Implementation of PSC recommendations; Filling of critical vacancies; Progress on Infrastructure-related matters
Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament
16 October 2020
Chairperson: Ms D Mahlangu (ANC, Mpumalanga) and Ms B Mabe (ANC)
Video: Financial Management of Parliament
The Joint Standing Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament met with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure on a virtual platform to discuss ongoing infrastructural work in the parliamentary precinct and the parliamentary villages.
The Department informed the Committee that the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure and the Presiding Officers of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces were meeting on a quarterly basis to discuss the progress of the work. They would be signing a Memorandum of Agreement between the two institutions to regulate the relationship and services provided to Parliament by the Department. Other matters under discussion included the auditing of all projects that the Department had implemented in Parliament and the review of the project implementation methodology of all projects for Parliament.
The total refurbishment of the NCOP building, including electrical, mechanical and civil engineering services was due for completion in October 2020 but the planned completion date had been extended to 20 December 2020. All entrances gates to Parliament, and booms, were to be mechanically operated and electronically controlled from either new or existing upgraded guard houses; anti-ramming devices would be installed at vehicular entrances, and the existing perimeter fence would be extended to meet the SAPS minimum requirements. Kitchens at 90 Plein Street would be upgraded and 245 MP residential units in the parliamentary villages would be upgraded or refurbished.
Members asked about the wastage and extension of projects and the increased amounts for the projects. Was there a risk mitigation management plan for the projects? What were the Department’s three major project planning points?
Members were also concerned about the escalation of costs. Given the fact that there would be delays in the parliamentary projects, did the Department not think that it would affect the costs? Why should Parliament have to put more money into a project that had been planned for a specific amount?
The external security enhancements attracted questions. Why was it necessary to spend R68.6 million on Parliament when, as far as some Members were concerned, Parliament was sufficiently secure? Why did Parliament need that security enhancement? Why was there a need for both mechanical and electronic devices? Why did they need to install anti-ramming mechanisms? When last did someone try to ram Parliament? Why did the existing fences around Parliament have to be extended? Why were certain maintenance contracts at Parliament extended year after year without any due procurement process being followed?
Members asked if there was a plan to enhance the connectivity of IT systems in the parliamentary villages? How many young engineers were being afforded the opportunity, during the project, to gain experiential experience? How many companies owned by disadvantaged persons were involved in the project?
The Speaker of the National Assembly stated that, during the Fifth Administration, she and the then Speaker of the House had held two meetings with the Minister and the President because they had felt that what was happening in Parliament and in the accommodation villages was out of order. She was repeating it for the third time that Parliament was not going to spend R25 million refurbishing the kitchens of Parliament in her name. She wanted Members of Parliament to be left to live in the villages with their families and not have the Department impose its wishes on Parliament. It had already made mistakes and had spent money on alarms and things not needed nor used by Members, or that did not work. Ms Modise knew that Parliament was a National Key Point and she knew that the Parliament was missing certain security measures but she did not want a Parliament that frightened the people and that was blocked off from the citizens.
The Acting Secretary to Parliament noted that four critical management positions in Parliament had been advertised: Secretary to Parliament, Head: Treasury Advice Office, Director: Parliamentary Budget Office and Chief Financial Officer. The requirements for the position of Head: Treasury Advice Office had been upgraded to require a Chartered Accountant qualification with audit and analytical skills. After the first round of advertisements, and in some cases a second round, there had been very few applications and a credible recruitment consultant would be appointed to undertake talent sourcing and to manage the recruitment process.
Members were concerned about the timeframe for filling the vacancies. They also asked about the position of the Head of Security.
The Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces presented an update on progress in relation to the Public Service Commission’s Report and Recommendations in respect of the incident that had occurred in the International Relations and Protocol Unit and which had since become dysfunctional. Considerable progress had been made in identifying office space, although some members of staff had not yet been relocated. A senior manager in the Unit had faced disciplinary charges on three counts and had been found guilty but he had taken the Public Service Commission Report and Recommendations on review. Parliament was awaiting the outcome of that matter. The matter of the fixed term contracts was another issue and related to the need to have certainty on who was employed by Parliament and to do away with part-timers. The question of access control and security had received attention but it was work in progress.
Members asked whether people skills training for senior parliamentary officials was an adequate response to the situation. Was it not necessary to institute disciplinary action?
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu thanked Members for attending on a Friday, which would be the day for Committee meetings even when Parliament was in situ. She confirmed that the Committee was quorate for a discussion, although there were insufficient members to take decisions on the minutes and other Committee matters. She acknowledged the Speaker of the National Assembly (NA) and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu welcomed the Acting Secretary of Parliament and the Acting Director-General (DG) of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure. She suggested that Mr Fazel commence with his presentation and that the Secretary could make her presentation thereafter.
Presentation on infrastructural progress by DPWI
Mr Imtiaz Fazel, Acting DG, DPWI, informed the Committee that the Minister of DPWI, Patricia de Lille, and the Presiding Officers of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces were meeting on a quarterly basis to discuss progress and the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between the two institutions to regulate the relationship and services provided by DPWI to Parliament. Other matters under discussion included the auditing of all projects that DPWI implemented in Parliament including the parliamentary villages and the review of the project implementation methodology of all projects for Parliament.
He explained that the progress update by DPWI would constitute projects in planning and projects that were already in the construction stage as reported in the previous meeting.
Mr Mzwandile Sazona, Chief Director: Prestige, DPWI, stated that he would attempt to include details that the Committee had asked about in the previous engagement. The total refurbishment of the NCOP building including electrical, mechanical and civil engineering services was due for completion in October 2020 but the planned completion date had been extended to 20 December 2020. It was 85% complete and he provided details for the delay. The modernising and refurbishment of eight passenger lifts and one goods lift at 90 Plein Street would be completed within two weeks. The reconfiguration/redesign of the ground floor of 100 Plein Street was due for completion in June 2021. Kitchens at 90 Plein Street would be upgraded.
Mr Sazona stated that all entrances gates and booms were to be mechanically operated and electronically controlled from either new or existing upgraded guard houses; anti-ramming devices would be installed at vehicular entrances; the existing perimeter fence would be extended to meet the SAPS minimum requirements; and structural canopies would be constructed at all vehicular entrances. The work included upgrading of surveillance equipment in and around the parliamentary precinct. Heritage approvals on fencing and entrance designs had been received with conditions on 3 entrances. The South African Police Service (SAPS) was taking the matter up with their legal team and there was a possibility of an appeal against the conditions pertaining to canopies for guard huts.
He provided details of the upgrading or refurbishment of 245 MP residential units in the parliamentary villages.
Ms Penelope Tyawa, Acting Secretary of Parliament, stated that she could not add anything because the project was currently a shared project and the Department had covered all details. She reminded the Committee that the Service Level Agreement (SLA) had to be signed as a matter of urgency.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu called for comments and questions in response to the presentation.
Mr J Julius (DA) asked about the wastage and extension of projects and the increased amounts for the projects. Was there a risk mitigation management plan for the projects? He stated that the officials responsible for the Prestige projects should know that for any project, there should be a risk mitigation management plan. He asked for a copy of the risk management plans. He was baffled why the Committee had to hear every time that something could not happen because something else had happened. The project manager should mitigate the risk.
He noted that Members of Parliament (MPs) had to move in to the parliamentary units in four months’ time and that could not be delayed. Members could not be inconvenienced. He asked that the project risk mitigation management plan be sent to the Committee as soon as possible. He saw no evidence of a risk management plan and if there was not a risk management plan, he would be deeply dissatisfied.
Ms N Mahlo (ANC) welcomed the presentation. She referred to slides 7 and 8 of the presentation. If one looked at the original contract, it was R91 million. Why should Parliament have to put more money into a project that had been planned for a specific amount? Now it was escalating. If one listened to the presenter, one heard that there had been a problem because some of the staff had refused to relocate. There had to be a policy that ensured staff moved when asked to do so because it was unacceptable that someone else should now be liable for additional costs. 91 days was too long to wait for staff to move from their offices.
She stated that in any project, there were five major project fundamentals for analysing a project. At the project initiation, one had to define the problem, determine the project feasibility, ensure that planning and control mechanisms were in place. The scheduling had to be finalised as well as the management system for analysing what was going on in the project. What were DPWI’s three major project planning points?
Parliament understood the Covid issue but in some cases there was no reason for the delays. There was an implementer block on a project plan that had to be filled in. She was glad that Parliament would be assisting in the project management. The money belonged to the people and Parliament could not waste the money.
Mr T Brauteseth (DA, KZN) turned to slide 13 – 3.6 on external security enhancement. Why did Parliament need that security enhancement? Why was there a need for both mechanical and electronic devices? Why did they need to install anti-ramming mechanisms? When last did someone try to ram Parliament? Why did the existing fences around Parliament have to be extended to meet SAPS requirements? What did SAPS want to do? Did they want to fence off two blocks around Parliament? There was no explanation of what was being done or why it was being done. Why was there a need for structural overhead canopies? Why was there a need for a permanent search park in Parliament when it was only used on the day of the State of the Nation Address?
Mr Brauteseth stated that Committee Members needed to know why it was necessary to spend R68.6 million on Parliament when, as far as he was concerned, Parliament was sufficiently secure. He reminded the Committee that there had been one or two complaints about security at the Acacia parliamentary village and a lot of money had been spent on a huge new gate area in Acacia but it did not even work. The President had said, the previous day, that R800 million was needed to create 800 000 new jobs, so surely Parliament should be trying to save money to pay it back to the employment creation fund?
He referred to the upgrades at the parliamentary villages in Acacia, Laboria Park and Pelican Park. Could Parliament afford to spend all that money on the villages? He had raised the question earlier in the year but had been ignored. He understood that it was a one-size-fits-all refurbishment for all the homes. There were some units in severe need of maintenance but his unit needed no work and he had asked DPWI to remove his unit from the project as he had, perhaps, only one cracked tile. He did not want taxpayers’ money wasted on his unit. Had there been an evaluation of each individual unit?
Mr Brauteseth stated that he had been told that certain maintenance contractors at Parliament had renewable contracts year after year without any due procurement process being followed. He requested a list of all those contractors who did routine maintenance at Parliament, what the nature of the contract was in respect of when it was renewed and what process was followed at the time of renewal.
Mr B Radebe (ANC) stated that he was speaking from Laboria Park and that the poor connectivity from Laboria did not allow him to use his video when he spoke. He asked if there would be an enhancement of the reception at the housing parks of Parliament because the hybrid system of Parliament would be a permanent feature in the future. Was there a plan to enhance the system? On Tuesday that week he had used three different gadgets in his attempts to log on.
He appreciated the presentation but noted that the renovations would total approximately R293 million. Parliament had to contribute to the employment of the unemployed youth of SA. How many contracts had been set aside for historically disadvantaged enterprises? Once a contract reached R30 million, an amount had to be set aside for historically disadvantaged companies. Was that done? The presentation did not provide that information. How many companies were women-owned companies? There was a monopoly in lift maintenance in SA, so how was DPWI was going to bring in HDI companies? The President had stated that infrastructure projects were the ones that would drive the economy. Even in areas where there were monopolies, new players had to be brought in.
Mr Radebe was pleased that DPWI was responsible for managing the Build Council professions. During the preparation for the World Cup, the country had spent trillions of Rand putting up infrastructure but candidate engineers had been unable to get experience. How many candidate engineers had been roped into the parliamentary projects to get experiential training? That would improve the youth in the country. The figures regarding women-owned companies, employment opportunities and how many experiential training opportunities had been created, had to be sent to the Committee.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu appealed to Members to focus on the current project. The intention was to make progress, not to bring in new ideas. It was not the first time that the Committee had engaged with DPWI on the matter.
Mr X Qayiso (ANC) wished Mr Nyambi (ANC, Mpumalanga) and Mr Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) a speedy recovery. His attention was attracted to the number of delays in one slide. Taking that and the cost of the project which should have been R89 million, he had a concern. Every successful project was notable by its on-time completion. Given the fact that there would be delays in the parliamentary projects, did DPWI not think that it would affect the costs? He did not want to have a misconception about the cost of the project.
Ms M Lesoma (ANC) agreed that the presentation was an update from the previous presentation. She asked about escalation costs. Had Parliament or DPWI checked the legal implications of the increased costs because with the increased prices, could other bidders not say that they could have done it at their tendered costs? Could that issue be looked at? Considering the historically disadvantaged companies, she suggested that, moving forward, if it was not a requirement of all infrastructure projects, tender specifications in future needed to include job training for engineers and so on, so that young people could complete their training and be fully qualified and register with the relevant professional bodies. There had to be close monitoring of the projects and she agreed that project management should have a risk plan with mitigating possibilities for delays. It might not be possible but then the Committee should be afforded an explanation. She did not want to see a waste of taxpayers’ money.
Mr N Singh (IFP) said that the matter had been on the cards for over a year and so the situation was beyond the details of the project. It was about how the project was progressing. Covid-19 had impacted everyone in many ways and one would expect additional costs related to Covid-19. The presentation showed Covid delays with costs and without costs. The Committee needed to know all the Covid-19 delay costs.
He said that the elephant in the room was that one always heard that DPWI could not fulfil projects on time and several departments such as the Department of Education and even Parliament had said that they needed closer involvement so he was very pleased to see a coming together of minds between Parliament and DPWI. Would that relationship be sustained in the future so that taxpayers could benefit from the work done at Parliament?
Mr Singh asked whether the Visitors’ Centre was part of the contract. The Visitors’ Centre was not conducive to the type of visitor that Parliament received. It needed to be modern and efficient. He asked about the contract for the parks in Parliament that had not been renewed because of the Covid situation. How far had the contractor gone before Covid? The extension orders were a concern to Mr Singh. When variation orders were added, amounts could quickly add up to another R1 million, especially if there was collusion between those who wanted more things done and the contractor who wanted the additional money.
Finally, he asked the Speaker and Presiding Officers when the squash courts would be put on the table. It would not be costly to repair the courts and they provided for good exercise.
Ms T Modise (ANC), Speaker of the National Assembly, admitted that she was not part of the discussion because there had been fighting before Ms Mbete (the previous Speaker of Parliament) had left. During the Fifth Administration, Ms Mbete and her had had two meetings with the Minister and the President because they had felt that what was happening in Parliament and in the accommodation parks was out of order. The Members were public representatives and should, at all times, be worried about how the money was spent. She said that she was repeating it for the third time that Parliament was not going to spend R25 million refurbishing the kitchens of Parliament in her name, not unless they could get good industrial kitchens for far less than that. It was not going to happen in her name but each time she met up with Public Works and Infrastructure, the Department insisted. It was not something that could be explained to South Africans.
Speaker Modise said that the South African Parliament was not the first or only Parliament that asked people to stay in temporary accommodation. With the money that DPWI spent on the houses, they should all be living in luxury, but they were not. She hoped that one of the DPWI managers had heard her saying what would be ideal for Members of Parliament. She wanted Members of Parliament to be left to live in the villages with their families and not have DPWI impose their wishes on Parliament. Parliament would carry the bad name of living in luxury, even though they did not live in luxury. DPWI had already made mistakes and had spent money on alarms and things not needed or used by Members or that did not work. That was why they had asked the President if Parliament could take over the maintenance budget and he had agreed.
She stated that the future structure of Parliament had to have a qualified CFO, a contract lawyer to keep an eye on contracts, and a properly trained skilled facilities manager. Anyone who had been a project manager would know what had to be done. The mistake was both on the side of DPWI continuing to take Parliament for a ride and on the side of Parliament continuing to rely on DPWI. She believed that the new Minister had a different approach and the quarterly meetings had helped. Houses had to be clean, serviceable and properly maintained. No Member wanted to live in luxury provided by the State. Money should not be squandered in the name of Members of Parliament.
Speaker Modise knew that Parliament was a National Key Point and that it was missing security features but she did not want a Parliament that frightened the people and was blocked off from the citizens like the Parliaments in Chile and Argentina. It looked ugly and created animosity. She did know that the thefts and disappearance of things, especially from the NCOP, had to be addressed. She had suggested to the Minister of DPWI that perhaps someone from the South African Heritage Resources Agency could advise. The delays in the NCOP had nothing to do with Covid. The project had started in 2014 and the Department was still working on it. There had not been a pandemic from 2014 to 2019. Parliament needed to be more actively involved. They needed to tinker with the structure of Parliament to get the expertise needed.
She agreed that a report on the automatically renewed contracts was required. Contracts should only be renewed, if necessary. That was why Parliament needed a contract lawyer who would prioritise the needs of Parliament. The escalations would not happen if someone was managing the contracts. In the past, sessions of Parliament had been interrupted by the noise of contractors. There was a gap in that DPWI did not understand how Parliament worked. She informed the Acting Secretary of Parliament that if any staff member refused to move for the contractors, that staff member had to bear the cost of the delays incurred. Parliament needed to crack the whip because everyone was supposed to save every cent.
Speaker Modise concluded by saying that it must not happen on the watch of the current Members. Money should not be spent unnecessarily in Parliament but diverted to the streets where it was needed.
Mr Masondo, Chairperson of the NCOP, agreed that Parliament was striving to improve the situation and was continuing to make progress and would continue to fight against things not done properly.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu said that some of her issues had been covered by the Speaker. There were low hanging fruits, such as the issue of the gym equipment where halls had been converted into gyms in the villages in 2015 but were not utilised because they were not equipped. That could have been addressed.
The intercom system did not function and yet someone had been paid. Members could not call the police on duty. That could surely be easily rectified.
She added that the contractor appointed to do gardening in the villages just cut soil and was using grass trimmers and not even lawn mowers. People were being paid for doing nothing. Other members had raised that issue before and she had expected a report on that matter.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu referred to the issue of the design of the houses that DPWI was going to build. DPWI was an implementing agent that was implementing on behalf of Parliament and so the requirements and specifications had to come from Parliament. DPWI brought expertise. The two parties should meet to resolve that matter.
Ms Tyawa said that a SLA was required as all the contracts were determined by DPWI. The Minister and Deputy Minister had requested copies of all contracts and they had been given them. The Executive Authority was also concerned by the escalating costs. Parliament did not have an infrastructure budget, even for maintenance. Parliament was seeking at least a daily maintenance budget.
The need to protect a National Key Point had been addressed by the Speaker but she could add that the need for security arose following thefts from cars and NCOP offices in 2015 and 2016 because people were scaling the wall of Parliament behind the NCOP. Hence the need for improved walls.
Ms Tyawa reassured the meeting that since the Minister and Deputy Minister had been meeting with the parliamentary Executive Authority on a quarterly basis, those matters were coming to their attention.
Mr Fazel asked Mr Sazona to respond to those questions that were within his scope of responsibility.
Mr Sazona stated that his colleagues in Cape Town would assist with some of the questions. He informed the Committee that the project had been informed by the security report submitted by SAPS, which had been discussed and approved by Parliament and the relevant Ministers in 2017. DPWI had been requested to implement the required security measures in Parliament. The issue of the search park had been taken out of the scope of work as there was a limitation of space in the precinct and it would have taken up parking space. A temporary search park could be set up for SONA.
On the issue of routine maintenance, Mr Sazona stated that DPWI had one contractor, Akkers Facilities Management and that contract was readvertised when it came to an end. The contract came to an end very soon. The contracted company contracted out the work to a number of sub-contractors. So, DPWI did not renew the work of sub-contractors. However, section 197 in the Labour Act sought to protect vulnerable workers and so many of the new sub-contractors took over the workers from the previous sub-contractors and he knew that had happened in Parliament. When the facilities management company’s contract came to an end, so would the contracts of the cleaners, etc. who worked for the company. A number of Members of Parliament had raised their concerns with DPWI about the vulnerable workers who had been unemployed during the Covid lockdown and now their contracts were coming to an end. In response to the need to protect vulnerable workers, DPWI had invoked section 197 and whoever was awarded the new contract would have to take over the current workers. He agreed to provide details of Akkers and request the company to provide a list of all sub-contractors. Akkers had had a five-year contract, which had been renewed for one year and the contract had now gone out on tender.
Regarding Laboria Park and Acacia Park, Mr Sazona explained that the contractor had been unable to get access to all units so DPWI had put out a contract for the general requirements but with a provisor that the specific requirements for each unit would be determined once the Member had moved out. It was not a one-size-fits-all project. Some units would not be touched or would have minimal work done on them. He was happy to oblige Mr Brauteseth and not touch his unit.
He asked Mr Radebe which networks at Laboria Park were problematic in respect of getting access to the virtual meetings. It was not part of the contract to deal with networks but he could speak to his colleagues in the networks companies to see how they could assist with reception.
Mr Sazona informed Mr Radebe that DPWI addressed the issue of Black-owned, women-owned and youth-owned companies by adhering to its own Department of Public Works Programme (DPWP) to provide employment. The principles of DPWP required the development and training of employers of SMMEs and youth had to be employed by those companies. He would provide the information to the Committee.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu pointed out that Mr Brauteseth was not speaking personally about his unit. It was about making an assessment or needs analysis of all the units. She knew some problems had been reported but Mr Brauteseth had asked whether a needs assessment had been undertaken.
Mr Brauteseth stated that he had heard Mr Sazona’s response to his question. The units were assessed on the basis that each unit should require X work but then there would be a specific assessment of each unit once it was vacant. The problem was a lack of information in the presentation. How could the Committee be assured that someone would ensure that the actual requirements per unit were repaired and charged and that Parliament was not simply charged for the expected cost per unit. Who was going to ensure that unnecessary work was not done in units? The Committee had not been informed of the differential.
Who would independently assess what actually needed to be done as the contractor could just find work to be done so that he could charge for it? The Committee Members should be the ones who led in determining what needed to be done.
Mr Sazona replied that DPWI had consultants who had developed the scope of work. Because they had not accessed all units and because some might have deteriorated, the consultants would assess each individual unit and not permit unnecessary work. The contractor would not determine the work needed to be done.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu noted that when Mr Masondo had been working on the state of readiness of the NCOP, the issue of the network had been raised very strongly. Parliament had been promised that there would be engagements between DPWI and the network companies. At that meeting a promise had been made that engagements would take place between the DPWI and Vodacom, Telkom and others within a week. She wanted a briefing for the Committee on the progress regarding those engagements with the network companies. From what she was hearing, Mr Sazona was hearing about the matter for the first time and DPWI had not yet engaged with the companies.
Ms Lesoma stated that it seemed as if DPWI units did not speak to each other. DPWI was too used to doing things for itself and not for its clients. Parliament did not have a capital budget. The old order of DPWI needed to understand the new hands-on approach of Parliament. DPWI had to understand what the client, Parliament, wanted.
She added that, at the meeting of Chief Whips there had been a conversation with DPWI about connectivity at the parliamentary villages. If she were Mr Sazona, she would withdraw until the Department could get its act together and speak with one voice. It seemed as if there were several Departments of Public Works and Infrastructure. She reminded the meeting that in speaking about the economic transformation, they were not only speaking about Black people, but also Coloured and Indian people. They were the ones who should benefit. Previously disadvantaged companies meant women, youth and disabled as well as Coloured and Indian. She stated that DPWI had not explained why the contract had been extended for one year. She would send her additional questions to DPWI in writing and hoped to receive a reply in writing.
Mr Sazona explained that he understood that Mr Radebe had been referring to network connectivity in the parliamentary villages and not data availability. Mr Radebe had mentioned that he had to change gadgets to find connectivity via a different service provider. Connectivity was the responsibility of MTN, Vodacom, etc. and it was up to those companies to add reception towers or whatever was necessary to improve connectivity in the area. That was different from the issue raised at the Chief Whips Forum and the Members Support Forum. There the discussion had been about accessibility of data for video conferencing and so on. There had been engagement on the data issue. Parliament was responsible for providing data. DPWI had suggested that a cheaper option for Parliament would be to invite any of the network companies to take over the supply of data, rather than Parliament providing fibre to the units. That would be free of charge. That option would save DPWI from spending R10 million on fibre and data that might not be used which would result in another case of fruitless and wasteful expenditure. DPWI and Parliament needed to discuss that issue further.
Mr Singh asked, with regard to renovation at the residences, whether DPWI could not provide the members who were tenants with a list to each tenant of each unit as the tenants could monitor what needed to be done. When the scope of work was decided upon, the tenants could be the eyes and ears of the taxpayers to ensure that the process was properly done and the work was correctly charged for.
Co-Chairperson Mabe had difficulty with her connectivity. She noted that the longer DPWI delayed, the more it cost Parliament so Parliament did not want any further delays.
Ms Tembeka Kolele, Acting Regional Manager: Cape Town, DPWI, presented a list of each unit and the work required for each unit. She explained that the scope of work had been defined for each unit individually, except for those which DPWI had been unable to access. Now the evaluators would go in and determine exactly what had to be done. She would make the list available. The information had not been shared because DPWI had presented a summary of the work to be done at each meeting held but had never been requested to go into the detail of each individual unit. As Mr Sazona had indicated, before the work was undertaken, the DPWI would go into each unit with a professional team and determine what had to be done. The work would be costed and assigned before being undertaken.
Ms Kolele stated that in terms of risk management, there had been an audit of DPWI by BDO Risk Management Services and it had been discovered that the DPWI risk plan was too general so BDO had guided DPWI as to what needed to be done for each and every project to create a risk management plan for each project. DPWI had done a full risk assessment for every project but it was a generic plan. BDO had provided guidelines and DPWI had developed a risk management section to the project charters. She would make those available to the Committee.
Ms Kolele explained that DPWI had found itself behind on managing the new contract processes and had been forced to ask National Treasury for an extension of one year and National Treasury had approved the request. The current extension had been approved by National Treasury with the relevant costs and so no regulations had been averted.
Regarding the unemployed youth, Ms Kolele stated that in the contract for MPs houses, 45% of the project value had been assigned to SMMEs in line with National Treasury regulations where all projects above R30 million should have at least 30% of the value assigned to SMMEs. Those reports would be available on a monthly basis. The lift contract was coming to an end and the 30% SMME requirement would be applied to the new contract. The Kitchen project had a number of young professional engineers to do all the work on the programme as well as a quantity surveyor who were working towards their accreditation. 25 young professionals had been through the DPWI programme and they were used on the projects in the precinct.
In terms of escalation, Ms Kolele stated that she would provide accurate statistics of women, youth and disabled people as well as those who were involved in experiential training. Regarding the costs occurred due to Covid. A decision had been taken that the costs incurred in Levels 4 and 5 would be assigned to the contracts. Costs incurred from level 4 to level 1 would be borne by DPWI.
A decision had been reached by the Construction Branch that costs for level 4 and 5 would be for the contractors but for levels 1 to 3, DPWI would bear the costs. The details would be provided to the Committee.
Regarding the contract price adjustment (CPA) indicated in the presentation, Ms Kolele explained that the cost that the contractor had determined for the project would be re-calculated on a quarterly basis, dependent on certain indicators. That was the law and a contractual obligation that anyone offering a contract had to allow but the actual amount of the cost escalation was determined by the Quantity Surveyor Council. The cost escalation was only on contracts greater than R13 million that were for longer than 12 months.
Ms Kolele informed the meeting that she was aware of Ms Modise’s objections to the kitchen project but DPWI was still gathering information about the work that needed to be done. Young professional engineers were working on it the previous day, looking at the staircase in one of the kitchens. DPWI would present a scope of work to the Executive and the Minister would finally determine the scope and DPWI would go out on tender in respect of that scope.
Ms Meme Kgagara, Director: Prestige, Cape Town, DPWI, responded to the questions on the gyms in the parliamentary villages. After the previous meeting on 30 October 2019, the Deputy Minister had asked her directorate to test the waters and see what equipment was needed for the gyms in the facilities as DPWI and Parliament could not come to an agreement on who would pay for the gym equipment. She had contacted four service providers in November 2019: My Gym, Gym Concepts, Kepler Net Fitness and Ignites but only one service provider had arrived to do the assessment. After two weeks, the company came back with a quotation. Equipment for Laboria Park, Acacia Park, Pelican Park totalled R2 million. That was for equipment. In addition, security was needed as well as trainers and someone to manage the monthly subscriptions, etc. The Department had talked about outsourcing by renting out the facilities to prevent such expenditure. The process had been interrupted by Covid but that was the route that would be followed.
Ms Kgagara stated that her office in Acacia Park had received a request for a gentleman from Vodacom to come and assess the signal/data across the three villages. The request had come from Parliament.
Ms Mahlo had asked about the three most important control methods used by DPWI but she had not been answered. The Department could send the information later. Once the Committee Members had the seen the control methods, Members would be able to determine whether DPWI had the best method.
Mr Fazel suggested that DPWI be permitted to respond to Ms Mahlo’s question in writing so that he could consult with the construction engineers involved. He would inform the Committee of the methods used as well as the methodologies. He acknowledged the concerns of the speakers, and especially of the Speaker of the National Assembly, who had laid bare her concerns. It was, in fact, that which had given rise to the regular quarterly meetings and it was one of those meetings that had given rise to the audit which included all parliamentary projects. He was happy to say that everyone was adhering to the process and it was going well.
Mr Fazel explained that he and the Acting Secretary of Parliament held pre-meetings before the quarterly meetings with the Minister and Deputy Minister to ensure that they were adequately briefed. He referred to the Memorandum of Understanding that was to be signed between DPWI and Parliament which would also help to manage things. Project management methodology had been put in place to deal with the most critical concerns about escalating costs and the time delay on parliamentary project. The audit that had been approved would examine the projects and would expose deficiencies by the Department in project delivery. He assured the Committee that he would implement every recommendation without fear or favour and there would be no holy cows. There would also be consequence management for all negligence uncovered and proper controls would be put in place. He was prepared to report on the progress of that matter to the quarterly meeting. Public Works could no longer be seen as a department that did not deliver and that perception had to be changed. DPWI needed to change the perspective of DPWI.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu requested that DPWI respond to the Committee in writing in respect of all questions not fully responded to in the meeting within seven days. The Committee agreed.
Ms Tyawa stated that her team was meeting with the team from Vodacom to discuss the question of connectivity in the villages. She stressed that the issue was connectivity and not fibre.
Co-Chairperson Mabe requested Ms Tyawa to make a presentation on the critical vacancies in Parliament.
Presentation on the filling of Critical Vacancies
Ms Tyawa listed the positions that had been advertised: Secretary to Parliament, Head: Treasury Advice Office, Director: Parliamentary Budget Office, Chief Financial Officer.
There were very few applications for the position of Secretary. The position would be re-advertised to attract a larger pool of applicants. Applicants who had already applied to the first advertisement would not be required to reapply and would be considered as part of the pool of applicants. A recognised and credible recruitment consultant would be appointed to manage the recruitment process.
The position of Head - Treasury Advice Office would be re-advertised with the updated qualification requirements of a Chartered Accountant qualification with audit and analytical skills. A talent sourcing process had been activated.
The position for the Head of the Parliamentary Budget Office had been advertised twice and had gone through talent sourcing. The interviews had since been concluded and the vetting process was underway.
The position of Chief Finance Officer (CFO) had been re-advertised by the Sixth Parliament and the top two candidates had been women but ultimately neither had been available by the time that Parliament was ready to make the appointment. A talent sourcing process had been activated.
Ms Tyawa stated that, in the interim, Parliament would continue with Acting positions.
Co-Chairperson Mabe thanked Ms Tyawa and expressed her gratitude for the fact that they were looking at women.
Mr Radebe was concerned about the timeframe for filling the vacancies.
Mr Singh asked about the position of the Head of Security.
Ms Tyawa said that once a consultant had been appointed, she would be able to give exact timeframes for the process. She had to receive a Request for Quotations from the companies and a company could then be appointed. However, considering the required timeframes for various steps of the process, she suggested that the posts would probably not be filled before December 2020/January 2021. She repeated how there had been too few candidates to make an appointment. The Head of Security position had been advertised but no suitable applicants had not been received. That position too had to be filled as that person had to report on all risks. Her office would provide the timeframes in writing once the talent search consultant had been appointed.
Public Service Commission Recommendations and Report
Co-Chairperson Mabe stated that the next item was the Public Service Commission (PSC) Recommendations and Report and the Executives’ update on the matter.
Mr Brauteseth immediately suggested that people who were referred to in the report should recuse themselves from the meeting: Ms Tyawa and Adv Phindela, if he were in the meeting.
Ms Tyawa said that she and all parliamentary officials would leave.
Co-Chairperson Mabe handed over to the Speaker of the NA and the Chairperson of the NCOP to lead the discussions.
There was some discussion as to whether the meeting should remain open or whether it should be a closed meeting. Co-Chairperson Mabe reminded Members that the media had been present at previous meetings and had an interest in the matter. She was, therefore, allowing them to remain in the meeting. Those officials who were involved could not remain.
Presentation on progress in respect of the PSC Recommendations and Report
Chairperson Masondo noted that Members of the Committee were familiar with the Report out of which the disciplinary process had flowed.
He highlighted, in relation to the special inquiry into the International Relations Unit, that there had been problems around relationships in the International Relations Unit which had become dysfunctional and there had been poor communication amongst members of the Unit and with Parliament. There had been very poor conflict management skills to deal with the issues. There were also unaddressed historical issues.
However, he could report that considerable progress had been made in identifying office space, although some members of staff had not yet been relocated, and in respect of organisational re-alignment. The functionality of the Unit was under question as it was not what it should be and the matter had to resolved as systematically and as soon as possible. It was work in progress.
Chairperson Masondo stated that the matter of the fixed term contracts was another issue and related to the need to have certainty as to who was employed by Parliament and to do away with part-timers. All human resources contracts had been reviewed in 2017, approved in 2018 and implemented from 1 February 2019. Acting appointments and transfers had been clarified and the wellness policy had been revised.
Chairperson Masondo referred to the issue of control and access to Parliament in keeping with the National Key Point Act of 1980. The question of access control and security had received attention but it was work in progress and some progress had been made but not enough. Parliament was not yet where it ought to be.
On the question of the Garane family, Chairperson Masondo said that the family had been allowed access to Parliament and been allowed to conduct a family ritual at the site of the tragedy, Mr Garane’s office. The family had pursued the issue in the courts but the court had dismissed the matter regarding how Mr Garane had passed on. It was a case of suicide. In respect of the disciplinary process, steps had been taken against the International Relations and Protocol Divisional Manager who had been found guilty on all three charges. As far as Parliament was concerned, the process had been concluded but the manager had since taken the PSC Report on review and the respondents were the Executive Officers of Parliament and the Acting Secretary.
Speaker Modise did not have additions to what Mr Masondo had said.
Co-Chairperson Mabe noted the important developments since the last PSC report. A lot of work had been done. The Sixth Parliament had achieved much through the interaction of Chairperson Masondo and Speaker Modise with the PSC Report and Recommendations. She was grateful to Chairperson Masondo for sharing historical issues that had been addressed and she was comforted by Chairperson Masondo’s leadership. She also appreciated their relationships with the man’s family. She appreciated their leadership and how Speaker Modise had visited the family. She appreciated the fact that the manager had been found guilty but nothing more could be done until the court matter had been finalised.
Mr Radebe appreciated the report by Chairperson Masondo. He noted that there had been 18 PSC recommendations and he thanked Chairperson Masondo and Speaker Modise for attending to those recommendations. One recommendation had said that three people – Ms Penelope Tyawa, Adv Modibedi Phindela and Mr Dumisani Sithole - had to be assessed on their people management skills. He understood that the entire Report had been taken on review so there might be limitations in implementing the report in its entirety, but had an assessment been done of those who had not taken the report to court?
He understood from the Speaker that Parliament should not be a fortress but, as it was a National Key Point, there had to be adequate security. It could not be “leaky”. There had to be random checks of cars to keep people on their toes. The situation should provide a learning experience. Someone could bring a gun into the Chamber and kill people. That would be a sad day for SA. One had to remember that Dr Verwoerd had been murdered in Parliament. That could not happen in the SA democracy.
Mr Radebe suggested that the Speaker and the former Speaker of Parliament had handled it so well that a letter of appreciation should be written to them by the Committee. The situation had been well handled in a sensitive way. He suggested that ordinary staff could not be on contracts because they needed to know if they had a job. Only the top positions should be contract positions. Others had to be permanent but assessed annually and assisted, if necessary. He would have liked to see the matter concluded but the manager had the right to take the matter to court. He appreciated what had been done and gave kudos to the Executive Authority of Parliament.
Mr Brauteseth thanked Mr Masondo and Ms Modise. He referred to point 17.4 of the Executive Summary of the Report which referred to Ms Tyawa, Adv Phindela and Mr Dumisani Sithole. The Committee needed to know what had happened. But the Committee had to determine whether it accepted point 17.4 because one of the employees of Parliament had committed suicide due to severe depression and dissatisfaction with labour-related matters. The three people named had been directly responsible for the situation. He was not sure that people management was an appropriate consequence for the loss of life. The Committee should consider whether the three should face some disciplinary action as they were ultimately responsible for the man’s suicide. Would the family feel satisfied? He did not know how the family felt but the Executive could provide some insight into that aspect. However, SA law had a long history of hearing the victim’s side of the story. He honestly believed that there should be concomitant action and some form of disciplinary action metered out to those who were responsible for labour relations and grievance processes in Parliament. The grievance processes had failed completely, which had led to Mr Garane feeling absolutely hopeless and had led directly to his demise.
Ms Mahlo appreciated the response by the Chairperson of the NCOP and the Speaker. She was happy with the high standard of professionalism that the two leaders had displayed. She stated that they were the mother and father of everyone in Parliament and guided according to the values of responsibility, openness, integrity and teamwork. She was happy with the high standards of the leaders. It could have been a difficult situation. She exhorted them to keep up the good work.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu welcomed the Report as, with the entire Committee, she had been awaiting the finality of the case. It had been a concern as the case had been raised in the Legacy Report from the Fifth Parliament and hence they had engaged the Executive Authority and had followed up.
She also congratulated the Deputy Speaker. The last time that the Committee had addressed the matter, the Committee had met in the Old Assembly Chamber. Chairperson Masondo had engaged with the family and had given the Committee a briefing on the PSC Report, both the legal opinion and in terms of implementation. The two individuals were identified as needing to have skills training. The PSC had come to a conclusion based on what other people had said but those individuals had not been given an opportunity to present their case or to clear the allegations against them. SA was a democratic country and everyone had to be given the opportunity to present their side of the story. The Deputy Speaker had stated that the Executive Authority had believed that there was a loophole there and so did not want to consider the disciplinary processes.
Did Members want them to go back again to discuss that? She wanted to see that there was progress and that Parliament found closure in the matter. It was painful. It was not good for the family if Parliament kept talking about the matter as “it pinched the wound” and reminded them of the tragedy. She wanted to give respect to the family and commended the Chairperson and Speaker for what they had done so far. Closure in Parliament was important so that the family could find closure.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu addressed the matter of the International Relations and Protocol Unit. The issues had been raised previously and the Committee had recommended that attention be given to strengthening security. The International Relations Unit had to be restructured because the Members did not know what the situation was like within the unit. She had heard that there was no cooperation or teamwork in the unit. All the stakeholders, such as labour and the officials affected, had to be involved in the resolution. That was her plea to the Executive.
She reminded Members that, in the previous meeting, the question of benefits to the family of Mr Garane had been raised.
Co-Chairperson Mabe said that professionalising the Human Resources aspect of Parliament was essential so that no family ever again had to experience what the Garane family had experienced. She noted that it was work in progress. She hoped that no individual would ever again be so aggrieved by labour practices in Parliament or any other government department that he or she would take his or her life.
Speaker Modise agreed with Mr Radebe that Parliament had to look at security so that weapons could be spotted. It was possible to have security that was not in one’s face and not prohibitively expensive. That was why the post of the Head of Security had not been filled. The post required someone who really understood the security requirements of Parliament.
She agreed with Mr Brauteseth that Recommendation No 17.4 had bothered her and Chairperson Masondo as the persons named for leaders of Parliament’s Administration but the Report had not stated that they had acted unlawfully. Everyone who had been mentioned in the Report had been given an opportunity to respond. Ms Tyawa and Adv Phindela had responded saying that they reserved their right to respond.
Parliament had obtained legal advice on the Report, specifically 17.4 and had been told that the Report was not valid because the people named had not been given the opportunity to respond by the PSC. A second legal opinion was similar.
After the completion of the disciplinary action, she and the Chairperson had again given the Acting Secretary and Adv Phindela the opportunity to respond because the evidence against them by Sithole was damning. They were determined to be procedural, so they were waiting. Mr Sithole had taken the matter on review.
However, Parliament needed to restructure the unit, to reintegrate the unit into the establishment and to instil trust but at the same time, Parliament had to be assured that the employees would be loyal to the Institution.
Speaker Modise concluded that she would report back to the Committee as soon as there was any progress in the matter.
Chairperson Masondo added that he understood that benefits were paid to the family.
Mr Brauteseth thanked Speaker Modise for her acknowledgement of the point that he had made. She had made a fair point and it was one that bore further scrutiny.
Co-Chairperson Mabe thanked the Speaker and the Chairperson of the NCOP.
The adoption of minutes and reports had to be deferred because the meeting no longer had a quorum.
Co-Chairperson Mabe suggested that DPWI should report more frequently so that so much time was not spent on the structural issues. She was pleased with the progress in respect of the PSC Report. She was satisfied with the progress in the Garane matter. However, she noted that critical posts still had to filled. Those were strategic posts and should be filled urgently.
She thanked all those who had attended the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
Mabe, Ms BP
Brauteseth, Mr TJ
Julius, Mr J
Lesoma, Ms RMM
Mahlangu, Ms DG
Mahlo, Ms NP
Masondo, Mr NA
Modise, Ms T
Qayiso, Mr XS
Radebe, Mr BA
Rayi, Mr M
Singh, Mr N
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