Elder Care Leave Petition; DEL & Compensation Fund 2019/20 Quarter 2 performance; with Minister & Deputy Minister

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Employment and Labour

26 February 2020
Chairperson: Ms M Dunjwa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Employment and Labour’s Compensation Fund told the Committee that its performance during the second quarter had been affected by the transition from the old claims system (uMehluko) to the new one (Compeasy). The entity was meeting twice a week to monitor and resolve the issues. It disputed claims that service providers had not been paid for six months, and that injured patients were being turned away because doctors were not being compensated. Members were urged not to air unsubstantiated claims in the media, to the detriment of the image of the Department and the Fund. The Committee agreed that an investigation was needed to determine the precise number of patients involved, which sectors of the economy they had come from, as well as the medical institutions that had treated them. It would then be able to determine a way forward.

A private citizen presented a petition to the Committee on amending s27 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act to include “parents‚ adoptive parents or grandparents.” He contended that if employees could be allowed to take time off to take care of their children, they should be allowed to take care of their parents, because the Constitution afforded everyone the right to equality and dignity. He proposed no change to the current three-day leave allowance, but said that people could, for instance, use one day for child care, and the other two for elderly grandparents. The Committee asked who would pay for the proposed leave. What implications did this have for the socio-economic status of the country? Which countries had implemented such legislation?

The Department presented its quarter two performance, challenges and financial report, which indicated there had been an improvement.  It reported on cases of misconduct involving loss and damage to property, and irregular and wasteful expenditure. The budget of R855 million for the quarter had been under-spent by R77 million.  It reported that 112 661 employers had been inspected to determine compliance with employment law, and 11 471 had been found to be non-compliant. These had been served with notices within 14 calendar days of the Inspection, and 3 443 of them had failed to comply with the served notice, resulting in referrals for prosecution.

The Committee asked how many officials had been charged where corruption and fraud had been found. Had the money ever been recovered?  What was the nature of the misconduct referred to? What were the contributing factors to the Department’s under-performance in Gauteng? They also pointed out that some of the officials were using their own vehicles on government business – which was permissible – but wanted to know who would be liable in the event of a mishap.

Meeting report

Petition on Elder Care Leave

Mr Hendri Terblanche presented a petition on Elder Care Leave. In his petition, he referred to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), section 27, on family responsibility leave, and stated that the mentioned section allowed employees to take care of parents and grandparents when they died, but made no mention of taking care of them when they were sick. The elderly were prone to Alzheimer’s Discease and lose their eyesight, but there was no one to take care of them. He also noted that not everyone was in a position to take unpaid leave. The National Health Insurance (NHI) seeks to make health accessible to everyone, but how were the elderly going to get to the hospital to get medical help?

He said there were certain criteria to take into consideration regarding legislation. The constitution was the supreme law and every law was subject to it. It granted equality and equal protection to everyone. It granted everyone dignity. Everyone had a right to fair labour practices, so if an employee could take their child to the doctor, they should also be able to do the same for their parents. If the state acknowledged an employee’s duty of care to their children, it should extend the same duty of care to their parents.

The amendment of s27 of the BCEA must include “parents, adoptive parents or grandparents,” or alternatively the provision of elder care leave to take care of aging or terminally ill parents. This would be in line with the Bill of Rights in chapter two of the Constitution.

Section 27 2(b) needed an additional five words to cover when an employee’s child was ill – “parents, adoptive parents and grandparents.” The three days would not be changed. Control measures could be put in place, like getting medical certificates. The trend overseas was that people actually resigned to take care of their parents. He suggested elder care leave for a three-month period, considering the employer and employee, so it could be protected but be unpaid.

South Africa was part of the African Union (AU), which had a protocol on human rights of the elderly. Article 10 of the protocol speaks to the acknowledgement that in Africa, families bear the responsibility of taking care of sick elderly relatives. To date, a number of members had signed the protocol, but none had ratified it. South Africa was yet to sign.

The National Development Plan (NDP) 2030, which estimates life expectancy, by adding five words would bring legislation in line with the constitution, the NDP and the AU.


Mr M Bagraim (DA) said the definition of parent was important, and that South Africans live in a society where they care for each other. Was the proposal three days per annum? Who was going to pay for all of this? Would it be the employers or the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), because that would make it more accessible? The problem would be loss of productivity, and employers would suffer.

Ms N Nkabane (ANC) said it was a good idea, but when one wanted to transform a country there needed to be a benchmark from the best performing countries. Where else had this legislation been implemented, and how was it going? How did it affect the socio-economic development of a country?

Ms H Jordaan (FF+) said there were two options in the conclusion. The first was to amend s27(b) by inserting the five words. What was the rationale behind the second option, which was the unpaid leave?

Mr S Mdabe (ANC) asked the petitioner what his understanding of family responsibility was.

The Chairperson asked whether Mr Terblanche had checked with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) in connection with family responsibility.

Petitioner’s response

Mr Terblanche said people had different understandings of what a parent is. For example, there was the parent on one’s birth certificate, and then there was a legal definition, because the person who was on one’s birth certificate would not always be there later in life because of adoption.

It would not change the existing three days -- it would be three days in total for the year, and one would get to decide whether one day would be for one’s child and other for one’s parents.

Regarding the involvement of the UIF, currently the costs were borne by the employer, so that could remain unchanged.

Referring to international standards, he said Australia offered 10 days’ compassionate leave to care for members of one’s immediate family. Immediate family referred to spouse, child, parents and grandparents of an employee.

Family responsibility entailed taking care of one’s children to the best of one’s ability, and teaching them about life. It was also about putting their needs before one’s own.

Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) and Compensation Fund: Second quarter performance

Minister’s Overview

Mr Thulas Nxesi, Minister of Employment and Labour, said he took Parliament’s accountability role seriously, because it was the cornerstone of democracy. The officials would present the performance report to the Committee. This meeting had already been earmarked by the middleman in the compensation fund space. The Commissioner of the Competition Fund (CF) had his full support. He was leading a major campaign which had long been the target of fraud and corruption. The new system sought to strengthen and close loopholes which had provided the space for fraud. Inevitably, during the transition there would be glitches, and the officials would address those challenges. The Department would not be defensive about the weaknesses.

The new system was up and running. It was not 100%, but was on an upward trajectory. Complying service providers had had their claims paid. Compliance was very important. Third parties who complied and provided the required documentation did get their claims paid out. Third parties who did not submit the required documentation would not get paid, and they must not use blackmail and say that unless they did not get paid, workers would use the UIF. Governance and accountability were at play here. The DEL was going to fight the rise of the middleman. The actions of the Commissioner were in line with the State of the Nation Address (SONA), where the President had called for greater accountability and strengthening the controls to remove fraud and corruption.

It was equally important that CF improved the service to its clients -- the injured workers -- and not the middlemen. The energy of third parties should be spent getting the correct documentation so that their claims could be processed faster. If there were problems, there must be meetings. The DEL would continue to provide training. It would not go back to the free-for-all system. A lax regime did not work for injured workers who were trying to gather documents while the middleman got paid. People should not start mobilising the media, but instead meet with the Department.

Department’s presentation

Ms Nolukholo Sigaba, Chief Director: Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation, said there were 19 performance indicators for the year, and during quarter two, 15 had been executed and two were outstanding. The promotion of labour relations was a challenge.   The quarter two performance per programme for the financial year showed a 100% achievement rate for administration, inspection and enforcement services, as well as for public employment services. For labour policy and industrial relations, only 50% of the targets were achieved. The overall achievement was at 87% for the whole Department.

On inspection and enforcement services per province, only Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape had failed to achieve 100% of the targets, reaching 75%, 50% and 50% respectively.

On administration, all communication planned activities mapped for the quarter were achieved 100%. Cases of irregular, fruitless and wasteful and/or unauthorised expenditure detected per financial year were reported to the accounting officer monthly.

A total of 185 misconduct cases had been reported, and 107 were finalised.  79 cases were still pending.

On irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure, damage to rental/state vehicles accounted for 49 of the cases received, while nine cases were for loss of property.

On inspection and enforcement services, 112 661 employers were inspected to determine compliance with employment law against a target of 110 346, and 11 471 had been found to be non-compliant. These had been served with notices within 14 calendar days of the Inspection, and 3 443 of them had failed to comply with the served notice, resulting in referrals for prosecution.

The budget for the quarter amounted to R855 million, of which R778 million (89.9%) was spent.  The compensation of employees (CoE) had been an issue for the Department. The budget was R332 million and expenditure was R313, or 94%.  Goods and services had a budget of R195 million, and expenditure was R143 million (73%). On transfers and subsidies, mainly to public entities, the budget was R317 million, and the amount transferred was R309 million (96%). The capital assets budget was R19.7 million, and the expenditure was R16.8 million (85%) for the quarter.


Ms Nkabane commended the Department for its high-level of performance. However, the challenge of fruitless and wasteful expenditure could not be avoided. As the Department had indicated, there had been consequence management, but it also had to look into other avenues to mitigate the wasting of money, because it was increasing instead of decreasing

Mr X Ngwezi (IFP) asked whether, upon looking at the financial record and what had already been spent, the money was enough to last through the financial year. In Gauteng, the DEL had not achieved it targets because its fleet was not sufficient -- was that issue being addressed, because it should not come up in the next presentation. On misconduct cases, was it not enough merely to use gender, rather than indicating the race of the culprits? This information allowed anyone reading the report to draw conclusions, so it should be removed. Issues of race were very sensitive. Even gender was questionable.

On irregular expenditure, the Municipal Financial Management Act (MFMA) was clear on what should be done. The Treasury was clear on the fact that if there was irregular expenditure, it must be investigated. All departmental cars were not insured. If all departments had a problem with irregular expenditure and the vehicles were not insured, then action had to be taken promptly when accidents occurred. What prevented lawmakers from doing that, because if this was not addressed, there would always be the same issues.  Of all the accidents that happened, was not even a single employee at fault?

He was happy about what the Minister had said on cutting the middleman out, and he would be given maximum support. Corruptive practices and fraud must be combated.

Mr N Hinana (DA) said he appreciated what the Minister had said about fraud and corruption, and that he had given good advice. Where corruption and fraud had been found, how many had been charged for it? Had the money ever been recovered?  What was the nature of the misconduct referred to? In the workplace, people came from different backgrounds and many behaviours were not allowed, so details on the nature of the misconduct would allow the Committee to think of remedial action that could be taken. 

On the performance per province, Gauteng was over-populated, but if there was underperformance, what was the contributing factor? In provinces like Limpopo, it made sense due to capacity and other factors. What was being done about this? South Africa was trying to fight poverty, so municipalities that were suffering should be assisted because it meant that people who lived in those areas were also suffering. Some inspectors were using their own vehicles – who bore the responsibility for any liabilities?  

Ms A Zuma (ANC) said that Mpumalanga and Northern Cape had not performed well, so what kind of intervention would be given in these provinces? Did the DEL prioritise disabled persons when it advertised vacancies?

Mr M Nontsele (ANC) asked what steps had been taken to ensure that critical posts were addressed.

The Chairperson asked that the Department explain the type of misconduct referred to, as well as fraud.

Department’s response

The Acting Director General responded that on irregular expenditure, there was a sensitivity about breaking down the information, but the Department would look into breaking it down and giving further clarity.

On accidents, not every official had been found to be not liable. About 20% had been found liable. The Department needed to go beyond instituting misconduct procedures and look at interventions to tighten issues around these occurrences.

On the underperformance of provinces, the vacancy rates were at 6% and there had been an improvement. It also mattered which posts were vacant. The Northern Cape, Gauteng and Mpumalanga did not have inspectors, and the work had come to a halt.   In Kimberley, the inspector had been sick for a long time ,and that had had long term effects. 500 more inspectors were being recruited.

On inspectors using their own cars, policy allowed for that. When there were shortages in the fleet, people were willing, and there was also a subsidy from the state.  

Gauteng had more challenges than other provinces, but there was an action plan to assist with improvements. The interventions had worked, because all three provinces had shown an improvement rate of 25%.

The Chairperson asked for further clarity on the budget spent.

Mr Bheki Maduna, Chief Financial Officer (CFO): DEL, responded that there was a fleet of about 2 000 vehicles, and damage to vehicles was inherent in the business. Sometimes, third parties were involved.  The PFMA stated that insurances could not be taken out, so the government would take some losses. It clearly stated that if there was no negligence and the official had a valid licence, did not deviate from the route and was not under the influence, the state would be held vicariously liable.

He assured the Committee that the budget would be enough to last the financial year, and that there might even be a small percentage of under-spending.


Compensation Fund

Mr Vuyo Mafata, Compensation Commissioner, said 50% of the overall performance targets had been achieved. On administration, none of the targets was achieved.  On compensation for occupational injuries and diseases services operations, 50% of the targets were achieved. On medical services, 50% was achieved. Orthotic and rehabilitation had achieved 100%.

On performance trends, quarter three would experience lower performance volumes due to the transition from the old claims system (uMehluko) to the new (Compeasy). The entity was meeting twice a week to monitor the status of addressing issues raised.

Regarding under performance, the implementation of the approved annual risk-based audit plan had not been achieved because the risk maturity assessment report was not completed. The targeted percentage of approved benefits paid within five working days was also not achieved, because Items were stuck in the staging area during the uMehluko era. This would be due to the claims failing validation checks at the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) to enable their integration into the SAP finance system for payment.

The 2019/20 budget for the administration programme was R3 092 141, and the programme had recorded an expenditure of R864 083 (28%). None of the Annual Performance Plan (APP) administration targets planned for quarter two had been achieved.

The budget for the compensation for occupational injuries and diseases (COID) services programme was R992 720, and the programme had recorded an expenditure of R254 709 (26%).  50% of the APP targets planned for quarter two had been achieved.

The budget for the medical benefits programme was R 3 036 432, and the programme had recorded an expenditure of R1 337 065 (44%).  50% of the APP targets planned for quarter two were achieved by the programme.

The 2019/20 revised budget for the orthotic and rehabilitation services programme was R64 975, and the programme had recorded an expenditure of R45 476 (70%).  All of the APP targets planned for quarter two were achieved by the programme.

There were three types of benefits clients received from the Compensation Fund -- medical, compensation and pension.

A total amount of R1.6 billion was paid towards benefits between 1 April and 30 November 2019. Of the total amount paid, 84% was paid towards medical benefits, 5% towards compensation benefits and 11% towards pension benefits. The implication was that the Fund paid a lot towards medical benefits, and less towards compensation benefits


Mr Bagraim said that the bottom line was that service providers had not been paid for six months. There had been a complete failure by the Department. If it was the service providers’ fault, they should be given feedback and told why they had not been paid, and also what they needed to correct. This would cost the Department nothing. The intermediaries were paid by the companies themselves. If there was corruption and fraud, then there should be prosecutions, and one will presumably see this in the next few weeks. 

There had been six months of uselessness, and people were not getting paid. Many companies were facing closure and could not pay employees, and were retrenching. Online surveys showed that they had had to reduce staff, administration and reduce payments, and doctors could not see patients anymore because they did not get paid. There was a real issue here, and all that was needed were solutions. A 90% achievement here and there was not acceptable if the most vulnerable of society were being let down. People had been injured and could not access any medical help at all because of the Fund. All hell had broken loose when the Department changed systems.

The Chairperson said Mr Bagraim should not have waited for this meeting. If there was something that he had picked up in his constituency, he should communicate with the Department, and if that did not work then he should communicate with the Minister. If that failed, he could come to the office of the Chairperson. Now that the Competition Fund was here, the Committee should allow them to respond. One could not dispute what they were saying when one had not communicated with them. As Chairperson, she had never received any complaint from Members. The Committee had to conduct its work in a way that protects the integrity of Parliament.

Mr Bagraim responded that the Chairperson was mistaken. He had written to the Minister, the Director General and the Commissioner. It had been on the radio and the front page of the newspapers, but there had not been a response.

The Chairperson said her office had never received any letters.

Mr Ngwezi said that if what Mr Bagraim had said was true, then it would be fair to address the issue, since all the stakeholders were present.

Dr M Cardo (DA) said that a lot had been said about fraud and corruption, but that was not the issue. The main issue was that Compensation Fund had a new system that was inaugurated in October last year, and it was completely dysfunctional. It simply did not work. Talk about fraud and corruption was an attempt to distract from what should be the focus of the day. Because of the new system, claims could not be lodged, people could not be paid, and medical practitioners had to shut their doors. Injured workers ended up suffering. He expressed his disappointment at the Minister’s statement that there were glitches in the system. It was a colossal understatement -- the system simply did not work. It was a mess, and the Committee could not be given vague platitudes and assurances that this would be sorted out. What was needed was a comprehensive action plan on how this would be dealt with. The core issue was not that third parties were submitting incorrect documentation. The core issue was that the IT system, which cost R300 million, had been a complete and unmitigated disaster, and had created monumental problems for medical practitioners. The question was, when would there be a comprehensive action plan on how to deal with the backlog, and how would claims be paid out going forward?

Ms Jordaan agreed with Dr Cardo, but contended that there was no time for an action plan -- action had to be taken immediately. She was getting calls that a business with 21 employees was closing down because the Fund had not paid out. Invoices that were correct were being paid, but the majority of them could not be logged on easily because of the system. That there needed to be better control was not in dispute, but the injured workers were at the centre, and they could not get help if they could not see the medical practitioners.

Ms Nkabane said that the report indicated that the percentage of invoices finalised within 40 days of receipt by quarter two was 94%, but now it was 72%. They had regressed -- what were the hindrances? The Commissioner had indicated that there had been a migration to a new system, and the Committee welcomed the initiative as a control measure, to ensure that the system was not prone to fraud and corruption. What plan did the Fund have in place to improve its performance? How far was it in completing the annual risk-based audit plan, and why had it not been completed? When was the anticipated completion date?

Mr Mdabe referred to the medical invoices finalised within 40 working days, and said the question was related to on the number of workers, which was 467 000 -- and that excluded miners and workers in the steel industry. Where did that leave the Department’s economically and from a productivity viewpoint? Why was this affecting only the public sector?  A forensic investigation must be instituted. How could 467 000 people get injured at work in one quarter?  There was a need to ensure that the system worked efficiently.

He said the value of the 1.2 million processed claims that where transferred from uMehluko was questionable. The media in South Africa would not have kept quiet if more than 1.2 million workers had been injured in South Africa. If an intermediary had been employed by an employer who had not complied with the occupation health standards (OHS), it was not his fault that the claim was submitted for compensation. At the same time, if those claims exceeded a thousand, the media would have had a field day and pointed out that the Department was not working. A reconciliatory report was needed, indicating how many workers had come from which sector, as well as the medical institutions that had treated them. This would indicate who was working and who was not working. He said he supported the Minister

Mr Ngwezi supported the forensic investigation, not because he doubted that the claims were false, but in order to find a balance. There were many sick people in the economic sector who were waiting to get paid. Some would not be able to work the way they used to before the injuries. Even the allegation that the system was making it difficult to process claims, those who were experiencing difficulty must present themselves to the Department to ascertain whether the problem was the system or something else. The Department could then deal with them on a case by case basis.

Did the Fund have a system of informing workers whose claims had not been processed?  No one could go for six months without getting paid, and not be made aware. Communication was key.  He supported the idea of a new system if institutions that submitted claims on behalf of the injured found it difficult to do so. The Department must help those institutions and tell them what was required for the claims to be processed.

Mr Nontsele said that the problem was that there was a report that had been presented, and people were making off the record allegations of unpaid service providers. Perhaps the proposals that had been put forward should be supported, in that claimants could approach the Office of the Minister or DG to get help themselves. He wanted to follow up on the gaps that arose from this, and were perhaps part and parcel of the way forward.

The first complaint was that service providers had not been paid for six months. What had been happening to service providers for six months, because the implication was that they were facing closure? There was no focus on the injured workers -- the emphasis consistently was on offices that were about to close. In the public domain, when such numbers were involved, they would come forward. However, there had been absolute silence from the other side. There needed to be a concrete report detailing the sectors involved so there was a proper break down of affected workers. Simultaneously, service providers must provide the number of individual workers who had been affected, to isolate fact from fiction. Where there was fact, appropriate answers could be provided.

One also had to look at the extent to which the system was not working. The Committee had to expose itself to the environment so it could familiarise itself with the operations centre. It was a fallacy that there were such high numbers that they were creating an environment where health and safety in the workplace was a major concern.

He concluded that it would be helpful that in future, where there was information of wrongdoing -- particularly involving agents of government -- Members should bring facts and not general statements. If the facts were related to non-payment, how many workers were affected, which sectors were affected, how could one make it possible for them to sustain themselves, and how much was involved? Currently, they were sitting with unfounded accusations until they familiarised themselves with facts.

The Chairperson said that as Members of Parliament, they should take responsibility. There had never been a time when this Committee had questioned a department that had had disclaimers for more than five years. They had to take responsibility that they had failed, and that their interests had been skewed. Leadership was about acknowledgement where one had erred. Members had to ask themselves why. The Commissioner could have been explicit on the remedial actions, but the impression created was that stakeholders had not communicated with. She asked for the response to help the Committee understand exactly what it was that they were dealing with.

Compensation Fund’s response

The Commissioner responded that it was not true that payments had not been made in six months. The facts were right there. If one looked at the benefits paid out for the last six months, they were close to R1 billion, and not everything had been paid. Invoices and benefits went through a process, and not everything got paid out until certain processes were completed and done. Mr Bagraim had sent queries related to specific individuals, and those had been sorted out. The only letter he had seen was one in Business Day, and he was not sure whether the Department was supposed to respond to that.

The system was functional, but not optimal. For it to be optimal, all stakeholders would need to play their part. Workers had to register, and those who treated clients had to register. One had to be mindful of the transitional period and disruption that it would have caused. In November 2018, the requirements for the submission of claims had published in the Government Gazette to make sure that when people completed claims, they knew what was required. In July, the Department had engaged with stakeholders and published in the Gazette that from 1 October, these were the requirements for a medical invoice, and if it did not meet the requirements, it would not be processed. This was to ensure that invoices were paid more quickly. The process was quicker when the invoices in the system were valid, as opposed to first having to ascertain whether the invoices were valid or not.

Umehloku had 45 000 registered users, of which 15 000 were active. At the end of August, the Fund opened a window for registration, and told them of the new requirements. Gone were the days where one would register without anyone validating whether a person was a representative of an employer, and whether one also had the approval of the company one was representing.  When the window was closed, emails were sent to all 45 000 users, and 15 000 had active email addresses. At closure of the campaign, only 600 people had responded and only 115 had submitted the correct documentation, and they were given access to the system. As it stood, there were close to 3 400 user registration requests, and only 1 677 users were active on the system and had complied with all requirements.

Regarding backlogs, there were 8 000 claims registered to date -- any other claim was not with the compensation fund. For it to be registered, it had to be on the system. When the system opened for the switching of invoices in November, some had submitted invoices and others had not. 123 000 had been switched successfully, and 3 000 were captured manually in the system. Close to 80 000 were rejected by the system because they did not meet the requirements, and the system did alert users when a claim had been rejected. Some had been rejected incorrectly because of data migration problems, but some rejections were valid. The Compensation Fund had tried to close the loophole by ensuring that people could claim only from a specific catalogue. If that failed, they could not claim from another one.

There was a communication process around user registration that offered assistance to people who struggled to register. There was not automatic access to the system, because there was a process to be followed. When financial transactions had taken place, they had to be honoured by using public money, and that was why the measures were stringent. If there were submitted claims in the system, it was easy to come up with comprehensive plans on when they could be dealt with. Invoices that were being submitted were being worked on. As at 24 February, R70 million in medical invoices had been paid. In February, the Department had made an app available that allowed medical practitioners to capture their invoices without having to submit them manually, but one still had to be registered as a user on the system.

Referring to the decline in the quarter two performance, he said had resulted from the response to some of the recommendations from the Auditor General. It had been recommended that because of the weaknesses in the system, there should not be an automated approval at the beginning of the claims process, because no one knew the validity of the claims. These approvals had therefore been moved to much later in the process, and that had caused a delay.  Because of these additional controls, they could not pay the large volumes that had been paid by uMehluko prior to its closure.

The new system allowed for feedback from stakeholders. The transitional period would be successful if everyone played their role.

The actual number of injuries was 82 567, and 79 000 had been adjudicated. 467 000 invoices may be related to the 82 567, and other cases may involve even older claims. This was a large number, and that was why the Fund was working together with inspection and enforcement. The Minister had approved the creation of 500 new inspectors to work with employers, to make sure that injuries in the workplace were prevented.

Informing the worker was a problem, because the worker was not the one who submitted the claim, and sometimes it was not the employer. If the person did not have the means to come to the centre, then the claim remained unprocessed.

Minister Nxesi made a proposal to the Committee that letters be submitted to him. Fortunately, DEL staff had attended the meeting. The Committee must allow them to meet with affected groups and deal with their concerns on a case by case basis, even if it meant opening up an operational centre. For clarity, there were requirements that had to be met for payments to be made. An audit also needed to be done.  On the causes of injuries, he asked if workers were playing their role. The mining and auto sectors had not been mentioned, so which sectors were causing so many injuries? An impact study was needed to see the impact of this on ordinary workers.

He said the ministry must be allowed to present a turnaround plan on the structure and systems, because systems did not end with IT systems only. Schools should also be looked at, because this was a technical area. They should also present a progress report, even if meant doing so on a monthly basis. The Department was not fighting with Mr Bagraim, and would deal systematically with all the raised issues.

The Chairperson said that the meeting had exposed the challenges that the Committee faces. The Commissioner had pointed out that there was a Gazette that outlined what needs to be done regarding claims. It would be disappointing if Members did not know of the Gazette. If it meant that a centre had to be opened to process claims, then so be it, but people should not take chances. The Committee would look into the process of oversight, and she would communicate with the office. This would allow the Committee to speak with authority after exposure to the environment.

Moving forward, the Committee would not mince their words, and the ministry had indicated that it would not be business as usual. Change was not welcomed easily, but it was necessary. She cautioned that before going to the media, one should make sure that the information was credible to protect the integrity of the Department and the Portfolio Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.

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