The Committee met on a virtual platform for a briefing by the Department of the Premier on issues for Vote 1 in the Western Cape Third Adjustment Appropriation Bill B3-2021 and the Western Cape Appropriation Bill B4-2021. The discussion also encompassed the Department’s Annual Performance Plan 2021-22.
The aggregate budget of the Department of the Premier had been reduced by R4.48 million in 2020/21, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was marginal when seen against the size of the total allocation of R1.62 billion.
For 2021/22, the Department’s budget had grown by 8% to R1.748 billion. The Department’s main priorities were to give effect to the Recovery Plan and the Provincial Strategic Plan in supporting the rest of the provincial government.
There was a thorough exchange of views between the Committee, the Premier and the officials of the Department, covering many areas.
Members interrogated the Department on its Vision and Mission statement which some felt reflected its denial of the correlation between race and inequality. Members felt the Department’s policies on spatial planning, the absence of race as a category of prioritised groups, and the reported non-submission of annual reports of Western Cape departments to the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Commissioner, were all instances of race denialism that affected poor citizens.
Members asked the Department on how it intended preparing for the third wave of COVID-19 infections? Did it consult universities and researchers in determining its preparations for the third wave? Had the religious communities been consulted about the risk of infection during periods like Easter and Ramadan? What was the Department doing to address mobilised COVID-19 denialists?
Members asked whether the Department provided its staff members with any alternative mechanisms to WIFI routers to be used during load shedding, how audits had been conducted during the pandemic, and why the Department had not taken a clear stance on the effect of alcohol-related harms on the responses to the pandemic. Members asked how the funding allocated to the Centre for e-Innovation would be used to benefit citizens, why the Western Cape Trade and Investment Promotion Agency had not been prioritised, and how funds from the Department were awarded to non-profit institutions
The Committee adopted the draft reports on the Western Cape Third Adjustments Appropriation Bill and the Western Cape Appropriation Bill, with the ANC and the EFF expressing a minority view, in terms of Standing Rule 90, not to support the Votes.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the Standing Committee on the Premier and Constitutional Matters. The meeting was about the Third Adjustments Appropriation Bill (2020/21 Financial Year) and the Vote of the Department of the Premier. He apologised for the late start as the meeting was meant to start at 8am.
The Chairperson asked everyone to introduce themselves.
Remarks by the Premier and briefing by the Department of the Premier (DOTP)
Mr Alan Winde, Premier: Western Cape, said it had been an extraordinary year which explained the extraordinary number of adjustments including the amount of R4.4 million [which was to be returned to the Provincial Revenue Fund from Vote 1: Department of the Premier for the financial year ending in March 2021]. He said it reflected good governance because money should not be wasted, and every single rand ought to count. Thus, there was a big drive across government to address the huge funding pressures of COVID-19 while running government and saving money. That explained the next adjustment. Premier Winde said the Committee should note the small amount of money the Department of the Premier (DOTP) had surrendered back which was an effort to return to the pool for it to be spent properly. He closed by emphasising the need for a habit of not wasting money.
Dr Harry Malila, Director-General: Western Cape Department of the Premier, said the aggregate budget had been reduced by R4.48 million which took it from R1.62 billion to R1.61 billion. It all related to COVID-19. He said the biggest adjustments related to Programme Two which cost R1.6 million, Programme Three was R2 million and Programme Four was R773 000. Dr Malila said the R1.6 million in Programme Two had R1.3 million related to the Western Cape Commissioner for Children which was mainly because of the filling of positions which cost R700 000. The rest related to Goods and Services. Dr Malila said the good news was that the money had been ring fenced by Treasury meaning the money would flow into the subsequent financial year which was reflected in the main budget. Dr Malila added there was R300 000 in Programme Two that dealt with the issues surrounding the Recovery Plan which had been due to the impact of COVID-19. There was also a R773 000 reduction of Programme Four that related to COVID-19 and the WIFI roll-out. Within Programme Three there was an amount of R2 million which was based on a strategic decision taken in the DOTP to relook at how [the earmarked allocation: Innovation for impact Initiatives] would be used. It was also reimagining how its training programmes would be rolled out. The money in the new financial year would address those two things. Dr Malila said a lot of work had been done already but the DOTP did not want to put the bid out in December because it would have left insufficient time. He said the aggregate amount as previously indicated was [a reduction of] R4.48 million which comprised of R4 million for goods and services and R375 000 under the Compensation of Employees which was set out on pages one to seven. He said the DOTP had done well in terms of its spending with a total of R4.4 million reduction [in an original budget] of R1.6 billion.
The Chairperson referred to the Budget Book and talked about a definition therein. He said a person reading the book who had not been privy to the present meeting would not see the detailed reasons just offered by Mr Malila. The Chairperson said that was consistent across departments and asked if there was a way for an annexure or something of the sort to be added to the book that gave reasons. The Chairperson felt that someone reading the book as it stood would not have all the detailed explanations offered by Mr Malila.
Dr Malila said the DOTP would take it up with Treasury who was the owner of the Budget Book and prescribed the norms, standards, look and feel of the book.
The Chairperson moved the meeting onto the Western Cape Appropriation Bill – the budget for the 2021/22 financial year.
Premier Winde said it had not been an easy process which was evident as a result of the country not being able to collect the revenue it ought to have collected. Every province had been affected. The pressures of COVID-19, the recovery and daily duties all added up. The DOTP had to make sure that everything was in place which included policy and strategy, people management, and making sure the six programmes [in the Annual Performance Plan of the DOTP] were adequately funded. At the same time, the Department had to think about what it had to do differently as so often it was challenged with problems that fell beyond the province and the DOTP’s competency, which posed difficulties. It was about getting the entire government aligned and about pulling in the right partnerships to keep the Department making the biggest difference possible which was reflected in the Provincial Strategic Plan (PSP) and strategies with the citizen at the centre. It was about making sure every single thing it did made the biggest impact despite the diminishing funding. Premier Winde said the pressures were reflected in the budget across the three years on various items like broadband. In the last year, broadband had posed a different challenge like for example during the national lockdown when all the schools had been connected but currently not all learners could be at school learning. It required a different way of thinking. Premier Winde admitted to placing pressure on the team as a result, causing them to re-engage with the Department’s service providers which yielded better and better project alignment.
On people management, Premier Winde said there was a lot to say. In South Africa the budget placed pressure on the number of people employed by the province. There needed to be a balance between man-power and service delivery. He said the R1.748 billion budget [allocation proposed for DOTP in 2021/22] was about making sure the DOTP got all of the above correct. Premier Winde said that over the last few years the DOTP, in his view, had got the governance side correct. Governance was a habit. But he felt a need to move from that to making sure it was the citizen that felt a difference despite the pressure on the Department. Premier Winde said the DOTP had its work cut out for it as it moved forward in 2021 and over the next few years.
Dr Malila thanked Premier Winde for the context. Dr Malila said the DOTP’s budget grew by roughly 8% but there had been some additional resources that had gone into the Vote. As Premier Winde mentioned there was R1.748 billion which had been allocated. Dr Malila said the main priorities were to give effect to the Recovery Plan, the Provincial Strategic Plan (PSP), and the support base the DOTP provided for the rest of government to do what needed to be done. The focus would be on the institutional culture because the DOTP believed that if the culture inside the institution was correct, then the clients could be serviced well. Innovation would also benefit. Dr Malila said that there were some amounts set aside for that within the budget.
Dr Malila said the Department had publicised the Recovery Plan and the PSP as a public document. The DOTP had shifted to a citizen centric approach and many of those initiatives would be driven by Mr Andre Joemat, Superintendent-General: Corporate Services, DOTP, and the Human Resources team.
Dr Malila said the DOTP worked on strengthening its environment as it particularly related to the Centre for e-Innovation (Ce-I) in both the corporate environment and in terms of making WIFI available to the broader public. There would be a focus on strengthening the Cape Access Centres which the DOTP was really proud of and which would give communities access to the world at large. There were 430 corporate sites, and the rollout of the broadband sites was close to 1 900 with 1 300 of them equipped with a speed of 100 megabytes per second.
National government had faced multiple cyber-attacks during the current year, so, given the information it held, the DOTP made a bid to Treasury to strengthen the Western Cape provincial government’s cyber security to make sure its sites, corporate networks and everything related were secured. Additional funding for that had been awarded.
A big issue being driven was the DOTP and the Western Cape Department of Health (DOH) playing a leading role in the COVID-19 pandemic. Premier Winde had been out with the Directors- General for weeks managing the entire pandemic. The DOTP planned in the new year to continue in the same vein. Dr Malila remarked that the country was on the eve of a third wave of the pandemic, which held the unknown. Therefore communication and interaction would be strengthened for people to understand the dangers around COVID-19 - additional funding had been received for that.
Dr Malila added that those additional amounts had been earmarked by Treasury meaning they could not be used for anything else other than what had been originally intended for.
Dr Malila said the DOTP had added a new programme giving it a total of six programmes. Legal Services had been made an independent programme. Programme five now only dealt with corporate assurance functions which dealt with risk, internal audits and provincial forensic service functions.
On the Commissioner for Children, the funding that had been deducted through the Second and Third Adjustment Estimates had rolled over. In year one, R9.8 million had been allocated, with the main priority being the securing of permanent accommodation, which the Commissioner for Children was already busy with. It had also launched its website which was exciting with a lot of activity that took place within that space. Both Premier Winde and Dr Malila had regular engagements with the Commissioner for Children from an institutional governance perspective to ensure things worked.
On the corporate environment, Dr Malila said the DOTP had migrated the Department of Agriculture (DOA) onto its corporate network to ensure a singular corporate environment for the entire Western Cape government to run under. Dr Malila said the DOTP had the full buy-in from the DOA.
The Chairperson opened the floor for questions from Members.
Mr C Dugmore (ANC) greeted everyone. He asked the Chairperson to provide the Committee with clarity as to when the Annual Performance Plan (APP) would be dealt with because it contained the statement by Premier Winde and Mr Malila. Even though the Budget was presently before the Committee, Mr Dugmore wanted to know when the APP would be interrogated.
The Chairperson said Mr Dugmore could ask questions related to the APP as he saw that Premier Winde had a copy of it on his desk.
Mr Dugmore asked the Chairperson to explain how both documents would be dealt with together.
The Chairperson said that from a practical perspective, they would start with the statements, thereafter the Budget Book on page one and if the APP had something referenced in the Budget Book then Members could ask about that, but the Committee would not be going through the APP page by page.
Mr Dugmore thanked the Chairperson for the clarity. He asked about the reference made to a third wave and noted that Dr Malila said people were talking about the third wave, but Mr Dugmore felt that the provincial government should state its position about the anticipated third wave as opposed to merely stating that people were talking about it. Mr Dugmore pointed to the challenges the provincial government got into in regard to its predictions about field hospitals and the closing down of the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) field hospital. It concerned Mr Dugmore that there was no clear sense from the DOTP as to what the province’s view was on the third wave in terms of the planning, the data and information management. Surely the province had a view on when or if the third wave was likely to occur? Was it literally just a question of speculation?
The Chairperson asked if there were any other Members who had questions.
The Chairperson asked a question. He said before Easter the previous year, there had been engagements with the religious community, so following up on Mr Dugmore’s question he referred to Easter and Ramadan that were approaching and asked if there was such a discussion taking place as there were massive risks involved as Mr Dugmore had pointed to.
Premier Winde thanked Members for their questions. He said in all likelihood there would be a third wave. The epidemiologists had predicted it would coincide with the change of season into winter, which was normally what happened with the influenza virus. Thus, the specialists said there should be no difference as people’s immunity weakened. In addition, there were regular weekly reports about the readiness for the third wave and the work conducted around it. There was a key weekly report by the DOH to the extended Cabinet which included all the districts. Premier Winde said there was no confusion whatsoever. He noted the communication over the previous two weeks about the risks of the Easter weekend, as that was a time when people moved around and relaxed. He emphasised that the message was straightforward in telling people about the risks. There was continued monitoring through the hotspot monitoring system and the whole province was divided into regions, each of which reported back to Cabinet about their infection rates, recovery rates, risks and making sure the risks were mitigated. The extended Cabinet meeting included the provincial Ministers and Heads of Departments (HODs) and all relevant officials plus the district Mayors and Municipal Managers as well as the South African Police Services (SAPS). These were all key parts of the data and management system that ensured the best data was assembled. Premier Winde noticed this from the first to the second wave. He also noticed Mr Dugmore mentioned the CTICC, and Premier Winde knew that at the beginning of the second wave there was the more infectious variant which resulted in a second wave that was twice as high as the first wave. He said the learnings from the first wave helped manage the second wave. The DOTP was under pressure to make sure the beds and oxygen did not run out, so even though it became tight there was always some to spare. He said the use of the epidemiologists and data helped the DOTP make management decisions.
On moving forward, Premier Winde said nearly 500 extra staff members had been kept in place and so had the extra beds. The Hospital of Hope on the R300 had been kept in place and the preparation work would continue. He said the DOTP’s role was to pull everything together. In addition to the Cabinet structures, there was a communications roll and the digital press conference (digicon) that followed every Cabinet meeting. The digicon had been made public in the spirit of openness and transparency. He also made sure communication was happening on the ground throughout the province as had been done over the past year. The communication would not only be a mitigation of risk for the third wave but also give information about the vaccine roll-out, to keep the public aware of that. There were already discussions about the initial trials, what could be the maximum per day and what goals should be aimed for. That was all part of the Recovery Plan to get back to work to be able to focus on the present year. He said there could not be vaccines rolling over into 2022.
On communication with the religious communities, Premier Winde said part of the communication plan was regular interaction not only with the religious community but with business communities etc. where there was a whole range of regular interactions. There were weekly meetings and more often if necessary. Premier Winde and Dr Malila sometimes attended those meetings as well as Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Western Cape Provincial Minister of Health, to continue their important role in managing the whole communication ecosystem moving towards the third wave.
Mr Dugmore asked a follow-up question. He said there was always a tendency for people to drop their guard and even though the country was on level one there was the anticipation of a third wave. He said social distancing, the wearing of masks and the washing of hands were critical to the communication strategy. He was well aware that over the December period there were differences around the approach to what should happen on the beaches. There was a view that those measures helped in decreasing the second wave, while other views were that it was over kill. His concern was that when certain members of the Western Cape community went to protest about the beach lockdowns anyone could see it was a situation Mr Dugmore referred to as ‘COVID-19 denialism’. That was illustrated by the fact that some people at the protests did not wear masks despite being in a crowd, while others spoke about conspiracy theories essentially doubting the existence of COVID-19. Mr Dugmore’s concern was that in the response, or lack thereof, from Premier Winde the provincial government appeared to encourage that kind of behaviour and in some way condoned it. He asked Premier Winde whether he did not think it important for him as the leading citizen of the province to take on those particular elements. Mr Dugmore felt it was very dangerous. He referred to another group that demanded the end of mask wearing two days ago. People who did not believe COVID-19 was real went to shopping centres without masks. He was concerned Premier Winde and the DOTP was not being firm and unequivocal about the conspiracy theorists whose language undermined the lockdown. He asked for a response to that criticism.
Premier Winde said he completely disagreed with Mr Dugmore. He said he brought those issues to the SAPS and asked why they had been no arrests, because they needed to make sure people followed the rules wherever they gathered. He spoke about the mitigation of the third wave and whether it was beach protests which he was glad there had been a few arrests in Fish Hoek and Muizenberg. Premier Winde said he also spoke about the other protest actions where people were not using masks. He had been busy the present day with the SAPS and protest action. The DOTP condemned all of it when people abused the rules while placing other citizens at risk, which was unacceptable. He also made sure the process was followed through because it could not only stop with arrests. He said he believed in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996. The rule of law, which meant due process, ought to be followed. That meant making sure the cases ended up in court with consequences. Premier Winde said he said that publicly in press releases when the conduct took place. He emphasised that he disagreed with Mr Dugmore as it was part of the continued communication. He said there were probably people mobilising against the wearing of masks and vaccinations, but the DOTP had to make sure it had reliable data and information. Data from the universities and specialists was used to educate on the wearing of masks and the closing of beaches. Data indicated that outdoors one was 18 times less likely to contract the virus than if indoors. All decisions needed to be continually based on credible information. The decisions had to be taken daily and, where restrictive, the citizens needed to be taken along because every extra layer of restriction required communication. That was why there was a communications budget and a communications team.
The Chairperson referred to pages one to ten [of the Budget Book/APP of the DOTP for 2021/22] and asked if Members had any questions.
Mr Dugmore began on the first page [page 20 of the published APP document] which had the Vision and Mission statement that indicated a culture of innovation and collaboration. He said that both the national Constitution and the preamble to the provincial Constitution stated a recognition and aspiration to heal the injustices of the past. Mr Dugmore said since the ten years of the former Premier Ms Helen Zille there was a concern that the notion of historical injustice, and what Mr Dugmore referred to as race denialism, clearly entered into the narrative of government language in the Western Cape. That was because when one went through the DOTP’s report under ‘People Management’ for example, there was no clear and conscious narrative around the need to correct the historical injustices when it came to representation in the DOTP and every other department. Mr Dugmore referred to his previous utterances about the shedding of African Senior Managers in the Western Cape Department of Education (WCED) which he felt had directly impacted on the results in that department. Thus, in the Vision and Mission there was no recognition of past injustices based on race, gender or class and race denialism filtered through the DOTP, which was obvious when one looked at the language. The DOTP’s budget ran and coordinated the entire provincial government so if the Vision and Mission spoke in no way to what was contained in the national and provincial Constitutions then effectively, for example under Youth Unemployment, it was not addressed. There was no recognition of the levels of unemployment amongst youth who were historically classified as White, Coloured or African. Mr Dugmore repeated that was race denialism that came from the fact that the very Vision of the lead department in no way spoke to those historical injustices.
The Chairperson interrupted Mr Dugmore to say it had been two minutes thirty seconds and he had not asked a question yet.
Mr Dugmore asked what the time limit was for each input.
The Chairperson said he had to be reasonable.
Mr Dugmore asked why the Vision and Mission had no reference to historical injustices which remained in present day. Was it because of a direct policy that the ruling party in the province did not believe that the presence of disadvantage could be linked to race? He asked if it was a conscious decision the administration had to follow based on the policies of Democratic Alliance (DA) which was essentially race denialism. Mr Dugmore had other questions based on the rest of pages.
The Chairperson said Mr Dugmore had asked one question and stated for the record that the views he expressed were his alone and not the views of the Committee. He asked him to ask all his questions but asked him to be reasonable as the Chairperson did not want to place time limits on Members.
Mr Dugmore said he would never purport to articulate the views of the Committee. He was a Member of the Committee articulating the views of his party. He said the Chairperson should not have assumed he (Mr Dugmore) would have wanted to project the views of the Committee.
Turning to page three of the report that spoke to international relations, Mr Dugmore said there was mention that international relations played a key role in the repatriation efforts during the national lockdown. He asked where the people had been repatriated to or from. Were those South African’s abroad trying to get home or were those foreigners in South Africa trying to get home? He asked for the numbers involved.
He asked about the Programme 3: People Management. In the previous year there were complaints by some departments that they had been delayed because there was a bottleneck in Programme 3 caused by appointments to critical posts simply not being made in time. He said page 21 stated the programme of the department of people management got the least increase of 1.98%. He therefore asked what had been done to ensure the appointments were made fast enough. He welcomed that the DOTP recognised the Broad- based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Act 53 of 2003 however the B-BBEE Commission had reported that the DOTP had never submitted an APP to the Commission. In fact, it was only the Department of Economic Opportunities and Tourism (DEOT) and Wesgro that had been submitting reports. Why had the DOTP not submitted its reports to the B-BBEE Commission? It was Mr Dugmore’s view that it once again spoke to the fact that the DOTP as the lead department was the main department that did not take the issue of historical injustices seriously; it had a race denialism which guided it and was influenced by DA policy. It was a tragedy for the province because the inequalities which continued to exist were not dealt with.
Mr M Xego (EFF) greeted everyone. He referred to the Vision and Mission of the DOTP expressed on the first page of the APP. One of the aims was to improve services for the people of the Western Cape. He said that part of the issues of improving the services was about improving the lives of the poor and particularly those who lived in the townships, on the flats, and in the rural areas. He asked what the Department’s role was in terms of spatial planning in ensuring that people were being brought closer to work areas. He noticed that some of the elements that resulted in them remaining in poverty were because of spatial planning issues which Mr Dugmore was referring to when he mentioned injustices of the past. Did the DOTP have in its budget any plans to address that? Mr Xego said there were currently protests all over around the issue of spatial planning in the province and how African people had been marginalised. What was the DOTP doing about it? He added that it had been noted how the DOTP had teamed up in fighting against such cases in areas such as Tafelberg and asked whether the Department did not feel ashamed for having associated itself with such fights against the poorest of the poor?
In responding to Mr Dugmore’s first question, Premier Winde said the answer was no. He said it was interesting how further on Mr Dugmore recognised that the DOTP followed the law on the B-BBEE. He said he emphatically denied Mr Dugmore’s sentiments when he said the DOTP did not believe in redress. It did not have to be in the Vision of a safer Western Cape where every single person in the province prospered. He said every single citizen prospering was fixing the past.
On the implementation of the B-BBEE Act by the government of the Western Cape, Premier Winde said Mr Dugmore was absolutely 100% incorrect. Premier Winde said every single department submitted and they did so when the APP’s were produced. Premier Winde had pointed that out to Ms Zodwa Ntuli, the B-BBEE Commissioner. He said it looked like a similar political position was being taken which was a debate that could take place in the Legislature.
On the international relations and repatriation report, Premier Winde said about 50 000 people had been repatriated and those were international visitors and foreigners who were in the region at the time of the national lockdown. During that period, the DOTP and Disaster Management set up with all the ambassadors, local authorities and airport companies up a programme referred to in the report. Many compliments had been received about the system and how it worked. Each time there was a flight people were assembled from their various hotels and accommodations, were given special permission to travel, taken to the stadium set up with COVID-19 precautions to be processed, placed on busses, and taken to the aircraft to be repatriated.
Premier Winde said the DOTP had to listen to Mr Tito Mboweni, the national Minister of Finance, about appointments. It had to do with processes as well as funding - which required everyone across South Africa to cut back on the size of government.
In response to Mr Xego, Premier Winde said he also disagreed with him about how the government got involved. He repeated that everyone in the country had a right to protest which was within the Constitution, but that did not entail a right to take other people’s rights away during a protest. He said he always tried to engage protestors and disagreed with Mr Xego’s statements.
Dr Malila said the DOTP ran a corporate services centre as it related to Human Relations (HR) responsibilities for all departments except the DOE and DOH. During the COVID-19 pandemic there had been massive budget cuts and the DOTP had to relook its strategy. Internally there was a service level agreement with each department which could indicate any post advertised within the system. In many cases, there was a service standard on the minimum time it would take to fill posts. Last year many of the positions had been referred back to the DOTP based on the new budget baselines.
On the issue raised by Mr Xego, Dr Malila agreed with Premier Winde that there was particular drive around spatial planning, spatial transformation, and mobility. The PSP document Premier Winde tabled in February the previous year, addressed the issue in VIP four [Vision-Inspired Priority 4: Mobility and Spatial Transformation]. He said the Department of Human Settlements (DHS), the Department of Environmental Affairs were involved in this process.
On people management, Mr Andre Joemat, Head: Corporate Services Centre, DOTP, said the issue had been covered by Premier Winde and Dr Malila but added that during the previous financial year the DOTP had issued guidelines to departments to help them determine the critical nature [of particular appointments],given the pressures across the country and province. He said it had instituted internal processes in departments through which they had to determine through the use of criteria advised by the DOTP which posts were to be put through the recruitment process. He said that during the national lockdown, there were fewer recruitment activities and when departments proceeded with recruitments the DOTP facilitated with the online virtual recruitment process. The DOTP continually engaged with departments to iron out potential delays with short and long list processes. There were records held with data about posts and how long they took to be filled. The DOTP had instituted a new recruitment process and a service provider was being appointed. The processes had been upgraded.
Mr Dugmore said the information he had about the B-BBEE Commission was different and he agreed with Premier Winde that it should be put forward for a debate in the Legislature.
Premier Winde said in response to Mr Dugmore that, in a communication to the B-BBEE Commissioner on 19 February 2021, the Western Cape Provincial Treasury issued its clarification and all Western Cape departments had confirmed they submitted their Annual Reports within 30 days after appearing before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. Annexure D had been sent to the Commission [Part D of all annual reports deal with Human Resource Management, including employment equity statistics]. Secondly, Premier Winde said the DOTP had been engaging with National Treasury on the process since 2018 but every department and entity had complied.
The Chairperson asked Members to ask questions up to page 19.
Mr Dugmore referred to page 11 that spoke about provincial strategic management and the use of data such as socio-economic vulnerability, population estimates and the spatial mapping and so on [page 34 of the published APP] He asked how useful the data was in identifying the onslaught of the second wave. Based on what had been learnt from the first and second wave, what could the data sets explain about how the third wave would unfold? If the data was effective, then why did Premier Winde insist on going against the science with regard to what the DOH had said about the impact of the lifting of the alcohol ban on issues of trauma? The DOTP continually spoke about the Alcohol-Related Harms Reduction Policy but, there was nothing that took into account the scientific evidence. Mr Dugmore understood that the economy had to be factored in but asked what the scientific evidence was about the impact of trauma caused by alcohol and the impact of alcohol in spreading the virus. Mr Dugmore said Premier Winde undermined the science of what his own DOH had said on the issue of alcohol-related harms, yet he had no clear strategy to assist the situation.
Turning to page 13 that addressed the Centre for e-Innovation, Mr Dugmore said that for many people there was no access to computers and data. A number of isolation sites stood empty while government had paid for the services. It was clear to Mr Dugmore that it was difficult for people on the ground to access the service. He referred to the SMS gateway and actual content and asked if the SMSs gave practical information about isolation facilities or was just about sanitising and wearing of masks. What use was the content of the SMS messages to those who had no internet to access the website?
Mr Dugmore referred to the Corporate Assurance Programme on page 14 and asked whether a company called Resolve or any other company linked to former DA Members of Parliament got any work around communications from the DOTP. The budget for strategic communications [APP page 54] had increased by 102% so Mr Dugmore wanted to know whether Resolve in particular or any other company that employed former DA members received work.
The Chairperson asked Mr Dugmore how he expected the officials to know of any DA or ANC Members of Parliament and said it was an unreasonable question.
Mr Dugmore said the Chairperson was not an official and asked him not to answer for them.
The Chairperson said as the Chairperson he decided what was reasonable or not and he found Mr Dugmore’s question to be unreasonable.
Mr Dugmore said the Chairperson’s attitude was based on him defending his own party.
Members argued back and forth on the issue.
Mr Xego referred to Legal Services on page 18 where it mentioned that legal services would continue to be rendered by the DOTP with assistance from the municipalities. Mr Xego asked if the service had been extended to all municipalities within the province as some had taken improper decisions about COVID-19. Did the DOTP advise all the municipalities about – Mr Xego suddenly lost connection.
The Chairperson asked for an update on the Premier’s Advancement of Youth (PAY) Project.
He turned to page 13 that spoke about equipment for staff to work from home and asked if the DOTP provided staff members with any alternative mechanisms to WIFI routers they could use during load shedding as load shedding would be around for the next five years.
On corporate assurance he asked how the audits had been conducted during the pandemic. He also asked what the rationale was behind moving legal services.
Premier Winde responded to Mr Dugmore’s question. He said there was not a pinpoint exact answer as the epidemiologists had to make a best guess decision on the data. The preparation for the second wave was based on data from the first wave and it was through research being done on vaccines administered to patients with the human immune-deficiency virus that the variant had been picked up. Epidemiologists could not give hard advice but only give their best predictions, which was why Premier Winde consulted multiple specialists which included an outside team called a Red Team.
On the alcohol-related harms, Premier Winde said Mr Dugmore was absolutely incorrect. He said he was together with the DOH so the request for the bans of alcohol came from the Western Cape province. The documents had been submitted beforehand so that they could be sent to the National Coronavirus Command Council. There had also been agreement with the alcohol industry. The ban went on for longer than 14 days, and Premier Winde agreed with Mr Dugmore that it was about finding a balance. That led to legislation and industry players were involved in the process. They too had a different attitude because of the data that came out of the DOTP’s modelling systems and trauma hospitals measuring trauma. The data was constantly updated, and different questions were being asked about where people were for their last rounds and how to have that built into the legislation.
On the SMSs, Premier Winde said it was a mixture of many things that also included pamphlets, calling and loud hailing. Premier Winde believed the programme of calling into diabetes would be recognised for some international awards as it had been quite phenomenal.
Premier Winde said any procurement around COVID-19 was open, so Mr Dugmore was welcome to look at where the money was spent on the communications procurement and with which companies it was been spent. He could also check the shareholding of the companies.
In response to Mr Xego, he said he got the gist of the question which was about legal services and support to municipalities. Premier Winde said that all municipalities through the district model and PSP had been supported and engaged with throughout the pandemic.
Dr Malila said the DOTP took the PAY project very seriously and decided to have two intakes to give both matriculants from 2019 and 2020 an opportunity. There were budget constraints but as a vote the DOTP prioritised the project. There would be 70-80 in aggregate for 2021 split into two groups.
On the split of Legal Services, Dr Malila said it was part of a governance decision taken by the DOTP. Legal Services had previously been part of Corporate Assurance but the two functions were fundamentally different. Legal provided an advisory function different to the assurance function. Corporate Assurance consisted of the Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) strategy and dealt with enterprise, internal audit, and provincial forensic services. Additionally, it had been an opportunity because the two units could run their own business. The third issue was that the DOTP provided an overall service to the entire government which was different to what it provided as an agent to other departments. The only service it provided as an agent was the HR service to the ten departments excluding the DOE and DOH. Legal service and corporate assurances were not functions the DOTP provided to other department as an agent. Those functions were fundamentally part of the DOTP. He took accountability for the decision as the accounting officer.
Ms Henriette Robson, Deputy Director-General: Corporate Assurance, DOTP, said the three units in her branch went on normally during the execution of the audits. There was an agreement for documents to be scanned and in some instances resources were provided to process the scanning so the audit could be conducted. Towards October and November when the country opened up the DOTP was accessed physically. The meetings took place as normal on virtual platforms with minimal disruptions. Ms Robson said some audit hours had been lost during the hard lockdown but after that, things commenced normally.
Mr Hilton Arendse, Deputy Director-General: Centre for e-Innovation, DOTP, said the SMS gateway had been used for various communications pertaining to COVID-19, but the most important use had been for humanitarian relief efforts. It was specifically for people who had no access to the internet or any data on their phones.
Mr Arendse said the 500 WIFI routers had batteries, as they were mobile routers, so when the electricity cut out the battery took over.
Mr Lucas Buter, Deputy Director-General: Legal Services, DOTP, said legal advice was not a service offered to the municipalities because municipal autonomy had to respected. It was not a service offered but a need that developed naturally within the context of intergovernmental relations which were also aligned to the approach to create an extended COVID-19 Cabinet where municipalities were present. There were numerous requests from municipalities for guidance on the application of the many Regulations and Directives issued under the Act that occurred with each Alert Level. Mr Buter said every municipality was welcome to ask for guidance and, as Premier Winde said, the DOTP supported all of them.
The Chairperson asked a follow-up question to Mr Arendse’s about the 174 Cape Access Centres. He asked if those had back-up routers or generators to kick in during load shedding. He asked if the staff members had Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) facilities to assist their electronic devices during load shedding.
Mr Arendse said it was 74 centres and that during COVID-19 the Centres were closed because the DOTP could not let people in. There was a UPS for each server in the Centres.
On the staff working from home, he said laptops normally gave two-three hour battery time, so UPSs were not provided for the laptops as people had their own home set-ups.
Mr Dugmore said there was a reference to the fact that Legal Services was embarking on a study of all judgments that impacted on the province. His question related to the role of the provincial local government department in supporting investigations at local government level. He asked about the judgments that had been studied and any other developments about support provided by Provincial Forensic Services to the Department of Local Government (DLG). He asked whether there had been any concerns noted about breaching the separation of powers where officials of the DLG had not only assisted the Hawks but also housed evidence at the department. Mr Dugmore asked if there had been any court judgments about this.
The Chairperson referred to the budget speech where Mr David Maynier, Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, announced additional funding for forensic services. He asked what had triggered that. Had there been an event that triggered that additional funding?
Dr Malila said the issue of funding had been coming on for some time. The previous funding had given money to capacitate the forensic unit in the DLG to deal with issues in municipalities. It linked to Mr Dugmore’s question about the separation of powers. Dr Malila did not know whether they had received additional funding or whether this was funding that had been rolled over from one year to the other. Dr Malila said he would find out.
Mr Buter said he was not aware of any incident where the separation of powers had been breached. There was no judgment he was aware of. He pointed to the Erasmus Commission of Inquiry judgment 13 years before, which made it clear that there was nothing wrong in anybody assisting the police, but one could not obtain or retain information, that the police obtained through search and seizure, for another purpose. That was the advice that had been consistently offered to the DLG, which it applied.
Mr Dugmore referred to the Early Childhood Development (ECD) partnership earmarked allocation on page 27 and asked for an explanation as to why it was there. Did it have anything to do with the first 1000-day strategy? What was the partnership about and who was included? He asked for examples of innovative initiatives and how were the recipients of the funding identified.
On the Commissioner for Children, Mr Dugmore understood there were initial costs to house the children but asked about the R5 million allocated to the outer year and the R5.2 million. He asked how many staff members besides the Commissioner were intended for that office, how much was spent on salaries as a whole and what was available for research and communication.
Mr Dugmore turned to page 31 that reflected the Centre for e-Innovation. He said it was clear the bulk of the funding was allocated there. He asked for practical examples of the benefits and whether citizens in the Western Cape were getting value for their money. How did it improve the life of someone living in a rural community?
Mr Dugmore noted R15 million for branding and communication remained relatively constant. He asked if any of the communication went to the Commissioner for Children which had an overall budget of R5 million.
The Chairperson referred to page 27 and asked for details on the human rights programme for priority groups. He also asked for more details on the policy developments around the digital transformation in the Western Cape on page 3. He asked for a copy of the plan once it had been finalised.
Mr Xego turned to page 22 table 7.3 which was about the Wesgro and said it was an important sector that needed economic revival. He asked why it had not been prioritised as an area that required assistance especially after the pandemic.
Turning to page 24, Mr Xego also asked the R3 million allocated to non-profit institutions and requested specifics about the individuals who received that funding.
On page 26, Mr Xego asked for a copy of the PSP.
He also referred to the earmarked allocations at the bottom of page 27 which had allocated R9.8 million to the Commissioner for Children. He asked whether the DOTP felt the funding was sufficient to support the Commissioner for Children. Did the DOTP have a clear understanding about the challenges faced by the Commissioner for Children and how it could assist?
Mr Xego also asked about the APP Outputs on page 29. He asked for the DOTP’s specific targets.
Dr Malila said the Commissioner for Children had been provided with tremendous support and it had gone through two recruitment drives. He said some of the DOTP’s staff had been repurposed to support the Commissioner for Children. In addition, the Communications teams had also supported them to create a website and re-brand. Programme two had also support given to it in the budget and Dr Malila as the accounting officer met with the Commissioner for Children quarterly or when requested. There was a good relationship, and the lines of accountability were clear. The money set aside was for the set up the Commissioner for Children office and for goods and services. Dr Malila said budgets were tight, so the DOTP was in no position to add to the budget of the Commissioner for Children until the positions had been filled and the office had been set up.
The APP Outputs on page 20 of the report, Dr Malila said, encompassed work opportunities for the youth referred to the work around the PAY Project. The DOTP also engaged with all aligned departments within the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) space and within the Department of Economic Development and Tourism. The DOTP also had a transversal role as related to the PAY Project and how the DOTP conducted its recruitment of staff, given the age distribution of the team.
He added the Department could supply the Provincial Strategic Plan and the Western Cape Recovery Plan to the Committee as the two went hand in hand. The APP referred to the PSP which was the five-year plan, and the Recovery Plan prioritised a few things over the next year or two.
On the Wesgro payment, Dr Malila said the R5 million related to the innovative ideas. The DOTP decided to pilot the Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) process (for innovative service delivery solutions). He explained that it entailed approaching an issue from a problem perspective which meant understanding what the problem was. The DOTP had identified three main areas and had incubated mainstreaming PDIA within the Wesgro environment as there was a big focus on business. The amount persisted because there had been a deliberate decision to pull PDIA methodology into the DOTP in order to institutionalise it across government. It was also part of the budget amount under innovation as raised by Mr Dugmore. The PDIA methodology continued internally within the Vote.
Dr Malila said the Commissioner for Children had been assisted by the Department with its re-branding and communications. The amount set aside did not specifically include the fact that the DOTP was supporting the Commissioner for Children.
Ms Marcia Korsten, Deputy Director-General: Provincial Strategic Management, DOTP, responded to the questions on the Early Childhood Development (ECD) partnerships. She said one of the Recovery Plan priorities was the Wild Bean space and one of its key initiatives was to focus on ECD. The funding was to go towards a review of ECD within the Western Cape and bring stakeholders in and outside government to review the model and strengthen it. It was led by the Wild Bean policy lead in Policy and Strategy DOTP but in collaboration with the DOE and the Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD).
There was a pack of initiatives the DOTP considered on innovation. They focused on identifying innovative methodologies the DOTP could apply in pursuit of the delivery of the provincial priorities outlined in both the Recovery Plan and the PSP. Some of those included the PDIA as explained by Dr Malila above. There was also the behavioural insights work which looked at a multidisciplinary approach of combining different disciplines to make policies and programmes more effective in delivery. International partnerships would also be strengthened in pursuit of innovation. That was under the banner of VIP 5: the innovation and culture priority. The various role players were being convened to look at how the initiatives could be taken forward.
On the human rights priority, Ms Korsten said the DOTP had taken the approach to focus that particular team on human right mainstreaming to pick up on the human right strategic framework that was previously adopted within Western Cape government. She explained that it looked at how the DOTP could mainstream the needs and rights of priority groups related to gender, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities when it came to policy making, budgeting, evaluation of data systems and service delivery.
Mr Arendse explained that Ce-I delivered a service to the entire provincial government. All the departments within the organisation required Ce-I to be able to run their businesses. Through that the network infrastructure was provided as well as the interplace architecture strategy and planning including the policy. He said they were also responsible for growing the organisation and managing the growth and the citizens as the clients. Departments were assisted in rendering services to those citizens. The DOTP played a lead role in the transformation of the organisation through new initiatives and guidance. Mr Arendse said the public WIFI was part of the Broadband Programme which was a big part of the budget. It yielded various benefits like the high network speed that underpinned the digital transformation and improved productivity. There was also the video conferencing that aided communication. Mr Arendse said the DOTP was one of the first departments in the country that made use of the Microsoft Teams virtual platform because it already had broadband in the environment.
On the Cape Access Centres and libraries, Mr Arendse said the DOTP provided high speed internet to those facilities. He said the citizens benefit from the 45 minutes of free internet time they could access. The cost efficiencies were also a benefit which had saved the DOH R6 million in a single year. Other added benefits were green IT and the reduction of the dependency on data centres. Ce-I had effected significant benefits and savings for the citizens of the province.
Dr Malila said the Committee would be furnished with a copy of the DOTP’s Digital Transformation Plan (DTP).
Mr Drikus Basson, Chief Financial Officer: DOTP, directed Members to the [budget allocations for Non-profit institutions. Gifts and donations: Various projects per request – in Programme 1: Executive Governance and Integration.] The three previous years indicated fluctuating numbers of R265 000, R245 000 and R125 000. He said the R300 000 [budgeted for 2021/22] was a pot of money that the DOTP made available for non-profit institutions to apply for donations. The Accounting Officer then applied his mind and in deciding whether or not to support the cause. He indicated that in the previous year there was a non-profit institution that had an initiative to supply masks in the communities and DOTP had supported it. Mr Basson said that disabled children had been afforded the opportunity to cycle with cyclists in a buddy system through the human rights units the DOTP supported through a small donation. There was a donation policy that guided the work in that area.
Mr Dugmore asked about the human rights interventions. He said often there was a focus on the first-generation rights to the detriment of second generation rights such as access to services, land, and security of tenure. He wanted to know the DOTP’s perspective on first and second generation rights and whether the initiative looked at the rights of the homeless which was highlighted during the lockdown with different municipalities that treated the homeless in a different manner to everyone else. Was there work being done in the DOTP around a policy on how the homeless and street people were dealt with? He expected human rights to also focus on social cohesion and discrimination on the basis of race and sexual orientation. There was no focus by the DOTP on those issues as there had been incidents of discrimination on the mentioned grounds in schools and communities.
Dr Malila said it was a fair question. The DOTP’s policy covered all those areas and as a DOTP they worked with the other 13 departments to mainstream all its activities no matter what it related to. It also worked with big municipalities like the City of Cape Town on the key areas. He said the Committee would also be furnished with a copy of the policy work that had been completed so far to give a broader understanding of areas actually covered.
The Chairperson asked a question pertaining to page 33 about the migration of Elsenburg [Agricultural Training Institute to the Western Cape Government’s Corporate Microsoft Tenant WIFI]. He asked if the DOTP was paying for it everywhere or whether it was a refundable service.
Mr Dugmore turned to page 43 which listed a summary of payments and estimates by economic classification. There was a reference to consultants and professional services, business, and advisory services for R38 million and he asked if the DOTP seriously considered in-sourcing those services. Surely the DOTP was aware that provincial government across departments spent close to R900 million on consultants and professional services. 750 highly skilled and qualified individuals could be employed at a salary of R1.2 million using the same amount of money. Had the DOTP considered these things as it would save resources?
The Chairperson referenced the property payment increase of 267% to R4 million and asked for an explanation.
Dr Malila said sometimes consultants were used for short periods which may not be efficient. He said consultants were appointed for particular purposes, so the DOTP did not need to buy the Intellectual Property (IP). He asked Mr Basson to talk about the procurement strategy.
On the incorporation of Elsenburg as part of the WIFI, Dr Malila said the money had been allocated to the DOTP directly. It was not on the vote for it to be refunded because it had been allocated directly.
On the increase in property payments, Mr Basson said the increase amounted to R3 million and it related to the accommodation for Ms Christina Nomdo, the Commissioner for Children.
On consultants and professional services, Mr Basson said for every consultant appointment there had to be a business case. A business case required a line function to motivate why positions could not be filled to satisfy the requirement. The consultant appointments were for specialised skills in areas the DOTP did not have the skill readily available. Consultants completed tasks such as the verification of applicants who applied for jobs as the DOTP did not have that competency within its domain. The DOTP Audit Committees to provide oversight also came from consultants. The DOTP could not appoint those internally. Specialised research would also be conducted by consultants. He concluded that those were not extensive amounts for the DOTP and there were motivations as to why the DOTP had to out-source.
The Chairperson said the meeting was public and gave members of the public an opportunity to ask questions.
Mr Dugmore referred to page 25 of the APP which referenced the district and metro approach and asked Premier Winde for an update on the district champions that had been allocated.
Mr Dugmore also referenced the spatial and mobility transformation on page 24 and asked what had practically been done about spatial transformation.
On safety in the APP, he understood that Area-based Teams had already been set up in terms of the Safety Plan, so he asked for an explanation.
He also asked about the Community Capacity Enhancement Initiatives listed on page 29 and asked for an explanation for what it intended.
He asked if the DOTP were concerned that Matriculants in the Western Cape were not taking up Science as a subject and had some of the lowest levels of students who took Science as a subject in Matric.
Premier Winde answered the question about the district model. He said the Western Cape continued all the districts were involved with direct engagement with the system. The DLG and the DOTP supported the entire system of joint planning. He talked about his letter to President Ramaphosa and said he asked specifically about the Constitutional mandate because that was where the difference rested. He said he had not received an answer, but it seemed to be discontinued from national level. However, it was still in place in the Western Cape as it was not about management but about coordination.
Dr Malila referred to page 26 and said the Safety Plan was an entire package. The DOTP implemented it in the current year, but it was not completed. The focus would be on the data and the surveillance system. Those would be coordinated with the Area-based Teams particularly in the hot spot areas who would continually supply data on the crime and violence trends. With that the DOTP could assess the impact of the interventions. The DOTP worked closely with the SAPS and municipalities.
On Science as a subject, Dr Malila said the DOTP would take the feedback on board. There was a team focused on wellbeing which included education. It was something the DOTP had been tracking as education was close to Premier Winde’s heart. The DOTP worked towards improving the education outcomes targeted towards the employment market.
Dr Malila repeated his explanation about spatial transformation offered previously.
On Community Capacity Enhancement, Ms Korsten said it was a training programme based on a methodology developed by the United Nations Development Programme. It was about building capability amongst government officials to put communities at the centre of decision making by providing them with community capacity enhancement engagement tools. She indicated that over the last while the DOTP had focused on piloting different ways of imparting the community capacity enhancement. That included piloting with the DOH’s community based work which was outlined in the APP to support the Recovery Plan and would be applied to the area-based teams.
The Chairperson thanked Premier Winde and his team for their presentations and wished them well for the tough year ahead. The DOTP was dismissed.
Consideration and adoption of the Draft Committee Report on Vote 1: Premier in the Schedule to the Western Cape Third Adjustment Appropriation Bill [ 2020/21 financial year ] B3-2021 dated 23 March.
The Committee concluded its deliberations on Vote 1 which had been referred to the Committee in terms of Standing Rule 188 and supported the Vote referred to it.
The minority view in terms of Standing Rule 90 expressed by the ANC and EFF was not to support the Vote.
Consideration and adoption of the Draft Committee Report on the Main Budget - the Western Cape Appropriation Bill [2020/21 financial year ] B4-2021
The Committee concluded its deliberations on Vote 1 in the Schedule to the Western Cape Appropriation Bill [2020/21 financial year ] B4-2021 which had been referred to the Committee in terms of Standing Rule 188 and supported the Vote referred to it.
The minority view in terms of Standing Rule 90 expressed by the ANC and EFF was not to support the Vote.
The reports were adopted.
Mr Dugmore was in possession of a letter from the B-BBEE Commissioner which stated that only two compliance reports had been submitted by the Western Cape Department of Development and Tourism as well as Wesgro. It explained the non-compliance of the other departments. Mr Dugmore asked to forward the letter and, given Premier Winde’s responses to Mr Dugmore’s question earlier, asked that a resolution be taken to invite the DOTP and the B-BBEE Commissioner to clarify the issue of compliance with the legislation by the Western Cape departments.
The Chairperson asked that Mr Dugmore forward him the letter and he would write to the DOTP as well, as there were different views on the matter.
Mr Dugmore asked the Committee to note a concern that the province’s performance in physical science was not referred to in the APP where Western Cape learners had the lowest performances. He also requested that the DOTP pay attention to the matter.
Mr Xego asked for the number of work opportunities the DOTP had targeted as per its APP and for the specifics of those.
Ms W Philander (DA) asked for Mr Dugmore’s resolution about the science marks in province to be circulated before the entire Committee agreed to it.
The Chairperson took Members through the minutes of 7 December 2020 page-by-page.
The minutes were adopted without changes.
The meeting was adjourned.
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