Oversight Visit to Limpopo Report; 2003 Annual Report; Committee Programme First Term 2004: adoption

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Meeting report

LABOUR & PUBLIC ENTERPRISES SELECT COMMITTEE
12 November 2003
OVERSIGHT VISIT TO LIMPOPO REPORT; 2003 ANNUAL REPORT; COMMITTEE PROGRAMME FIRST TERM 2004: ADOPTION


Chairperson: Ms C Nkuna

Documents handed out:
First Term Committee Programme 2004 (Appendix 1)
Oversight Visit to Limpopo Report (Appendix 2)
Labour & Public Enterprises Select Committee Annual Report

SUMMARY

The Committee noted that the time delays were a serious problem due to communication breakdown. Members felt that they were not timeously informed of the meeting as well as various other logistical issues. The Chairperson also noted that this was very frustrating as there were not enough members to meet the requirements of six members in order to adopt the necessary documentation. It was proposed that the agenda be addressed and necessary decisions be made by the five members present.

The Oversight Visit to Limpopo Report, the Committee programme for the first term 2004 was adopted. The 2003 Annual Report pending amendments was adopted

MINUTES

First Term Committee Programme 2004
The Chairperson proposed that the third item on the agenda be addressed which was accepted.

Discussion
Ms N D Ntwanambi (ANC) noted that the following correction and inquiry:
29th - 30th January 2003 should read 29th - 30th January 2004. She also inquired as to the official opening date of Parliament for 2004.

The Chairperson replied to the query by informing her that to the best of her knowledge the official opening was on the 9 January 2004.

Ms Ntwanambi then proposed that it should be accepted.

The Chairperson noted that Committee work should be engaged in prior to proposed opening in order for adoption of the necessary documentation on return.

The proposal was accepted and seconded by Mr B J Tolo (ANC).

Consideration on report on the oversight visit to Limpopo
Please refer to attached document.

The joint two day visit by the Select Committee of Foreign and Economic Affairs and Labour and Public Enterprises to the Limpopo Province on the 22 August 2003 was discussed. Considering the nature of the cluster the first day was focused on Economic Affairs and the second on Labour and Public Enterprises. The Chairperson then opened the floor up for any discussions and amendments before adopting report.

Discussion
Mr Tolo noted that the following correction should be made:
In section A: Terms of Reference; Polokwane Province should be changed to read Limpopo Province as Polokwane was a town in Limpopo and not the Province itself. Accepted.

Mr F Adams (NNP) noted that the heading of Section C: Findings;had been incorrectly spelt. The Chairperson also noted a spelling error on page two, point number ten under the heading Public Internet Terminals (PiT) Sites. Kgatswane (MPCC) should be spelt Kgautswane. It was agreed upon that the format and tabulation of the Question and Answer sections remain as is as they are clear and concise. With no further queries the report was adopted.

Annual Report 2003
Please refer to attached Annual Report

The Chairperson informed the Committee that the guidelines for the annual reports as to the format had been established. She realised that the Committee report followed the guidelines but certain aspects should be added as appendices. The problem therefore was with the location of certain sections.

The report was adopted on the grounds that the necessary amendments would be made.

Discussion
Mr Tolo queried the date commencing on the 21 May 2002. He needed clarity as to what stipulated the year in terms of what calendar was being used. He asked whether it conformed to the governmental year (April - April) if so the date commencing from 21 May 2002 would have three months unaccounted for.

Ms Ntwanambi agreed noting that the document included financial matters. She proposed that financial expenses be compiled separately due to the missing three months as there was no information on which to base financial statements on. The Chairperson replied that many financial statements from various stakeholders would be either viewed or acknowledged (to be decided). Financial statements already sent have been acknowledged as all must be considered by the Committee and accounted for. The secretary would investigate the amounts spent.

Mr Tolo also felt that the date was on financial aspects was incorrect. He proposed that the financial aspects be left out at this stage.

Chairperson proposed that the Committee move to the next section on the grounds that they accept this notion on the grounds that the finances be left out at this time (for further clarity if financial expenditure should be included with the annual report).

Mr Tolo also acknowledged the fact that he was not part of the Committee from the beginning. This should be noted as it created the wrong impression.

Both Mr Adams and Mr R Z Nogumla (ANC) agreed as they had the same concern. It was agreed that the error would to be rectified.

The Chairperson proposed that if there were no further queries as to the annual report and if the issues raised were to be clarified that the report to be adopted.

The report was adopted on the grounds that the necessary amendments would be made which was seconded by Mr Nogumla.

Meeting was adjourned

Appendix 1

SELECT COMMITTEE ON LABOUR & PUBLIC ENTERPRISES

PROP0SED PROGRAMME 1ST TERM 2004

(26 January - 5 February 2004)

 

DATE

TIME

VENUE

 

AGENDA

 

27 January 2004

 

To be confirmed

Briefing by Department of Communication: Annual Report

Adoption of committee annual report -2003

28 January 2004

 

To be confirmed

Briefing by Department of Labour: Annual Report

29 -30 January 2004

FULL DAY

PRETORIA

Workshop by DPE on the Role and Future Plans of the Department of Public Enterprises towards Effective Shareholder Management

3 February 2004

 

 

Briefing by the DPE on key achievements and benefits of governments restructuring plans

4-5 February 2004

FULL DAY

 

Oversight visit to Alexkor in Alexander Bay

 

This programme is provisional and subject to change


Appendix 2
REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON LABOUR AND PUBLIC ENTERPRISES ON OVERSIGHT THE VISIT TO LIMPOPO PROVINCE

ON 22 AUGUST 2003

  1. TERMS OF REFERENCE

In order to encourage clustering of activities amongst relevant committees, the Select Committee on Foreign and Economic Affairs and Labour and Public Enterprises, undertook a joint visit to the Polokwane Province. This report captures those issues, which are relevant to the Select Committee on Labour and Public Enterprises (the Committee)

The aim of the visit, was to the assess challenges that are faced by the Province within the Telecommunications and Postal Services Sectors

B. LOGISTICAL ARRANGEMENTS

The delegation consisted of the following persons:

Mrs C Nkuna (Chairperson),

Mr G Tolo,

Mr L Lever,

Mr Z Nogumla

Mr N Raju

Mrs N Ramodibe

Ms Phumza Mpoyiya (Committee Secretary)

Mr E Kgopa (Committee Secretary)

The Department of Communications (the Department) assisted with arranging for the briefings, site visit and drafting of the programme for the week (refer to Annexure A).

C. FINDINGS

  1. Briefing by the Unit Manager: Postal Services Department of Communications and visit to a Public Internet Terminal ( PiT) in Polokwane

Mr Makoni Masemola and briefly identified the services offered by the post Office. In responding to the aim of the committee's visit, Mrs B Motapanyane, the Unit Manager for Postal Telecommunications and Multimedia, Department of Communications gave the a presentation to the Committee.

 

A brief overview of the project/objectives

  • The Public Internet Terminal (PiT) is part of the Department of Communication's futuristic info. Com 2005 cluster of national projects within the Information Communications Technology (ICT) arena, to be implemented over the coming years as the foundation for both the information society and information economy.
  • Public Internet Terminal (PiT) is a joint project between the Department of Communications and South African Post Offices Limited (SAPO)
  • The objective of PiT is to create a communication structure through which the public will also be empowered to have the electronic access to information and communication via electronic mail.
  • There are six (6) basic categories of services offered by PiT which include Government Information, E-mail Services, Internet Browsing, Business Section, Educational services and SMS from Pit to own cell phone or own email address.

Extension of postal services in Pholokwane

The postal sector is seen as a critical part of Information and communications Infrastructure and services to assist in bridging the digital divide through economic growth and improved access to basic communications services. To respond to this challenge the Department has introduced the concept of Citizens Post Offices (CPOs) targeting those communities serviced by rural post offices. The facility involved a bank of computers with e-mail and Internet connectivity, photocopier, printer, scanner, binder, fax and public telephones. In the Limpopo Province, the Department has deployed a CPO in Elim Hospital in the Makhado area. Attempts are underway to roll out another CPO at Sekhukhune Post Office in the Greater Sekhukhune Municipality, Further a MPCC (Multi-purpose community center) to be rolled out in Ximungwe Post Office and Casteel MPCC in Bohlabela Municipality. These will be completed by 31 March 2004.

The trend in the ulitisation of Elim Hospital CPO indicates that services such as photocopiers, faxes and public telephones are more popular as compared to computer-based services. The challenge therefore is to popularize the computer-based services through community awareness and outreach programmes. In order to address this matter, the SMEs are encouraged to participate in owning photocopiers and faxes so as to make business for themselves and women to become business partners.

PiT Sites

There are Public Internet Terminals throughout the country. In Polokwane, these have been established in the following areas:

  1. Boyne, Main Road, (next to Mori Head Quarters)
  2. Hoedspruit, Panther Street
  3. Bushbuckridge,/Jongilane, Stand 298 Arthurstone Farm
  4. Lebowakgomo, 13 Maudid Phasha Centre
  5. Mahwelereng, Shopping Complex Zone
  6. Pietersburg, Thabo Mbeki Street
  7. Thohoyhandou, Shopping Centre
  8. Letsitele
  9. Namakgale Township
  10. Kgatswane (MPCC)

Integration of services

Government has adopted the concept of multi-purpose centres to advance coordination and integration of services between the various government departments and organizations. As part of the department's contribution to this concept, the Department has extended the citizen's post office concept to the community post offices. These are Retail Postal agencies that are owned and managed by community structures such as traditional authorities, non-governmental organizational and CBOs. They are more prevalent in Limpopo, Mpumlanga and North -West Provinces. They are being integrated with other government services.

 

Challenges in the Postal services Sector

  • To ensure that all Post Offices, MPCCs, Municipal Councils and Shopping centres have PiTs .
  • Network infrastructure at some Post Offices
  • To ensure that all citizens have e-mail addresses
  • The design of PiT to cater for the needs of a broader variety of citizens, e.g. people with disability.

The Post Office has a network of approximately 3600 postal outlets through out the country. These outlets are located within different communities with wide ranging socio-economic circumstances. Therefore it is a challenge for the Department to install a PiT in Post Offices that a re located in areas where there is no network infrastructure as this depends on other role payers such as Telkom etc.

The Department is looking at moving beyond the Post Office Network. Attempts are underway to get on board other stakeholders like schools, hospitals, clinics hospitals etc.

 

 

Successes of Postal Services Sector

  • In additional to the 100 sites that are operational country wide, two hundred other sites are currently being rolled out. In these two hundred sites the focus has been on priority areas such as nodal points, (these are placed in rural or urban areas as part of Universal Services Agency)
  • 200 sites for the year 2003/04 have been identified, in rural and urban areas, through Universal Service Agency.
  • The Department is also considering the possibility to use PiT website on other computers (PC) around the world to access PiT services. On can also access the PiT website (
  • www.pit.co.za) within the comfort of your own home in your own desktop.
  • Integration of Pit to e-Government initiatives such as gateway project (these are looked at in urban areas)

 

Future Plans

  • Rolling-out of further 400 PiT's by March 2004
  • Rolling out of more PiT to MPCC, Post Offices, Health facilities, school (ABET), Municipal Councils, shopping centres and SMME.
  • Pit community pilot project to be established- the aim is to have stories about communities being collated through multi-media and be accessed from the Public Internet Terminal.
  • MPCC's to be connected by V-sats (Satellites) because of lack of SAPO's Lan
  • More joint projects with the Departments of: Health on health Education, Agriculture on branding of animals.

 

Assessment of the usage of PiT Centres

Findings on the national study, conducted about the use of the centres", where people use the facilities for different reasons, like; compilation of CV, E-business, educational, email, government and Internet search. It was found that the email system was the most popular method.

1 (b) Questions and answers:

What is the department doing to ensure that all services are centralized: one stop service?

The MPCCs were meant to serves this purpose, however departments choose to decentralize their services. However the move now is towards decentralizing and integration of services within the MPCC.

What would be the rationale of establishing PiTs here in Polokwanane, where there are services and not in rural areas?

The statistics that are provided in the report are only for Post Offices that have connectivity i.e. PiT. The Department aims to target all the areas, especially those with MPCCs.

The levels of statistics on use of PiT in this province are too low compared to the rest of the country, could this be attributed as success for the Department?

The method of tracking and tracking information is through touching of the screen.

Does the government provide for services in MPCC?

The MPCC are government driven and are open to the public and most services are free.

According to information received, the Home Affairs Department indicated that they are unable to provide these services in areas that are needed most, due to security reasons. The PiT system and MPPC concept is very useful. Is there integration with other departments? Are PiT centers prone to vandalism, what about privacy issues, how are these tracked down?

In terms of service delivery, people look at government and not the departments. There negotiations about integrating government services are underway.

There are no statistics on vandalism, it is very hard to vandalise the facility and these are placed in secured areas inside the post Office. For maintenance, managers are required to keep record of malfunctioning and relevant persons offer the services.

 

What is the relationship with the Department of home Affairs?

The Department of Home Affairs is not participating.

What is the gateway project?

The gateway project is similar to the MPCC concept. It is the initiative of the Department of Public Service and Administration, where facilities similar to the MPPC are established in urban areas, where different department services offered to the public

What is V-sats?

V-sats is a Saphan. Local -area network satellite, which does require a Telkom or an Eskom line to operate.

The proposed system on animal branding with the Department of Agriculture, is it aimed at monitoring the number of animals a farmer owns?

This is aimed at assisting when there is outbreak of diseases, controlling the movement of animals and managing to keep them within quarantine.

The smart card system, for pensioner, would it not be possible for children to collect the pension grant through this system?

It is not possible because, it requires a finger -print identity.

1 (c) Recommendations of the Committee on this presentation

The revelations on the lack of participation by the Department of Home Affairs, needs to be deliberated further with the SC Social Services and Home Affairs.

2. Report on oversight visit to a Telecommunications Sector: Universal Services Agency

Oversight visit to the Mankweng Telecentre

The Committee was welcomed by Ms Maleka, a member of the Community who also serves in the Board of the tele centre. On arrival the delegations was offered with USA files (worth R240 each) and the reception was well set with members of the Mankweng waiting to receive Members of Parliament to their place. A brief tour to the facility was followed by prepared lunch.

Background

The Centre is as a result of the initiatives by the community who identified that there is a need for such a services and a facility within proximity of the community. Through interactions with the Universal Services Agency, the telecentre was established.

The following facilities are offered in the centre: Computer training, faxing, telephone photocopier services email and Internet access.

When the delegation toured around the center, it was clear that the center is under utilized. There were very few facilities and those available could not be used properly. Upon observations the area, the following were noted, three public booths without telephones, one-person working on the computer. The photocopier machine and the fax are the only machines in operation. The building is also used as a day-care center for young toddlers, who were delighted to meet Members of Parliament and sang beautiful rhymes.

Sucesses of the Telecentre

People are no longer walking long distances to make calls, surf the Internet or to use the fax machine.

Through training g, some have become computer literate.

 

The following were highlighted as challenges facing the community of Makweng,

  • High level of crime, burglary makes it difficult for the centre to function properly and effectively,
  • The equipment available in the centre are not fully functional,
  • Connectivity: Huge telephone accounts, leading to close telephone links. This has been as a result of the technology supplied by Telkom, it is not conducive for internet operations as a result it takes long to make down loading and this lends to huge telephone bills.
  • Some members of the community compete with the telecentre by operating public phone cubicles nearer to the centre.

 

Recommendations to USA and the Committee

  • The community requests USA to provider tender for security of the premises in order to minimize theft and burglary
  • The need to employ a Coordinator for USA to liaise with the Head Offices of USA with regard to the needs of the centre.
  • Change of digital telkom connections, that make long waits before a connection is made, thus resulting in huge telephone accounts.

Members asked the following questions on the Tele centre

How frequent do members of the community use the facilities in the centre?

When the centre was started, 70% of the community was using facility. However due to challenges indicated, the numbers have dwindled. Attempts are underway to understand the problem and consider solutions in order to encourage more usage.

Is there accreditation for lessons/courses learnt form the centre?

In absence of the manager for the centre, currently no training is being offered; the learners attend training from the neighboring centres. Universal Services Agency has a contract with the Wits Link Centre, wherein managers are offered, train-the-trainer course, which is accredited by the Wits Technikon.

After the training does the centre assist the trainees with placements?

The centre does not have a direct placement plan, however most of the learners that have received training, do get jobs as volunteers from the Department of Public Works as well in the schools around the area.

Is it not possible for telkom to adjust their tariffs?

Universal Services Agency had tried to negotiate with Telkom on this matter, but no deals could be reached.

How does USA ensure that the relevant skills are acquired through the tele centre?

USA has devised a system where, before giving training, individuals are required to commit themselves for 18 months in order to received substantial training and acquire relevant skills from the facility.

Vote of thanks

Mrs Ramodibe gave a word thanks on behalf of the committee

Concluding remarks on the report

The Chairperson of the Committee Mrs Nkuna informed the Community that the Committee would give a report to Parliament on the visit. She encouraged the community to keep an eye on each other, as the burglary is at most times committed by those within the communities. It is only once all these are handled that Security Companies can be brought in.

Report to be considered.

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