the NDP goals.
In partnership with the DPSA, the Department had facilitated the submission of performance agreements for Head of Departments (HODs) and developed a Quality Assurance checklist to ensure compliance with the Head of Department Management and Development System (HPMDS).
The Department was evaluating the National Youth Policy with a view of ensuring its effective implementation as the per the NDP targets.
The Department continued to support the President in supervising the work of government through various Inter-Ministerial Committees.
The Department had initiated the process of compiling the 25-year review of the country’s progress since democracy. The 25-year review would assist in highlighting achievements and challenges in the development of the country and highlight areas for prioritization.
The Chairperson asked for more clarity on the issue on the introduction to the citizen-based monitoring.
Mr Khosa asked if the Department would ever have a presentation that did not have anything to do with filling posts.
The Chairperson asked if there were any issues so far with the 30-day payment rule.
Response by DPME
Mr Pretorius said that the organisation was on track regarding the filling of posts. A few senior management posts were being processed, but at the lower level, all positions were filled. He stated that the Department paid its service providers, on average, within five to six days.
Mr Mahala said that the issue around citizen-based monitoring target was about the methodology. The Department had conducted a survey to see if citizens were happy with the services that they received from government. However, the Department did not have the ability to deal with citizens’ complaints. Providing roads, for example, was not the responsibility of DPME, so the target was a bit too ambitious. The Department was going to review its methodology.
Mr Mahala said that most of the targets had been achieved. However, some of them would not be achieved because of the targeting issue. For instance, the Department had planned to report on a quarterly basis in terms of the implementation of the Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), but Cabinet had taken a decision that the report was to be biannual. However, in compliance with the Auditor-General requirements, the Department could not say that it had achieved that target.
The Chairperson asked for the deadline of the 25-year review so that the Committee could prepare before Parliament rose.
Mr Pretorius replied that the Department would be done by the end of December 2018.
The meeting was adjourned