The Committee Content Advisor noted that it is a requirement that the Committee has a five-year Strategic Plan in place, which was disrupted during 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These Plans had been circulated to Members earlier and they were taken through them by the Content Advisor. The Committee considered and adopted the Strategic Plan with the amendments raised by Members.
The Committee considered and adopted its Government Printing Works (GPW) oversight visit report with amendments. Members agreed that the recommendations should be updated after receipt of the GPW progress report to ensure the relevance of recommendations.
The Committee considered its oversight visit report on the looted and damaged Home Affairs offices in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng following the July 2021 civil unrest. The Committee adopted with amendments its Oversight Report.
The Committee Secretary noted that Adv Bongo is on sick leave which necessitated the election of an Acting Chairperson for this meeting. If more than one person is nominated, the Committee would have to vote on the matter. Mr Chabane was elected as the Acting Chairperson.
Mr M Chabane (ANC) as Acting Chairperson outlined the agenda of the virtual meeting. He noted that the documents had been circulated to Members so the discussion should be brief.
Committee Strategic Plan
Mr Adam Salmon, Content Advisor to the Committee, gave an overview noting that it is a statutory requirement that the Committee has a Strategic and Annual Performance Plan in place, which was disrupted during 2020 and 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift towards remote work for Members. The Committee had been following the Strategic and Annual Performance Plan to date, and the meeting is to ensure that it is considered and adopted by Members.
The five-year Strategic Plan of Parliament indicates the overarching priorities which extend to the Committee. This ties across the work of the Committee, Members’ constituency work, and plenary work. The vision of Parliament is to be an activist Parliament that improves the quality of life for its people. The priorities for the Sixth Administration stem from the National Development Plan and include the reduction of poverty and increase in employment opportunities. The outcomes include a more responsive and accountable government and for Parliament to strengthen its oversight involvement. Members were then taken through the Committee’s Strategic and Annual Performance Plan.
The Acting Chairperson noted that there could be some concerns that need to be highlighted in the Strategic and Annual Performance Plan, especially the slow progress of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) in implementing feedback from the Committee.
Mr A Roos (DA) thanked the Content Advisor for the briefing made and the compilation of the documents. There is a concern about the Home Affairs system down-time that the State Information and Technology Agency (SITA) has acknowledged. The service provider needs to refresh the infrastructure, but the impression given is that the problems are with the SITA network. As was presented to the Committee, SITA engaged with DHA on this matter together with the service provider. It is DHA that has to attend to its system infrastructure, which is not owned or managed by SITA. The wording of this document makes it sound as if it is the problem of SITA, while it is a DHA issue.
He commended that during the Sixth Term of Parliament, the Committee was considering a study tour on electronic voting systems. It would be valuable for the Committee to do a study tour of a jurisdiction that has successfully implemented e-voting.
There are a number of items missing from the Committee Strategic Plan, such as the VFS contract and its procurement, oversight visits that have not been decided on, and the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) project. Where are these matters and should they be added?
Ms M Molekwa (ANC) appreciated the briefing on DHA performance he performance indicators of the DHA as to what the reasons are for why the set targets were not achieved as indicated by the DHA. How soon will the DHA be able to conclude the outstanding issues and matters so that the Committee can finalise its report?
Ms M Modise (ANC) stated that the report does not truly reflect the performance of the DHA, and she requested that the DHA send the Committee an updated report on the work that has been done. She raised the issue of mobile offices and stated that these measures have been effective. The DHA should consider procuring more mobile offices to assist the people of South Africa, especially in rural areas.
Mr K Pillay (ANC) stated that it was outlined that the report was a strategic framework over a three-to-five-year period. This could be the reason that there is no report on the progress made. He recommended that the DHA should submit a report to reflect the progress made in addition to the Strategic Plan. He agreed with Ms Modise regarding the effectiveness of mobile offices that are reaching rural communities. These mobile offices also issue smart ID-cards which reduces the extent of queues at the offices of the DHA.
The Acting Chairperson appreciated the contributions from Members and emphasised that the report be considered in light of it being intended as a strategic framework. He agreed with Members’ views of the mobile offices and expressed satisfaction that services are delivered to rural areas. He agreed with Mr Roos’ comments regarding the possibility of a study tour regarding the possible introduction of electronic voting in the future of South Africa. He noted that the Committee will raise the issues that were not raised in the report with the DHA.
The Committee adopted the Strategic Plan with the amendments raised by Members.
Committee Report: Government Printing Works oversight visit
The document had been previously circulated to Members for consideration, and the Content Advisor guided Members through the recommendations of the oversight report.
The Acting Chairperson noted that the Committee’s oversight of GPW was done on an urgent basis on matters that needed the Committee’s attention. It is important that the GPW progress report be received from DHA so that the Committee Report can reflect the progress that has been made since the Committee’s GPW oversight visit.
Mr Roos noted that there is one major observation made by the Committee about senior management receiving legal counsel that has not been included in the Committee Report. This was the allegation that external legal services are being utilised by GPW, while there are internal legal services available. Have the internal legal services been capacitated sufficiently? He did not agree with the observations on GPW security as the systems were down when the Committee conducted its oversight visit.
Ms Molekwa appreciated the drafted report. She agreed that the Committee should be provided with the progress report to reflect the progress made since the Committee oversight visit to GPW to ensure that the Committee Report reflects this progress.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) referred to the staff members complaining about the air conditioning and stated that it should be rephrased to reflect that the staff noted that it gets cold in the building. She agreed that the Committee should be provided with the progress report.
Ms van der Merwe said the relationship between management and staff was quite bad during the Committee oversight visit and recommended that an external company is brought in to audit GPW human resources as a way to rectify the strained relationship. It is also important that the Committee receives an update on this matter.
Ms Modise said that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the workforce should be more emphasised in the Committee recommendations to ensure the safety of workers. She agreed that the Committee awaits the progress report to update its recommendations.
Mr Pillay supported the comments on waiting for the progress report. He agreed about the concerns raised about the air conditioning, PPE and uniforms.
The Acting Chairperson thanked Members for their contributions. He noted that the Committee agreed that the Committee Report should be updated after the progress report has been received to ensure the recommendations are actionable and relevant. The recommendations should also be fleshed out to include the comments by Members.
The Committee Report on GPW was adopted pending the outstanding progress report.
Committee Report: Looted and damaged Home Affairs offices during civil unrest
The Content Advisor guided Members through the Committee Report.
The Acting Chairperson noted the need to get a plan from DHA on its efforts to respond and get CCTV cameras installed in the affected areas.
Mr Roos noted that it was a very successful Committee oversight visit and agreed that the missing security cameras at Home Affairs offices is an important Committee recommendation.
Ms van der Merwe expressed her support for the Committee Report.
Mr Pillay stated that it is important to give credit where it is due and to commend the DHA officials during the civil unrest for still being able to provide services to the affected community. It is important that a Risk Strategy be put in place to mitigate future risks of looting and property damage.
The Acting Chairperson thanked Members for their contributions.
The Committee Oversight Report on the civil unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng was adopted along with the proposed amendments raised by the Committee.
The Acting Chairperson thanked Members for their contribution to the work of the Committee and for the inputs rendered during the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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