In this virtual meeting, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) briefed the Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament on updates relating to the 2 January fire incident at Parliament. The presentation contained the Committee’s list of enquiries relating to the March 2021 and January 2022 fire incidents, the implementation of the recommendations emanating from the BDO report and the insurance of State Buildings. The Department responded to the ten questions provided by the Committee on 7 January. Some of the enquiries sent to the DPWI and Parliament included the implementation of the recommendations emanating from the investigation into the March 2021 fire incident, the inspection reports relating to the last inspections prior to the 2021 and 2022 incidents, any available video or photographic images of the damage to the infrastructure and the role of the SAPS and the Parliamentary Protection Services (PPS) on the night of the incident. The Department confirmed that maintenance of the Fire Safety Equipment, HVAC, Gas installations, Lifts, Generators, Certificates of Compliance, Security Systems and Fire Evacuation Drill was carried out annually. Maintenance Certificates from January 2021 and November 2021 confirm that ‘all fire safety equipment is in good working order’ in both the National Assembly and Old Assembly Buildings. In March 2021 an electrical fault in the Old Assembly building resulted in a fire. The sprinklers activated to reduce fire damage but caused water damage on lower floors. The sprinklers and other fire safety systems were subsequently repaired after the fire and confirmed operational. In November 2021, maintenance of fire safety equipment was also undertaken to begin to prepare for the 2022 SONA. The Annual Maintenance Certificates arising from the November 2021 work again confirmed ‘all fire safety equipment is in good working order’. The site was an active crime scene and the investigation into the fire is being led by the Hawks and was ongoing. Therefore, the Department was not permitted to share any video or photographic imagery of the fire-affected buildings. The Department noted that Parliament decided that the State of the Nation Address will take place at the Cape Town City Hall. The Question and reply session on the President address, and Budget Speech venues were still to be decided. The Department was investigating other options for the medium term. An internal audit of the multiple Parliamentary Projects was initiated due to concerns with cost and delays. The internal audit unit awarded the contract to BDO Advisory. The report made 30 findings within the areas of construction project management, financial management and contractor management among others. Three incidental findings were made with respect to fire-related aspects. This was finding 20, 21 and 30. An audit action plan was developed by the DPWI to implement the relevant findings from the BDO report. The Department also noted that according to legislation ‘the State will bear its own damages and accident risks and be responsible for all claims and losses of state property.’ Therefore, no Government buildings, including Parliament, were insured.
The Executive Authority said it had provided the Committee with a report and a memorandum that had attachments. The presentation detailed the Safety, Health and Environment Audit. The presentation provided the reports from 2018 to 2022. It provided a response to the questions raised by the Committee. A background to the internal audit in Parliament was presented as well as the purpose of the internal audit. The audit results and the implementation of the action plan was also given. The presentation noted that Parliament was compliant, risk assessment for the high-risk areas had been completed. Safe work procedures for the high-risk areas had been completed. Risk assessment for the medium and low risk areas were in progress. Development of safe work procedure in progress. Health and safety awareness training for staff conducted. Evacuation drill conducted for SONA in the NA building. The plan to conduct evacuation drills annually for all buildings were being developed. On the night of the incident, PPS was not in the precinct, they were on compulsory leave but there were staff on standby. Since March 2020, the 24/7 PPS deployment plan was stopped to comply with Covid-19 regulations.
The Committee members noted that the best way forward was for a forensic investigation to be done to get to the bottom of what led to this incident. A forensic investigation needed to be done so that the blame shifting could be put to bed. Members of the ANC noted that the reports presented cleared some air on what had been in the public domain. It was clear that some things were not true that was heard in the public domain. What happened was not something that anyone had envisaged. A member of the ANC was happy to hear that sprinklers were working on March 2021. The City of Cape Town’s reports presented a bleak picture that showed that the sprinklers were not working. According to that report it presented a picture that the sprinklers last worked in 2017 which was not the case in terms of what the Committee had been presented with today. The members raised the issue of PPS staff. One report stated that the staff was told not to come in due to Covid and that officials were not there. There was another report that stated that there was a collaboration to rotate between PPS and SAPS specifically on weekends and holidays. Did the rotation include staff from PPS or was it only staff from SAPS? The members were concerned with the issue of the PPS officials not being on duty. This was a deep concern. Last year members of Parliament had break-ins at their offices. It was shocking that there was no person on duty in the building. Had there been a person on duty within the building they would have picked it up immediately, either the smoke or another person. The Committee needed an explanation. What was the reasoning? Was the Executive Authority of Parliament aware that there were no PPS persons on duty? There were several breaches in the precinct. How many breaches had there been? It was important that SAPS should have been part of this meeting. Why was that part of the perimeter fence not secured? The members discussed the DPWI’s presentation and specifically the BDO report. The Department presented those inspections and maintenance were done every single year. Yet in the BDO report finding 21 indicated there were big issues with the maintenance and monitoring being done by the Department. It said that there was inadequate fire system maintenance and the fire system maintenance plans and schedules. It also said that there was poor facilities management and oversight. The members of the DA and NFP stated that there was a lack of leadership in the Department of Public Works. The DPWI was in the intensive care unit. That was how bad the situation was. The Department was in chaos. A member of the DA told Minister de Lille that the first head that needed to roll was hers. The members were concerned with financial implications of using alternative accommodations for all sittings and for SONA. What were the financial implications in using alternative venues for the SONA and all the plenaries that were going to be held? The Committee was also concerned about SONA and the security around SONA. No one knew the root cause of the fire incident at this stage. It was not known whether it was the result of sabotage. It was asked what additional security and guarantees were there that members and guests were going to be protected? It was proposed that a forensic investigation be undertaken as soon as possible and that all parties subject themselves to wait for the outcomes of such an investigation. Any comments seeking to apportion blame should await the outcome of the facts and evidence of the investigation. If the members were not cautioned, then there would be speculation. Unless the members had the facts members should refrain from being in the public domain and speculating. For the sake of the people of South Africa the members needed to feed them the right information. The members did not know whether to reconstruct the National Assembly would cost R1 billion or R7 billion. The Chairperson noted that the Committee would find a way of inviting the Cape Town fire department to present their report. The police were also identified as key role-players on this matter. The Committee would make sure that it also invited them to the next meeting
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu welcomed the members from both Houses, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure and the delegation from the Department. The Chairperson noted that there were members of Parliament who had requested to be a part of the meeting even though they were not members of the Committee. This was a public meeting so as members they were free to join the meeting.
Mr B Radebe (ANC) said that there were individuals attending the meeting named ‘consultants’. The Committee needed to be explicit, who were those people?
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu asked the Committee Secretariat who were the consultants?
The Committee Secretariat responded that the Department had indicated that there would be some consultants attending the meeting. The Committee Secretariat would send them a message asking them to identify themselves by name.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu said that as a norm, everyone who attended the meeting needed to be identified before joining even though it was a public meeting. This was important for record purposes and to ensure the smooth-running of the meeting. She requested that as members spoke that they turned on their camera unless they had network issues. The members must not forget what had been discussed last week. The meeting today was as a result of the discussions that were held last week. This meeting was a continuation of last week’s meeting. The Committee would not be starting afresh on issues. The Committee would pick up where it left off and look into resolutions and directives that were given to specific people to deal with.
She asked for the agenda to be displayed. All of the apologies were noted.
She hoped that the members would have enough time to discuss the issues that were relevant to the meeting.
She sent condolences to all of the members who were experiencing bereavement. She appreciated that the members still attended the meeting.
She noted that many members had prior commitments. She would have loved for the majority of members to be a part of this meeting, to participate because their inputs were valued. She wanted the members to really engage with the matters that were on the agenda.
She called for the adoption of the agenda. She recommended that the Committee not consider the minutes of the previous meeting, 4 January 2022, for now.
Mr T Brauteseth (DA, KZN) supported the adoption of the agenda.
Ms S Gwarube (DA) supported the adoption of the agenda.
Co-Chairperson handed over to the Minister and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure.
Briefing by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure
Minister Patricia de Lille greeted the members and wished them well for the new year. She hoped it would be a productive year for all. She thanked the Chairperson for accepting her apology to leave the meeting early at 12pm. Deputy Minister Kiviet would remain until the end of the meeting as well as the Acting Director General. She noted the time constraints and did not want to waste any time. She handed over to the Acting Director-General, Imtiaz Fazel, to deliver the presentation. Thereafter the Department would be able to take any questions. She apologised for the meeting on 4 January where the Department was not able to deal with all of the questions. This time around all of the questions would be answered today.
Mr Imtiaz Fazel, Acting Director-General, DPWI, briefed the Committee on the JSCFMP’s list of enquiries related to the March 2021 and January 2022 fire incidents, implementation of the recommendations emanating from the BDO report and the insurance of State Buildings. The Department would be responding to the ten questions provided by the Committee to the Department on 7 January. He was joined by a delegation from the Department including Mr Batho Mokhothu, Deputy Director-General Construction Management, Mr Mzwandile Sazona, Head of Prestige, and Ms Thembeka Kolele, the Project Manager responsible for Parliament.
Summary of enquiries to the DPWI and Parliament
- Implementation of the recommendations emanating from the investigation into the March 2021 fire incident.
- Inspection reports relating to the last inspections prior to the 2021 and 2022 incidents.
- Last fire equipment report issued before each of the incidents.
- Any available video or photographic images of the damage to the infrastructure.
- Full report on the status of the fire hydrants and hoses, fire panels, smoke and fire detectors, and sprinkler systems prior to the 2022 fire.
- Report on whether Parliament complies with the Occupational Health and Safety Act No 85 of 1993, the implementation of the recommendations of the 2018 Safety, Health and Environment Audit, and the functioning of the institution’s health and safety committee (Parliament).
- Report on the role of the SAPS and the Parliamentary Protection Services on the night of the incident, particularly whether they were on duty and, if so, how the alleged breach had been possible; (Parliament & SAPS).
- Report on whether all service providers were vetted to ensure that security requirements were met, and that they were able to perform the work they were appointed to perform.
- Report on all alternative venue proposals that were being considered as well as the implications of each.
- Report on the multi-disciplinary engineering team that has been appointed to assess the damage to the infrastructure, including whether they are consultants.
Fire safety inspection reports
The Department could confirm and provide evidence that maintenance of the Fire Safety Equipment, HVAC, Gas installations, Lifts, Generators, Certificates of Compliance, Security Systems and Fire Evacuation Drill was carried out annually. Maintenance Certificates from January 2021 and November 2021 confirm that ‘all fire safety equipment is in good working order’ in both the National Assembly and Old Assembly Buildings. In March 2021 an electrical fault in the Old Assembly building resulted in a fire. The sprinklers activated to reduce fire damage, but caused water damage on lower floors. The sprinklers and other fire safety systems were subsequently repaired after the fire (April, August and Oct 2021) and confirmed operational. In November 2021, maintenance of fire safety equipment was also undertaken to begin to prepare for the 2022 SONA. The Annual Maintenance Certificates arising from the November 2021 work again confirmed ‘all fire safety equipment is in good working order’.
Photographic/video images of damages
The site was an active crime scene and the investigation into the fire is being led by the Hawks and was ongoing. In consultation with the Hawks, the Department was not permitted to share any video or photographic imagery of the fire-affected buildings. All evidence related to the fire event had been made available to the investigating officers.
Alternative venue proposals being considered
A Business Continuity Task Team had been assembled, led by Mr Mzwandile Sazona. The business continuity of Parliament focused on ensuring that the Presiding Officers of Parliament and members of Parliament with offices affected by the fire were accommodated, and Parliament officials whose offices were affected or had to vacate their offices to make space are accommodated in alternative accommodation. It ensured that Parliament, particularly the National Assembly, continued with plenary sessions. It also ensured that there were alternative committee rooms to those affected by fire.
The progress to date included that alternative venues had been located. Parliament decided that the State of the Nation Address will take place at the Cape Town City Hall. The Question and reply session on the President address, and Budget Speech venues were still to be decided. The Department was investigating other options for the medium term.
The Department received a request from the Secretary to Parliament for office space for the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP. The 7th floor offices at 120 Plein has been provided for these purposes.
The request also includes alternative offices for officials. The Department was waiting for full details of the number of offices and size of the space required for the officials.
Context of ongoing parliamentary projects
An internal audit of the multiple Parliamentary Projects was initiated due to concerns with cost and delays. The internal audit unit awarded the contract to BDO Advisory. The BDO Advisory report was concluded in October 2020, presented to the Department and Parliament on 26 November 2020 and disseminated to the Secretary of Parliament on 27 November 2020. The Minister also shared the report with the new Speaker of Parliament on 28 September 2021. The report made 30 findings within the areas of construction project management, financial management and contractor management among others. Three incidental findings were made with respect to fire-related aspects. This was finding 20, 21 and 30. An audit action plan was developed by the DPWI to implement the relevant findings from the BDO report.
Insurance and losses of immovable assets
The Department was the custodian of state buildings and land. The DPWI was subject to the PFMA and Treasury regulations related to the PFMA. In terms of Treasury Regulations pertaining to the Management of Losses and Claims of State assets (section 12.1.1, as published in terms of section 78 of the Public Finance Management Act) ‘the State will bear its own damages and accident risks and be responsible for all claims and losses of state property.’ Although Parliament was not bound by the PFMA in terms of Section 3, the buildings of the Parliamentary Precinct are on the asset register of the Department. As a National Government Department, the DPWI was subject to the PFMA and therefore must abide by the associated Treasury regulations.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu noted the members who wanted to respond to the presentation. She reminded members that they had adopted the agenda. The agenda stated that the Committee would have a discussion after both presentations.
The Committee Secretariat helped the Chairperson note all the members who wanted to ask questions.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu handed over to Co-Chairperson Mabe to Chair the rest of the meeting.
Co-Chairperson Mabe greeted everyone present in the meeting. She said that before questions were asked or deliberations began, the Acting Secretary to Parliament should be afforded an opportunity to respond to the questions that were asked previously. This should be done before members were given an opportunity to continue with further clarity-seeking questions. It would be appropriate for Parliament to also respond because there were questions directly related to Parliament. She said that even in the absence of the Executive Authority, the Acting Secretary to Parliament was present in the meeting and it would be unfair for them to not be given the opportunity to respond to their questions.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu said that was the understanding with which the agenda was developed. The Committee should take all the responses and then after that the Committee could get into a discussion. Members could then note what they wanted to follow up on as the two institutions made their presentations. It was only fair. In last week’s meeting the Committee had a problem with the responses received. The Committee had not received sufficient responses. To be fair enough the Acting Secretary to Parliament. She supported Co-Chairperson Mabe’s proposal but was not sure what the view of the Committee was.
Mr W Thring (ACDP) raised a point of procedure. The Minister had indicated that she had time constraints and would have to leave early. If the Committee kept to the agenda as proposed and questions were directed to her then she might not be present to respond to those questions. That was his concern.
Co-Chairperson Mabe said that his concern was noted. She thought the Minister wanted to be excused at 11. The time was currently 11:03 and that means that the Minister might have already left the meeting.
Minister de Lille said that she would be leaving the meeting at 12. The Deputy Minister and the Acting DG would stay until the end of the meeting.
Co-Chairperson Mabe asked for the members to be patient. She asked that the Acting Secretary to Parliament to be allowed to go through the responses that was supposed to be presented today. It was agreed that after seven days both the Department of Public Works and the Executive Authorities would then come and provide the Committee with responses. If the Minister was not in the meeting, the Deputy Minister and DG would still be with the Committee. Other officials would also be present until the end of the meeting. The Committee should not just rush through the questions on the basis that the Minister was going to leave. The Minister was not the only person responsible in the Department. Other supporting staff were present including the Deputy Minister. The Minister would be leaving the Committee in good hands. The Chairperson invited Ms Tyawa to go through the questions that were related to Parliament.
Briefing by the Executive Authority: Parliament
Ms Baby Tyawa, Acting Secretary to Parliament, said that in the last meeting Parliament requested that it provide the Committee with a submission on the questions that were raised. Parliament had provided the Committee with a report and a memorandum that had attachments. She was joined by a delegation of officials from different units who would take different sections of the presentation.
Co-Chairperson Mabe asked if Mr Masondo was able to join the meeting.
Ms Tyawa responded that he was in the meeting and could make preliminary remarks.
Co-Chairperson Mabe asked Mr Masondo to make opening remarks. Thereafter, the Acting Secretary to Parliament would make her comments. She handed over to Mr Masondo to make opening remarks.
Mr Amos Masondo, Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, said he did not have much to say. He indicated that if there were questions and issues raised that he would make a comment or two at a later stage, after the Parliament presentation had been made. For now, he reserved any comments.
Ms Tyawa briefed the Committee on Parliament’s response to the Committee on the Safety, Health and Environment Audit. She was joined by Mr R Gilfillan, Acting Chief Audit Executive, and Ms M Zungu, Institutional Support Services. The presentation provided the reports from 2018 to 2022. It provided a response to the questions raised by the Committee. A background to the internal audit in Parliament was presented as well as the purpose of the internal audit. The audit results and the implementation of the action plan was also given.
Responses to questions raised by the Committee
Parliament was compliant, risk assessment for the high-risk areas had been completed. Safe work procedures for the high-risk areas had been completed. Risk assessment for the medium and low risk areas were in progress. Development of safe work procedure in progress. Health and safety awareness training for staff conducted. Evacuation drill conducted for SONA in the NA building. The plan to conduct evacuation drills annually for all buildings was being developed. On the night of the incident, PPS was not in the precinct, they were on compulsory leave but there were staff on standby. Since March 2020, the 24/7 PPS deployment plan was stopped to comply with Covid-19 regulations. There was a standby team roster for after hours which is communicated to all stakeholders. The standby roster extends to compulsory leave/closure period. SAPS was in charge of access control, perimeter security and monitoring of cameras. How the alleged breach happened was the subject of investigation. There was a team that ensured that all service providers and contractors are vetted before admission into the precinct and security requirements were met.
Purpose of the audit
The audit was a gap analysis of Parliament’s practices that have been implemented to ensure compliance with Occupational Health and Safety Act. It evaluated the OHS management control framework in place to ensure compliance with all the relevant regulations as well as policies, and to ensure that the institution’s procedures are effective and efficient as per the requirements.
The audit identified 13 key findings relating to the design of internal controls and provided recommendations. Following the audit exercise and in line with their mandate, the SHE Unit identified that there was a business case for change, a need for an institutional strategy for occupational health and safety, an improvement plan for safety, duty of care and legal compliance. The institution then developed an action plan to close the gap identified by the audit.
Action plan and implementation
Although a majority of the actions had been implemented Parliament’s health and safety was dependent on certain stakeholders as assigned in the Security Policy. There were PPS, SAPS and the DPWI. As a result of this dependency, the infrastructure related risks that were on DPWI’s purview had been formally brought to the attention of DPWI and were managed through the SLA submitted to DPWI in 2016 to ensure that both parties commit to their respective responsibilities.
Co-Chairperson Mabe said that there was something missing form the report. South Africans wanted assurances that SONA would go ahead as planned and that other Parliamentary work and programmes would also be executed. They wanted to get that assurance from Parliament. The meeting could then be opened for further clarity-seeking questions and discussion.
Ms Tyawa said that the SONA project and the SONA programme of Parliament was led by the two secretaries of the two Houses of Parliament, Mr Xaso and Adv Phindela. The project leader was Mr Sithole. The City Hall was currently the site for SONA. The details were that the members of Parliament would be invited as per usual. Parliament had held a meeting with the stakeholders. There was currently a meeting of the Joint Security Cluster, where the various roles that needed to be played were discussed to ensure that SONA was a successful event. She discussed the ongoing work of Parliament. They had been instructed by the Executive Authority that the Good Hope Building is used in terms of hybrid meetings. Many Committee meetings had been done virtually and that would continue. Parliament waited for guidance from the structural engineers with regard to the safety of accessing the NCOP and parts of the Old Assembly building. With regard to SONA, it was all systems go. A presentation was done in an open meeting of the Joint Programming Committee the previous day, by the secretary of the National Assembly. The NA Speaker and NCOP Chairperson had outlined the exact preparedness. Parliament was ensuring that the matter of SONA worked and it was engaging with its stakeholders and role-players that were key in ensuring that it was made successful. Where infrastructure was needed, the Department of Public Works would be coming in to assist as was presented in their presentation. The work of Parliament continued.
Mr K Mmoiemang (ANC, Northern Cape) welcomed the two presentations from the two institutions. In the presentation from the Department a number of issues were raised by Ms Kolele, particularly slide nine. It provided a picture of a work-in-progress on issues relating to sprinklers, fire hydrants, fire panels and fire extinguishers. These responses gave comfort to the questions that were posed by the members. This was particularly important given the role as articulated and apportioned to various stakeholders that the Acting Secretary to Parliament correctly categorised as a dependency relationship. The information that was provided by the respective stakeholders in particular the Department, Parliament and the City of Cape Town reflected that there was an interdependency in terms of the safety around Parliament. He raised this point given the point that was raised by Ms Kolele on maintenance certificates and the work around PROV JOINTS which was an integral vehicle that was used for the preparations for SONA. He noted in particular the fire inspection reports. The assurance from public works that there were maintenance certificates available on the fire safety equipment, from the sprinklers to the fire extinguishers, was comforting. He noted the role played by SAPS with regard to access control and perimeter security. He also noted the work done by the Parliamentary Protection Services and which was on standby given the Covid protocols. What also provided comfort was the report from the internal audit unit which categorised the work done by the management on occupational and safety work. He noted the Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) policy. The report given by the internal audit unit provided the Committee with an impression of work-in-progress. An area that was of interest to him was the Emergency Preparedness Planning Committee and who constituted that committee within the confines of the SHE policy. He was happy that the policy had been adopted. Having received comfort around work that was done from both the Department and Parliament, he wanted to know how was the issue of scapegoating the various stakeholders mitigated? The Committee did not want this unfortunate incident to turn into a game of apportioning blame to each other. Clearly it was an unfortunate incident. The best way was to find out whether the presiding officers and management were open to the possibility of a forensic investigation just to ensure that the Committee satisfied itself that it got to the bottom of what led to this incident. It needed to be kept in mind that the Hawks were also involved and they were doing their work. Part of its investigation might also include forensic investigation. It would be important to strengthen that element. He wanted to know from the two institutions what they thought about having a forensic investigation so that the blame shifting could be put to bed. Could the Department and Parliament be open to that possibility?
Ms N Ntobongwana (ANC) appreciated the detailed reports given by the Department and Parliament. She echoed what Mr Mmoiemang had said. The reports presented cleared some air on what had been in the public domain. It was clear that some things were not true that was heard in the public domain. Tests had been conducted in Parliament up to December of last year. What had happened was not something that anyone had envisaged. She was happy to hear that sprinklers were working on March 2021. The City of Cape Town’s reports presented a bleak picture that showed that the sprinklers were not working. According to that report it presented a picture that the sprinklers last worked in 2017 which was not the case in terms of what the Committee had been presented with today. She appreciated the fact that this report cleared some of the issues. She acknowledged that an investigation was currently under way that might show what was the cause of the fire. In this instance the Department did its work in ensuring that all that was supposed to be working was working on the day of the fire. She discussed the BDO audit report. She felt that the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure should have gotten that report earlier than the previous day. If the Committee had received that report earlier and discussed it then some of the issues that were contained in the report may have been prevented. It would have made sure that there was work that was being done. She discussed the presentation of Parliament. She had some reservations on the report that the Committee had been given by the Acting Secretary and her team. Ms Tyawa had indicated that there had been workshops but it seemed as if it was a desktop thing. Parliament was not doing fire drills. Parliament was not doing all that was expected to be done in this instance. Parliament needed to learn from what had happened. It should have learnt from the first fire. There were things that should have been done before the recent fire incident. She appreciated the responses that the Committee received from the Department and from Parliament.
Ms A Siwisa (EFF) said that she wanted to raise a few concerns. It seemed as if it was the norm with the Department that the members did not receive documents on time. It disadvantaged the members of the Portfolio of Public Works and Infrastructure to go through everything on time and prepare themselves. She was speaking directly about the BDO report that the members received last night at around 10:30pm. Some of the members were already in bed and woke up to the report which was very unacceptable. The members had only received a memo of the report presented by the Acting Secretary to Parliament and the whole report was presented today. That also disadvantaged the members. She hoped that in the future that the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure would be taken seriously in the work that it did which was oversight. The Committee could not perform oversight if it did not have the proper documentation. She had looked at the previous reports and the reports that were received today. She had a concern because in one of the reports when there was a problem with the fire last year it stated that the service providers were unreachable, in December. The reason given was that they were at their year end function and were unreachable. The Department had a service provider that did not have standbys. That was of a grave concern. She discussed the issue of the PPS. One report stated that the staff was told not to come in due to Covid and officials were not there. There was another report that stated that there was a collaboration to rotate between PPS and SAPS specifically on weekends and holidays. She wanted to know if the rotation included staff from PPS or was it only staff from SAPS? She discussed the issue of certificates that had been issued. It was reported that a service provider was being consulted to come and do oversight and make sure that everything, the sprinklers and fire extinguishers, were working. Why could the Department not use Government Departments, like the fire department, to do those things? Why has it become the norm that the Department always preferred using people where more money was going to be spent? The City of Cape Town does have a fire department. Why could they not do those things? There were certificates but the fire department performed oversight and made their own assessment. The fire department wrote a report that stated the last servicing was done in 2017. Was the certificate signed only for the sake of a signature to be there? Or were there any services that were done?
She discussed the financial implications of using alternative accommodations for all the sitting and for SONA. This was a question raised by Ms Maotwe in the previous meeting. She did not see any response on that question. What were the financial implications in using alternative venues for the SONA and all the plenaries that were going to be held? It had become a norm that there was a running over the budget and the missing of deadlines that was done by contractors. It was not something new. That always happened with the Department. It was becoming worrying. It was a pity that the Minister was not present and that it was only the Deputy Minister present. There was a lack of leadership in the Department of Public Works. It seemed as if the Minister did not know what needed to be done. The Minister relied on consultants to do what always needed to be done. The public was at a standstill because the Department was not performing their mandate. She discussed the fact that State buildings were not insured and that it was up to Government to fund them. Since Parliament was not insured and there was legislation, did this mean that there was funding being out aside to ensure that a new building was built in Gauteng? Would there be a new Parliament building where it was accessible to everyone? Was there money put aside to make sure that a new building could be built since there was no insurance that had been put aside? According to legislation there could not be any insurance on the buildings. It was very concerning no building, according to the legislation, were being insured. Where was the money going to come from? She noted that there was also the Magistrates’ Court that had been on fire. Were the members also going to be told that the sprinklers were working? But that could be dealt with on another day. She had hoped that the Committee would have received responses on all the questions that were asked in the last meeting because none of those questions were answered. She had asked a few questions in the last meeting but she did not see any answers. She thought that would be the starting point in getting the responses to those questions.
Ms S Gwarube (DA) had a question on the three fire findings that were presented in the report. Were the three fire findings rectified before the incident took place? There seemed to be inconsistencies between what the BDO report said and what the presentation by the DPWI said. There had to be an apportioning of blame on consultants regarding the maintenance that was done either annually or every three years. She discussed the Parliamentary interventions. These seemed to be quite superfluous and almost like a box ticking exercise. The reduction of the staff during the period, how did that affect the preventative measures that Parliament needed to put on? The Committee needed to summon SAPS as soon as possible.
Ms S Graham (DA) discussed the documents that was presented by Parliament and the SHE policy. The DPWI external roles included general compliance, the SANS codes, occupational safety and food safety. The Committee received the risks assessment excel spreadsheet from Parliament. On no page was there an allocation on inspection dates. Had this been drafted as a box ticking exercise or whether these things would be monitored and accessed? One of the things that came through very strongly on almost every single area was electrical problems and the threat of electrocution. This seemed to be a massive risk across every single area. Considering the fire in March was an electrical fire, she wanted to know whether or not this would be given the requisite attention? The Committee was provided with a draft terms of reference on the development of emergency preparedness on the risk management plan. Why was this still a draft? When was the document drafted? What were the timeframes? There were a number of interventions required for the terms of reference and there did not seem to be any timeframes given in the document. She discussed the DPWI’s presentation. They presented that inspections and maintenance were done every single year. Yet in the BDO report, which the members had little time to go through because they only received it last night, finding 21 indicated there were big issues with the maintenance and monitoring being done by the Department. It said that there was inadequate fire system maintenance and the fire system maintenance plans and schedules. It also said that there was poor facilities management and oversight. She found that finding interesting. Although it related to 90 Plein Street, this referred to the entire precinct and the entire Department’s management of the precinct. She found it hard to reconcile the finding in the BDO report with what was presented by the Department today with respect to inspections and maintenance.
She discussed the fire panels. The Committee was being told that they were fully functional and yet to the post-incident report given by the fire department of the City of Cape Town not a single fire alarm went off in either the Old Assembly Building or in the New Assembly Building. The first alarm that went off was in Tuynhuys which was adjacent to the buildings that were on fire. That alarm had gone off after the first fire truck was on the precinct. She failed to see how the fire panels could have been functioning effectively. She wanted to know whether or not all of the incidents reflected and recorded on the fire panels had been downloaded? Had they been checked to make sure that every fire panel was fully functional and operational at the time? Much had been said about the sprinkler systems. According to an expert that she had spoken to, the fire sprinkler systems should be bled every week as part of an ongoing maintenance programme and then overhauled every third year. It should also be maintained and serviced every year. The last overhaul, that the Committee was aware of, was in 2017. An ASIB tag was affixed to that. It indicated that the next inspection should have taken place in February 2020. Only an ASIB-affiliated organisation could do that overhaul and could affix a tag. Had this been done because the Committee had been told that all maintenance had been done on the sprinkler systems? If yes, where was the report from the ASIB-affiliated organisation that stipulated what was happening to those sprinkler systems? One of the things highlighted in the post-incident report was that State buildings were not governed by the national building regulations and also not by the by-laws of the city in which they stand. The only thing then that would require compliance would be the SANS codes. There were a number of SANS codes, three to her knowledge, that spoke to fire safety. They were very specific on what needed to be done in order for compliance to be met. She wanted to know whether or not the compliance was there? Had proper fire safety procedures and processes been developed that spoke directly to the SANS codes if Parliament was not required to adhere to the legislation to which everyone else was being held accountable yet it did not seem to apply to Government. In March and April, according to the report, the sprinkler valves were on. If that was the case, they would have been chained open according to the reports that were received. There was no evidence of a chain in any of the pictures that were seen. It was interesting that the last recorded maintenance done on there or verification that they were on was in April 2021. What happened in the ensuing period? Where were the chains that would have held these open? Finding 21 of the BDO report also spoke about an exit door at 90 Plein Street. It then referred to the fact that there was non-compliance throughout the precinct. It was since subsequently discovered that the fire safety doors were latched open which should not have happened and this fuelled the fires. Again, there had been non-compliance with respect to what the BDO report had discovered. Why was the Department not listening to the outcomes of a report that it had commissioned? Finding 20 spoke to the facilities management contract. This was highlighted again in the report by the Department. Her understanding was that the facilities management contract would only be affected in March 2022. Which facilities management company was ensuring that there was adherence to the legislation? The treatment plan that it spoke of in finding 20 was not limited to 90 Plein Street. It was required for the entire precinct, all buildings on the precinct. Finding 30 spoke to heritage and the fire. The conclusion was that this should take precedence and that there should be specialists. Over a year later, what had actually been done to safeguard South Africa’s heritage? What feedback had been received from the internal audit committee on the adequacy and effectiveness of the treatment plans on those three specific findings?
Ms M Hicklin (DA) said that Minister de Lille was the policy leader and should be the guide for the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure in the National Assembly. All the problems that had been highlighted by the BDO report were not new. They were things the Portfolio Committee identified for the last three years. Things like financial management irregularities, inadequate contracts, planning and electrical installation problems. She discussed the BDO report itself. The Department commissioned this investigation in August 2020. BDO was appointed. The draft report was submitted in October 2020. The final report was handed over in November 2020. The Minister claimed to not know of this until 17 September 2021. She restated that Minister de Lille was the policy leader in the Department. How could she commission an investigation in August 2020 and not receive a report until 17 September 2021 and not question where this report was? BDO said it gave this report to the Department in October 2020. Who did BDO hand it to? It had to be assumed it was to the Deputy Minister if they did not give it to the Minister. Did the Minister not question that? The Minister did not ask where the report was. The Minister gave a public statement in September 2021 saying that heads would roll because the report was not handed to you. Heads had not rolled. Neither the Minister’s head nor the head of the person BDO gave the report to. How could the Committee take the Department seriously that it would implement the changes that the report mandated? There had just been this massive fire that had absolutely ruined the greatest building in the country, the national heritage Parliament building. Parliament made findings that were of such dire consequence and dire need that had to be implemented. These were of a critical and vital nature; none of which was looked at or implemented. Now the country sat with a building that was going to cost more than R7 billion to repair. It could take five years to repair if it was repaired and could be repaired. The Minister had sat with her hands folded for a year asking for the report. She told Minister de Lille that the first head that needed to roll was hers.
Mr Brauteseth raised the issue of the SAPS patrols. He had been a member of Parliament since 2014. He had never seen active patrols on the perimeter of Parliament. The kind of patrols he was talking about was active patrols where members of the police force patrol the perimeter, noting down the points that they had passed and providing an hourly report of their patrol. This was just as many companies employed security guards using a system. This was not done at Parliament. Therefore, it was very probable that Mr Mafe would have been able to gain access. That needed to be answered by the SAPS in a forum like this. The Committee could not get away from that. The presentation today was incomplete because the Committee did not have the City of Cape Town’s fire services giving the Committee a presentation. The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee brushed it aside and said that the DPWI report simply exonerated Parliament in terms of the sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers. The members were expected to just discount what was seen and found by the City of Cape Town on the fire scene. The Committee needed to have that department of the City of Cape Town invited to this forum to give the Committee its findings. They were literally the people at the coalface and they could report what they had actually seen. The Committee could not just accept a report from the DPWI who was unfortunately not innocent in many matters in the country. That was the true state of affairs. He asked the Co-Chairpersons to ask the City of Cape Town to give the Committee an input. It was absolutely vital. The fire department was also effectively thrown under the bus by the DPWI report. The report said that pre-SONA 2020 and 2021 everything was fine. The City of Cape Town needed to be invited to their put their point of view in this forum. He discussed slide five of the DPWI presentation. On that slide it stated ‘works to address temporary roof repairs, fixing of fire hydrants, repairs to sprinkler systems, and draining of water in the basement area were also undertaken. Proof of these works are available and are described in detail in the following slides’. The massive lacuna here was that there was not one single word in that sentence that referred to the electrical fault. The preceding paragraph said that this fire was due to the electrical fault in March 2021 and that no foul play was determined by SAPS. Was the electrical fault ever repaired? He found it very hard to believe, given the statement on that same slide, that the procurement processes did not allow the Department to complete all their work and in that time this devastating fire happened. There was not one single word about the electrical fault that started the first fire and whether that was ever repaired? There was lots of talk about sprinklers and fire extinguishers and valves but not a single word about electrical systems and the electrical fault. That lacuna sat squarely at the feet of Minister de Lille. The people of South Africa would be asking the question why on Earth is this Minister still in her position when an electrical fault, that quite possibly started this devastating fire of January 2022, was not fixed almost a year ago?
Adv S Swart (ACDP) said that the ACDP was deeply saddened by the catastrophic fire. He was one of the first to be on the scene on the Sunday morning and spent most of the day sitting with members of the ANC, and other members, and commiserating about what was happening. While there had been a large degree of stoic determination to continue with the work of Parliament across all political lines one of the things lacking was a passion and an expression of anger like Ms Hicklin expressed. There needed to be an outrage at what had happened and the deficiencies that had taken place that caused this historical building to suffer damage. He was one of the longest standing members of Parliament, like Mr Radebe, since 1999. It was absolutely disgraceful that this had happened. The Committee needed to ascertain all the answers and that was part of this process. He submitted that there should be a full Parliamentary oversight and inquiry which would include an independent forensic investigation. While he appreciated the input received from the Department and Parliament there was far much more that needed to be ascertained. One of his concerns was the building of a new Parliament elsewhere. That was a debate for a different time. The building needed to be restored if it could be restored because it was a historical building in terms of the Heritage Act. It was going to cost billions of Rands and taxpayers were going to have to pay for that. That was why public representatives needed to come together to make sure Parliament was working. They also needed to express their anger and outrage and hold people to account. He noted that a lot of the issues had been covered. Towards the end of last year, the members were in the National Assembly and smelled smoke. Immediately a report was given that stated there was a smoke detector that picked this up but there was no drill or evacuation. He had never been involved in any fire drill at Parliament to evacuate Parliament in almost 23 years. That should be a deep concern. There were no responses about why the fire alarms did not go off. There was only the one at Tuynhuys that went off after the fire brigade had arrived on the scene. He was not going to just accept that the Committee was going to await a police report that would come out in a year of 18 months’ time. Parliament needed to exercise its oversight now. He supported the view that SAPS needed to be brought to account as well. He understood that there was an ongoing investigation but what happened with the perimeter? What happened with the cameras? He discussed the issue of the PPS officials not being on duty. He had been a member of the Chief Whip’s Forum since 2019. At no stage were the Whips advised that the there would be no officials on duty within Parliament. This was a deep concern. Last year members of Parliament had break-ins at their offices. He had worked late in Parliament over the years. He was always aware that there would be an official there who would come in late and turn off all the lights. It was shocking that there was no person on duty in the building. Had there been a person on duty within the building they would have picked it up immediately, either the smoke or another person. The Committee needed an explanation. What was the reasoning? Was the Executive Authority of Parliament aware that there were no PPS persons on duty? Why were the members of Parliament not aware that there were no officials on duty within the precinct when some of the members worked late and relied on that security? This was particularly relevant when it came to vulnerable women that were working late at night with the lack of knowledge that there was any PPS on duty. On the day he had been one of the first on the scene and speaking to the fire brigade. The fire brigade said that they had no access to the building and had to break down the main doors of Parliament. Had the PPS officials been on duty within Parliament they would have been able to give access to the fire brigade and the fire could have been possibly contained. He expressed his deep sadness. He was almost heartbroken. Full oversight and accountability needed to take place.
Mr M Dangor (ANC, Gauteng) said that he was supposed to have left the meeting early but after hearing the emotive expressions of other members he decided to stay. He discussed the issue of insurance. In 1994-95, the Association of Public Accounts Committees was established. The National Assembly and all the provinces were part of this structure. The question of insurance was asked at that time. The response was that the State did not insure any buildings. It did not insure the embassies in all the different countries. None of that was insured because of the cost of insurance. Historically, even before 1994 this was not done. All of this needed to be kept in mind. The cost of insurance would have been billions on an annual basis. He was part of a fire drill in June 2021 in the NCOP. The members were assembled and informed of what they needed to in case of a fire. The members were taken to various spots in the assembly. He wanted to make those remarks and said that all South Africans were in this together. The members needed to find solutions and not only the faults.
Mr Thring echoed the concern about the length of time it took the BDO report to get to the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure. This undermined the accountability work that the members were expected to undertake. He noted that a fire inspection and assessment report which was updated on 29 July 2021 made a number of findings and recommendations. It essentially gave the Department a responsibility to carry out some 21 recommendations. These included, amongst others, that all circuits in the roof space needed to be rewired. All the light fittings needed to be changed. The main cable supply needed to be replaced. There needed to be new smoke detectors in the roof space and sirens had to be installed. An environmentally friendly gas needed to be installed in the roof space instead of sprinklers because that would fight a fire effectively and protect electronic equipment. The leak on the reticulation pipeline needed to be repaired as water was shutoff due to the leak that was not repaired. There were some 21 recommendations. There were also other recommendations in other reports. How many of those recommendations, especially those relating to electrical faults, were actually implemented? If not, which ones were not acted on? In the budget vote report of 11 May 2021, the Portfolio Committee of Public Works and Infrastructure asked the Minister to instruct the PMTE to move to scheduled rather than unscheduled maintenance. Did the Department have scheduled maintenance particularly with regard to Parliamentary buildings within the precinct? He was informed when he visited the Parliamentary precinct after the fire that over the years there were requests to increase the height of the fence behind the Parliamentary buildings. This was because there were a number of breaches especially during the weekends and the holiday periods. There was a number of breaches in this particular area. How many breaches had there been? It was important that SAPS should have been part of this meeting. Why was that part of the perimeter fence not secured? What role did the Free Masons as well as the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) have in approving amendments or alterations to the current structure of Parliament. He believed that sometimes this held up the process where proper recommendations were made. The Parliamentary buildings were a national key point and threats did not disappear with Covid. How many of the PPS members were present on the night of the fire? If there was a handover to SAPS, did this handover include a patrolling of the Parliamentary buildings especially in the Old and New Assembly?
Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) discussed the issue of a forensic investigation that the presiding officers should commission. The forensic investigation should address all the issues that had already been raised by the members. He agreed that the forensic investigation should be independent of Parliament and all the stakeholders that were involved to avoid allegations of a conflict of interests. That should be the starting point. There were members who were referring to the BDO report. The members saw some aspects of the report with regard to the 30 findings. Some members were speaking from an advantage of having the report. He suggested that the Department should submit the report to the three Committees, the Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament, the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure and the Select Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure. At that another time these Committees could discuss the full report, its findings and the progress of implementation of those findings. He accepted the reports but noted that there were grey areas that the members needed clarity on. He discussed the sprinkler system. Was there any standard, whether national or international, with the maintenance or inspection of the sprinkler system? The grey area of whether it needed to be maintained annually or after three years needed to be clarified. He did not understand why the consultant would make an error in terms of saying that the sprinklers should be maintained annually and then later it was said it was maintained after three years. There were no records with regards to this. He assumed that even if the consultants did not have the records that the Department should have its own records. Ms Kolele reported twice to the Committee in October and then on 4 January this year with regard to the frequency of maintenance. Most areas were maintained annually. All of a sudden there was a grey area as to whether some of them were supposed to be maintained after three years or not. Were these consultants being paid for submitting these reports? It could be even though the frequency was after three years it could be that there had been reports that were submitted annually and after the reports were submitted then there was a payment. It could be that annually these two entities could have been paid. That was an area that also needed to be investigated. The Department should assure the Committee that no monies were paid annually when the reports were supposed to be submitted after three years. He discussed Parliament. The report was a report of the internal audit committee. The work of the audit committee was broad. It was broader than just occupational health and safety. When it did its work it focused on samples. There was a committee that was responsible for health and safety that dealt with the detail. The Committee was supposed to perhaps receive two reports. One report from the health and safety committee and perhaps another report of the audit committee because its role would be an oversight report on the work of the occupational health and safety. The role of the health and safety committee was to agree with the inspections and maintenance of the Department. It was their responsibility, and it could not just be left to the Department. They had a role in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. That committee had a responsibility with regard to the infrastructure of the institution. They should be confirming the reports on all these areas whether there were issues over functionality of the sprinklers and all the other issues that had been raised in the report. The Committee should have received two reports. One from the health and safety committee and one report from the audit committee as an oversight body on all the areas that the institution dealt with. The Acting Secretary to Parliament raised the point that the institution also depended on other stakeholders. She mentioned the security, the PPS, SAPS as well as the DPWI. The stakeholder that was absent from this list was the Department of Employment and Labour. The issues of health and safety were its specialty. It should have been involved from time to time. With the health and safety committee it was supposed to conduct inspections not only in Parliament but all the buildings, whether they were public or private. At some stage, because there were still other buildings in Parliament, the Department of Employment and Labour should also be invited from time to time to also conduct inspections. The DPWI may not have all the skills with health and safety inspection but it was the responsibility of the Department of Employment and Labour to conduct that. This was particularly important because Parliament was a key point building and facility. The Department of Employment and Labour did not have many inspectors but because Parliament was a key point the Department had a role to play with conducting inspections. The report spoke about the alternative venues. The question was directed to the Department as well as Parliament. In some of the meetings, like the Joint Programming Committee meeting, there was some conclusion with regard to the alternative venue for enabling sessions like that the budget would be tabled in the Good Hope. He heard that the Department was talking about still looking for an alternative venue. He wanted clarity on that. His understanding was that this area had been concluded, the area for looking for alternative venues. If he was wrong then the Department could correct him.
Mr M Moletsane (EFF, Free State) said that when listening to the report from the Department it mentioned that all the fire equipment was working. He wanted to know why this did not respond when there was a fire in the Parliamentary buildings? On 4 January when the Committee had a meeting, the Minister explained that the Department was having bilateral discussions with the provincial leadership of Cape Town. Now that it was finalised that City Hall was the venue that was to be used for SONA, were there any financial implications for hosting SONA? If yes, how much was it going to cost Parliament to use that venue?
Ms S Van Schalkwyk (ANC) thanked the presenters for all the different reports that were presented. She echoed the sentiment that a forensic investigation be instituted. She proposed that a forensic investigation be undertaken as soon as possible and that all parties subject themselves to wait for the outcomes of such an investigation. Any comments seeking to apportion blame should await the outcome of the facts and evidence of the investigation. The Committee had heard about the functionality of the smoke detectors, whether the fire sprinklers were optimally functioning, whether the water vales were open or closed and the status of the fire doors. These needed to subject to the forensic investigation. If the members were not cautioned, then there would be speculations all over and from all sides. The members would then be speaking about speculation instead of facts. She discussed the Cape Town Fire and Rescue report. That was an information report and not a forensic report. Therefore, it could not be used to determine fault. If the forensic investigation was instituted the Committee needed to make sure it ascertained what really happened and who was to blame. Then the Committee would decide who should be subjected to the relevant consequence management. Unless the members got the actual facts she thought that the members should refrain from being in the public domain and speculating. It was going to haunt the members.
Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP) said that he agreed with Ms Hicklin and wondered whether the Committee could take the Department and the Minister seriously given the fact that thirteen months later she had not even received the report. She had done very little or nothing considering the fact that she was putting hundreds of people’s lives at risk and in danger. Reading the findings of the reports, it was very clear that had anyone been on the premises at the given time it would have been horrific. Given that there were challenges and prior reports he was concerned. He wanted the Minister and Parliament to respond to why they had not paid serious and appropriate attention to the risk attached to members, staff and officials being on the precinct knowing very well that they had not implemented all the recommendations as per the various reports? He discussed the issue of the electrical cable. In his engagement with people he was informed that it was in a shocking condition. One of the reasons for that was because the Department regularly got a new contractor to come in and work on Parliament. This was being done in most Government buildings. The DPWI was in the intensive care unit. That was how bad the situation was. The Department was in chaos. It needed to be looked at whether Departments needed to be responsible for the maintenance of their own buildings. For example, Parliament should take full responsibility for its own buildings. Contractors who dealt with electric cables were not replacing the cables that were there. Contractors were putting in their own cables and diverting those cables. He was told that there was a bunch of these cables all over. Just the sight of it was apparently frightening. What was the purpose of having CCTV footage if it was not being monitored 24 hours? SAPS, particularly those responsible for securing the perimeter, needed to come in and report on why they did not ensure even in the absence of PPS that someone was monitoring the CCTV all the time. He had received reports that even contractors that had Parliamentary precinct and came to conduct some work had vehicles that were broken into in the precinct. What did that say about the safety? He noted that the perimeter fence was a risk for officials and staff of Parliament because there had been attacks previously. He discussed the figures it would take to repair the buildings. He first heard the figure of R1 billion and now he heard the figure of R7 billion and that it would take five years. He did not know what mechanisms were being put in place so that it could be business as usual. The country was almost at the stage of doing away with the regulations of the national state of disaster so it meant that things had to get to back to business as usual. How was that going to be done? Some offices of political parties, like the NFP amongst others, had been totally gutted and damaged. There was no insurance. He heard that the insurance matter had come in since pre-1994. This Parliament was not pre-apartheid. It was after apartheid. There was a lot happening in the country. There was protest action and alleged insurrection in July. There were attacks on buildings all over the country. Yet, it was not considered serious enough to provide adequate protection or insurance particularly to the most important building in South Africa and that was Parliament. This was an indictment on the Department and their ability to protect the interests of the country’s infrastructure. He was concerned about SONA and about the security. No one knew the root cause at this stage. There were lots of discussions about the cables and risks. It was not known whether this was sabotage. It might be. It might not be. What additional security and guarantees were there that members and guests were going to be protected? He wanted to know from Parliament if the members were going to be compensated for the damages? The Speaker had said it was highly unlikely that all of the office equipment that belonged to political parties that was destroyed in the fire was going to be replaced. Based on the reports and the previous reports, Parliament was a great risk. It appeared to him it might be that the Department might have to drop the entire building and start afresh if the Department wanted to deal with the risks of having to occupy these premises. Could anyone confirm whether there had been any work done during the constituency period? Was there some work being done and could that be confirmed?
Mr T Mashele (ANC) said he wanted to make a quick comment. The Committee was dealing with the serious matter of the burning down of a national key point. He was worried because the members did not seem to understand that this was an issue of national importance. He was worried that those that were presiding over Parliament and that the Minister decided not to be part of this meeting. When the Minister requested a leave of absence, it was granted. The Committee was dealing with such an important matter and the public had a keen interest to know what had happened. Those who were presiding over these institutions decided not to be here and now the Committee had to engage with officials. The Committee wanted to have confidence that this was a serious discussion and that the resolutions would be implemented. The members were speaking with authority based on things that they had seen and heard in the media. The members quoted the Minister based on what the media have said. He only saw the BDO report this morning when he woke up and he was trying to peruse through it. Some of the members had proper recommendations and he wondered why those recommendations were not brought forth. The members were also part of constituencies. The people from the village ask him what happened and he hoped the next time someone asked him such a question he would be able to respond. That would be difficult because of how these meetings were run. He plead with the Co-Chairpersons that if the Portfolio Committees did not do oversight then this would remain a talk show. The members would not go anywhere and just be in the meeting, sit for PR exercises and it will end there. He did not want to get into the details because he feared being all over. He pleaded with the Chairpersons of the Committees to assist the members. It could not be that only one of the presiding officers, Mr Masondo, was present. The members did oversight over the presiding officers, Ministers and not the officials that the Committee was engaging currently in the meeting. It could not be that when a national asset was burnt down the Committee allowed Minister de Lille to leave the meeting. Documents had been sent late. The Department could not be allowed to present and then just leave. Then the members would ask questions to those people who did not actually account to the Committee.
Mr X Qayiso (ANC) said that Parliament had 400 members and were the first citizens. The incident was something very serious that the Committee was confronted with. The Committee was supposed to position itself in such a way as to maintain the confidence of the public. The business of Parliament was supposed to continue as normal under these difficult circumstances. He wanted to acknowledge the seriousness of the work that was confronting the Committee. He discussed the presentation by Parliament. The presentation mentioned the PPS rotation and the takeover by SAPS immediately after the declaration of the state of disaster as a result of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. He noted that a pandemic was undemocratic. It was never democratic. The issue of security would also remain because the issue of security could never be democratised. There was something that happened called a rotation and takeover by SAPS. SAPS was also involved in so far as doing some work at Parliament during this process. Before the rotation, what was PPS doing and what was their overall responsibility? What was PPS doing before the handover? It was very important. There was a piece of work that the PPS were being allocated. He discussed the issue of performance management. The State Security Agency could not just be relied upon because then it would be doing everything. It had developed performance management in that particular area where particular people were reporting somewhere with particular tasks that were signed and agreed upon. There were indicators where there was a violation and the expected steps of performance management. That area also needed to be out rightly outlined by both the Parliament and the Department. They could not wait on the courts or the Hawks to do performance management. The issue of the police was raised. This Committee should have then found a way to collaborate with the Portfolio Committee on Police as well. The Portfolio Committee on Police could have been brought in to assist this Committee. It seemed to be necessary to interact with that Committee because this Committee made reference to SAPS. He discussed the BDO report. It came as an ambush. There had to be a way that the members received these reports. There were very important findings and the members needed to go deep into those details. That was very much important. He agreed with the importance of occupational health and safety. It should also appear because it was also respondent on these issues as far as its report was concerned. When he listened to the presentations he did not get a sense that all of the stakeholders were present. In each and every workplace there were particular stakeholders. He made reference to the union. He mentioned the Occupational Health and Safety Act. It also dealt with general administration rules which discussed who were the major role-players in as far as that committee was concerned. He was complicating that question deliberately because he did not hear any mention being made of the union. There was a risk of other people talking from outside and that posed a risk itself. He was discussing the general administrative rules of the Act. It needed to be very clear. If implementation did not take place, all that was said in the general administrative rules, it would be the task of Parliament to make sure that that happened in the future. He discussed the audit report that was presented. There was one interesting matter that appeared. There was an action plan. He had a problem with that. It did not unpack all these factors that were being referred to. It needed to be a report on its own so that it could convince him that how the factors were put into the planning and how they were monitored over a timeline. It could not just be said that it was ongoing when a risk was being dealt with. There should be some timelines where the risk factors were identified and dates included. This needed to be done so that when the members received these reports they had a clear picture that all the attempts were made but then timelines could not be met because of different reasons which could then be outline in the report. Looking at the report it just identified a factor and said whether it was completed or ongoing. It did not make a lot of sense and did not allow him to come to a particular conclusion. The members could not declare themselves a forensic team. Members of Parliament were doing oversight. Other institutions had to do their specific tasks. The members awaited the forensic investigation reports otherwise the members would be all over.
Mr B Radebe (ANC) said that he appreciated the reports from the Department and Parliament. He agreed with Mr Mmoiemang that these reports cleared a lot of air with regard to what was happening in the media space. The members could not deal with speculations. What was worrying was that there was speculation that to fix Parliament it would cost R1 billion and now it was said that it would cost R7 billion. The ten-member team which was still going to access the damage and then come up with a plan had not even started its work. It had not put any report in front of the Committee. For the sake of the people of South Africa the members needed to feed them the right information. The members did not know whether to reconstruct the National Assembly would cost R1 billion or R7 billion. The cost of R7 billion was as the result of a feasibility study which was dealing with the relocation of Parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria which was not the issue being discussed in the meeting. In this meeting the members were not discussing the relocation of Parliament. The Committee was discussing the issue of a heritage site which had been damaged. According to the law, that heritage site had to be restored. That was what the members needed to focus on. The Committee needed to wait for the report of the ten-member team which was appointed by the Department. The Committee needed to support the proposal that there should be a forensic audit. There must have been a mix-up on the side of the Police, Parliament, the PPS and crime intelligence. An independent forensic team had to be established so that the people could not cover their faces. The facts of what happened needed to be established. After establishing the facts of what happened then there had to be consequences for that. Whoever dropped the ball had to pay the price because this was a disaster for the country. A national key point like Parliament could not be affected like that. It showed that anyone could do anything they liked to this Parliament. For the sake of the prestige of the country everyone needed to work as a team. He appreciated what happened when the fire erupted on 2 January. The various political parties came together and were all in support. Civil society was also there in support. It was agreed that this thing that was happening in the country was wrong and that everyone needed to work around the clock to fix it. The three Committees needed to ensure that the work was done timeously so that Parliament was restored to its former glory. He agreed with Mr Qayiso that the members’ work was oversight. He was happy that there were preparations underway that SONA was going to be held in the City of Cape Town’s City Hall. It was normal. There was something in the country call intergovernmental relations. Before SONA, the three oversight Committees had to go to Cape Town to inspect and ensure that the building was ready for occupation so that all of the safety measures were in place. The members could not get the report through the form of emails. The oversight Committees needed to do its work and ensure those things were there. The Mayor of Cape Town has stated that the City of Cape Town was going to give the City Hall for free. If there was any cost involved, then a breakdown was needed. The City Hall was just a hall. There were installations that needed to be done. Parliament and the Department needed to give the members a breakdown of what was done to that City Hall whether in the form of a security upgrade or in the form of sound equipment or in the form of ICT. What was involved? What was it going to cost Parliament to do that job? He discussed the report of the Department. It was embarrassing that a consultant, someone who had been appointed to provide a service to maintain the fire sprinklers, could give a misleading report. He was looking at the report of last year, the 2021 fire. It was clear that the maintenance was done annually. Now the Committee received a report that that report was wrong. What would the Department of Public Works do in order to ensure that that person pays for what they had done? The issue of contracts not being monitored was very important. He noted that he was one of the longest serving members of Parliament in these Committees. He noted an example of contractors not doing the job they were supposed to. Who monitored that the contracts were implemented accordingly? From the meeting of 4 January, it was said that the cards that were there to back up the CCTV cameras were damaged and could not be obtained during that time. That was a lapse of security of mega proportions. There should not be a situation at a national key point where the ordinary CCTV cameras could not work properly. The Department needed to up its act. Everyone needed to work as a cooperative force to ensure normality was restored. That normality could only be restored if the forensic report was activated and it was acted upon. He agreed that this Committee needed to meet with the Portfolio Committee on Police. Sometimes when there was a current case that was ongoing, the Committee did not know how to engage the police on those reports. The Committee needed a report from the police on what happened. All the reports which were here were interim reports, they were not final. The forensic report was the one going to finalise the reports. In the meantime, it needed to be ensured that Parliament was working. The DPWI needed to ensure that the MPs who decided to come down to Parliament had offices. When the preparations were finished before SONA the Committee needed to go to the City Hall of Cape Town, the Good Hope Chamber, 90 Plein Street and look at the office accommodation that was provided. It needed to be seen if it was proper. In the meantime, everything needed to be done to ensure that there was safety in that area. The Committee needed to appreciate the work done by the presiding officers of the Department and Parliament in regularly communicating the developments happening around Parliament. It was important that there needed to be some sort of coherence. There should not be the City of Cape Town coming and publishing its own report. There needed to be some sort of a centre which processed and provided the information so that even the media could be assured that the information coming from a particular source was official.
Co-Chairperson Mabe invited the DPWI to respond the questions asked. Thereafter, Parliament would respond to the questions asked of it. Then there would be a summary of the meeting, a decision made on the date of the next meeting and then a few recommendations would be made that needed to be implemented immediately. The Chairperson invited the Deputy Minister to respond.
Deputy Minister Noxolo Kiviet appreciated the discussions that had ensued during the meeting. She responded to the issue of insurance. It was an issue that kept on coming up. It was a legal matter and was within the regulations of the PFMA. Parliament as an institution was charged with the responsibility to enact laws. It was the responsibility of Parliament to engage and review that piece of legislation to see if what it entailed was still relevant for the country. This was not only a South African issue. Countries across the world applied this rule based on the economies of scale. As that discussion was being held it should not be made as if there had been any wrongdoing on the part of the Department. The Department did not carry that burden alone. It was a law. Members of Parliament often almost confuse. Members sometimes made comments that were not properly or thoroughly researched. Members pronounced on matters that could create confusion in the country. She was happy that some of the members in the meeting had picked up the issue of what it would cost the country, like kind of damage that had happened to Parliament. She was concerned about the confusion that was circulating. Some were saying it was R1 billion or R7 billion. The members needed to wait until the work of assessing the extent of damage had been done. Once the assessments were made the Department would weigh up the options and decide on which was the best option for the country. This was also a historical building that could not be valued with rands and cents. There was also sentiment that was involved in this matter. At the right time with the adequate information the members and Department would be able to engage with that report and take an informed decision. She thought that those two matters needed to be quickly dealt with. There were a number of technical questions that had been asked. She allowed the delegation from the Department to answer the technical questions. If there were any questions left over at the end she would deal with those. She supported the proposal from various members who were agitating for an independent forensic investigation. That was the basis on which the Department and the members would be able to take an informed decision.
Mr Fazel emphasised that the inspections and certifications provided for SONA on an annual basis were not necessarily actioned as a result of SONA but are done irrespective of whether SONA occurred or not. The information consolidated before SONA in the health and safety file was done with the purpose of obtaining approval from the fire chief in the City of Cape Town for the event to continue considering the number of people that congregate for SONA. That provided the Department with comfort that up until 2021 it had the necessary interventions in place and the necessary certificates substantiated the view of the level of preparation of the Department. He asked his other colleagues to respond to the specific questions that were asked in particular with regard to the sprinkler system and the other fire systems. On 7 January and again on 13 January, the Department engaged the Hawks who asked for the Department’s cooperation. The Department provided all of the information that the Hawks had required. The Hawks downloaded the necessary video information from the cameras and received access to the building when it was possible. The Department also received the Hawks’ request that it does not disclose any information about the site and the damages given that it constituted a crime scene. The Department was limited in that regard and was hesitant in engaging in debate. The Department wanted to stick to the presentation with regard to the working condition of the fire systems. He emphasised that the BDO report was a construction project management report. The three observations made by the BDO team were observations. They were not the findings of an investigation by a fire chief. He assured with the members present that the Department was cooperating with the investigation being conducted by the Hawks. The Department wanted to limit speculation and debate from its side and wanted to cooperate with the investigation. He handed over to the rest of the delegation to respond.
Mr Sazona responded to the questions around business continuity. The Department was working very close with Parliament. Parliament was providing specification and the Department went out and found accommodation. The Department, together with Parliament, had held a discussion on creating space in the Parliamentary villages in the halls. Where Members would be able to congregate in the halls if there were certain plenary sessions instead of going to Parliament. He discussed the issue of office accommodation for members. The Department was waiting for Parliament to conclude its analysis and requirements. Thereafter, the Department would find the accommodation for members. There was a floor that would be made available to the Executive Authority to use. The Department was still identifying if there were any other spaces around 120 Plein Street building for Parliament to use as well. He discussed the BDO report and the questions asked by Ms Graham on finding 20 and 21. The finding was based on the site visit on 90 Plein Street which identified two issues. One was that the exit door lock was broken. Secondly, one fire extinguisher was not services. As a measure to ensure that this was not going to happen again the Department was in the process of finalising the FM contract. Currently, the Department had its own ten contracts through its facilities management contract that was doing scheduled maintenance in the Parliamentary precinct and that was reactive and proactive maintenance. The door had since been fixed and the fire extinguisher had been serviced. The BDO report was quite clear especially with the fire extinguishers. As much as it said that the Department needed to look broadly at what was happening in the entire precinct the report acknowledged that it had not found any fire extinguishers that had not been serviced. The report that Ms Kolele had spoken about, that the Department had done annual maintenance was also a testimony to that. Every year the fire department did an inspection before SONA. The fire department, as a requirement, did an inspection of the entire facility in terms of maintenance. The Department had the relevant reports. He discussed the finding about the ventilation. A fire engineer provided the Department with a brief which it was using in order to appoint fire consultants. The Department did want its own internal fire engineer. The Department was working on the structure within its professional services team because it was not part of the structure. The Department would be appointing a fire engineer. He discussed finding 20. One of the root causes that was identified by the BDO report was the legacy system in the building. It needed to be acknowledged that this was an old building. The Department was doing everything possible to ensure that the old buildings were compliant with the current building standards that needed to be adhered to. The Department started with the Marks building and was going on with other builders. The Department was going to go to the NCOP building and Old Assembly. The Department acknowledged that the aircon system in the 90 Plein Street building was not appropriate. The Department needed to change the entire aircon system. The Department wanted the eighth floor to the fourteenth floor to be occupied by Parliament. The Department would be doing an entire refurbishment of the entire building. At this stage it was a centralised aircon system and it would be wasteful to be working on it, floor by floor. If the Department was able to deal with the entire building sooner it would be able to deal with this matter once and for all. He discussed the issue of the electrical fault and the things the Department fixed in the Old Assembly after the first fire. The Department had registered a restoration project for the fire that happened in March. At this stage, the Department had isolated the electricity into that area and that area has not been used. The Department had not yet fixed it but was in the process of fixing it. This building had now been affected by another fire and there needed to be a different approach in dealing with the Old Assembly.
Ms Kolele responded to the question about the sprinkler systems that were working before the March 2021 incident. The Department could confirm that the sprinkler system was working before the incident of 16 March 2021. The building was mostly damaged by the water that was coming in from the sprinkler system. The Department could not comment on the 2022 incident. The Department could confirm that for the 2021 incident the sprinklers were in working order. There was work carried out, as she had presented previously, but the sprinkler systems were working. She responded to the question about a service provider not being reachable over the December period. The Department could confirm that their service providers were on standby. The specific incident that occurred on 21 December 2021 was with regard to the general power outage that occurred in the Cape Town CBD. The only issue that was there was because one of the generator term contractors needed to refuel the fuel that was in the precinct. It was for almost 24 hours. The service providers were on site and dealt with their area of responsibility. All of their service providers were on standby. When a call was logged they would attend to those calls. The only other item she had reported in the previous meeting was a specific item that the service providers could not find for the camera system when the Department reported on the initial meeting. The Department could not comment on whether the sprinkler system had been chained on or off at this point. She discussed the issue of the fire alarm. When the general power outage occurred in December the Department’s systems were up and running. As part of the ongoing investigation it could not comment further on what had transpired with the fire alarm. Once the investigation had been concluded the Department would be in a position to download information from its systems. She responded to the question about the recommendations that had been made by the City of Cape Town with regard to fire. The restoration project was not yet in place and the Department was only going to appoint a service provider to commence in March 2022. This was before the latest incident had occurred. She discussed the raising of the fence behind the building and the role of SAHRA in approving the renovations. The Department had a meeting with SAHRA last week. SAHRA were partners with the Department when it came to the renovations of heritage assets of the Department. Before any work commences SAHRA reviewed the Department’s designs and review specifications. The Department would put in an application for a permit and a permit would then be issued for the Department to continue with the work. The Department did not work on a heritage building without the approval or the inspections by SAHRA. SAHRA was an interested party in most of the projects that the Department executed of the heritage nature. She discussed the frequency of maintenance and the sprinkler systems. She requested that this item be parked because it was directly linked to the ongoing investigation for the incident that occurred on 2 January. In terms of the frequency of maintenance, the Department had a consultant that was appointed to implement the FM contract on the behalf of the Department. The previous service provider was AFMS. The Department was going through the process of going through all the documents. Once a project was completed, the Department took all the final accounts and the documentation that was coming from that project and filed it in its registry. The Department was in the process of investigating exactly what had transpired with the three-year servicing period and the information that was pertaining to that specific item. The Department would report on that matter once all the information had been received. The Department would then institute consequence management with whoever was found to be the responsibly party. The Department would not be able to respond to the question of Mr Moletsane because it was directly linked to the investigation. The Department had not yet estimated the value of the restoration or rehabilitation project. She responded to the question about the consultants misleading the Department. That was an action that the Department would have to take once it reviewed all the information that it had received. The Department could confirm with the members that this issue was receiving the attention that it deserved.
Mr Fazel said that the Department would be appointing the professional experts before the close of business today to focus in three areas. They would assess the safety of the areas affected by the fire to enable SAPS to do their work. They would also assess the extent of the damages and come up with some sort of cost assessment. Finally, they would assist Parliament to assess the safety of the remaining buildings that were not affected by the fire.
Deputy Minister Kiviet discussed the BDO report and the processing of the report. The BDO report had been circulated to the members of the Portfolio Committee of Public Works and Infrastructure. She emphasised that it was never a report to track the safety of Parliament. It was a report to check on the reasons and what contributed to the delays, the overruns, which everyone could agree was a problem with respect to project management by the Department. The Department wanted the investigators to assist it in making decisions. It was out of an agreement in a meeting between the Speaker of Parliament, the Chairperson of the NCOP and the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure. It was a necessary step because at that time the Department would be point fingers at Parliament, from the officials’ side, saying that when they were ready to implement Parliament was saying no that it caused work. That caused shifts. The Department wanted a lasting solution on how to do maintenance in a manner that did not affect negatively the work of Parliament. It also went to look deeper into what else contributed to these overruns. That was the brief for the BDO report. A narrative found itself in the public domain that this report was hidden somewhere. This was an internal management report. It was a report to assist the two bodies that worked hand in glove, that was the Parliament and the Department, to find a solution to project management. It was intended to find a way to run projects in a manner that made sure projects were finished on time and Parliament was able to conduct its business on time. It was also to ensure that the Department’s projects were on budget. She wanted to emphasise this point and stated that it was more of a management report between the two institutions. It was unfortunate how the process of disseminating that information unfolded. One party thought that the other had the responsibility and vice versa. The Minister then shared that report with Parliament and there were changes that took place in between. It was an administrative glitch and the Department apologised to the Committee and to Parliament for that administrative glitch. On the issues that were raised in the report, there was a plan that the Department directed administration to work on which responded to the issues raised in the BDO report. She discussed the costs for SONA. There was a committee that also included members of Parliament which was involved in ensuring that the alternative venues were agreed upon. She did not foresee costs in this because the chamber for the municipality was what was used anyway. If there were any then that committee would have to deal with those costs. She responded to the comments about there being a lack of leadership in the Department. There were some people who believed that when they said the same things repeatedly that it became truth even though at times it was not true. In her opinion, the very step taken to get external bodies to look internally at the Department for evaluation was leadership. She compared leadership in the Department to leadership that was prepared to be transparent in its way of work and to be able to identify a problem and solve the problem. If that was a lack of leadership then she gave up. She appealed to the members, those who were entrusted with the leadership of the country had a huge responsibility to take matters of the country seriously and to take the responsibility of leadership seriously. She appealed to members that politicking on these matters that affected the nation should not be done if real solutions were to be provided to the challenges facing the country and its people. She thanked the Co-Chairpersons for the opportunity to present and respond. Some of the questions raised by members were not of the Department’s purview to respond to. The inclusion of SAPS in meetings was the purview of the Committee and of Parliament.
Ms Tyawa responded to the question of training and fire drills. She confirmed what Mr Dangor had indicated. There had been evacuation training. That was an area that Parliament would strengthen and include more members. She discussed the comments made by Ms Ntobongwana and the desktop assessments. When Parliament did a risk identification mitigation, the root cause of risks, it was a very elaborate process. Parliament never took it for granted because each unit looked at an institutional strategic objective, looked at the operational objectives and made sure that they all agreed on what could be the root cause of a risk and what were the effective mitigation strategies if they worked. Thereafter, the risks would be graded into high, medium or low and which risks could be tolerated. This was done on a quarterly basis and the report went to the audit committee. This was an independent audit committee which gave assurance to the Executive Authority that it did actually have a risk strategy, a risk register, that it was monitoring and identifying risks that were emerging. The whole process of identifying risks that fell into OSHE were done in the same manner. It was ever a desktop exercise. If Parliament did that it would be compromising its own roles as officials who were employed to work in Parliament. She discussed the OSHE unit. Parliament had five compliance officers. Their work was to make sure that the compliance committee operated and was able to look at the policies that were developed around safety. Parliament had also appointed OSHE representatives. The officials who belong to the unit of SHE was supposed to be central in ensuring that Parliament did not undermine any other risks that were brought about in the work environment. They had to make sure that the policies were operationalised. They had to drive the emergency committee which included the City of Cape Town as well as SAPS because those things happened around September 2021. She agreed with Mr Qayiso She agreed with Mr Qayiso, on performance management, that these things needed to sit within a balanced scorecard. The managers would then manage them and access the performance of each individual. She discussed the other stakeholders. She agreed that all stakeholders needed to be included, including organised labour. That was at the level of the committee that had SHE representatives. In that way this Committee would be able to activate and make sure that the terms of reference of all other subcommittees do work. She discussed how the reporting was done at that level. From that level it went on to the division report. The report then went to the branch report which was always presented on a quarterly basis to the Committee. Parliament would field questions that related to that, legal and compliance risks. Parliament would also field questions on strategic objectives and whether those strategic objectives had been met or not. That was how it should work and if it was not at that level yet, that was what Parliament was going towards. She discussed the matter of the PPS. In terms of the regulations issued by the Minister of the Department of Employment and Labour, Parliament made sure it understood what that directive said. That directive said that Parliament needed to identify Covid compliance officers and that it needed to adhere to all Covid regulations. PPS had officials working 24/7, all year round, for all the years until March 2020. Circulars that were shared with the members it would be seen that the changed happened in March 2020. In making sure that Parliament managed and mitigated the spread of Covid at that time. Parliament did not just decide that it was going to change, move people around and stop them from working. There were a lot of infections, SAPS had infections and PPS officials had infections. In terms of the directive, Parliament needed to look at the rooms that they were occupying, needed to ensure that there was proper social distancing, needed to protect them and bring in nurses to test them all the time. There was a time when most of the Parliamentary staff members were infected and those staff had to be put off to quarantine. It was not like Parliament just decide that it was going to cut the numbers. During the compulsory period it needed to be acknowledged that the officials of Parliament did receive leave. There had been intensive support for the National Health Insurance public participation and the amendment of the Children’s Amendment Act. A lot of those activities pulled out the PPS to assist in those exercises. December was a time where colleagues were allowed to rest between 16 December and 2 January. That had been the practice. When Parliament did that it worked with SAPS to assist so that when members come they could access the precinct. No one would have known that this incident would have happened during that time. She did not want to go into the space of investigations. She agreed that Parliament needed to have regular meetings with its partners, and it did that. The Deputy Minister had indicated, it had not been activated this year, but there was a standing meeting between DPWI, the Ministry and the Executive Authority. This was a meeting that had to sit every quarter since the impact of delays on a whole range of areas was acknowledged. Below that, Parliament had activated that the head of administration, that was the Secretary to Parliament, and the Director-General of Public Works had to meet all the time to look at the plans that it had. In that manner Parliament would be able to manage areas like maintenance. Once that coordinated work was started, Parliament was able to field questions in the Chief Whip’s Forum, and in the NCOP. On the refurbishment it was able to explain to the members that the kitchen in the Old Assembly building was at risk because the slab was collapsing. Parliament could offer the members that information because it began to tighten its work properly along the projects that had to be used to firm up the maintenance of Parliament. She emphasised that Parliament did not reduce it rotated in line with the conditions that existed there. On 1 January there was no issue. She noted all of the points. Some of the points where about how Parliament could improve its work. She responded to the question about the implementation plan and the dates. Parliament’s internal audit brings it actions plans based on what management committed to address. The internal audit’s operations were independent, but they were the eyes and the ears before the issue was escalated to the audit committee, before it was escalated to the AG and the EA. Once the internal audit identified the risks and the gaps they then provided an action plan. Management would then sit down and look at how it was to address those gaps and commit to dates. Management ensured that it would report on a quarterly basis. It was not an external audit person who was presenting. It was an official of Parliament who was presenting. It was an employee of Parliament who was to be the eyes and ears of Parliament in terms of internal controls that needed to be maintained. She responded to the question about SONA. As presented at a joint meeting yesterday, at this time the cost was around R1.9 million. The City Hall was not being rented. The cost would be the infrastructure and services that would have to be put in place. City Hall was a virgin hall. Parliament needed to bring in all the necessary instruments that had to make SONA work. It was a matter of practice. Parliament budgeted for SONA, but the actual expenditure depended on the quotations that it received. The quotations received reflected the work that had to be done. Parliament would then come back to the members and detail how much was spent on SONA. Currently what was presented at the Joint Programming Committee was R1.9 million and that was being budgeted for. Parliament would like to ensure that it was less or within the budget. If it exceeded that amount Parliament would come back and provide a motivation and give evidence on why it exceeded the budget that was put aside.
Co-Chairperson Mabe said that there was an assurance that SONA would continue as planned. All other Parliamentary programmes, work and Committee meetings would continue. That was the first thing that the Committee needed to appreciate. That was something South Africans would want to get an assurance on. Oversight work would not stop in both the NA and NCOP. The Joint Programming Committee had held its first meeting and all systems were in place for Committees to sit. She thanked the members for their patience, understanding, comments and questions. The members’ inputs had enriched the work and investigations of both the Executive Authority and the DPWI. The Committee assured South Africans that members would not leave a stone unturned in finding out what happened. Those who were responsible would face the might of the law. As things stood the members were informed that no one was allowed to entire the Parliamentary precinct. The area was still declared a crime scene. Only the police and forensic teams were allowed to enter the precinct. They were still busy with investigations. In the next meeting, the Committee would find a way of inviting the Cape Town fire department to present their report. The Committee also needed to know that their report did not purport to provide conclusive findings. There was still some work that needed to be done to come to a conclusion of what the findings were. The police were also identified as key role-players on this matter. The Committee would make sure that it also invited them in the next meeting. There was a proposal for an independent forensic audit that had been welcomed. Even the Deputy Minister welcomed the proposal for a forensic audit. There was also a proposal for a site visit before the sitting of SONA to check the state of readiness. The Committee would deal with the logistics and identify a team that would fly down to Cape Town to assure members of the public and Parliament that SONA would be hosted and there would not be any challenges. She agreed that the BDO report was only sent late last night. Most members did not have an opportunity to go through it. Therefore, provision would be made in the next meeting for the Department to formally present it and then members could reflect on it. She noted that the insurance issue had been responded to. Even Mr Dangor indicated to the Committee how the Government had come to that conclusion that Government buildings would not be insured. She discussed issues related to the fire hydrants, sprinklers and any fire-related equipment. The investigations were still continuing. Members should not interfere nor speculate on what the investigations were busy with. The Committee would wait for the final reports and the investigations would guide the Committee on that. These reports were just preliminary reports. To arrive at any conclusions to arrive at preliminary reports would be very dangerous. The members needed to continue being patient. As the members were patient they would continue to conduct oversight. The Committee would be inviting the police and a report from the Cape Town fire department in the next meeting which would be in the next seven days. If there were any issues that members felt were not responded to adequately then they could forward their questions to the Committee Secretariat so that that the Department or Executive Authority could then work on those questions and respond. It would be important that the Committee met again next week so that the members of the public were kept updated on progress after every seven days. The Chairperson thanked the members for their time. The work in this Committee was not and should not be considered lip service. The Committee needed to investigate in order for it to hold individuals accountable.
Ms Tyawa clarified which buildings were still off limits. It was not the entire precinct. The areas that were cornered off was the National Assembly and the NCOP buildings. The rest of the precinct was accessible.
The meeting was adjourned.
Mabe, Ms BP
Mahlangu, Ms DG
Brauteseth, Mr TJ
Dangor, Mr M
De Lille, Ms P
Dlakude, Ms DE
Graham, Ms SJ
Gwarube, Ms S
Hicklin, Ms MB
Kiviet, Ms N
Lesoma, Ms RMM
Maotwe, Ms OMC
Mashele, Mr TV
Masondo, Mr NA
Mazzone, Ms NW
Mjobo, Ms LN
Moletsane, Mr MS
Ntobongwana, Ms N
Qayiso, Mr XS
Radebe, Mr BA
Rayi, Mr M
Shaik Emam, Mr AM
Singh, Mr N
Siwisa, Ms AM
Swart, Mr SN
Thring, Mr WM
Van Schalkwyk, Ms SR
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