The Portfolio Committee on Public Service Administration adopted and approved five Budget Vote Reports, after final deliberations, as required by the 2009 Money Bills Act.
The Reports are for the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), Public Service Commission (PSC), National School of Government (NSG), and Statistics South Africa (Stats SA),
Members highlighted Stats SA’s historical challenges in filling vacant positions, saying it was imperative for Stats SA to fill all critical positions to retain its additional funding.
The Committee was careful not to intrude on the Department of Public Service and Administration’s wage negotiations, after the public wage bill reductions. It advised the Department to collaborate with National Treasury to devise a workable strategy of implementing the wage bill, without the effect of any job losses in the public sector.
Members unanimously adopted the Reports, with the exception of the EFF, who dissented.
The DA wanted to be sure the Committee did not intrude into the Departments domain by being too prescriptive and detailed in how the Department must implement the wage bill.
The Chairperson said the purpose of the meeting is to revisit key observations and amendment propositions to adopt in the Budget Vote. There are five reports from the Committee’s previous meeting on 21 May, namely the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), Public Service Commission (PSC), National School of Government (NSG), and Statistics South Africa (Stats SA).
The Chairperson said there were no apologies. Ms R Lesoma (ANC) reminded the Chairperson, Ms V Malomane (ANC) is on compassionate leave for the death of her mother. The Chairperson noted the point, and thanked the Committee for supporting Ms Malomane during this time, as Members sent individual condolences.
Final Consideration of Key Observations, Recommendations and Conclusions (DPSA)
The Committee Content Advisor said only a few recommendations were amended in the DPSA report. The Committee previously concluded in section 13.3, the Department must fill critical funded positions at a senior level to ensure stability, service delivery, good governance and continuity.
Members unanimously agreed on this point.
The Content Advisor told Members the second amendment was on section 13.4, where the Committee asked for a timeframe, and agreed on the deadline of 20 September 2020 to table the motion in Parliament.
The Content Advisor said the final amendment was 13.9 where the Committee decided the wording must be amended to include domestic investment to encourage regional trade.
Ms Lesoma said she agreed with these amendments.
Ms M Kibi (ANC) seconded Ms Lesoma’s endorsement of the amendments.
Ms Lesoma asked if the former Director General’s (DG’s) appreciation for excellent service was included in the conclusion of the report.
The Content Advisor said the DG’s appreciation was set out in the latter part of the conclusions.
The Chairperson noted this.
Final Consideration of Key Observations, Recommendations and Conclusions (Stats SA report)
The Content Advisor said there was an amendment to section 9.4 of the Stats SA report, asking Stats SA to be as inclusive as possible in its approach to ensure rural communities are not excluded.
Ms Lesoma said she felt the wording captured her inputs from the previous meeting.
Mr S Malatsi (DA) agreed with Ms Lesoma. The wording fitted what he envisioned in his contribution as well.
The Content Advisor said the Committee’s recommendation for the Statistics Council to improve communication was deleted following Ms Lesoma’s finding it was superfluous, as Stats SA already communicates with the communities daily.
The Chairperson noted this.
The Content Advisor highlighted the Committee’s previous deliberation on the issue of Stats SA’s worker compensation, and the institutions unique historical challenges in filling vacant positions. For Section 9.4 of the report, it concluded it is important to use the figures stated in the Minister of Finance’s budget. This is to emphasise that if this target is not reached the National Treasury may reallocate these funds.
Ms Lesoma endorsed this point.
The Chairperson asked Members to deliberate and adopt the Report.
Ms Kibi moved to motion the adoption of the Report.
Mr I Cebekhulu (IFP) agreed and seconded the motion to adopt this Report.
The Stats SA Budget Vote Report was adopted.
Ms Lesoma asked if the DPMA Report was adopted.
Ms Kibi said it was not adopted.
The Committee Secretary agreed and said the DPSA report was not formally adopted, advising the Chairperson to first follow the adoption protocols for this report before proceeding to the next Report. This would avoid confusion.
The Chairperson asked Members to proceed with the adoption of the Report.
Ms Lesoma moved to motion the adoption of the DPSA Report with the relevant amendments.
Ms Kibi ratified Ms Lesoma’s motion.
The Chairperson noted there were no dissenting views in this regard.
The Department of Public Service and Administration Budget Vote Report was adopted
Final Consideration of Key Amendments and adoption of PSC report
The Content Advisor read the Committee’s finding in Section 6.6. It is about the Committee suggesting the anticorruption hotline must be under the jurisdiction of the PSC. This is because the Constitution envisages the PSC as leading the anticorruption endeavour, and there should only be one central hotline.
Members agreed with the amendment in Section 6.6.
The Content Advisor read the amendments in Section 7.1. It reads, the anticorruption hotline must be listed as an essential service and during this period of expediency citizens are encouraged to report corruption to the National Anticorruption Hotline.
Dr L Schreiber (DA) said using the word “expediency” was incorrect because it means something is done hastily, without good quality. He suggested it be replaced with the word “difficulty”.
The Content advisor replaced the word “expediency” with the word “difficulty”.
The Committee was happy with the amendments in the PSC report.
Ms B Maluleke (ANC) moved to motion the adoption of the PSC Report with the final amendments.
Ms Kibi seconded this motion.
The Public Service Commission Budget Vote Report was adopted.
Final Consideration of Key Amendments and Adoption of NSG Budget Vote Report
The Content Advisor said the Committee amended the conclusion to include the funding model must be prioritised by the School to keep it afloat.
The Chairperson said there were no dissents on the NSG Report amendments.
Ms Lesoma moved to motion the adoption of the NSG Report.
Ms Kibi seconded the motion to adopt the NSG Report with the relevant amendments.
The National School of Government Budget Vote Report was adopted.
Final Consideration of Key Observations and Recommendations of DPME report
The Content Advisor said the Committee agreed on a 90-day timeframe in section 10.6 of the Report.
Members agreed on this amendment.
The Content Advisor said Ms Lesoma made a point in the previous meeting about the PAM (Public Administration Management Act), and Public Service Act being clustered as one point in the Report.
Ms Lesoma said it is not fitting for the recommendations on PAM and the PSA to be clustered.
The Content Advisor agreed this had to be corrected, as the Acts have different objectives and these targets will be better captured if separated under two points in the final draft.
Members agreed and the Report was amended accordingly.
Ms Maluleke asked if Section 11.6 was a repetition of the observation on the public wage bill.
The Content Advisor said there was an observation about the public wage bill in section 10.14, but it was not entirely repeated in section 11.6.
Ms Lesoma said when the Committee makes recommendations, it does so generally according to the public service. However, when the Committee makes a recommendation, these recommendations must be measurable and implementable, because departments will have to implement accordingly through various means such as restructuring.
Ms Lesoma said the Department may not be able to voice its views on the Committee’s recommendations until the Department has considered if it is able to implement the Committee’s recommendations. In the wage matter, the Committee is making its recommendations to the Department based on the Minister of Finance’s proposals. This may affect the ongoing wage negotiations in the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), because the wage negotiations may appear to be in bad faith.
Ms Lesoma suggested section 11.6 be reworded as follows:
“The DPSA in collaboration with Treasury must play a leading role during salary negotiations, by sensitising organised labour unions about the impact of the wage bill, and jointly devise a workable strategy to mitigate the situation without experiencing any job losses in the public service. The Department and National Treasury must present a report on the strategy and progress made to reduce the wage bill, together in Parliament in February.”
She said the reason for the joint initiative is because National Treasury reports to Parliament and not to the Committee.
The Chairperson noted Ms Lesoma’s submission, saying it was well worded.
Dr Schreiber felt Ms Lesoma’s recommendation was overly prescriptive and detailed in saying how the wage bill reduction must be executed. He felt it is intruding into the Department’s work. However, he agreed it is the Committee’s mandate to guide the Department by affirming the Minister of Finance’s proposal. The Committee is aware of the Department’s challenges and must give more flexibility to how the Department must implement the Committee’s recommendations. He stated the Committee must be specific and clear in encouraging the Department to meet the budget targets.
Ms Maluleke agrees with Ms Lesoma’s proposed recommendation. She said it merely affirms the budget targets and asks the Department to comply with those budget targets, while working with Treasury to ensure there are no job losses.
Mr C Sibisi NFP) seconded Ms Lesoma’s proposal and endorsed Ms Maluleke’s thoughts on the matter.
Dr Schreiber said if the Committee adds the condition of no job losses, the Committee will be intruding into the domain of the Department’s negotiations with workers on how best to implement the Wage Bill reductions. He supports the other recommendations in the Report but cannot support this particular recommendation based on his findings.
The Chairperson noted Dr Schreiber’s dissent.
Ms Kibi said in her view, the request to ensure no job losses, is not a condition, but a recommendation. The issue on job losses in the Department is also one of great importance to this Committee.
The Chairperson said the majority supported Ms Lesoma’s recommendation and settled to amend the report accordingly. However he said Dr Schreiber’s dissent will be noted.
Ms Lesoma agreed with the Chairperson, saying her recommendations are based on what was formally presented to Members by the DPMSA. The Committee is merely taking a cue from the Minister of Finance to encourage the Department to meet the budget targets. She said if the DPMA leads the wage bill reduction, implementing it according to its own prerogative without the National Treasury, it will undermine the ethos of consultative and co-operative governance. The Committee would have made a mistake relating to service delivery and those it affects.
Ms M Ntuli (ANC) agreed with Ms Lesoma’s recommendation and said she previously expressed the recommendation must be in clear and concise language. She asked Members to adopt the recommendation in Ms Lesoma’s wording.
Dr Schreiber asked for the exact text of the proposed recommendation to be projected on the screen for clarity, so he could better formulate the DA dissent.
The Chairperson agreed.
Ms Lesoma dictated her recommendation and the Content Advisor captured it.
Dr Schreiber asked for clarity on the February 2021 deadline.
Ms Lesoma said according to timelines, the Committee would have dealt with the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) and the Minister will be tabling the 2021/2022 budget.
Dr Schreiber, after reading Ms Lesoma’s recommendation, agreed with her proposal and conceded he misunderstood thinking the first part will be omitted in favour Ms Lesoma’s proposal. He saw now this was not the case. He apologised to Members for the confusion.
The Chairperson allowed Members to deliberate on the adoption the Report.
Ms Kibi moved to motion the adoption of the Report with its respective amendments.
Mr Sibisi seconded Ms Kibi’s motion for the adoption of the Report.
The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Budget Vote Report was adopted.
The Content advisor informed Members the amendments are captured and there may be slight changes in the numbering.
Ms C Motsepe (EFF) said she had technical difficulties, and was unable to voice her views on the Reports during the duration of the meeting. She objects to the adoption of all the Reports, except for the Stats SA Report, which she agrees with.
The Chairperson said Ms Motsepe’s dissents will be captured in the minutes and permitted, the Committee Secretary proceeded with announcements.
General Administrative Matters
The Committee Secretary told Members the Reports will be sent to the ATC for adoption to the House by next week, when the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) concludes its processes.
Agenda items will be forwarded for the meeting on 10 June. A meeting will be scheduled for 10 June and 17 June.
The Chairperson extended gratitude to Members for co-operation and dignified deliberations. He appreciated Members for always being courteous even amidst opposing views during debates.
The meeting was adjourned.
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