Implementation of s100 intervention: DPME on lesson learnt & COGTA on new reforms; with Deputy Ministers

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Meeting Summary

The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) briefed the Committee in a virtual meeting on the lessons learnt and the case studies arising from the implementation of Section 100 in North West Province.

The Committee heard that the situation that necessitated the invocation of section 100 in North West had been precipitated by violent labour unrests and community protests; paralysed service delivery; loss of life and destruction of property; collapse in the health system and municipal services; school children being kept out of schools; a decline in audit results for four year’s straight; ongoing non-compliance with supply chain management (SCM) laws; a persistent lack of consequence management; and systematic outsourcing of service delivery to irregularly appointed project management units that involved hundreds of millions of rands.

The DPME had ensured capacity for service delivery was built through filling key management posts, the lifting of a moratorium on staff appointments in certain key service delivery departments, such as health; investment in infrastructure and equipment; and efforts to improve critical systems for service delivery. A priority had been the alignment of planning between departments to ensure service delivery, with a focus on the Premier’s Office playing its required role of oversight and monitoring of service delivery departments.

The lessons learnt from the North West s100 intervention were categorised under the following areas: the legislative environment; the capacitation and resourcing of intervention teams; managing the political-administrative interface; consequence management and criminal investigations; and exiting and sustaining the gains of the intervention.

The Committee welcomed the detailed presentation, but stressed that its oversight work should continue despite the administrative and leadership changes in the province.

Members raised concern that the Premier’s Office was at the centre of the province's challenges. The lack of service delivery had adversely affected the standard of living of its communities. The Committee questioned the impact of the interventions, as critical provincial Departments such as Health, Social Development and Education lacked leadership. A Member also laid the blame for poor performance on party political issues.

The Deputy Minister urged the Committee to invite the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the relevant law enforcement agencies to update it on the progress with some of the criminal cases it was pursuing, and to provide a more detailed report.

The Committee proposed calling the North West Public Service Commission and the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) to provide complete timelines on the issues and the bottlenecks. It hoped it could engage with the law enforcement agencies within this quarter to finalise some of the cases and to recover missing money.

Meeting report

Welcome and opening remarks

The Chairperson welcomed Ms Pinky Kekana, the new Deputy Minister (DM) in the Presidency, who would lead the Department’s presentation. Mr Mondli Gungubele, Minister in the Presidency, was unable to join the meeting as he was accompanying President Ramaphosa to the inauguration of the new President of Zambia.

He congratulated Mr S Malatsi (DA) for running a marathon to raise funds for the destitute children of Soweto. He said this was a very good gesture -- the Committee appreciated what he did for the children.  

The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) had requested a postponement on the pension pay-out item. The Committee would therefore not deal with this matter today.

The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, had requested the issue she sought to address today should be retracted, as much work still needed to be done on that matter. The Chairperson said this issue would also not be addressed by the Committee.  

He welcomed all Members, and invited Deputy Minister Kekana to make opening remarks before the DPME’s presentation.

Mr J McGluwa (DA) interjected. He was concerned about the item on the petition to Parliament that the Committee was not going to discuss. He had perused these documents and understood there was a new ministry. However, his concern was that 35 000 members belonging to this organisation were being discriminated against, and the Committee had a constitutional duty on redress programmes where people were being excluded. It was important for the Committee to receive clarity on when it would meet with the organisation to solve this problem. He was aware that this case had been under way for a while, and it had landed on the desks of the President and the Minister of Finance. It was now with the Committee, and had been removed from the agenda for the second time.

The Chairperson clarified that the case had not been removed, but there was still work that was required on this issue. He confirmed that he would ensure it returned to the Committee.

Ms Thembi Siweya, Deputy Minister in the Presidency, said her team had sent an apology that she would be unable to attend this meeting due to a Cabinet commitment, but this was now over and she would be present for the meeting. However, DM Kekana would lead the DPME.

Deputy Minister: Overview of S100 intervention in North West

DM Kekana said the presentation would provide an overview of the DPME’s role on the section 100 (1) intervention in the North West.

The Cabinet had invoked section 100 (1) of the Constitution in the North West province in May 2018 to respond to community and labour unrest, including the collapse of key services to communities. Subsequently, the President had established an Inter-Ministerial Task Team (IMTT) led by Dr Dlamini-Zuma, as Minister of COGTA, who was the Minister responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at the time. The Director-General (DG) in the DPME had also been assigned to lead the Technical Task Team (TTT) to support the IMTT.

In the current administration, the IMTT had requested Minister Dlamini-Zuma to move with the intervention responsibility to COGTA. The DPME had remained with the secretariat role to provide technical support, coordination, and monitoring and reporting on the interventions.

The DPME team worked closely with the administrator in the Office of the Premier, who was appointed by the Minister of Public Service and Administration (PSA).

The experience and the case studies that had emerged would illustrate the magnitude of the challenges that existed. The DPME had viewed this intervention as the first of its kind, as section 100 (1) had been revoked in provinces such as Limpopo, the Eastern Cape, Free State, and so forth. However, this time around, ten departments in the North West were affected -- five departments under section 100 (1)(a), and five under section 100 (1)(b).

The reality was that the DPME could not address the severity of all the challenges that emerged. The DG and his team would report on specific areas where the focus was on the monitoring and evaluation of certain sectors in the Department.

One of the things the DPME should look at in the case studies was the lessons it learnt, which it would share with the Committee. Going forward, it was important to ensure that the systems it had implemented, through the lessons it learnt from this intervention, did not collapse. From a monitoring and evaluation point of view, its goal was to prevent any regression, given the transition involving the premiership that was currently under way in the North West.

The DPME was satisfied that the Intergovernmental, Monitoring, Support and Intervention (IMSI) Bill would soon be in place to adequately empower it to deal with some of these issues. It would also enable the Committee to ensure stringent measures were adhered to, so that government was capacitated to deliver adequate service to the people.

How did the DPME guard the interface between the political and the administrative role? Between the DPME and the Committee, the role of the Public Service Commission (PSC) became very critical. It was important for National Treasury, through learning lessons from this case rather than being reactive, to act as an early-warning system so that the DPME could have a predictive monitoring system to identify early warnings before more damage was incurred. The other lesson covered the State’s capacity to deliver – if it provides public servants the necessary support. These were some of the issues that emerged from the DPME’s observations. The DM clarified this was the reason she had mentioned the interface between the political and the administrative role.

Did the DPME improve service delivery through the intervention? Was it able to improve on the AG’s report across the departments? Was there consequent management? These questions would be of interest for the Committee to consider:

Having learnt from the Zondo Commission and the role that Parliament should play in oversight, it was the DPME’s firm belief that this Committee should ask it difficult questions. This would enable it to be attentive and ensure it meets the people’s’ expectations on service delivery.

The DM invited Mr Robert Nkuna, DG of the DPME, to provide the context to the section 100 (1) intervention in the North West province.

Director-General: Monitoring report of DPME

Mr Nkuna said the presentation would be a monitoring report of the Department.

At the start of this intervention, the DPME had provided secretariat services, and it was currently continuing to do this to an extent. Due to its mandate of planning, monitoring and evaluation, it had reduced some of its role in the secretariat to focus on monitoring.

The reports presented by the Minister of COGTA, accompanied by the DG of COGTA, were quite intense, as they deal more with specific implementation issues. The DPME had decided to focus more on monitoring what was happening to avoid a situation where it was a player and a referee at the same time. It had maintained some presence in the secretariat to ensure continuity in the work being done at that level, whilst primarily focusing on monitoring. This meant the DPME was unable to answer some of the questions on detailed operational issues, but it could answer everything on the areas it was monitoring, which it considered to be key performance areas of the intervention project.

On the work it was doing, one of the areas the DPME had been monitoring and focusing on was planning and performance. It was working with the province, specifically the new DG, to ensure there was alignment between the medium-term strategic framework (MTSF) and the provincial plans, as there had previously been challenges in this alignment. The DPME had sent a team, led by the Deputy DG, to assist the province to develop the necessary plans and performance agreements.  

Secondly, it was tracking audit results, which was an important measure in order to track whether progress was being made or not. This was undertaken regularly, and also advises on where interventions were required to improve the situation in the province. As part of this, it deals with financial indicators and monitors performance against the financial indicators, which was very critical to lay a base for performance and service delivery in this area.

It monitored the appointment of key leadership positions in the province, and was therefore able to respond to its own monitoring progress on this.

It assessed the annual performance plans (APPs) of different departments in the province, and ensures the commitments made by government were met.

The DPME reviewed the progress on priority disciplinary and criminal cases. It was therefore able to address these matters and some of the investigations that were undertaken.

Lastly, it considered the legal environment and the extent that it allows National Government to intervene -- not only in the North West, but also in other provinces. Where emphasis was on the legal environment, it was important to implement early-warning systems in place to avoid intervention. Mr Nkuna clarified that the point was not to look for interventions, but rather for ways and mechanisms to ensure that interventions should not arise going forward.

These issues would be the focus of the DPME, including recommendations on how it builds early-warning systems to ensure that going forward, it did not find itself in similar situations.           

He asked Mr Jonathan Timm, Director: Citizen-based Monitoring, DPME, who had been working on the project since 2018, to lead the DPME’s presentation.

DPME: Lessons learnt and case studies regarding S100 implementation

Overview and background

Mr Timm said the set of lessons learnt from the intervention should not be considered as an exhaustive list. Members should recognise the scale and complexity of this intervention, and the multiple dimensions of the learning that had emerged from this experience at various levels. The DPME proposed that the learning of lessons should be viewed as a process, rather than a once-off event. It hoped the Committee would engage further on this valuable learning opportunity for building a capable, ethical and developmental state.   

Section 100 enabled the National Executive to intervene in a province’s affairs where an executive obligation had not been fulfilled. Section 139 was the equivalent which empowered both the National and Provincial Government to intervene in the affairs of local government. The Constitution empowers the National Executive to take any appropriate steps, and section 100(1) (a) and (b) were guidance for this.

The intervention in the North West in 2018 was the first time that section 100(1) had been invoked for an Office of the Premier, a core department in a province.

North West crisis in 2018

The situation that necessitated the invocation of section 100 included the following:

  • Violent labour unrest and community protests, which caused the President to interrupt an international trip to return to address the situation. Service delivery was paralysed, and there was loss of life and destruction of property.
  • The health system collapsed significantly, which required the intervention of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to secure essential services in the health sector.
  • School children were kept out of schooling.
  • Audit results showed a year-on-year decline for four year’s straight, with the Auditor-General (AG) noting a refusal to deal with issues raised. There was ongoing non-compliance with supply chain management (SCM) laws, and a persistent lack of consequence management.
  • There was systematic outsourcing of service delivery to irregularly appointed project management units. These appointments involved hundreds of millions of rands. Some of these project management units and outsourcing arrangements involved Mediosa, Agridelight, Ayamah, and others which were reported on in the media at the time. 
  • Municipal services were in a state of collapse, requiring the SANDF’s intervention in certain municipalities to address urgent challenges, such as collapsed sewerage systems. There were also allegations of rampant corruption.

Summary of progress

  • Capacity for service delivery had been built through filling key management posts, the lifting of a moratorium on staff appointments in certain key service delivery departments such as health, investment in infrastructure, equipment, and efforts to improve critical systems for service delivery. These systems included SCM, procurement, governance, oversight, capacity, and project management systems.
  • Audit results for 2019/20 showed a turnaround after five years of decline and stagnation. The 2020/21 audit findings would be available by September 2021, but the positive commentary by the AG indicated a positive trend due to the impact of the intervention. When the intervention started, there had been four years of decline and one year of stagnation. The intervention had been in place for six months at the time of the audit, and it showed a significant improvement in audit outcomes for 2019/20.
  • Irregular project management units and outsourcing had been terminated. Empowering the appointed officials to do their work had been an important focus during this intervention period. Processes and certain criminal investigations were under way to recover losses to the state because of these irregular contracts.
  • The National Treasury had led a process of capacity building across departments to strengthen SCM.
  • Community and labour peace had been maintained through ongoing engagements, especially around labour peace, through ongoing engagements with workers on issues of concern.
  • Alignment of planning between departments to deliver on service delivery priorities had been a priority, especially for the Premier’s Office, which had shifted its orientation role and configuration to play its required role of oversight and monitoring of service delivery departments.
  • Functions previously centralised in the Premier’s Office had been transferred back to their original departments. Criminal investigations, prosecutions, and asset forfeiture were under way for corruption cases. This continued to be a source of frustration, as slow progress had been made on this.

Turnaround of irregular expenditure in section 100 (1)(b) departments

It was important to distinguish between cumulative irregular expenditure and in-year irregular expenditure. Cumulative irregular expenditure accumulates year-on-year. For instance, any historic irregular expenditure that has not been condoned simply accumulates. With in-year irregular expenditure, it was important to identify trends. For instance, 2018/19 was the peak for all these departments under direct intervention.  

While the last figure from National Treasury had been unaudited for 2020/21, the positive trend continued with the decline in irregular expenditure since the Administrators were appointed in July 2018.

Section 100(1)(b) departments’ achievements and outstanding priorities

In the Premier’s Office, improvements in controls and governance had resulted in an unqualified audit -- the first in five years. The appointment of a new DG was viewed as an important milestone in stablising the provincial government in the North West.  

The appointment of a new Head of Department (HOD) in the Health Department was important, as the previous incumbent had been dismissed. Similarly, other senior managers and lower-level officials had been dismissed on charges of corruption and dereliction of duty. 

On the outstanding priorities for these two departments, managing a credible process for the appointment of vacant HOD positions was essential. There were currently four vacant positions and one appointment under review by the Minister of PSA. Ensuring that credible appointments were made through credible processes was a key priority for the Premier’s Office. The Health Department was faced with a systemic challenge of budget. The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) had recommended a fit-for-purpose budget to get this department on a sustainable footing. The budget baseline therefore had to be corrected.

The Education Department places emphasis on building capability for the school delivery infrastructure programme, so technical expertise was appointed for school construction projects. 12 investigations were completed, and five cases were referred to the Hawks. Outstanding priorities include appointments to be made, the implementation of the district organisational structure, and consequence management on the investigated cases.

Mr Timm said he would not take the Committee through the details of section 100(1) (a) departments’ achievements and priorities. The North West COGTA was being closed, supported by National COGTA, the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA), and the National Treasury working with the Provincial Treasury, to address the challenges in local government.

Lessons learnt from North West section 100 intervention

Legislative environment:

  • The need for clarifying the powers and functions of the Premier, the Provincial Executive and the legislative leadership. Where the National Executive had invoked section 100 for an entire province, the DPME had sought legal advice from the State Law Advisor throughout this process, which had produced a body of useful legal opinions and consolidation of case law. This had been one of the areas of attention where the DPME had learnt some valuable lessons.
  • Managing the transition from one administration to another under conditions of intervention. This intervention had traversed the fifth and the sixth administrations, and there were strongly held views amongst a certain segment of the provincial Executive Council (Exco). This was not party-political, as it straddled various political party representatives in the legislature that the intervention did not apply to in the sixth administration. The State Law Advisor clarified that it did apply as it applied to the executive obligation under question, and not to a particular administration or legislature.
  • The need for clear lines of accountability for Administrators deployed by intervening Ministers. Given the spheres of government, an Accounting Officer in a provincial department accounts to the Member of the Executive Council (MEC). Administrators were given the roles of Accounting Officers in this intervention, and were therefore accountable to the MECs, while the MECs still had a political role in the Excos. Clarifying those lines of responsibility was important, especially where there was contestation around the intervention.  
  • The role of the Premier has to be clear when the Premier's Office has been taken over by a National Minister -- in this instance, the MPSA.

Capacitation and resourcing of intervention teams:

  • This was a common sense principle that may not be as easily applied, given the complexities of an intervention. The DPME’s view was that when the National Executive decides to intervene under section 100 (1)(b), the intervention team must be sufficiently equipped and experienced to assume temporary control of all parts of the target department. Assuming control for all dimensions of a specific department gives line of sight across the full system. This was especially important for the second phase of planning that would necessarily follow the arrival and placement in office, which should be done as quickly and competently as possible. Extending an intervention due to under-capacitation would result in increased opportunities for resistance and push back, which would frustrate a swift and effective turnaround of challenges.
  • A project office should be established to manage and resource the intervention as a single project implemented by various departments across multiple provincial departments, in order to manage and resource common challenges that would occur across the departments. For instance, disciplinary hearings, forensic investigations, providing legal and contract support and security for economies of scale and utilisation of scarce resources, including policy enhancement, and implementing special dispensations.
  • Given the time that an intervention could take, a change in DGs or executive management at the intervening department creates a risk for a team under the leadership of an Administrator in the province to become orphaned and inadequately resourced under competing resourcing challenges. If a national department was intervening and had an intervention team, the responsible DG’s performance agreement should include results from the intervention to ensure accountability was in the right place.
  • The creation of standing capacity located at the centre of Government to maintain a level of readiness for intervening was required. Often the speed of the crisis that necessitates intervention requires preparedness and some standing capability.

Capacitation and resourcing of intervention teams:

  • When a national department intervenes in a provincial department, there should be sufficient insulation of the intervening team from potential dysfunctionality within SCM, procurement and human resource (HR) systems in the target department. There could be systems that were poorly functioning, but also potential for frustrating the efforts of the intervention.
  • The DPME argued that National Treasury should recover funds from provincial allocations and make them available. National departments such as the DPME may require additional funding in the case of interventions, as these may be unfunded mandates or result in irregular expenditure.  
  • Information technology (IT) connectivity, tools of trade, secure IT connections and effective communication must be provided for the intervention teams. It was important to ensure the intervention team was not subjected to the challenges that it was trying to resolve in its operational capability.
  • Secure accommodation was important, preferably with intervention teams accommodated as a unit, which would improve the ability to protect those teams.
  • Security and protection were critical to ensure those tasked with making tough decisions in a hostile environment could do so without having to consider the physical risks to themselves and their families. The DPME had emphasised this point in the North West, including accounts from the people intervening in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo.

Managing the political-administrative interface:

  • This category was a critical area of learning, and a new frontier for discourse in the country, where more candid conversations about the realities of government should be encouraged. The DPME’s involvement as technical support was administrative in focus, as it was a technical intervention in the administration. It was important to recognise that this was not party-political -- to merely state that this was a ruling party problem -- because the challenges that gave rise to the need for intervention were not limited to a specific political party. It crossed political party lines with particular interest groups.
  • The DPME noted the threats that Administrators and intervention teams had faced in the North West. The strategy with those opposing the clean-up of the province had been to try to drive a wedge between the deployers on the ground, in the form of Administrators, and the national Ministers responsible for the intervention.
  • The planning, resourcing and implementation of intervention teams required recognition that they occurred in dysfunctional and potentially hostile environments, where administrative systems were weakened or corrupted.
  • The DPME had noted that these areas of influence – political, administrative, and security -- each had their own complexity and dynamics. It was important, in the interest of building a capable state and addressing problems that were affecting people on the ground, that a given intervention creates mechanisms and platforms for these three spheres to work with common purpose.
  • The professionalisation of the Public Service, as outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP), should be accelerated, including reinforcing the role of the PSC.

Consequence management and criminal investigations:

The intervention teams faced slow progress in disciplinary processes and criminal investigations. The reasons for this included:

  • Reliance on provincial resources (legal and HR) to run disciplinary processes. One of the examples of this was the case study of the HOD for the Department of Public Works: Roads and Transport (DPWRT), who was charged in September 2018, but the disciplinary hearing was concluded with a dismissal only in June 2021.
  • Repeated delays and postponements on medical grounds.
  • Lack of capacity and dedicated teams from outside the province available to investigate, coordinate and manage disciplinary processes. An important area for the Committee to consider was to look at the state and status of the government’s capacity to run a credible, independent, impartial, and speedy disciplinary process. The DPME had noted a weakness in the State’s system around this.
  • The challenges within the law enforcement space continued to result in slow and frustrating conclusions of criminal investigations. This had been a major focus for the ad hoc committee that repeatedly called various law enforcement agencies to account. There had been a significant increase in the capacity of the Serious Commercial Crimes Unit due to the engagements by the IMTT.
  • Lack of cooperation from provincial departmental officials, fearing for their safety and jobs after the intervention was withdrawn.
  • The current approach of outsourcing, under the leadership of National Treasury in various instances of private audit forensic firms, should be considered as a policy question -- whether it provides the most effective value-for-money as opposed to building capacity within the police, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), and other agencies. Some of the appointments of forensic investigators who charged by the hour were not necessarily delivering the kind of information that prosecutors required. One of the DPME’s interventions was to ensure that prosecutors and investigating officers were part of the development of terms of reference (TOR) for forensic investigations. Lack of rapid and visible consequence management was critical to the practice of intervening and governing more broadly.

Exiting and sustaining the gains of the intervention:

  • The experience from the Limpopo intervention pointed to the importance of invoking section 100 (1)(a) after withdrawing the Section 100 (1)(b) intervention. This recommendation had been made to Cabinet. A phased approach of tapering the intervention was favoured, rather than a sort of waterfall approach which went from full intervention to nothing.
  • It was important to ensure, after the withdrawal of section 100 (1)(b) departments, oversight and monitoring of the compliance to the directives issued to ensure progress, impact and sustainability of ongoing intervention projects.
  • Reporting on the directives should be done regularly to Cabinet to guard against regression.
  • Interventions need to be formally closed out and a formal close-out report must be submitted to the NCOP to ensure that knowledge and experience is preserved. The development or movement towards the creation of a government-wide digital planning, monitoring and evaluation system may preempt problems or the need for interventions to detect compliance issues.

Discussion

Ms M Ntuli (ANC) welcomed the presentation, as it was detailed and aligned with the period of the intervention in the North West since 2018.

She said the Committee had met with the North West government, led by Premier Job Mokgoro, and there were still many discrepancies, given that the intervention started in 2018 and it was almost the end of 2021. Without discounting the DPME’s work, did it view section 100 as a tool to secure bureaucratic systems, or does it intervene in service delivery as the key component for the existing government in any province or country? It had been mentioned that even service delivery had collapsed in the North West during that period. How did the DPME view this? For the people of the North West, this was government and nothing else, and they wanted to see service delivery on the ground. This was not the first of its kind, as other provinces had been mentioned that had applied the same system. How was this assisting government?

The DG had said the DPME applied an early warning system. How best had this system assisted government? She asked the DPME to provide one or two examples. For her, this system was preferable, rather than coming in at the end to identify solutions for prevention.  

When and how did the performance agreement apply? When was it preferred by the official who signed off on this agreement? There were many cases, yet it was questionable whether those people were aware that they were working for the government and should follow certain protocols. Was this agreement applied stringently to all employees? According to the DPME’s view, what was the purpose of signing this agreement?

She was unsure if there was anything significant about the audit reports, besides the reality of what was happening on the ground. For her, the number of unqualified reports for the North West was insignificant, as the best report that would indicate its progress was when it would be empowered to handle its own issues without the administration.

Ms M Kibi (ANC) appreciated the presentation and the progress made thus far with the interventions.

She asked if the district education organisational structure had collapsed because there were vacancies, or because it had conflicted with organised labour. Since this task was still outstanding, what was the current position with the structure? Was there a buy-in from organised labour?

Were the outstanding cuts to correct the health budget baseline due to this department's inflation to accommodate corruption, or was it because it was under-funded due to unforeseen reasons?  

How long had the HOD position existed in the Office of the Premier? Who was responsible for the roles fulfilled by these officials during the vacancy?

Mr McGluwa said that the DPME’s biggest challenge was to address the current problems in the North West, especially on the exit strategy of the Premier.

He was in total disagreement that this had nothing to do with party politics, as factionalism had completely played a role in what was currently happening in the province. The mockery that had been made of the administration, which was treated like an executive, was a result of factionalism.

In his experience in the province, and as a member of its legislature at the time of this unrest, toll fees had needed to be paid to move from one destination to another. While this was a very good presentation, it lacked a lot of content on some issues which the Committee should further peruse. In view of what it said had happened with Agridelight and Mediosa, the Committee required additional information on the progress of what transpired in these cases. It wanted to see people being incarcerated, but this was not happening.

The learner transport that was mentioned had been owned, at the time when these problems emerged, by some MECs in the North West legislature. Following the presentation on the timelines and the key events that had transpired, the legislature was not mentioned once as a stakeholder. This was because factionalism had played a role. At the time, this was a multi-party provincial Parliament, but not once had the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) engaged with the provincial legislature.

Among the lessons learnt, it should also be questioned how it could remedy the situation about the role of the legislature at the time.

On the functions previously centralised by former Premier Supra Mahumapelo, he agreed it had been a somewhat clandestine move to control deals. What had happened at the time when some of the municipalities’ functions were moved to the Premier’s Office? Some of these municipalities underspent by millions of rands. This was the kind of information the Committee required. It also needed details of the criminal investigations and the progress of those investigations.

It had been mentioned that a report was tabled to Cabinet, but this had become a state secret. Mr McGluwa said he had attempted many times previously to obtain this report, but it had never surfaced in public. He challenged the DPME to confirm if it had, and if it had apologised, but it should make this report available to the Committee.

The DPME and the rest of government had been quiet about what the cost of this intervention had been. Given the security protection of administrators since 2018, what had been the cost of that protection for those administrators? There was clear confusion about the North West being under administration. The Committee wanted clarity about when this administration would be lifted.

The DPME was aware that COGTA had gone from bad to worse, but there had been interventions. What was being done about those interventions?

Not much had been said about consequent management, specifically with regard to the various respective portfolios and roles. The Committee should also get a report on this. This presentation was evidence that the DPME’s Office required a Portfolio Committee to have complete oversight on what was happening in cases such as the North West.

The presentation had emphasised social development, but Members would recall that the PSC had reported that someone within the social development organisation was unqualified. The DPME should provide clarity if it had verified the qualifications, as this was also under the guidance of former Premier Mahumapelo.     

Mr McGluwa said Community Safety was a very important portfolio for him. The section 100 administrator was heading the Board when he was also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Was this within the law, as an employee cannot report to himself?  

If the African National Congress (ANC) government in the North West was not going to address the factionalism, it would not provide the required services. This was because the Special Advisor to the current incumbent, who refuses to resign, was now earmarked to become the Premier of the province. Mr McGluwa wished the DPME well in its work ahead.   

Ms R Komane (EFF) asked what the reasons for the interventions in the North West had been. Who was responsible for filling the vacant HOD posts in the Office of the Premier? On the case study presented from the audit results, what was the progress in addressing the non-compliance? What consequences had been implemented?

She wanted to know why the bus company had been moved out of liquidation. Why had the department relied on one company? Were there any other companies that it could have considered in this matter? Was this entity under the DPME, or was it a private company? Much protection had been granted to this company to keep it in this Department, given its current state and the service it had been rendering to the people in the North West.   

What had been the reasons for the condonation the R4.3 billion? She assumed it was because there was no likelihood of recovery.  

Ms Komane commented she was speaking as a Member of the North West on issues of COGTA. Since 2018, for instance, the Mamusa Municipality had been dissolved, and it had got worse. With the DPME’s intervention, five municipalities were yet to be dissolved. What were the main challenges in these municipalities, given the same intervention of section 100? What redress was being sought by the DPME and COGTA? There could not be an intervention, yet municipalities were still regressing.

What did “priority” mean when it came to the finalisation of priority disciplinary cases? What did priority cases entail? What percentage of these cases had been finalised thus far? Why were some still not finalised? She asked for a timeframe when they would be finalised, as the Committee should be aware if there were matters that should be referred to law enforcement agencies. It sought results and wanted to see people being incarcerated, but this was not happening, yet it heard about these priority cases being reported.

Slide 24 indicated a lack of cooperation from departmental officials. Would it yield the results if there was no cooperation, as people feared their employment would not be protected amid this intervention? Was there an interest in how people’s employment would be protected, or was the focus on restoring this province?  

On the intervention in the Premier’s Office, Members would recall that when the Committee engaged with the Premier, it had heard there was a sense of conflict between the Administrators and his office. This had been unhelpful, as it discovered that the Premier was personally engaging in other departments without recognising the MECs in those departments. The Committee had questioned the Premier about the interventions that he was leading in the Bojanala district and the Rustenburg and Madibeng Municipalities, specifically on the service delivery issues of water supply to the communities. The Premier could not speak about service delivery while the standard of living of the North West people had dwindled. For instance, the people of Rustenburg Ward 29 did not have water and had to use wheelbarrows, and this was with the intervention of the same Premier.

She emphasised that it was party political issues that had brought the province to its current situation. How was this administration assisting in this, as the Premier’s Office was at the centre of this matter? The Premier believed he was above the law, as he had refused to resign until he met with the President, although this involved the livelihoods of the North West people. She questioned how service delivery was being addressed, as she hoped the reason for the intervention was to improve people’s standard of living, yet this was not the reality.

Was this intervention yielding any results? If it was, the Department of Health would not be deteriorating the way that it was, and the Department of Social Development would not have allegations of having an unqualified official. This report did not mention how this matter was being addressed.

Ms V Malomane (ANC) asked how many cases had been finalised and how many were still outstanding. The presentation had been a good report, but it did not have any timelines on when the cases would be finalised, as there were still outstanding priorities. When would these outstanding priorities be finalised? The Committee would appreciate it if the DPME could send it a report on these timelines so that it could undertake its own oversight.

She commended the DPME for its work on making progress, as this was reflected in the AG’s findings as presented.

The Committee should ensure it undertook oversight daily to monitor what had been presented.  

Dr M Gondwe (DA) noted the IMTT was comprised of various Cabinet Ministers. What was the IMTT’s role, and how often did it meet? She assumed that just like the NCOP, it had an obligation to monitor progress on the intervention, as it was indicated under the timeline that it reported back to the NCOP.

Mr Timm had partially answered her question on the role of the Presidency in the IMTT, as she believed it was fundamental to this task team, given that the DPME was assisting in tracking the audit results, advising, and monitoring performance against performance indicators.

She asked whether the impending change in the premiership would have an impact on the intervention, since people had different leadership styles.

She was satisfied with the various achievements, including the appointments in key positions, the clean audits, and the revision of SCM policies in some departments. She hoped the outstanding priorities were being addressed, especially those in critical departments such as the Department of Health, as it was at the forefront of service delivery in the fight against the pandemic. When had the new HOD been appointed? She emphasised the need for leadership in core departments.

On the lessons learnt, the intervention was the most extensive, but also the most complex. Why was it considered complex? Was this because so many departments were put under either section 100 (1) (a) or (b), which had contributed to the complexity of the intervention?

Could the DPME provide an update on the progress that had been made on the forthcoming regulations and the legislation on the interventions? The presentation had indicated a task team was leading the drafting of a formulation of these regulations and the legislation. Was the DPME a part of this task team?

Was the DPME able to share its insights on the lessons learnt with Cabinet or the IMTT, as it had made various important observations and recommendations, especially on the threats of intimidation that administrators and members of the Intervention Task Team faced, as well as on the slow progress of disciplinary processes and criminal investigations, and if the national or provincial Treasury should bear the costs of the intervention. What happens to the DPME’s observations and recommendations on the whole intervention process? They should contribute towards a broader impact or produce some outcome.  

Ms R Lesoma (ANC) said she was satisfied that the presentation of the DPME as a secretariat was linked to the Committee’s last engagement with the Premier. She added a rider to DM Kekana’s opening remarks, that given the changes in political faces or current leadership, the North West government was here to stay. For her, the Committee should continue highlighting issues and doing its oversight, despite these changes.

The Committee was looking forward to the DPME’s legislative reform, which would increase its role from oversight and monitoring to legally developing an interventionist approach where potential challenges were observed, as prevention was better than cure.

She proposed that the Committee should seek an audience with the project leader – COGTA -- on a fixed date within this term. It should also invite the North West PSC and the DPSA, as it had a direct role in ensuring disciplinary cases were fast-tracked by calling all these departments or officials to provide complete timelines on the issues and the bottlenecks which the Committee could address.

Once the new political leadership was in place in the North West, the Committee should immediately seek a platform with the Premier to make him aware about the issues, as well as its fears about the regression in the progress made thus far. This included the slow progress of disciplinary action and the filling of key vacant positions.

The Committee should take up the issues that the AG and the audit committee had highlighted, because while the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) dealt with the past, this Committee and other oversight committees deal with current issues. This would improve the performance of the North West, to ensure effective and efficient service delivery.

In dealing with the North West, the Committee was also dealing with the whole government. It could take an interest in prioritising some of the departments, such as Health and the Premier’s Office, and those that directly deliver basic services to communities through local government.

Could the North West’s 2019/20 AG’s report be shared with the Committee so that it could formally engage with it at this level?

She assumed the DPME’s objective was to deal with the issues, rather than provide excuses that would delay this process. She hoped that within this quarter, the Committee would be able to engage with the law enforcement agencies to finalise some of the cases and recover the money.

The Committee was looking forward to the multi-disciplinary IMC task team to present before it within this quarter.

The Chairperson invited the DPME to respond to Members’ questions.

Deputy Minister’s response

DM Kekana welcomed the inputs and observations from Members. She said the officials would respond to the specific questions, but it was important for Members to understand the reasons for the interventions and the process thereof.

Once national government identifies challenges through legislation, if they affect the provinces, the NCOP would also get involved so that section 100 (1) is invoked. Therefore, the province and the NCOP would occasionally be engaged. The reality was that once this was done, the President assembles an IMTT. With the North West situation, there were ten departments under section 100 -- five under (1)(a) and the other five under (1)(b). The provincial line departments were linked to the national line departments, and therefore the content and the daily running of some of the identified challenges had led to the collapse of service delivery. Existing national departments could report to the IMTT to indicate the gravity of the situation and the interventions that were being implemented.

Since the DPME had presented before the Committee, it would be easier and better if the IMTT and the DPSA’s report was presented, to have a comprehensive approach. This would give the Committee the line function departments through the IMTT, led by Dr Dlamini-Zuma. However, the DPME’s report that was presented today had been reviewed by the leader of the IMTT – the Minister of COGTA -- to indicate what it would present on. The presentation was therefore consistent with what the IMTT had been dealing with.

The DPME focused more on monitoring, but it could not be everywhere because at least ten national departments that were linked to the ten provincial departments had specific challenges. This would help the Committee to have an appreciation of some of the challenges the province was confronted with.

DM Kekana favoured the way forward that Ms Lesoma had proposed. Besides engaging with the IMTT and the DPSA, it was important for the Committee to meet with the PSC and certain Portfolio Committees in the North West, including the SCOPAs of the National Assembly, the NCOP, and of the provinces.

If the DPME wanted condonation and the province, for instance, arrived at a determination to condone irregular expenditure, this “irregular expenditure” did not necessarily mean fruitless and wasteful expenditure. It merely indicated there may have been poor planning, that money may have been redirected somewhere, whether there was value for money, or if the money could be traced. Once this could be proved, it was then condoned. However, it was important for the Committee to verify if there was value for money and what informed the irregular expenditure.

Given her experience with how the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) had dealt with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) investigation, she urged the Committee to invite the SIU to update it on the progress in some of these cases. She clarified this was not interference, as it could provide the framework on the progress without having to provide the specific details. Members should note this in view of what transpired when Minister Thandi Modise had appeared on behalf of Parliament at the Zondo Commission.

The questions the Committee had raised were important, and Parliament should be satisfied that Cabinet was moving forward in securing the public fiscus.  

The DM invited the DG to respond to some of the issues raised.  

DG’s response

Mr Nkuna said this was the first report the DPME had presented to the Committee. Since the report dealt only with certain aspects of the intervention, the Department requested the Committee to accept it as a baseline monitoring report of further work that needed to be done. Some of the questions that Members had raised would then form part of the next report. This would assist the DPME to identify other areas that should be included in that report. He had noted the questions that suggested the Committee wanted the DPME to extend its monitoring to other aspects of the intervention. Going forward, the DPME would have an agenda when it met next time, to make it clear what needed to be covered in the following reports.

Referring to Ms Ntuli’s question on the early-warning systems, and given the knowledge that the DPME had on these case studies, he said that in building these systems its intention was not to seek out problems in provinces and local government. Its intention was to preempt matters to ensure it did not encounter these challenges. There were two levels of building early-warning systems, where one would be political. At this level, the DPME would propose recommendations at the end to the political principles, specifically in the executive and in the legislature, on how it could preempt certain matters and have early-warning systems. However, it was certain about governance and performance. The area of governance corresponded with the MTSF priority 1 on building the state’s capacity. The DPME had therefore implemented indicators that allowed it to monitor the state of governance throughout the 90 provincial departments, about 40 national government departments, and the work done in local government.

Service delivery was a very important indicator of the DPME’s monitoring as to whether things were working in the different government departments or not. It used a lot of information from the AG and engaged in bilaterals with it in order to identify early warnings of challenges on service delivery. However, the DPME should also build technological capabilities to assist it in identifying early warnings in the work of government.

Mr Nkuna did not respond to Mr McGluwa’s concerns, as they were mainly commentary and observations.  

Mr Timm would respond to Ms Kibi’s question on the vacancy in the Premier’s Office.

In response to Ms Komane, there were many inter-dependencies in the work being done, especially with consequence management, which was twofold. For consequence management of a criminal nature, the DPME could only report to law enforcement agencies and provide the necessary evidence. It was therefore not in control of what happened after it reported information. The presentation had referred to non-criminal activities or activities that required consequence management employed by government. It was important to always differentiate between the two in consequence management. On the criminal issues, it would report only on what had been referred to the law enforcement agencies, and it had to rely on the information provided by these agencies on the progress of those cases. This was a daunting task on its own, and the DPME could therefore report only on matters that were currently before disciplinary proceedings.

The DPME did not make extensive observations in the municipalities, but given the AG’s report, there were still challenges confronting local government. However, the DPME could return, together with COGTA, to present on local government if Members required this.

Mr Nkuna said Mr Timm would respond to Ms Malomane on the number of cases that had been finalised and how many were outstanding. He assured Members that going forward, the DPME would include timeframes when it presented such reports before the Committee, especially on areas that were in its control. This would satisfy the Committee that all interventions were time-bound.

The DPME had already dealt with Dr Gondwe’s question on the IMTT’s role. He said the chairperson of the IMTT would be best suited to clarify how it was currently operating. However, the DPME had observed that there was a willing relationship between the NCOP and the IMTT, and the work could not be duplicated. This was because the IMTT addressed executive issues and reports to Cabinet, which was the executive decision-making body in South Africa, while the NCOP addressed issues from a Parliamentary perspective. From a governance perspective, the DPME’s understanding was that the IMTT and the NCOP’s work complemented each other.

He handed over to Mr Timm to address the number of cases and the period of the vacancy in the Premier’s Office.  

DPME’s response

Mr Timm referred to the issue of the vacancy, and said the Premier’s Office was headed up by the DG of the province and was the HOD for this Office. The DG in the North West had resigned soon after the intervention began, after the appointment of the Administrator. He would confirm the date, but it was around August 2018. The role of the DG had been performed by the Administrator in the Premier’s Office, who had been appointed as the Accounting Officer by the provincial Treasury. The Accounting Officer's role, in the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), was transferred from the DG to the Administrator. This had also taken place in the other four section 100 departments. While there had been no DG until the appointment of Mr Mosweu Mogotlhe on 1 May, that role had been performed by the Administrator. The Premier had appointed an Acting DG during the lockdown period, but the acting official did not have the powers that were usually conferred on the DG. The Administrator had continued to perform the role of Accounting Officer to date.

Ms Komane’s question on vacant HOD posts in the Premier’s Office was a misunderstanding, as the slide was not clear enough. It referred to the vacancies of HODs in other departments. Given its responsibility as a transversal department responsible for the provincial HR functions, the Premier appoints the HODs of all departments. The filling of vacant HOD posts in other departments was a priority for the Premier’s Office, so there were no vacant HOD posts in this Office. There were currently vacancies in the Departments of Sports, Arts, Recreation and Culture (DSAC); Human Settlements; COGTA; and Public Works and Roads (DPWR). He clarified that these departments were not without any form of leadership. For DSAC, Human Settlements and COGTA, which were all under section 100 (1)(a), the HOD who had been appointed in the fifth administration was currently working on month-to-month contractual renewal. There was continuity, and these were experienced HODs who were very familiar with their departments.

The status of these vacancies was:

  • DSAC -- the advert had been published and the process was at short-listing stage.
  • Human Settlements -- the Ministry of Public Service and Administration (MPSA) concurred with the advertisement and had approved it for publication. Since the Premier’s Office was under administration, the MPSA must concur with the Premier’s decision on appointments.
  • COGTA -- this was currently with the Minister.
  • DPWR -- this currently with the MPSA.

The contract of Mr Ndlela Kunene, Superintendent-General of the Provincial Treasury, had expired. The Premier had approved a new contract of five years for him. Concern had been raised about process and procedure, and there had been no concurrence from the MPSA. There was also concern that it was an irregular process which was currently under review by the MPSA.

Referring to the question of “priority cases,” he said this referred to cases that had been identified by the intervention team, particularly the Administrator in a specific department, as being critical for advancing the objectives of the intervention. For instance, if an HOD faced charges of corruption, this would be considered a priority disciplinary case. Another example was if a senior manager was responsible for a critical function such as pharmaceutical services, for instance, and faced allegations of corruption -- this would also be regarded as a priority case. It should be noted that there were many disciplinary cases at various stages within any given provincial or national department, which ranged from being absent without permission, insubordination, and so forth. However, these did not relate to the work of the intervention, as the DPME had merely extracted a set of cases considered to be a priority for the critical path of the intervention.

Priority cases in Departments:

  • In the Premier’s Office, two cases had been initiated which were both linked to the outsourcing of various functions to a project management unit that had been irregularly appointed. One Chief Director (CD) had been dismissed due to this process, and another CD was sanctioned with a penalty of one month without pay.
  • In the Health Department, two senior managers were dismissed, including the HOD, and four cases were currently in progress.
  • In the DPWR, one case was currently in progress. The CD of Roads had been dismissed, the Director of Legal Services had resigned, and the HOD was dismissed. The media report indicated that the SIU had frozen the former HOD’s pension for the Ayamah project management unit. The SIU was currently investigating this under a presidential proclamation signed earlier in 2021.
  • In Community Safety, Transport and Management, two cases were in progress and more would follow the SIU investigation had been concluded into scholar transport.
  • In the Education Department, the Director of SCM had been dismissed, and the CD of Infrastructure had resigned. Disciplinary processes were initiated against five other officials based on the recommendations of the forensic investigations.

Mr Timm said he was unable to provide timelines for these disciplinary cases. Some of the specific details would be provided when the Committee invited the IMTT and the responsible Ministers and Administrators to engage with it.

On the criminal cases dealing with the misappropriation of public funds, the NPA, together with the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), provides regular reporting to the IMTT on 51 criminal cases involving public funds in the North West. The latest report to which the DPME had access indicated that at the beginning of June 2021, 13 cases were enrolled for trial; two were waiting to be enrolled; six were awaiting guidance on the NPA’s decision; 17 were under investigation by the DPCI; and 15 had been finalised. Of those 15 cases, five had resulted in guilty verdicts; one had been a not guilty verdict; and in six cases, the NPA had declined to prosecute. The Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) was currently involved in efforts to recover funds in priority cases. However, no forfeiture orders had been obtained to date. The AFU was dependent on other processes within other agencies, such as the NPA and the DPCI prosecutors.

The President had approved a new proclamation in March 2021, directing the SIU to investigate matters in the DPWR. This meant there were now seven presidential proclamations for the North West where the SIU was undertaking investigations. 44 matters had been referred to the SIU at the start of the intervention which had resulted in these presidential proclamations that empowered it to investigate.

He urged the Committee to call the relevant law enforcement agencies for a more detailed report.

The DPME concluded its responses and handed back to the Chairperson.  

Concluding remarks

The Chairperson deferred the Committee’s two sets of minutes to its next meeting, as they needed to be refined.

He said the Committee would ensure that the IMTT and the DPSA presented before it.

The meeting was adjourned.

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