The Ad Hoc Committee received a report in a virtual meeting from the Inter-Ministerial Task Team (IMTT) on the progress of the Section 100 (1) intervention in the North West (NW) province.
Members were informed by the Minister of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) that following the intervention of the IMTT, calm had since been restored to the province and services were being provided to the residents. However, several challenges still remained and the IMTT, with the assistance of the administrators, was working to build capacity in the province. In an effort to do so, the task team had identified four critical vacancies that had to be filled -- the Director-General of the Province and the three Heads of Departments (HODs) for Health, Social Development and Agriculture and Rural Reform.
The report indicated that there had been progress in disciplinary action taken against employees in the provincial departments, with 28 senior managers either having faced or currently facing disciplinary action. Furthermore, both the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI) had pursued 51 criminal cases related to public funds in the NW. Because of the slow progress in prosecuting alleged wrongdoers, the Committee indicated that it would engage with the various law enforcement agencies in the coming weeks to establish the reasons for the delays.
Progress in financial management was also documented in the report, with the 2019/20 audit results indicating a turnaround after five years of decline and stagnation. There had also been a decrease in irregular expenditure. However, Members were concerned that the NW Department of Basic Education had not yet appointed an audit firm to conduct investigations into the irregular expenditure in that department.
The Committee referred to a concerted effort to de-legitimise the Section 100 (1) intervention in the province. Members said there had been notable hostility towards the IMTT. Efforts had been made to reach out to both the political leadership and the executive in the province, to ensure that there was an end to this hostility. The IMTT was committed to continue working with all relevant stakeholders in the province.
The Minister of CoGTA advised that the intervention would be extended by a further three months, from March to June 2021, following which the whole process would be reviewed. The Committee was pleased with this announcement, noting that there were still outstanding issues that needed to be addressed in the province before the intervention was withdrawn by the national government. With the announcement of the extension, the Committee would request guidance from the House on what should be done, as it had a mandate from Parliament to monitor the intervention until 26 March.
Opening remarks by the Chairperson
The Chairperson said that the Section 100 (1) intervention in the North West (NW) province began in May 2018. The Constitution mandated that the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), on a continuous basis, should review the intervention. Thus, the Committee had invited the Inter-Ministerial Task Team (IMTT), led by Minister Dlamini-Zuma, to present a report on the progress of the intervention in the NW. This would enable Members to make an assessment of the progress up to date, which included the successes and limitations, and where there could be improvements.
Opening remarks by the Minister of the DCoGTA
Minister Dlamini-Zuma said she was grateful to be given the opportunity to provide an update to the newly constituted Ad Hoc Committee. The IMTT had worked well with the previous Ad Hoc Committee, and she expressed hope that this good working relationship would continue with the new one.
The report that would be presented provided an overview of the intervention progress on the recommendations made by the previous Ad Hoc Committee, as well as the progress made by the intervening 11 national departments, which had intervened in terms of Section 100 (1) of the Constitution. Following widespread social unrest, the President had invoked Section 100 (1) on 9 May 2018 in the NW. Subsequently, the IMTT was constituted and was tasked by the President to conduct an urgent assessment of the state of governance in the province; advise Cabinet on potential risks facing the province, and to provide them with a report on the state of governance. The IMTT had since restored calm and services in the province. However, several challenges still remained, and there was still ongoing work to further build capacity in the province.
The report had to advise the steps to be taken, based on the findings of the task team. All stakeholders should to remain focused on the NW until all of its political issues were solved.
She expressed appreciation for the work of the administrators and officials who had worked tirelessly on the matter. She also thanked all of the political officials for their cooperation.
IMTT briefing: Section 100 intervention in NW province
Mr Jonathan Timm, Director: Citizen-Based Monitoring (CBM), Department of Planning and Monitoring, presented the progress report on the Section 100 intervention in the NW province. He said that following the social unrest witnessed in the province in April 2018, the President had been prompted to invoke Section 100 (1). After this, the then Premier of the province, Mr Supra Mahumapelo, had resigned, with the current Premier, Mr Job Mokgoro, being sworn in on 22 June 2018.
Progress on recommendations from the NCOP
- Disciplinary action
There were 28 senior managers that had faced or were currently facing disciplinary process related to financial misconduct, dereliction of duty, fraud and corruption. Further disciplinary processes would be initiated after the conclusion of the forensic investigations conducted by both National Treasury and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).
- Criminal investigations
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) were pursuing 51 criminal cases related to public funds in the NW. Of these, 17 were enrolled for trial, two cases were to be enrolled, 14 were awaiting a decision from the NPA, eight were under investigation by the DPCI, and 10 cases had been finalised -- five guilty, one not guilty and four declined to prosecute.
- Compliance, good governance, financial management
There had been progress in financial management in the province, with the 2019/20 audit results indicating a turnaround (with unqualified audits increasing from four to seven), after five years of decline and stagnation. Furthermore, the provincial government had reported a decrease in irregular expenditure, from R4.72 billion to R3.484 billion in 2018/19.
- Enabling legislation
The Intergovernmental Monitoring, Support and Interventions (IMSI) Bill had been developed, and it would be presented to the State Law Advisor to test its constitutionality. It would also be presented to the Department of Planning and Monitoring to obtain a socio-economic impact assessment within the 2020/21 financial year. Some of the listed objectives of the Bill were to provide for targeted support to provinces and municipalities in need of assistance, and to provide for the monitoring of provinces and municipalities regarding the fulfilment of their executive obligations in terms of the Constitution or legislation
- Exit strategy
Prior to exiting the intervention, the IMTT wanted to fill the critical vacancies of the Director-General of the Province, and the Heads of Department (HODs) for Health, Social Development and Agriculture and Rural Development. The appointment process of each position was currently under way, and the new leadership would be appointed by the beginning of 2021/22 financial year. This would ensure that there was continuity in the province going forward.
Outstanding priorities for departmental interventions
The national government was prompted to invoke section 100 (1)(b) in all ten departments in the province due to poor financial management, lack of compliance and poor governance. The IMTT had noted improvements in each department, with improved financial governance structures and controls, as well as improvements in supply chain management (SCM) processes. There were still several outstanding issues to resolve in each department, such as the appointment of the four HOD positions, but the IMTT was pleased with progress made thus far.
The Chairperson said that the IMTT provided a detailed presentation which illustrated all the work conducted thus far. He was pleased that almost all of the ministers of the various departments involved in the intervention were present in the meeting. This demonstrated that both the Cabinet and the entire IMTT took this work seriously. All stakeholders needed to work diligently together, to provide recommendations that would ensure that the NW was able to correct its issues.
He opened the floor for discussion.
Mr Y Carrim (ANC, KZN) commended the IMTT and the officials for the good work they had done so far, as the types of issues that the province faced were difficult to address. In a previous sitting, the Committee had been informed that the Cabinet had decided that it would withdraw the intervention. He asked whether this decision had indeed been taken and if so, whether the IMTT had identified how it would withdraw from the intervention.
Mr S Du Toit (FF+, North West) asked if he could ask detailed questions based on the report.
The Chairperson reminded the Member that the programme indicated that the Committee would engage further with the intervening departments and other state institutions involved, such as the South African Police Service (SAPS). In those engagements, Members would be able to ask detailed questions on the issues. He requested that Members adhere to the programme.
Mr Du Toit asked if the NW Department of Health (DoH) had budgeted for the appointments it planned to make in the sector. Further, what measures had been put in place to ensure cadre deployment did not occur?
The report indicated that there was a high pass rate in the province, but the summary also mentions that many of the province’s learners were not able to attend school at certain times. He asked for information on the recovery plan for such students and what it entailed.
Were there any cases opened against the previous Premier, since many of the transgressions occurred under his watch?
The NW Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (CoGHSTA), in a previous statement had mentioned that the reason the JB Marks Local Municipality was placed under administration was to allow the province to assist in solving some of the challenges that were caused by the merger of the Tlokwe and Ventersdorp municipalities. He asked if this was true.
Had the previous Municipal Manager (MM) been investigated by the provincial government? Furthermore, had it instituted investigations into the municipality as an entity?
In the report, it was mentioned that the NW Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DoARD) was in dispute over R604 million with a company to which it had awarded a contract. However, it was reported that in 2014, the company had been awarded a contract worth R650 million. He asked what had happened to the rest of the money.
In addition, he asked whether investigations had been instituted into allegations that cattle worth R1.5 million had been delivered to the previous President’s home, and that sheep had been delivered to the previous Premier.
He asked the Department of Basic Education (DBE) why it had not appointed an audit firm to investigate irregular expenditure in the department.
The report indicated that 62 752 job opportunities were created through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). He asked what measures were in place to prevent the EPWP employees gaining permanent employment in the programme, to allow for others to have the opportunity to work.
Ms C Visser (DA, North West) requested that the signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the implementation protocol documents be circulated to Members, so that they could note the progress of the intervention. She was pleased that the intervention had been extended until June.
Mr D Ryder (DA, Gauteng) asked how much time the IMTT anticipated would be required to complete all of the objectives of the intervention.
Mr S Zandamela (EFF, Mpumalanga) said that he would appreciate it if the Committee could obtain detailed information on the fruitless, irregular and wasteful expenditure in each of the provincial departments.
Mr I Sileku (DA, Western Cape) asked if the Committee could be provided with a breakdown of the costs of the intervention.
He asked what the IMTT looks at when it decides to withdraw from an intervention in a province.
The Chairperson said that during a session of the House in December, the Minister had said that the intervention would end in March, but she had now countered this by stating that the IMTT would review the intervention in June. However, he was pleased that the Minister had made this decision, as there was a compelling case to extend the intervention until June. In that same session in December, the IMTT had mentioned that there had been an improvement in the capacity of law enforcement agencies, mostly within the SIU and the NPA, but when he looked at the report, he saw little difference. He asked for an explanation for this discrepancy.
The report had made no mention of the alleged corruption involving personal protective equipment (PPE). He asked why this was the case.
There had been no explanation as to why the HOD and senior manager posts had not been filled yet. It was important that they were, to ensure stability within the province.
There was a climate of hostility towards the IMTT and there had also been a campaign to discredit the intervention process, yet the IMTT had not spoken out against these efforts. This could de-legitimise and cripple their efforts in the future.
Minister Dlamini-Zuma asked that the officials and ministers from the other departments answer the questions relevant to their departments.
Mr Sibusiso Mpanza, Administrator, NW Premier’s Office, mentioned that the provincial government had identified three HOD vacancies in the NW -- the DoH, DSD and DoARD – as well as a director general position. Interviews had since been held and the final reports for the departments had been presented to the Premier, who would then take them to the Minister of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) for finalisation. The interviews were chaired by the MECs of the particular portfolios. It was hoped that by 1 April all positions would be filled.
Extending the intervention until June would depend largely on the IMTT.
The signed MOU and implementation protocols were available and would be provided to the Committee.
All reports relating to the intervention process would be provided to the Committee.
Ms Jeanette Hunter, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Primary Healthcare, national DoH, said that when the intervention came into effect, the DoH in the NW had not filled key posts for more than four years, with the vacancy rate standing at 21% in 2018. This had since been brought down to 14% in 2021. For the 2020/21 and 2021/2022 financial years, the Department would fill vacant funded posts to make sure they did not overspend on compensation of employees (CoE). The NW DoH had overspent by 3% on CoE for the 2019/20 financial year, but that was deliberate, as those were specialist posts that were required. Health professionals who needed to complete their community service and internship to ensure that they were qualified, had been employed.
All the posts filled in the Department were advertised in line with the specifications provided by the DPSA. The Department had expert panel members on the short-listing and interview panels.
The SIU report on the PPE scandal did not find anything against the NW DoH.
Mr Mathabatha Mokonyama, Administrator: NW Department of Community Safety and Transport Management, said that irregularities relating to the security tender and the learner transport had led to the intervention in the Department.
Learner transport had been a problem since 2009. The Department had since re-advertised the tender, as there had been loopholes in the process. It had also found loopholes in the security tender during its audit. These were both complex matters and had to be completed.
The administration could assist the province with drawing up a detailed organogram, but it was up to the departments to fill the vacancies.
Dr Joe Phaahla, Deputy Minister (DM) of Health, said that the political principals responsible for the Section 100 intervention had informed the HOD of the NW DoH that his/her mandate was to ensure that the filling of vacancies would be in line with the requirements of the DPSA. Furthermore, only competent individuals should be employed. There would be no cadre deployment, as applicants would be heavily screened.
Mr Obed Bapela, DM of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), said that the IMTT hoped that the critical vacancies would be filled by 1 April.
Referring to the question on the JB Marks Municipality, he said that the provincial CoGHSTA had the right to invoke Section 139(b), which it had subsequently done. This had been as a result of the service delivery challenges, and also the failure of Council to pass the municipality’s budget. The issue relating to the Mayor’s arrest had arisen at a later stage in the process. The decision to place municipalities under section 139(b) was the prerogative of the provincial department, not national.
He requested that the department follow up with the provincial department, to advise whether the former MM would be charged.
Mr Tshepo Mohlala, Administrator: DBE, NW said that the Department had a challenge at Ramokoka School, where students were not able to attend from July 2018 to December 2018. To ensure that matric learners were able to write their exams, the Department had moved them and their teachers to a safe camp, where they were able to successfully write their exams. The Department was pleased with their results. In January 2019, all learners were able to return to the school. The Department then started implementing a recovery plan for the whole school, and had noted an improvement in the results of the school’s learners.
In another school in the province, learners were not able to go to school from January to March due to protests in the area. A recovery plan was implemented throughout the year, with special lessons provided, and during the holidays learners were placed in camps where they were taught. Matrics were able to write their exams, and the pass rate was good.
Referring to the appointment of audit accounting firms, he said that the intervention team had managed to investigate R1 billion of the R1.6 billion in irregular expenditure in the Department, so it had been able to implement consequence management. The remaining R600 million would be investigated by audit accounting firms which had since been appointed.
Mr Mpanza referred to the contract with AgriDelight, and said that the Hawks were currently attending to this investigation. The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) would refer back to the Committee on the progress of the investigation at a later stage.
The Office of the Premier would provide the Committee with the reports of the SIU investigations in the provincial departments and the various municipalities.
Ms Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education, said that the Department had been working hard to appoint the audit firms tasked with investigating irregular expenditure.
The NW was one of the best performing provinces academically. It also had strong districts, which made it easier to turn things around when there were issues.
Minister Dlamini-Zuma mentioned that the slow progress in cases should be addressed by the law enforcement agencies. They had previously said that the economic cases were difficult to solve.
When deciding when it was applicable to end the intervention, the IMTT did not look only at the financial and audit components, but also focused on capacity, social stability and that all the systems had been put in place. They had to ensure that the systems were in place to guarantee that there was continuity.
The IMTT had tried to meet with the executive in the province to make sure that it took note of the campaign to de-legitimise the intervention, and ensure it was not part of the hostility as well. The IMTT had also met with the political leadership in the province to ensure that they understood why the intervention had to continue. The task team would continue interacting with both the executive of the province and the political leadership within the NW, to ensure that the hostility decreases.
The quantification of the total cost of the intervention would be outlined in the close-out report. When looking at the cost, one must look at it in relation to what would have been the cost had they not intervened.
Chairperson’s closing remarks
The Chairperson said the overarching message from the Members of the Committee was that they welcomed the extension of the intervention until June, when it would be reviewed. This would allow for the IMTT to look at how to deal with all of the impediments. When dealing with the different sectors and institutions in subsequent meetings, the Committee would get into further detail on each issue. Parliament had given the Committee a mandate until 26 March, and now that there had been an extension, the Committee would request assistance from the House on what should be done.
He appreciated the presentation of the report, as well as the input from the officials, the Ministers and the DMs. Their input had made the challenges faced by the province clearer. He asked if the Committee could meet with the IMTT if there were any outstanding issues after the Members engaged with the NW provincial government, to ensure that the recommendations provided to Parliament were clear and concise.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Media Statement: Ad Hoc Committee on Section 100 Intervention in North West Agrees that there are Compelling Reasons to Extend Intervention
- Report of the Inter-ministerial Task Team (IMTT) for the North West Province presentation
- Progress Report to the National Council of Provinces Ad Hoc Committee on the North West Province Annexure 1
Dodovu, Mr TSC
Bapela, Mr KO
Carrim, Mr YI
Dlamini-Zuma, Dr N
Du Toit, Mr SF
Gillion, Ms M
Mmoiemang, Mr MK
Mohai, Mr S
Motshekga, Ms MA
Mpanza, Mr TS
Nchabeleng, Mr ME
Ncitha, Ms ZV
Phaahla, Dr JM
Ryder, Mr D
Sileku, Mr IM
Visser, Ms C
Zandamela, Mr S
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