In a virtual meeting, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) said its 2022/23 Annual Performance Plan targets included increasing job opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) each quarter; improve its employment equity targets and prioritise improving its vacancy rate. It acknowledged the devastating impact of the KZN floods and the role DPWI will play in reconstruction. It also detailed its plans in response to the Parliament fire.
It gave a breakdown of the 2022/23 budget which has a R200 million increase primarily driven by an increase in the EPWP and Programme 4: Property and Construction Industry Policy and Research.
Members expressed concern about the planned response to the Parliament fire; if the number of bridges built would increase in response to the KZN floods; and what it was doing to ensure payment of creditors within 30 days.
The Chairperson noted the load shedding challenges might curtail the meeting agenda.
DPWI 2022/23 Annual Performance Plan (APP)
Mr Imtiaz Fazel, DPWI Acting Director General, spoke to the DPWI strategic overview, programme performance overview, key strategic risks and budget. The National Annual Strategic Priorities Cabinet Lekgotla priorities relevant to DPWI were:
1. Massify job creation and infrastructure – the EPWP programme is DPWI key job mechanism in construction and maintenance projects plus investment in infrastructure through Infrastructure SA as well as the gazetted strategic integrated projects (SIPs).
2. Structural reforms and ease of doing business
3. Better leveraging public procurement
4. Basic services, electricity & water and sanitation
5. Food security & household income with 1 million work opportunities created each year
6. Eradicate title deeds backlog
7. Corruption prosecutions – DPWI has a comprehensive anti-corruption programme. Along with SIU it launched the Infrastructure Built Anti-Corruption Forum (IBACF) for the construction sector
8. Reduce violent crime – DPWI is refurbishing vacant buildings for use as shelters by the provincial social development departments and using government buildings to raise awareness about gender-based violence.
Mr Lwazi Mahlangu-Mthembu, DPWI Acting Deputy Director-General: Governance, Risk and Compliance spoke to the seven strategic plan outcomes. For each outcome, there are APP indicators followed by their three-year, annual and quarterly targets. He noted the ethics and fraud perception rating derived through an ethics perception survey on how the Department is perceived.
The Department has identified the key risks for each outcome and come up with risk mitigation for those; for example, External shocks/natural hazards (Covid-19 / Pandemic / Fires) which is mitigated by: business continuity plans, adherence to Covid-19 regulations, disaster recovery plan, fire and emergency reports, and evacuation drills.
Mr Aaron Mazibuko, DPWI Chief Director: Financial Management, presented the budget. R8.5 billion was for the department with an increase of R200 million (2.4%). Of the five programmes, the R200 million increase was mostly driven by an increase in the EPWP and Programme 4: Property and Construction Industry Policy and Research.
About 87% (R22.7 billion) of the budget is allocated to transfers and subsidies for DPWI entities, and for conditional grants to provinces and municipalities for EPWP implementation. The remaining 13% (R3.3 billion) is earmarked for compensation of employees, and goods and services. Over the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF), DPWI will continue to focus on: creating work opportunities; providing better oversight, cooperation and service delivery; and facilitating skills development in the construction and property sectors.
Ms Juanita Prinsloo, DPWI Chief Director: Financial Planning and Reporting (PMTE), presented the Property Management and Trading Entity budget. A R4.4 billion transfer from DPWI was received. Other sources of revenue include: management fees on municipal services (R255 million) and accommodation usage charges (R5.8 billion).
Programmes with the most budget allocation are the real estate management services programme followed by construction management services. A key component of PMTE funds will be channeled towards improving access for people with disabilities by completing 48 accessibility infrastructure projects to retrofit buildings over the three-year medium term. It will execute refurbishment, repair and capital projects for 24 departments, including correctional centres, police stations, courts, office buildings and prisons. These projects are projected to cost R19.3 billion over the MTEF period and a further R4.4 billion has been allocated for building maintenance.
PMTE will focus on developing precincts to support efficient and integrated government planning by grouping departments that provide similar services to make service delivery more efficient; refurbishing and maintaining government buildings; and developing 12 small fishing harbours.
Mr M Dangor (ANC, Gauteng) asked who takes care of the insurance where there is letting of government property to private sector clients? This question was deferred to the end of the presentation as the first question to be responded to.
The Chairperson expressed his interest in what the Department had planned about the Parliament fire as the presentation was silent about the work that will be done by DPWI to respond to the fire. His second question was if it anticipated there might be a need for an adjustment budget due to the KZN flood?
Ms S Boshoff (DA, Mpumalanga) asked if DPWI was able to estimate how long it is going to take for everything to go back to normal. DPWI said 161 000+ hectares of land is being released for infrastructure development programmes and socio-economic objectives. Can it describe what development and socio-economic objectives is it referring to? She also referred to the budget designated for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
There are about 30 vacant state-owned properties that it will let out for GBV work over a three-year period. In which provinces are these properties? There are a number of preventative maintenance contracts to reduce maintenance. Will these be in certain provinces only or at national level? For the anti-corruption hotline, how will the people who call in to give information be protected? How many of these cases have been received and how were they addressed? What about internal corruption and fraud – how is this being addressed and how many cases are there so far?
Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked how DPWI arrive at the fraud and ethics perception ratings.
How are the surveys conducted? It would have been good if there was an indicator and target percentage for the fraud and corruption outcomes.
Mr Rayi felt that DPWI was behind compared to other departments in employing people with disabilities as DPWI is currently at 2% not 3% and is projecting 2% for the MTEF which is a concern. Employment of women is 40% while other departments are at 50% and above. The target he was interested in ensuring is that creditors are paid within 30 days as this is crucial and should form part of the DPWI APP. Business owners are crying as they lose their business because they are not paid on time. This is also part of corruption where people must now bribe to get paid; therefore it should form part of the APP.
With its vacancy rate, DPWI is behind as most departments are at 10%. He asked if DPWI is saying that it will spend only 27% in Quarter 1 of its budget allocation. Unoccupied stated-owned properties have been made available to provide shelter to GBV survivors. However, that will only be done in the second quarter. What if there is a need before that? Would it not be cheaper for DPWI to rather use paving than to have contracts for lawn mowing? What is the role of SANRAL for the Welisizwe Rural Bridges Programme?
[Mr Rayi took over as acting chairperson as the Chairperson experienced load shedding].
Mr Fazel replied that the Treasury regulations make reference to self-insurance therefore government is required to take its own risk for damage to buildings. The only exception is movable assets as departments are allowed to insure movable assets but only up to a certain level each year. In the case of Parliament, it was not allowed to insure that building or any other building given the Treasury regulations. There have been discussions with National Treasury about insuring part of its portfolio, such as the national key points including the Union Buildings and other critical infrastructure.
DPWI has completed phase 1 of the assessment of the fire damage at Parliament which is an initial assessment required to point out a general overview of the structural damage of Parliament to identify and determine the safety of the Old Assembly as well as the National Assembly buildings so that a forensic investigation can take place. Cabinet was also briefed on the outcome of phase 1 of the assessment conducted by DPWI with the assistance of experts. The outcome is that the Old Assembly is in a position to be revived through a refurbishment project as it is mainly the top floor that is damaged. The National Assembly has significant damage to the central infrastructure from floors 2 to 6. All this now leads to phase 2 which has already commenced as the Hawks has completed its forensic investigation which was necessary before phase 2 commenced. A detailed assessment and options will be given to DPWI on the extent of the damage as part of phase 2 using independent structural engineers which will provide information and direction about refurbishment and repair costs for the two buildings. This is expected to be completed by 2 May.
With the KZN flood, DPWI does not have accurate information on the impact and if it would be necessary to reprioritize the DPWI budget. However, DPWI will play a significant role in the response plans and information arising from the analysis of the damage.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is an intergovernmental organisation that maintains grave sites abroad as well as other infrastructure commemorating deaths in the various world wars where South African soldiers have died. This is in fact property that belongs to South Africa and Public Works therefore this is where the budget contribution to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission goes. A study was done of this expense and it was found that the centralized maintenance intervention provided by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is an economic way for us to maintain our facilities abroad.
On the timeline to reach normality in Parliament, three workstreams have been established in response to the Parliament fire: the infrastructure workstream, the fire prevention and response workstream and the business continuity workstream to identify alternative accommodation to compensate for the loss of infrastructure as a result of the fire.
The Welisizwe Rural Bridges Programme is a partnership between DPWI and South African National Defence Force (SANDF) engineers who are responsible for the construction of these bridges. Public Works plays the role of implementing plans and providing oversight. Therefore, this does not involve SANRAL. It is exclusively DPWI, SANDF and the provincial department of transport.
The Anti-Corruption Hotline is administered independently by the Public Service Commission. A whistleblower engages with the PSC directly and receives anonymity and communicates with DPWI through the PSC. DPWI is provided with a transcript of the conversation, with the PSC at centre. Through that the whistleblower has plausible deniability due to the separation of the conversation. The DPWI anti-corruption unit investigates the corruption cases and a lot of them have been referred to the police, with much success. Within the last five years there has been about 215 investigations.
Mr Mahlangu replied that the fraud and ethics surveys are conducted anonymously to get more feedback. The Department works internally with its ICT to ensure they get maximum responses and also protection as details are confidential. They stratify the information into various categories within the system to see which areas are within a high risk for corruption. Dual reporting is used by DPWI to show that there is continuity in government programmes. This explains the interplay between the Annual Operational Plan (AOP) and the APP.
Ms Sasa Subban, DPWI DDG: Real Estate Investment Services, replied that 83 properties spread across the 11 regional offices were identified and inspected (because some of the properties were occupied) and through the inspection 30 properties were found suitable to be used by the Department of Social Development in the various provinces. DPWI is busy with the maintenance or refurbishment of those various properties. For example, in Cape Town six properties and in Pretoria two properties have been selected and upgraded. DPWI is busy with the administration that goes with handing over the buildings to the Department of Social Development.
The Land Reform Programme constitutes three areas. Restitution is for qualifying beneficiaries through the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform (DARDLR) where the land is under DPWI custodianship and it is then released directly through DARDLR. Redistribution is mainly agricultural land identified in suitable agricultural areas via Rural Development. Land is identified for human settlements development by the Housing Development Agency and DPWI supports the programme by releasing land through the criteria developed. It works with the Department of Human Settlements to identify suitable land to release. Economic disposals of land where land is released to entities such as SANRAL, ESKOM, SASOL as well as municipalities for various servitudes and to the Department of Minerals and Energy where mining rights have been obtained on certain land. This supports economic development as well.
Mr Mzwandile Sazona, DPWI Chief Director: Prestige Policy, explained the business continuity programme ensures there is continuity in the activities of Parliament such as the State of the Nation Address (SONA) was held in the City Hall. DPWI was able to assist in putting in place the necessary infrastructure including security measures.
DPWI has also made office accommodation available to parliamentarians mainly in the NCOP building. Accommodation has also been provided across the road at 100 Plein Street. Those are temporary solutions. It is looking at the outcome of phase 2 assessment to establish how long restoration will take.
Ms Thembi Hlatswayo, DPWI Chief Director: Human Resource Management, replied that DPWI has a lot to do to reach its target of 50% women as they are currently at 40.2%. DPWI is struggling to meet the EE targets for women and people with disabilities. The Department identified positions which would be ring fenced for women and it is in the process of filling those positions. For people with disabilities, DPWI was at 1% and the target was 2% and positions will also be ring fenced to meet targets.
There is a challenge with the vacancy rate due to internal promotions. For example when 20 positions are advertised, 15 of the 20 positions filled are though promotions and five would be people from outside. This opens up a further 15 vacancies thus the change in the vacancy rate seems minimal even though a lot of work is being done. She suggested that in future DPWI reports the positions filled by internal promotions. From February 2022, 360 positions were advertised by DPWI and 46 were Senior Management Service (SMS) positions and it is in the process of filling these positions. 65 of the vacant positions are now at the job evaluation stage. There are challenges that will affect the 20% target such as the delay in receiving criminal record feedback and qualifications have to be verified. The Department will provide a report on this matter. More capacity has been requested in the HR environment to handle the filling of vacancies.
Mr Mazibuko, DPWI Chief Director: Financial Management, replied that DPWI has a system it uses to track the invoices due and how long those invoices have been due. With the system they are able to identify invoices that are about to reach 25 days so they start communicating with the branches to sort out any issues with the invoice or payment. The finance team has the responsibility of engaging with the units on outstanding payments. On a weekly basis there is a meeting with the regional offices every Friday for reports on any challenges with the system. If there is non-compliance where a unit did not respond when reminded, the unit will be requested to provide reasons in writing. If the reasons are not valid, the matter will be referred to labour relations. The system and the Friday meetings have contributed to the huge improvement in 30-day payments.
Ms Boshoff asked for more clarity on the ringfencing of positions for EE purposes. Are they senior or junior positions? Are the DPWI offices conducive for people with disabilities? Have discussions taken place with SAPS to see how they can remedy the criminal record delay and fast-track it?
Mr Dangor asked if the graves of South African soldiers in Libya are being looked after.
Ms Hlatswayo replied that for women the ring-fenced positions are only at SMS level and for people with disabilities it is for all levels within DPWI. The DPWI security unit is liaising with the relevant department to sort out the criminal record delay and there are discussions in place.
Mr Clive Mtshisa, DPWI DDG: Corporate Services, clarified that there are no difficulties with SAPS and that the bigger challenge is with screening as the timeline tends to be a bit longer.
Mr Fazel confirmed that DPWI maintains the graves in Libya and all is well.
Deputy Minister's response
Ms Noxolo Kiviet, Deputy Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, said that DPWI sends condolences to the victims and families of the KZN floods. She referred to the number of bridges in the APP and said that yesterday DPWI decided to increase the number as some KZN communities are cut off from the main economic activities. The SANDF is on site doing the necessary measurements to allow the work to be done as soon as possible. There is immediate work taking place due to the impact of the KZN floods. There are plans in place to urgently find land to relocate communities affected by the floods. Experts working with DPWI are establishing the suitability of land for relocation.
The President has directed that each district in the country should have a GBV facility. These have been scouted and looked at by DPWI as shown in the report. Accessibility of these facilities is a factor to ensure that communities are able to access the facilities.
The backlog of 18 000 invoices was reduced significantly last year and wiped out. DPWI is now working with current invoices. This is in its effort to ensure payments are made within 30 days.
The meeting was adjourned.
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