The Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment and Labour met in a virtual sitting for a briefing by the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) on its 2019/20 annual report.
Minister Nxesi said the Department had achieved a 79% rating against its set targets. He assured the Committee that strategies to address under-performance had been put in place. The Department made three presentations to the Committee, giving an overview of its spending as reflected in its annual financial statements. The presentations detailed a breakdown of spending in the various provinces and the non-financial performance and attainment of targets within programmes, and included reasons for non-performance, challenges, irregular and wasteful expenditure and the steps taken to address this. The Department had received an unqualified audit for the 2019/20 financial year. The various provinces had spent 100% of their budgets. The Minister emphasised that it was now more important than ever that Parliament held the Executive and other officials accountable.
The Department reported that of the work seekers registered by age groups, 62% were aged between 15 and 35, and 38% were aged 36 and above. These figures were aligned to those reported by Statistics South Africa (STATS SA), showing the high youth unemployment rate. According to the latest statistics, 41.5% of young people aged between 15 and 34 were unemployed. The gender split of work seekers registered was 52% females and 48% males. The manufacturing sector had provided the highest number of job opportunities, followed by safety and security, agriculture and education. Ford had decided to increase its facilities in South Africa, which would result in over 11 000 jobs in the manufacturing sector. The review of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) had not been achieved by 1 January 2021, and would be reviewed only on 1 March. A number of improvement strategies had been factored into the annual performance plan (APP) for 2020/21. Monitoring and oversight of performance had been prioritised at all levels in the Department.
Committee Members agreed that a recommendation be made to the Executive to consider making it mandatory for a percentage of procurement to be invested with the Supported Employment Enterprises (SEE) entity. They expressed concern over the causes of irregular expenditure, and asked the Department to provide clear and concrete measures that would be put in place to eliminate this. They asked about the DEL’s view on the implementation of the NMW and its review, and the impact it would have on the various sectors across the provinces.
The Committee heard that complaints had been received about Bills that had been discussed and concluded at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) level, but had taken years to come before Parliament. A Member said many complaints had been received from workers about inspectors who were not doing their work, and some were accused of taking bribes from employers. It was also suggested that the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) was reportedly dragging its feet in the handling of cases, particularly in the Nelson Mandela Bay area.
In her closing remarks, Deputy Minister Moloi expressed condolences to the MPs and families who had lost loved ones due to COVID-19, and said the Department should encourage people to participate in the herd immunity programs so that the country could go back to normal, grow the economy and create the jobs that had been lost due to the pandemic.
The Chairperson welcomed all present in the meeting. He said it was his first day attending meetings after being infected with COVID-19. He expressed condolences to families who had lost loved ones due to COVID-19. A moment of silence was observed for those who had lost their lives to COVID-19.
Minister of Employment and Labour, Mr Thulas Nxesi, and Deputy Minister Boitumelo Moloi were both present in the meeting.
Minister Nxesi said the Select Committee had requested an overview of spending from the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) as reflected in its annual financial statements. The Committee wanted a breakdown of the spending in the various provinces and the non-financial performance and attainment of targets within programmes. He said more than 70% of the Department’s employees were not at work for almost nine months in 2020. A number of programmes had suffered for reasons out of the Department’s control. It was operating with a skeleton staff.
The Department had achieved 79% of its intended target. Improvement strategies to address areas of under-performance had been put in place and had been built into the 2021 annual performance plan (APP). The Auditor General (AG) had issued an unqualified audit opinion for the 2019/20 financial year. The provinces had spent 100% of their budgets.
The Minister concluded by saying it was now more important than ever that Parliament should hold the Executive and other officials accountable. The objective of building strong relationships with the portfolio committees was important to strengthen service delivery.
DEL Audited Annual Performance Report for 2019/20
Mr Thobile Lamati, Director-General, DEL, the performance of the Department had been 83%, improving to 87%, 88% and 89% in the next three quarters. All the strategic objectives were achieved except for protecting vulnerable workers (80% of its target) and monitoring the impact of labour legislation (only 50% of its target). The Department had 19 indicators and achieved only 15. It had failed to achieve its targets for protecting vulnerable workers, promoting sound labour relations (33%) and monitoring the impact of legislation.
All programmes had achieved their targets, except for labour policy and industrial relations, which achieved only 50%.
Regarding inspections and enforcement services performance per province, 100% performance was achieved in the Eastern Cape, the Free State, North West and the Western Cape. Mpumalanga’s performance had consistently remained at 25%. The Northern Cape had improved from 33% in the third quarter to 50% in the fourth quarter.
In respect of the contributions of Public Employment Services performance per province, in the last two quarters, all provinces achieved 100% except KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, which both achieved only 75%.
The non-achievement areas in the various provinces for inspections and enforcement services were highlighted for KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Northern Cape and Mpumalanga. Overall, 227 990 targets were achieved. Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape did not achieve their targets. The Inspector General would present reasons for non-achievement later in the meeting.
Mr Lamati said that of the work seekers registered by age groups, 62% were aged between 15 and 35, and 38% were aged 36 and above. These figures were aligned to those reported by Statistics South Africa (STATS SA), showing the high youth unemployment rate. According to the latest statistics, 41.5% of young people aged between 15 and 34 were unemployed. The gender split of work seekers registered was 52% females and 48% males.
A breakdown of the numbers work seekers registered with disability per province showed that there were 1 455 with blindness, 1 165 with physical disability and 715 with various chronic conditions. The statistics also indicated that 797 613 of registered work seekers were Africans, 96 724 (10%) were Coloureds, 24 924 (3%) were Whites, and 10 269 (1%) were Indians. The remaining 240 were not specified by equity group.
A target of 90 000 employment opportunities was set, and the Department had overachieved on this.
The manufacturing sector had provided the highest number of opportunities, followed by safety and security, agriculture and education. He highlighted that Ford had decided to increase its faciilties in South Africa, which would result in over 11 000 jobs in the manufacturing sector.
The agriculture sector was flagged as not doing well, with only 6 735 job opportunities in total across provinces. 44% of opportunities registered for were formal jobs, while 20% were labour-activated opportunities. 21% were projects and 11% were learnerships.
The graph on opportunities and placement by sector showed that there was a serious problem with placements. The only area where people were placed where they were equivalent to the number of opportunities available, was the banking sector. 864 opportunities had been available, and 774 placements were made.
Mr Lamati provided details on the number of registered work seekers provided with employment counselling and figures on employment counselling by gender, disability and equity group per province. Only 2% of registered work seekers who had different forms of disability had received employment counseling.
More workers had been placed in the agricultural sector in comparison to the manufacturing sector, with 4 062 workers being placed in the agricultural sector and 3 099 in the manufacturing sector. This highlighted a skills mismatch, as a number of workers lacked the required work experience.
Labour policy and Industrial Relations.
The review of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) was not achieved by 1 January 2021, and would be reviewed only on 1 March.
88% of collective agreements were not achieved, but had been extended to within 90 days of receipt. Here there was no alignment with what was in practice and law.
99% of labour organisation applications for registration were approved or refused within 90 days of receipt, the only exception been a lack of clear handing over of work when colleagues went on leave.
Two research service providers should have been appointed for data collection on one research study, but this was not done. Supply chain-related issues had been encountered.
Detailed figures on expenditure and performance were presented (see presentation for details). Administration had achieved all its targets, but Labour Policy and Industrial Relations achieved only 50% of its target.
VOTE 28: 2019/2020 Appropriation Statement
Mr Bheki Maduna, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), DEL, said the Department had received an unqualified audit opinion for the 2019/20 financial year, with no emphasis of matter.
The main reasons for variances were:
- Administration, which had R81.8 million of underspending;
- Compensation of Employees, amounting to R89.9 million.
- Goods and Services, amounting to R69 million due to delayed payments for computer services, and licence and property payments.
- Capital expenditure of R2.7 million, resulting from delayed payments for buildings and other fixed structures.
Underspending in Inspection and Enforcement Services had amounted to R70.9 million, due to vacancies, lower than anticipated expenditure on venues and facilities, and delays in the procurement of other machinery and equipment.
Public Employment Services had underspent by R23.1 million due to vacancies, non-profit organisations not taking the subsidy allocated, and delays in the procurement of machinery and equipment.
Labour Policy and Industrial Relations had underspent by R41.5 million due to vacancies, and less than anticipated expenditure on advertising, consultant services, travel and subsistence, and fluctuations in exchange rates with the payments to international organisations.
The direct expenditure of the Department without its payments and transfers to its entities amounted to 89.8% of budget. The percentage of expenditure against budget for compensation of employees was 93.3%; 88% for Inspection and Enforcement Services; 93% for Public Employment Services; and 95% for Labour Policy and Industrial Relations. (See presentation for details)
Detailed audit findings were contained in the Department’s management report (See presentation). The total findings in the management report had amounted to 58, with 23 involving financial management, eight for human resources, 20 for the Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and seven for Risk, Anti-Corruption and Integrity Management.
Supported Employment Enterprises (SEE)
Mr Sam Morotoba, Deputy Director General: Public Employment Services, DEL, said some factories still employed predominantly white people, which was still a challenge in Port Elizabeth. With the addition of factories, the number of people employed would increase.
He said the AG had issued a qualified audit opinion for the 2019/20 financial year in the areas of inventories, cost of sales, property plant and equipment, cash flow statement and services in kind. The information technology (IT) system had also presented issues, and would continuously lose information, but had since been improved. The cost of sales had increased, particularly during the COVID-19 period last year.
The increased target for employment of people with disabilities had been 150, and 64 were placed. This was due to the Department being unable to acquire work opportunities in other areas.
The sales target was achieved, with outstanding orders to be produced. Large volumes of textiles had been kept in storage and were bought by various hospitals before the end of the financial year, which had brought in a significant amount of revenue to the SEE.
In 2019, the department’s expenditure had amounted to R128 million. The cost of sales was R227 million, with a deficit of R99.2 million in 2020, in comparison to the R92.8 million in 2019. The overall revenue from non-exchange transactions had been R148.9 million in 2020 and R136.7 million 2019.
The department had ended the financial year with an operating surplus of R1.6 million in 2020, in comparison to a deficit of R11.4 million in 2019. At the end of the process, its bank balance was at R912 359, and it had approached the National Treasury to carry this balance over to the new financial year.
A lot of investment had made in new machinery for all factories to replace some aging machines. He assured the Committee that it had not displaced existing staff, while improving on the quality of products. Factories had received new trucks to drastically reduce its dependence on private companies for transporting the goods it produced.
The entity’s financials had improved due to sales. Although there had been a surplus and deficit in the previous year as part of accounting principles, the surplus indicated that the organisation was a going concern.
The cost of employment had amounted to R180.9 million, and there were finance costs of R178 000, as the department had obtained additional people to assist it. Rentals on operating leases amounted to R586 300, and general expenses were R98.1 million.
Mr T Brauteseth (DA, KZN) said he was advised that his colleague, Ms S Boshoff (DA, Mpumalanga), who was a specialist in this area, had submitted written questions to the Department.
He said the Committee had visited an SEE factory in Cape Town, and a recommendation was made that the Department try to procure from that specific entity. He was sad to see that nothing had changed. He asked if the Committee could somehow produced a resolution that asked all departments to make it mandatory to procure the goods that an entity produced. It would not be far-fetched for the Committee to consider such a resolution -- it would be sensible for it to make a statement of intent. Members had all visited that factory and seen the amazing work being done by it. The Committee should make a recommendation to the executive to consider making it mandatory for a percentage of the procurement, such as office furniture and anything else that the entity produced, to be invested with the entity. Intergovernmental relations were key. The Committee had agreed that this entity should be supported, because it supported people with disabilities. He felt strongly that they should try and support this entity as much as they could.
Mr Morotoba responded that the Committee’s visits to factories were motivating. 2021 did not see much improvement in government departments’ procurement. When the DEL did procurement for hospital linen and other products, it had been much better. There used to be huge contracts that the Department procured and distributed to provinces, but when these responsibilities were devolved to the provinces, it had become challenging. Currently, the support came mainly from the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, which caused the Department to incur many expenses for all the work that was distributed. A number of meetings had been held with the provincial governments, where the Department indicated that if the situation did not improve, it would write to the Minister to review the continued existence of some factories in some provinces.
He said he was faced with a serious problem with the AG, as audits were being conducted based on the income that each factory generated versus what was being paid. Out of six managers at the SEE, five of them were either in acting or transition roles, such as himself and another two managers who had been transferred from the Compensation Fund. Another manager had been on extended sick leave. The AG had felt that this situation needed to be corrected, and a process was under way to fill the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO). This had been advertised, but a suitable candidate could not be found. The Department had lost its Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and been left with an acting CFO. The Department had made adjustments and would begin internal processes to confirm transferred people to assist in administration. The entity did not have a board, as this was not in line with the Act.
It had been recommended that there be some type of body to serve in an advisory capacity to find people with disabilities from the Department of Social Development. The Department had been invited on an ad hoc basis, and this would be finalised. It had been agreed with the Department that recruitment would be from levels one to eight. There were policies and regulations in the public service which guided recruitment, in line with the Public Service Act. Agreements had been concluded with trade unions which outlined how recruitment should take place. Using the private sector cut the time in having to fill positions, and the speed at which it was done meant that production time was not lost, which was why traction and support was received in this area. Processes in the public sector took too long.
Skills numbers in the database were in line with the organisational framework for occupations, and the Department would make a presentation to the Committee on this. There were medical doctors which some institutions were using.
The Chairperson said a report of the Committee’s visit had been tabled to the House. The report had indicated that the relevant departments which could assist the SEE should be invited. A meeting had been convened during the period in which he had contracted COVID-19, and he had not been present. The Department of Small Business Development and the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) were amongst the entities that had attended the meeting. He understood that the National Treasury was unable to attend the meeting. When the Department tabled its annual performance plan, an indication could be given on whether there had been any assistance from the departments and entities that had been invited to the meeting.
Mr M Mmoiemang (ANC, Northern Cape) said the Chairperson was correct about the agreement with the Department and its sister departments about small business trade and the support that could be given to the entity. What was left for the Committee to do, was to action these commitments and engage with the Department to strengthen the work of the SEE.
He referred to issues raised by the AG about what might have caused the irregular expenditure. Emerging issues were about procurement and contract management. He asked the Department to provide clear and concrete measures which they were putting in place around irregular expenditure. He asked about arrears management and governance in the supported employment enterprise. The AG had expressed the view that the SEE had been found to be inadequately equipped to implement preventative measures. This raised an issue on the adequacy of support for solutions. How was management addressing this issue?
What was management’s view on the implementation of the National Minimum Wage, particularly the review that was targeted for completion on 1 January? What sectors of the economy would benefit from this review and what impact did it have on the various sectors across the province? Key to this was the compliance of the employers around the implementation of the National Minimum Wage.
Another issue that had attracted his attention involved Inspection and Enforcement Services. The provincial spread of the expected employers and compliance variables gave one a sense that there were provinces where this matter was an area of concern. For example, Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Northern Cape were areas of concern because of the provincial target for inspections, and the findings of the inspections on the contribution to the target set by the Department. Had there been compliance around the targets and the employment of the additional 500 inspectors? How would the 500 inspectors be spread across the provinces?
He said he had come across an error in the approach that the Department had with the National Treasury in requesting an intervention around a baseline study, particularly since there had been a delay in concluding this matter on the last two occasions due to the non-suitability of potential service providers. Why would the National Treasury decline an intervention after the bidding had failed?
Ms Aggy Moiloa, Deputy Director General: Inspection and Enforcement Services, DEL, said 228 000 inspections had been carried out in the financial year under review involving the National Minimum Wage, and the compliance rate had been 95%. The Department had conducted in excess of 166 000 inspections, with a compliance rate of 97%. During this time, R105 million in under-payments had been recovered, and the returned to the employees who were affected.
The spread of the 500 inspectors in different provinces was done based on need, economic activity, the nature of work and high risk sectors. For example, the Northern Cape was allocated 25 inspectors. Prior to this, there were only eight inspectors. The Western Cape was provided with 58 more inspectors, Gauteng 80, and KZN 110.
DG Lamati said the broad review of the National Minimum Wage (NMW), as prescribed, stated that the state of the economy, inflation and employers’ ability to afford had to be considered. Farming and hairdressing salons would benefit from the NMW. This had been taken from R6 to R20, which had improved the position of employees. This had become a benchmark for setting wages. In sectors where the wage was still set below the NMW, inspectors ensured that this was corrected. He pointed out that in some restaurants, employees were still being paid on a commission basis. There was nothing wrong with this, because the rule was that if an employee did not meet the target, they must at least be given the NMW. This became a problem when employees were paid using tips given by patrons. A tip was not meant to be used as part of wages, as it was an appreciation of good service one had received. The tip was subjective, because one patron may be happy and another may not be, which was why it could not be relied upon.
The Silicosis Project would be followed up on, as he was not aware of why the National Treasury had denied the request for a deviation.
Almost 90% of the inspector posts had been filled. One of the challenges related to people who were appointed by more than one province, as they had applied to more than one province. For example, if someone was appointed in the Western Cape, but had stated their preference was for Gauteng, once the results of the recruitment process for Gauteng were out, the person moved there. This meant that the entire process needed to begin again.
The Chairperson referred to the performance of the provinces, and the Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) in particular, and asked how some provinces could achieve 100%, but others had achieved far less. What had been done to ensure all provinces achieved 100%?
He asked about public employment, and said that numbers were low in the sector, although it had sometimes been said that the public sector was the biggest employer. He asked for a breakdown of employment and skills per department or government entity. To what extent were work seekers from the system being placed? Municipalities always complained about lacking capacity, but there were always work seekers. What types of skills were in the database? He knew of a municipality where in a particular directorate on health services or the environment, a nursing sister was employed as the Head of the Directorate. This had happened, despite the fact that there were people with environmental degrees. He raised concerns about the extent to which provinces were linking up with other provinces and municipalities to indicate the kind of skills contained in the database of the Department.
He asked about labour policy and industrial relations. He said the DG and the Deputy Minister had received complaints from the DEL on bills that had been discussed and concluded at a National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) level, but it would take years for these bills to come before Parliament. The Department had also flagged the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 190 as an issue which had not been addressed by Parliament for ratification. The Occupational Safety and Health Bills had also not been brought before Parliament.
Mr Virgil Seafield, Deputy Director General: Labour Policy and Industrial Relations, DEL, said the areas the Chairperson had referred to, such as NEDLAC and the ILO Convention, had been processed and submitted to Parliament already. All the Bills required that a complete socio-economic impact assessment be done before it could pass through Parliament. There was a process the Bills needed to follow.
Ms Moiloa said a few provinces had been flagged for their failure to achieve some performance targets. She presented the reasons for underperformance by various provinces to the Committee. The Northern Cape and Mpumalanga had leadership challenges with their Inspection and Enforcement Services. The Provincial Chief Inspector in Mpumalanga had been on extended sick leave for a period of six to seven months, and this had had a dire effect on the performance of the province. During the performance period, performance strategies had to be readjusted in line with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Northern Cape had experienced implementation challenges with its Provincial Chief Inspector. Some of these issues were still being dealt with. The issues affecting Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng were about key vacancies, where there was a vacancy for a specialist. For example, when a statutory services person was not there, it affected the work of the province, as only one individual was responsible for the work. This also applied to health and occupational safety work.
In some provinces, offices were closed down due to COVID-19 infections and some staff would need to go into quarantine. There was a meeting where all Inspectors had been present and a few days later, one of the inspectors had tested positive for COVID-19. The rest of the Inspectors were forced to go into quarantine, which slowed down the work. In all instances, there had been catch-up strategies that were submitted and supported by the office of the chief operating officer (COO) and the Inspection and Enforcement Services office.
She responded to a question posed on the meeting’s “Chat” platform about the number of funds inspected in Limpopo. She did not have this information at her immediate disposal, but would make it available to the Committee.
Mr Lamati said the Department kept its social partners informed of what it was doing. The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Bill had gone to Parliament in the previous administration, but was not finalised. The Bill had then been sent back, and this meant that certain processes needed to be followed -- for example, it had to go to the economic cluster. The Department’s social partners had been informed of delays.
All provinces that were not doing well had been engaged with on a catch-up plan. If the Department had not been happy with the catch-up plan, certain steps were taken. The DG said he had issued provincial managers with warning letters about this to ensure that they improved their performance. This was the first step in applying consequence management, and the expectation was that the catch-up plans would improve performance, which was monitored by the Department on a regular basis.
The Department had not had much success in receiving support from other government departments. It would appreciate the Committee’s intervention, as the factories played an important role in ensuring disabled people were kept in the labour market. The Department had written to all government departments indicating that the system was not dictated by the Department of Labour, but was the employment system for South Africa. A number of other departments were sourcing people from the DEL for learnerships, public works programmes and other types of employment. It hoped that this system would be used by the government on a much wider scale than it was at present.
The Chairperson emphasised that COVID-19 could not be used as an excuse for poor performance, as the Committee was looking at the 2019/20 performance report, which was performance that began in April 2019 to March 2020. Lockdown was declared only on 27 March 2020, which was three days before the end of the financial year.
The DG responded to some questions that had been not answered relating to irregular expenditure and adherence to supply chain management (SCM) processes. While there was an unqualified audit opinion from the AG, the Department was unhappy about the number of areas found to be non-compliant. It was trying to address them to get a clean audit. Each occurrence of non-compliance was investigated and disciplinary action was taken if necessary. Supply chain compliance had been amended to include an audit, so an individual could oversee the entire process and make recommendations to the adjudication committee on the process followed for quality assurance purposes. This would also ensure that no service provider was prejudiced by the evaluation and specification sent out.
The Chairperson said he recalled the AG offering services to the Department of Social Development and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) on the R350 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant, but the offer had been declined. He wanted to asked what the AG‘s perception was on the work of SASSA in supporting the South African Post Office, and if they were doing better, but “did not want to put him on the spot.”
The Committee Secretary asked a question on behalf of Mr T Apleni (EFF, Eastern Cape). He said the EFF labour desk had received many complaints from workers concerning the issue of inspectors who were not doing their work, and some were accused of taking bribes from employers. What was the Department doing to ensure that such concerns were properly addressed? Secondly, there was a concern about the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) dragging their feet in handling and speedily dealing with the cases of some employers. This was especially rife in Nelson Monday Bay. Was the Department aware of this? If so, what was the Department doing to address it? If no, could the Department follow up on such issues?
The Chairperson reminded the Department to forward its response to Ms Boshoff’s written questions that had been sent to it, as mentioned at the start of the discussion by Mr Brauteseth.
DG Lamati said the Department often received these types of complaints, and did not intend to defend inspectors who engaged in activities that were contrary to the values of the Department and government. His standard response to such questions was that they should not be generalised. If the name of the inspector, the office the inspector came from and the nature of the inspection that should have been done could be provided, the Department could take steps to weed out inspectors who accepted bribes. There had been instances where the HAWKS had arrested some inspectors because they had accepted bribes, and the Department had taken action. It would be very difficult to respond generally. When such complaints were received, the Department escalated it to the National Director of the CCMA, who addressed it. They wanted specific details on these instances so that the reputation of the CCMA was not tarnished.
The Chairperson thanked the DG and asked the Deputy Minister to make closing remarks.
Deputy Minister’s closing remarks
Deputy Minister Moloi thanked Members of the Committee and the Department for their contributions in the meeting. She was delighted to see the Chairperson recovering so well under the circumstances, and wished him well. She could relate, as she was also a COVID-19 survivor. She expressed condolences to the families who had lost loved ones due to COVID-19. She paid tribute to the late MP’s, Ms Nombulelo Hermans (ANC), Minister Jackson Mthembu (ANC) and Ms Thozama Mantashe (ANC). She said at some point they would have to reflect on the life of COVID-19. The Department should encourage people to participate in the herd immunity programmes so that the country could go back to normal, grow the economy and create the jobs that had been lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She had been out of hospital for 19 days and was doing well.
The overall performance of the Department, although only at 79%, was commendable given the circumstances to which it had been forced to adjust, given the COVID-19 pandemic. It had managed to maintain an unqualified audit and there would be nothing preventing it from receiving a clean audit in the immediate future. It had come through the worst period it had ever experienced, and had managed to survive. She commended the employees at the Department for adjusting, as sometimes these adjustments encroached on their family life and took up more of their time. The Departmental officials had responded well to national duty, to help the government stay connected to the people. Members had to give credit where it was due.
Some employers refused to open up for the Department. Countries had been tested and economies had collapsed during this pandemic, but the Department’s programmes had carried it through the period. She was comfortable with the contributions made by the Department and Committee Members, and agreed with Mr Brauteseth that it should be mandatory for all government departments to procure from the SEE. She emphasised that the Department was doing a good job. She reiterated the Department’s commitment to achieve a clean audit and improve on its areas of focus.
The Chairperson made brief closing remarks, thanking the Department for its contribution to the meeting. He hoped that its performance would have improved from 79% to 100% when it met with the Committee again. He thanked Minister Nxesi and Minister Moloi, and wished her well.
He said the Committee’s content advisor should formulate a report on the National Empowerment Fund meeting so this could be followed up on and tabled to Parliament. He thanked Mr Mmoiemang for chairing the Committee meetings while he was away.
The meeting was adjourned.
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