The Department of Performance Monitoring, Brand South Africa and Statistics South Africa presented their 2022/23 annual performance and strategic plans to the Portfolio Committee in a virtual meeting. Setting the tone for the meeting, the Minister said sessions had already been held with Parliament to find the best way to work together in ensuring the monitoring and evaluation of the performance of government and to have the ability to set alarms off when necessary.
Brand South Africa referred to the national key reputation drivers and said that in the past year national pride had improved to 68% from 64.6%, while active citizenship had declined to 59% from 60.2%, and social cohesion had slightly increased from 61.3% to 62.7%. It had engaged with other key stakeholders, including the media, which played a crucial role in building South Africa’s reputation nationally and internationally.
StatsSA said its strategic priorities included insightful data to sustain the quality of national indicators while exploring the use of alternative data sources. Other strategic priorities involved looking at an agile operating model, interconnected statistical systems, and transformed abilities. On measuring society, there were 48 statistical releases/reports scheduled for 2022/23, with a focus on education and skills, unemployment and job creation, health and vital events, poverty, inequality and population dynamics, housing and access to basic service delivery, and governance, crime, and public safety. On measuring the economy, there were 228 statistical reports/releases scheduled, which would focus on economic performance, price stability, the financial performance of government and the private sector, the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors, the environment and agriculture, and tourism and transport.
Committee Members asked about the impact of the reconfiguration of Brand South Africa, the effect of the moratorium on the vacancy rate, and how the morale of the staff was holding up. Were its organisational structure limitations adversely affecting its efficiency? They asked how the integrated indicator framework linked with the development indicators administered by the DPME, and if there was any collaboration in terms of data exchange. The Committee also wanted to know what role the DPME would play arising from the Zondo Commission report.
StatsSA referred to its programme of measuring society and said it had 48 statistical releases/reports scheduled for 2022/23, with a focus on education and skills, unemployment and job creation, health and vital events, poverty, inequality and population dynamics, housing and access to basic service delivery, and governance, crime, and public safety. On measuring the economy, there were 228 statistical reports/releases scheduled, which would be focused on economic performance, price stability, the financial performance of government and the private sector, the primary, secondary, and tertiary sector, the environment and agriculture, and tourism and transport.
The Committee asked whether StatsSA was confident that the critical vacancies in the organisation would be sustainably filled and whether these vacancies were the key reason for the census process falling behind schedule.
Minister's opening remarks
In his opening remarks, Mr Mondli Gungubele, Minister in the Presidency, introduced the presenters of Brand South Africa, Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), and the Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME). He said that some of the things that the Department was in the process of developing were legislation to ensure institutionalised monitoring and evaluation. This was an area that still needed work, where the systems, language and everything that was involved in monitoring and evaluation were equally shared by those who were being monitored and evaluated, and by those who were doing the monitoring and evaluating.
Another area that was being aimed at being improved was ensuring that Parliament was part of the capacity of monitoring and evaluation. There were already sessions that had been held with Parliament to find the best way to work together in ensuring the monitoring and evaluation of the performance of government and to have the ability to set alarms off when necessary.
Brand South Africa's Annual Performance Plan 2022/23
Ms Sithembile Ntombela, Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Brand South Africa, reminded the Committee that the purpose of Brand South Africa was to develop and implement proactive and coordinated marketing, communications, and reputation management strategies for South Africa. This was done by building South Africa’s confidence and brand nationally and internationally to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). This was aligned with the medium-term strategic framework (MTSF), the priorities of the State of the Nation Address (SONA), the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP), and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
She said that Brand South Africa, like other countries, used the six national hexagon pillars to implement its activities. This included a consideration of exports, people, culture and heritage, governance, tourism, and investment and immigration. This was important because it gave South Africa a competitive brand nationally and internationally.
In considering the national key reputation drivers, national pride had improved to 68.0% from 64.6%, active citizenship had declined to 59.0% from 60.2%, and social cohesion had slightly increased from 61.3% to 62.7%.
She said that like other stakeholders, the media was a crucial part of building South Africa's reputation nationally and internationally. Brand South Africa was working with such stakeholders to ensure the country's good branding was articulated in the six pillars of the national hexagon.
Brand South Africa's five-year strategic plan includes a focus on increased attractiveness and the competitiveness of the national brand, increased nation brand advocacy and active citizenship, and an aligned national brand execution and experience domestically and internationally.
Ms Ntombela described the organisation's overall annual performance plan (APP) outputs.
Programme one was administration, whose purpose was to provide strategic leadership, management, and support services to the core business functions of Brand South Africa and was responsible overall for ensuring sound governance, high performance and optimal utilisation of available capital and resources.
(Outcomes available in the attached presentation)
Programme two of the APP was focused on brand, marketing and reputation management, where the purpose was to develop and articulate a brand identity that would advance South Africa's long-term positive reputation and global competitiveness. This included using research to monitor the sentiment and performance of the national brand
Programme three dealt with stakeholder relationships and was aimed at building and leveraging collaborative partnerships, integrating and coordinating efforts and approaches to marketing the national brand identity, promoting the nation's value proposition, and interfacing meaningfully with stakeholders who drive or influence perceptions of the nation's brand and its reputation.
Mr Khathutshelo Maposa, Chief Financial Officer (CFO): Brand South Africa, said that for the 2022/23 financial year R93.5 million had been budgeted for brand marketing and reputation management, R18.8 million for stakeholder relationships, and R105.7 million for administration. The total projected budget was R218 million for 2022/23, R219 million for 2023/24, and R229 million for 2024/25.
Statistics South Africa's Annual Performance Plan 2022/23
Mr Risenga Maluleke, Statistician-General, said the entity's vision was to improve lives through data ecosystems, with a mission to transform the production, coordination and use of statistics through optimisation, innovation and partnerships.
The strategic priorities of StatsSA included insightful data to sustain the quality of national indicators while exploring the use of alternative data sources. Other strategic priorities included looking at an agile operating model, interconnected statistical systems, and transformed abilities.
On the programme of measuring society, he said that StatsSA had 48 statistical releases/reports scheduled for 2022/23, with a focus on education and skills, unemployment and job creation, health and vital events, poverty, inequality and population dynamics, housing and access to basic service delivery, and governance, crime, and public safety.
On measuring the economy, there were 228 statistical reports/releases scheduled for 2022/23 which would be focused on economic performance, price stability, the financial performance of government and the private sector, the primary, secondary, and tertiary sector, the environment and agriculture, and tourism and transport.
The highlights on population and social statistics included the extension of census collection, the main release of the census in April 2023, the commencement of the Income and Expenditure Survey in the third quarter, and the release of various thematic reports on transport, education, child statistics, gender, marginalised groups and food security.
The economic statistics included the report with experimental residential property price Indices, the discussion document on quarterly capital expenditure, the feasibility study for quarterly financial statistics of selected municipalities' (QFSSM) administrative data, and the research report to expand the coverage of the natural capital accounts series. Some of the innovations would include the digitisation of the consumer price index (CPI) and initial research into the use of administrative data to supplement the annual financial statistics.
The highlights of the national statistics system included the 17 sustainable development goals (SDG) reports, research on the National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS) which would commence, and the review of the integrated indicator framework, including the District Development Model (DDM) indicators.
Mr Maluleke said that the highlights of statistical methods, operations and support were the conduct of the post-enumeration survey (PES), the dissemination of census results, the testing of Integrated operations in provinces and website re-design, and the implementation of the geo-portal for the dissemination of statistical products.
The highlights of corporate support included the digital business transformation strategy, with some innovations focused on the institutionalisation of business process management, including the modernisation of corporate support functions.
The strategic risks were that the demand for statistics far outweighed the supply. This would be mitigated by investing in strategic partnerships that went beyond StatsSA.
He said that StatsSA had discontinued and reduced surveys mainly due to funding constraints. This would be mitigated by having various thematic reports and by researching alternative data sources.
Mr Maluleke referred to the business operating model strategic risk and said StatsSA continued to be disrupted, especially in household surveys, due to the lack of willingness to participate by the citizenry. Therefore, this required the modernisation of the statistics value chain, including the use of alternative data sources.
He added that there was a continuing high vacancy rate at StatsSA due to insufficient funding to fill the vacancies. This would be mitigated by the reprioritisation and filling of critical vacancies. This would also require re-skilling for the new environment.
StatsSA’s five-year strategic plan was focused on driving legislative reform, sustaining, and protecting the quality of national indicators, and driving business transformation and change.
Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation Annual Performance Plan 2022/23
Dr Ntsiki Tshayingca-Mashiya, Deputy Director-General, DPME, said the Department's three core functions -- evaluation, planning and monitoring -- were aligned with the National Development Plan (NDP) and the MTSF. She added that the DPME wanted to be an efficient and effective department that was characterised by good corporate governance and ethical leadership.
In the programmes of the DPME, administration was one of the programmes whose purpose was to provide strategic leadership, management and support services to the Department. Other programmes included the National Planning Commission, national planning coordination, sector monitoring services, public sector monitoring and capacity development, and evaluation, evidence and knowledge systems.
Ms Merle Frankfort, CFO, DPME, said that the total budget allocation for 2022/23 was R470 million The projected budget for the 2023/24 financial year was R466 million, and for 2024/25 it was R487 million.
Ms T Mgweba (ANC) said the reconfiguration of Brand South Africa had resulted in a moratorium on staff recruitment, and in the last presentation, the Committee had been told that it had been lifted in October 2021, thus allowing the entity to fill the job vacancies for the two years. Had this had an impact on the vacancy rate? How was the morale of the staff, and what was the staff turnover rate?
She said Brand South Africa had been engaged in raising awareness campaigns against social ills, particularly against gender-based violence (GBV). She therefore asked about the relationship or the collaboration that it had with the Department of Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities. She also asked for Brand South Africa’s strategy to educate young people about the impact of these social ills.
She welcomed StatsSA’s development of the Integrated Indicator Framework. However, how was this framework linked to the development indicators administered by the DPME, and were there any collaborations in terms of data exchange?
She asked about the key lessons taken by the DPME from the development of the monitoring and evaluation tool for the DDM, and if this was addressing the service delivery challenges faced by the Department.
Ms C Motsepe (EFF) said Brand South Africa’s organisational structure was last reviewed in 2014 and did not correspond to the current mandate of the organisation. She asked how this impacted the organisation's efficiency.
Brand South Africa had suffered a 9% cut from its annual budget in the 2022/23 financial year. She asked what the motivation for the budget cuts had been, including the impact of such cuts on its national and international programmes.
Was there any strategy to improve the national footprint in all nine provinces?
Mr J McGluwa (DA) asked how the DPME would deal with the work arising from the Zondo Commission report that had been released.
Mr Z Mbhele (DA) asked whether StatsSA was confident that the critical vacancies would be sustainably filled. He also asked whether the critical vacancies had been the key reason for the census process having fallen behind the deadline.
Ms M Ntuli (ANC) referred to StatsSA’s national indicators and asked if anything was assisting the country to address its socioeconomic issues.
Minister Gungubele said that the issue of Brand South Africa’s future was something that was being attended to. Factors that were being looked at included whether it was a sectoral structure or a national structure.
Ms Thandi Tobias, Chairperson of Brand South Africa's Board of Trustees, said that Brand South Africa was currently configured on an ad hoc basic in order to facilitate stability and progress for the organisation to function. At some point, the issue of reconfiguration would be answered, as this was a process that the Executive Authority had taken to the highest officer for finalisation.
She said that the post of a researcher had been filled, based on a two-year contract which could be reviewed.
She said that Brand South Africa tended not to experience natural attrition, but the experience was often around people not being sure about their job security, which led to staff turnover. The vacancy rate would be explained in the presentation of the quarterly report, where its impact would be outlined.
The work of Brand South Africa had been focused mainly on building a brand in an international space, which was a competing need, as the Committee’s intentions had been for it to emphasise national campaigns. This would be an ongoing debate until the tabling of the strategic intervention.
A focus on GBV had not been part of the core functions of Brand South Africa approved by Parliament and the Executive. This had arisen because of the challenges that were being experienced in the country. Therefore, as much as Brand South Africa would like to work on issues relating to GBV, it was limited because of the lack of funds.
Regarding the suggestion about educating the youth about social ills, she said that the focus should be on institutions of higher education. She added that work had been done in schools, including the distribution of sanitary pads to young people. However, there was still more work that should be done.
It had been raised with the Executive that the organisational structure needed to be changed. This was a matter that was being attended to.
Ms Ntombela said that the organisational structure of Brand South Africa had been reviewed in 2014, going into 2015, during the pronouncement of the moratorium. The industry norm was to allow at least three years to see if the effects of the structure worked or not. This, therefore, had led to the first moratorium, which had been at the end of 2018 and subsequently in 2019.
Some of the posts filled included the CFO, the Director of Corporate Services, the Supply Chain Manager, and a researcher. The manager in the office of the CEO was in the process of being filled, as well as other positions.
Mr Maluleke confirmed that StatsSA was working with the DPME and the National Planning Commission on the integrated indicator framework and the national Indicators,. One issue was that the DPME looks at issues of planning and implementation of the programmes from the side of the government, while the National Planning Commission looks at issues of planning. As such at the national level, when looking at the NDP, there were indicators that formed part of the integrated indicator framework through which there was continuous engagement. He added that StatsSA maintained independence from issues of programmes or the terrain where policy and planning were being made, whereas the DPME and the National Planning Commission look at issues of policy frameworks in terms of tracking the monitoring and evaluation of programmes. This also included engagement at an international level.
He added that the inability to fill the vacant posts had had a major impact on the way StatsSA dealt with issues of staffing and strategic human development, including the upward mobility of staff members, as well as the morale of staff members in having confidence in the sustainability of working with StatsSA. He added that there were no areas that had not been affected by the vacancies.
StatsSA was not directly involved with the international agencies that did assessments from time to time. This was mainly because these agencies had policy positions that they were following, and StatsSA did not take a policy position, although the statistics were drawn from StatsSA.
Dr Tshayingca-Mashiya asked that the DPME submit a report of the results of the monitoring done at the DDM.
She said that there was a special team in the Presidency that was dealing with the Zondo Commission report. However, what the DPME was talking about was the evaluation that had been done of the institutions that might have a responsibility for the implementation of the report.
Mr Henk Serfontein, Acting Deputy Director General (DDG): Public Sector Monitoring and Capacity Development, DPME, said that the Department was developing frameworks, strategies and protocols to monitor disasters.
Mr Godfrey Mashamba, DDG: Evidence and Knowledge Systems, DPME, said that the evaluation programme looks at various policy programmes of government. In the area of fighting corruption, the DPME had done a rapid evaluation.
The Chairperson thanked the presenters, and acknowledged the presence of the Minister.
The meeting was adjourned.
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