The Committee met to discuss issues surrounding the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform’s (DRDLR’s) organogram and structure, as well as to consider the focus areas for the term that was under review.
The DRDLR’s presentation covered the details of the micro and macro structure of the Department, the recruitment reports on progress to fill vacant positions, and cases that were being investigated against officials of the Department. The Committee was also advised of those officials who had been reinstated after the required processes had been undertaken.
The discussion on the Department’s recruitment activities led to some confusion, as the Committee was told the Department had been advised to stop recruiting because there was a possibility that government departments would be reorganised after the May elections – yet it was still advertising vacant posts. Another concern was the disparity in the salary levels of Parliamentary Officers, which was described as grossly unfair. Members pointed out that officials were operating in an acting capacity for longer than the regulatory six months, and that some were also acting in more than one position. The movement of Ministers’ support staff was also creating problems if not handled in accordance with the Ministerial Handbook, and there were instances of officials being paid by one department while working for another.
The Committee asked the Department to present an updated organogram and skills audit at its next meeting.
The Chairperson said that the point of the meeting was to look at the structure of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform’s (DRDLR’s) organogram, as well as to consider focus areas for the term under review. The summary of issues that needed to be discussed was lengthy and the Committee had indicated that they needed to carry over to the discussion regarding the organogram. She then asked whether the presentation was the same as the one of 21 November 2018, as she had noted changes, and the current presentation look thinner.
Ms Rendani Sadiki, Acting Director General (ADG), DRDLR, confirmed that the current presentation spoke to the organogram they had previously submitted in November.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would be discussing the issue of the organogram before going through the presentation and asked the Deputy Ministers at the meeting if there was anything they needed to highlight before she allowed the ADG to continue with the presentation.
Ms Candith Mashego-Dlamini, Deputy Minister, clarified that the organogram that had been sent and discussed in December 2018 was not clear, as it had been condensed. As a result, the Department had had to resend it and date it 13 February. They had also added a document as requested by the Committee regarding members of the Department who were undergoing disciplinary hearings for involvement in corruption, those who had been dismissed and those who had been reinstated, so that there was a full account to the Committee regarding labour relations issues. However, they would not disclose the details of the cases, as there were still processes going on, and they asked that the Committee bear with the Department, as they were unable to disclose the details, so that the individual cases were not jeopardised.
Ms Sadiki asked Mr Sipho Ngomane, Acting Chief Director: Human Resources, DRDLR, to make the presentation.
Mr Ngomane (ACD:HR) (DRDLR) went through the contents page, which included the micro and macro structure of the Department, the recruitment reports for progress done to fill vacant positions, and said the focus would be on cases that were being investigated and on providing the Committee with details of the officials that had been reinstated following the processes that had been undertaken.
As background, he said the DRDLR executive management had previously presented the structure of the Department on 5 December 2018, as well as after the Committee had requested further engagement regarding the staff establishment and an update on the investigation of the corrupt officials. He would therefore be focusing mainly on the current status of the DRDLR staff establishment, specifically on a micro and macro level of senior management services, as well as its branches on official levels. The Committee would also be provided with an overview of the recruitment plan and progress made to fill vacancies by 31 March. He would show the DRDLR’s evaluation report that had been conducted on the corrupt officials as informed by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), as well as a report undertaken by the DRDLR’s forensic investigation directorate and labour relations unit. Finally, a list of all the officials that had been reinstated would be provided, as well as as reasons and the financial implications involved.
Describing the macro organisational structure, Mr Ngomane said that Department was headed by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and the two Deputy Ministers -- Ms Mashego-Dlamini and Mr Mcebisi Skwatsha. Within the office of the Ministry was the office of the Valuer-General, which in terms of the Property Evaluation Act implied that the office of the Valuer General reports directly to the Minister. However, administratively, the Valuer General still reports to the Director-General.
Within the office of the Director General, there were branches which reported directly to the Director General. Firstly, under Land Redistribution and Development (LRD), there was full occupation under Mr T Ndove, and in Land Tenure and Administration (LTA) there was Adv V Mngwengwe, who was currently acting in this vacant position. However, the position was currently being filled, as the DRDLR was now in the selection phase of the recruitment process, and was busy with the shortlisting and interviews. In Rural Enterprise and Industrial Development (REID) there was Mr M Swartz, and in Rural Infrastructure Development (RID) was Mr P Sekawana, who was currently acting in this vacant position due to the resignation of Ms Leona Archary in October 2018. Since then, the DRSLR had reviewed the job description and the advert, and the position would be advertised. The Restitution branch was headed by Ms N Ntloko-Gobodo, and the Deeds Registration was headed by Ms C Knoesen. In the National Geomatics Management Services (NGMS) branch was Mr M Riba, who was currently on precautionary suspension, so the DRDLR had appointed Ms R Mdubeki, was currently acting on his position. In Spatial Planning and Land Use Management (SPLUM) was Ms A Matsila, who was currently acting on this vacant position, while in Corporate Support Services (CSS) was Mr E Southgate, who was also on precautionary suspension, so Mr P Sekawana was currently acting in this position. Ms Sadiki was originally in the finance branch, but due to her being appointed as the acting DG, Ms N Matshidza was currently acting. Lastly, in the Office of the Chief Operations Officer (COO), Ms Mnukwa was acting in this vacant position, which was currently in the process of being filled. This was the macro structure of the DRDLR at the top executive level.
With regard to the representation, Mr Ngomane that the DRDLR was comprised of 56% females and 44% of males, which was above the 50/50 requirement of representation as set by Cabinet. With regard to occupation, the filled positions were at 66%, with four of positions vacant and and in the process of being filled. He then asked the Chairperson if he could proceed to unpack the micro structure of each component as outlined from the Ministry, and illustrate what each branch looked like.
The Chairperson responded that considering the thickness of the presentation, the Committee needed to deal with the presentation page by page so that Members were not confused and that everyone properly understood everything that was outlined in the document.
The Chairperson commented that the Department’s current composition was indicated as being 56% female and 44% male, but most of the females in the macro organisational structure were acting. She asked if what had been presented belonged to the branch of Corporate Services and if so, the position was currently being held in an acting role by Mr Sekawana, yet Mr Ngomane was the one presenting -- why was this so? Lastly, she asked why they had seven acting strategic DDG positions? Why did Mr Sekawana act in two positions of REID and CSS? Was this because they were short of human resources, and what outcome were they expecting from one person acting in two positions at the DDG level?
Mr E Nchabeleng (ANC) asked if there was someone acting in Mr Sekawana’s own position, because it would then mean that he was running three positions.
Mr A Madella (ANC) raised his concern in terms of the public sector prescripts detailing that one was supposed to act for six months, and no longer than that. He asked if they been complying or been in violation of this principle. Moreover, one could not act in more than one position. Lastly, he also mentioned that the macro structure failed the racial and disability tests, and his main concern was that they were moving backwards.
Ms N Magadla (ANC) asked how long the people had been acting in these positions. In terms of government policy, for how long was a person supposed to be in an acting position?
The Chairperson went back to Mr Madella’s point, reminding the DRDLR that they had once come to the Committee to report that they had released a member for acting for more than six months. She specifically referred to the ADG position, and asked how long had Ms Sadiki been acting for? If it was over six months, what was going on this time, and why were they not applying the same policy? She also emphasised that the problem with performance in the DRDLR was linked to the issue of having the acting chief director (ACD) as a chief financial officer (CFO), as those were two strategic positions and this was highly problematic. What were the DRDLR’s intentions?
Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini responded that Ms Sadiki would be responding to the questions regarding the ACD:HR. With regard to the question on how long were people supposed to stay in acting positions, the Public Service Act was clear that it was six months, so that the position was filled during this period. Both the ACDs had acted for more than six months because of the case being in court. The Department had previously accounted to this to the Committee that that they were acting longer because the DG post had not yet been advertised. However, the new Minister felt that they needed to make changes. However, at this level, it was difficult to keep people in acting positions for just six months, as this case was going to court only today. As it stood now, there were only a few DDGs who were permanent, which placed the Department in a dire situation, and she asked that the Committee bear with them. They agreed that the filling of the DDG posts was taking too long, but they were almost of the end of the term and did not know how the restructuring of the departments by the President would be done. They have been advised not to make the senior appointments earlier, as there may be the possibility of departments being restructured.
The Chairperson asked for clarity, as she felt that the Department was saying two different things. In the presentation, the Committee was told that the DRDLR was currently busy with the selection process for the vacant positions, whereas the Deputy Minister was stating that they had been advised to not appoint and wait for the term to end, as there may be the possibility of departments merging, which they were not sure of. What was actually happening? There was lack of clarity and the Committee needed to know what was actually going to happen with the vacant positions and whether the acting personnel would remain acting, and till when. If they had been advised not to appoint, why were they busy with the selection process on some positions? There was a contradiction between what was being presented and what the Deputy Minister was saying.
Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini responded that the ADG would be responding to the questions the Chairperson had asked, as she was not part of that process.
Ms N Magadla (ANC) asked if the new administration politically affect the administration within the department, because this may mean even in the next term, that the new work must still be stopped.
Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha responded that he reckoned that Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini was trying to articulate that through the State of the Nation Address (SONA), the President had said there would be a reconfiguration of departments and it then meant there would soon be a leaner Cabinet. That configuration would therefore mean the departments would be affected through merging, or not existing with their personnel. Should the departments merge, and appointments had been made at the executive level, then the bloated Department would lead to a bloated Cabinet
Ms Sadiki added that based on Public Service Regulation (PSA)3.5.3, an employee should act in a higher executive post for an uninterrupted period not exceeding 12 months. The Public Service Act (PSA) also speaks on the six months’ acting position being able to be extended by a further six months, as long as it is not for more than 12 months. The former DDG, Ms Leona Archary, had been acting for 18 months. Concerning the DDG’s posts that were vacant, they had not advertised the LTA, COO, REID and Spatial Planning and Land Use Management (SPLUM) position, as there were still engagements with the Departments of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) on where this position must be placed, and there was an indication that it may be under the DPME due to the planning aspect of the position. There was still a meeting that must be had for Cabinet approval before the position was advertised. The Corporate Support Services (CSS) position could not be advertised yet due to the pending case, while the other three that were vacant have been advertised.
The Chairperson asked further clarity, as positions were still being advertised while they said they had been advised not to. She asked if the DRDLR had been advised to fill certain positions, or was the advice at SONA just in general. She asked that the DRDLR be specific on which positions they had been advised not to be fill, and which ones to fill.
Mr E Nchabeleng (ANC) asked what the meaning of moratorium was. Was there a difference between general advice and a moratorium?
Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini responded that there was no moratorium and the actions that had been taken had been based on what the President had said.
Mr S Matiase (EFF) felt that the more questions the Deputy Ministers were answering, the more questions arose. He said, “Is there a moratorium? No! Was there advice? Yes.” However, the question remained as to what form the advice was given. Was it an executive directive from the Cabinet that was signed by the Presidency? If it was from the State of the Nation Address (SONA), then it did not constitute advice but rather a statement of intent. If it was an executive directive, then it should have been officially discussed in Cabinet, and signed off by the President for attention by Ministers and Deputy Ministers. However, what was going on now was that there was no moratorium, which then placed the DRDLR in a dilemma as there was no official advice.
The Chairperson asked if this matter had been discussed internally, where all stakeholders had sat together and considered what had been said by the President and how the Department was going to take the matter forward and deal with the situation of vacant positions.
Ms Magadla felt that she was covered with the issue of a labour forum within the Department, and added that there always discussions on unemployment, whereas there were discussions were departments were talking about waiting for vacancies to be filled. She was concerned about the waiting period for the reconfiguration of departments.
Ms Sadiki said that they did not have an official instruction not to appoint DDGs, so from an administrative point of view they had advertised and shortlisted for only two positions, and the other two would soon to be shortlisted as soon as the adverts closed.
The Chairperson said there were still outstanding questions that needed to be answered.
Ms Sadiki clarified that the reason why Mr Sekawana was not presenting was because they had simply asked Mr Ngomane to make the presentation, while Mr Sekawana was going to answer the questions. There was no specific reason why this was so and if it was not proper, she then apologised.
On the issue of people with disabilities, when they applied, they were given preference should they qualify, but there had not been any appointment of a person with disabilities since the appointment of one DDG. The DRDLR would be looking for people with disabilities at the executive level if they qualified.
On the question of Mr Sekawana acting in two positions, the DRDLR did not have the necessary human capacity, especially when Ms Archary left. They therefore felt that Mr Sekawana was fit enough to act, although they were currently filing this position which they hoped would be done by the end of March.
On the issue of acting for six months, she clarified that a person could act up to 12 months with the approval of the Minister, and previously Ms Archary had acted for 18 months. She said that as the ADG, she had been acting for eight months, while the CSG and Corporate Support Services had both been acting for less than six months, and the CFO was on six months, which they would extend for longer as the regulations allowed this. She added that the 56% composition of females did indeed include the members in acting positions
Ms S Mbabama (DA) asked where Ms Archary was currently, as her name was not on the documents.
Mr Nchabeleng asked if the CFO’s contract being extended meant that the contract of the acting DG would also be extended, because the acting DG was in a permanent position.
The Chairperson asked Ms Sadiki to clarify the seniority in the Department. The DRDLR had mentioned that they had taken Mr Sekawana to the Free State, as there was no one there.
Ms Sadiki clarified that Ms Archary had resigned and had left the office. Regarding Mr Sekawana acting in both Corporate Support Services and REID, the only senior position within the CSS was Chief Director, who was acting, so he would not be made acting DDG.
The Chairperson said that there was an issue with the Chief Director being in an acting position, and a bigger issue would be placed on the provinces if the Department continued to take people from that level up to the national level. This would compromise service delivery. In future, if a senior person of a specific branch was present, then it was expected that they should present and if not, the Committee must be informed.
Mr Nchabeleng said he would not agree to a less senior person presenting if he was presenting something that was supposed to be presented by him. Thus, this clearly meant that there were problems.
Ms Mbabama said that she had a different view. She personally did not see anything wrong with a less senior position presenting, while allowing the senior person to take questions.
Mr Madella felt that Mr Sekawana, being in many positions, indicated that he was trusted by the DMs and DGs, or that he had exceptional skills, and this was something that could not be allowed. It made it seem like he was irreplaceable, and that could not continue.
Ms Mbabama asked if Mr Sekawana was getting paid for both acting positions.
Ms Sadiki replied that Mr Sekawana was not being paid for the CSS position, but only for REID.
Ms Mbabama asked that if Mr Sekawana was present, that he continue with the presentation.
The Chairperson added that Mr Sekawana was supposed to be the one to make the presentation unless if it was stated otherwise by him. It made no sense that the junior made the presentation and the head took notes.
Mr Matiase said that before Mr Sekawana presented, the role of the Committee was to show oversight. What had the role of the executive and Minister been in view of these administrative errors of appointing one individual to various positions? Of course, the ACD was responsible to account for this and must be responsible as she appointed, but what had been the role of the Minister and Deputy Ministers, so that the Committee had a clear understanding going forward.
Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini responded that when there was an appointment made for a post, there was usually a memo from administration approved by the Minister. However, when the acting DDGs got appointed, this memo did not come to the Deputy Ministers, it went straight to the Minister. The DMs were involved only in the appointment of the DG, and the DDGs’ appointments never came through to the DMs.
Deputy Minister Skwatsha clarified what Ms Mashego-Dlamini meant. Moreover, he felt that the discussion that the Committee had had so far showed that there were clearly issues that they should be talking about regarding the administration. He also agreed with Ms Mashego-Dlamini that the appointments had been made without consultation, although they were bound to know in the end. However, they had requested a meeting with the Minister regarding the positions.
Ms Magadla asked that the DRDLR respect the structure of the Department at all levels, as they were representing the Cabinet. The DMs represented the Members of Parliament, and should be respected for that.
The Chairperson felt that it was unfortunate that these discussions were happening in the absence of the Minister, so that she could hear about the dissatisfaction within the DRDLR. If the DMs could not give a response with regard to the problems happening in the Department, it would be a problem. Unless notes were taken to brief the Minister, it would have been preferable to have the Minister respond on certain issues that the Committee had raised.
Mr Matiase felt that progress was of importance and that the Committee needed the presence of the Minister and not an intermediate to convey its views to the Minister, as this may distort their views. He proposed that the meeting be adjourned and continue when the Minister was present, as the Committee could not let a situation like this to continue and end out turning ugly. He added that it was no wonder that Mr Sekawana had failed to respond to his SMSs and emails, as this was because he was overburdened. In the Free State, he had been introduced as being responsible for the entire Department and had responded to only one of his SMSs. Thus, he had been unable to perform. Although he may be performing well in his acting positions, he had failed to perform in the Free State’s constituency. To blame him for not performing in the Free Sate would be unfair, and the DRDLR should take the blame for lack of service in the province.
Deputy Minister Skwatsha said that there was valid reason why the Minister was not present, as she was attending a Cabinet meeting and had sent an apology which had been acknowledged. The second point was that the Department was fully represented, therefore there should be no doubt that the issues that were being brought forward would be sent to the Minister, and they should not just be looking at the members of the DRDLR who were present as intermediaries. There were also minutes which would be received covering the facts on the table, and they would also be having a meeting with the Minister. He was not undermining the point made by the EFF, but he was not sure that it should result in the adjournment of the meeting.
Mr Nchabeleng added that there was no objection to the apology of the Minister. The meeting should continue, as the political office was well represented.
Mr Matiase said that he was proposing that out of the presentation and the discussion, the reality and truth had been presented, and certain questions may not be answered due to the absence of the Minister. If the questions could not be answered, what should happen then? He was proposing that the Committee should not wish away the problem through proceeding by not getting answers from questions that were being asked, as it would always be a “business as usual service,” and that would be betraying the future.
The Chairperson clarified that there were two proposals. Mr Matiase was proposing that they adjourn the meeting as some of the questions they would be raising and had raised would need the response and attention from the Minister, while Mr Nchabeleng was saying that they could proceed with the meeting and park issues that needed the Minister and bring it to her attention when she was present.
Ms Mbabama said that in considering the two recommendations, one should look at the time and focus area of the presentation. She was not sure how many days the Committee would need to get through the presentation. She recommended that the Committee move forward, and asked the DMs if there were other cases where they had been bypassed, because it would mean that they needed to have the Minister present. However, for the time being, the meeting must continue.
Ms P Matsimbi (ANC) agreed that they should proceeded, and that the Committee and DRDLR should leave out the issues that really needed the Minister’s attention.
The Chairperson concluded that there was an agreement to continue, but that the issues that had been raised should be conveyed to the Minister. She also agreed with Ms Mbabama that if time allowed, the Committee must have a closed meeting with the DMs, the ACDs and political heads, to deal with the issues that have been raised.
After the break, Mr Sekawana took over the presentation and presented on the organisation of the ministry under the “The Ministry” heading, during which he said that there was one Minister and two Deputy Ministers. The office of the Minister had one office of the Valuer-General reporting to her, and the Minister had two advisors. He further described the positions belonging to the Office of the Ministry, where there were about seven supporting staff. There was also a unit of administration with 11 staff. The two offices of the Deputy Ministers also had their own staff. He also detailed the staff that were in the office of the Valuer General.
The Chairperson asked that the Committee look at the Ministry, the Deputy Ministry and the office of the Valuer General. She said that in the Deputy Minister’s office, the private secretary and Head of Office were vacant, and asked from when this had become so. Under the Minister’s office, the post of Chief of Staff was acting, while the office assistant post was vacant. Administration also had vacant positions. She also asked for clarity on “additional establishment”- what did it mean? Was this organogram approved, and when?
Mr Madella pointed out that the salary levels of the Parliamentary Officers were not aligned. Some were on grade 11, while others in the Minister’s office were on 13. This had previously been discussed, but there was not a sufficient answer. Why was this so? Why was there a vacancy under the Chief of Staff? Why was Mr P Coetzee (PLD)(DRDLR) not included in the organogram? Were the persons acting receiving allowances for their acting positions?
Ms Magadla felt that she was covered, and asked if the open vacancies in the Minister’s office were being filled, since they had moved with the previous Ministers, but still appeared here.
Ms Matsimbi asked why the personnel that had moved with the Minister were still on the list. Did this mean that they were still earning salaries from the DRDLR?
Ms Mbabama said that there were six vacant posts -- and 12 if the people had moved. Had they been filled?
Mr Matiase said that the bureaucracy would be leaner and would improve the effectiveness of the institution. However, he doubted that the bloatedness of this Ministry served its purpose to provide oversight and was not properly aligned to ensure administrative oversight, otherwise there would not be the issues that had been discussed. How was this organogram aligned to ensure departmental efficiency?
Mr Nchabeleng said this structure seemed incomplete, as there was no Commission. The Office of the Valuer General’s (OVG’s) office was not in the presentation. Why was the Commission not on the organogram?
The Chairperson went back to address the issue of the Parliamentary Officers’ with varying salary scales. She asked why this was so. What was the advertisement initially saying, and if it had changed, why? This was why she had asked if it was an approved organogram, and when? The different salary levels had changed -- what were the reasons? Were there any consolations with those affected?
Ms Sadiki said that she would like to remind the Committee that they had been here before two years ago while she was CFO, and she had announced that Treasury had taken R800 million plus from the compensation of employees (COE), implying that the structure of the organogram that had been approved could not be 100% filled due to a lack of funds, and that should explain these vacant posts. The DRDLR now appointed, based on priority, and only filled strategic posts that would have an impact on public service delivery.
On the OVG vs Commission question, regarding it not being in the organogram, it was because the OVG was a schedule three entity while the Commission was programme four of the Department, and the budget was reported as such. They were currently requesting that they be an entity, which was still in process.
Mr Nchabeleng asked that the Department elaborate on the Commission and the executive reporting lines.
Ms Sadiki said there was never an amendment to the reporting lines. The appropriation of programme four of Parliament stated this restitution. Therefore, they were not autonomous. When she joined the Department, she had found this process of entity application in process, and it had never been approved.
Ms Magadla felt confused, and asked if the Commission reported to the DG or the Minister.
The Chairperson said that in her understanding, the Commission reported directly to the Minister. She asked for clarify from the DRDLR
Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini responded that according to the Department, restitution was in programme four, and according to the arrangement of the staffing that had existed since 2009, there were only two commissioned persons, including the Deputy Commissioner. These were, however, unregistered entities according to the Public Finance Management Act (PMFA). The National Treasury did not provide a specific budget for the Commission, so the budget was integrated within the Department. The Commission budget did not exist alone, and the programme four budget was used. Therefore, the two people reported directly to the Minister and were registered in the Department as Commissioner and the Deputy. In the provincial level of government, the provincial commissioner was listed as a Chief Director in public service, due to the lack of budget. There had also been a dispute due to this matter last year, but the Department and National Treasury had also agreed that it would only be the two persons that would be allocated the budget, as they still did not have an allocation of their own from Treasury.
The Chairperson said that the Committee understood that the Commission was using the departmental budget, but looking at the organogram -- since they were accountable to the Minister -- why were they not included? Were they not accountable to the Minister? The Commission must be reflected in the organogram, as they reported directly to the Minister.
Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini agreed with the Chairperson, and said that there had been an omission
Mr Nchabeleng said it could have not a mistake -- there had to be an explanation, because all this time the Commission had been reporting to the Minister and this table had not been reflective of that. How final was the structure?
Deputy Minister Skwatsha said that this had already been explained by Ms Mashego-Dlamini who had acknowledged that this needed to be corrected.
Ms Magadla want to check if the Deputy Ministers had gone through this organogram to check the omissions, or were they just as surprised?
Deputy Minister Skwatsha said that they had gone through the presentation, but it did have an omission and an updated one could be sent through to the Committee.
Mr Sekawana proceeded with accounting on the issue of different salary scales for Parliamentary Officers. The issue had been reported to the Public Service Commission, and they had said the Department must wait as there were complaints that had been lodged, so they were still waiting for the report on these cases. Mr Coetzee was still employed by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and had been seconded by the DRDLR, which had been a request from the Minister. The organogram had been approved in 2009. People being moved with the previous Minister and yet still appearing on their structure was due to the issue of the former Minister of Water Affairs moving and people not terminated their positions. Therefore, as there was no transfer of staff that he wanted to leave with, these officials were still physically at the DRDLR as there were engagements between the Department of Water Affairs and the Department of Communications. Thus, when the Minister was terminated, their staff would also move. The DRDLR had also engaged with the DG of Water Affairs, and the first phase of transfer had started, where the first step was the release and the second was the accepting. Until Water Affairs did phase two, it was difficult to release the officials. Both Ministers were aware of the problem.
Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini said that there needed to be some clarity around what the actual problem was. The former Minister had made the officials permanent, so the new Minister could not dismiss them because they were permanent and when the former Minister moved, he took only one person and left the rest who were permanent. Therefore, what was currently happening was that the new Minister was having difficulty filling vacancies according to the Ministerial handbook, which stated that when the Minister ceased to exist, the employees must also cease to exist. However, they were still permanent and under the Personnel Administration System (PERSAL) which was contrary to the Ministerial handbook.
Deputy Minister Skwatsha clarified that when Mr Sekawana was referring to Water Affairs, he had been referring to the Department of Water and Sanitation.
The Chairperson asked what action would be taken for the appointments which went against the Ministerial handbook?
Ms Mbabama asked if the ‘warm bodies’ were still there physically.
Mr Madella said that according to the DMs, only one person had left with the Minister. However, the organogram showed that more than one person had moved. The Committee had also been informed that a dispute that had been lodged with regard to the varying salary levels. However, this problem was not a problem of the Committee, as it was within the employees’ rights to lodge a labour dispute. The fact that there were some Parliamentary Officers who were on level 11 while others were on 12 -- and one was on level 13 -- did not make sense as it was unfair labour practice, and the dispute still did not make it right. Those staff members were being unfairly treated, with the dispute being an excuse. There should be equal work for equal pay as a signed resolution which should be complied with. This could be fixed through administration, and unfortunately the ADG would have to fill these shoes.
Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini said that when the officials were first appointed, they were paid correctly in the first month, but in the second month this was lowered. The organogram said her secretary was also at level 12, whereas she was earning at level 11. The Ministerial Handbook was clear about appointments -- that should the DMs and Minsters leave, that they should leave with their employees. However, their HR department had not read the Ministerial Handbook, as they wanted to deal with officials under the Public Service Act, resulting in the current problems of employees not being transferred with their Ministers. She added that although the ‘warm bodies’ were not under the DRDLR, they were still earning salaries for work that they were doing in a different office.
Deputy Minister Skwatsha said that this was an injustice, as it meant people had not been paid what was due to them for all these years, and government had to pay them. These were the same people whose positions were not secure, as they could leave if a senior was fired. He gave examples of this from his own personal experiences.
Mr Sekawana said that they had received advice from the Public Service Commission and the DPSA
The Chairperson said that this had already been explained by the DM, where the DRDLR had been treating their staff as per the PSC, instead of following the Ministerial Handbook. Thus, they were using the wrong tool to address the matter. Why had they advertised the post as a level 11 position to begin with? Were they following the PSC? When a person applied, they looked for a package which would include the salary level, and applied based on that. However, after they had been appointed, for them to get a lower level to what they had been paid before was not acceptable. Why were they making changes like this with peoples’ salaries? If this organogram was approved in 2009, when had it been revised?
Mr Sekawana (said that the new dispensation on administration posts came in 2006, and certain people had been appointed before 2006, so they still appeared on their old salary level. Any appointment after that was affected by the dispensation, so their salaries were affected.
The Chairperson asked when these were posts advertised. The Public Service Commission and DPSA had also advised them to not do anything on this matter yet.
Mr Sekawana said that Minsters and Deputy Ministers appointed their own staff, and the positions were not advertised. This was according to the Ministerial Handbook.
Ms Magadla said that if this organogram talked to the budget, then the Committee had a right to ask these questions as they involved the budget, and if one was a leader one must be sensitive to workers’ issues.
The ADG said they had filled the important posts, but the Head of Office of DM Skwatsha was still not filled.
The Chairperson asked that the DRDLR response was to the actions that they had taken regarding the ‘warm bodies,’ and were other departments going through the same issues with regard to the salary levels? If not, why was it only the DRDLR that was going through this problem, because if it was a problem, then it should cut across all departments.
Mr Sekawana said that they had done a benchmark study and picked up about three departments which had officials with a similar challenge due to issues like a Cabinet reshuffle. Regarding the Head of Office of Deputy Minister Skwatsha, there had been a discussion on the candidate that had been identified for the position, as there had been challenges regarding the requirement that the person must have a degree, and the person identified had only a matric certificate.
Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini responded that there was nowhere in Ministerial Handbook which said one must appoint a person with degrees. The administration made this difficult because they did not go according to the Ministerial handbook, which states that the Minister makes the decision to appoint. Even the people who had been dismissed, she had advised them to speak with the Minister.
The Chairperson requested that there be a meeting to iron the issues of the employees, as the treatment of employees was clearly unfair and they must be motivated and developed. At this stage they were demoralised, and one could not expect them to perform at this rate.
Mr Matiase asked how the staff in the Ministry complement aligned with constitutional efficiency. He suggested that before they proceeded that there should be a skills audit amongst the Executive Management Team (EMT), and then throughout the entire Department. He was sure that should this skills audit occur, there would be worse discoveries regarding Ministers and Deputy Ministers who had violating the law. He added that the skills audit had to happen before they proceeded to find out if people at the executive level had the appropriate skills, qualifications and competencies to do the work that was supposed to be efficiently done. The reason why government had failed to meet its annual targets was due to this issue. This was important, especially to deal with the land question, as it required appropriate skills and qualified individuals.
The Chairperson responded that all Members had the right to raise any questions or make apologies, and had been given the presentation to go through, so it was their right to ask questions, as each Member’s question was important. She also apologised for having omitted his question, and said she had noted it. Lastly, when did the posts become vacant, as they were still having difficulty in filling the posts.
Ms Mbabama said that her question regarding the ‘warm bodies’ had also not been answered.
Deputy Minister Skwatsha responded that the ‘warm bodies’ were somewhere else -- but were they paid somewhere else? This problem predated the leadership before they were in charge. They had arrived in 2014 and not in 2006, and wanted to emphasise that the people they had appointed had been according to the Ministerial Handbook. This did not say one must have a degree and that he respected competency and could assure the Committee that his acting Head of Office was competent. He still had to do a six-month course to finish his degree but even so, the Ministerial Handbook said nothing about degrees.
Ms Mbabama asked whether the Ministerial Handbook did not state the qualifications people must have in all positions. Even if it did not state them, would it not align with the Public Service Commission so that the levels could be aligned according to qualifications?
Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini said that according to the Ministerial handbook, if one had a Minister and Deputy Minister, then the position would have a span of control. If there was a Chief of Staff at the DDG level, then the Head of Office of the Deputy Minister must be at a Chief Director level due to the staff they controlled, which then became the Ministry. They had been guided by this Ministerial Handbook. However, at the provincial level, they looked at what was happening with the Members of Executive Councils (MECs), and made reference to her own experience regarding moving up with her own staff. She added that the Minister delegated functions to the Deputy Minister and then it went down to the staff who worked under the Deputy Minister in the line function of the department, who were seconded from administration to help execute the mandate of the Department. She also reported that a skills audit had been done by the Department in 2015/16, so the report was there and the ADG would submit this report.
Ms Mbabama said she felt that the DM did not actually understand what she had said. She was agreeing that a they had a right to appoint without advertising. However, even if one appointed, one appointed according to the levels in government. The qualifications in government had a minimum qualification. She mentioned that Deputy Minister Skwatsha had said that no degree was needed, but the level of the job should dictate the level of qualification, even if the Ministerial Handbook did not say so, unless if it was also based on experience, and then they went on probation. Otherwise, this would mean one could take on anybody without qualifications.
Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini apologised, and said that she was clear, and that she was trying to say that they would take on a person based on minimum qualifications
Mr Madella said the problem was that they were discussing new matters while not taking into account the injustices of the past. It was clear that the Department was not fond of administration, and the people employed were not being remunerated with what they deserved, so what it was doing was coming up with various excuses. Out of all the 72 Ministers and Deputy Ministers, only three were in similar positions to this, which meant that they would not accede to this. The skills audit created new barriers for people. If one had been doing a good job and been appointed to act in a position, then one must be paid appropriately. Where remuneration was concerned, people must be paid for acting in positions and their qualifications should not be questioned when they had to be paid, otherwise it became a gross and unfair labour practice.
The Chairperson asked that the DRDLR answer the question on the issue of warm bodes
Mr Sekawana reported that there were five ‘warm bodies’ which had moved, but were still in the DRDLR establishment. The Ministerial Handbook which stated that the appointments needed to be reported to the DPSA, and this had been done. The presentation also had five slides on the vacancy management regarding all of the 570 posts they had advertised, which included when they became vacant. Previously, due to the COE shortages, they had not been filling vacancies immediately. It was only this year that they had started filling vacancies immediately due to the prioritisation of posts.
The Chairperson asked if the action they have taken with regard to the warm bodies had only been to report it to the DPSA.
Mr Sekawana responded that that was what they were required to do, which they had already done.
The Chairperson said that time was against them and asked that the DRDLR send through the skills report. She also asked that the DRDLR consider the issue of one person acting in more than one position. At the next meeting, there would be a focus on each programme, and the issue of Parliamentary Officers should also be looked at to establish what the real problems were. The Department should also give the Committee a progress report at the next meeting.
Ms Mbabama said that the Committee had been talking about the Parliamentary Officers, and nothing had happened. She suggested that someone from the Committee should physically go to the DRDLR and do oversight.
The Chairperson said that DRDLR must go back must fix the problem. They could not have resources to pay warm bodies in other departments, but not resolve their own issues.
Mr Matiase (EFF) said that as part of the report for the next meeting, there must be a detailed account of the skills audit from all components, including the Ministerial Handbook, and they needed to get to the bottom of the “bureaucratic mess” that had been seen today
The Chairperson said there was a report, but it had been done years back, so it needed to be updated and submitted to the Committee. There also needed to be an updated report on who had resigned, but since it was towards the end of the term, she was not sure that the Committee would have time to engage on that.
The Committee Secretary reported that the Committee was left with four meetings, the last one being on 20 March. One of these meeting was allocated for the blended funding workshop which the Committee had emphasised it must hold. The second one was for 20 February, where the Presidential Advisory Panel had invited the Committee. At the remaining two meetings, the Committee would have to prioritise the focus areas that had come out of this meeting.
Adoption of minutes
The minutes of the meeting dated 5 December 2018 were considered and adopted. Mr Matiase made a minor change on page one, and Mr Madella also made a slight change on page three regarding a report deadline, under Committee resolutions.
The Chairperson informed the Committee that they had received a form from the Vart Farm regarding acts of intimidation, and requested the Department send a team with a panel of lawyers and report back to the Committee.
The meeting was adjourned.
Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini responded on the issue of Ministerial Handbook which states that there was no mention of degrees mentioned and if a person was hold a Director or an Executive position with the requirement to hold a degree yet any other person in the who had similar pool been acting does not hold one, what does that mean? had there been a benchmark before regarding this? There was nowhere in Ministerial Handbook it says the person must appoint a person with degrees. The administration makes this difficult because they do not go according to the Ministerial Handbook as it states that the Minister makes the decision to appoint. Even the people that were dismissed, she had advised them to speak with the Minister.
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