With both Deputy Ministers present, the Committee was briefed in a virtual meeting by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) on its analysis of the quarterly performance reports of the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation (DHSWS), and the Department’s performance against the medium-term strategic framework (MTSF) targets in the 2019/20 period.
The Committee complained that the presentation lacked substance in terms of high-level evaluation and analysis of the systematic challenges that the DHSWS faced. It had simply presented the challenges submitted to it by the Department in table form. The DPME said it relied on the departments for information, and overall it conducted rigorous assessments on the reports it received from them. However, financial constraints and capacity issues had an impact on its work. The presentation had lacked analysis because it was not an impact assessment report, but had focused on outputs and outcomes.
The Committee heard that the reasons for non-performance by the DHSWS had to do with financial constraints. In the reported financial year, it had experienced budget cuts which had necessitated the reprioritisation of programmes. It also had too many targets for its limited budget. The DPME was looking at evaluating how this could be addressed, and one solution would be to limit the DHSWS’s targets.
The Committee was concerned with the DPME’s monitoring and evaluation methodologies. The DPME responded that it continuously improved its monitoring methodologies in order to ensure that these were integrated. It had conducted a biannual monitoring of the MTSF with the Cabinet. A report on this would be submitted to the Committee.
Monitoring and Evaluation Briefing on the Work of Departments of Human Settlements and Water and Sanitation and Its Entities 2019/20 Financial Year
Mr Robert Nkuna, Director-General, Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), made some opening remarks and invited Mr Lindsay Martin, Head: Resource Planning, and Mr Hassen Mohamed, Head: Local Government Performance, to take the Committee through a presentation on the analysis of the quarterly performance reports of the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation (DHSWS), and its performance against the medium term strategic framework (MTSF) targets for the 2019/20 period.
Mr Martin explained the tables dealing with the pre-audited annual performance of the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) and the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). Both the DHS and DWS had programmes on administration. Whereas the DHS had programmes on human settlements policy, strategy and planning, programme monitoring and delivery support and housing development finance, the DWS had programmes on water planning and information management, infrastructure development and water sector regulation. A table on each of the programmes illustrated the information on each indicator, the annual target, the pre-audited annual performance and the reasons for deviation, non-achievement and corrective measures.
(See presentation for details)
Mr Mohamed presented on the DHS and DWS performance against the MTSF. The following were the impact indicators involving the DHS:
- Spatial transformation through multi-programme integration in priority development areas (PDAs), with an urban focus;
- Adequate housing and improved quality living environments; and
- Security of tenure, including eradication of title deed backlog.
The following were the impact indicators involving the DWS:
- Water security;
- Improved access to basic services;
- A review of the regulatory framework on water ownership and governance (water rights, water allocation and water use); and
- Improving the state of ecological infrastructure.
(See presentation for details)
Ms S Mokgotho (EFF) asked whether the DPME monitored the alignment of the Department’s annual and strategic plans to evaluate its correlation to meeting objectives with the National Development Plan (NDP), the MTSF, and service delivery outcomes. What were the overall major challenges within the DHSWS that had an impact on future service delivery issues? What value did the DPME add to other departments if it only took information from them and presented it to the Committee in table form?
Mr M Mashego (ANC) said the Committee’s engagement with the DHSWS promised to be smooth, since the DPME had shared its presentation with it. The DHSWS was aware of the issues identified and had to be sufficiently prepared to answer the Committee’s questions.
The DPME had told the Committee that it had investigated 84% of the non-performance issues it identified. However, it had not shared the results of the investigations and its subsequent action plans.
Why was the issuance of title deeds a challenge compared to the restoration of them?
The DHSWS claimed to be delivering services to communities. However, the communities were dissatisfied as evidenced by the numerous protests. Did the DPME have an idea of the motivation behind the protests?
Ms E Powell (DA) said the presentation lacked substance in terms of a high-level evaluation and analysis of the systematic challenges that the DHSW faced. The Committee required an analysis of the systematic challenges noted by the DHSW.
Why had the DPME omitted to provide an analysis of programme one, dealing with administration?
For programme two, in the area of human settlements, why had some metros, including Tshwane, failed to submit their urban settlements development grant (USDG) plans? What problems had these departments encountered? How had the DHSWS allocated funding to these metros if they had not submitted their business plans?
Why had there been delays in concluding the rental policy framework, which was a component of the policy framework of the human settlements department? Had the Department issued instructions to provinces to work towards policy shifts as envisioned in the draft human settlements policy framework prior to its official finalisation? Had the DHSWS consulted with the public on the draft policy framework?
On human settlements co-development, why had the review of the Urban Sustainability Internship Programme (USIP), as part of the programmes of the human settlement codes that were to be rationalised, not been concluded?
On informal settlements commissioned for upgrading assessment targets, the DPME had reported that only 50% of targets had been achieved. Among the reasons for this was the fact that 30% of business forums wanted contract fees. What advice did the DPME have for the DHS to overcome this systematic challenge? The DHSWS’s work in informal settlements was made difficult by community steering committees (steercos) presented as business forums. The same could be said of the informal settlement upgrading plans programme – a small percentage of targets had been reached. The DPME had reported that 30% of business forums had blocked municipalities from developing plans. This made no sense, since the target was only the development of the plans, which did not require the consultation of steercos. Steercos were consulted at the implementation stage. In this view, the DPME had duplicated the reasons related to upgrading the assessment targets.
The National Housing Finance Corporation (NHFC) had not submitted a business plan. What systematic challenges prevented the entity from doing this?
Overall, the presentation had lacked in-depth analysis and evaluation of systematic challenges.
Ms R Mohlala (EFF) said the presentation by the DPME was disappointing, since it only contained analysis that had been submitted by the DHSW. This made no sense, since the DPME had a sector specific specialist who must have conducted a rigorous analysis on the impact of the weaknesses within the DHSW on the social economic landscape and service delivery.
There was no monitoring and evaluation taking place, and for this reason, thieves freely looted state resources.
The DPME had to be disbanded, since it was not serving its purpose. The Members of the EFF in the legislature and Parliament were doing the evaluation for the DPME.
Ms N Mvana (ANC) asked for an analysis of the reasons the DPME had stated had impacted on the capacity of the DHSWS to achieve its targets. For example, the procurement processes -- how had they impacted the DHSWS’s targets?
Was the DPME satisfied with its monitoring and evaluation tool? If not, what was the action plan?
Ms N Tafeni (EFF) said she had a problem with the targets for water planning and information management. These indicated the number of district municipalities that had completed their five-year water and sanitation services master plan. The target for this had been only 17%, yet people in the Amatola District had no water. It was important for the Committee to have discussions that yielded results.
The Chairperson said there were no targets for monitoring the transformation of water allocations. This had to be added to the already existing targets. An evaluation of the annual plan had been based on the output, contrary to that of the MTFS, which was based on the outcome. Committee Members were interested in the outcome, at the core of which was the impact of the programme of the Department. The MTFS was a five-year plan whose evaluation was clouded by campaigns.
Mr Nkuna told the Committee that when a department reported non-performance, the first step was to get an explanation from the DG. The DPME would analyse the reasons provided by the DG, and determine their nature -- whether there was a planning issue, or suchlike. However, this would not change the actual reason provided by the DG for lack of delivery. The DPME presented the reason as received to the Committee. Accountability, planning, monitoring and evaluation was a shared responsibility. The DPME relied on the departments for information. The DPME was trying to take advantage of technology in respect of the findings of the reports, in order to gain insight on reported problems or challenges.
Ms Powell said if the DPME had to rely on information given to it by the departments, then what was its purpose? The mandate of the DPME was to conduct evaluations, and if it could not do this, its existence became questionable.
Mr Nkuna replied that the DPME was not there to find fault. It consulted departments to explain, and then to make recommendations. The DPME was going to take note that in the structuring of its presentations, Committee Members were interested in outcomes. The questions by Members also gave the DPME insight into what areas it needed to prioritise.
One of the major stumbling blocks affecting the performance of the DHSWS was budget cuts. In the reported financial year, the Department had experienced budget cuts which had necessitated reprioritisation. Additionally, it had spread its limited budget across too many targets. It was looking to evaluate how this could be addressed. One solution was to limit the DHSWS’s targets.
Ms Powell asked the DG to explain whether he was referring to the budget cuts that had been made in the 2020/2021 financial year. These cuts had not applied to the reporting period under discussion, which was the 2019/2020 financial year that had ended in March 2020.
DG Nkuna replied that a fiscal decline in government had been going on for a number of years, and had only been exacerbated by COVID-19.
The report had flagged concurrence as an area of concern in the work of the DHSWS. The DPME had engaged the Department on how the district development model (DDM) would assist in mitigating the challenges the DHSWS was faced with.
The DPME had dealt with the causes of protests in communities in a presentation it had submitted to the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration. The presentation would be shared with the DHSWS.
Regarding the nature of the report that had been presented, this was not an impact assessment report. It had focused on outputs and outcomes. The DPME’s annual reports provided greater detail on a broad range of issues, including community views on the state of affairs.
Overall, the DPME conducted rigorous assessments on the reports it received. However, capacity challenges impacted its work.
The Department was going to conduct rigorous impact assessments on the issues that Members had identified as critical drivers of the work of the DHSWS. The DPME had no capacity to conduct rigorous impact assessments on all areas.
On the alignment of annual performance plans, strategic plans and the MTSF, Mr Martin said the DPME did this on an annual basis. As part of the process, it accommodated issues of adding additional indicators around transformation in the water services sector.
The Committee had asked for information on programme one. This information was available, and the DPME would submit it to the Committee. The Department had focused only on service delivery programmes for the purposes of presentation and time.
The reasons for under-performance by the DHSWS included procurement. This had been an ongoing issue, especially on large projects. The DPME and National Treasury were working on procurement reform. The two departments were looking at how the DHSWS engaged with the community, and developed feasibility studies and implementation plans. In most cases, the cause of failure was the initial planning process which impacted delivery at a later stage.
Mr Mohamed told the Committee that the major systematic challenge within the DHSWS was concurrence. This had been highlighted as a recurring problem in the 25-year reviews that the DHSWS had produced. The requirement for service delivery required cooperation and coordination amongst different spheres and entities. Service delivery was not optimal. For example, the DHSWS could achieve service delivery and oversight through provinces and municipalities. The DPME faced a challenge on how improve collaboration between the DHSWS and municipalities. A lack of coordination resulted in a wilful neglect of maintenance, routine operations and refurbishment, which could cause a deterioration of infrastructure, hence impacting on service delivery.
The DDM sought to fix systematic challenges. It was still early to see how the DDM would overcome the identified challenges.
Mr Nkuna said the DPME was contemplating whether there was a need for an independent regulator in the human settlements and water and sanitation area. In the energy sector, an independent regulator in the form of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA), appeared to be resourceful. The establishment of an independent regulator was costly. However, it was important to priorities the issue and to conduct assessments on the importance of an independent regulator in the area of human settlements, water and sanitation. The DPME felt that the views and data of an independent regulator would provide insight into the state of affairs in this area before the DPME could come in.
The DPME did not handle governance issues. These were handled by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), which was leading a discussion amongst the director generals in government. This was to address the stability of organisations and institutions. The DPME was formulating ways to strengthen the political administration interface. This was not to say there were problems in this regard. The DPME was also liaising with the Cabinet on how to strengthen the performance of director generals. There was a range of ongoing work that the DPME could not fit into one presentation, and it needed other government departments to share their insights.
Ms Mmakgomo Tshatsinde, Deputy Director General: Outcomes Monitoring and Evaluation, DPME, said the Department continuously improved its monitoring methodologies to ensure that these were integrated. It had recently finished the bi-annual monitoring of the MTSF with the Cabinet. A report on this was available, and the DPME was going to share it with the Committee.
Ms Powell commented that these were the types of reports the Committee expected to receive. The DPME had to make them available to the Committee as soon as possible.
Follow up comments
Ms Mohlalala reiterated her view that the DPME had to be disbanded, saying it was a waste of taxpayers’ money. This money had to be redirected to building capacity in the DHSWS’s monitoring and evaluation unit, since it was doing the work.
The government had to build internal capacity in municipalities, state-owned entities (SOEs) and all government departments. Monitoring and evaluation within these institutions was limited to tenders/procurement, which was unacceptable. Monitoring and evaluation had focus on the entire institution.
Overall, the Committee always adopted DPME reports, which did not yield any results. The EFF was doing the monitoring and evaluation.
Mr Mashego said the view to disband the Committee was the view of one or two individuals, not that of the Committee. This was not the correct way to deal with departmental issues. The role of the Committee was to point out areas for improvement. The Committee valued the work of the DPME.
Ms Mvana supported Mr Mashego. She said the Committee played the role of oversight and its duty was to come up with solutions, not to call for the disbandment of the DPME.
Ms Mokgotho said the DPME should go back to the drawing board and re-strategise. Its work had to reflect a commitment to service delivery. All incompetent officials within the DPME had to be replaced.
Mr David Mahlobo, Deputy Minister: DHSWS, said it was the acceptable for the Committee to be critical of the Departments’ work. However, dismissing officials as useless was unacceptable. The value of the Department had to be respected. The highly praised Vision 2030 was the work of the DPME.
Ms Pam Tshwete, Deputy Minister: DHSWS, also discouraged the abuse by Members of the presenting officials. The DPME’s presentation had exposed areas of potential weakness within the DHSWS. The DHSWS was going to provide clarification on this and other related issues at its next meeting with the Committee.
The DPME had to evaluate transformation in the procurement area. The percentage that the President had set aside for women had moved from 30% to 40%.
The Chairperson advised the DPME to conduct an analysis of the targets that had not been met by the DHSW. The Committee required this in order to know how to assist. Also, as had been said by Deputy Minister Tshwete, the DPME had to evaluate transformation in the procurement area.
The meeting was adjourned.
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