Public Works Committee Legacy Report

Public Works and Infrastructure

14 November 2018
Chairperson: Mr H Mmemezi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Documents handed out: Legacy Report and Achievements of the Committee -2014 to 2019 (Tabled Committee Reports)

The Committee met to discuss the Legacy Report covering the achievements during their tenure during the past five years of the Fifth Parliament.

The Committee Content advisor led the Members through the report page by page, providing them with clarity and references to some of the issues. Members had an opportunity to ask questions, add their views, help with the corrections and also to suggest the possible rephrasing of certain sections. There was no detailed discussion on the report’s contents, except where there was concern with terminology and the proposed alteration of some points. The overall presentation of the report was commended.

After the review of the report had been completed, it was agreed that it would be presented at the following week’s meeting for finalisation and possible adoption after the inclusion by the secretariat of the suggested changes. The Committee would also consider a report on its oversight visit to Gauteng in 2014, which had never been processed.

Meeting report

Committee’s Legacy Report

Mr Shuaib Denyssen, Committee Content Advisor, said the report had been compiled and was being presented using a template that had been given to the Committee. He had changed the headings and if this was endorsed by the Committee, it would then be considered their report. The template would have to be adapted and enriched to be more user friendly. The report was divided into two. There was the executive summary, which included the methodology and sections of the content itself, which could be of valuable use to the next Committee. The second dealt with the content, such as tables of statistics and Committee routines. The summary was about the overview period, the mandate, the focus areas, areas of future work and methods of oversight, challenges met and the recommendations of the Committee. A section on its achievements would have to be included in the report. There was a separate document on this, and it would be handed out to Members in the process.

The other section of the report dealt with the activities performed during the Fifth Parliament, the outcome of key activities, challenges faced and issues to follow up on in the next term of the Committee. There was also an Annual Report whose structure was exactly the same as that of the Legacy Report. Reference would be made to the Announcements, Tablings and Committees (ATCs) with the Committee’s recommendations for tabling purposes. These would be availed to the nest Committee, should the need arise.

Mr M Filtane ( UDM ) suggested that the purpose of the report should be included in the executive section, and his suggestion was agreed to.

Mr Denyssen said that the purpose would centre on the Committee’s activities, oversight responsibilities, challenges and recommendations. The purpose would serve as a historical memory for the next Committee.

Regarding the mandate and method of oversight, he referred to the previous comment of Mr D Ryder (DA) that the nature/method of their oversight work as a Committee would have to change. He acknowledged that this had not been adequately covered in the report, and requested that inputs by Members should be included here.

The Committee had a mandate for an oversight role over the portfolio of public works, indicating that the portfolio consisted of the Department of Public Works (DPW), the Property Management Trading Entity (PMTE), the built environment and construction, all of which formed part of the policy leadership of the Minister of Public Works.

Over the period of five years, the oversight would focus on the policy leadership exercised by the Minister over the portfolio of Public Works. There must be a note about what was learnt about how the methods must change. This change had been effected by gathering material on how the annual performance plans, allocated budgets and annual reports contributed to policy tasks set out by the Minister for the administration to achieve through the application of the allocated budget. This could be considered as a summary of the budget used, the Committee’s oversight role being to focus on policy leadership. The administration and human resources (HR) used the allocated budget for what was supposed to be done.

Although the Committee’s oversight responsibility was to focus on policy leadership, it had to remain firmly on whether and how the allocated budget was used to achieve policy objectives. The methodology must spell out clearly that the Committee needed to be hands on -- on the ground, at the site and on the project, at places where other departmental entities were doing the construction work. An additional aspect of methodology was to do collaborative work with other portfolio committees, such as the recent one with the Portfolio Committee on Police.

Mr Ryder suggested the use of the previous years’ Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR), the Constitution and pieces of legislation where the public works mandate was clearly spelt out. These also included the roles and responsibilities of different departments, as well as those of this Committee itself. These pieces of legislation and where they were derived, could be listed under the mandate of oversight in the report to benefit the upcoming Committee. He said it would be helpful if resourceful information files could be created with pieces of legislation, bills, etc. The Chairperson commented that the suggestion was a good one, and the Committee agreed to Mr Ryder’s suggestion.

The presentation continued on the evidence of oversight, briefings from the DPW and its entities on their annual performance plans, meetings held, budgets, etc, including that each year the Committee did a comparative analysis of the achievements and challenges, with recommendations to assist the Department and its entities to improve their performance, as this was the Committee’s mandate.

An analysis of the reports and financial statements would be done annually during October with the office of the Auditor General. There would then be the compilation of the BRRR reports as required by law and outlined in all pieces of legislation such as the Constitution, the Money Bill, the Public Finance Management Act (PMFA), and the Related Matters Act.

The budget reports, the BRRR, the Committee’s oversight over the use of the budget on allocated resources and over the governance responsibility of the boards of entities and over the financial responsibilities of the administration, all fall under the Director General of Public Works. These sections would be rephrased to shorten them.

Across all of the above, the Committee had remained steadfast to the policy leadership which the Minister provided over the portfolio of Public Works, and the Committee’s oversight often got criticised more than the Department’s Director General and the administration. This matter was being dealt with in the Legislature all the time.

On an annual basis, the Committee went on oversight visits, and a summary and the objectives of the visits were in the body of the report. The Committee had also undertaken a joint oversight trip with the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation to do a physical inspection of immovable properties owned by the South African Government in Namibia. A study tour was also undertaken to Germany to inspect the former embassy building and other residences involved. The visits were reported and published in the Committee reports.

The report states that the Committee did not park any Bill, but this was not true and the sentence would be changed because there were Bills parked during these visits. The Committee was not mandated to deal with statutory bodies, the second part being on the focus areas and legislative work performed. The Expropriation Bill, which had a very long history of being withdrawn from Parliament, had been reintroduced. Public hearings had been conducted and amendments were effected based on comments from the public. The Bill was then sent to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and to the House of Traditional Leaders.

The second Bill was the Agrément SA Bill which was introduced, processed and sent to the Presidency and signed into Agrément SA Act of 2015.

Mr Filtane (UDM) wanted clarity as to whether the report said public hearings had been conducted on the Land Expropriation Bill, and if they were conducted, how?

The Chairperson said they had been conducted from as early as 2014.

Mr F Adams (ANC) said that the Expropriation Bill had undergone a series of name changes and extensive public hearings had taken place.

Mr M Figg (DA) also wanted to know when Public Hearings were held, and when it was first dealt with. He indicated that when he was a Member, that was when it had been presented to the Committee for the third time.

Mr Denyssen suggested that he would put a footnote to the background of the Bill to assist with regard to the questions asked.

Mr Filtane said he did not remember the Committee going around the country conducting public hearings.

Mr Adams said extensive public hearings were conducted. He later explained that the Committee did not go out to the public or around the country to conduct them. Instead, relevant stakeholders were invited to Parliament for discussions and they had made submissions. He added that the Expropriation Bill had first been introduced in 1975, and had been brought back for changes based on the ruling party’s conference resolutions.

The Chairperson emphasised that the public hearings had taken place, and that there were many ways of doing so. He suggested that a footnote on this be part of the report amendments, and this was agreed to.

Mr Denyssen said the restructuring of the Independent Development Trust (IDT) was anticipated, and would be an important point for the Sixth Parliament. It was not completed, which meant the Committee would have to undertake this in the near future. He said the process had continually been delayed, as well as the White Paper which was supposed to have led to the Public Works Act, which had not yet been completed. There was also a White Paper to transform the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) and the Council for the Built Environment (CBE). There had to be an amendment to those two Acts and the Public Works Act. It had been promised that around February/ March 2019,, the Committee would receive an update on the above legislation.

Mr Figg returned to the issue of the Expropriation Bill, saying he recalls it had been rejected by the Committtee, which meant it had been referred back to the Speaker. The matter would be made clear after reference had been made to the rule regarding this.

Mr Adams suggested that this be captured as saying the Bill had been sent back to the Speaker as per the rules, who would then send it back to the Executive.

It was agreed that the word used in the rule must be captured as such in the report, after checking what precisely had happened.

The Committee Secretary then read the resolution on the Expropriation Bill, where it was said that it had been rejected and would be considered at a later stage.

The Chairperson sought the advice of the Committee as to whether they would consider the input of the legal team, or if they were satisfied with how it was recorded in the resolution. The Members agreed that they accepted it the way it was captured.

The summary of lessons learnt during oversight meetings and when monitoring the Minister’s turnaround strategy had been listed.

Mr Ryder advised that there should be a graphic representation of the audit performance of the Department and its entities over the years as part of the oversight.

The Committee agreed to Mr Ryder’ suggestion.

The Chairperson added that the idea of doing this was good since the relevant stakeholders involved would be able to see their performance.

The turnaround strategy was covered in every quarterly performance and annual report. The Committee had exercised a robust oversight over the need to have a credible and meaningful asset register.

Mr Ryder said oversight could not be exercised over a need, but rather over a process, and suggested rephrasing. The Committee exercised oversight over the progress towards implementation or construction of a credible asset register.

The content advisor, Mr Denyssen said he would change the phrasing as suggested by Mr Ryder above. He would do this by referring to the Government Immovable Asset Management Act (GIAMA), cautioning that if the asset register was not corrected and complete, then GIAMA could not be implemented.

Mr Adams wanted to know if the oversight focused exclusively on GIAMA, in terms of the Committee’s mandate. The oversight was over the construction Industry and built environment, which meant the scope should not be confined only to GIAMA.

The Chairperson and the House agreed that the Committee had to cover the whole scope.

With the implementation of Phase 3 of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), strong focus had been placed on the progression of beneficiaries. This would allow them to be taken from being unemployed to formal sector employment. The other highlight had been the focus on beneficiaries of vulnerable groups and the importance of all projects having a better scheduled training component.

In its deliberations with rural municipalities, the Committee had been strong on rural and metropolitan municipalities, departments and public bodies following the standardised regulatory framework for selection of participants in the EPWP programme. The complaints from communities had been that beneficiaries were being selected incorrectly, which was why the Department had responded by putting this framework in place. The Mbhashe Municipality had been congratulated as the one which had been implementing the programme for quite some time, while other municipalities had not taken it into consideration.

At various oversight meetings and visits to social infrastructure projects, reference was had been made to other entities in the built environment who were involved in the construction of schools, police stations, regional and high courts and correctional facilities. The Committee had stressed the importance of rural communities receiving value for money in the provision of social infrastructure. This was the responsibility of the IDT.

Mr Filtane said that borders should be added to the paragraph, and also a sentence saying the Government must also receive value for money. His suggestion was taken into consideration.

Mr Figg added that there should be a sentence on small harbours, and this was agreed to.

As the Public Works Portfolio Committee was the custodian of the built environment, as per GIAMA, he suggested that one term be used to refer to Government properties, rather that naming them one by one.

The Chairperson indicated that the use of individual names of properties could be better understood, and was supported by Mr Ryder.

Mr Denyssen agreed to this, and also made mention of the Parliamentary villages, saying they were never visited. During 2014 to 2016, the Committee had raised the need to pay attention to some issues at the villages, especially because security incidents had been reported. The Parliamentary village issues therefore had to be part of the report. The Committee had also had an oversight meeting with the Parliamentary Villages Board to ensure they exercised their mandate to ensure that proper security measures were implemented.

Mr Filtane added that the Parliamentary precincts security issue was also a concern, and had to be in the report. This was viewed as an important issue to be included in the report.

Mr Denyssen highlighted that the Committee had had a lot of concrete achievements involving the CBE and the CIBD. He also referred to the 30-day payment requirement, and the oversight visits to rural areas to emphasise this matter.

Mr Filtane brought up the issue of value for money, asking if this could be seen as relevant to the point raised above, such as facilities being suitable for purpose. It was agreed that it was relevant.

The Committee had engaged with contractors and sub-contractors, stressing the importance of paying for services delivered. It was not only the IDT that did not pay – the DPW did not pay either. Rentals for properties occupied by government departments were often not paid on time. This was causing resulting in some people going out of business.

Mr Ryder added that the DPW was the worst offender in failing to pay for service delivery within the 30-day policy agreement. There were a lot of overdue invoices.

Mr Denyssen indicated that this Committee was not the only one providing oversight on this aspect -- there was also the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), the Public Service Commission (PSC), and the Department for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME). He also added that he had enough evidence to confirm the aspect of late payments.

The Chairperson wanted to know the source of such evidence of the due payments backlog.

Mr Denyssen replied that it was from the Public Service Commission.

The Chairperson said that this point was very important, especially if it was from a credible source. The Committee was not about trying to appear clean or to be seen as coming up with a nice report. It was actually about giving credible information. He indicated that honesty was important in dealing with public matters, and not appearing to be hiding issues.

Mr Denyssen said he would put a footnote to the matter, explaining where it was derived.

Mr Filtane suggested the rephrasing of the paragraph dealing with 30 days payment policy. He suggested it be captured as: “ within the legalistic related 30-day payment policy”. This was agreed to.

Mr Figg suggested that the problem of delayed due payments for service delivery was a prevalent problem across all the Departments, not only Public Works. There had to be an acknowledgement and indication of the existence of the poor delivery of this service, giving this as an urgent reason for the need to improve.

The Chairperson took the above input further by saying good work might have been done, but the battle had not yet been won.

It was important for the CIDB to address the need for registering upcoming contractors at a lower level, or lower payment levels, so as to ensure growth and progression. This would assist them to benefit from construction projects. Mr Denyssen said that Members had brought this up from their constituencies, and it had been explicit in the oversight visits that the matter required urgent attention.

Mr Adams suggested that there should be a page where acronyms were explained, and this was agreed.

Mr Denyssen said he would ensure that this was done and headed, saying that this would assist in avoiding having to write the names of entities in full, since this rendered the report unnecessarily long. This was agreed to, even highlighting that it would be made mention of in the introduction.

Mr Denyssen said that there was a need to develop a pipeline of graduates, inclusive of all professional bodies, to help prevent the recurrence of too many young people remaining in low paying jobs. Young professionals stayed there without being helped to become professionally registered practitioners. People took a long time after graduating before they were developed into practitioners, especially in the architectural and engineering sectors.

He said he would like to switch to the achievements documents, before presenting key areas for future work. A document was handed over to the Members. He indicated that it did not include all of the achievements. The report had to have this part. The points were already part of the working draft in the process.

He referred to the relationship that the Committee had with the office of the Minister, and also to have had the presence of the Deputy Minister in the Committee meetings. He viewed this in the light of the Ministry, the executive authority, having respect for the Committee and acknowledging the existence of a good working relationship.

He submitted a list of points to be included in the report:

  • Collaboration.
  • Working relations.
  • Processing of information from the executive authority, which was well managed.
  • Oversight achievement of Agrément over all the entities.
  • Research by Agrément. Every single entity in their laboratory had been visited to see the work that they did.
  • Schools built using alternative materials -- not bricks and mortar -- and quickly done, on time, at the projected cost and well done.
  • Identification of the need for a stakeholders’ forum where contractors, sub-contractors and beneficiaries could meet and discuss their experiences with the CIDB.
  • There was a dire need for a regulated career path for graduates in the built environment professions.
  • Oversight review that there was sufficient regulation to guide the processes in the built environment profession of graduates from internships to final registration as professionals, as this was seen to be lacking.
  • Absence of legislation that addressed the need for transformation in the built environment profession sector had had a negative effect, in spite of the universities developing the professional graduates. This prevented them from practicing on large projects, and this made the economy weak.
  • The above matter had been raised with the CIDB and the DPW in several meetings with the Committee. It had then been agreed the matter would find expression when reviewing the DPW White Paper which was envisaged could lead to legislation that should guide transformation of the built environment.
  • The Committee had engaged the built environment on the lack of urgency to complete the review of the Public Works White Paper. This had to produce the Public Works Act. The Committee had urged them to speed up the process several years ago.
  • It was emphasised that this piece of legislation must be completed, and that the mandate of the Department and the PMTE could be spelt out more adequately. Legislation would address key weaknesses and other issues.
  • The DPW as a landlord, struggled to collect management fees, rentals and rates for services billed to municipalities.
  • There were achievements that resulted from oversight interaction with project management, community liaison officer, contractors and sub-contractors in the rural areas.
  • The IDT’’s model of community liaison had had a positive effect, where the community owned and protected the social Infrastructure built for their benefit.
  • Projects managers were struggling to manage projects well because of the number of projects per manager.
  • Due to the above, main contractors were able to manipulate the situation with their profit-making objective -- for instance, a low quality of work. In most cases, this was realised after they had been paid, and there were numerous of such cases.
  • The contracting between main contractors and sub-contractors required urgent attention. Sub-contractors could be assisted in terms of sustainability and development, which included progression on CIDB registrations. The Committee had had an appointment with the CIDB, only to find that CEO was not available for the meeting.

After the presentation of this list, a discussion revolved around the terminology -- whether the Committee could refer to the above as achievements or observations or highlights.

The Chairperson suggested that it be “Committee Oversight Highlights.” He said the content advisor should look for areas where the Committee had performed better and make use of those. This was agreed.

Regarding the key areas of future work, it was indicated that the relationship between the main contractors and sub-contractors needed urgent attention. The fact that some contractors took a long time to complete the projects was also raised as a concern. Some took seven to 10 years.

Mr Filtane said this would mean that those contractors were over-running their contract period.

Mr Figg said it could not be acceptable to say a project could take seven to10 years before completion. He suggested that the sentence be rephrased

It was deemed that this kind of default had now become a norm for contractors. The Chairperson said if this happened, it meant the contractor had gone outside the specified contract period. He suggested that contractors should just be paid strictly per milestone.

It was highlighted that there was a need to reconstitute the IDT. It was also captured as a concern that the EPWP’s quarterly reports were not being completed consistently.

Mr Ryder said that if the EPWP was not forwarding reports, there was clearly a problem.

Mr Adams added that it was not only the EPWP, but also other Departments. There was a need to monitor governance risk. EPWP Phase 4 would be introduced. The fact that there was a problem with municipalities being unable to pay their debts had been raised in the report. It should be emphasised that the DPW had to pay for their buildings’ electricity and other debts.

Mr Figg said that with regard to the DPW and municipality issues, both the creditor and debtor books were bad.

The Chairperson said it was a real challenge that the rural municipalities do not have a revenue base. He said there was a need to push for small harbours, as this would assist in reducing unemployment.

Ms Nola Jobodwana, Acting Committee Secretary, reported that their office had received a report that there was a bridge that could collapse at anytime.

Ms E Masehela (ANC) suggested that the secretary find out who the constructor was. This was agreed to.

Mr Denyssen said that the Gauteng oversight of 2014 had never been processed. He asked if this could be part of the deliberations next Tuesday, November 20, and this was granted.

The Chairperson requested him to make the report on the above-mentioned oversight visit available to his office today. Mr Denyssen agreed it would be done.

It was agreed that the Committee would resume the following Tuesday, at which the Legacy Report would be finalised. The 2014 Gauteng oversight report would also be discussed.

The meeting was adjourned.

Documents

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