Special Appropriation Bill [B10-2019]: DA’s proposed amendments; Proposed oversight visit

Standing Committee on Appropriations

17 September 2019
Chairperson: Mr S Buthelezi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act

The Standing Committee on Appropriations met to discuss the DA’s proposal regarding the Special Appropriation Bill [B10-2019] for Eskom and the Committee’s forthcoming oversight visit proposed programme.

The Committee grappled with the issue of a non-party-political space such as Parliamentary Committees being used to bring forward political party proposals. Following legal advice and discussion, it was resolved that the DA members should be allowed to present the proposal but in future they should do so as members of the collective Committee, not along party lines.

The DA proposed five amendments to the Bill. The Committee found that many of the recommendations were similar to the nine-point turnaround plan previously presented by Eskom. The only differences were in the legally binding enforcements suggested by the DA caucus to be included in the body of the Bill. After seeking further legal advice, it was determined that there were potentially numerous unintended consequences of provisions made in this manner, and that while the sentiment for increasing concrete oversight enforcement powers was necessary, there were alternative avenues available.

The Committee also discussed the proposed programme for their upcoming oversight visit to Eskom and PRASA headquarters. They discussed how best to undertake engagement with the relevant stakeholders so as to ensure the schedule was not too full in a manner that restricted the actual effectiveness of the oversight visit. It was resolved that the Committee researchers and the Chairperson re-assess the programme and present a revised proposal to members the following day.

Meeting report

Opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed everyone and noted the apologies.

The Chairperson said the agenda for the meeting would be the deliberations on the Special Appropriation Bill. There was an incomplete draft. The Committee had not yet completed its work. Before the Committee got into the draft, there were proposed amendments to the bill that had been presented by the Minister of Finance, Mr Tito Mboweni.

Mr Z Mlenzana (ANC) asked for guidance before the Committee got into the agenda items. What was it that the Committee was dealing with? The situation needed to be avoided where the Committee got into a trap of infighting. A Committee colleague had been sitting with the rest of members and dealing with various matters of appropriation. Why was there a situation where a particular political party was now wanting to pull out of the collective? The DA was wanting to raise particular issues within the Committee. Having read the document that the DA planned to present to the Committee, he had found there was not much new within it that had not already been discussed within the Committee by the collective.

Mr O Mathafa (ANC) said he had been thinking along the same lines as Mr Mlenzana. How should the Committee categorise the submission made by the DA? Was it part of public consultation or participation where they would have needed to request a hearing with the Committee and then deliver the presentation at the meeting and then excuse themselves from the meeting so that the Committee could deliberate? In terms of the collective Committee, commitments had been made by the Minister of Finance to the Committee in terms of similar proposals to those now made by the DA. Was this not a quest by the DA to claim easy victories?

Mr A Sarupen (DA) said that the rules of Parliament allowed any member of Parliament to move any motion forward in Committees.

Ms E Peters (ANC) echoed Mr Mlenzana’s point. The DA was outside and inside the Committee at the same time. She would have thought that the DA’s submission should be made by someone external to the Committee. In reading the presentation, it seemed to closely mirror the minutes of previous Committee meetings and deliberations. Submissions could be made in the Committee deliberations instead.

Ms M Dikgale (ANC) asked for clarity that the DA members wanted to present, and would they then leave the room while the Committee voted?

Mr D Joseph (DA) said that if what the DA had put on paper was in line with the Committee’s general consensus then there was nothing wrong with making part of the Committee report.

Mr Mlenzana had no problem with the content of the submission. The issue was with the manner of the submission of the Committee members as a political party. He did not understand. The ANC had its own researchers to assist its members as well, but it did not mean that they brought forward presentations as political party positions. The members were supposed to be working together as a Committee; meetings were not meant to be party political, even if Committee members were briefed by their respective party researchers outside of meetings.

Mr Joseph said that members needed to understand that they were there as Committee members but had been sent by their respective parties. Their caucus had given them instructions. The DA members of the Committee  were carrying out a mandate. The members were on par with the content to engage with Eskom. The letter was a mandate from the party that was being submitted.

Mr X Qayiso (ANC) said the DA submission was intentional to cause discombobulation in the Committee. The Committee should not fall into the trap. It should not be entertained. The  Committee should rather go into deliberations.

The Chairperson said Mr Sarupen would be the last to speak before he made a ruling on the matter.

Mr Sarupen said that the standing rules of Parliament made provisions for amendments to be tabled to bills. The Committee that the bill was referred to needed to deliberate on the bill. This was not a public participation process. It was not unusual for bills to be amended in Parliament. The Committee had a Committee Secretary and the entire legal division if the Members were unhappy with the motion.  

The Committee Secretary replied that Mr Sarupen was correct and that any member could table an amendment that the Committee could vote on. The Committee was not in the voting (formal) stage yet, it was the deliberation stage. Here, any member could raise issues. Once the Committee had agreed, it would move on to the formal voting stage. The Committee would determine whether it was amending the bill, whether it was voting on the bill, or whether it would adopt the final report with the recommendations. At the informal stage for deliberation on the bill, any member could raise any issue. Once the Committee moved on to the formal voting stage, the process would move to that of members proposing amendments and, if necessary, vote on the amendments.
 
Mr Sarupen proposed that a way forward could be to consider the matter at the formal stage. He was happy to get someone else from the DA to come and present at the formal stage.
 
The Chairperson said he had heard the issues raised. The matters could have been raised as proposals without party affiliation. That notwithstanding, he allowed Mr Sarupen to present. He would seek clarification on the issue for future instances but did not want to suffocate the meeting by not allowing the presentation.
 
Mr Mlenzana wanted to give due respect to the Chairperson and formally withdrew the motion that the DA not present. He wanted it on record that it had been noted that parties were picking on the collective wisdom of the Committee and raising party flags upon it. It was the Committee’s own intellectual property.
 
The Chairperson noted the technicality of having a member who had listened to Committee  deliberations but was then able to be making a presentation. This needed to be clarified. He wanted Mr Sarupen to proceed.
 
DA Proposed Amendments to the Special Appropriation Bill [B10-2019]
 
Mr Sarupen said that the Bill itself was very short (in length) for a large amount of money – R59 billion. The Committee had repeatedly pointed out that accountability mechanisms in the Bill were lacking.
 
The first proposed amendment was that it be made a requirement by law that any conditions imposed by the Minister of Finance on Eskom be disclosed to Parliament within three months of making any conditions. This would strengthen oversight by notifying Parliament formally of changes.
 
The second proposed amendment was that Parliament itself impose conditions on the appropriation. It was suggested that the amount transferred to Eskom be conditional on the Committee reviewing all of its procurements and reporting of any irregular poor value for money contract to the Minister of Finance. What was done with this information was up to the executive.
 
The third proposal was that within 12 months of the promulgation of the Act, Eskom needed to finalise the separation of its business units into distribution, transmission, and generation. This was a formalisation of statements announced in the oversight meeting in order to prevent Eskom from dragging their heels.
 
The fourth proposal was that the white paper on the future of Eskom  drafted by the executive needed to be produced within three months of its promulgation. The Committee had been told by the executive that it was due in September 2019, it had not yet been produced. If Eskom was to be given R59 billion, the executive should produce a white paper addressing where Eskom was going; and what the end state was.
 
The fifth proposal was that there should be no bonuses paid to executives at Eskom.
 
Discussion
 
The Chairperson thanked Mr Sarupen and opened for discussion.
 
Mr Sarupen said he was happy to recuse himself during deliberations.
 
The Chairperson said it was not necessary.
 
Mr Mlenzana said that there was no need for Mr Sarupen to leave.
 
Mr Mathafa said that there was nothing new in the presentation. Out of all the DA recommendations put forward, what was new? Points two, three, four, and five were no different to previous submissions that the Committee had heard. How were these different from the Eskom nine-point plan made in previous presentations? What was being asked had already been received in terms of finding a way forward to assist Eskom. He felt that the nine-point plan covered the submissions made by the DA. The possible change he could identify in the presentation was that time frames had been incorporated into the recommendations. At the same time, recently there had been the appointment of a Chief Restructuring Officer (CRO) and advisors. Eskom had gone to the market looking for advice on its turnaround and these appointments would determine what, when and who. The Committee needed to avoid encroachment on this process. He was unconvinced that the conditions in the presentation should find expression as they were.
 
The Chairperson said that the only thing that had not been deliberated on by the Committee was whether the conditions were to be incorporated into the Act or not. This was the main difference.
 
Ms Peters said that the Chairperson had pre-empted her contribution. The DA submission was pre-empting the Committee report that needed to be engaged upon. When the Committee reached the stage of dealing with the Bill clause by clause, these issues would be dealt with and further amplified.
 
Eskom must give the Committee a plan (as the Chairperson had said). The first meeting of the Committee  with the Director General (DG) of National Treasury had mentioned the need to tighten conditions that the Minister imposed upon Eskom.
 
Regarding point one of the presentation; this was what was expected to happen in the Committee. Quarterly reports were presented to different Committees who would engage on them. The Committee would get the quarterly reports and engage with them. The Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises had the responsibility to engage with quarterly reports.
 
One of the conditions that had emerged from previous engagements was the capacity for the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) to play an oversight role. This was why the DPE and the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises had the responsibility to engage with the quarterly reports.
 
The CRO and advisory services had been appointed. Mr Sarupen had spoken about the white paper supposed to have been tabled in September 2019, his colleague, Ms Mazzone, should be able to raise the matter in the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises. This was where the matter of the white paper should be raised.
 
The Chairperson of Eskom had appeared before the Committee and had indicated, as supported by the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, that President Ramaphosa would be making a pronouncement. The Committee needed to allow space and time for this to happen.
 
While it was correct, as the Chairperson had said, that Committee members could raise amendments, amendments were done in the Committee as Committee members, not party officials. She believed that because this practice had been entertained in the past appropriation meeting, it had now created an environment where the DA felt they could act in this way on a regular occurrence.
 
Mr Mlenzana echoed the Chairperson in terms of what one would call conditions under normal circumstances. Under normal circumstances, conditions/directives for a bill processed towards implementation of the act, were usually encapsulated as part of regulations. He wondered if the Committee  could get legal advice as to the authority of regulations and whether they held water. Depending on the answer, the Committee would have to speak more on whether or not to make conditions binding.

The management Committee needed to act with other sister committees on their roles to be played. The Committee on Appropriations needed it to be understood that the members had taken a stance not to simply dish out money and subsequently turn their backs away from the matter involving the appropriation. The Committee needed to check whether this was an appropriation only matter.

Mr Joseph said that a 2015 report from the Standing Committee on Appropriations had approved special appropriations of R23 billion to Eskom. The Committee needed to track this money, as Eskom had regressed. Had the recommendations been implemented and what had the various relevant committees done about it? This needed to guide how to act in the sixth Parliament. It was not the first-time discussing the turnaround strategy for Eskom. The Committee needed to find what conditions needed to be set so as not to fall into the same trap as the previous Parliament of talking a lot of shop but ultimately deviating from their mandate of oversight as evidenced by the regression at Eskom.
 
The Chairperson said he had not heard the members speak about bullets three and six of the presentation.
 
Mr Mathafa said that he had categorised two, three, four, and six as part of the collective that had been interacted with previously. They were all reflected in nine-point plan except for point six. Point six in the presentation reflected the Chairperson of Eskom’s commitment to not paying bonuses at Eskom. Point three, on the issue of contracts and procurement, had also been touched on in the previous presentation’s nine-point plan. Another point had been raised by Ms Peters that the reporting cycle was quarterly. The Committee had touched on the matters raised in the DA presentation. All the Parliamentary Committees that were involved in Eskom matters needed to be coordinated and speak with the same voice. There was nothing new from the DA presentation, it was an enhancement to the discussions and deliberations of the Committee but was nothing new. The Committee needed to know whether conditions or amendments were required to be enacted or not.
 
Mr Mlenzana said he had been unwell during the aforementioned joint meeting (the previous week) with the Minister of the Department of Public Enterprises, Mr Pravin Gordhan. Minister Gordhan’s summary of the presentation had made several points clear to him:
The Eskom issue had now been elevated to the office of the Presidency. The President had undertaken to see to it that there was a plan. This was now being seriously considered. It was no longer a question of talking shop without implementation due to this high-level elevation.
 
President Ramaphosa had been speaking to trade unions in Durban at the weekend; and had reiterated that the issue of Eskom had been lifted to national priority.
 
Mr Mlenzana believed in one apex from a lay economics point of view, meaning that the Committee should avoid being seen as opportunistic and pre-empting the President. The President would have ensured a white paper’s formulation.
 
Mr Sarupen thanked the members for seriously thinking about content of the proposed amendments. The most important point was whether the Committee wanted the conditions to be in main body of the Bill or not. This was where the DA’s concerns arose  and what form this took. Something needed to be in the main body of the Bill to enhance accountability.
 
In the discussion, the members had made a point on regulations. The Bill used the terminology “conditions” which were non-subordinate legislation. If “conditions” were changed to “regulations”; legal force would be given to the Bill. At the formal stage of the Bill this would be discussed. An important point surrounding regulations had emerged from the discussion.
 
The Chairperson said one of the important things was to note the point on conditions and subordinate legislation. He would have liked the Committee to think of conditions that they would have liked to include in the Bill and imposed on Eskom.
 
Eskom had reported full compliance to the 2015 report. The target date on outstanding matters had been set for March 2020. The most pressing issue for him from this was the question of how stringent had compliance with these conditions been? All the members wanted to ensure money appropriated did what it was supposed to do. Before signing off on Eskom, the Committee would like to see the Minister’s proposed conditions to give them a better grip into what was happening.
 
On the matter of the separation of Eskom into its three operating components, he wondered how this was part of the wider plan. The concern was with mergers and acquisitions. People usually got into mergers and acquisitions to save money through efficiency. Where were the efficiencies coming from in the separation? How was Eskom going to save money through this?
 
The CRO had been recently appointed. The Committee did not know the conditions of appointment. The CRO could potentially achieve some milestones and be eligible for bonuses based on deliverables. If the Committee legislated now against provision of bonuses under any circumstances, it may create further problems. For example, if Eskom ran a deficit of R20 billion and there was a 50% reduction, the CRO could be justified for a bonus. He understood that the point of including an anti-bonus clause was to say that people who had messed up Eskom should not be paid bonuses. However, if it was legislated in this manner, it ran the risk of unintended consequences. The final report was being compiled and would be voted on shortly. He understood the irritation of members saying it had already been discussed. The Committee  wanted to play a role of oversight here as they would be the ones responsible for appropriating the funds. He had given members homework to examine other conditions to potentially strengthen oversight in the Eskom matter.
 
The Chairperson said he had just been informed of the Senior Parliamentary Legal Advisor’s entrance to the meeting. Since the advocate was present, he opened for the members’ legal questions to avoid the accusation of fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Were there any questions or clarifications as far as the Act was concerned?
 
Mr Joseph asked that, given previous experiences of the Committee, what would the time frame of the amendment process be?

Were there any amendments from the Committee out of the Committee conditions wanting to be set on appropriations. Was it the same process as before where all other stakeholders would be required to provide inputs to the Committee?
 
Mr Mlenzana asked about the conditions which were approved by the Committee for consideration into the Bill. The Committee was struggling with the matter of whether the conditions could be enacted or if they needed to be changed to regulations. He wondered how these were weighted in terms of enacting them for realisation and implementation?
 
The Chairperson asked about Section 10(10) of the Money Bills Act. Had the DA’s presentation that it had just provided been compliant with this provision?
 
Advocate Frank Jenkins, Senior Parliamentary Legal Advisor,  Constitutional and Legal Services Office, said he had been assisting another Portfolio Committee with money bills issues which was the reason for arriving late.
 
On the question whether it was the same process, it related to the Chairperson’s question as well. The process was slightly different and was not as programmed or regulated. Section 10 regulated the Appropriation Bill and all the details around it, such as how it was passed. When looking at the Special Appropriations Bill, he directed the members to Section 13; the passing of other money bills. This applied to any money bill other than those included in Sections 10, 11 and 12. The condition in the Special Appropriations Bill was a slightly different process because at the time of writing of the act, it did not envisage what other money acts there would be. It was more flexible, where, with public hearings, if there was a need to make an amendment, the Minister had 14 days to consult.
 
He had been to the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation prior to coming to the Committee meeting. Committee amendments should be accompanied by consultation with other Committees.
 
In terms of the question of where to place the conditions of the appropriation. It was a bit of a catch 22 situation. If one placed conditions in legislation, there were potential unintended consequences. On the example of no bonuses, bonuses paid according to contractual obligations would be deemed illegal despite being the fulfilment of a legally binding responsibility.

The question depended on who was making recommendations. If the Committee was making the recommendation and felt very strongly that it could not be fixed any other way, then it would be placed in legislation. Otherwise, for the benefit of flexibility; it would be placed in the report of the Committee. The Minister was required to respond to the report. An amendment finding its way into an act would stand as law, whereas report recommendations were not binding but needed to be responded to by the Minister of Finance.
 
The Minister of Finance could be using the office’s own powers to make conditions for the appropriation; these often linked in some way to Treasury and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) instructions, and how Treasury oversaw accounting officers of departments. There had been several court cases in this regard debating the status of subordinate legislation.
 
Mr Sarupen said the Special Appropriation Bill did not say how it was consistent with the fiscal framework. The Committee had not received any understanding of how it would be consistent with the fiscal framework. All that Treasury had said was that “it would be done responsibly”. This did not provide adequate assurance through concrete explanations and was a flaw in the Bill.
 
Adv Jenkins responded that this point alluded to the Chairperson’s question regarding compliance with Section 10(10) of the Appropriation Bill. When looking at Section 13 of the Special Appropriation Bill, the amendment needed to comply with Section 8(5) which was the principles of fiscal discipline. Section 10(10) dealt with the report of the Committee on amendments and it was not specific in the Act that it was required to comply with those. If there was an amendment on the Special Appropriation Bill, then questions could be extended in the same manner, but it was not a requirement by law that the report was required to comply.
 
The issue of compliance with the fiscal framework was a legal issue. When Parliament made amendments to the Appropriations Bill, it needed to show consistency with the fiscal framework. This did not apply to the executive, who could act autonomously. The process was inverse in Kenya. However, in South Africa, Treasury was not bound by it. The questions could be raised by the Parliamentary Committee, however. This might be seen as a revenue issue that could be directed to the Standing Committee on Finance, but seeing as revenue was required to appropriate, it was also the prerogative of the Standing Committee on Appropriations.
 
The Chairperson said the matter had to do with fiduciary responsibilities. The Committee  could make an appropriation of R500 billion theoretically. What should it take? Treasury should furnish the Committee with their thoughts on these matters and take the Committee into their confidence of where the money was going to come from. He would write to Treasury to inform them of this. The Committee was legally wiser after Advocate Jenkins’ interventions.
 
The Chairperson asked whether members could sleep on which conditions to include in the final report. They knew that stringent conditions were needed.
 
Draft Report
 
The Chairperson said the Draft Report was a summary of what had been done. The Committee was only adopting the report after the recess break. He said it was 99% complete and reflected the engagement of the Committee. A conspicuous absence from the report were the recommendations. These would be dealt with after the Committee  discussion that would take place the following day.
 
Mr Sarupen said that the Alternative Information Development Centre (AIDC) was a naming issue as AIDC was a registered acronym of the Automotive Industry Development Centre. In terms of the Companies Act, they could not be registered as a non-profit organisation under the same acronym. He was unsure why that acronym was being used for a state-owned company.
 
The Chairperson asked whether Mr Sarupen agreed that the matter did not belong to the Committee as their concerns were elsewhere.
 
Proposed oversight visit by the Standing Committee on Appropriations
 
The Chairperson had requested the Standing Committee on Appropriations’ researcher, Mr Musa Zamisa, to form a document overviewing the proposed oversight visit and invited him to present it.
 
Overview
 
Mr Zamisa said that the Committee researchers had formed a proposal on where the Committee could potentially go to conduct oversight work following the constituency period. He said the entities that required urgent attention were Eskom and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA). This was due to their strategic roles and contributions to the economy, job creation and infrastructure development. Besides the R59 billion currently requested by Eskom, there was the consideration of the previous 2015 appropriation to it. There had also been a subordinated loan of Eskom’s taken over by government, converting the loan into an equity.
 
As with Eskom, PRASA had a specific and significant role in terms of job creation and infrastructure development. It would contribute significantly to achieving the goal of around five percent growth in South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP). During Committee engagements with Treasury on the performance of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), it had emerged that low capital investment was a problem at PRASA, which was not spending on capital infrastructure projects. A Treasury report had shown that PRASA had a shortfall and was spending less than R9 billion on infrastructure. This issue had been around since the fourth Parliament. PRASA’s outstanding money had been given to the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL). The main reason PRASA did not spend was due to supply chain management issues, according to Treasury.
 
The results of the Treasury report indicated that there were challenges beyond supply chain management; requiring further action, as previous discussions and interventions had not succeeded. Treasury had pleaded with the Committee to try and resolve the matter, and this was the main reason for deciding to conduct an oversight visit to PRASA.
 
Proposed Eskom Oversight Visit
 
Mr Sifiso Mkakula, Content Advisor for the Standing Committee on Appropriations, presented the draft oversight programme. The proposed programme began on Monday 14 October 2019 with the members travelling to Gauteng. There would be an evening meeting with Treasury and the Auditor General (AG) to discuss the key financial challenges and risk areas in the organisations. The members would be empowered with knowledge and questions provided by the auditors and Treasury side.
 
The second day was Tuesday 15 October 2019. Mr Mkakula was yet to confirm where the members were staying due to the travel arrangements. Members would first travel to the Eskom offices and meet with the board of Eskom. Thereafter, the Committee would engage with different units of the organisation and their respective heads.
 
The Committee  would meet the internal auditors, the heads of the Risk and Compliance Departments. For the past five financial years, there had been issues with Eskom’s Internal Audit Committee not performing its duties satisfactorily. Eskom was embroiled in several court cases and investigations, and members needed to engage with these issues about stolen or “vanished” money.
 
The Chairperson said the Internal Audit Committee had been accused of allegations of impropriety.
 
Mr Mkakula said the oversight visit was for the purpose of getting an understanding on those allegations and how far the Committee needed to be going to deal with the issues. All supply chain matters findings by the AG relating to irregular expenditure emanated from the Procurement Division of Eskom. The Committee needed to engage with leadership to see if anything was being done about this and meeting the Presidential imperatives.
 
The third day was Wednesday 16 October 2019. Following the impending restructuring processes of unbundling at Eskom, the members would have an engagement with labour representatives and unions to get their opinions on the matter. It was also proposed to meet with the CRO on day two. The members would then be meeting with the different heads of Generation, Transmission, and Distribution to get their views on how the matter would unfold and give their positions to the Committee. The trip would close with a meeting with the Eskom board. Once meeting with all the different units involved at Eskom, it would empower the Committee to go back to the Board for a final oversight meeting to extract more information.
 
Day four was Thursday 17 October 2019 and would begin the PRASA oversight.
 
Discussion
 
The Chairperson suggested having a discussion about Eskom matters prior to dealing with the PRASA proposal.
 
He suggested meeting with the trade unions after meeting the board of Eskom. The Committee  would then be armed with the board perspective of what was happening.
 
Mr Mlenzana was also concerned about the engagement with labour. He had two concerns; he echoed the Chairperson in terms of engagement with labour, and voiced concern about time arrangements and constraints. The allocated limits were insufficient based on his experience of engaging with stakeholders. One-hour allocation was insufficient.
 
Mr Sarupen noted that the meeting with the Board of Directors was on Tuesday and Wednesday. Would it not make more sense to see them once despite the logic behind meeting them twice given in the presentation? This would free up the extra hour for labour engagement.
 
Mr Qayiso wanted to check about the groundwork the Committee  would do and Risk Management meeting on the programme. In terms of the units that would be met during the oversight visit programme, it seemed that Risk Management was being marginalised once again. When the Committee did oversight and wanted particular ground level information away from the CRO and CEO etc., the information was never there. Maybe engaging with Risk Management was needed to try and solve this.
 
Ms Peters said the programme did not necessarily need to include the role of the shareholder department at this point in the Committee’s oversight trajectory due to time constraints and congestion that were emerging from the draft programme. It would be like the Committee members were tourists by moving so quickly.
 
For example, looking at the Tuesday programme involving meetings with the Board of Directors, the Internal Audit Programme and Risk and Compliance, it was not sufficient to have proper engagement. These were the units that required engagement by the Committee. Often the Committee did not receive enough information from other role players. This was the opportunity and it needed to be made certain that it was possible for members to do so.
 
The members needed to be realistic. It would be the Committee’s first engagement with Eskom. A massive matter was before the Committee, as well as the Special Appropriations Bill. The concern was about time allocations. She did not have the answer but believed there was need for sizable output from this oversight visit that required less time constraints from seeing more and more people with additional inputs. For example, the meeting with the labour representatives, would they all be combined? What would the dynamics be then?
 
In terms of engagement with the CRO, having just been appointed to the position, did it make sense to do so while the CRO was still adapting to the environment at this particular moment? How much would the Committee be able to learn from the engagement? She suggested that a more important engagement was with the Heads of Departments; and Generation in particular. This was where the issue was.
 
Mr Joseph supported the previous sentiments of members about the constraints of hourly slots and productivity. With 10 members and a 15-minute presentation with follow-up questions, it was not feasible. It was only the Committee’s first oversight trip; they needed prioritise which stakeholders they were meeting and go back at a later stage.
 
Regarding Tuesday and engagement with the Audit Committee, the members could cut out the Audit Committee and form a two-hour slot with the Internal Audit and Risk divisions.
 
Did the Committee need to see Human Resources (HR)? This would allow for two hours with the Procurement Officer and at the next opportunity the Committee could meet with the HR Executive.
 
Regarding the Wednesday meeting, the Committee should see the CRO first to understand the mandate. An hour was fine to see the CRO. Two hours needed to be allocated to the unions.
 
Mr Qayiso suggested that two representatives from each of the five unions should be sent for engagement to manage the volume.  
 
The Chairperson said that the programme was ambitious. The Committee had identified important people to meet with for oversight. He had heard the members; and would re-work the programme with the support staff and present  a revised proposal the following day. One-hour time slots were not working; there was nothing to stop the Committee from returning to Eskom in two months to consult other stakeholders left out in the immediate visit. The Committee could not be meeting with unions for only one hour. All were important role players, but just like in Animal Farm, some were more important than others at this stage.
 
Mr Sarupen had a concern about accommodation. He lived in Gauteng and would stay at home; however, the Committee would stay in Sandton. He suggested that on Thursday night the Committee members stayed in Tshwane because taking the Midrand highway to PRASA would face serious traffic congestion.
 
Ms Peters said the Committee could take the Gautrain.
 
Ms Dikgale asked if members would be provided with escorts for the oversight visit.
 
The Chairperson he would factor in the inputs. There was nothing as painful as packing and unpacking. He would see how it could be dealt with. Traffic driving towards Pretoria from Johannesburg was not as bad as going in the other direction in his experience.
 
Ms Dikgale said that the dinner and meeting with Treasury could potentially be shifted earlier in the day.
 
The Chairperson said it would be factored in. The concerns raised with regard to Eskom applied to PRASA.
 
Proposed PRASA Oversight Visit
 
Mr Mkakula said that the visit depended on where members chose to stay, and the starting time of the meetings would be factored in. There was a meeting at 10:00 with the PRASA Board until lunchtime. Thereafter, there was a meeting with the Audit Committee and Internal Audit Committee.
 
Friday was the same time engagement with the Head of Procurement at PRASA. Looking at the PRASA Annual Report, there were issues around irregular expenditure. Court cases had been opened by the Board against employees and companies. Legal issues and cases meant that the Committee needed to engage with the Board, Risk and Compliance, as well as the Head of Legal to discuss these issues of the open cases.
 
On Friday, the programme ended at 15:30 so that the Committee could travel and catch flights. The current programme began on Monday, the Committee could travel on Sunday to expand the programme if they desired.
 
The Chairperson said Mr Mkakula was making a Herculean assumption. The members had constituency meetings on Mondays.
 
He stressed the importance of role players and stakeholders they had identified. He would take the same approach to the Eskom visit in terms of revisions.
 
Ms Peters proposed that the Committee release the Chairperson to structure the programme in a convenient way so that the Committee could gain maximum output.
 
On accommodation; when Parliament made bookings, there were usually specially considered hotel rates. She therefore did not see a problem with staying in one place throughout the visit. The estimated commute time was too much.
 
Mr Mlenzana said he had a generic statement for both the Eskom and PRASA visits. He had experience from where he came from. If there was a situation where there was a move beyond the Board Room for the Committee members, it would be desirable. The Committee could be told about all the golden clusters when in board rooms, but when actually observing the conditions on the ground, it was completely different.
 
The Chairperson started with the last point. He had looked into that. Kusile Power Plant was way out of Gauteng. This made a strong case for a second leg visit because the current trip was becoming too difficult otherwise to fit everything in. Kusile was one of the golden tales that Mr Mlenzana had mentioned the Committee would be told about in the board room. Let the Committee move from theory to practice, first overseeing from a high level, before moving in to examine in more detail.
 
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA), annual financial statements, and Treasury needed to be interacted with.
 
Ms Peters said the previous work undertaken by the Standing Committee on Appropriations was important.
 
The Chairperson said their legacy report as it related to the institutions needed to be examined and made available to the members.
 
He had had a brief discussion with the Chairperson of SCOPA. Two weeks ago, SCOPA had been at Eskom. The Committee needed to work on what SCOPA had done and uncovered. He would make SCOPA’s draft report available to the members. He proposed that two SCOPA members join the Committee on the oversight visit to provide guidance and inputs. He did not see a problem with that.
 
He wanted to hear members’ opinions about being accompanied by SCOPA. How should the two work together without making the oversight visit more laborious? Should the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises be included as well? Oversight visits were ideally a core thing, as sometimes it limited members' interactions when accompanied by too many stakeholders, making them unable to exercise Committee specific responsibilities. For example, the Energy Portfolio Committee was concerned with the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). What was the happy medium because it was the members’ first interaction?
 
Ms Peters did not understand.
 
The Chairperson said he was asking the members when to do joint oversight responsibilities with other Committees. In mitigation of the Committee going alone was that it became too many in the delegation, making them unable to pick up Committee-specific issues.
 
Mr Joseph said the Committee needed to work with other Committees. The Committee was at the initial stage of high-level engagement. He proposed that when meeting with CRO and Board of Directors on the Wednesday, the Committee invited the chairpersons of those relevant Committees to understand the mandate of the CRO at Eskom, thereby informing the Chairpersons of the oversight trip. Going forward, joint oversight visits could be more integrated.
 
Ms Peters said the Committee  should trust the Chairperson and his team to determine as and when the Committee needed to be in a joint sitting arrangement or oversight visit. On 10 September the Committee had had a joint meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises. Sometimes joint meetings became cumbersome. There were different areas of focus. The confusion was evident by the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises having been forgotten in the minutes of the meeting. The Committee  should allow the Chairperson and the Management Committee to determine when there was the need for joint meetings.
 
The Chairperson thanked the members and took the mandate.
 
The following day the Committee would consider the draft report to add the deliberations from the meeting.
 
The Committee  would also present a new programme for the oversight visit.
 
He proposed that the Committee deal with the minutes the following day as well so that members had a chance to go over them before the time.
 
The Chairperson said Mr Magaxa had been forgotten in the minutes.
 
Ms Groenewald said that Mr Magaxa had been included in the attendance but had not spoken during the meeting, meaning he was not mentioned further in the minutes.
 
Ms Peters said the Chairperson needed to be mentioned by name.
 
The Chairperson said the three Chairs of the meeting should be reflected by name. He had introduced Mr Magaxa.
 
The meeting was adjourned.

 

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