The Committee met with the Provincial Treasury for the presentation and discussion of the Annual Public Procurement Disclosure Report, the new grant framework, the process leading to candidate short-listing for vacancies in the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board, and the Probity Report outcomes which was to be discussed in a closed session.
The briefing by the Department on the Procurement Disclosure Report (PDR) provided a detailed analysis of COVID-19 related expenditure by departments and public entities in the Western Cape. The PDR was said to be a work in progress that would be improved such that it became an effective tool for the public and oversight bodies to properly scrutinise COVID-19 related expenditure by the Western Cape Government. Indications showed that the total COVID-19 expenditure for 2020/2021 had amounted to R2.03 billion, from which R857.70 million had been spent on the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and R1.17 billion had been for other COVID-19 related costs. In the procurement process, the focus had been on giving preference to B-BBEE compliant companies and the total expenditure in that regard had been R1.23 billion, with only R791.84 million being spent on non-BEE suppliers. A total of 67.35% of all COVID-19 expenditure had been attributed to Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) and the regional analysis on expenditure indicated that 63.59% of the expenditure had been in the Western Cape and that Provincial Treasury was in support of local content. National Treasury had, however, issued Instruction Note 11 which became applicable to the province as of October 2020, stating that all PPE procurement had to be at 100% threshold in terms of the local content manufacture designated for textile and clothing.
The new grant framework presentation elaborated on that the project had been a detailed and technical piece of work as part of the broader project to reform the framework for transfers made by provincial government to municipalities. It dealt with functional assignments between municipalities and provincial government as there was a need to ensure that those relationships were streamlined and functional. Details showed that Provincial Treasury had provisioned 38 provincial grants to municipalities totalling R2.7 billion for the 2019/20 financial year which had been a series of multiple small grants. The conditional grants of the Department of Health, Human Settlements and Cultural Affairs and Sport had formed bulk of the transfers that were made to local governments and six of the grants accounted for 89.7% of all the transfers made. As part of the research conducted, Provincial Treasury concluded that there had been a need for grants to be aligned to the to the mandate of the transferring departments and that non-financial and financial performance of the municipalities had to underpin the Medium Term Revenue and Expenditure Framework (MTREF) allocation.
The process leading to the short-listing of candidates to fill the vacancies on the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board had included a call that was made through the Provincial Gazette, Die Burger, Weekend Argus and Vukani on 12, 13 and 18 February 2021. The Committee was asked to rank candidates through a series of interviews to better assist the Minister in making the final decision.
The Chairperson welcomed those in attendance and thanked the Members for managing the Committee work in the previous week when she had been sick due to COVID. She outlined the agenda for the day’s meeting, highlighting that the session on “the outcomes of the probity report” would be closed to the public as it contained personal information of short-listed candidates for filling the vacancies in the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board.
The Provincial Treasury had requested that the presentation on the “value for money” aspect of public procurement, the supply chain management process including the “top 10 goods procured across departments and the top 10 services procured across departments” to be postponed in order to give them more time to compile a comprehensive report. The Members agreed to the postponement of that section and the MEC was then given the opportunity to make introductory remarks.
The MEC for Finance and Economic Opportunities in the Western Cape, Mr David Maynier, thanked the Committee for the opportunity given to the Department to provide a briefing on the Procurement Disclosure Report (PDR) which provided a detailed analysis of COVID-19 related expenditure by departments and public entities in the Western Cape. The PDR was a work in progress and the team would indicate how it was going to be improved such that it became an effective tool for the public and oversight bodies to properly scrutinise COVID-19 related expenditure by the Western Cape Government.
Mr David Savage, Head of the Western Cape Provincial Treasury, thanked the Chairperson and the Committee for the opportunity and handed over to Ms Julinda Gantana to introduce the discussion on the PDR.
Ms Julinda Gantana, DDG: Governance and Asset Management, Provincial Treasury, said that a lot had been outlined already by the Minister in terms of introducing the discussion on the PDR and gave over to Ms Nadia Ebrahim to render the presentation.
Annual Public Procurement Disclosure Report presentation
Ms Nadia Ebrahim, Director: Supply Chain Management, Provincial Treasury, presented the Annual Public Procurement Disclosure Report and said that the information in the report had been drawn from various systems, such as the departmental bids awarded registers, the LOGIS provisioning system, the ePS procurement system for quotations, the BAS payment and accounting system and then matched and verified against National Treasury Central Supplier Database (CSD) and the Western Cape Supplier Evidence Bank.
Provincial Treasury had sought to continuously refine and improve procurement disclosure reporting over the course of the period under review. The first iteration of the PDR had been issued on 28 July 2020 for the period of 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020 with subsequent versions being issued monthly in the 2020/21 financial year.
The total COVID-19 expenditure for 2020/2021 had amounted to R2.03 billion, from which R857.70 million had been spent on the procurement of PPE and R1.17 billion had been for other COVID-19 related costs. In the procurement process, the focus had been on giving preference to B-BBEE compliant companies and the total expenditure in that regard had been R1.23 billion, with only R791.84 million being spent on non-BEE suppliers. A total of 67.35% of all COVID-19 expenditure had been attributed to Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) and the regional analysis on expenditure indicated that 63.59% of the expenditure had been in the Western Cape and that Provincial Treasury was in support of local content. National Treasury had, however, issued Instruction Note 11 which became applicable to the province as of October 2020, stating that all PPE procurement had to be at 100% threshold in terms of the local content manufacture designated for textile and clothing.
Provincial Treasury learnt that it had been difficult to maintain consistency and standardisation on purchasing requirements throughout, due to an inconsistent and unstable regulatory environment. Local content criteria that had been applicable during the disaster, issued on 20 May 2020, also encumbered processes during the pandemic in terms of red tape that had been required for certification and securing compliant suppliers for PPE, noting that PPE items and cloth masks were not in the norm purchased by departments, nor were they previously designated for local content and production.
The supply and demand of PPE had been affected on a global scale, resulting in prices fluctuating and significant price increases driven by the scale of the sudden increase in global demand relative to available supply. Maximum price thresholds of 15 April 2020 had created an upward pressure on prices as suppliers had aligned prices to upper limits. However, when prices were subsequently reduced the market remained at the high price without making the downward adjustments in terms of the National Treasury benchmarks. In certain instances, a hike in prices had been felt as was evident in the purchasing of thermometers in the Western Cape.
Provincial Treasury had intended to brief the Committee on the top commodity spend, but unfortunately experienced data credibility challenges in the information sets although the capability to do the report was in place. The management of data credibility issues on financial systems and change management requirements had been put in place by the directorate to allow Provincial Treasury to better manage its financial systems through integration with its Data Centre Project.
--Further details on the report can be accessed through the presentation attached--
The Chairperson congratulated the Provincial Treasury for having won an award for service excellence. She added that the 2019 Annual Report had contained a tiny line on data mining and dash-boarding concepts which the Committee had asked to be further briefed about. It was interesting that the concepts were seeing rapid implementation as everything was being taken online to improve efficiency in doing work. The incorporation of the values in Section 217 of the Constitution into the system which stated that it had to be fair, transparent, and equitable, competitive, and cost-effective, were visible and that was reassuring.
She gave the opportunity to the Members to ask questions.
Mr A Van der Westhuizen (DA) asked what the general effect of benchmarking on the prices for procuring goods had been, and if it had been inflationary or had it been able to provide value for money.
He highlighted that page six of the 2020 PDR had contained a table with the National PPE unit pricing. Overtime the unit pricing had enormously changed, with certain items’ prices rising to three times that of the original and then again dropping significantly. He inquired on what the Western Cape had learnt from that and to what extent was it was now getting value for money.
He asked the degree to which the Western Cape was making use of transversal tenders to save on costs and time as in the previous meeting, the value of forums as a platform of learning and exchanging knowledge had been highlighted. He asked the extent to which the procurement officers in various provincial departments were able to learn from one another in terms of “where certain items could be procured at good prices”.
Ms N Nkondlo (ANC), referring to slide 18 on strategic procurement, asked where the notion was of empowerment in the procurement procedures in terms of them being strategic. She highlighted that SMMEs and BBBEE had to be included in the processes as they had a purpose that government wanted to realise through them in strengthening the value of the rand.
She mentioned that in relation to the challenges highlighted in the presentation, market instability should not have been linked to local content policies as those policies had existed prior to COVID. The policies had been set in place by the state to ensure that it builds its local or domestic capabilities. She inquired on the extent to which the procurement of goods was local based, in terms of them being procured within the province and within the country.
Referring to slide 12, she asked on the responsiveness of the procurement department in terms of mediating against the speed at which changes were occurring, whilst maintaining the governance frameworks.
Referencing to slide 10 on Regional Analysis wherein R2.2 billion had been spent, she asked whether the spending been on companies that were geographically located in the Western Cape.
The Chairperson asked on how potential suppliers submit a tender to the Department of Provincial Treasury and how the pandemic affected the operation of the specification, adjudication, and evaluation committees across departments. She inquired on the systems which were being used and whether Provincial Treasury utilised any framework agreements and transversal contracts.
She asked Provincial Treasury’s view on the legal nature of instruction notes as they were not being published in government gazettes. She added that the absence of publications could make the instruction notes invalid and inquired on whether the entity made any comments on the draft of the Public Procurement Bill.
In terms of local content, she mentioned that if a thread of a t-shirt could be made in South Africa and the shirt itself made in China, it would not be classified as being local content. She then asked for the definition of local content to be made clear.
The Chairperson handed over to Provincial Treasury to provide answers.
Ms Gantana said that in the context of procuring PPE, Provincial Treasury did have issues related to dealing with local content as it was defined in the prescripts. There had been a moral dilemma in terms of the need to save a life versus the need to adhere to all the prescripts.
Mr Isac Smith, Chief Director: Asset Management, Provincial Treasury, said that there were transversal contracts put in place by National Treasury and that Provincial Treasury had one or two of these contracts arranged but departments such as the Department of Health had up to 32 arranged contracts as they were making more use of them. The contracts stipulated the volume of items to be purchased and that allowed industry to charge lower prices. In as far as framework contracts were concerned, most of them had been implemented in the Department of Transport and Public Works, with a particular focus on small businesses. There were also contracts in place for security and 20 suppliers in place so that when the need arose, the suppliers could be easily identified.
Ms Ebrahim highlighted that the regulations spoke about transversal contracts only in the context of the National and Provincial Treasury, however, it was possible that a department could have a contract that transversally applied within its accounting system. Due to the regulation that spoke to participation with another national organ of state, it was difficult for other entities to make use of a transversal contract that they had not arranged. She added that the regulation had been debated in court in recent times.
With respect to benchmark pricing, she said that it had to be used as an indicator of measurement and not as the final decider of the prices and that it depended on the methods by which it was applied. Benchmarking had also not been appropriately implemented with regards to the COVID-19 procurement. She added that historically, publishing benchmarks had proven to have had negative effects on the market, however, using a benchmark as an internal indicator to pricing had produced positive effects.
She mentioned that with reference to price hikes, in any market, price hikes occur when there is scarcity of a needed product as had been the case with the PPE pricing during the pandemic. Suppliers had always looked for an opportunity to increase their prices whenever there had been scarcity of a product in the market.
In terms of local content, she said that the prescripts had defined it as ‘local manufacturing and production’, despite the possibility of the company not being a South African company or the materials used during production being imported. She added that when slide 12 of the presentation spoke about regional analysis, it referred to a geographical spread and that all the suppliers who had been classified as local suppliers were geographically bound within the Western Cape and accounted for 63% of total procurement.
She explained that the tender process to be followed depended on the following thresholds: Petty Cash Payment – less than R200, Price Quotations – R2 000 to R1 million and Formal Tender – more than R1 million. Nationally, the formal tender process involved the invitation of a bid through the Government Bulletin or the National eTender Portal and receiving fully fledged bid documents through the Bid Box. When the bid closed, the bid documents got evaluated by the National Tender Committee. The Western Cape had implemented an eProcurement system that made use of one electronic document and information in the National Treasury Central Supplier Database, on which all bidders would be registered before they could do business with the state. The bidders also needed to have their documents stored on the Western Cape Supplier Evidence Database as well before the evaluation process could start.
Referring to the impact of COVID-19 on the procurement process, she mentioned that suppliers had been looking to maximise on profits resulting in a poor response to bids. Small business who could have supplied the required products under normal circumstances had been looking to supply at higher pricing. On the other hand, suppliers who were willing to take on the bids as advertised were found to not have been registered on the Central Supplier Database and hence regarded as not compliant and this had limited the number of suppliers the Department could do business with.
She explained the various systems and their uses as follows:
1. The Western Cape Supplier Evidence Database had been used for storing supporting documents of the registered suppliers and kept a continuous audit trail of all the suppliers.
2. The Central Supplier Database, which is a national database, stored all the necessary information on the supplier profile.
3. The Integrated Procurement System i.e. eProcurement System, had been used for the last 20 years as the system for quotations. It was used to send every registered supplier’s details on the commodities that the Department wanted to purchase.
4. LOGIS is used as a provisioning system for putting orders through and purchasing from the suppliers who had been chosen to do business with the Department.
5. The Basing Accounting System is used for making the required payments to suppliers once the orders had been processed.
6. Contract Registration Application is a system that National Treasury had put together, where all the contracts needed were to be loaded up. However, the system was no longer in use and had been taken over to the eTender Portal.
7. The eTender Portal is used for advertising bids and the upload of documents relating to bids, but it had been under development and had remained off-line for the better half of 2020.
With regards to the Procurement Bill, the Department had provided comments on the Bill as it felt that certain requirements needed to be either amended or repealed to enable a more efficient procurement system. The Department’s comprehensive comments on the Bill had been made available to the Committee.
In reference to the question on instruction notes, she explained that there was an empowering provision in the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) that National Treasury could issue regulations in terms of Section 76 as well as instructions to particular areas as defined by the PFMA. However, National Treasury was giving the organs of state the capabilities do deal with what they needed to deal with in their financial space. The Department was not opposed to instructions as they were necessary to guide organs of state within the financial space, but they were challenged by the fact that, in the National space, instruction notes were being considered to be equal to subordinate legislation, which was not what the Act was saying.
The Chairperson offered the Provincial Treasury the opportunity to render their second presentation
Introducing the presentation, Mr Savage said that the New Grant Framework had been a detailed and technical piece of work as part of the broader project to reform the framework for transfers made by provincial government to municipalities. It dealt with functional assignments between municipalities and provincial government and there was a need to ensure that those relationships were streamlined and functional. He added that the Department had been doing a lot of data-intensive work around its transfer programs.
New Grant Framework presentation
Ms S Davids, Provincial Treasury: Researcher, mentioned that Provincial Treasury had provisioned 38 provincial grants to municipalities totalling R2.7 billion for the 2019/20 financial year. These had been a series of multiple small grants and Provincial Treasury had made use of different systems to monitor the funds.
The conditional grants of the Department of Health, Human Settlements and Cultural Affairs and Sport had been provisioned from National CG to Provincial, and the three departments were responsible for the for the bulk of the transfers that were made to local governments. Six of the grants that had been attributed to these Departments had accounted for 89.7% of all the transfers made.
The conditionality of the grants had been determined by National Treasury and Monitoring and Evaluation processes were in place and were dictated by the national government. Provincial Treasury, however, felt that the grants should be dealt with through a different process because any changes that occurred would have to be tabled between the provincial departments and the respective national sector departments and that system had not been efficient.
As part of the research conducted, Provincial Treasury concluded that there had been a need for grants to be aligned to the to the mandate of the transferring departments and that non-financial and financial performance of the municipalities had to underpin the Medium Term Revenue and Expenditure Framework (MTREF) allocation. The allocations to the municipalities needed to be reward based. There had been a need to improve service delivery via direct correlation be Provincial Treasury and the municipalities.
--further details on the new Grant Framework can be found in the attached presentation --
The Chairperson, referring to the new grant framework, inquired on how the Provincial Treasury was going to solve the issue of unfunded mandates, some of which an entity might be constitutionally bound to deliver on first before its other mandates and how this was going to be solved in the future financial years. She asked on how the Department would call off framework agreements that had already been put in place.
She explained that the current pandemic resulted in most businesses to operate online, and therefore by making use of IT systems a company could do business in the Western Cape without geographically being located in the province. She inquired on how the Department, in the future, would determine whether a business was geographically in Western Cape or not.
Ms Nkondlo welcomed the presentation and commended the work being done by the Department and its leadership. Referencing a table on slide 6, on the transfers made by National Treasury to the municipalities, she requested that the Department share similar statistical information on the transfers made from Provincial Treasury to municipalities.
She requested information on trends that the Department had picked up in terms of the amount of money that was being spent in relation to purpose.
She asked whether the Department had a way of figuring out whether the money allocated to municipalities had resulted in recognisable value or not, so that the Committee could understand where the problems were when the conversation on re-orientating grants were being held.
With reference to the mention of MMEs on slide 8, she asked if the Provincial Treasury was utilising a system comparable with that of National Treasury or a different system was in use.
Referring to the District Model, she asked on the extent to which it was being integrated and built into the system that Provincial Treasury would be developing to consolidate conditional grants for enabling better efficiencies.
Mr Van der Westhuizen asked if local government entities would have to first deliver on certain mandates before asking Treasury for reimbursement for the work done or would they receive the grants up front and then have to report on the work done afterwards. He asked the extent to which Provincial Treasury would give support to rural municipalities for maintenance purposes and exemplified that some of the roads in the rural municipalities had potholes that were not being fixed until the roads deteriorated to an extent that there would be no need to fix potholes but rather a need to replace the whole road. He asked whether there were grants for such maintenance procedures or were the grants only for running costs.
Ms M Maseko (DA) asked on how the Department ensured that there were no duplications in the grant funds that entities had applied for and how they ensured that the grants provided to municipalities were used and not kept by municipalities only to later apply for a grant for the same work, constituting a form of duplication.
The Chairperson asked if the Kannaland municipality’s administration had signed the agreement for financial recovery and whether their grant had been reallocated, given that the municipality’s administration had refused to sign the financial recovery agreement in the previous year.
She asked on what the financial recovery cost would be for the Beaufort West municipality, what would specifically be funded and through which budget.
Ms Gantana, answering on how frameworks were utilised, said the Department had suppliers and unit costs within the framework and the aim would be to ensure that work was equally spread among those who qualify. When the need arose, a procurement entity would develop a brief that got submitted for costing to the suppliers. A decision would then be made on which supplier would be utilised for the particular work.
The Provincial Treasury required that all suppliers who were to do business with it provide a physical address for payment even if the supplier conducted its business online and it was from that address that the Provincial Treasury geographically mapped its suppliers.
Mr Savage said that there were not many mandates that were being unfunded in their entirety, but that there could be certain functions within the mandate that were being underfunded because the funding could either be in the wrong place or the right level, constituting an issue with functional assignments as opposed to funding.
Mentioning the interventions in the Beaufort West municipality, she explained that the executive had indicated that it was intervening in the municipality in terms of Section 139 of the constitution and Chapter 13 of the Municipal Finance Management Act No. 56 of 2003 (MFMA). The intervention had been mandatory, and the case did not constitute administration in the conventional sense and Chapter 13 interventions were about restoring financial sustainability. The provincial executive had not dissolved the municipal council but was working with it to restore financial sustainability. The case had been the same with that of Kannaland municipality and in both instances Provincial Treasury had aimed at bailing out the municipalities and had been providing support such that the municipalities could implement their own financial recovery plan.
Highlighting the provincial transfers to municipalities, she mentioned that Provincial Treasure did have the information available to submit to Members, however, it had only been an issue of presentation formatting that statistical data had not been aggregated. With the issue of monitoring technology, the Provincial Treasury did use systems that were similar to those used by National Treasury, and the functionality of the systems were undergoing improvements in terms of making them more efficient. There had been significant developments in the district development model in the Western Cape in terms of aligning it with the joint district and metropolitan approach in the province. The two had initially been viewed as different approaches but the misunderstanding had now been resolved. The misalignments had been perceptual at first and were a result of difference in time frames in which the two had been developed.
She said that the Provincial Treasury did reimburse municipalities that had undertaken the required work up front using agency payments, but it was also possible for the entity to make the required grant payment in advance using the invoice for the work to be undertaken.
Answering the question on infrastructure maintenance in rural municipalities, she clarified that the vast bulk of infrastructure transfers came from National Treasury and Provincial Treasury only made a limited number of transfers for infrastructure.
She mentioned that in avoiding scenarios where duplication of grants occurs, the Provincial Treasury was trying to leverage resources to municipalities and believed that the efforts of municipalities should not be crowded out. She added that it was important to think in an ‘outcome-based manner’ as opposed to an ‘input based manner’ and it would be better to have to deal with the outcomes of duplication than inhibiting spending which could result in the underachievement of outcomes. She clarified that Provincial Treasury could not force municipalities to use grants as it was the responsibility of the municipalities to decided when and where to use them.
Mr Steven Kenyon, Chief Director of Public Finance, Provincial Treasury, provided further details on the financial recovery plans for the two municipalities that were under intervention. The amended plan for Kannaland municipality had been formally approved on 26 August 2021 and had been submitted to the municipality. The municipality had still not been in compliance with the financial recovery agreement and had received no grants from Provincial Treasury nor local government for the current financial year.
In the case of Beaufort West municipality, Provincial Treasury had issued the notice of intervention on 27 August 2021. Provincial Treasury was in the process of engaging with National Treasury Municipal Financial Recovery Services who, by law, were responsible for drafting financial recovery plans for municipalities. The entity had been in the process of setting up a workshop with the municipality to ensure that there existed a common diagnosis of the issues within the municipality.
Dr Ndodana Nleya, Director of Fiscal Policy, Provincial Treasury, elaborating on the question of percentage spending, said that there had been some municipalities that had spent 100% of their grants and in some cases additional funding was required. There were, however, a few cases related to smaller grants which were usually infrastructure related, that had ended up being subjected to roll over processes. There was also a team led by Mr Kenyon that dealt with roll over processes, where certain issues were being attended to that dealt with roll over infrastructure projects.
Mr Malcom Booysen, Budget Management Local Government, Provincial Treasury, added that whilst there had been an outcry for the municipal infrastructure grants to be reviewed, there had also been poor asset management on the part of the municipalities. National Treasury had announced in the 2021 national budget that the scope of the municipality infrastructure grant would be reviewed to allow for a certain percentage of grants to be used for the development of infrastructure.
The Chairperson requested Members to put any follow up questions in writing and allowed for a 30-minute break before the second session of the meeting could start.
The Chairperson proposed to Members that the section of the meeting dealing with the probity report be a closed one because it dealt with personal information of those short-listed for the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board. Members unanimously agreed to the proposal.
Western Cape gambling and racing board application process
Dr Nleya thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity to present and said that the presentation would outline the processes that led to the short-listing of candidates for filling vacancies in the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board and would be led by Ms Claire Horton, Deputy Director: Fiscal Policy, Provincial Treasury.
The process leading to the short-listing of candidates to fill the vacancies on the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board
Ms Horton elaborated that the process leading to the short-listing of candidates started with a call for nominations which had been placed in accordance with Regulation 3(1) in the Provincial Gazette, Die Burger, Weekend Argus and Vukani on 12, 13 and 18 February 2021, respectively and a total of 16 nominations had been received. Application forms were sent to all the eligible candidates in accordance with Regulation 3(3) and five application forms were returned.
Regulation 6(a) and (b) required that the name and address of each nominee who had submitted a valid application form be published, providing the public with a 14-day commenting period. The notice calling for public comment had been placed on the 21 and 22 May 2021 in the Provincial Gazette, Die Burger Weekend Argus and Vukani on 27 May 2021 and no comments were received. Probity investigations had been undertaken by an external service provider and a separate checklist regarding compliance with the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Act (WCGRA) had been undertaken.
An applicant who had indicated an address outside of the Western Cape was excluded from the shot-listing after having been asked questions by Provincial Treasury, with the responses found to be unsatisfactory. The remainder of the process was for the Standing Committee to evaluate the candidates and make recommendations to the Minister. It had been proposed that the Committee rank the candidates in order of preference, should it find that all the candidates were suitable.
Discussion and Resolutions
The Chairperson opened for questions from Members, stating that any personal questions on the candidates be reserved for the closed session.
Mr Van der Westhuizen, on the request made by Provincial Treasury that the Committee submits a ranked list of the candidates to the Minister, stated that by law the Committee was only obliged to submit at least three names that did not need to be ranked. He asked if Ms Horton could clarify what she had stated.
The Chairperson concurred with Mr Van der Westhuizen and requested Provincial Treasury provide reasons why the Minister would require a ranked list.
Ms Maseko asked whether in the short-listed candidates there was one who would be a voice of reason in terms of advocating for non-addiction of gamblers to gambling.
Ms Horton said that the Committee was correct in stating that it was not required to provide a ranked list of candidates, however, there was nothing prohibiting the Committee from doing so and that the Provincial Treasury would like the Committee to consider ranking the candidates, nonetheless.
On the question related to addiction or problem gambling, she said that a social or community welfare kind of experience had been one of the factors that Provincial Treasury had been looking for when short-listing candidates.
The Chairperson clarified to Ms Horton that the Committee was seeking the reason as to why Provincial Treasury required the Committee to rank. If the reason was known, then it would be able to consider whether it wanted to rank.
Dr Nleya answered that the Minister, in assisting the executive council with the final decision on the candidate to be chosen, would also like to have the confidence of the Committee.
The Chairperson asked Dr Nleya to confirm that the reason the Minister required a ranked list from the Committee was because he needed assistance from them so that he could make recommendations to the executive council.
Dr Nleya confirmed that indeed that was the case.
The Chairperson stated that there were a number of items, all of which related to the process, that the Committee had to make decisions on before getting to the section on the probity report. The Committee needed to decide whether it would like to embark on an interview process of the short-listed candidates or whether it was going to use a paper-based method.
Mr Van der Westhuizen said that considering the qualification and skills set of the four short-listed candidates, all four could be sent to the Minister for consideration without having to conduct interviews. The pool was not that big and the requirement on the Committee’s end was that it submitted at least three names.
The Chairperson stated that she did not have a problem as to whether the Committee conducted the interviews or not.
Ms Maseko said the candidates were suitable enough, but she was in support of interviews being conducted so that the Committee could add value to the recommendations it would submit to the Minister. She added that if the Committee sent all the four names to the Minister without conducting interviews, there would be no basis for the recommendations.
The Chairperson concurred and said that if the Committee was to rank the candidates it would have to use interviews of a paper-based method, and asked Ms Horton as to how she envisioned the Committee doing a paper-based method.
Ms Horton said that interviewing the candidates would help the Committee more in understanding them as opposed to using a paper trail. In interviews, the Committee would be able to better gauge the social skills of the candidates.
The Chairperson asked if all Members were in favour of moving forward with the interview process.
Mr Van der Westhuizen stated that the Committee had to first resolve whether it wanted to submit a ranked list as legislation did not require the Committee to send in a ranked list. If the Committee was to rank the candidates, then it could conduct interviews, but it was first necessary to figure out whether it did want to send in a ranked list.
The Chairperson suggested that, as a compromise, the Committee could send its administrative documents to the Minister so that even if they did not rank the candidates, the Minister would have access to the documentation that would have been used in the process.
Ms Maseko said that if the Committee was going to use a weight scoring sheet or send such a document to the Minister, automatically ranking would be in place.
The Chairperson highlighted that part of the problem was that the Committee was working with a legislation that was about 20 years old. She asked Ms Horton if it would help the Minister if the Committee sent documentation such as the scoring sheet.
Ms Horton said that it would be useful to the Minister if the Committee would provide him with insight as to why it favoured a certain candidate.
The Chairperson asked the Members if they wanted to rank the candidates, irrespective of whether scoring sheets were to be sent to the Minister.
Ms Maseko asked as to what the practices in the past had been.
Mr Van der Westhuizen proposed that the Committee should not rank the candidates. Had it been 20 candidates, then ranking would be necessary to narrow the list down but not with four candidates.
Ms Horton answered that previous Committees had used a scoring sheet system that ranked candidates.
The Chairperson stated that it might be useful not to rank the candidates but rather send the Committee’s administration document to the Minister.
Ms Maseko mentioned that in the past the Committee did rank candidates, the only difference in the present case had been that the Minister specifically asked for the candidates to be ranked. Had he not asked, the Committee might have subconsciously ranked the candidates using scoring sheets. She added that she was in favour of the Committee conducting interviews.
The Chairperson asked the Members if they would be happy with conducting interviews without ranking the candidates.
Mr Van der Westhuizen said he was happy to go with the decision of the Committee.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee would conduct interviews with candidates, potentially on Wednesday 8 September 2021 from 09:30 to 15:00. She asked the Committee if the interviews should be conducted in a closed or open session and there was a unanimous agreement for the interviews to be in a closed session format.
The Committee resolved to set aside one hour on the interview day for discussing the questions. They would meet on 8 September 2021 at 08:30 to discuss the questions and the interviews would start at 09:30.
The Committee unanimously agreed to put aside 30 minutes per interview with 10 minutes aside for discussions.
The Chairperson announced that the meeting was then going to move into the closed session wherein the probity report was to be presented and discussed.
When the Committee returned, Ms Nkondlo asked to submit further questions she wished to pose to the Provincial Treasury in writing
The Chairperson asked Provincial Treasury to submit their comments on the draft Public Procurement Bill, supply chain management policyiesof the provincial departments and entities, SCM strategy and Accounting Officer blueprint. She also requested a copy of the procurement planning toolkits provided to local departments, if such a document existed.
Ms Nkondlo suggested that the Committee invite National Treasury at some point especially on the instruction notes which seemed to present a problem for procurement harmonisation between the province and national. Such an engagement might enlighten Members on compliance challenges highlighted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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