DPSA Portfolio Audit Outcomes; DPME, Brands SA & StatsSA 2020/21 Annual Report; with Deputy Minister

Public Service and Administration, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

11 November 2021
Chairperson: Mr T James (ANC); Ms T Mgweba (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

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Annual Reports 2020/21

In a virtual meeting, the Committee was briefed by the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) on the audit outcomes for the 2020/21 financial year of the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), Statistics SA (Stats SA), and Brand SA. The DPME also briefed the Committee on progress with its implementation of the recommendations from the 2020/21 budget report.

The AGSA reported that the lack of human resources due to a recruitment moratorium, and the inadequate review and monitoring controls on the preparation of financial statements, had been identified as the root causes for the non-achievement of targets at Brand SA. The Committee raised concern that Brand SA would not function optimally as an entity until critical posts at the senior management level were filled. It questioned the progress of the potential merger between Brand SA and SA Tourism, as its finalisation would enable the Committee to receive good audit results.

Stats SA reported that the forthcoming census was one of its biggest projects, but it had been negatively affected by the challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. It had also had to postpone the Census 2021 to accommodate the local government elections, and the R413 million allocated for holding it had been was rolled over to the 2021/22 financial year. The census was now scheduled for February 2022.

Stats SA confirmed that this would be the first digital census in South Africa. The training of the 165 000 fieldworkers who would be brought on board would also be virtual, to minimise contact. It assured the Committee that with its three multimode methods of data collection -- computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI), computer-assisted web interviews (CAWI) and face-to-face interviews -- no one would be left behind in the advancement of technology in this process.

The DPME reported that its programme dealing with public sector monitoring and capacity development had the most targets that had not been achieved. This included the integrated report on the state of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), which had not been submitted within the specified time frame.

The Committee requested the DPME and Brand SA to submit their responses to Members’ questions in writing, as the meeting was adjourned due to load-shedding that affected Members’ connectivity.

Meeting report

Election of Acting Chairperson

The Committee Secretary informed Members that the Chairperson was experiencing network challenges and would join the virtual meeting late. Guided by the National Assembly rules, the Committee had to elect an Acting Chairperson to process this meeting.

He asked Members to nominate names for an Acting Chairperson to lead the meeting.

Ms M Ntuli (ANC) nominated Ms T Mgweba (ANC).

Ms M Kibi (ANC) seconded Ms Ntuli’s proposal.

The Secretariat announced that Ms Mgweba had been elected as an Acting Chairperson for this virtual meeting.

Welcome and apologies

The Acting Chairperson welcomed all Members and officials.

The Secretariat confirmed apologies from Mr S Malatsi (DA) and Ms C Motsepe (EFF), and indicated Mr J McGluwa (DA) and Ms R Komane (EFF) would be slightly late for the meeting.

Ms Thembi Siweya, Deputy Minister (DM) in the Presidency, interjected to submit apologies on behalf of Mr Mondli Gungubele, Minister in the Presidency, who had to join the Minister of Finance to speak on the medium-term budget, as well as Ms Pinky Kekana, Deputy Minister in the Presidency, who had also been deployed to another meeting.

Ms Komane, who had just joined the meeting, said some Members, including herself, were also from the National Assembly plenary, and had been able to join this meeting since it was virtual, so she was uncertain if the Minister's apology was substantial enough.     

DM Siweya clarified that after the physical meeting, the Minister would have a physical press briefing. Since this was coordinated by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), which fell in the Presidency under the Ministry for which Minister Gungubele was responsible, he had been informed to stand as a programme director in that meeting. The apology was therefore not due his physical presence in the House. The press briefing would be a debriefing on what the Minister of Finance had discussed, and the Minister in the Presidency would share this debriefing. During Covid-19 for example, Members would recall after the President had addressed the nation on the lockdown, the late Minister Jackson Mthembu would then be the programme director to hand the Minister over to the media to address South Africans. DM Siweya clarified that she had noted the Minister’s apology in this context.

Ms Ntuli thanked DM Siweya for explaining the Minister’s apology. It was clear that this was not the first time the Minister was deployed to execute his government work. She moved for the Committee to accept the Minister’s apology.

Ms Komane clarified that she had raised the issue of apologies as it had not been clearly explained. With DM Siweya’s explanation, she moved to accept the apology on the basis that it was explained.

The Acting Chairperson noted all apologies from Members.

DM Siweya interjected to ask if the meeting was quorate, due to the number of apologies. If not, the meeting should commence, as a lot of time had been spent just on apologies.

The Acting Chairperson handed over to the Secretariat to advise if it was quorate.  

The Secretariat confirmed that the meeting could proceed.

The Acting Chairperson asked the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) to commence the presentation.

2020/21 audit outcomes for the DPME, Brand SA and Stats SA

Ms Ilze Slabbert, Senior Manager, AGSA, took the Committee through the presentation.  

She emphasised that it was important to note from the outset that the amended Public Audit Act (PAA) and the material irregularities that went together with it was being phased in. The AGSA had not yet scoped in all of its audits in the process. For the purposes of this presentation, she made the Committee aware that none of the three audits it would be addressing formed part of this process for the year under review.

She said this presentation would focus on only two audit opinions. The first was the unqualified opinion with no findings (a clean audit), which meant that credible and reliable financial statements, including a performance report, was produced with compliance to all key laws and regulations. The second would be on the financially unqualified opinion with findings, which meant that while the financial statements were ultimately fairly presented, there might still be an issue in either compliance with laws and regulations, or the credibility and reliability of the annual performance report, or both of these.  

Audit outcomes

The situation remained largely unchanged from 2019/20 to 2020/21, with the DPME receiving another clean audit outcome. This was quite commendable, given its long history of clean audit outcomes.

While Brand SA and Stats SA financial statements received an unqualified opinion, there were still issues with compliance in this instance.  

Quality of financial and performance reporting

The AGSA had received all three sets of financial statements by the legislated date.

The DPME and Stats SA submitted financial statements that did not contain any material misstatements. This was achieved through sound financial management controls, which included appropriate daily and monthly controls, proper record keeping, accurate in-year reporting and monitoring, as well as appropriate review processes of the final financial statements.

While an unqualified opinion was also expressed for Brand SA, various misstatements were identified in the audit process. This was corrected through the auditing process, which resulted in an unqualified opinion on its financial statements.

It was important to note that the key root cause at Brand SA was the fact that senior management positions throughout the entity had been vacant for over 12 months, which were then filled by acting incumbents. Ms Slabbert provided a brief context to this matter, referring to the pending potential merger with Tourism SA which had resulted in a moratorium placed on Brand SA to permanently fill positions. Unfortunately, in the instance where people were acting in positions for a protracted period, this tended to leave gaps in the system which could not really be compromised for. Since officials would then be overburdened with work, certain things could not function as intended. She clarified that this did not indicate that the controls might document it, but rather that the effective execution thereof tended to be neglected in instances where there were vacancies in critical positions.

The AGSA recommended that going forward, Brand SA management should prepare regular, accurate and complete in-year financial reports that were supported and evidenced by reliable information. This would enable credible end-year reporting. It was not feasible to look only towards the end of year financial statements, as this was an ongoing process which must be supported by appropriate internal controls.

Credible performance reporting

For the 2019/20 financial year, the DPME submitted its performance report without errors, but for the 2020/21 financial year, Stats SA submitted a report that was fairly presented for auditing purposes.

Unfortunately, after quarter 1, a lot of entities and departments made changes to their annual performance plans (APPs) because of the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. When the DPME initially submitted its APP, it did not include some of those indicators and targets that were applicable in quarter 1, but were subsequently removed. In line with guidance, those indicators and targets must be reported on when departments present their APPs.

With Brand SA, this was an unfortunate omission, where the indicators and targets were not completely aligned to the wording that was used in its APP.

It was important to note that these matters were not indicative of a complete internal control breakdown.

The AGSA hoped that this would not recur in the upcoming year. It cautioned the DPME and Brand SA to ensure that it adheres to the framework and guidance, and to check that its annual performance report (APR) was properly reviewed prior to submission for audit purposes.  

Overview of performance

On the actual performance against the predetermined objectives, the DPME, Stats SA, and Brand SA all achieved their performance targets at a level above 80%.

However, the AGSA was concerned that the targets that were not achieved were quite important ones, specifically in the case of the DPME. The AGSA was aware that this was mainly a result of Covid-19 challenges, which included some reprioritisation and significant budget cuts. However, the development of sector plans, the finalisation of the Integrated Planning Framework Bill, and the state-owned enterprises (SOEs) support were quite important indicators in the broader scheme of governmental priorities. It hoped that these outstanding matters would be addressed in the current year.

For Stats SA, one of the biggest projects that was negatively impacted by Covid-19 was the census project, which had been postponed to February 2022.   

Stats SA received non-compliance with legislation on the procurement and contract management bid documentation for the procurement commodities designated for local production and content, which did not stipulate the minimum threshold for local production and content. This matter was identified quite late during the 2019/20 audit due to all the disruptions caused by Covid-19. Ms Slabbert explained that part of the 2020/21 financial year had already passed, and it was difficult to reverse what had been done once a procurement transaction had been entered into. She clarified that this was not a case where Stats SA did not do anything to try to improve the situation, but from a procedural perspective, the issue was already halfway through the financial year when it was identified. Stats SA, however, made a commitment to ensure that this matter was eradicated by the 2021/22 audit.  

Key root causes

At Stats SA, the AGSA identified the slow response in improving key controls and addressing risk areas, such as an ineffective action plan on compliance monitoring, as the prior year material non-compliance that was not rectified in time, and reported again.

At Brand SA, the lack of human resources (HR), due to moratorium on the filling of critical vacancies that was in place during 2020/21, and the inadequate review and monitoring controls over the preparation of financial statements, were identified as the root causes.

Recommendations

Brand SA should fill key executive positions and other critical posts with skilled and experienced personnel.

Stats SA and Brand SA should develop and implement effective action plans to address audit findings which should not be limited to the findings that affected the audit report. It should therefore consider in totality which type of audit findings were raised during the audit process. The AGSA classified its audits findings as matters affecting the audit report, other important matters, and administrative matters. It would be important for the Department and its entities to consider those findings to ensure no regression going forward, should one of those findings not be attended to and escalates going forward.

The Committee should request the accounting officer (AO) and the executive authority to provide quarterly feedback on the implementation and progress of action plans to ensure improvement in the audit outcomes of the DPME, Brand SA and Stats SA.

Ms Slabbert concluded the presentation and handed back to the Acting-Chairperson.

Discussion

Ms Kibi referred to the material misstatement identified in Brand SA. Although it had been corrected, had a material misstatement occurred due to the vacancy rate at the senior management level?

Did the AGSA consider the executive instruction on the reconfiguration of Brand SA and Tourism SA?

The presentation had mentioned that Brand SA management should prepare accurate, regular and complete in-year financial reports that were supported and based on reliable evidence information. What did this mean?

Which areas should Brand SA improve on to produce reliable evidence information?

Ms V Malomane (ANC) asked about the AGSA’s recommendations for Brand SA’s internal audit to review financial statements prior to submitting the audit. What kind of intervention would the AGSA offer Brand SA in assisting with the internal audit to ensure compliance with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA)?

Were there any reasons provided by Stats SA for not implementing corrective action on the procurement of commodities designated for local production and content?

Ms Komane referred to Slide 15. The AGSA had stated that there were important APPs that were not achieved by the DPME. What were the implications of the of those APPs not being achieved?

She suggested that DM Siweya should address the issue of the filling of posts in light of the moratorium pending the merger of Brand SA and Tourism SA. How far was the progress of this merger? She proposed that perhaps the moratorium could be lifted, based on the finalisation.

The presentation indicated that the APPs were not properly reviewed by different departments. How could Parliament ensure that the departments did not change the established indicators without the Committee’s consent? She asked the AGSA to indicate how it could advise on this matter to ensure that departments submitted the proper reviewed APPs so that the Committee could hold them to account.

She noted Ms Kibi had already raised the point on the preparation of in-year financial reports. Could the AGSA clarify what was meant by Brand SA needing to prepare regular and complete in-year financial reports? What should this be based on?

She welcomed the AGSA’s proposal on Slide 32 on the recommendations for the presentation of quarterly reports. She described this as very progressive.

Dr M Gondwe (DA) referred to the amalgamation between Brand SA and Tourism SA. The report that would be presented by Brand SA indicated it had not achieved some of its targets under Programme 1 because certain critical posts, specifically at senior management level, were not filled because of the moratorium. She emphasised to the Minister that the Committee needed an update on this issue, as the AGSA had already stressed the fact that this was proving to be an impediment. Until this issue was finalised, the Committee was unlikely to receive good audit results from Brand SA. She recalled during the Committee’s previous meeting with Brand SA that she and Mr Malatsi had raised the issue of progressing this matter. What was the update on this? When was it likely to be finalised? She said this was proving to be a real impediment. She was concerned that until the amalgamation or reconfiguration issue was resolved and finalised, Brand SA would not be able to function optimally as an entity.  

The Acting Chairperson thanked Members for their questions. She invited DM Siweya to respond to the issue of the pending potential merger of Brand SA with Tourism SA.

DM Siweya said she noted the questions, but asked to speak on this issue after AGSA’s response.

The Acting Chairperson accepted her request, and called the AGSA to respond.

AGSA’s response

Brand SA and the DPME

Ms Slabbert said she had done the audit of Brand SA and the DPME and she would do her best to respond to the questions on these entities. She was joined by her colleagues who did the audit of Stats SA and she would call on them to respond to those questions and on the non-implementation of the action plan.

On Brand SA, and the question as to whether the vacancy rate at senior management level caused the non-compliance, this was not the sole cause. Unfortunately, with this type of critical vacancy at senior management level, it affects the entire structure and the implementation of the internal controls. She explained that this inevitably elevated people who would, for example, be doing the groundwork and executing those internal control activities. The presentation had also indicated that this then created a vacuum at the grassroots level where people were doing the work, as everyone would then have to move up in the ranks. The Committee was aware of the negative implications of protracted acting periods by people in senior management, as they were also expected to provide direction and strategy in matters that become challenging, especially in an entity where all the critical posts were not filled.

The AGSA was aware that the reconfiguration was definitely in progress. She clarified that the AGSA was not attempting to criticise the process or to comment on future reconfiguration strategies. From an auditing perspective, it had definitely noticed the impact of the vacancy levels which, if it was communicated properly to the AGSA during its audit work, was having a negative impact on all the areas of financial performance management and compliance. Brand SA was definitely struggling, but from the AGSA perspective, this was an identified root cause. To improve matters going forward and to prevent regression, this was a matter that required solutions. If the status quo continued for a long time going forward, there was potential for a regression in audit outcomes, including in the performance of Brand SA.

On the AGSA’s recommendation that there must be accurate in-year financial reports that were supported by credible evidence, the financial management discipline was not a once-off exercise that was meant to happen at the end of the year. For example, when there was an Executive Committee (Exco) or an audit committee meeting, management compiles financial reports throughout the year. While this might not be a formal set of financial statements that were audited, this information was compiled throughout the year. The AGSA had proposed that management treat each of its in-year reports as if them was a financial statement so that there were no challenges when the formal set was required to be compiled for audit purposes, since they would have been checked throughout the year. This emphasised daily and monthly controls, as it was not a once-off exercise.

On the internal audit, the AGSA had met with Brand SA’s internal auditors, and it was included in its plan for the 2021/22 financial year to do a proper review of the financial statements. Unfortunately, in 2020, the areas were not picked up, despite certain review activities. However, the risk had been identified and Brand SA’s internal audit had committed to do this review process for the upcoming year.

Ms Slabbert noted the DPME management would be able to provide more details on the impact of non-achievement of the indicators and the targets not achieved. However, she clarified the reason she had highlighted this matter was because it related to the Presidency’s key governmental priorities, as state-owned entity (SOE) matters had been a key concern for some time. The AGSA intended to indicate that these were not merely administrative targets that were not achieved, but rather key matters that needed to be achieved. While Covid-19 and budget constraints posed a challenge, the DPME was unable to achieve those targets.

On the APPs not being reviewed, she clarified that it was not the APPs that were not reviewed in the case of the DPME, but her colleagues would be able to indicate if such changes had happened at Stats SA. Those changes were all properly approved. It was not as if it was decided to have a different indicator and target, as the proper processes had been followed. However, when the APR was tabled, it indicated that unfortunately the DPME had neglected to report on one or two targets initially that were still applicable in quarter 1, before the APP was formally amended. Even in Brand SA’s case, there was one indicator and target that did not speak to what had initially been planned, but this was subsequently corrected. She emphasised that this was not indicative of a complete internal control breakdown, but rather that a more detailed review was required before these APPs were submitted for audit purposes.   

Stats SA  

Mr Thabiso Matladi, Senior Audit Manager, AGSA, referred to the non-compliance issue of local content and production. This issue was identified in the 2019/20 audit. Since the audit was delayed and it was already six months into the year, expenditure for 2020/21 had already occurred by the time the DPME established an action plan. For the 2020/21 audit, the AGSA identified similar non-compliances that had been identified in the previous year, which therefore resulted in an overlap in non-compliances. He noted that the AGSA had extensive discussions with management, and it also received commitments from the Statistician-General (SG) to work on these weaknesses. The AGSA would monitor the action plan and follow up on those commitments for the 2021/22 audit, as it believed that it would not discover similar non-compliances.      

The Acting Chairperson thanked the AGSA for its responses.

She noted the Chairperson had joined the virtual meeting and handed over to him to lead the meeting.

The Chairperson apologised for his late attendance as he had experienced technical challenges due to loadshedding.

He invited DM Siweya to make an opening address before the next presentation.

DPME and entities' annual reports

Deputy Minister’s address

DM Siweya said the Department was grateful to receive guidance on what it could do to improve on all the weaknesses in the DPME, Stats SA and Brand SA. It had noted the AGSA recommendations and it would be able to self-correct. The AGSA’s role was to regulate and provide guidance so that these institutions could provide better reporting to the Committee.

The DPME had been assigned political oversight on Brand SA with the moratorium. When there were conversations of a merger between Brand SA and Tourism SA, it had clamped this moratorium as there was no need to advertise, since they would merge as one. Since Minister Gungubele was in office, the conversation of this merger had been renegotiated, and it was currently in a renegotiation process. The DPME was unable to confirm if this was continuing. However, it decided to do a temporary upliftment of vacant posts, especially for senior management. She said Brand SA’s board was stable and complete, but there were one or two posts that had expired, and a process should be undertaken to fill those posts.

Brand SA recognised that key management posts should be advertised and filled while it was in the process of renegotiating and looking into the decision of merging the entity. It would brief the Committee on what should be done.

She advised all the entities that since it welcomed the AGSA’s guidance on expected reporting standards to clear its books, these entities and departments should correct themselves and should seek assistance in the instances where it encountered challenges.      

Stats SA's 2020/21 annual report

Mr Risenga Maluleke, Statistician-General (SG), said he had submitted his apologies to the Secretariat to leave the meeting after taking questions subsequent to the presentation, as he had to attend to a family matter. The Stats SA delegation would also be able to address Members’ questions in his absence.

Progress on previous recommendations

Stats SA had submitted an additional funding request in the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) for compensation of employees (COE) and the census, as well as to conduct an income and expenditure survey to collect poverty and inequality information. National Treasury had already provided some money, specifically for the poverty survey, which would enable Stats SA to start the groundwork. In subsequent years, there was a willingness to fund the poverty survey, which was not only a risk to Stats SA, but also to the country.

Stats SA had not yet resolved the budget shortfall substantially, but engagements with National Treasury were ongoing.

On its vacancy rate, the placement of senior management service (SMS) staff had been finalised, and the filling of critical vacancies had commenced. The only challenge was that those vacancies had not been filled for four-and-a-half years, and a lot of employees were in acting capacities. He explained that when positions were advertised, internal candidates would apply for those positions and end up filling those positions in some cases. This then created another vacant position and a cycle of cascading vacancies.  

Stats SA was seriously prioritising the appointment of women at the SMS level. When it reported back in the next financial year, Parliament would see progress in this regard, which would also apply to people with disabilities.

It had developed alternative data collection methodologies which had been deployed at high-levels of the lockdown. These methods were deployed at Alert Levels 4 and 5, and it would deploy some of it in the Census.

Organisational and programme performance

Stats SA had achieved 90.4% of its annual targets, and 9.6% was not achieved of the 50 targets that were to be revised and re-tabled on the work programme. It had informed the Committee that it was revising those targets due to challenges with its funding.

Response rates and long-term impact were declining, especially on the issue of quality.

The vacancy rate was at 18%, women in SMS were at the 40.1% level, and staff with disabilities were at 1.4%.   

All programmes had performed sufficiently well except for Programme 6, which had to do with the census work, as the pilot could not be conducted.

Challenges

All fieldwork collection was suspended as at 20 March 2020. Before the President announced the National Lockdown Alert Level 5, Stats SA had many fieldworkers, but communities started to get jittery seeing fieldworkers working on the ground. Fieldworkers were not safe, which had led to the suspension of fieldwork. This did not mean that the work of Stats SA was suspended altogether, as it continued with work to consider alternative ways of data collection methodologies for household surveys and the consumer price index (CPI). It had also introduced additional methodological assessments for its products.

The pilot census and the post-enumeration survey (PES) was suspended, and Stats SA had to consider computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI) and computer-assisted web interviews (CAWI). These methods had to be tested so that Stats SA could deploy them for the necessary conduct of the main census. Testing them would also enable Stats SA to utilise them later for some of its modes of collection.

HR vacancy rate

The vacancy rate over the past five years had been steadily increasing until 2019/20. The decline was largely attributed to Stats SA rationalising on its structure. In discussions with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and National Treasury, it had established a new structure which was approved by the then Minister in the Presidency, Mr Mthembu. It had also raised this issue in its quarterly reporting to the Committee. This decline in the vacancy rate was therefore due to Stats SA terminating some positions that had existed in its previous structure.

Financial performance

The issues of procurement and contract management on local content were emphasised. By the time the AGSA raised this matter with Stats SA, which National Treasury did not identify as an issue, its engagements were taken to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which then raised the issues. When the DTI raised this with Stats SA, it was already six months into the financial year, which was the reason why this matter had surfaced again. Stats SA was seized with this matter, especially following what it viewed as a disjuncture between the advice it received from National Treasury and the DTI. As indicated by the AGSA, Stats SA was addressing the matter.

There was uncertainty about the future outcome of expenditure, as Stats SA was involved in two litigations. One was that the building it occupied was a public private partnership (PPP). It had been taken to court, as it had withheld unitary fees for renting this place when it could not move in earlier because the contractors had not met the requirements that had been indicated. The second claim was on the appeal to the Constitutional Court, after the Labour Appeal Court had declared the 2020/21 financial year salary increases unlawful and invalid. This matter went beyond Stats SA to National Treasury and the DPSA.

There was under-spending of vote, specifically on the census, as the pilot census could not be performed. For a pilot census, Stats SA had a battery of tests, one of which was a pilot that would be the main drill before going into the field for the main census. However, movement was restricted at the highest levels of the lockdown, and Stats SA had to abide by the President’s pronouncements. In addition to this, it had to make adjustments to its plans. While it could deal with some electronically, those that required face-to-face interviews between fieldworkers and respondents had to be suspended. Stats SA therefore asked National Treasury to rollover some funds, specifically for Programme 6. It had rolled over R413m to 2021/22 for purposes of addressing census matters which was supposed to be Census 2021, but was now Census 2022, as it would happen in 2022.

For COE, the repeated vacancies had led to an under-expenditure of R12m for 2020/21, which also included positions of Deputy Director-Generals (DDGs). Stats SA was aware that many DDGs were currently in acting positions, and that this matter should be stabilised.  

Census 2022

As indicated, the census was supposed to happen in October 2021, but this was changed largely because of Judge Moseneke’s recommendations to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for the local government elections (LGEs) to happen in February 2021. Stats SA had agreed with the IEC that it would run the census in October 2021. Mr Maluleke noted that Stats SA was a legislative department, despite its independence, but the IEC implemented a constitutional imperative. LGEs, as any elections, were constitutional, and when the Constitutional Court ruled that the LGEs had to happen in 2021, Stats SA had had to assent to this to respect the imperatives of the Constitutional Court.

Risks and mitigation

There were three identified major risks:

  • The pronouncement of a Covid-19 fourth wave was a major risk for the Census.
  • The high non-response level in the political environment. For example, the LGEs recorded the lowest turn-out in the history of South Africa’s elections. These issues affect the programmes that Stats SA is running as a nation, and its outreach to the public could be problematic.
  • KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the Western Cape were not piloted in the pilot census because when this pilot happened, especially in face-to-face interviews, these two provinces had the highest rate of infections, and Stats SA could not risk deploying its fieldworkers.

Stats SA was implementing three multimode approaches for collections which would include:

  • In-person interviews, where fieldworkers would arrive with "smart" gadgets to interview members of the public face-to-face.
  • CATI, where fieldworkers would either call from their homes or from a central point in a call centre. This was already under way in Stats SA’s quarterly labour force survey, where fieldworkers had tablets to interview respondents via the telephone.
  • CAWI, where a link would be sent to those who would have registered to self-enumerate. If the submitted forms were not satisfactory, fieldworkers would call those respondents to assist them in updating their forms within the allocated period.     

Census plan

Stats SA was currently preparing for the appointment and training of personnel in November/December 2021 and January 2022. It intended to bring 165 000 fieldworkers on board during this period, which would be the final logistical arrangement for appointments and the distribution of all forms of its collections – which would be three tiers in the multi model. Since this would be the first digital census in South Africa, training would also be virtual, to minimise contact.    

He concluded the presentation and handed back to the Chairperson.

Discussion

Ms Kibi asked Stats SA to explain why local content requirements were not specified in the request for quotation documents. What had been done thus far as a corrective measure to avoid recurrence of the same risk?

Despite an additional amount of R45m on COE in the 2020/21 financial year, Stats SA still had a high vacancy rate of 18%. Was the allocation of the additional budget of R45m sufficient to cover the budget shortfall experienced in the COE to avoid incurring unauthorised expenditure? How much did Stats SA require to address the budget shortfall? Was there any strategy to reduce the vacancy rate in the 2021/22 financial year? Was there a strategy to prioritise women and people with disabilities in Senior Management positions? How far was the process of appointing the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) position, since this was a critical post to fill?

Stats SA had terminated short-term contracts for staff who were employed to assist with data collection due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Would Stats SA prioritise giving staff whose contracts were terminated an opportunity to work on the census project?

Ms Komane said the rate of women and people with disabilities represented at the SMS level was still low. Was Stats SA anticipating or prioritising women in these positions?

The presentation had indicated that fieldworkers had to stop working after the President announced the Covid-19 lockdown. How did it propose to avoid this situation in the 2022 census project, as there were people in remote and rural areas that would experience challenges to the introduced systems? Would preference be given to the personnel whose contracts were terminated, since most of them were fieldworkers?

On the shortfall because of budget cuts, what was the extent of this shortfall on the COE, including the suspension of certain surveys? What other shortfalls had there been?  

Would Stats SA introduce an alternative method of data collection, and would it be effective? If yes, how would it measure this, and had it been tested?

If Stats SA continued with face-to-face data collection, especially in rural and remote areas, how would it execute this considering the risk to life of Covid-19? What would be the interventions in this regard, as these people needed to be included in the census, but Covid-19 was still a major concern?

The presentation indicated that the training would only be virtual. Did this mean that it would include job seekers from remote and rural areas, as this was essentially where most of the unemployed people were located? If it did include job seekers from these areas, how would they be accommodated in the virtual training, because remote and rural areas were likely to have challenges in accessing the internet.    

Dr Gondwe noted that Census 2022 was supposed to be conducted in October 2021, but had been postponed due to the LGE. When was the census likely to happen? She was concerned about the looming Covid-19 fourth wave in South Africa. What happened if Census 2022 could not be conducted? Would that money result in underspending of the vote and be rolled over, like the R413m that was rolled over because of the Census 2021 pilot project? What mitigation measures would it implement to ensure that the money was not rolled over again?

How much was the two legal actions that Stats SA was currently defending costing?

Had Stats SA considered the possibility of reaching an out-of-court settlement on the action over the unitary fees? She explained that litigation and legal actions were often preferred without considering the possibility of settling out-of-court, which could eventually cost less than defending an action.   

Ms Ntuli asked how Stats SA would address the additional costs of the PPP.

How did it envisage accommodating rural communities that were still at the centre of the Information Technology (IT) crisis?

Ms Malomane referred to the Stats SA submission of an additional funding request in the MTEF for COE, the census and to conduct an Income and Expenditure Survey to collect poverty and inequality information. Had it received any feedback thus far on this request?

Would the alternative modes of data collection introduced by CATI be effective and ensure quality data?

Referring to the impact of not conducting the Income and Expenditure Survey on the country's planning, especially in the local government sphere, she asked if there was any budget for conducting such a survey?

Were there any plans to counteract the potential recurrence of the same challenges that had prevented Census 2021 from being conducted?

Stats SA responses

Mr Bruce Jooste, Deputy-Director General: Corporate Services, Stats SA, addressed Ms Kibi’s question on local content - what had happened, and why it was not specified. When a request was sent out for quotation, it must be stipulated in the actual Request for Quotation (RFQ), or in a bid request, that the service provider must indicate the local content of the purchases. There were certain categories of product that were subject to local content. Stats SA had the actual local content stipulations in the bid documents, but the SG believed that it also had to be stated upfront in the RFQ narrative, which was where the finding was raised.

On the high vacancy rate, Stats SA had already informed the Committee that it received the R45m in the MTEF 2019 process, which was initially for the 2020/21 financial year. However, with the Covid-19 budget cuts, Stats SA had two cuts -- one in June 2020 and another in November 2020 -- and this had obliterated the R45m that was initially allocated. The R45m was allocated during the MTEF process, but the budget cuts for current the 2021/22 financial year was also cutting into Stats SA’s COE. Stats SA was moving towards unauthorised expenditure again, because the funding that it had simply equalled its current number of employees. It had asked Treasury for about R5m in the Adjusted Estimates of National Expenditure (AENE) process, which it had discovered was not allowed, and it had also asked for the critical posts again in the MTEF period going forward. The funding it received was basically cut in the Covid-19 cuts that took place, and it currently had a small saving of about R1m on COE because of resignations, of which Treasury was aware. Stats SA had monthly meetings with Treasury, and it would hopefully know by the end of November, when it receives its allocation letters, if its funding request for the 2022/23 financial year and the MTEF process had been favourably considered.

As the SG had indicated, Stats SA would continue to advertise posts, as the reiteration of internal candidates being promoted created a need to re-advertise posts, which was what it was currently doing. Covid-19 affected the utilisation of the funding and the opportunities that it had in the past financial year. Stats SA’s structure was approved, effective 1 April 2020, but it had started with advertisements only in August 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19, thereby delaying the implementation of the structure.

It was in the process of restructuring to cover the issue of the temporary workers whose contracts were terminated in April 2020. Due to the restructuring and the move from paper-based to computer interviewing, some internal permanent employees had been affected by this. Those employees were being placed and utilised to fill some of the survey officer positions that the temporary contract workers had previously occupied. However, this was not at the numbers it had in April 2020 in considering contract workers for standard surveys. It was in the process of finalising a placement process for employees affected by this which would hopefully be concluded by mid-December. Mr Jooste said that those opportunities were recognised for contract workers that had experience, but the Census Director would address those opportunities in the census.

In response to Ms Komane’s question on employing persons with disabilities at the SMS level, he said Stats SA prioritised females and persons with disabilities. Where females were appointable, they were given first preference in the recruitment process. Stats SA would be able to indicate in its next meeting the process of its recruitment in the current financial year.

In response to Dr Gondwe on the two legal actions, he said the PPP claim was approximately R70m, which amounted to about three months of rental. Stats SA had spent about R2m, but the principle of the matter was that it needed to get an occupancy certificate to occupy the building. This had been delayed because the Tshwane inspectors did not issue that certificate due to certain issues that had to be met by the PPP. This had contributed to Stats SA moving in only during August/September 2016. Stats SA believed that this matter was defendable. There were also additional alteration costs linked to this.

The DPSA’s salary increases were being addressed by the DPSA as the government employer. Stats SA was therefore not incurring any legal costs.  

National Treasury was aware of the impact of not conducting the Income and Expenditure Survey. It had given Stats SA money over the MTEF period, but this was insufficient for an effective implementation. Stats SA had therefore asked for additional funding, and it would have feedback on the outcome of those applications by the end of November.   

Mr Jooste concluded his responses, and handed over to the Census Project Director.

Mr Calvin Molongoana, Census Project Director, Stats SA, responded to the question on the data collection methods planned for the main census - if it had been tested and if it worked. Stats SA had recently concluded its pilot, and it had confirmed that all the methods of collection – both the web-based telephonic interviews and the Computer-Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI) -- worked effectively. He emphasised that all of its web-based collections were data free. Users were therefore not required to have data to use any of its platforms. Secondly, it had a telephonic interview process which aided households that preferred non-contact, but would rather complete the questionnaire telephonically. It had established that both of its collection methods could be utilised offline. This meant that even in the case of power-cuts, for example, field staff – irrespective of where they were -- would still be able to collect the information, but only do the "syncing" when the electricity was back on.

He clarified that it was not eliminating the face-to-face method as it had a standard approach of rolling out the three methods of collection. It would first roll out the CAWI collection method only for households that had pre-registered. This was one of its publicity initiatives that would be rolled out early in 2022 to encourage the public to register to enumerate themselves online. Only those households that had registered to do it online would get a limited period to do this. However, failure to complete the instrument within the allocated period would result in those people automatically moving into the next collection modes, which would be the telephonic and the CAPI collection. The face-to-face method would still have to happen, because even with the pilot test, it had proven to be a mode of collection that covered all the various population groups. For example, the homeless and transient population could not be enumerated using the CAWI or the CATI, and therefore the CAPI collection must be utilised.

For the virtual training, applicants would be called to Stats SA’s district offices after they had applied. It had started finalising its relationship with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) to utilise municipal offices as temporary premises for its operations. The potential successful applicants would then be invited to the offices, issued with a tablet, and given credentials to log in. Since its training material could be used both online and offline, fieldworkers would still be in a position to access the necessary training information. However, the tests could be done only when there was electricity, as this would enable Stats SA to remotely monitor as and when every tablet was opened and utilised. It therefore had no intention of leaving anyone behind, as it was of paramount importance not to exclude rural areas in the advancements of technology, and to create environments that would assist. Additionally, all of its tablets would have a power-bank to assist in ensuring there was back-up for both fieldworkers during training and enumeration.

The selection criteria for the suspended fieldworkers were very clear. They did not exclude any person from being a fieldworker, except those that possibly would have been dismissed in the public service, as it used the Personnel Administration (Persal) System. However, the selection criteria would always favour those that had fieldwork experience, as this was very important. Additionally, for this particular census, Stats SA had specified that preference would be given to women and youths to align with its strategic intent of building and ensuring that women and youth were given opportunities in this project.

Regarding its PPP costs, Mr Molongoana explained that going virtual meant that it had substantially reduced the venues that it would normally hire when it brought people to a central point. However, there could still be a need for some people to converge at the municipal offices, not only for the collection of the instruments, but also for further technical support. The fact that it did not intend to acquire training venues as had previously meant that those allocated funds had since been directed to cover its PPP requirements.

Mr Molongoana confirmed that the census would happen in February 2022. The SG had indicated the "Census Night" would be 2 February 2022, which would immediately be followed by the online collection CAWI from 3 to 7 February. It would thereafter roll out the CATI and CAPI collections.

He would allow Mr Maluleke to address the concern over a possible fourth wave. However, Stats SA could affirm that with its pilot outputs, the responses received from both the online collections - CAWI and the CATI -- it continued to find very useful information coming from those collection modes. It was for this reason that it was very confident that more efforts should be made so that people in urban areas would opt for the online collections, rather than the CAPI. It was satisfied and had full confidence in its coverage. When it rolled out the CAPI collection, it would still visit households that had completed the online collection within the designed enumeration area, to affirm the reference number it would have received after completing the instrument online.

Mr Molongoana concluded his responses, and handed over to Mr Maluleke.     

Mr Maluleke assured the Committee that Stats SA had done all the possible battery of tests to be able to conduct Census 2022.

Referring to Dr Gondwe’s concern of a looming fourth wave, he said nobody in the world -- including Stats SA -- could control the arrival of a fourth wave except by people’s own behaviours. These waves affect all facets and aspects of life, but in the midst of Covid-19 challenges, Stats SA had been able to conduct some tests. It was confident about its multi modes of in-person CATI collection in areas where it would be possible to conduct this, and CAWI where people would self-enumerate with the provided link. All of these three methods had been tested to enable Census 2022 to be conducted. Most of those nations that were able to conduct a census during challenging times were developed countries. In other instances, those that were not developed -- such as Ghana and Cabo Verde -- were also able to conduct their census, but they were not affected by the pandemic at the same level as South Africa. He assured the Committee that all the methods had been tested and shared with the Statistics Council, which had the responsibility to advise the SG and the Minister if it was ready to conduct the census.

He clarified that data collection was not simply about collecting and reporting on the data. Council would establish a team of experts from within South Africa and other countries, based on their specialities, to advise it so that it could provide guidance to the Minister and the SG on the data. This ensured that the numbers the SG would provide to the public were solid and could inform it on the limitations, if any. However, such numbers would not be discussed in public until the SG released them, and the methods and the veracity would always be checked by the work of the Statistics Council.   

The CFO position had been filled after the first had CFO resigned for personal reasons on 31 August 2021. The post had since been advertised.

On the issue of fieldworkers, the funding of Stats SA from National Treasury was based on a project basis. For example, if it had a poverty survey to conduct, this would be funded, including money for fieldwork. If the poverty survey did not go ahead due to Covid-19 or any other reason, Stats SA could not keep fieldworkers on its books, as they were contract employees. Keeping contract employees that were not working meant that it would still be incurring expenditure when those fieldworkers returned to work. When it deferred fieldwork, this meant that fieldworkers would come on board at an appropriate time. For Census 2022, however, it would hire 165 000 fieldworkers for assistance, with the majority of them coming in only for two weeks. After the census, it would demobilise these 165 000 workers because the next census would happen only in the next ten years. While it would like to keep all of them employed, keeping them on its books for the next ten years would be serious wasteful expenditure. Some of these fieldworkers would be called on occasionally for sample surveys, based on the funding from National Treasury, whereas others -- including many other young people -- would join only in the next census.  

Stats SA was confident that it had covered all the questions, and it was willing to respond to follow-up questions through written submissions.  

The Chairperson released Mr Maluleke from the meeting, and asked Brand SA to present, followed by the DPME’s presentation. Members would then get an opportunity to engage with the two presentations.

Brand SA 2020/21 Annual Report

Ms Thandi Tobias, Chairperson of the Board, thanked the former Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for stabilising Brand SA and getting it to its current state. She thanked the team, led by the current CEO and the Acting CFO, for their hard work when they were faced with many responsibilities because of the moratorium on Brand SA. She extended her gratitude to Ms Slabbert, as the AGSA had provided an accurate account of what had happened, which would enhance Members' understanding.

She said she would like to engage the AGSA’s office so that accounting authorities could be clear on how it defined materiality when it cleaned up its systems. She thanked it for the interviews that were conducted, as the AGSA office often worked with the executives and not necessary the accounting authorities to ensure that consequence management was understood at all levels and was taken seriously. She assured Members that given the experience, Brand SA took consequence management very seriously. Based on the management letters that had been forwarded, a lot of engagements had taken place and Brand SA was willing to provide the financials on a quarterly basis. Once a report on the Budget Review and Recommendations Reports (BRRR) was made, Brand SA would follow suit.

Ms Tobias confirmed that there was a new lease on life at Brand SA. New Minister Gungubele had been able to lift the moratorium for a fixed period of two years. This meant that Brand SA would be able to fill important vacancies only for a period of two years, as there were no guarantees on the quantum it would receive. However, operations would not be affected. The AGSA’s report indicated that with a floundering organisation, Brand SA would not be a fully fledged organisation that would be able to achieve its targets. Given the challenges, however, Brand SA was able to improve over time as demonstrated in the AGSA’s presentation. It had noted the importance of understanding the need to have clear records and record-keeping for Brand SA to account properly. She assured the Committee that Brand SA was a very proactive organisation with its leadership and guided by a united team which understands how to proceed to ensure these matters would be addressed.

The presentation would indicate the work that had been done in light of the Covid-19 challenges. Brand SA would engage Members and ensure that it provided accountability for its work rather than provide excuses.

Feedback on Committee’s recommendations to Brand SA

Ms Sithembile Ntombela, Acting CEO, said the Committee had been concerned about the APP targets, which were described as percentages rather than quantities. Brand SA had implemented the need to quality check and to be more vigilant in producing the APP. This year., it had been able to plan ahead and rectify those messages and the articulation of those targets. This work was currently in progress.

On the filling of all funded vacancies, the Committee had noted that Brand SA would fill vacancies once the reconfiguration process was completed. It recommended that Brand SA should continue to discharge its mandate to positively influence and enhance the perceptions of South Africa in balancing its local and international branding.

In response to the recommendations on the filling of vacancies, this was part of Brand SA’s ongoing work. Its core job was what distinguished it, as it was the custodian of the nation's brand image, and the builders of South Africa’s reputation. It therefore strived to ensure its outlook and trajectory, from a global community perspective, was promising and true to its brand promise when it referred to a South Africa that inspired new ways.

It had adjusted its APP. Brand SA had reported to different ministries in the past, each of which had its own set of priorities. It was now in this predicament where it appeared as if it was focusing heavily on the domestic rather than the international market. Brand SA was in the process of trying to adjust its ratio of international impact versus domestic. It would ensure that going forward, the sustainability of its economic growth would definitely derive from the way it projected South Africa.

Brand SA continued to focus on a reputation programme delivered through media partnerships and engagements, both locally and abroad.

On the recommendation that Brand SA and the Ministry of Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation should move with speed in finalising its merger with Tourism SA, Brand SA had engaged with the Minister and the Director-General at the GCIS to try to find a resolution to conclude this envisaged merger.

Key achievements

Brand SA had achieved 23 of its 27 targets – an 85% performance.

In Programme 1: Administration, the target to improve the reputation of Brand South Africa as an entity had not been achieved because the funds of 2020/21 had been channelled towards interventions for Covid-19.

On the non-achievement of the vacancy rate and the organisational performance was all due to the moratorium that was implemented due to an envisaged reconfiguration process, including budget cuts, as its funds were redirected to Covid-19 initiatives.

Overall, it did not achieve a total of seven targets across three programmes due to the two main reasons -- the moratorium on filling vacancies, and the budget cuts that had been re-channelled for Covid-19 interventions.

Ms Mpumi Mabuza, General Manager: Stakeholder Relations, Brand SA, presented on four core areas: the highlights, Covid-19 interventions, investment promotion initiatives, and its advocacy programme.  (See attached document for details).

Financial matters

Mr Kgomotso Seripe, Acting CFO, said Brand SA hoped the vacancy rates issues would be resolved with the lifting of the moratorium for two years. It anticipated meeting the targets in the current financial year.

Remote working had assisted greatly during the pandemic, mainly due to the investment in its IT infrastructure. It had been able to move some of its systems, especially from finance, into the Cloud to ensure that it could continue to work remotely. IT security was in place to ensure that financial data was not compromised and that the work was undertaken on a secured platform.

Slide 58 indicated the impact of the budget cuts.

The audit opinion remained the same as in the previous financial year. However, the AGSA had indicated that Brand SA had a lot of findings with compliance issues in the 2019/20 financial year. Brand SA would be able to successfully address those compliance findings, especially those involving irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Brand SA was in the process of trying to implement an audit action plan to deal with the misstatements in the financial statements. This included having the internal audit to assist it in ensuring that the audit action plan would be more realistic to address the pertinent issues raised by the AGSA. Brand SA had already implemented this. It was now part of its monthly management controls to ensure that it could address all the matters raised by the AGSA and the internal audit by the end of the financial year, and to clear the misstatements to receive an unqualified audit opinion.   

Mr Seripe handed back to Ms Ntombela to address the challenges.

Challenges and mitigations

Ms Ntombela explained the targets that were not met in the 2020/21 financial year and the mitigations going forward on Slide 60.

The target for the organisational corporate identity was in process. Brand SA anticipated meeting this target in the current financial year. After consulting with its board, this was in place to be approved.

It was working tirelessly on the operating model to ensure the reconfiguration issue was concluded. The Minister had demonstrated much enthusiasm in assisting Brand SA.His intervention would greatly assist Brand SA to achieve its targets.   

The Chairperson asked the DPME to present.

DPME status update on Committee report

Mr Robert Nkuna, Director General, DPME, led the presentation on the status update to the Committee’s report.

The Department had finalised the policy on the Integrated Development Planning Framework Bill. It had taken a decision to start with an enabling policy before it could finalise the Bill. The policy was therefore finalised after extensive consultation with the departments and the provinces. It would soon be moving with the necessary speed, informed by the policy once it was approved, to start the drafting of the Bill.  

The strengthening of the DPME’s capacity to ensure an integrated medium term strategic framework (MTSF) monitoring and reporting system that would track progress and support effective implementation to monitor departments’ performance of the National Development Plan (NDP) was ongoing, and it continued to undertake this in its monitoring processes. The DPME had recently produced a report on the first six months of the current financial year , from  April to September. This report would be served to Cabinet from 23 to 25 November. There were also other monitoring endeavours the DPME was undertaking, and it would brief the Committee once those were completed.    

Mr Nkuna emphasised that the linkage of the MTSF with Department’s strategic plans and APPs was at the heart of planning in government. Departments’ activities and work should be in line with the MTSF, but if there were changes, such changes in the APPs should be authorised by the DPME as well as by Parliament in order to understand what targets were being deferred by departments.

DPME’s 2020/21 performance report

Dr Ntsiki Tshayingca-Mashiya, DDG, DPME, took the Committee through the performance progress against the APP targets set for 2020/21 for Programmes 1 to 5. He indicated the DPME’s four mandates and provided an overview of the targets achieved across all programmes. Of the 100 targets, the DPME had achieved 81, and 19 were not achieved.

Overview of targets not achieved

Programme 1: Administration did not achieve two targets. One area was on the declaration of financial interest in compliance with the specified time frames. The other area was on the submission of the annual Information Communication Technology (ICT) plan. The “Comment on the Deviation” column on Slide 11 detailed the key challenges in achieving these two targets.

Programme 4: Public Sector Monitoring and Capacity Development, had the most targets that were not achieved. Five of the 11 targets were not achieved. One was that the integrated report on the state of SOEs was not produced on time, as the SOE's oversight and monitoring framework was approved later than the report at the time. Another target not achieved was that the report on performance agreements received was not submitted to the Minister of Public Service and Administration.

On Slide 29, the crucial indicator of concern for Programme 4 was the achievement of only 50.24% for the resolution of service delivery complaints, as opposed to the planned 60%. Dr Tshayingca-Mashiya clarified that the information derived from the Khawuleza mobile App was assisting the DPME to augment the work on the resolution of the Presidential Hotline.

Financial progress

Ms Marilize Hogendoorn, CFO, DPEM, explained the basis of the compilation of the annual financial statements on Slide 46, and highlighted the main reasons for under-spending.

In the annual financial statements for the period ending 31 March 2021, no new cases of irregular, fruitless, wasteful or unauthorised expenditure were reported.  

Based on the 2021 regularity audit outcome, the quality and submission of financial statements, the quality of performance information submitted, supply chain management (SCM), the financial health of the organisation, HR management and IT were identified as high-risk areas. However, all of these areas were assessed and approved as effective and efficiently managed, to mitigate the risks associated with these areas of concern.

The Chairperson proposed that Members should raise their questions, but responses to the questions should be sent in writing to the Committee’s Secretary.

Discussion

Ms Mgweba said the DPME’s main mandate was to monitor the implementation of the NDP by developing robust monitoring systems backed by evidence. How did it measure itself against the mandate?

Was there any robust monitoring system developed to measure the NDP’s implementation by the state institutions? How did it track the implementation of the NDP?

How did the DPME monitor service delivery institutions through frontline monitoring and citizen-based monitoring during the pandemic?

She asked Brand SA if there was any strategy devised to improve the internal controls, as identified by the AGSA’s report.

Ms Kibi asked Brand SA to explain the inconsistency of the reporting performance that was not aligned with the approved APP, as flagged by the AGSA.

Covid-19 had negatively impacted the performance of many public and private institutions. Could Brand SA share its secrets of achieving and exceeding most of its targets in Programme 2 and 3 under the lockdown period?

She said the DPME had produced four research projects to review and support implementation of the NDP. What had informed these research projects to review and support this implementation, in the absence of a barometer to monitor the NDP?

On the engagement reports produced for the NDP implementation, with whom did the DPME engage on the implementation of the NDP? What informed the engagement on the NDP, and what were these engagements aiming to achieve?

Would the DPME finalise the Integrated Planning Framework Bill? Why was the development of this Bill taking longer than anticipated? What were the challenges in the drafting of the Bill? Would the Bill be finalised before the end of the sixth administration?

Dr Gondwe said both of her questions were for the DPME.

On Programme 1: Administration, one of the annual targets that it did not achieve was to produce an annual ICT report and four quarterly reports, resulting in an 85% achievement of the ICT planned activities. It had produced only one ICT report showing an 81% achievement of the ICT planned activities. Did this mean that the other three ICT reports that it failed to produce would have accounted for the remaining four percent? Could it explain its comment on the non-achievement of this particular target, that “more urgent and important work, with less resources, were received during the COVID-19 pandemic” as indicated on Slide 11?  

On Programme 4: Public Sector Monitoring and Capacity Development, the DPME was unable to achieve the target of producing an SOE governance and performance report, or provide an integrated report on the state of SOEs. The presentation indicated this was because of an agreed postponement from the relevant Director-Generals. It was, however, able to develop an SOE oversight and monitoring framework which was subsequently approved. She assumed that the report on the state of the SOEs and the framework went together, and that the report on the SOEs would have informed efforts on the developed framework -- was this not the case?

Ms Komane put it on record that the failure of reports on SOEs and the APP that was not achieved was very concerning, given the state of most of the SOEs. Could the DPME explain what the challenges and the implications were?

Why did the DPME remove the target of signing the performance agreements by the Ministers from the APP?

What had led to the seriously poor performance in Programme 4?

Could the DPME justify to the Committee the budget expenditure against the target?  

The Chairperson thanked Members for their questions. He reiterated that the responses would be sent to the Committee’s Secretary, who would then distribute those replies to the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.

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