The Committee received briefings from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Human Sciences Research Council (CSIR), Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and National Research Foundation (NRF) on their 2018/19 Annual Reports.
The CSIR informed Members that it experienced challenges in attracting and retaining high-end skills. In addition, the challenging economic conditions also made it difficult for the Council to effectively achieve its mandate. Challenges such as government policy on contracting with state-owned entities limited uptake of CSIR’s technologies by government. In the last financial year, R382 million of government opportunities were lost due to tender processes. There was a decline in national R&D investment; cuts in Parliamentary grants and the negative business impact of wage freeze far outweigh minimal potential savings. That said, the CSIR had a solid governance structure, strong science, engineering and technology base and innovation capability to continue moving forward. Its total income for the year was R2.5 billion with only just R5.24 million attributed to royal and licensing income. In 2018/19, the CSIR made a net profit of R7.7 million. This was attributed to the implementation of extensive cost containment measures and improvements in internal processes. There was a zero percent growth in total income but net profit increased compared to the net loss of R14 million in the prior year. Targeted restructuring and cost cutting measures in operations were implemented.
Members asked about transformation figures, statistics on youth representation and people with disabilities in the work place, tender losses, the entity’s impact on industries, the youth funded bursary versus the CSIR managed and funded bursary, the distribution of funds between historically disadvantaged universities and the ‘white’ universities and why certain targets were not met. They asked the entity to consider presenting material in indigenous languages and urged the entity to track the beneficiaries so that the overall impact could be measured.
The NRF reported that it had received an unqualified audit opinion with findings relating to fruitless and wasteful expenditure as well as irregular expenditure relating to non-compliance to SCM processes. The entity reported that it had funded 4 708 researchers in the year under review. The entity struggled to achieve its target for black researchers due to a decline in applications and funding. There was a R2.32 billion investment in knowledge areas which was distributed across various disciplines. Some of the research that took place in health included TB Screening Kit developed for TB research which enabled faster and cheaper diagnosis. In addition, Strong Materials has developed a diamond sensor for radiography measurement for mammography, thereby increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of such testing for women. In terms of financial overview, total income decreased in nominal terms by 13% equating to a decline of 8.6% in real terms. PG decreased marginally in nominal terms by 2.3% as a result of NZG transferred to SANBI (effective 01 April 2018). DST Contract funding increased by 9% from the additional funding for NEP. Other contract income decreased significantly by 62% in nominal terms. Other income decreased as a result of the exclusion of the NZG by 17%.
Members asked about transformation figures, statistics on youth representation and people with disabilities in the work place, the budget, the register of beneficiaries, irregular expenditure and the researcher subsidy. Members stated that would have liked to see more details on the financial information and the targets set versus the targets met and not met. researcher subsidy
The TIA presented its Annual Report but Members were not happy with the delegation for omitting details pertaining to the departure of the former CEO, Mr Barlow Manalil. Members argued that the former CEO left during the year under review and it was perplexing that no acknowledgement of Mr Manilal was made. The Report was therefore misleading because it painted an incorrect picture regarding the departure of Mr Manilal. Members were aware that his departure was not due to the anticipation of the end of his contract but he was fired by the Board. The matter was not secretive - Members did not understand why it was treated as though it was secretive.
Members suggested that the Report be rejected and felt that the information presented to the Committee was fraudulent. The Board should be charged for presenting such fraudulent information to Parliament. The EFF made it clear that it would write to the Speaker regarding this matter and possibly consider charging anyone that was complicit in entertaining such a fraudulent Report.
The Committee took a resolution to reject the Annual Report for now because it was misleading because material and fundamental information was omitted. The Committee would invite TIA to come back to brief Members again with a full detailed report including details pertaining to the departure of Mr Manilal. In addition, the Report referred to a number of appendices that were not included in the package that was given to Members. Those appendices were also requested and required.
The HSRC reported that the overall performance in the period under review was 78%. This was by far the highest achievement by the HSRC. The HSRC received an unqualified audit opinion with findings from the AGSA. There were findings on compliance with laws and regulations on an irregular expenditure of R1.1 million. There were no material adjustments to the AFS as well as on the usefulness and reliability of the reported performance information for programme 2 (R&D and Innovation).
Members asked the organisation to clarify issues on plans to absorb young people into senior level positions and where the public dialogues were conducted. Members also advised that publications were not properly disseminated to constituencies. They highlighted that there was a need to assess the number of people that read the journals and the impact thereof and that research publications lacked the element of uplifting the society.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone present and indicated that it was the second day of the Annual Report briefings.
Briefing by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on its 2018/19 Annual Report
Mr Thokizani Majozi, Chairperson, CSIR, provided an overview of the organisation and said that the CSIR was the biggest multi-disciplinary scientific research institution in Africa and a central role player in the National System of Innovation. Attraction and retention of high-end skills remained a challenge including the challenging economic conditions. However, the CSIR has a solid governance structure, strong science, engineering and technology base and innovation capability to help steer it forward.
Ms Khengeka Jobe, Business Executive, CSIR, touched on the mandate of the organisation and stated that the CSIR was mandated to conduct research in order to positively impact on the lives of South Africans. Its mandate seeks to ensure better utilisation of the resources of the Republic; manpower training to improve productive capacity of the population; improvement of technical processes and methods to improve industrial production; and promote and expand existing as well as the establishment of new industries.
The CSIR had 2 342 personnel with 62% black South Africans and 36% female. 320 staff members had PhDs and 586 Masters Qualifications. The total income in the year in question was R2.5 billion with R5.24 million attributed to royal and licensing income.
Mr Andile Mabindisa, Acting Group Executive: Human Capital, CSIR, presented on the human capital function of the organisation and outlined that 348 students were supported in the last financial year, and 839 students have been supported since the inception of the DSI-CSIR Inter-Bursary Support Programme.
Mr Motodi Maserumule, Acting Chief Executive Officer, CSIR, presented on the key performance indicators and highlights for research, development and innovation.
On infrastructure renewal and development, a campus Master Plan was established and enabling policies were drafted and under review and governance mechanisms were in place. Secondly, a Gateway to Science and Innovation Centre (GSCI) was considered for establishment which will be the public face of the CSIR and it will facilitate outreach activities. The business case and feasibility study is underway and its estimated target cost was set at R100 million which would be raised through partnerships and sponsorships. An Interdisciplinary shared laboratory which would be a state-of-the-art core research lab would be established. The scope and concept development was underway and estimated to cost at about R500 million.
Ms Cheryl Howell, Acting Chief Financial Officer, CSIR, spoke on the financial sustainability of the CSIR as well as its performance. In 2018/19, the CSIR made a net profit of R7.7 million. This was attributed to the implementation of extensive cost containment measures and improvements in internal processes. There was a zero percent growth in total income but net profit increased compared to the net loss of R14 million in the prior year. Targeted restructuring and cost cutting measures in operations were implemented.
However, there were challenges such as government policy on contracting with state-owned entities which limited uptake of CSIR’s technologies by government – in the last financial year, R382 million government opportunities were lost due to tender processes. There was a decline in national R&D investment; cuts in parliamentary grants and the negative business impact of wage freeze far outweigh minimal potential savings.
Briefing by the National Research Foundation on its 2018/19 Annual Report
Dr Molapo Qhobela, Chief Executive Officer, NRF, took Members through the presentation and indicated that the NRF’s mandate was broader compared to other Research entities such as HSRC and CSIR. The NRF expresses its mandate through advancing knowledge, transforming lives, inspiring a nation and strengthening the NSI through various commitments, targets and initiatives as well as partnerships.
In advancing knowledge, the performance overview for the 2018/19 financial year reported that 4 708 researchers were funded in the year under review. The NRF struggled to achieve its target for black researchers due to the decline in applications as well as funding. There was a R2.32 billion investment in knowledge areas which was distributed across various disciplines.
Some of the research that took place in health included TB Screening Kit developed for TB research which enabled faster and cheaper diagnosis. In addition, Strong Materials has developed a diamond sensor for radiography measurement for mammography, thereby increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of such testing for women. This was some of the work that the Foundation was doing.
In the environmental science space, there was an application of remote sensing technology for decision support and its significant finding was water losses to invasive plants are enough to supply Cape Town for between 15 to 40 days.
The NRF developed a Research Output Submission System (ROSS) on behalf of the DHET. The ROSS enabled identification and elimination of inaccurate claims to the value of 77 units (R8.5 million) in 2017 and 168 units in 2018 (R18.4 million) due as research output subsidies to universities.
In terms of financial overview, Total income decreased in nominal terms by 13% equating to a decline of 8.6% in real terms. PG decreased marginally in nominal terms by 2.3% as a result of NZG transferred to SANBI (effective 01 April 2018). DST Contract funding increased by 9% from the additional funding for NEP. Other contract income decreased significantly by 62% in nominal terms. Other income decreased as a result of the exclusion of the NZG by 17%.
Ms J Mananiso (ANC) said that one of the things that needed to be taken into cognisance is that when entities drive transformation, they need to be more specific and detailed on the demographics. She then asked why the white population was not included in the achievements but only reported on blacks.
On the CSIR, she was interested she asked for statistics on youth representation and people with disabilities in the work place. The issue of transformation is an urgent matter – there is a need to fast track measures on effective implementation of transformation.
She asked whether both entities considered presenting their content into indigenous languages. And lastly, on the budget and the register of beneficiaries – who is the beneficiary? Details were required so that Members were able to report back to their constituencies.
Dr W Boshoff (VF Plus) asked about the research output subsidies to universities. What is the possibility of expanding that subsidy to other institutions that provide similar support for researchers and those institutions should be entitled to those incentives and benefits?
Mr B Nodada (DA) felt that the entities were actually performing fairly well compared to others.
On the CSIR, is there specific reason why the targets were not met – on page seven of the slide? Secondly, he appreciated the information on graduates funded but were there any relationships established with the institutions that housed the students that CSIR trained?
On the finances, part of the challenge was that the R382 million was due to government tender losses – what measures or interventions were introduced to ensure that was mitigated in the future?
To the NRF, one would have liked to see the targets set versus the targets met and not met. Secondly, Members would have appreciated more details on the financial information. Thirdly, was the change in description by AG the only reason why the target for making use of the facilities not met?
One of the things that Members had always sought to encourage was making sure that entities tracked the beneficiaries so that the overall impact could be measured.
Mr P Keetse (EFF) said in terms of the repositioning of the CSIR, he would like to know the impact of the entity on industries. The CSIR should not be limited to just research but also re-industrialise some industries and discover new industries. How many industries did the CSIR have direct impact on and how had assisted them in creating employment?
He wanted to know about the criteria used by the CSIR in terms of determining the number of students that it would fund – does this depend on the university’s status, class, and ethnicity and so forth because it did not make sense that University of Pretoria students received more funding compared to Unisa.
With transformation, perhaps this concept was understood differently. It is not about the colour of the skin and that is not how you ordinarily explain it. It should be looked at in a broader sense not just ethnicity or the number of white people and black people. Sometimes the systems themselves need to be transformed. It needs to spread beyond the content. We may be led to think that we are getting quality researchers when in actual fact we are not because the content that they are being taught is very limited. It was also shocking that there were institutions such as the NRF that are so progressive but yet solutions to help entities such as Eskom were not coming forth.
Mr S Ngcobo (IFP) asked the CSIR about the protection of the Rhinos. The entity limited its work on this space to the Kruger National Park. The Department of Environmental Affairs would come on board to assist in this space but the problem is always funding and resources.
Ms D Sibiya (ANC) wanted to know about the irregular expenditure and why it happened.
Ms N Mkhatshwa (ANC) asked for clarity on the youth funded bursary versus the CSIR managed and funded bursary. It was fundamental that there is a fair distribution of funds between historically disadvantaged universities and the ‘white’ universities. She also noted that a lot of the students were coming from the University of Pretoria – how do you decentralise the funding and ensure that it was available across the country?
She wanted to know the work done in TVET and CET colleges. The Committee was very interested to see how entities were contributing to ensuring that the higher learning institutions were levelled and allow equal opportunities so that young people can look at these institutions with an equal eye.
Is there any work done on ensuring that fingerprint scans would become the positive means of identification in workplace, government departments and other institutions?
The Chairperson thanked both the entities for obtaining unqualified audit opinions. Hopefully, the NRF would address the unqualified opinion with findings. These findings included two issues on the fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R6000 (R4000 for interest and R2000 for missed flights- as reported by the AG). The NRF also had an irregular expenditure which related to non-compliance in relation to deviations. In the main, the AGSA indicated that the NRF was doing well.
On the CSIR, the irregular expenditure of R6.32 million (R5.7 million: current year – R2 million was identified in the current year but relates to the prior year). All irregular expenditure was as a result of non-compliance with Supply Chain Management – can the team provide the details on this? Some of that money relates to the previous year but it was discovered this year. He did not understand how the entity received a clean audit but had an irregular expenditure amounting to that material figure.
He asked for more details on the partnerships established in the TVET sector with TVET colleges and the SETA. Hopefully, that partnership will encourage the revival of the curriculum in that sector. The curriculum has been raised several times in the Committee by Members as being outdated and did not correlate with the demand in the labour market.
He appealed to the NRF, when presenting on its Annual Report, to indicate the achievements against the targets. The Committee would like to measure the success against the targets that were set in the Annual Performance Plan.
Mr Majozi, referred to the question on demographics and explained that where the Report says black South Africans it referred to coloured, Indians and South African blacks. But where it only referred to ‘Black’, it included people from the African Diaspora.
On the youth and people with disabilities, the organisation has not yet separated that cohort but it needs to do more in that space.
On African languages, it was always difficult to teach science in isiZulu but it was important to look into that space for future purposes.
Two weeks ago, the Minister met with CEOs and Chairpersons of Councils and the research subsidy question came up. Previously, the subsidy came from the Department of Higher Education and Training. The merger of higher education and science and innovation would be an advantage in that regard because there will be no excuse, whatsoever, for people within science to not be eligible for the research subsidy. The response from the DSI DG was very positive in the sense that DSI was already looking into that, but not only papers published but patents as well.
On the tendering process, this came up again two weeks when the Councils engaged with the Minister but this was now an issue that is being dealt with the political head and National Treasury. They are looking at whether we do need to tender for some of our key or core capabilities and some of the issues we contact are strictly of national interest and would want the CSIR to be the one conducting those issues. This matter is four years old, it was raised with previous Ministers and hopefully with the political heads now involved, the matter may be resolved.
The CSIR played a key role in forming industries through SMMEs but it can play a bigger role in the expansion of industries.
On the use of biometrics, the CSIR is doing a lot of work in that space and it was not only for students at universities but also at border controls.
Mr Mabindisa said that the CSIR approached the transformation agenda in a holistic manner and what was reported was part of the shareholder impact. The CSIR is a young organisation, and had 68% of young people and 2% for people with disabilities. The EXCO approved a programme where in January it will be bringing 66 students and 20% of those should be people with disabilities. In respect of black females, they represent 24.8% in the organisation.
The criteria used in working with universities looked at science, engineering and technology – it was found that the previously disadvantaged universities were not strong on science and engineering but programmes were put in place to strengthen the universities. For example, at the University of Venda, a programme to up-skill in technology was put in place. Other universities included Sol Plaatjie University, University of Western Cape and the North West University (Mafikeng Campus). We have programmes we run where our researchers and personnel are working in those universities in the research space to ensure that those institutions were supported in technology curriculum.
The difference in the CSIR youth funded programme and the DSI funded programme – it is divided into two funds; one being from the CSIR and the other from the department. The CSIR Post-Graduate programme was for the department but it is managed by the CSIR on its behalf.
Mr Maserumule said that in terms of the criteria, the CSIR has certain base expertise and capabilities. There are certain universities with a strong engineering base and a lot of previous disadvantaged universities do not have that expertise. Even though we might be funding a lot of students from UP, most of those students are actually black.
On the MeerSETA, the initiative is very specific and it approached the CSIR to build a training factory for the future with 4IR technologies that cut across different industries. The reference facility (training factory) will be duplicated for TVET colleges.
On African languages, on the major publications such as the Annual Report, we have tried to rotate them in various African languages in different years. Currently, there is no capacity to do this in every language in every year. There is a lot of work that goes into ensuring that the technical terms were updated regularly.
On the identify management, the current smart card was developed at the CSIR with the collaboration of the Department of Home Affairs. The entity had very strong technological capabilities in respect of identification and fingerprinting. This area still remains a prerogative of government. This can be implemented but the entity can only take orders from the State.
On Rhino poaching, the technology has been at the Kruger National Park but the resources were within the Department of Environmental Affairs. So now we are trying to commercialise the technologies so that they can be affordable for other Parks as well. The commercialisation would make it possible for distribution but the lag was not on the CSIR side but with the Department.
Ms Howell indicated that as for not meeting the financial target, the top line was not met by R185 million which came from the contract of R&D. That is linked to a number of things including the tendering process and some of the opportunities that CSIR missed. The organisation missed an opportunity with Transnet where it had a special locomotive conditioning monitoring system (a specialised offering) – the impact of not getting those contracts signed was that it was not able to deliver that service in that year. The CSIR followed the tender and won the tender but it rolled over into a delayed offering which meant that Trasnet and CSIR suffered from a financial perspective. Another example involved Eskom with a few municipalities requiring specific services around water quality and different water initiatives that were not able to do due to tender processes challenges. There was also an MOA with DAFF for R30 million to incubate SMMEs in their space, which we had to put on tender. So that fell off and those SMMEs were unable to receive the incubation benefits. It is a challenge indeed.
Two of the major municipalities we are doing work with are eThekwini Municipality and Joburg, but there are initiatives that the CSIR is involved in with various smaller municipalities.
On the irregular expenditure, a lot of it was around specialised services such as legal services. We generally go out on tender to have contractors that we can use for a period of time, and in some instances that three-year period was terminated and the people that placed the orders were not aware that those contracts were terminated. Some of the bigger ones was for R1.4 million where we did not follow the proper procurement processes for C-Technologies services. Again it is around awareness and correctly procures for these contracts.
The Chairperson said that there is a figure of R6.32 million for irregular expenditure, so the CFO needs to unpack the amount.
Ms Howell said that R49 000 was for Deloitte; R30 000 for Blind Overt Blinds; R61 000 was for PBT/PTB; R51 000 for South African Institute for Foundry Men; R24 000 for George Fibres; R34 000 for Spoor and Fischer; R51 000 for Robin Banks; R41 000 for Stigman Inc.; R74 000 for Nialectic Consulting and R209 000 again; R2.7 million for Vetmarn attorneys; R1.4 million for C Technology Services and R920 000 for other service provider. Proper processes were not followed on these amounts and there was no loss to the CSIR regarding the services.
Dr Qhobela noted the inputs and comments regarding the presentation of the Annual Report outline.
On the use of indigenous languages, the NRF tends to use this when it does science engagements. it also supports researchers who conduct research on how languages can improve the learning process of students, particularly in science.
On the researcher subsidy, the subsidy in universities comes in three parts i.e. input subsidy, output subsidy and ear-marked subsidy. The money allocated to higher education would be cut up in those three parts, and the output subsidy is split into two which include the research and graduate subsidy. The money is appropriated to the DHET for the universities but at NRF we have used some of our money to provide funding in a similar funding model without necessarily asking the DHET for assistance.
Dr Phethiwe Matutu, Group Executive: Strategy Planning and Partnerships, NRF, responded to the question on transformation and said that the organisation has a framework that it did not look only at research personnel. On the researcher work force, there is the matter of representation – this is important because if there are people who are representative, then the kind of research that you embark on would be representative of the needs of the country. The other core element that is considered is the research enterprise which means that the research must be transformative and representative of the society.
There are practical programmes already that speak to transformation with researchers who are working on common socio-economic challenges such as poverty, inequality and so forth.
On the relationship with NSFAS, the NRF would be focusing for the first time on financially needy students at post-graduate level. We would not need students to prove whether they are poor or not. We would partner with NSFAS to integrate the data. This relationship is currently being formalised.
Mr Bishen Singh, Acting Chief Financial Officer, NRF, acknowledged that the presentation should have been detailed. There are two key elements that drive across the KPIs in terms of whether the targets have been met or not. In 2015, the entity set the targets for five years for each of the KPIs and it kept those targets without changing them in the APPs. There was a very ambitious assumption when those targets were set that the revenues would grow but that did not happen. As a result, the NRF started tightening up the technical indicator descriptions; it kept the targets the same but it did not change the initial targets accordingly. The entity changed it this year and aligned the technical indicator description to the target.
On the irregular expenditure, maybe the AG had the different views in dealing with different organisations. While the CSIR had R6.2 million irregular expenditure and received a clean audit, the NRF only had R4.3 million irregular expenditure but did not get a clean audit.
The NRF had fallout from a lease that it signed. When the lease was signed the owners of the property accepted the lease and when NRF could move. The owners came back and informed the organisation that it had housed SITA (State Information Technology Agency) in the building and that SITA was more important than NRF. So SITA did not move from the building. As a result, the NRF had to re-negotiate the lease and the agreement with the current building had to be back-dated. It was a timing issue and this was not something that was planned. The NRF stayed on for at least another six months. So the AG said that we did not obtain prior approval for deviation and indeed in this instance prior approval was not obtained.
On the second irregular expenditure, the NRF had a security and cleaning contract and went on a tender process that did not yield the desired results. As a result, it decided to go on a month to month procurement of services. The AG argued that the NRF went on a quotation basis but we indicated that the tender did not yield the desired results, so the team had to re-look at specifications and re-advertise the tender. The AG’s argument was that because the amount was over R500 000, it was supposed to be procured through a tender process. It was a technicality and the NRF did not lose any money in the process. The NRF then went on an excessive exercise to educate its personnel on these minor matters. So far in the year, the NRF has not had any irregular expenditure and that shows the effectiveness of the NRF internal systems.
Briefing by Technology Innovation Agency on its 2018/19 Annual Report
The entity explained that during the financial year under review, the following were provided with technology and innovation support:
-3 272 SMMEs in total
-51 Small enterprises secured business contracts
-55 people living with disabilities
-1 380 youth
-1 481 women
-74% of the SMMEs are owned by previously disadvantaged individuals
-124 students were afforded the opportunity to work on industry projects at the technology stations in the manufacturing and agro-processing sectors
-A further 1 374 product testing, technology simulations and/or analysis products were supported in applications of at least 64 R&D initiatives
On organisational performance, 21 of the 23 key performance indicators were achieved, which translated to 91% achievement. Under strategic objective one, all four targets were achieved – 30 technologies advance towards commercialisation; 14 innovation project taken up in the market; R379.3 million third party funding attracted and R127.4 million in revenue spend.
On strategic objective two, only three of the four targets were achieved – 110 technology products produced; 31 projects attracted third party funding; 3 272 SMMEs supported against a target of 3 360 and 144 Thought Leadership activities undertaken.
In terms of financial performance, TIA received another unqualified audit – now the 7th year in a row.
Some of the challenges outlined included:
-Negative stakeholders’ sentiment
-The TIA project pipeline versus investment
The Chairperson thought that the issue with the Chief Executive Officer would be touched on during the presentation. Secondly, he noted that there were a lot of appendices referred to put not provided. Thirdly, the annual report did not make any reference to the CEO and he did not even appear on the management structure but he was still the CEO during the year under review.
The information presented seemed to suggested that the former CEO left at the anticipation of his ending contract, but that was not the case; he was fired by the Board. The Annual Report outlines that he left at the anticipation of the expiry of his contract. The former CEO was fired by the Board for reasons that the Board had at the time. Members would have hoped that the Board would take Members into confidence on this matter. So the information presented on this matter was misleading.
Members of the Board and management ought to know that this matter was not secret and they were aware of it. The Chairperson interacted with the Minister and management on this issue. In fact, the Report is very misleading in how it was drafted. The former CEO was paid for the remainder of his contract and he did not understand what the payment was for because there was no value for the money spent for firing him.
Mr N Paulsen (EFF) said that he supported the Chairperson’s sentiments and he would suggest that the Committee should move for the rejection of the Annual Report and it should not be tabled. The fact that Mr Barlow Manilal was not even given any credit for the work that he did but was instead replaced in the Report by someone who only came in May. He could not understand how the Committee could accept the Report. He felt that this information was fraudulent. In fact, all of them should be charged. His Chief Whip will write to the Speaker and will charge anyone who will be complicit in having the Report tabled in Parliament. It is a fraudulent document.
He added that they even put funds in Mr Manilal’s account to silence him. If the Committee entertains this document, it would be failing South African citizens.
The Chairperson said that it was not yet time to consider whether the Report should be accepted or rejected. The procedure is that Members would ask questions and get responses and it is upon those responses that Members can decide whether to reject or accept the Report.
Mr Paulsen interjected and lamented that there should not be any further engagement with the delegation.
Ms Mkhatshwa sought clarity on the procedures for Members of Parliament who join meetings that they are not part of. She could not engage the Member because she did not even know his name.
The Chairperson said that Mr Paulsen was out of order for interrupting another Member while a Member (Ms Mkhatshwa) was speaking. He asked him to respect the rules of Parliament and that he cannot speak while the Chairperson was speaking.
The Chairperson ruled that Mr Paulsen had the right to attend and engage in the meeting but it needs to be done in an orderly and respectful manner.
The Chairperson considered the omission of the former CEO very material and fundamental. It would have been better if the Chairperson of the Board was present. He is in Australia, not on an official visit or work related matters, he is just staying there.
Mr Keetse said that as the Chairperson had already mentioned that the matter was in the public domain regarding how the CEO was unfairly and unceremoniously removed from his position, perhaps Member should take a decision on how the TIA could come back and present a truthful report.
Mr Thabiso Ramasike, Acting Chairperson, TIA, concurred with the concerns of the Chairperson pertaining to the details on the removal of the former CEO. Perhaps, this was a misunderstanding of the presentation. He sought guidance from the Chairperson whether an engagement could follow under the delegation of the current Chairperson or a Report that could be submitted to the Portfolio Committee that would entail all the details that transpired during the year under review. Would the Committee prefer a written report on this matter or an engagement with the delegation led by the Chairman of the Board?
The Chairperson replied that the Committee was sitting with a misleading Report. Secondly, the former CEO was not acknowledged in this Report and the Committee did not get a report on how the CEO left. The Members did not entertain the media reports in anticipation of an official briefing from the Board regarding the departure of the CEO because they hoped that TIA would brief the Members on the issues.
He asked why the Accounting Officer presented a Report that did not reflect truthfulness of the events that occurred in the organisation.
The Chairperson felt that there was no need to proceed with engagements. Perhaps, the organisation could come back with the former Chairperson of the Board and the current Chairperson and provide a full account on the matter of the CEO.
Ms Mananiso said that it must be made clear that the Report was rejected on the basis that it was not a true reflection of the events that transpired during the year.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would first receive a full and detailed Report from TIA. Only after that Report has been received and considered by Members will the Committee take a formal decision.
Mr Keetse said that the Annual Report seemed like it was already done as it was printed out. So Members would not even consider it. The TIA must go back and re-do it.
The Chairperson clarified that the Report, in as far as the former CEO is concerned, is misleading. So whether TIA revises the Report or not, the Committee was expecting to receive information that was omitted at this point as well as the appendices that were not included in the package. When the TIA comes back, the Committee was also expecting a full account on the details pertaining to the former CEO, Mr Manilal.
Mr Keetse stated the Chairperson of the Board undermined the invitation of the Committee and there should be consequences.
Mr Ramasike thanked the Committee and the Chairperson for the opportunity to come back and give a full account of the matters that the Members had problems with. He indicated that the Board was not trying to be disrespectful to the Committee at all. All inputs and comments were noted.
The Chairperson indicated that TIA will be invited again.
Briefing by the Human Sciences Research Council on its 2018/19 Annual Report
Professor Mvuyo Tom, Chairperson, HSRC Board, stated that it was his second year serving as the Chairperson of the Board. The HSRC had just gone through a review of its strategy. Part of the review of the HSRC included discussion on the source of funding for the organisation but that is a discussion that would be held at a later stage with the Minister and subsequently the Committee.
Professor Craine Soudien, Chief Executive Officer, HSRC, reported that the overall performance in the period under review was 78%. This was by far the highest achievement by the HSRC.
The Deputy CEO took Members through the overall performance on publications and books by researchers.
[See document for details]
On the audit outcomes, the HSRC received an unqualified audit opinion from AGSA. There were findings on compliance with laws and regulations on an irregular expenditure of R1.1 million. There were no material adjustments to the AFS as well as on the usefulness and reliability of the reported performance information for programme 2 (R&D and Innovation).
Prof. Tom said that the HSRC was in a position to fulfil its mandate. It has shown that that core function can be delivered and hopefully through research it can change the plight of unemployment and poverty in the South Africa.
Ms Mananiso referred to the figures on transformation and asked if there are there plans to absorb young people into senior level position.
Referring to page five of the presentation, she asked where the HSRC conducted the public dialogues. On over-achievements, was there more money used as a result of over-achievements?
On page nine, she asked for details on the sex and gender demographics and whether there was inclusion of young people in absorption of employment and the LGBTQI community.
Mr Keetse said that one of the objectives of the HSRC is to stimulate public debate through factual dissemination of research. He challenged the delegation that in most instances, the journal publications were not properly disseminated in the constituencies. The delegation needs to assess how many people read their journals and the impact of the journals in the public space.
When looking at the social engineering and behaviour of young people in basic education, what research has been conducted or currently being conducted in that space? There are a lot of grey areas in terms of research publications because it seems that it lacked the element of uplifting society
Dr Boshoff said that the idea that knowledge does not come by itself and people have to be assisted. Transformation should be driven from the low levels, from junior researchers to senior level and management. Performance should be assessed in terms of performance not from transformational aims.
Professor Soudien said that the HSRC just had a review of the organisation and it counted two possibilities that it should be concentrating on which included expanding the capacity to influence what is happening in the country. Basically, step up and take more responsibility in the public domain. However, the question remained on how to continue to raise a pipeline of young people coming through the system. The Council would try and come up with a plan on how it can do both these things concurrently. It will be difficult but the Council would try and come up with a plan.
There are very talented young people in the organisation and those young people are probably about five to ten years away from assuming senior positions. Management did not want to push them in now into those positions because they might fall but they are being mentored and supported and prepared for the future.
Prof Tom said that not all positions were addressed and the team focused only on the senior level but in page 83 of the full report there is a section that deals with learning and development. In that programme it shows how many of the Masters Research interns and others were involved and in that way we are building the pipeline. If we take them at that level, we are building them to take over at some stage.
Ms Swartz addressed the question on public dialogues. In Pretoria there was a public dialogue with Landless Women. There was also another dialogue on restitution in consultation and collaboration with other institutions where over 200 people were in attendance and put together a charter on restitution. There was another dialogue on gender based violence and teenage pregnancy that took a form of a photographic exhibition in a rural community outside Pietermaritzburg.
There are a lot of our researchers that tweet research results to a different audience that reads journal articles. One of our studies was ‘Studying while Black’ – we looked at the five years of black students in universities. It is not recorded as a public dialogue but we had 14 different dialogues with staff, students and other stakeholders in order to disseminate the book. There was a real sense of practical academic activism.
Prof Khangelani Zuma, Executive Director of the HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB (HAST) research programme and head of biostatistics, HSRC, said that the Council does engage the academics in terms of research and publications that are done. The Council translated the research into HSRC review which is easily readable. Further, the Council went into communities and took its research there. For example, there was a Report on the South African National HIV Prevalence Incidents Behaviour and Communication. This is one of the studies that had been conducted since 2002 to provide guidance on how the country can understand the HIV epidemic.
The Deputy CEO said that ideally, the HSRC would like its research to be available to the public at large. The organisation does embark on initiatives that seek to translate some of the work to the level of an ordinary person. There was room for improvement but as a research institution there was pressure to perform locally and internationally.
The Deputy CEO highlighted that in the Report there is some information on the organisation’s personnel regarding people with disabilities but unfortunately, it could not report on people’s sexual preferences because many people prefer to have that information confidential.
The Chairperson thanked the team and highlighted that the issue of reporting on race and gender has come up several times. Perhaps, the institutions did not respond firmly on those matters.
The meeting was adjourned.