DPME, Brand SA & Stats SA 2019/20 Quarter 2 & 3 performance; with Deputy Minister

Public Service and Administration, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

19 February 2020
Chairperson: Mr T James (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Statistics South Africa, Brand South Africa and the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, briefed the Committee on their quarter 2 and 3 performance for the financial year 2019/20. Their presentations focused on the targets that were achieved and not achieved; organisational performance; budgets versus expenditure; employment equity statistics; financial management; and the highlights of some of the entities’ programmes.

Members wanted to know how Statistics South Africa was preparing for Census 2021, what the cause of its high staff turnover was, and what its relationship with the Statistical Council was.

Brand South Africa focused on key themes that drove negativity and uncertainty, and how these affected the reputation and perception of the country, such as xenophobic incidents (attacks on foreign nationals) and gender-based violence. International media generated higher volumes of negative media coverage in the third quarter. There was also a lack of confidence/trust in government amongst South Africans. This was highlighted by some of the allegations made at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. Load shedding also tarnished Brand South Africa as a tourist destination. Zozibini Tunzi’s win at the Miss Universe pageant had been a win for the country. The entity also provided details regarding the “Play Your Part” radio programme initiative.

Members wanted to know how Brand SA ambassadors were appointed, what rural areas had been visited, and what kind of programmes were being implemented.

The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation focused on performance and engagement highlights, and the research produced during quarters 2 and 3. Members wanted to know what the Department would do to ensure that fewer departments appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA). They also wanted to know whether the District Development Model had been finalised, and when the Director General would be replaced. They asked why the five-year implementation plan had not been met, and what was being done to improve inter-governmental relations.

Meeting report

Statistics South Africa: Second and third quarter report, 2019

Mr Risenga Maluleke, Statistician-General and Head of Statistics: Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), briefed the Committee on the entity’s second and third quarter reports.

He said the strategic agenda for Stats SA was:

  • driving legislative reform;
  • maintaining the quality of core statistics;
  • modernising and innovating the statistical value chain;
  • transformation and organisational reform;
  • rolling out the integrated indicator framework;
  • preparing for Census 2021.

For the second quarter, 36% of the entity’s annual targets had been achieved, 61% were on track, and 3% were delayed. When progress was measured against quarterly targets, 96% of the targets had been achieved, and 4% were delayed.

The key indicators that informed the organisation’s targets were the vacancy rate (19.2%), women in senior management service (SMS) positions (41.3%), staff with disability (1.5%), staff that left during the quarter (24); and payment within 30 days (100%).

He said that filled posts for the second quarter were 2 836, and this had dropped to 2 813 by quarter 3. Male employees comprised 46.2% of the staff, and female employees made up the other 53.8%. At the SMS level, 58.7% of the posts were held by male employees, while 41.3% were held by female employees. These numbers had stayed relatively unchanged in the third quarter, with male employees holding 58.9% of SMS posts, whereas female employees held 41.1% of the posts.

Mr Maluleke went on to highlight some of the achievements against the entity’s strategic outcomes. The statistical information base had been expanded via the publishing of 71 statistical releases and reports on the economy in the second quarter. There were 65 statistical releases and reports on the economy in the third quarter.

Field operations training for the Census 2021 mini-test had been conducted in the second quarter, leading to a Census 2021 mini-test conducted in the third quarter.

Data collection for the census on commercial agriculture was carried out in the second quarter, and analysis of the data commenced in the third quarter.

There had been an increase in the use of statistics by information users, as well as an increase in stakeholder focus, communication and marketing.

International collaboration and partnership was strengthened by the hosting of delegations from Somalia and Namibia in the second quarter. In the third quarter, delegates from Lesotho and Namibia were hosted. The entity was represented by a delegation at the 13th session of Committees of Directors General (DGs) of National Statistical Offices.

He said the entity had invested in leadership and statistical capability, as well as enhanced corporate governance and administration. In the second quarter, the second Public Service Women in Management seminar was held by the entity. There had been a re-alignment of the structure. A staff opinion survey was also carried out. In the third quarter, a disability indaba was held. An employment equity report was submitted to the Department of Labour. The realignment of the structure was finalized, and submitted to the Minister. A new strategic direction was also finalised.

Mr Maluleke said the entity had identified four risks that affect it the most:

  • an increased demand for statistical information;
  • severe budget cuts;
  • people, as the 19.9% vacancy rate meant that the staff was over-stretched;
  • basic statistics were at risk, meaning there was a risk of declining quality over time.

Discussion

Ms C Motsepe (EFF) wanted to know if there was any hope that the vacancy rate would come down. She also wanted to know if the re-structuring included job cuts.

Ms M Clarke (DA) said that she was concerned about funding for Stats SA. She wanted to know if they would have the capacity to analyse the statistics once Census 2021 had been completed.

Ms B Maluleke (ANC) wanted to know if people with disabilities were represented at the SMS level, and what percentage they represented at that level.

Mr M Malatsi (DA) asked if the Executive Authority had engaged with the Statistical Council, and if there had been any engagements with Treasury.

Dr L Schreiber (DA) requested the use of a tracking tool. He wanted to know why the Committee did not get the Finance Minister to account. He also wanted to know who was paying for the delegation that was present.

Ms V Malomane (ANC) wanted Stats SA to address the decrease in the employment of women by the entity. She asked if any service delivery issues had been raised, and how the entity redirected those issues.

Ms M Ntuli (ANC) wanted to know what the key outcomes of the disability indaba were. She also wanted to know how Stats SA would deal with issues raised by the Statistical Council.

Ms M Kibi (ANC), wanted to know if there was any fear regarding the section 25 (the protection of the right of private ownership of property) process.

Inkosi R Cebekhulu (IFP) wanted to know why staff was leaving Stats SA.

Ms C Motsepe (EFF) asked if the mini-test that was done would be enough to prepare for Census 2021.

Mr C Sibisi (NFP) wanted to know what Stats SA would be doing to mitigate the risks that had been identified.

Stats SA’s response

Ms Thembi Siweya, Deputy Minister in the Presidency, responded that new methods of collecting data would assist Stats SA. She said that the Statistician General had met with the Chairperson of the Council, and this had generated R45 million, but this was not enough.

Mr Maluleke said that the entity had looked at its structure and were implementing a new structure in order to respond to the financial constraints that Stats SA was facing. With regards to Census testing, he said Stats SA did not stop testing. The small-scale tests looked at the logistics and other things, up until they reached the pilot test stage.

The biggest reason for staff leaving was the entity’s financial constraints. Stats SA did not have the financial muscle to compete with offers from the private sector.

He also addressed Stats SA’s delegation, saying that everyone present had other business that they would attend to after the meeting with the Committee. He confirmed that Stats SA had paid for the trips.

He said that the Executive Authority had met with Council. He also said that if Council resigned, he would have to resign as well. He explained that this would be a resignation from the Council, and not him stepping down as the Statistician General.

Mr Ashwell Jenneker, Deputy Director General: Communication: Marketing and Publishing, Stats SA, said there had been co-operation from the farmers. He said that service delivery was not an indicator that was logged.

Ms Celia de Klerk, Executive Manager: Strategy, Stats SA, said that the entity had mechanisms that monitored risk to ensure that it was not caught off guard.

(Tables and charts were shown to illustrate the details of the presentation)

Brand South Africa: Quarter 2 and 3 progress reports

Ms Thandi Tobias, Chairperson of the Board: Brand South Africa, briefed the Committee on the entity’s quarter 2 and quarter 3 progress reports.

She said Brand South Africa’s strategic goals were:

  • Sound governance, high performance and the optimal use of available resources;
  • Proactive and coordinated reputation management of the Nation Brand;
  • Proactive and coordinated communication of the Nation Brand value system and value proposition;
  • Proactive and coordinated marketing of the Nation Brand and the Nation Brand identity;
  • Improved Nation Brand reputation and perceptions domestically and internationally;
  • Enhanced awareness of the Nation Brand identity, image, and competitiveness and Nation Brand value proposition;
  • A cohesive approach when promoting and marketing the Nation Brand amongst targeted stakeholders;
  • Strengthened Nation Brand advocacy, domestically and among South Africans living abroad;
  • Enhanced relations with stakeholders towards the promotion of the Nation Brand reputation, domestically and internationally.

92% of the targets had been achieved in quarter 2, but this number had changed to 83% achievement in quarter 3.

Brand South Africa had achieved a qualified audit opinion on financial information. This was because the audit outcome on the previous year’s financial information had been qualified on payables and expenditure. Additionally, four marketing platforms were supposed to be utilised to promote constitutional awareness, but only one had been utilised. The reason for this was that the brand agencies had reached their threshold. The balance of the target was supposed to have been achieved in quarter 3, where seven platforms would be utilised. This was not achieved because both quarter 2 and quarter 3 targets had been deferred to quarter 4.

In quarter 3, there had been a 15% variance in budget versus expenditure. This was due mainly to tender cancellations during the quarter, and the postponement of project activations to the fourth quarter.

There were supposed to have been five global South African activations -- one in Shanghai, China; two in the United States of America; and two in Australia.  The activations in Australia and the USA were deferred to quarter 4. Due to the unrest in Hong Kong, the activation was postponed until further notice.

All the other targets were achieved.

As at 30 September 2019, 65.96% of employees were female and 34.04% were male. Women represented 52.38% of management, whereas men represented 47.62%.

Ms Thoko Modise, General Manager: Communications, Brand South Africa, highlighted some of the key themes that drove positivity.

She said Zozibini Tunzi’s win at the Miss Universe pageant had been a win for the country. A Nation Brand Forum, as well as a South African investment conference, had been held in order to promote the Nation Brand on domestic platforms. The promotion of the Nation Brand on international platforms had included the BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) summit, the Rugby World Cup, as well as the Miss Universe win.

She highlighted some of the themes that had driven uncertainty/negativity, such as xenophobic incidents (attacks on foreign nationals) and gender-based violence (GBV). International media generated higher volumes of negative media coverage in the third quarter. There was also a lack of confidence/trust in government amongst South Africans. This was highlighted by some of the allegations made at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. Load shedding also tarnished Brand South Africa as a tourist destination.

She shared Brand South Africa’s response action plan to the identified issues. These included a proposed plan to target strategic clusters, and share the research feedback with the objective of identifying positive messaging hooks that Brand SA could incorporate into its messaging.

She also shared the details of the “Play Your Part” radio programme, in partnership with Jacaranda and East Coast Radio. This programme included on-air sponsorship, a website and social media. Three ordinary South Africans doing amazing things would be profiled. There would also be one-on-one interviews with “Play Your Part” ambassadors. Brand South Africa had been invited to a session in December with the objective of unpacking the country’s performance throughout the year, as well as South Africa’s role in BRICS and the upcoming African Union (AU) chairpersonship.

Dr Krishnee Kissoonduth, Director: Corporate Services, Brand South Africa, briefed the Committee on governance within the entity.

The President had appointed a new board on 28 October 2019. The board had assumed office on 13 November 2019 upon the issuance of their Letters of Authority by the Master of the High Court. The new board had been inducted on 18 and 19 November 2019, and held its first meeting on 20 November 2019.

The CEO had remained on suspension during the quarter, pending the finalisation of his disciplinary proceedings.

The CFO’s disciplinary proceedings had been concluded during the third quarter.

As at 31 December 2019, 64% of the workforce was female, and 36% was male. Women comprised 52.38%, and men comprised 47.62%.

Dr Kissoonduth noted that there was an over-subscription of African females, and that Brand South Africa needed to explore hiring more Indian, Coloured and White males.

Mr Kgomotso Seripe, Manager: Finance, Brand South Africa, said there had been a R17 429 953 variance in the third quarter versus the expected expenditure for the entity’s marketing programme. The variance was attributed to the public relations (PR) agency (R11 million), delays in the SA Inc research (R1 million), and delays in global markets activations (R 5 million). There was a variance of more than R7 million in the stakeholder relations programme. The costs for the World Economic Forum and Global South Africanj Australia were expected to be fully incurred by December. Delays had been experienced, resulting in a significant portion of these costs being incurred only in January 2020. Administration expenditure was in line with budget, considering that the variance was below 5%, at 0.9%.

(Tables and charts were shown.)

Discussion

Ms Malomane wanted to know what kind of interventions had been undertaken with regard to attacks on foreign nationals.

Ms Clarke asked if any research had been done on how land expropriation without compensation would affect the country’s image.

Dr Schreiber pointed out that one of the slides in the presentation had said that the lack of convictions as a result of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry contributed negatively to the image of the country. He said the Committee had received an analysis of the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), and in it, the following quote had been included: “In the case of State Capture, the Government had to wait on the Commission of Inquiry to finalise its work, to propose recommendations concerning the information and evidence presented to it by witnesses. It would not be prudent to act on information and evidence now until the Commission makes a determination on the matter, because it would be sub judice and therefore litigious against the State and prosecuting authorities to act on it”. He wanted to know if the Deputy Minister agreed with this statement.

Ms Malomane wanted to know the outcome of the CEO’s disciplinary process. She also asked which rural areas “Play Your Part” had visited, and what criteria were used to nominate appoint brand ambassadors.

Ms R Lesoma (ANC) wanted to know what system was used to come to the conclusion that South Africa was improving economically.

Ms Ntuli wanted to know how long the CFO’s suspension was, and whether it was with or without pay.

Mr Sibisi asked whether Brand South Africa was not concerned about racial representivity within the entity. Was it not some type of xenophobia, for example, to have just one employee representing a particular grouping? He said that Brand South Africa should always try to reflect South African society.

Brand South Africa’s response

Deputy Minister Siweya said the Department had inherited an institution that had to be stabilised. A board of trustees had been appointed, which had been presented with a report that recommended that the CEO be dismissed. The board had made a resolution, and the Department was now awaiting a legal opinion on the next step in the process.

She did not agree that there was an ‘over-subscription of women’, but that was a debate for another day.

On the issue of State Capture, the Deputy Minister responded: “With the issue of State Capture, we all want solutions. We want those who are alleged to have stolen to be brought to book. I think I received the same question when was in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). In fact, the House collapsed because I refused to answer that question. The House adjourned for some time. I am glad you are bringing it back today. Our posture is that as much as we want solutions as South Africans, we must acknowledge that if Chapter 14 of the NDP -- the ethical State that seeks to curb corruption -- is not made a reality, we are all doomed. Corruption is not good for the country. It would be futile to say ‘prosecute’, while the Zondo Commission is still in process. We should not be seen to be swayed by the court of public opinion. If someone says they met the Deputy Minister at her house and bought her groceries at 3 o’ clock, and that becomes news, then the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) must arrest, and one must be found guilty by the court of public opinion.”

She further added: “What we do in the Presidency is to say we will check first. During the fact-checking, everything must be done with due diligence to find honest, lasting solutions for those who have done wrong and those alleged, but have not done wrong. At no stage must it appear like a PR exercise. We cannot flout processes. Even the Commission was wanted by us so that we could find solutions. We need to be patient. Let us start to see action on those cases that are ready. We do not want to be seen like we are pressuring the NPA, as this would affect the credibility of the institution.”

The CFO had been suspended with pay, as per the Labour Relations Act.

Ms Modise said that the types of programmes under the “Play Your Part” umbrella included women and youth empowerment, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) rights.

The selection of ambassadors was driven by Brand SA’s desire to have a different mix, representative of the country’s society.

On the issue of land expropriation without compensation, there was a misconception in the international community because of a lack of understanding. She said that the policy would be implemented following due process.

She said that Brand South Africa would be willing to appear before the Zondo Commission in order to show that the institution was against corruption.

In response to the question related to the system used by the institution, she said the institution subscribed to indices domestically and internationally.

Ms Lesoma requested that for the following delegation, questions should be asked and responded to in writing.

The Chairperson added that those who believed the country could move forward without addressing the land question, were dreaming.

Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation: Briefing

Mr Stanley Ntakumba, Acting Director General: Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), briefed the Committee on the Department’s progress.

The DPME’s mandate was the institutionalisation of planning; monitoring the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP) by developing robust monitoring systems backed by evidence; evaluating critical government programmes to inform planning, monitoring and interventions, as well as budget prioritisation. This would lead to interventions on behalf of Cabinet and the President through inter-ministerial committees.

He said that 73% of the targets were achieved in quarter 2, but improved to 88% achieved in quarter 3.

He shared some of the highlights of the research produced during the two quarters. These included research on the limited success of entrepreneurial activity by locals in townships and rural areas, as well as the Youth Labour Market transition report.

Engagement highlights included the annual NDP Lecture, the National Planning Commission (NPC) lekgotla, and the NDP review colloquium.

Performance highlights included 80% compliance with the submission of the 2019/20 performance agreements. There had been a decrease in the number of invoices older than 30 days. The vacancy rate as at quarter 3 stood at 11.5%.

(Charts and tables were shown.)

Discussion

Ms Lesoma wanted the Department to work on a plan to ensure that fewer departments appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA). She requested that the tracking tool be updated timeously. She wanted to know when the replacement for the Director General would be appointed.

Ms Kibi wanted to know when the District Development Model would be finalised. She pointed out that the five-year plan had not been met, and asked what caused this. She wanted to know if the national spatial framework functions had been transferred to the Department.

Ms Motsepe asked if the quarter 2 and 3 performance results had been certified by an internal auditor.

Mr Malatsi said that as a matter of housekeeping, more time should be allocated to delegations that came before the Committee, because written responses sometimes did not allow for the same robustness as a discussion. He wanted an assessment of the pilot project that had been undertaken, particularly linking that to inter-governmental relations. He asked about the delayed payment of invoices, and wanted to know what was being done about it.

The meeting was adjourned.

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