Statistics South Africa & DPME Quarter 1 performance; with Minister

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Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), Government Communication and Information Services (GCIS), Brand South Africa (Brand SA), Media Development and Diversity (MDDA) and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME). The Minister provided a brief overview of all the entities. He specifically addressed the vacancies at GCIS, the MDDA and the DPME and stated that they were working as speedily as possible to fill these vacancies, especially in terms of the MDDA Board as there were four vacancies there which often resulted in difficulties in meeting a quorum. He also spoke about the situation with the Brand SA CEO and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) as both had been dismissed, but they are appealing their dismissal. He assured Members that they were on course in stabilising all the unions and entities that they were responsible for.

Stats SA assured the Committee that the quality of their operation would not be compromised despite financial difficulties when many staff members had started to occupy management and senior positions. Members were told that there are many acting in senior positions and they continue to serve the public, hey have gone beyond the call of duty. On the language issue, Stats SA will make that information available to the Committee. Members asked if it would  be possible for Stats SA to present the Committee with a breakdown of the language capabilities of field workers; whether the 58,1% of expenditure spent on compensation included the compensation of field workers; whether the R62.5 million in over expenditure would impact the predetermined objectives negatively;  and what is the entity's plan to ensure its capacity to be able to do its work properly in the way that it should despite the limited funding Members heard that Stats SA is one hundred percent compliant in terms of suppliers being paid within 30 days.

Members heard that GCIS had exceeded the target in terms of engagement with the public; that in terms of vacancies, this was at 10.92%; however, the organisation was already in the process of filling these posts. It was highlight that the number of graduate interns was unusually high at 30 and that GCIS was an organisation with a female majority. The Committee was asked to do oversight at the Thusong Programme centres. Members were pleased to hear that regarding the question of ensuring that GCIS is taken seriously, things have never looked this positive. There was confidence in the way forward and just recently in a meeting the current Minister had said that the organisation must become foot soldiers of the message of government.

Members asked how GCIS will make sure that the Department is taking them as a vehicle of choice in terms of communication; that communication should be centralised to ensure that the government speaks with one voice; that in future reports should  indicate the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)that would have benefited from invoices paid within 30 days; was there a measure in place to ensure that towards the end of the year that there will not be over expenditure; how GCIS holds their government communicators accountable, given that there are different lines of reporting; and clarity in terms of when the staff vacancies will be filled.

Brand SA briefed the committee on their mandate, and stated that in terms getting a satisfactory internal control audit actual performance in this this audit was not conducted and there was a misalignment of the audit plans and quarterly targets; and the suspension of the CFO had also contributed to the lack of capacity.  Members requested Minister to lobby government through the Treasury to align impact results and AG reports as it was currently difficult for an oversight body to proceed. With regard to work that had been duplicated, the Minister would come back and report on what the government perceived as duplicated work. Members asked what will be the impact of the cancellation of the investor perception survey, especially with new leadership coming in; for clarity with regard to deviations as it related to the audit; clarity whether the deviations in the audit was just a capacity issue or a planning issue; how do ambassadors get identified and recruited and how was performance measured.

The MDDA presented on their financial status, their HR demographics and which targets were not met. Members heard that there was a disagreement with the Competition Tribunal as they wanted the money they gave to be used towards bursaries, while the MDDA wants to use the money towards other expenses. Members were concerned about the reserve while there was underspending in some areas, as they wanted to see a marriage between the two in order to ensure coherence. Members advised the MDDA to invest in technology now. Members asked for clarity around the integration around government advertising spending towards community media; clarity on Multichoice's expired contract and what will happen in the meantime; why there is no appetite for new radio stations and what was MDDA is doing in terms of marketing and for clarity on the financial environment especially since there was the historical debt of R180 million. The Committee was pleased that the Minister was addressing the issue of vacant posts and capacity as a matter of urgency.  Members bemoaned the lack of revenue generation especially in rural areas. The Committee heard that the MDDA was a transformative tool that could fund community radio and print.

On the DPME, the Committee heard that Department has received its seventh consecutive clean audit and it had 100 % payment of valid invoices within 30 days. Members were pleased to hear that just in the last two months; two products have come to fruition like the Water Security Framework, which is a comprehensive framework to secure water. Members were concerned to hear that with regard to payments from service provides after more than 30 days the biggest problem was the Department of Water and Sanitation and in terms of provinces, the problematic areas were Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. At the provincial level, the key driver of non-payment of invoices is medical-legal claims because Health Departments ran out of budget early in the year. This is largely because of the excessive demand at the border provinces as people from outside SA were flooding into the facilities. After some investigations were done they found collusion with health officials in the recorded areas and with the legal fraternity. Members requested clarity on the monetary findings as to all the critical issues in the document, and how was the Department monitored in terms of how it dealt with issues like shortages with ambulances and police vehicles, and what was being done to fix these problems when these findings were published

Meeting report

Opening Remarks by the Chairperson

The Chairperson opened the meeting and said that the Department and entities are presenting in order to see whether predetermined targets had been achieve and to flag some of the recommendations raised in the budget report. This was done for example in order to determine whether the vacancies in Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS) and in the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) had been attended to. The Committee's role is to track the progress of implementation of the budget reported recommendations every time the Department and entities presented on their quarterly performance. Further, the Committee is aware of the vacancies at the MDDA Board and the Chairperson believes that the Minister is fast tracking the process to ensure that the matter is referred to Parliament. As soon as the matter is referred to the Committee, they will begin with the recruitment process because delaying the appointment of Board Members will result in the agency being unable to fill key senior positions, such as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The Committee will be writing to the Chief Whip to ensure that the Speaker places this on the agenda to speed up the appointment of the Board.

The Chairperson said that apologies had been received from Ms M Mokause (EFF). Ms R Lesoma (ANC) noted apologies from Ms M Ntuli (ANC) as she was not feeling well and from Ms B Maluleke (ANC) as she was attending an Education Portfolio Committee and that the Deputy Minister will be joining the meeting later.

The Committee was made aware that the Minister will start the presentation, but would then leave to attend a Cabinet meeting. As the Minister will be leaving, the Chairperson thought it would be best if the Minister presents an overview of the Department and its entities.

Briefing by the Minister

Minister Jackson Mthembu stated that the Department is happy to be held accountable and that all the leaders of the entities are present. The first issue the Minister wanted to address was already indicated by the Chairperson as the need to fill the vacancies on the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) Board and the Minister hopes that the Committee will move with speed to fill these vacancies. As the Committee knows with a Board of nine members and only five remaining at present, it is increasingly difficult to meet a quorum. A quorum for the board is five members. This often leads to a situation where one member is unable to attend the meeting and therefore the Board cannot quorate. Therefore, it would be appreciated if the Committee can move with speed in filling the vacancies. As colleagues are aware the Fifth Parliament had started on this process of appointing the new Board so it would be appreciated if the sixth Parliament can conclude the process of filling the vacancies on the MDDA Board.

The second issues concern Brand South Africa (SA). As colleagues are aware the term of office of the Board of Trustees expired in May 2019. As a consequence, Brand SA is without a board which is putting a hold on many issues. The Department has already advertised for the Board of Trustees of Brand SA and has already received over 155 applications. The Department is at the stage of shortlisting and doing the necessary processes. Because the Board is appointed by the President and not by the process of Parliament, the Department is on course and as already noted in the budget speech the Department will be working toward stabilising all the entities. In Brand SA there is the difficulty of the CEO and CFO being dismissed. However, they have indicated that they want to appeal their dismissal. They have every right to appeal and the law says they are deemed dismissed when the appeal process is concluded. They both appealed to the Minister, but the Minister lacks the power to grant them an appeal. Only the new board will be able to grant them an appeal. These issues will be reported to the Committee. Brand SA still has an acting CEO until the new Board deals with the appeal process of both the CEO and CFO. 

The Department has advertised for all the positions on the MDDA board with the intention of stabilising the MDDA. They already started with shortlisting the applications for the CEO position and will be able to report back in due course. All other senior positions will be filled after the CEO has been appointed.

Everyone is aware that GCIS has an acting head and the Department has advertised for a Head of GCIS. They have received several applications and have shortlisted them with the intention of starting interviews. The work of stabilising GCIS is on course. However, they have only advertised for a head but failed to advertise for the other positions such as a Director- General (DG) and heads of unions. There are three vacancies for DG's in GCIS and one has been filled.

With regard to Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) although they do have a Head, there are many positions which cannot be filled as there are some difficulties with finances. Last time the Department met with the Portfolio Committee the Department said it would raise the issue with the National Treasury (NT) as there are many vacancies at senior level. Owing to the economic difficulties in this financial year, The NT said that the Minister of Finance will make a statement in the Medium Term Budget in which he will indicate what steps will be taken to stabilise Stats SA. ‘We cannot have our Stats agency limping’. As of next year, there is every indication that the NT will assist in filling every critical position at Stats SA.

The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation is present with the DG who will speak to all areas of the forecast for this quarter. Many Deputy Director General (DDG) positions are vacant in the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. These positions have since been advertised, interviews have taken place and they are in the process of finalising appointments.

As stated in the Budget Statement, the Department is on course in stabilising all unions and entities that they are responsible for.

Briefing by Statistics South Africa

Mr Risenga Maluleke, Statistician-General (SG), Stats SA thanked the Minister for his input. He stated that there are two field workers present to share experiences with other provinces.

He stated that his presentation will highlight the organisational performance, the financial performance, the human resource performance and the first quarter achievements.

He noted that when the current Statistician-General (SG) was appointed Stats SA said that they would deal with transformation, collective leadership, rooting out the culture of fear and maintaining the quality of basic statistics.

In the first quarter, they reached 16% of targets, 82% are on track and 2% are delayed. While spending is at 22%, this is due to the nature of the work. In the first quarter, it is expected to spend approximately 25%. The nature of the work at Stats SA is such that until a project is concluded, all documents and all information need to be handed in before they can say they have concluded that account.

In terms of HR the vacancy rate is 18.6%; Women in Senior Management Service (SMS) are 41% and Staff with a Disability is 1.4%. However, these numbers are misleading. Women in SMS at Stats SA have always been around 40% so it is not that the number of women have increased, but rather that some men in SMS have resigned making the dominator smaller which lead to the percentage of women increasing. These numbers should not mislead Parliament into thinking that Stats SA improved in terms of transformation.

The budget is 2.5 billion; R1.460 billion goes to the compensation of employees. In terms of expenditure by programmes, this is at 22%. They received R75 million as a once-off by Treasury to address challenges faced in the field. Especially challenges of data collection in Gauteng as the province with the highest population. In terms of the census R145 million in this financial year, with the mini test scheduled for October 2019 which will lead to a lot of expenditure.

In terms of HR and racial composition Stats SA is representative of the demographics of the country as 87% of the employees are black African, 6% Coloured, 5.3% White and 1.7% Indian. As a general approach, the staff representation in terms of the other racial groups, other than black African is lesser. However, when looking at SMS it is a different picture with 54% female and 46% male. However, the figure is also different in SMS. In SMS there is an over-representation of White and Indian employees as well as women.

In terms of key achievements, they published 64 out of 65 statistical releases. They hosted the International Organisation for Migration and relevant migration Ministries to discuss strengthening of migration data collection and analysis in SA. The census of Commercial Agriculture was continuing with the project currently being in the data collection phase.

The Department decided to bring the entire value chain in term of the census. With the census, there are a lot of tests that need to be done before going out into the field.

As Stats SA deal with trusted statistics and they control the value chain of statistics from data collection to publication. There are currently having 149 computer-assisted personal interview business processes mapped. This has changed from the previous years where paper was used, which often lead to the problem of bad handwriting and data being lost. Now Stats SA is moving to smartphones to ensure no data is being lost.

In terms of key achievements, there is an increase in website visitor usage, which also shows 20% of data being downloaded which indicated data is being used. Media is taking particular interest on an almost daily basis. All media houses are showing an interest. Stats SA is able to track interaction on twitter and Facebook. It is critical to monitor this as the media is critical in reaching the public.

There has also been an increase in request in addressing Portfolio Committees in Parliament. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) results are set to be released on the third of October. Stats SA might have to release GDP from Cape Town due to constant involvement with Parliament. However, Stats SA just wants to ensure its independence.

In relation to partnerships Stats SA continues to provide statistical support to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) especially in the beginning of the year with voter registration. Stats SA often works with provinces, such as the handover of the Mpumalanga Economic Business Survey.

Stats SA dealt with the issue of implementation of e-payroll certification and establish a Staff Placement Committee to deal with the issue of re-alignment to the new structure. 

In terms of risks that Stats SA face, the Minister already spoke about the vacancy rate of 18.6%. Further, the increasing demand for statistical information on a national, continental and global level puts a strain on Stats SA.

Going forward Stats SA will be driving legislative reform. While continuing to maintain the quality of care statistic even with the demand for statistics increasing, it will not lead to a decrease in the quality of basic statistics. Stats SA will continue to modernise and innovate. In terms of transformation, they are rolling out an integrated indicator framework.

Preparation for census 2021 is continuing and is on track; Stats SA will come to Parliament and report back on the progress of the census.

Discussion

The Minister provided the context for the dismissal of the CEO of Brand SA. He explained that the previous Board of Brand SA appointed a disciplinary panel to look into the allegation against the CEO. The panel then recommended dismissal, but when this recommendation was made the Board was no longer in office. Only the incoming Board will be able to act on the recommendations. 

Dr L Schreiber (DA) stated that he is a regular Stats SA website user. He, therefore, remarked that when you look up a certain topic such as, "Quarterly Labour Force Survey SA" on Google, you usually find the press statement and then it is quite difficult from there to find the full report on the Stats SA website. He suggested that there should be a link in the press statement.

On the issue of contamination, he stated that it is one thing to be independent, but it is a different thing to be seen as independent. The fact that Mr Maluleke thought it relevant to mention it as it might be an indication of the importance of perception.

Dr Schreiber said that the third and final point was about HR. The commitment to employment equity should be the same on the lower levels as at senior management level, especially with the census coming up. He requested that going forward would it be possible that Stats SA present the Committee with a breakdown of the language capabilities of field workers. Also related to this will Stats SA ensure that when fieldworkers go and interact with citizens that there is representation?

Ms Lesoma welcomed and commended the presentation. She asked whether the 58, 1% of expenditure spent on compensation included the compensation of field workers. She appreciated that the Minister already spoke about the financial distress that Stats SA is currently experiencing, but she wanted to know whether the R62.5 million in over expenditure would impact the predetermined objectives negatively.

Mr S Malatsi (DA) had one brief point, upon which the Minister had already elaborated on which is the HR capacity of the organisation. As the Minister spoke in his opening remarks about the upcoming plans, but looking at the current HR retention capacity of the organisation considered together with the vacancy rate and the fact the 24 staff members left during the quarter. What is the entity's plan to ensure its capacity to be able to do its work properly in the way that it should despite the limited funding?

The Minister stated that the SG will respond, but with regard to the last point as stated by the SG, the current staff are able to perform all the expected functions in the organisation. There are many acting in senior positions and they continue to serve the public. They have gone beyond the call of duty.

Mr Maluleke responded that at a broad level Stats SA is engaging the National Treasury with regard to the funding model of Stats SA. Stats SA should not be funded with the current model. Stats SA operates on a project basis, like every ten years more money is needed for the census. Also what determines what should accrue to Stats SA in budgetary form is not only what they get funded for, but also who the client is. At this stage, the first client of the country is the respondents.

Staff members are allowed more space to be key players. Some of them are brought up to sit in management. Even though there might not be money right now, Stats SA will ensure that the staff's career growth is not slowed down. They are making staff more capable to ensure that they do not leave Stats SA due to frustration. 

On the issue of website access to data, Mr Maluleke said that Stats SA strives to give their users what they want and usually revamped the website specifically responding to user requests and needs. 

Concerning the issue of independence, Mr Maluleke said it is not just Stat SA. Statistical agencies all over the world are finding it difficult to demonstrate that they are independent. The demand for developmental information is increasing. This week Stats SA is appearing before three Committee meetings and another three next weeks. However, Stats SA will not only give assurance that they are independent, but also implements a structure that ensures independence. There is an independent Council. The Stats Council does not work for Stats SA, but advises the SG. Numbers are seen by Ministers at the same time as members of the public to ensure that there is confidence in the numbers. Stats SA will not stop with the release of numbers; there will be no influence from government or national events.

On the language issue, Mr Maluleke said that Stats SA will make that information available. However, Stats SA goes on the language indicated by staff when filling in their application form and most staff lean towards English as people prefer to work in English. While Stats SA is aware of the balkanised form of the country's past where rural people want to be addressed in their indigenous languages and some farmers demanding to be addressed in Afrikaans and Stats SA is aware of this when sending field workers.

The compensation indicated in the expenditure budget is inclusive of the compensation of field workers and the only composition that is not included is user-pay services.

Lastly, Mr Maluleke wanted to make the Committee aware that Stats SA is one hundred percent compliant in terms of suppliers being paid within 30 days.

The Minister remarked with regard to the user pay services which the SG mentioned, it was reflected in their annual report at the end of the year.

Presentation by Government Communication and Information Systems

The Chairperson requested that the Minister provide a preview.

The Minister replied that he has already given a preview on all the entities.

Ms Phumla Williams Acting Director General (DG) stated that she will not be going through the presentation slide by slide, she will only be mentioning the most important things. The mandate of the GCIS is derived from the Constitution to ensure that South African's are provided with information that will empower them. The Department has three branches, the Administrative branch the stakeholder branch. The stakeholder branch which is responsible for interacting with all relevant stakeholders, Non-Governmental Organisations, is the branch that is responsible for harvesting and packaging the information and (NGO's), government, communities and media. 

Ms Williams said that GCIS had exceeded the target in terms of engagement with the public. This involves engagement with people on the ground, in taxi's, in malls etcetera. This also involves the media and NGO's within communities. It is to get a sense of what really bothers the communities; it enables GCIS to be the ears over the government.

Another big part of GCIS's mandate is the interaction with members of the media. They are an important stakeholder. GCIS provides the media with information because the media plays an important role in disseminating the information to the public and educating society.

In the area of administration, all compliance requirements were met. Ms Williams highlighted the number of invoices received and the number paid within the 30-day period. 

In terms of vacancies, this is at 10.92%. However, GCIS is already in the process of filling these posts. Ms Williams would also like to highlight the number of graduate interns which is 30. The graduate programme runs over two years and it has been very successful and very valuable and insightful. The graduates have made a huge contribution as they are every innovative and vibrant. A number of them end up becoming GCIS staff as vacancies opened up they become candidates for these posts and often get hired within these posts.

GCIS is an organisation with a female majority. That is why it is so successful. At SMS level it is 50% women and in general, it is 58% female. The stance that the organisation takes is in terms of disability target is that even if the target is 2% they strive to achieve more that is why it is currently 2.78%.

In terms of targets, Ms Williams only highlighted deviations. In terms of the 41 targets, 36 were achieved and only 5 were delayed. The deviation is around the radio programme; the radio programme is in partnership with all the 65 community radio stations. It is a resource that is provided to all government departments to encourage them to come and communicate with the respective communities across the country. The reason there was a delay was owing to the transition from the Fifth Parliament to the Sixth Parliament. What is particularly pleasing is that new Ministers are buying into this programme.

The fourth area with discrepancies is the intergovernmental enragement. Particularly in the Free State, there were vacancies which are now being filled. The other discrepancy was around media briefings with Cabinet. However, media briefings are back on track.

Discussion

Ms Lesoma thanked GCIS for the presentation and said that both the Minister and the DG has pre-empted the issue she would have had and answered them. However, moving forward it would be appreciated if female demographics would also be indicated, not just by the way. 

How will GCIS make sure that the Department is taking them as a vehicle of choice in terms of communication?  This was because some departments did not have to use GCIS. Communication should be centralised to ensure that the government speaks with one voice.

Communities should know the face of government and GCIS is a key role player and they play a big role in bringing government closer to the communities. 

Mr B Maneli (ANC) appreciated that invoices are paid within the 30 days. He requested that future reports indicate the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME's) that would have benefited. To show that this an investment line from the government going towards SME's.

The other issue was related to the programme; in terms of expenditure it is indicated it should be 25%, but they are at 26.3% is there a measure in place to ensure that towards the end of the year that there will not be over expenditure? If there is over expenditure there should be a well-detailed reason as to why.

Mr Malatsi wanted to know how GCIS holds their government communicators accountable, given that there are different lines of reporting. Instances where there is a departure from communications ethos and protocol. One of the key challenges is ensuring coherence.

Ms M Clarke (DA) noted that 92 marketing events for the Thusong Programme were held. However, in previous reports which the Committee has analysed, they noticed that some of these centres do not perform optimally and she requested that the Committee does an oversight on these centres. Although GCIS's targets in terms of marketing have been exceeded, the outcomes are not in line with what the organisation is doing. 

She wanted clarity in terms of when the staff vacancies will be filled.

Ms Williams stated that her colleague Mr Michael Currin will answer the questions regarding the Thusong centres and Tasneem Carrim Acting Deputy Director General (DDG) will also respond to some of the questions.

Regarding the question of ensuring that GCIS is taken seriously, she stated that things have never looked this positive and she is confident in the way forward. Just recently in a meeting the current Minister, said that the organisation must become foot soldiers of the message of government. He said that if any issue comes to the table to be signed off, must make sure that the foot soldier in that district or municipality must be coherent to know the message, to also know what are the issues in that district. He wants everyone to be briefed together to ensure coherence.

One of the first engagements they have done with the Minister is to talk to members of the media, as they are an important stakeholder.

There is a communication policy in place, which holds every sphere of government accountable especially the communicator. The challenge is that most communicators are appointed and sign performance agreements with their respective DG. This forces them to be held accountable and when they deviate, the organisation will write to the Department that these are the norms and standards and these are the expectations. GCIS hopes that the departments will assist them in holding the communicators accountable to these standards. 

Something that has been a challenge is the procurement regime of government. It was not conducive to the media buy-in. Without the procurement regime to assist and to make it easier for departments to come to you, it becomes difficult. At the moment there is an engagement between the Minister and the Treasury to address this area. Equally, with the DPSA there is work being done to address the issue of compliance to empower with regard to community radio. Every procurement done per month, the Minster wants an account as to why the community radio was not used. If they did not use certain procurement percentage, they need to justify why not. It is the organisation duty to support community media. 

GCIS is committed to keeping to the prescribed targets. They will not overspend or underspend because they keep track of spending monthly, so they are not anticipating to overspending.

Mr Currin gave an update on Thusong. He highlighted that it is the programmes' twentieth birthday. There is not a one size fits all way of going about it. When there are Centres that do well, GCIS actually increase marketing. Some Centres that fall beneath required standards receive less marketing, and they are considering phasing them out. GCIS works closely with DPSA in order to manage these centres, the plan is to market the centres which are viable.

As the DG said they recently completed an induction for the new heads of communication on matters of ethics and ethos of how government communicates.

Ms Currim said that the DG covered most of the issues. Just on the issue of the appropriate language, the GCIS does constant research on products and platforms. They have a segmentation model which ensures that their products speak to the different segments that they are targeting. They tailor the language to the specific sector.

With regard to when the posts will be filled, he is happy to report that the Minister has lifted the moratorium on the filling of posts and GCIS has a turnaround of two months in filling posts.

Ms Lesoma is happy that the Department is giving the Committee the turnaround period. She then concurred with Ms Clarke that there should be a discussion on the Thusong centres.

She is also concerned that GCIS only markets those that are viable. There are a lot of issues around Thusong centres. She wants DPSA and GCIS to come and report on these centres.

Mr Malatsi wanted clarity on the issue regarding the deviation of communicators. He wanted to know whether Ms Williams meant that the current process is limited to writing to the Department and highlighting the misconduct and then leaving all the processes to that Department.

Ms Williams used an example to illustrate her point. One communicator breached the code of conduct and the social media code of conduct. The challenge is that the contract is signed with their DG. GCIS cannot institute disciplinary action. GCIS can only write to the Department and say here is the specific clause which they breached and that they request the DG to implement disciplinary action. In terms of labour relations, they cannot charge a person; it has to be done by the relevant department.

Ms Lesoma briefly stepped in for the Chairperson.

Briefing  by Brand South Africa

Ms Thulisile Manzini  Acting CEO of Brand SA stated that she will run through the first quarter presentation and Ms Mpumi Mabuza would cover Marketing, Mr Kgomotso Seripe the CFO and Dr Krishnee Kissoonduth who will answer questions regarding corporate services.

As the presentation was circulated she ran through it very quickly. In terms of the first-quarter performance, 92% was achieved and 8% was not achieved.

The targets which were not achieved were mainly within the finance area. It was due to Brand SA setting the target of getting a satisfactory internal control audit and in terms of actual performance this audit was not conducted and there was a misalignment of the audit plans and quarterly targets. There was also a 23% variance on budget, which will later be explained. Another contributing reason was the suspension of the CFO which contributed to the main issue which is the lack of capacity. There are many junior people in finance and most of them are on contract or are interns. Also, there was an old system in place, but the previous CFO and Board decided to change it to a new reporting system. However, all of this boils down to the issue of capacity.

There is the ‘play your part programme’ in which South Africans are encouraged to play their part. In terms of targets, there were nine and these were implemented.

There were two planned activations for constitutional awareness; this target was met with a successful Freedom Month Activation in Gauteng and a successful Africa Month Activation in Gauteng. Further, there was a target of utilising four platforms to promote constitutional platforms, these targets were met.

There was a target of publishing 25 planned positive communication content pieces, this target was met.

Going forward there will be engagement with the Minister to ensure better quarterly performance reporting as many of the target state not applicable as they are measured in terms of the annual target. Going forward there will be a specific quarterly target for every project.

For the first quarter, it was said that there would be two out of the twelve international platforms utilised to promote the nation brand and this target was exceeded, as three platforms were used. There was the Flag Bearer Campaign, the CEO's Know Campaign which targeted CEO's who have invested in SA to talk about their success and to encourage others to invest and there was the Promoting the nation brand on SA Rugby and Cricket online magazine.

Brand SA promised to have 15 ambassador engagements, which were met as these fifteen engagements were implemented.

The planned four coordinated activities were implemented in partnership with state institution stakeholders. These targets were all met in terms of the Africa Travel Indaba, the Road Safety Collaboration, the Basha Uhuru Freedom Festival and the Investment Promotion in collaboration with the Gauteng Industrial Development Zone. In terms of HR, the current vacancy rate is 14% and the reason for this is owing to the moratorium. With regard to gender and race, as a general Brand SA is 66% female and 33% male of which 91% are Black, 4% are White, 2% Coloured and 2% Indian. While in terms of SMS 80% are black and 20% are Indian while 60% female and 40% male

In terms of the budget versus expenditure to date for quarter one, for brand marketing, there is a 26% variance in terms of underspending and the reason for this is due to the delay in the conclusion of media partnerships and the digital tender as well as the cancellation of investor perception study. In terms of stakeholder relations, there is a 31% variance in terms of underspending and this is as a result of timing difference in project activation. The administration has a variance of 19% in terms of underspending, this is due to the vacancies and because the salary increases have not been concluded, because they are waiting for the new Board. Another reason is the outstanding audit.

Discussion

Mr Maneli raised the same point which was raised with the previous report in term of clarity on the number of SME's who benefit, especially in terms of engagement with different stakeholder.

In terms of the cancellation of the investor perception survey what will be the impact of this, especially with new leadership coming in.

He requested clarity in terms of a tender that was cancelled due to the supply chain matters and while request has been sent to National Treasury for approval of advertisement as stated in the report, the Committee is unable to determine what these issues were.

He wanted clarity with regard to deviations as it related to the audit. He noted that it was stated that there would be two audits in the second quarter. The question which remains, if it could not be done in the first quarter, what will be different in the second quarter, one does not want to get to the end of the financial year and then have no audit at all. He wanted clarity whether it was just a capacity issue or a planning issue.

He asked how is performance measured - it says there was a target of 25 while only 21 was completed but under variation, it just says not applicable so how is performance measured?

In terms of the digital platform, there was no specific location in how the number of measures will be measured. It was just indicated that in the next quarter there would be a split, but it was already missed in the first quarter. He wanted a justification to know which intervention is needed going forward.

Ms Lesoma appreciated the presentation and that she said that Mr Maneli raised a couple of points which she wanted to raise so she will not repeat them.

She requested that the Minister should lobby government, through the Treasury to align impact results and AG reports which currently was difficult for an oversight body.

She wanted to know how do ambassadors get identified and recruited.

In term of the workforce, she was happy when they break down demographics of the workforce, especially in terms of the female demographics and she requested that they be mindful of the demographics of the workforce when recruiting. 

She asked what could be done at Brand SA to improve the misalignment of audit plans and quarterly reports.

Ms Manzini said with regard to the issue of SME's they actively collaborate with local people and SME's and like all other departments have said they also ensure observance with 30-day payment. She gladly reported that all valid invoices are paid within 30 days or less.

It became apparent during the planning process that there would be problems with the investor perception survey specifically issues with the supply chain, so  the acting CEO decided to cancel the survey and re-advertised.

The issue Mr Maneli had with only 21 out of the 25 targets being met was just a technical error as the targets continue onto the next page and there it is clear that all the targets were met.

When Brand SA identifies someone as an ambassador they reach out to them and collaborated with them. These ambassadors do get vetted to ensure that they fit candidates. People also approach Brand SA telling them about ambassadors. There are ambassadors on various levels. It can be people in rural areas or high-level people. Brand SA will then put them in their platforms and hook them up with people in their databases. Brand SA actively monitors all the ambassadors to ensure that they do not do something which would hurt the SA brand. Also important to note these ambassadors are never paid, Brand SA just collaborates with them.

In terms of the demographics question, Dr Kissoonduth is aware of the demographics issue and Brand SA is happy to say Brand SA does not have a problem in this regard.

The filling of vacancies and turnaround time, the vacancies have been advertised and with a turnaround time of a month Brand SA will be able to fill these vacancies swiftly.

Ms Mabuza explained the difference between the investor perception survey and the IMD World Competitiveness Report Painting. Brand SA takes an eclectic approach to paint a picture of the perceptions of the country. The IMD is used for investors when they want to invest. While the investor perception studies allow brand to engage directly with investors in order to better understand a bit deeper what are the constraints.

On the targeting of the annual 5% - as each quarter  is different depending on the markets -  it is difficult to set a quarterly target. However, it might be possible to compare each quarter with a previous one.

Dr Kissoonduths stated that with regard to the emphasis on analysing female demographics, the next report to the Committee will emphasise female demographics specifically also the interventions to help develop females within the organisation. The information is already there it just needs to be put into the quarterly reports. The next report will also be reflecting on the work that is being done with regard to internships. 

Ms Nadine Thomas, the CFO of Brand SA, on the issue of the internal audit said that they identified that it was an issue of planning. Going forward the organisation will ensure that the issue will not happen again. The internal audit that will happen in the second quarter will happen from April.

The Chairperson welcomed the Deputy Minister to the meeting.

The Minister said that the Deputy Minister was held up in a Cabinet meeting, which the Minister was unable to attend.

The Minister clarified as to why they did not do well in terms of the internal audit. They did not have an internal person responsible for internal audit controls. Therefore, it was just a capacity problem. He said that going forward he hopes that these organisations write that there should be an internal auditor as an intervention into this problem.

The Minister said: ‘that an issue that we as a country should look at is the issue promoting the country, inviting people to visit and invest as should not be duplicating this area of work’. Members of Parliament are looking into addressing this problem to ensure that there are no structures in government that duplicated work. The Minister will come back and report on what the government perceives as duplicated work.

Briefing by the Media Development and Diversity Agency(MDDA)

Ms Zukiswa Potye said that her presentation will be brief and she then referred to Ms Phumla Williams Acting CEO who said that her mandate is derived from the Constitution to disseminate information to the people of South Africa for them to improve their lives. She said that the MDDA is the original baby of GCIS and it takes this purpose even further in saying ‘not only do we want to communicate with South African's, but we will do it in their language’. They specifically focus on diminished and previously disadvantaged languages. Part of the mandate is to encourage the development of human resources. They want to particularly focus on the initiatives which promote literacy and reading ability.

The MDDA implements its mandate through five programmes, the first being administration, through the presentation it will be noted that there were no quarter one targets under this branch.

As well as in branch two, grant and seed funding, there was no quarter one targets, as grant and seed funding is the core business of MDDA, but MDDA decided to change the method which is used to accept and receive applications for grant funding at the MDDA. They then developed the first grant funding policy. That policy was only approved in July that is why there were no targets for the first quarter as there was a backlog which needed to be addressed.

In terms of partnerships, with the third programme there was also no targets there. From the second quarter, they have started meeting different partners and stakeholders with the aim of trying to pool resources.

Programme four is capacity building and in sector development that is where the first quarter targets have been achieved. The vacancy rate is 30%. The reason they have gone out and have actively looked for partnerships is due to financial constraints, such as mainstream media and telecommunication companies such as MTN and Vodacom. It is important to look toward partnership as from government the MDDA only gets 31,7 million per annum. While there is a big historical debt going up to 180 million.

In terms of corporate governance, the MDDA is up to date as a lot of policies were updated in quarter four. There are a few which are still outstanding which need to go to the Board. There are three secondments in order to fill a few key positions. In senior management, there are five vacancies out of thirteen.

In terms of HR, the general approach is 43% female and 35% male even though the MDDA is lagging in terms of targets they are hoping to fill the vacancies in accordance with the demographics which is needed. In terms of race, 79% are African, 2.5% Coloured, 2.5% Indian and 2.5% White. In terms of the Board, the Minister has already talked about this.

Multichoice has pledged R40 million over the next three years. This year the MDDA is focusing predominantly on partnership and getting more partnerships.

In terms of sources of funding, the MDDA is firstly funded by the government which is at R31.7 million, and they are also largely financed by commercial broadcasters. The MDDA also does investments. Broadcasters have given R32.1 million and R8 million of that will be used, while most of that money will be used in the last quarter. Total income for the financial year is R69 million and they have already spent about R9,7 million, but they are lagging behind. This  will be caught up. In terms of the investment account, they have moved from Absa to the Reserve Bank to get more returns on their investment.

Going forward focus will be on partnerships as they are aware that the fiscus is constrained and it is unlikely to get more money from the state.

There is a disagreement with Competition Tribunal as they wanted the money they gave to be used towards bursaries, while the MDDA wants to use the money towards other expenses. They want to conclude the agreement with the Tribunal.

Discussion

Mr Malatsi wanted clarity around the integration around government advertising spending towards community media. Wants MDDA to expand on how this will happen to ensure compliance across the three spheres of government.

Ms Lesoma wanted to build on what Mr Malatsi said in asking whether there are mentoring tools in the organisations which are supported materially or otherwise in executing their core business.

She was concerned with the reserves while there was underspending in some areas, she wants to see a marriage between these two in order to ensure coherence.

She wanted to know why there is no appetite for new radio stations and what MDDA is doing in terms of marketing.

She was happy about the commitment to filling the vacancies and she is feeling confident that once these are filled and they have a fully functioning Board their operations will run more smoothly.

In terms of technology, she wanted to know if there are other ways of doing business, other electronic tools that can be used to improve business processes. It would be better to invest in technology now.

Ms Clarke wanted clarity on the financial environment especially the historical debt of R180 million.

She commented that she is surprised that they are able to function considering the staff structure and the vacant posts which translate into incapacity. She is happy that the Minister is addressing this as a matter of urgency. 

Ms Potye said that Mr Yaseen Asmal, the CFO, will help her answer questions. The enforcement of the 30% is a bit of a challenge currently; the MDDA is rather encouraging people rather as there is no policy and legislation that will enforce it. They are requesting people to assist them. They are also engaging with municipalities and GCIS to make good with the 30% that is set aside. Other community radio stations get locked out because they owe rent which results in the MDDA equipment getting confiscated, then they have to go to court to get it back. There is a need to pool resources in order to ease the burden on community media.

In terms of MNE (Multinational Enterprises) capacity and financially sounds suitability of the community media sector, they are focusing on sustainability as this is a major risk to the sector. This will be linked to the question regarding the 180 million debt, they have found themselves owing so much. There are so many expenses, when a radio is put in place there are major costs such as one million upfront payments. They can no longer take on new radio stations without upfront payments. Usually, these costs were spread over a period of time, but this is no longer possible. There is a lack of revenue generation especially in rural areas, as there simply was not enough to get from rural areas. That is why the MDDA is approaching partnerships such as MTN and Vodacom who can zero rate a URL or website. The MDDA is questioning how long must they work with a project for it to break even.

With the new application policy, it will improve appetite and marketing. 

Mr Asmal, the CFO, stated with regard to the question regarding the reserve funds, it is more about financial juggling. The money is being used towards projects.

Ms Leoma wanted clarity on Multichoice's expired contract and what will happen in the meantime.

Ms Potye said that when Multichoice gave R35 million at the end of last year it was the end of the three-year contract. The MDDA has already negotiated a new contract with them in which they have pledged R40 million. Now it is just about physically signing the contract. MDDA will be getting the money in the second quarter. There will be no gap.

The Minister clarified how the legal framework for funding for community radio is structured. There are contributions prescribed in law to all broadcasters to MDDA. That is why in their finances there is money coming from the broadcasters. The  MDDA a transformative tool can fund community radio and print. The money that comes from Multichoice and other broadcaster is meant to help MDDA to fulfil this objective of transforming and diversifying the media in the country.

Ms Potye said there was one question she omitted to answer and just wanted to state that in terms of the quality of the equipment, the equipment is the best. The last contract was R35 million, they are ensuring state of the art technology. They are installing equipment that is digital-ready.

Briefing by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME)

The Chairperson that before the last presentation is given he just wanted to make the meeting aware of serious time constraints.

Ms Mpumi Mpofu, DG, DPME stated that in terms of first-quarter overall performance is 92%, but she is confident that in quarter four this will be 96%, There is contestation how the figures are calculated. Primarily two areas in the administration branch where there was divergence. The first target that was not achieved was 94% SMS and 92% on MMS (Middle Management Service) level in terms of officials who did not submit financial disclosures. The vacancy rate was 10,5% in this quarter; two posts were filled from internal staff which left their positions vacant. The Department is aware that they need to fast track the filling of the vacancies.

She said she is not going to highlight the targets that are on track due to the time constraints, however, she thought it was important to confirm that the Department has received its seventh consecutive clean audit. Again it is important to note 100 % payment of valid invoices within 30 days.

Mr Kgomotso Maditla the secretary said that the DG has indicated that the Department is part of the department that supports the body of 25 independent commissioners who make up the National Planning Commission, who are employed on their expertise especially the National Development Plan. The current commission has been in place since 2015, various pieces of research and stakeholder engagement that they have been undertaking have become ripe for harvesting for dissemination into the public space. He hopes that the Committee can use these products. Just in the last two months, two products have come to fruition like the Water Security Framework, which is a comprehensive framework to secure water. The second project was worked done with the Statistician General, the country's voluntary report to the UN on Sustainable Development Goals. South Africa in 2015 signed onto the sustainable agenda to do a voluntary review on how far the country was in this regard.

Ms Mpofu stated that in terms of Programme 2 in this quarter the focus was on establishing the new administration and dealing with the internal planning. This quarter has had people largely doing this work. Emerging out of this exercise is better integration of government. Two weeks ago the President met with all the provinces and they produced a draft MTS and for the first time, all provinces are being aligned to one plan.

During the President's State of the Nation address he highlighted the need to look at a district implementation model and cooperating all that into one model.

Ms Lesoma said that the Department will be coming back with an Integrated Planning Bill, which was scheduled in the Fifth Parliament and will be concluded in the Sixth.

In Programme 4 the Department achieved all targets and Ms Mpofu wanted to share the two issues that came out of that. In this particular programme, they did their reports of the previous financial year in the quarter as soon as all the data had come in in order to reflect what people had done the previous year. The Department has analysed the issue of payment of service providers in more than 30 days. In the analysis of the information the following information was found, the biggest problem is the Department of Water and Sanitation and in terms of provinces, the problematic areas are Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. They wanted the facts around this issue to be clarified. The information that has come out particularly in the 2018/19 financial year, regarding the challenges with the Water Department has been addressed by combining with the Department of Human Settlements because challenges were piling up. At the provincial level, the key driver of non-payment of invoices is medical-legal claims because Health Departments ran out of budget early in the year. This is largely because of the excessive demand at the border provinces as people from outside SA were flooding into the facilities. They need to sort out and ensure that those who do not qualify should pay and they need to sort out their record system to ensure that they can deal with medical-legal claims. They have done some investigation and found collusion with health officials in the recorded areas and the legal fraternity. They put forward the Amendment of the State Liabilities Bill which will enable the state to manage its liabilities. The current practice where some just claim large lump sums is something of the past.

Good work  has been done on the presidential hotline. Previously this was used to complain about service delivery but there has been a shift to more personalised services.

In terms of employment equity, the vacancy rate is at 10.5%. In terms of race demographics, the African population is at 8.6% and the Coloured population is under by 5.7%. When this happens HR just issues an instruction to the panel and they are then encouraged to deal with the underrepresented populations.

In terms of who monitors what the Department does, there is an agreement with DPSA to provide clarity. DPSA is responsible for monitoring programmes one issues such as finance and HR.

There are two things to mention in terms of the budget. The National Youth Development budget has been transferred. In terms of compensation, they were under due to the vacancies. It looks like the Department is underspending, but actually, invoices have not been issued to the Department. With capital assets, there is over expenditure of 183%, but this is not necessarily a bad thing because IT equipment was delivered ahead of schedule, which is a good thing as it was budgeted for in the next quarter.

Discussion

The Chairperson suggested that the Department provide answers to the questions in writing as time has run out.

Ms Lesoma suggested that there is a status report on frontline services such as the Presidential Hotline, where in terms of turnaround time there is unblocking of any blockages that might be in other spheres of government.

She was happy that Ms Mpofu answered the question on the 30-day payment.

She asked who monitors the Departments when there are challenging cases which are HR related matters especially with regard to senior management. This question was also raised with DPSA.

Ms Clarke requested clarity on the monetary findings as to all the critical issues in the document, and how do they monitor how the Departments deal with these issues. Like the shortages with ambulances and police vehicles, she wants to know what is being done to fix these problems when these findings are published.

The Chairperson said the responses need to be sent to the Committee Secretary which will then be passed on to Members

He also said that item eight on the agenda, the adoption of minutes will be done next week

The meeting was adjourned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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