High Level Panel Recommendations; Committee Annual Report

Public Works and Infrastructure

12 February 2019
Chairperson: Mr H. Mmemzi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee discussed and adopted the Draft High Level Panel Recommendations Report emanating from discussions held between the Portfolio Committee of Public Works and the Department of Public Works on 27 November 2018; and the accepted the Annual Report.

With regard to the minutes of 27 November 2018, it was felt that Members had not worked adequately at the time and some thought ought to be given to the Committee’s Legacy Report. It was noted that the adoption of the Legacy Report had been deferred to a later meeting due to time constraints. Members agreed that discussion on the report would be deferred. The minutes of the 27 November 2018 meeting were adopted.

Members deliberated upon the High Level Panel Recommendations Report. The Committee was advised to discuss the Report in conjunction with the input from the Department. The Department had referred to the leasing environment as a way of ensuring that contracted companies were able to comply with appropriate legislation. The Committee had encouraged the Department to create longer term employment innovations, with a focus on opportunities for youth. Emphasis was placed on collaboration with other departments such as the Department of Small Business and the Department of Labour. On the issue of land reform, sources of economic development should be engaged and available state land should be made available to Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME’s). The ANC proposed the acceptance of the Report. The DA reserved their right to reject the Report at a later date.

The Annual Report was adopted with amendments.

Meeting report

The Chairperson reminded Members that it was important to arrive on time as a point of duty. He welcomed everyone back. He asked if anyone was absent.

Mr D Ryder (DA) noted that Dr M Figg (DA) would arrive soon but was stuck in traffic.

The Chairperson announced that the Committee would proceed straight to the minutes.

Draft Minutes of the 27 November 2018
The Chairperson referred to page 2 and commented that it is important to defend the staff who implemented measures in 2014. He felt that he had a duty of responsibility for their defense but did note that Members had not done the work adequately at the time. On page 3, some time ought to be given to the consideration and adoption of the Portfolio Committee Legacy Report although it has not been discussed as yet.

Mr Ryder commented that on page 6 regarding the issue of the Committee Legacy Report, the adoption of the report was deferred to a later meeting due to time constraints. There was no agreement on this meeting and it is not on the agenda today.

Dr C Madlopha (ANC) agreed with Mr Ryder that this issue of the report deferral should be addressed, but thought that that could be done next week not today.

Ms E Masehela (ANC) concurred with this point and said that the issue should be dealt with at a later meeting.

The Chairperson agreed.

Dr Madlopha commented that the Committee was not doctoring previous discussions as it had agreed to discuss it at this session and the minutes of that previous session are a reflection of that.

The Chairperson commented that the issue would be moved to a later meeting.

Mr Ryder and Dr Madlopha adopted the minutes.

High Level Panel Recommendations Report
The Chairperson announced that the Committee would then move to the consideration and adoption of the Draft of the High Level Panel Recommendations Report emanating from the discussions held between the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Department of Public Works on 27 Nov 2018.

Mr Shuaib Dennyssen, Content Advisor, Parliament, highlighted several important aspects of the report. He commented that it has not been the first time the Committee has seen the report. The Committee could consider the input of the Department and how it features in the report.

Page 12
In Section 8, there is a summary of the deliberations between the Department and the Committee on the High Level Panel (HLP) recommendations. The Committee had welcomed the presentations at the time. The Department referred to the leasing environment as a way of ensuring that contracted companies were able to comply with appropriate legislation.

Page 13
Here the Committee had asked the Department to create longer term employment innovations, with a focus on opportunities for youth. Emphasis was placed on collaboration with other departments such as the Department of Small Business and the Department of Labour. Emphasis on artisan training needed to be renewed as advised by Dr Figg.

On the issue of land reform, sources of economic development should be engaged and available state land should be made available to Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME’s). The Committee should review the work of implementing agencies to ensure that competent agencies are entrusted with undertaking the project. On a different note, it was observed that many suggestions in the presentation required policy changes. A review of the White Paper that clarified the Departmental mandate was urgently needed.

Some typographical (typos) errors were noted. One section should have read ‘sustainable development’ not ‘sustenance’. Several such typos would be addressed. Two major challenges facing the Department were detailed. The first was tackling issues of embedded poverty, unemployment and inequality. The second was that of ‘short-termism’ - the proposal is to ban temporary work and make certain there are more permanent appointments.

Section 8.2.2
This area dealt with immovable asset management. The challenge is that there is inadequate and inappropriate infrastructure in particular in communications facilities. Effective oversight mechanisms were proposed to promote accountability.

Section 8.2.3
Section 8.2.3 on page 17 concerned spatial planning and land use management. The Report’s proposal was to establish consistent and coherent use of state owned land. On page 18, it was noted that surplus land that is not required for planning will be made available for land redistribution purposes.

Section 8.2.4
Section 8.2.4 concerned the ‘silent interest’ of departments, which it is felt encumbers Parliament’s legislation. On just and equitable compensation on land reform, legislation that introduces new laws on each newly arising issue ought to be avoided to prevent ‘spaghetti legislation’. There is a perception that the Expropriation Bill will be used against the communities. The government’s position is that expropriation should be done within the confines of the law so as not to compromise food security. The report was concluded.

The Chairperson thanked the Content Advisor for the report. He asked for Members comments.

Mr Ryder reiterated the issue he had about the way that the Committee performed oversight. He noted that they reacted to what speakers were saying but not to what speakers were not saying. The Committee should be more proactive, rather than merely reactive to what the Department has given to Members. He wondered how many Members had read the Report and encouraged all Members to read it.

He highlighted a number of issues. On page four, on the key challenges of the Public Works Portfolio Committee, the panel’s work was defined as key legislation. It should be accepted  that the Department of Public Works is an enabling Department and this needs to be understood and addressed. If one looked at the kind of issues that arise, access to education or healthcare or services - those are not the responsibilities of the Department but they do enable the construction of a Public Works Department that could enable these services. There needs to be co-operation with other departments in this Department’s long-term planning. On page five, bullet point four, a draft was put out for public comment on 22nd December in the Gazette, although that may not be relevant now.

Mr Ryder referred to Page 6 which concerned findings on legislative works in the Department of Public Works’ portfolio. On the Expropriation Bill, he  quoted from the report: “the panel is reporting at a time when some are proposing that the Constitution be amended to allow for expropriation without compensation to address the slow and ineffective pace of land reform.” That is an acknowledgment. “This is at a time when the budget for land reform is at an all-time low at less than 0.4% of the national budget, with less than 0.1% set aside for land redistribution. Moreover, those that do receive redistributed land are made tenants of the state rather than owners of the land.”

He emphasised that the passage he found most important stated that “experts advise that the need to pay compensation has not been the most serious constraint on land reform to date, other issues, such as corruption amongst officials, diversion of the land reform budget to the elites, lack of political will and lack of training and capacity etc. are more pressing issues. The provisions in the Constitution may allow for compensation below market value in particular circumstances. Rather than recommend the Constitution be changed, the panel recommends that government use its expropriation powers more boldly in ways that test the meaning of compensation provisions.” These passages relate importantly to the duties of this Committee and of the Department. It relates directly to the legislation that this Department is proposing and it needs to be taken into account. ‘The legislation is there, do not change the Constitution - use your powers more effectively’. In conclusion, that recommendation directly affects the Department.

The Chairperson commented that, in South Africa, there are two views broadly encompassing the issues raised - those that do and those that do not want the Constitution changed.

Dr Madlopha thought that it was good that comments were being made on the work of the high level team. On page six, she commented that there were sections on findings on the scope of legislative work and here she emphasised that the Committee should leave the Report as it is since with this relevant section that addresses the ambit of the Department, it can be referred to and deliberated upon accordingly.

Mr F Adams (ANC) added his agreement to that of Dr Madlopha. He regards the Department of Public Works as one of those entities that has specific legislative concerns. The mandate should be adhered to and it should not be tampered with, it should be accepted as is because it was read and accepted as a Committee. The report is appropriately encompasses and speaks to important issues.

Ms Inez Stephany, Researcher, Parliament, commented that the section that Mr Adams is looking at in the report does not deal with the first part. This was worded with specifics from the HLP, the HLP that did not mention the Department of Public Works. She had produced a report on what is specifically related to the High Level Recommendations and the Department of Public Works came as a response to that.

Ms E Masehela (ANC) added that on the issue of changing the Bill; that issue has already been dealt with. It has even gone to Parliament. On training beneficiaries to be artisans, a quota that fulfils the needs of the Department can be discussed.

Mr Ryder stated that the report on the High Level Panel Report ought to be considered in relation to the mandate of the Committee. Reading from the Report, he said “rather than recommend the Constitution be changed, the panel recommend the government use its power for appropriation more boldly.” This had to be reported on.

The Chairperson asked Mr Ryder what he was trying to achieve by reading the quote for the second time. It was not helpful. Members have been making clear points about why this issue should not be addressed in the way that Mr Ryder has been suggesting.

Mr Figg emphasised that when Members of the Committee communicate with each other they have to maintain a degree of respect. He felt the way the Chairperson had been speaking with Ryder needed to be more measured.

Dr Madlopha emphasised that the issue of the amendment of the Constitution will be addressed when appropriate. She told Mr Ryder that the issue of the mandate is appropriately covered in the report. She emphasised that it is a part of the report and has been addressed already. The Committee  should move forward.

Mr Adams added that he agreed with Mr Ryder and Mr Figg. He noted, however, that the Expropriation Bill is not even with the Department any longer. Moving forward the Department must rethink the notion of ‘public works’. There must be new developments. The Committee needed to make proposals that those who come after them can follow up on.

Mr Figg added that the DA reserved their right to reject the Report at a later date.

Mr Adams put on the record that The ANC proposes the acceptance of the Report.

The report was approved by the majority.

Committee Annual Report
The Chairperson tabled the report for consideration.

Dr Madlopha asked if disagreements would be highlighted.

Ms Nola Jobodwana, Committee Secretary, informed Members that she would highlight the changes throughout the report and Members ought to note that the wording is specific.

Dr Madlopha asked if the Committee could be specific on what had been removed so that Members could be sure about what had been removed.

Ms Jobodwara highlighted an issue from 2014/15 that had been inserted by mistake and was moved across from a Legacy Report.

Mr Ryder raised a point about the acceptance of the Expropriation Bill and the Agreement SA Bill, which were alluded to as having been conceived in 2018, but actually predated that.

Dr Madlopha noted that, on page three, there was a mistake in Section 2.2 that said that the Agreement SA Bill was in 2015. Was it not 2017?

Ms Jobodwana accepted the correction.

The Chairperson commented that there seemed to be some confusion between reports. The Committee Secretary has a different version of the Report.

Dr Madlopha added that the amended version should be colour coded so that it is easier to see what has been corrected.

Mr Mashela made the point, on record, that she had to leave at 12:20 for another meeting.

Ms Jobodwana commented that on page 15, the number of oversight visits has been changed to three as two was previously recorded. It was not a formal oversight visit but the Committee felt that that ought to be recorded.

Dr Madlopha commented that Members were not on the same page as the Secretary as there was a different numbering system in the documents they had received.

The Chairperson commented that unfortunately Members would have to accommodate the incongruity.

Ms Jobodwana briefly touched on some other issues. On page 16, her page 18, outlines the oversight visits. She then moved to her page 56, where obligations conferred on the Committee by legislation were discussed. This was Members’ page 50. The Committee Secretary felt that the 2017/18 financial reports should be included given that there was a request for them in the Report as that area falls within the purview of the Committee.

The Chairperson asked Members if they felt that a letter ought to be written to the Speaker with these amendments added.

Ms Jobodwana said that this was possible.

Mr Adams proposed that the Committee accept the Report with the highlighted amendments. He forwarded his own approval and Dr Madlopha seconded.

The Chairperson asked if members would prefer it if amended reports were placed in their pigeonholes instead of being given to them in the House.

Members agreed.

The Chairperson thanked members.

Ms Jobodwana reminded members that there would be a meeting where the Department would speak to the issue of Contractor Payment.

Dr Madlopha commented that she could not attend due to her chairing a Portfolio Committee of Social Development meeting.

Mr Adams commented that he could not attend due to a meeting with the National Elections Co-ordination Team.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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