The Committee convened on a virtual platform to be briefed by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation on its role. The presentation covered, amongst other things, the mandate of the Department and its capacity to carry out its mandate as well as the six pillars of the National Development Programme and the Department’s role in broadly realising an expanded, inclusive and fairer national economy.
The Members asked the Department on the seven priorities that they spoke about: will these priorities change again now because of COVID-19? They had heard that there was a change of priorities about two to three years ago. Will there be another change in priorities because the Department urgently needs it regarding government spending? With the goal to create 11 million jobs by 2030, what is the status? Are we moving forward? COVID-19 contributed to the situation but what are we going to do to still get to that total? Are we going to adjust the goal of getting to 11 million jobs?
The Department provided a report that says it has delivered 50% of its targets but that amount does not translate into the actual impact in the society. Members expressed that they would have thought that the National Planning Commission would be able to zoom into those areas. Is the Commission just a platform to receive reports and not delivery? Is it not important for South Africa (SA) to benchmark itself against other developmental partners of the BRICS countries such as Russia and China?
Members expressed that they did not hear anything in the presentation that referenced early childhood development (ECD). It is important that ECD is also monitored. Some of the things that need to pick up are matters of learning disabilities, the integrated management of childhood illnesses because it is at the schools that these ECD centres will be able to pick up some of the disabilities
What is the Department doing exactly to achieve the objective of expanded, inclusive and fair economic growth? What types of problems are being encountered? This is very critical in SA’s situation. The problems that the country is facing will never be resolved without achieving inclusive economic growth. It is a cause for concern that the department seems to be very theoretical.
With the COVID-19 intervention, what does the Department think is better: to distribute food parcels or to give out money to the value of the food parcels? Why did the DPME choose that option? Does the DPME think that people from rural areas benefited to the same extent that urban people did with COVID-19 interventions?
The Chairperson opened the virtual meeting, welcoming the Members and the delegation from the Department of Planning, Monitor and Evaluation (DPME). He introduced the agenda and asked to receive the prepared presentations from the Department.
Presentation: The Role of the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation
The DPME delegation took the Committee through the presentation about its role. The topics covered were: the mandate of the DPME and its capacity to carry out its mandate; the National Planning Commission; the six pillars of the National Development Programme; the expanded, inclusive and fairer economy; challenges in implementation; Branch National Planning Coordination Services; vacancies within the organisation and general employment statistics; the Integrated Planning Framework; the seven Apex Priorities to drive the MTSF; budget prioritisation and the varied monitoring work of the DPME of other departments.
[See presentation document for more details]
The Chairperson requested the Members to engage on the presentation they received.
Mr D Joseph (DA) stated that the DPME told the Committee upfront in their organogram, whereby there were 418 posts which were reduced to 382 posts, 17 vacancies and they abolished some posts. He commended the information received by the Members and commented that it is the type of information they need from all departments. He stated that the DPME should shift towards having an independent status. In all departments there are internal and external audits that take place in terms of monitoring the work; so it is disappointing to hear in some instances where they are going the opposite way as to the training of government whereby the results are not showing. He asked the DPME on the seven priorities that they spoke about: will these priorities change again now because of COVID-19? He had heard that there was a change of priorities about two to three years ago. Will there be another change in priorities because the Department urgently needs it regarding government spending?
With the goal to create 11 million jobs by 2030, what is the status? Are we moving forward? COVID-19 contributed to the situation but what are we going to do to still get to that total? Are we going to adjust the goal of getting to 11 million jobs?
He stated that it was his understanding that the government’s economic recovery planning was coming out very soon. It is about infrastructure development. He asked whether all the stakeholders that government engages with, which was one of the pillars with the informal business and the small, medium and microenterprises. Is that part of the component also included as part of the stakeholders to get the informal economy going? What is the understanding of spatial planning? What was Mr Martins talking about when he mentioned basic planning, and does it include all spheres of government in all departments? Does everyone have to work with it or is it a task of certain departments? The systems integration was a challenge of COVID-19. What proposals does the DPME have? Where do we start? What departments need to be prioritised?
He drew attention to slide 25 and 26 being key. We are waiting on the executive report of Cabinet of departments in terms of the lessons that have been learned. With the matter on access to water in schools and communities, which has been mentioned in this meeting and remains critical going forward, he commented that the Committee must really make a point on alternative water use and food security. He stated he was also interested in the work Committees considering the My District model. Will work Committees play a bigger role in the My District system?
Mr X Qayiso (ANC) asked what it is that the DPME is picking up on the Land Bank matter. What does the DPME make of the matter of expropriation of land without appropriation? He commented that he is also referring to the matter of the small emerging farmers because there is a lot of outcry when it comes to that group of people. How does the DPME make decisions when it is confronted with those challenges? The Land Bank is very critical in the role it plays in a developmental state. These are not just statements that they are making that are being taken note of. These matters begin to have a real impact on changing the lives of the poor. His belief is that on the Land Bank matter, there is something they should be observing. Through the assistance of small emerging black farmers, that the DPME should be observing that should be able to assist the Committee to exercise their oversight role as a Committee.
He expressed that he missed the point on what the DPME does on the matter of the non-payment of service providers within a 30 days period. It is a recurring problem which has become more unstoppable. Is there no mechanism that the Committee can be advised on to deal with the matter? He raised the matter of the filling of vacancies in government departments or provincial departments. Sometimes a matter is referred to treasury, sometimes it gets referred to another department. It is difficult to determine where the problem really lies. Every time the Committee does oversight, they are confronted with this problem. What does the DPME think about this challenge? He expressed that he does not know what happens during the medium-term budget process regarding the DPME. He reiterated the water access matter as raised by Mr Joseph. He commented that the problem is recurring and departments keep presenting to the Committee that they experienced challenges and did not complete a project but it is not followed up with advice from the DPME of what needs to be done going forward regarding the budget.
Ms EN Ntlangwini (EFF) reinforced Mr Joseph’s point on the role of the DPME. It becomes very difficult to correct a colleague if they are on the same level of leadership. Perhaps this Department needs to be reassessed. Currently, there are so many incomplete programmes and irregular expenditure. An example is that we are still currently speaking about the state capture commission, on houses that were never built and roofs that were never put on which were genuine programmes that never happened. The DPME should have played a bigger role with identifying these gaps. They are still going to come back year after year with the same challenges such as irregular expenditure. What exactly is this Department monitoring? This Department is not doing what it is supposed to be doing. It is just a skeleton department that is just there. There cannot still be programmes that are not happening the way they should happen.
There is a huge problem with toilets in schools. She reported that she was in Limpopo in 2019 and those toilets that the Department spoke about were not at that school. There was no water at that school. That is the role that the DPME should effectively also be playing. There should not be a department that is solely focusing on desktop research. There should be foot soldiers going around assessing the programmes of government to see that things are happening and happening effectively, and that money is being spent where it should be spent. Otherwise, this Department needs to be renamed because if it is not monitoring then what is its role?
There was a shocking slide presented in this presentation on the food parcels system. The public can be genuinely thanked for having had an eye on the ball by exposing those corrupt individuals that were stealing the food parcels money. Without the community, this Department would have just waited for the Auditor-General’s report yet again and only decide from then on.
On the matter of the presidential hotline, she asked what the nature of the complaints was. How many of those complaints were sorted out and in what timeframe? The timeframe is also an important reporting claim.
Ms D Peters (ANC) thanked the Chairperson and the Committee management for creating platform for this type of engagement and the DPME delegation for coming before the Committee to make the presentation. The presentation is loaded with information and it shows that there are elements of monitoring. She expressed concern for whether the DPME does an impact evaluation. In the DPME’s presentation they gave an indication that poverty, unemployment and inequality has worsened. The presentation talks to the period of 2019 and before. The COVID-19 pandemic provided a better evaluation outcome with showing the glaring fault lines in society. The equivalent of what the National Planning and Development Commission (NPC) of China is doing needs to also be looked at because the NPC is supposed to promote an advanced implementation. Year in and year out there are departments that have not delivered on their objectives.
The DPME provided a report that says it has delivered 50% of its targets but that amount does not translate into the actual impact in the society. She expressed that she would have thought that the NPC would be able to zoom into those areas. Is the NPC just a platform to receive reports and not delivery? Is it not important for South Africa (SA) to benchmark itself against other developmental partners of the BRICS countries such as Russia and China? Her belief is that if South Africa wants to succeed, we need to benchmark SA against those countries. She asked the DPME why it seems as if service delivery is regressing. She referred to the role of smaller business development within the expanded, inclusive and fairer economy, which was included in the presentation. Gauteng has started a process on the township economy. Is it not important to have nationwide time for strategy for township economies so that there is not a particular part of the economy doing well against another? The Department of Small Businesses, supported by the DPME, can create the infrastructure for businesses to operate in the local space.
With enhancing the quality of life, the other thing that has been reported on year in and year out is the issue of the quality of education and the curriculum. Through the DPME, the Department of Education should be encouraged to relook at basic education and higher education. They need to reassess the curriculum so that they will be able to respond to what their socio-economic development agenda needs. She referred to an example she made in one of the earlier Committee meetings of what Members experienced when they went to a school in Russia. Learners in grade six there are disassembling appliances such as a washing machine, a microwave, and reassembling it to show that it works. That is an outcome-based type of education because it will show that the learner knows that one day, they want to be an engineer and in that type of space.
Is the DPME monitoring the social relief of distress? The possibility of under expenditure is concerning. The Auditor-General has been able to audit. The DPME can also do a similar type of evaluation. There is nothing that is going to be an indictment on this Committee, especially as the Appropriations Committee, to agree to give money for the intervention to relieve people from the impact of poverty. Those who wrongfully obtained the money are being investigated and it is important to follow up on that but with those who were meant to get the money, the Members cannot be told about thousands of backlogs in SASSA’s emailing system and about four thousand or more calls a day that SASSA has been unable to respond to. It means that people are unable to get this limited intervention that government is making. It is going to be a disgrace and an indictment when there is an under expenditure with this money.
Has the DPME ever evaluated the use of community development workers? They are a wasted resource that is available in communities. Their reports are not considered by anyone. They submit reports but no one responds or gives them feedback. The issues that are raised on the community-based monitoring is information that would necessarily be available daily.
Tourism and agriculture are said to be major job creators but she has not felt or heard the DPME speak to the challenges under the Department of Agriculture in their inability to distribute land but also how the DPME is able to support the Department of Tourism. Due to the focus on tourism being a job creator, many of young South Africans have started studying tourism and now they are sitting with their qualification and are unemployed. They have been trained into oblivion. It is important that the DPME helps the Committee to be able to assess this situation.
She expressed that she did not hear anything in the presentation that referenced early childhood development (ECD). It is important that ECD is also monitored. Some of the things that need to pick up are matters of learning disabilities, the integrated management of childhood illnesses because it is at the schools that these ECD centres will be able to pick up some of the disabilities. In her constituency area they have serious issues of children who are not attending school because of learning disabilities. They go to school and the schools cannot accommodate them because there are no special schools in the area. If they were picked up at the ECD centres, the intervention would have happened when they were in their earlier developmental stages.
Mr Z Mlenzana (ANC) asked for a view from the DPME on the four audited departments by the Auditor-General. Does money talk to impact? Without preempting what the President will be presenting during the joint sitting, is the department ready to also lift up and prioritise the departments that would be targeted, to realise what the President would be talking to in terms of economic recovery of the state? What is it that the DPME will be doing from now going forward so that when the DPME returns, the Committee is able to assist the DPME with its own monitoring and evaluating? The DPME mentioned in the presentation that they do sampling and visits where they go and assess physically what is taking place. If the sampling is informed, what informs that sampling considering what is being observed daily of what is becoming a norm? The Committee had a meeting with the Auditor-General in which he said that after the meeting, the Committee would be able to see whether to continue with a list of departments that are admitted to them. How is the DPME advising the Committee in terms of the performance of these departments that were proposed?
The Chairperson commented that the intention of inviting the DPME to present to the Committee was to be able to engage with them and receive feedback. The oversight role of the Committee is post facto and there is more value in doing real time monitoring which was the purpose of the current meeting, which also extends to the question of real time auditing. He asked whether the DPME has an avenue of communication to assist the Committee when they come across matters that need resolving that need the DPME’s assistance. Will the DPME be able to come back to the Committee to give feedback on the progress of the complaints they give them? How does the DPME define and measure what a capable state is? Quarter in and quarter out the matters come back to the Committee and they hear of issues of under-spending of the budget where the budget is a highly contested matter.
The DPME spoke about expanded, inclusive and fair economic growth. He has seen a lot of research papers as far as that topic goes and it remains suspect. What is the DPME doing exactly to achieve this objective and what type of problems are being encountered? This is very critical in SA’s situation. The problems that the country is facing will never be resolved without achieving inclusive economic growth. It is a cause for concern that the department seems to be very theoretical. There are complaints of an inadequate budget but by the end of the year you get what is called fiscal dumping and underspending of the budget. What is the DPME doing regarding this so that they can return to the Committee with the feedback that it will not happen again?
He echoed Ms Peter’s question on how the DPME are doing with benchmarking against other developing BRICS countries. How is South Africa doing when benchmarked against those other countries? There is an outcome that the DPME presented where they aim to reduce concentration and monopolies and expand the small business sector. What is the DPME doing practically regarding that matter? What is the DPME’s success so far on the matter? The DPME has a baseline of 35% and a target of 50%. What does this mean? The Committee would like to be able to measure it going forward.
With the COVID-19 intervention, what do you think is better: to distribute food parcels or to give out money to the value of the food parcels? Why did the DPME choose that option? Why are there more males applying for relief grants than females? Does the DPME think that people from rural areas benefited to the same extent that urban people did with COVID-19 interventions? In the DPME’s monitoring, is the performance of the State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) also monitored? They have been identified as one of the very important contributors to the economy and to South Africa getting the economy back to sustainability. They have also been identified as the biggest risk to the South African fiscus and to the sovereignty of the country.
He concluded by directing the DPME to respond to the questions raised by the Members in the discussion.
Ms Thembi Siweya, Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, responded that the National Planning Commission investigates international bodies which are affiliated to for example, the Africa Agenda. They need to be able to take targets from the manifestos and put them into one place and coordinate departments so that they can plan short-term and long-term. The Department remains very relevant in relation to coordinating and assisting government to plan holistically. As much as the Committee feels that there are things the DPME is not doing, it does not necessarily mean therefore that the DPME must not be in existence. The DPME remain relevant and at the centre of ensuring that they assist government with planning and coordinating of departments with Medium-Term Strategic Frameworks (MTSFs) and the Annual Performance Plans (APPs).
She then responded to the ECD matter. She mentioned earlier as an example that the DPME can assess the impact of ECD in the country. She also provided an example on the Child Protection Act.
During the fifth administration, Parliament had started a process of an Integrated Planning Bill but unfortunately Cabinet sent it back, saying that it needed public engagement. In the main, the Bill was meant to ensure that the DPME assist government in planning so that they centralise planning and the DPME, so they do not find that planning is done haphazardly. Due to COVID-19, it has been put aside. There are, however, intentions of centralising planning so that the work of government can be coordinated and there is no pointing of fingers. The Minister of Corporate Governance and Traditional Affairs, from time to time, has mentioned that there is a review of the legislation of the Systems Act, which is going to assist in empowering the district development model. Currently, before you could have the district development model, you would have the IDP which would be planned at a local level. At the provincial level it would be the PGDS (Provincial Growth Development Strategy). At the level of a national platform, it would be the NDP process or an MTSF. The district development model seeks to ensure that for each district, with investment and resource planning, each district must be planned for in terms of its own needs. This assists the Department because these are integrated with the planning of all the spheres of government for it to be centralised. For example, with eThekwini Metropolitan, a district development plan of theirs will not necessarily be the same as Waterberg, which is a mining town. This answer was in response to the question of whether a district model will assist. The central participation is also to ensure that when the legislation of the Systems Act is reviewed, the loopholes are tightened. This is done to continually improve the government systems coordinating work.
She responded to the question on how the Department can assist Members of Parliament with challenges when oversight is performed. She said once the Department has done frontline monitoring and other forms of monitoring, it is able to write a report which is taken to Cabinet and the Portfolio Committee. She committed to providing those reports to the Committee. As a Department, they also write reports to certain departments to provide feedback on the frontline monitoring they have done and what they have found and for the relevant department to please attend to it as needed. The DPME takes the interaction with themselves and the citizens of South Africa very seriously and as such when they realised they only created two platforms of the presidential hotline to interact with citizens, they assessed what they need to do to widen the scope and the base of interacting with citizens. This is also a response to the National Development Plan (NDP) and why they have widened the base to ensure that they move with times. They have a mobile application. If the application cannot be downloaded, there is also a USSD code.
For every South African, unemployment is a problem. The targets of the NDP, in relation to job creation, even before COVID-19, were not looking very good. The Auditor General kept engaging the Department to advise them that the numbers were not good. The DPME is going to Parliament tomorrow to interact and listen to the plans of the administration through Cabinet and the President in relation to economic recovery. All those processes are implemented to ensure that they try to create jobs, give hope to young people and the unemployed so that the economy can recover even amidst COVID-19.
She acknowledged the congratulatory note the DPME received on configuration of the organogram and that they have reduced it to a particular number. The DPME always strive to ensure that it speaks to the mandate of the Department and when COVID-19 came to be, they decided that they must prioritise critical posts so that they are able to do the work.
She reminded the Committee that the DPME’s work only extends to writing reports and alerting those who are doing wrong. They do not have the powers to close institutions for failure to perform. They do not claim that the DPME is not doing any work. The DPME continues to the work and when they create an MTSF they continue to monitor. They ensure that they assess the performance of the department and the performance of Director Generals. A Director-General that is also responsible for SOEs is going to report in that same forum. What they need to speak about in this meeting is how the DPME is going to be empowered to be able to hold people accountable. It is not true that the Department is sitting and not doing anything. They have got reports and are willing to give them to the Committee.
She responded to the land matter. During the pandemic, the Minister has been talking about giving state land to historically disadvantaged communities. There is a Commission that was appointed by the President and part of its recommendations when it did an assessment of land in South Africa has resulted in the conclusion that as much as land redistribution is desired in South Africa, there is a lot of land that has not been distributed and the starting point would be to give out that land. The land that is given out must be towards addressing hunger and in line with the economic recovery plan.
The Chairperson responded that he did not hear any of the Members claiming that the DPME is sitting and doing nothing. On the contrary, the Committee was empathising with the DPME that it may be difficult for them to give instructions to other departments that are on the same level.
Deputy Minister Siweya accepted what the Chairperson said and thanked him for the clarification.
Mr Lindsay Martin, Deputy Director-General: Planning Coordination Services, DPME, responded to the question on whether the priorities of government were changing. The seven priorities the DPME presented on will remain the priorities for this administration until 2024. Within that there is already a key component on economic transformation and job creation. The impact of COVID-19 and the economic recession has meant that they have lost some ground with those targets. The economic reconstruction and recovery plan which the President will present on will give more detail on how they intend to respond in a more effective manner to catch up to make sure that they are able to achieve the growth and jobs targets that they set. There is a key programme in that plan that deals with employment creation. The details of that programme will be unpacked tomorrow. There is a focus on the agricultural sector. The issue of agriculture and food security is one of the key interventions, the details of which will be given the following day.
He responded to the matter on small business development. There are links between two things, monopolies and market concentration. This is one of the interventions in the current MTSF. The percentages in the slides presented to the Committee talk to the share of small business participation within the economy. The goal is to grow the share of small business participation in the economy. This is happening through two mechanisms, support to SMMEs and dealing with market concentration and monopolies, which is the core role of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition and in particular, the Competition Commission. There are clear targets about how the Competition Commission will deal with sectors that are deemed to be concentrated. Those are available in the MTSF. Small businesses are a driver for job creation going forward.
Mr Thabo Mabogoane, DDG in the Presidency, responded that the DPME would like to work with the Committee so that when things are flagged, to ensure they actually get to the Committee to help them which actually enforcing and getting things done. Some of the reports the Committee received in this meeting is that the DPME do not always do a desktop type of analysis. Part of the monitoring also involves frontline monitoring. There are also the systems monitoring that is required and cannot be ignored. If the systems in departments are not functioning well, then the result is the challenges that the Members have alluded to, when they go to their constituencies and they are faced with the problems there and it seems like nothing is happening. This is basically pointing to systems failure if the Department does not actually ensure that the systems are working, they would not reach the targets that they would like to have. In the past people have been focusing on outputs and not thinking around outcomes which is where people are asking questions on whether there are the desired outcomes in terms of seeing an impact. The DPME is trying to move departments towards saying it is not enough to do all those activities and to have those inputs, but it also needs to be considered whether it is making a difference in terms of outcome. The outcomes are not only dependent on one Department. For example, when they speak about a reduction in unemployment, it is not only the departments that are dealing with the economy, they also need a strong social sector to be able to deal with it, such as building of skills and ensuring that there is human capital. People who are healthy are required to come in and support the economy. It is the entire value chain that the DPME is trying to ensure Parliament understands when they are dealing with those issues.
He addressed the matter of the ECDs. As part of their work they have also been engaging with the Department of Social Development and the Department of Basic Education as they are migrating ECD from social development to basic education. It has taken longer to complete it as there were a lot of challenges around legislation that needs to be changed and thus realising that the migration is always going to be a challenge. They have done an evaluation on grade R that has influenced the way the Department of Basic Education conducts its grade R where they have been able to ensure that they increase the quality of the education. It is thus the entire value chain where the DPME do not only monitor but also, they consider the impact of an evaluation.
He responded to the question on how they ensure their monitoring is on time. While they are monitoring systems in terms of how departments are planning and how they are implementing their plans, they are also working with a data system which they are trying to develop so that they can then do a time monitoring. It requires investments from the United States of America to be able to set up those systems and making systems of government to talk to one another. What COVID-19 has shown is that when the systems talk to one another, they are able to find where there is leakage with people – for example, applying for grants when the people are receiving other grants from somewhere else.
He responded to the concern raised on people receiving their relevant qualification and training and sitting at home being unemployed. A department has been working on the introduction of the Free Strings Model, which they will be monitoring. In it, people have differing talents and for a long time they have only been factoring academic strengths and have forgotten that there are skills that are required in vocational education and if given the opportunity, those skills will actually help graduates to be active members in the economy. The Department of Education is introducing robotics so that our kids are exposed to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) kind of skills much earlier in life. When it comes to post-school education, the department is exploring some issues around ICT to ensure that our learners get exposed to it. The matter of entrepreneurship is going to remain an important issue and the DPME will continue to ensure that it is not only taught as a cross-subject but that every single person who has done a degree or diploma has done some form of entrepreneurship so that people become much more self-reliant and are in a better position to start their own businesses. That is why in the new MTSF, there are also starting the establishment of HUBs at TVET colleges for business creation by students and trying to help them to ensure that those businesses run.
He responded to the questions relating to what makes a capable state. The concept is big but the way that the DPME is looking at it is they want to ensure that the state can deliver value and build trust between the state and its citizens. A capable state is also an ethical state that is leading by constitutional values. The state must be able to meet the needs of the people by being able to intervene and help development and allow for participatory democracy. The DPME needs to ensure that we build the capacities and abilities of the DPME to be able to support what is happening in the different departments.
He responded to the question on why more men applied for the social distress grant compared to women. One of the challenges that came up is that because women are either using their IDs, they are flagged as receiving the other grants and therefore the numbers are going to be smaller because if you are receiving a care grant or a child grant, it is usually the woman’s ID that gets used.
He responded to the question on whether the DPME is benchmarking against other countries. Yes, the DPME tries to benchmark with countries which have gone before South Africa who have established their own development plans before us. The way South Africa’s constitution is designed, certain things cannot just be implemented, there needs to be collaboration around the spheres of government; it is not just departments, which means that certain things take much longer than other things.
Ms Neeta Behari, Head: Presidential Frontline Service Delivery Monitoring and Support, DPME, responded that the DPME could assist the Committee in areas where they have identified there are issues. From a frontline perspective, they could bring various stakeholders together and assist with facilitating improvements in the area. She responded to the question on the ward Committees. In terms of the principles of the district development model, ward Committees and local governance are important principles in terms of the district development model in line with creating active citizenry and government.
On the question of the CDW workers, she said that in terms of the MTSF – priority one, it is looked at on a broader level of public participation of the issue. She stated that she is working with the DPMD, COGTA and the DPSA on trying to use the information gained from the CDW programme.
On the food parcels matter, she said that it needs to be looked at as an integrated social protection floor so that they can make evidence-based decisions on whether it should be parcels or money. Each option has its own benefits and has some disadvantages. Giving money is administratively easier and quicker than to deliver food parcels and to go through the entire government procurement processes. Also, with the dignity of the citizens in terms of choice, giving money is more important as it increases their choices, and it could strengthen local economies by increasing spending in areas. It has been shown that if you give women money it has greater benefit on a family.
She responded to the question on the urban and rural differences. COVID-19 has brought forward lessons for the DPME that even urban areas cannot be neglected because of the issue of informal settlements and rural communities. That is something that the DPME should consider in their evaluations going forward. With the question on the capable state, from a frontline point of view, it also means having good skills in planning, monitoring and evaluation and evidence-based decision making due to the issue on the supply and demand because that is the key of where some of the under expenditure can be tackled. It also means technical skills such as getting engineers and quantity surveyors in districts to work out some of the issues.
Ms Kefiloe Masiteng, Deputy Secretary: NPC, DPME, responded to the question on whether South Africa benchmarks itself against other countries. The point that becomes critical is on the ability of the country to move decisively into long term planning. Many of the countries that have been able to move strongly into stronger planning systems started with a decision to go into long term planning. The work around medium term planning which is what the DPME is doing is strongly enforced and strongly aligned to the long-term planning. One of the issues that the Chairperson raised in terms of saying when we look at the monitoring and implementation of the National Development Plan, one of the identified challenges is that progress does not seem to be coming to the fore but one of the major issues that are seen, arising also from implementing the National Development Plan, across the country as a whole entire mechanism.
The Deputy Minister has talked about the Bill that is currently underway. As long as there is voluntarism in what is being implemented as targets and the law is able to assist in making sure that there is integration to what is being planned but more in making sure that we are talking about institutionalisation of long-term planning and development planning across the country. It also aligns to the question that the Chairperson asked. How does the DPME define special planning? Its original meaning is about dealing with the social injustices and making sure the legacy of Apartheid is addressed in terms of spatial planning with the distances between where people live, where they work, the types of homes and the types of human settlements that the country has should improve the livelihoods of the people and more importantly, the ability to understand the special profiles of the programmes and the projects that are being implemented in the long-term and in support and in alignment with the NDP to ensure movement into creating cities and better lives and better human settlements. In broad terms it is about the ability to use the space and making sure that as the targets are implemented of human settlements chapter eight of the National Development Plan, they know the issues and the troubles of people having to use more than 40% of their salaries on transport because of the distances between where they live and where they work.
She responded to the issue of work around township economies and small and medium enterprises. The work that is currently underway between the National Development Plan Commission and the office of the Deputy President is looking at the lessons, where some of this work includes some of the case studies around Gauteng and other provinces. The dialogue between the National Planning Commission and the various stakeholders that are dealing with small enterprises is of importance as well as the issue around township economies. The DPME is hoping that some of the elements and research that has been done has identified some of the challenges for the understanding of the profiles of the townships. Part of the work done by the NPC is providing recommendations and working on the economic review and their current NDP review to answer how to revitalise the economy by moving and understanding the structural challenges of the economy, changing the current superstructure of the economy, dealing with the economy that is able to be inclusive in a manner that deals with an understanding of the disparities between the rural and urban environments as well as decisively dealing with and building the rural economy. The major issue would be how the DPME understands that the whole of issue of planning, monitoring and evaluation is a value chain and the way the issue of independence remains critical. The implementation of the NDP would assist in how they organise themselves in a manner that will allow a body like the DPME to be able to provide an oversight.
Mr Godfrey Mashamba, DDG: Evaluation and Knowledge Systems, DPME, was unable to respond to the question on evaluations as he had connection problems and as such Mr Martin suggested that they provide written answers to the Committee.
The Chairperson agreed with the proposal.
Mr Martin asked for guidance from the Committee on how the DPME can best assist them going forward.
Mr Mlenzana claimed that his question on the priorities was not adequately responded to. He clarified that he was talking about prioritising departments which they can deem as candidates for someone. He suggested that the Chairperson as well as the DPME can investigate that space. He proposed that they have a joint meeting with for example, the Department of Appropriations and calling these departments together. That is the challenge that is holding the DPME back in the implementation of the service delivery and as per their proposals.
Mr Joseph asked for clarity on urbanisation. He was in a countryside constituency, but he is now in Cape Town. What he has seen is that people will move for economic reasons to any town. What is being noticed now with all the informal settlements in the cities there is a constant move of people in the hopes of getting jobs. The understanding of the Department on town planning with making land available and repairing infrastructure is that the pace is too much to cope with, but we are falling behind. If a dam is built, it cannot be by 2030; it needs to be by 2015. Are there any plans beyond 2030 and what are they? His referred to the matter of officials doing business with the state and using state facilities like offices wherever their posts are where they deliver business to the state. Were there any action on those cases and any progress? Is the DPME aware of where officials do business with the state on state expenses? Is that still the case and what is the status of that? Do all departments get the information that was presented to the Committee?
The Chairperson followed up that the DPME did not respond to the question on the importance of the SOEs in the economy.
Mr Martin responded to the questions about urbanisation and spatial matter. He explained that the DPME do not work directly with the spatial planning within cities but rather at a much higher level. They work with departments that deal with some of these functions such as the Department of Cooperative Governance (CoGTA) and the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform (DARDLR). They have the national spatial development framework which broadly plots the national landscape in terms of planning and does account for things such as migration between different centers and how they identify development notes. They also support Treasury and COGTA who deal more directly with the cities with local government planning. Treasury, through the city support programme, deals with spatial planning within the cities and COGTA deals with the secondary cities and other municipalities. A lot of those cities and municipalities do have long-term plans, especially the metropolitans. Some of those extend beyond 2030. Those are available but the DPME do not develop those directly with the cities.
He responded to the matter on monitoring of the SOEs, saying that the DPME does not directly monitor the SOEs. The big SOEs are monitored through the Department of Public Enterprises and through the National Treasury. A lot of the smaller entities do report information on the quarterly performance reporting system, and so the information is there. A lot of the bigger entities are exempt from certain conditions from the PFMA. Essentially, they comply with requirements around annual financial statements. Those components are reported to Treasury, the assets, management and liabilities branch.
Closing Remarks by the Chairperson
The Chairperson concluded by saying that the DPME and the Committee have the same goal of achieving the NDP, but they are in differing positions. He expressed that there are many understandings of what a capable state is but if year after year departments return with their budgets underspent and their goals are not achieved; where the state has overspent on projects sometimes by more than 100% than what was budgeted for and where the state is still not able to deal with things like the bucket system for toilets in the communities, shows that there is still a lot that needs to be done on an ongoing basis. The role that the DPME is playing is very critical.
He thanked the Members and the Department delegation for attending the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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