Adjustment Budget: Committee Reports

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Meeting Summary

Video: Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration 16 June 2020

Tabled Committee Reports

The Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration met to consider its Revised Budget Vote Reports 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). The Reports would be adopted at the following meeting once the input of Members were incorporated.

Members expressed their discomfort regarding Brand SA and senior positions not being filled, such as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and that this must be recorded as it becomes a risk issue. The Committee expressed its concern around positions with such seniority not being filled and the impact it may have.

Regarding the DPSA Report, Members asked about the roping in of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) but through the Select Committee where permanent Members are representing the organised municipal association.

On the NSG Report, a Member noted the principal of the NSG wanted to avoid the scenario of a government bailout and a sentence should be added to the Report supporting the NSG negotiating with National Treasury to avoid the need for a bailout.

Members were concerned about the status of the investigation of the PSC. They emphasised the severity of the findings in the report because the points that the investigating Advocate uses mentions that what happened at the PSC is calculated deceit, fraud and corruption designed to deceive the PSC, the panel of appointees and the people of South Africa. This issue must be taken seriously.

The Minister was asked by the President to investigate the matter and report back to him. The Minister said that the investigation is still pending but will be concluded soon. The Minister will brief the Committee when this is done.

Meeting report

The Chairperson noted the apologies of Ms M Clarke (DA) and Mr C Sibisi (NFP) for not being able to attend the meeting. He said the Committee will be considering the five Budget Vote Reports. There was a request from Members to deal with the Reports but not adopt them and arrange another meeting for their adoption. The date will be given for the meeting this week.

Ms C Motsepe (EFF) wanted to know why the Committee cannot get adopt the Report in the current meeting.

The Chairperson responded that Members want to be thorough when going through the Reports.

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration on the Revised Adjustment Strategic Plan 2019/20—2023/24, Annual Performance Plan (APP) 2020/21 and the Budget Vote 9 of the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME)

The Committee Content Advisor read through the Budget Vote Report.

Mr S Malatsi (DA) referred to section 6.2, second sentence, regarding the filling of funded vacancies and wanted to know if these vacancies are only going to be filled “in” or “by” April because it makes the meaning of the statement ambiguous.

Ms M Lesoma (ANC) said that the font sizes need to be adjusted. Regarding Brand SA, Members have expressed their discomfort with senior positions not being filled such as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and that this must be recorded as it becomes a risk issue. She agreed with Mr Malatsi’s recommendation.

The Chairperson asked the Content Advisor to provide clarity for the Members.

The Content Advisor said that the DMPE will be filling positions in the next financial year and not by April. There will be additional money for compensation of employees in the next financial year. The Content Advisor changed the sentence by removing the specific month “April” and changed it to “The Department will fill all funded vacancy positions in 2020/21 financial year”.

Members were happy with this change.

The Content Advisor referred to the point made by Ms Lesoma regarding Brand SA and said that in point 6.9, it states that the Committee was pleased with the recruitment process and currently during the national lockdown, certain senior management positions are being filled. The only position that is still outstanding is the position of the CEO because the Minister needs to approve the findings of the report.

Ms Lesoma said that the risk issue still needs to be noted as the CEO and CFO positions are important to be filled.

The Content Advisor said that the Minister sent the report back to the board to revise it as he was not completely satisfied with it.

Mr Malatsi said that the Committee expresses its concern around positions with such seniority not being filled and the impact it may have.

The Content Advisor asked if the issues the Members were raising can be included in the recommendations.

Ms Lesoma said that the Report must be crafted in a way where the observations match the recommendations.

The Content Advisor noted Ms Lesoma’s concern. He did not want to repeat the same recommendations from the May report. He read through the recommendations.

Ms Lesoma said that while the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) does not report to the Committee, it should brief Members that the Committee can perform its oversight.

Mr Malatsi said the point on the substitute of the account is relevant because it is a matter directly residing with the Committee and it is important not to encroach on matters concerning COGTA. The account remains appropriate as the Department accounts directly to the Committee.

The Content Advisor continued reading through the recommendations.

Ms Lesoma asked for a timeline for when a report back should be expected because it has been on the table for quite some time.

The Content Advisor noted the point.

Ms Lesoma said that section 7.7 must include the “CFO” as well.

The Content Advisor inserted “CFO” in section 7.7.

Ms Lesoma said that she was happy that the Committee was bringing back the May recommendations as well. On the second line of the conclusion which says, “The Committee would like to bring this to the attention of the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation and BrandSA, the special adjustment report does not stop the Department and BrandSA to implement recommendations of May 2020 Budget Report.” She suggested that the sentence stops at that point. The recommendations of both Reports need to be implemented together. Implementation is expected therefore the latter lines need to be taken out.

Mr Malatsi said that in the meeting on Friday that Ms Lesoma chaired, there was a resolution from the Committee that it would be writing to the Minister of DPME to explain the failure to meet the targets on the performance agreements. He said that he saw there was a public pronouncement from the Minister to the Committee explaining what happened in the meeting and its understanding of that submission. He asked if correspondence has been received and if it can be shared with the Committee.

The Chairperson said that he reserved for this matter to be dealt with at the end of the other points. Ms Lesoma will take the Committee through it.

The Content Advisor concluded the Report on the DPME.

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration on the Revised Adjustment Strategic Plan 2019/20—2023/24, Annual Performance Plan (APP) 2020/21 and the Budget Vote 14 of the Statistics South Africa (StatsSA)

The Content Advisor read through the observations of the Report.

Ms Lesoma asked if the Committee would be bringing in the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) but through the Select Committee where permanent Members are representing the organised municipal association. She said that she was not taking away from COGTA but the organised body also needs to assist in this space.

The Content Advisor noted the observation and added it to section 5.5. He read through the recommendations of the Report.

Ms Lesoma said that the wording needs to change from saying that National Treasury does not necessarily account to the Committee, and it would be more polite to say it must brief the Committee.

The Content Advisor changed the wording of the sentence.

Ms Lesoma asked that her point of organised local government and SALGA be included under recommendations.

The Content Advisor read through the conclusion.

Ms Lesoma said that in the last paragraph in the conclusion, the sentence should be removed about the recommendations of both Reports needing to be implemented together because the Committee cannot ensure this.

The Content Advisor removed the sentence.

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration on the Revised Adjustment to Strategic Plans 2019/20—2023/24, Annual Performance Plans (APPs) 2020/21 and the Budget for the Budget Vote 11: of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA)

The Content Advisor read through the observations and recommendations of the Report.

Ms Lesoma said there was an image issue in section 6.6 under recommendations to change the word “push post” to “critical post”.

The Content Advisor changed the word from “push post” to “critical post”.

Report of the Portfolio Committee On Public Service and Administration on the Revised Adjustment Strategic Plan 2019/20—2023/24, Annual Performance Plan (App) 2020/21 and the Budget for the Budget Vote 07 of the National School of Government (NSG)

The Content Advisor read through the Report.

Dr L Schreiber (DA) said that the principal of the NSG wanted to avoid the scenario of a government bailout and a sentence should be added to the Report supporting the NSG negotiating with National Treasury to avoid the need for a bailout.

The Content Advisor noted the point made in section 6.2.

Ms Lesoma asked if section 6.1 and 6.2 are in the same reasoning in terms of the funds due to COVID-19. She asked if it could not be made into one recommendation.

The Content Advisor noted the point and it will be made into one recommendation.

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration on the Revised Adjusted Strategic Plan 2019/20—2023/24, Annual Performance Plan (App) 2020/21 and the Budget for the Budget Vote 12: of the Public Service Commission (PSC)

The Content Advisor read through the observations and recommendations of the Report.

Dr Schreiber asked for clarity on focusing on schools and said he would recommend leaving out the part about schools and leave the point broad because the Committee does not know where these issues may come from. He asked if there is a specific reason for bringing up schools.

The Content Advisor said the PSC has indicated that its main concern was health in terms of monitoring services but recently due to COVID-19, its focus is on schools. This is the reason for the emphasis on schools.

Dr Schreiber understood this reasoning.

The Chairperson said that it should not be changed as it is relevant to what is happening with COVID-19 in schools.

Ms Lesoma thanked the Committee Researcher and the Content Advisor for the Reports. She said the Reports should be uniform in font and size. She observed that different fonts are being used. She is happy that the Committee will be meeting to again to adopt the Reports and cross-check to ensure figures are correct in the engagements with the departments.

The Chairperson asked Ms Lesoma to address the issue that was raised during his absence.

Ms Lesoma said that it was the issue of the slides in the presentation of DPME concerning the Minister and the President. The Committee requested the Department to, in writing, report on what exactly happened because the Director-General (DG) and the officials that gave the presentation were not saying similar reasons. A letter has been received from the Department explaining as to where the matter is at and she asked that that letter be shared with the Members. 

Mr Malatsi said that there was an unanswered question in the explanation that Ms Lesoma gave. He asked what the facts were regarding the letter. Can the letter be shared in the meeting now so it could be discussed in the next meeting?

The Chairperson said that the letter will be sent to Members.

Ms Lesoma said Members must follow the media in terms of the issues picked up. There was a media statement the previous evening that speaks to the PSC DG’s issue saying that the ongoing investigation has been concluded and the President has not done anything. She called the Minister because the Minister was asked by the President to investigate the matter and report back to him and the Minister said that the investigation is still pending but will be concluded soon. The Minister will brief the Committee soon. She raised the issue so that the Committee can get an answer from the Minister and not the media.

Dr Schreiber supported the recommendation given by Ms Lesoma. The sooner the Committee gets the relevant officials and the Minister to present to the Committee on what is being done about this, the better. There was a report that was compiled by the office of an Advocate working for that office and that report has been circulating in the media and the PSC and whistle-blowers are coming forward with the contents of the report. It was confusing that Ms Lesoma said that the Minister said that there is no such report as he has a copy of it. He emphasised the severity of the findings in the report because the points that the Advocate uses mentions that what happened at the PSC is calculated deceit, fraud and corruption designed to deceive the PSC, the panel of appointees and the people of South Africa. This issue must be taken seriously.

Ms Lesoma said that there are two investigations – the one Dr Schreiber has a report of and the one concerning the DG of PSC. The President commissioned Minister Mchunu to conduct an investigation and the Minister said that it has not been concluded yet. The report that has been leaked regarding the issues of the Chairperson of the PSC and they are investigating the subordinate. The Committee will ask the Minister in the next meeting how far it is with the investigation.

The Chairperson said that both the PSC and the Minister must inform the Committee on what the status is.

Dr Schreiber said that he sent to report to the Committee’s group chat and it shows that it contains both issues regarding the DG and Chairperson of the PSC.

Ms Motsepe said that she received two different reports as well.

Mr Malatsi said the input on the direction of this issue is worth noting. He was in full support of getting the PSC Chairperson and the Minister to account on the status of both investigations so everyone can speak with authority on the information that they have.

The Chairperson said that Members must not engage in the rumours and only what is put before them by the PSC and the Minister.

Ms Lesoma asked that Ms Motsepe share the reports that she has.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

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