Electoral Amendment Bill deliberations; Government Printing Works investigation; with Minister
05 July 2022
Chairperson: Mr M Chabane (ANC)
Tracking the Electoral Reform Legislation in Parliament
A Parliamentary Legal Adviser provided a recap on the Electoral Amendment Bill deliberations, detailing the decisions made. Members agreed in principle that independent candidates should be included in the concept of a “party liaison committee” and that this be amended. The IEC proposed “political liaison committee”. The Committee was yet to decide on this proposal or consider an alternate name.
Outstanding decisions the Committee still needed to agree on included clauses 1, 2 and 4, signature requirement, deposit requirement, ‘cooling-off period’, multiple regions, clause 11, and residency and registration requirements for independent candidates.
The Electoral Commission (IEC) gave a detailed response briefing to Committee queries on the 2019 regional quotas per seat; difference between allocating remaining seats by highest remainder method versus average number of votes per seat and some other policy matters. The management of signatures will only be viable if they were submitted electronically. Instant verification capability would be required. The submission dates must align with the prescribed dates in the Election Timetable. There was an imperative to finalise candidate nomination so that the complex process of printing ballots may commence. More time was required for the ballot production. The Commission had on several occasions indicated to the Committee that it would not offer preferred policy options for the electoral system. Its focus was on the practical implications of policy options before the Committee. Three outstanding policy decisions by the Committee were: 1) the ‘cooling-off period’ for independent candidates; 2) participation of independents in compensatory seats and 3) if the 400 National Assembly seats consist of 200 or 100 compensatory seats.
The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) had not yet finalised its approach on several policy matters. The Minister requested this be postponed until 12 July. The Chairperson was disappointed by this delay. Committee members enunciated their views on the items that still needed a firm decision by the Committee. Some Members were concerned that the proposed seat allocation system had not been used anywhere else in the world and there was no reference for how it worked and its outcomes. The Chairperson noted that after the detailed response by DHA in the next meeting the Committee would resolve the outstanding policy matters. This would allow the A-List to be drafted.
The Minister of Home Affairs introduced the Panel he appointed to investigate Government Printing Works (GPW) after its server collapsed in February 2021 and allegations were made about sabotage. Its terms of reference included probing and making recommendations on the ICT systems failure, loss of critical state information, leaking of information to entities external to GPW, governance systems and labour relations between the employer and organized labour. One of the results of the server collapse was the irrecoverable loss of GPW financial data for 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 which has delayed the audits for both years.
The Panel’s key direct finding is that the server collapse was caused by poor maintenance of the ICT infrastructure due to the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and his team not knowing how to perform proper functions on the server, such as loading discs, scrubbing them before loading new data and ensuring there were proper backups. All of this was accompanied by a lack of support and maintenance contracts with service providers for the servicing of ICT equipment. Underpinning this is a failure of management and supervision which was the ultimate cause of systemic failures at GPW.
Committee Members noted that the server collapse was due to gross negligence. There needed to be a clear plan on how GPW intended to address the Panel report recommendations. The Committee needed to hold GPW accountable for the implementation of the recommendations. Members asked what action was going to be taken against the Chief Information Officer (CIO) who had resigned and how to ensure that a similar incident did not occur ever again.
The Minister said that he would personally oversee the implementation of the recommendations, especially from the expert panel and various organisations engaged to ensure that GPW did not regress. Quite a number of the shortcomings had already been dealt with or were in the process of being dealt with. His initial concern that it was sabotage had not been corroborated.
The Committee resolved to schedule a follow up progress report with the Department and GPW later in the year. The Committee requested the full report of the Panel.
The Chairperson noted that in its 28 June 2022 meeting the Minister requested that he not present the Ministerial Task Team report on the review of permits because of the unavailability of the task team. The Committee understood and processed that request. The Committee agreed that the Chairperson had to consult with the legal team on whether it could obtain the report beforehand. The Committee did that exercise and it was agreed that the Minister would present the report and release the report to the Committee on the day of the report presentation on 8 July. The Committee was not able to deal with the permit review report on 8 July. This was because when the Committee applied for permission to proceed with committee work during recess, it had requested only Electoral Amendment Bill deliberations. Therefore, the Committee had to include the permit report with deliberations on the Amendment Bill.
On 8 July, Electoral Amendment Bill deliberations were not scheduled so the meeting could not go ahead even though the Minister had requested a full meeting to present the permit report. There were two processes the Committee resolved on that the Minister needed to note: 1) The Minister will present a summarised version in the next Committee meeting because it would be continuing with the Electoral Amendment Bill deliberations; 2) The Minister would then release the full report to the Committee as it would have dealt with the summarised version. In the third term, the Committee would allocate time for the Minister and task team to deliberate on the permit report. At that point, the Committee would hope that the report recommendations would have been carried out and the Minister would brief it on the progress made.
That was the Committee’s view of the process to deal with the permit report. It "appeared" that the Minister was running away from presenting the report. That was an incorrect narrative. The Committee work was programmed. If there was no slot for the Minister to present the report to the Committee then the Committee had to schedule in future for that report. The Committee noted that it was an important report that had to come to it. On 12 July 2022, a summarised version of the report would be tabled, and then the Committee would continue to deliberate on the Electoral Amendment Bill.
On the Electoral Amendment Bill, the Committee needed to isolate the issues that it was not able to find consensus on. A draft A-List was required for the purpose of finalising the Amendment Bill. In the 28 June meeting, the Committee resolved that the Department needed to consult with its legal counsel and draft a memo on three policy matters. One was the Droop formula which the IEC had explained and which the Committee had agreed in principle to use. There were also seat vacancies and number of ballots. The Committee would receive the IEC response on the Regional Seats: Droop Quota (item 4).
The Chairperson asked if Members understood the process for dealing with the permit review report.
Mr A Roos (DA) agreed that the process was okay. The Committee would receive a summarised version of the report. His understanding was that the Committee would receive the report and then just receive a brief summary of it in the presentation. Then the Committee would consider it next term. He imagined that the report would contain a lot of information that Members would have to go over in preparation for next term. The Committee would not be able to do that from a summarised report. The Committee would need to receive the full report. Then the Committee would deliberate on it fully in the next term. He was happy with everything else.
Mr K Pillay (ANC) supported the view that the Committee receive a summarised presentation. However, the Committee would still get the opportunity for a full day to deliberate. Members would need to go through the report thoroughly and understand it to be able to raise pertinent discussion when the time arises.
Ms A Khanyile (DA) was in support that the permit review report presentation be done on 12 July by the Minister and then the Committee would be given the full report for Members to go through in preparation for next term.
Ms T Legwase (ANC) agreed that the Committee should be furnished with a summary version of the report and at a later stage, the Committee would get an opportunity to engage with the presentation.
Ms M Modise (ANC) said that the Committee should have the presentation on 12 July and then the Committee would be furnished with the full report that it would deal with in the next term.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would receive a recap on the Electoral Amendment Bill. The Committee needed to take resolution so that it was able to proceed with the A-List.
Recap on Electoral Amendment Bill deliberations
Adv Siviwe Njikela, Senior Parliamentary Legal Adviser, detailed the deliberation decisions and outstanding issues. There were many outstanding issues that the Committee still needed to agree on. These were on clauses 1, 2 and 4, the signature requirement, the deposit requirement, the ‘cooling-off period’, multiple regions and clause 11.
Clause 1: Definitions
Members agreed in principle that independent candidates should be included in the concept of “party liaison committees”. Consensus was also reached that the term “party liaison committee” should accordingly be amended. The IEC proposed the term “political liaison committee”. The Committee was yet to decide on the proposal by the IEC or consider an alternate name.
Clause 2: Party candidates registered to vote in the region
The Committee was yet to reach consensus on the residency and registration requirements for independent candidates. Political party candidates had a different requirement to that of independent candidates. It was emphasised that if the intention was for the same requirements to apply to both independent and party candidates then certain clauses should be redrafted.
The Committee was yet to reach consensus on this. The nomination form of an independent candidate must contain a prescribed minimum number of signatures of voters whose names appear on the segment of the voters’ roll for the region or province in which the candidate is standing for election. There was consensus that a nomination for an independent candidate should be accompanied by a prescribed number of voter signatures in support of the nomination. However, the actual number of signatures or the formula for this in the Bill was outstanding.
The Committee was yet to reach consensus on this. This requirement provides that a deposit of a prescribed amount should be attached to a nomination for a candidate to stand in an election. A consensus was reached that an independent candidate should pay a deposit. However, the Committee was yet to decide if independent candidates should pay the same deposit amount as parties.
This provision required a prescribed declaration from the independent candidate, confirming that s/he has not been a member of a political party for at least three months preceding the date of nomination. Consensus was reached on this but clarity is sought if the IEC would have enough time to verify and process signatures.
A question arising from deliberations is whether to allow independent candidates to run across several regions, as per the IEC’s latest proposal, or just for one region or nationally, as for political parties. More members were of the view that independent candidates should only be able to contest in the region where they are registered as voters. The other view was that independent candidates should be allowed to participate in all regions and aggregate their votes at a national level if they fail to secure a seat in order to promote proportional representation. This needed to be decided on by the Committee and how it would impact party candidates.
The Chairperson said that the Committee was being careful about the decisions taken. The Committee ought to wait for both the IEC and the Department to brief it on some of the issues. The Committee may need to zoom in to resolve these or isolate the options. The Committee would then be able to move forward and facilitate the drafting of the A-List. There were some items that were referred to the IEC for it to regulate rather than be stipulated in the Bill.
In the last meeting, there were two issues where Members seemed to have different views. The Chairperson did not want the Committee to enter into the last step of engaging in a vote. He rather wanted Members to find common ground on the issues before the Committee, informed by the guidance provided by the stakeholders. The Committee would deliberate once both stakeholders, the Department and the IEC, had made their presentations so that the process was not complicated. That was the better option. He asked for guidance from the Committee.
Mr Pillay said that it would actually assist Members if it received all the presentations and then deliberated. He supported that proposal. Mr Roos seconded that proposal.
The Chairperson invited the Department to comment on the issues raised in the recap. The Committee would receive comment from the State Law Advisor and Parliamentary Legal Advisor.
Minister & Department input on outstanding items
Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, said that the Director-General would deliver a report on what the Department’s legal team was saying about these issues. He noted addresses and if an independent candidate in a region could contest more than one region, DHA was worried that this was conflating compensatory seats, which were contested by political parties, which the Ministerial Advisory Committee stated was equivalent to national-to-national seats in its original advice. The Department believed that this was being conflated with regional seats, which in the original MAC document were named province-to-national. That was his worry. Members of political parties would be contesting in a specific region for a number of allocated seats in that region. A member of a political party would contest only in that region. That member would be contesting with somebody who was getting votes from other regions. Was that fair? Was that equal or proportional for a person representing a political party to gather votes from only a particular region? The independent candidate would be able to go and gather votes in other regions.
He asked the Committee to look at that because he found that quite problematic. National Assembly members who came from the province-to-national list came from a particular province and were not voted for by anyone outside that particular province. They came from the proportion of votes a party was able to gather in that particular province and no other province. That was why it was called province-to-national. An independent candidate would be gathering votes in every part of the country. He thought it would cause serious inequality.
Mr Tommy Makhode, DHA Director-General, noted that in the 21 June meeting the Department indicated that counsel had requested more time to finalise its submission, particularly on the practical implications of some of the issues raised. Legal counsel had not finalised that given the complexity of some of them. The Department would make a formal submission to the Committee.
The Chairperson said that it was important that the Committee received the DHA submission this week. The Committee was able to roughly deal with them but it needed to finalise the outstanding issues and conclude deliberations to allow for the drafting of the A-List. It was important given the Committee’s time allocation. The Committee noted both the complexity and the timeframe to finalise the process. The Department and Committee needed to move faster in attending to the issues.
IEC input on outstanding items
Ms Janet Love, IEC Vice-Chairperson, responded to Adv Njikela where he had pointed to where the Committee needed guidance from the IEC. She noted the ‘cooling-off period’. Adv Njikela tied that to the verification of signatures. From the IEC perspective, the two issues were not that connected. She asked the Committee to look at those issues separately. At local government level, in providing for the registration of a party, legislation sets the quantum in various ways for the number of people required to give signatures in support of that party. The legislation provided a framework that enabled the IEC in consultation with the party liaison committee to navigate the differences in quantum. It was not something that was set in the primary legislation. Part of the reason for that was if there was a need for change in some of those details, it could take a long time to change that in the primary legislation. The Committee should give some reflection on the enabling nature of the legislation. The Committee wanted to have certainty. She proposed that what were addressed in the primary legislation were the principles on which the IEC in consultation with the party liaison committee could then navigate those details. Once decisions had been made, then the legislation would have to be assessed if there was equitable treatment of political party candidates and independent candidates. The Chief Electoral Officer would take the Committee through the items on which it had last week requested the IEC to provide some clarity.
Mr Sy Mamabolo, IEC Chief Electoral Officer, gave the requested presentation detailing the 2019 regional quotas per seat, the difference between allocating remaining seats by highest remainder method versus average number of votes per seat and some other policy matters.
The presentation noted that the management of signatures will only be viable if they were submitted electronically. Instant verification capability would be required. The submission dates must align with the prescribed dates in the Election Timetable. There was an imperative to finalise candidate nomination so that the complex process of printing ballots may commence. More time was required for ballot production.
The Commission had on several occasions indicated that it will not offer policy options for the electoral system. Its focus was on the practical implications of policy options before the Committee. There were three outstanding policy issues that required the attention of the Committee. These include: 1) the ‘cooling-off period’ for independent candidates; 2) participation of independents in compensatory seats and 3) if the 400 National Assembly seats consist of 200 or 100 compensatory seats (see document).
Committee Deliberations on Electoral Amendment Bill
The Chairperson invited Members to interface on the three areas which in principle the Committee had consensus on: the Droop formula, vacancies and number of ballots. The Committee still had to receive the detailed response of DHA counsel on some outstanding issues. It was important that the Committee took resolutions on the in principle agreements. The Committee noted the policy decisions before it. It would take those decisions as informed by the submissions from the stakeholders. He invited Members to interface on the three areas he had highlighted.
Mr Pillay appreciated the process that the Committee had been following. It was a long journey. For the Committee to get to this point all the Members and stakeholders needed to be commended.
Mr Pillay made the following points:
- Clause 1: He agreed with the Parliamentary Legal Advisor that the word ‘region’ should be retained. It was self-explanatory and made sense.
- Clause 2: The Committee had been very clear about the inclusion of independents in the liaison committees. He had raised more than once in the discussions that perhaps the word ‘political’ may be seen as a challenge. Independent candidates may wish not to be politically aligned. He proposed that the Committee consider an alternate name to the IEC suggestion of "political liaison committee" and suggested removing ‘political’ so that it was ‘liaison committee’.
- Clause 4: He referred to the Minister's input. If a party candidate was required to be on a regional list and not on any other regional list, then why was it different for independents? The Committee should unpack that more. He saw no harm in an independent contesting for the National Assembly, as the IEC submission noted that citizens were allowed to vote anywhere in the country for a national candidate. Independent candidates should be able to be registered anywhere in the country and be able to contest that national space. The Committee needed to be clear which ballot that meant and in which space. If it was NA-to-NA then he saw no problem with it. However, if it was from province-to-national then it was important that an independent came from where they were elected to be able to represent from a particular province to national. Political parties had a list of candidates from their party who were in a specific province nominated to go to the National Assembly on the ticket of the province. It made sense to apply the same rule for independents. They should come from the province they resided in to represent that province in the NA. It was important to differentiate the two.
- Signature requirement: In principle, the Committee agreed that there should be signatures for independents. His proposal last week and he heard it repeated by the IEC that there should be some sort of legislation around how the number was determined. He proposed that the Act should contain the requirements for signatures. The Committee proposed that it should be 50% of the quota of the seat in the previous election. This could be the possible formula to use. He had done a quick calculation. For local government elections, a candidate only required 50 signatures to contest. For example, eThekwini had 111 wards. The 111 wards multiplied by 50 gave a total of 5500. Looking at KZN as a whole there were 54 municipalities. It meant that a candidate would then, as a fair process, need to get signatures across the province which came to 297 000 signatures, for all 54 municipalities. Multiplying that by nine would then be the requirement. The proposal of 50% of the quota of a seat in the previous election was far less than the 50 signature requirement at local government level if one did the maths.
- Deposit requirement: He was still in support of the IEC determining this. This may change from time to time, especially as the economic situation of the country changes. He noted the difference in deposit amount for the NA and the provincial legislature. It already existed that way and he thought that it needed to be that way. The deposit should be different when it came to the province versus the National Assembly.
- ‘Cooling-off period’: Three months was agreed on and he was in support of that.
- Multiple regions: He asked for clarity from the Parliamentary Legal Adviser on how this would affect party candidates in the contestation of multiple regions.
- Clause 11: The ratio of regional to compensatory seats should remain as 200:200 and not change to 300:100. The quota should be the single round Droop quota system. There should be three ballot papers.
- Vacancies: There was consensus that it should be the next available candidate or political party.
- Agents: The Committee had agreed that party agents and agents should be allowed.
- Formula for allocation of remaining seats, he supported the highest remainder and not the highest average method. He pointed to the IEC presentation slide illustrating the allocation of remaining seats by highest remainder versus highest average number of votes per seat. With the highest remainder method, Party 5 received three seats and Party 8 received four seats. With the highest average of votes per seat method, Party 5 and Party 8 received four seats each. Party 5 received 303 309 and Party 8 received 390 134 votes. The difference is almost 87 000. With highest average, it would be unfair to Party 8 which received 87 000 more votes to get the same number of seats as Party 5. Based on that example he proposed the highest remainder method.
Mr Roos said that it was clear that South Africa needed general electoral reform. With this Bill, the Committee was specifically looking at the Constitutional Court requirement. It was tempting to bring in overall electoral reform when the Committee was trying to meet the order in the Constitutional Court judgement. All of these issues would be much easier using a constituency system. However, there was not enough time before the next election to have constituencies in place. There were public submissions asking for National Assembly public representatives to be directly accountable to voters.
Voters wanted to see their public representative close to where they were. It was difficult to model this when everyone was grouped into a region. That was where South Africa was now. It would have been a lot easier discussion using a constituency system. It was critical that the Committee ensured that once this legislation was in place that in the next term there was an amendment to bring constituencies into the mix.
On overall proportionality, a couple of meetings ago Ms Molekwa brought this up and said this introduced a complex seat allocation system. A Bill was supposed to take a minimalist approach. The Committee had never once looked at the 2019 figures to see how that three-stage process or any of the other proposals actually changed that result. It was something the Committee had not seen.
The seat allocation process was difficult to conceptualise because it was very technical and mathematical. When smaller figures were used it looked very different to when large figures were used. Changing the seat allocation to something difficult for the general public to understand and difficult to understand the full implications has set the cat amongst the pigeons unnecessarily. This was why it had been proposed before that the existing seat allocation be kept to ensure general proportionality in the first round. Then in the second round, it allowed for the allocation of seats in regions. Then it came back in the end with general proportionality. That would be a much simpler approach than trying to look at a seat allocation system that had not been used anywhere else in the world. There was no reference to how it worked and the outcomes. It raised concerns from civil society organisations about wasted votes, lost votes and different quotas. All of this was avoidable by taking the existing seat allocation system and adding an independent candidate in there who has a limit of one seat. It really simplified things.
Mr Roos made the following points:
- Clause 1: The Committee had agreed on the ‘region’ definition. On the 'party liaison committee" definition, he did not disagree about changing it to 'liaison committee'. The point made last time was that there was a lot of documentation and training material that already stated ‘PLC’ so naming it ‘political liaison committee’ might help because then the documentation would not have to be changed. That was the reason he was in favour of ‘political liaison committee’. However, he was not against calling it ‘liaison committee’. What were the knock-on implications on all the training materials, manuals, and guides that referred to ‘PLC’? Were they going to be changed if the Committee made it an ‘LC’?
- Clause 4: What was Mr Pillay referencing when he spoke about NA-to-NA independent candidates? This was not possible under the current proposal. He asked if that was allowed. The registration requirements for the nomination of an independent candidate are made quite complex by the seat allocation system. Was the Committee trying to compare independent candidates to party candidates or to parties? Perhaps it was fair to compare independent candidates to party candidates that were in a party and who had chosen to associate with a party. The Committee needed to ensure that the same counted for everybody. If a candidate in a political party was only allowed to stand on one list then the independent candidate should also be allowed to stand on that list so that there was fairness. The Committee always asked for fairness. The Constitutional Court asked that Parliament made it possible for independent candidates to be able to participate without having to associate with a political party and other candidates.
- Signature requirement: 50% of the quota of a seat was a reasonable proposal. One would probably be able to obtain the support of 50 family members. The Committee had asked the IEC to look around the world to see the seat requirements elsewhere. He had looked and in different countries, there was something similar to what Mr Pillay had referred to. The smaller the jurisdiction a candidate participated in, the smaller the number of signatures required. It went from as few as three up to 35 000 signatures. He did not disagree with Mr Pillay’s assessment which the Committee had discussed for a while.
- Deposit requirement: Determination of the deposit amount in collaboration with the PLC was possibly the way to go. It was difficult to stipulate an amount in the legislation.
- ‘Cooling-off period’: What the IEC had presented was very valid. For it to work the signatures should be electronically received in a way that was automatically verifiable.
- Clause 11: On the seat representation system, 300 regional seats were proposed looking to a future multi-member constituency system which would be very difficult to implement with 200 regional seats. This was the rationale for the 300 regional seats proposal. When constituencies were to be devised then there was a lot more latitude. One of the scenarios was to use district boundaries. Even then there would be 66 constituencies and only 200 seats to split them into. The 300 regional seats to 100 compensatory seats assisted with that. The main portion of seat allocation really happened in the regional seat allocation. This would allow for better quotas there and more persons could get in by meeting the quota instead of having to rely on a remainder.
- Regional seats, Droop quota and the three-round system: Mr Roos proposed that the existing seat allocation system be retained. In the first round, an overall proportional calculation was done. Then the regional allocations were done and then in the last round, the top-up for proportionality was done.
- Vacancies: The Committee had agreed on the principle that if a party received more votes than the next person, then the party should get the next vacant seat.
- Highest remainder versus average votes per seat method: Mr Roos agreed with Mr Pillay the highest remainder was more desirable. The main difference was average votes per seat method meant only parties that had already received one could get one of the extra seats.
Ms Legwase agreed with Mr Pillay's submission on clauses 4 and 11 and other issues, except for clause 1 where Mr Pillay suggested ‘liaison committee’. Here she agreed with Mr Roos that changing from ‘PLC’ to ‘LC’ might be a problem. Perhaps ‘party liaison committee’ should remain as long as the definition specified that ‘party’ was not referring to political party but rather to all parties participating in the elections.
Ms Khanyile said that she was mostly covered by Mr Roos. She welcomed the presentations. She had a few concerns. At the end of the previous meeting, she was under the impression that the Committee agreed the IEC would regulate the number of signatures in the regulations. Also, the IEC would give the Committee guidance on how to arrive at a formula for the deposit amount paid by the independent candidate as political parties paid R200 000 for national participation and R45 000 for provincial participation.
She was not sure if the decision was coming back to the Committee to decide on how many signatures independent candidates needed to provide as well as the deposit amount. She did not get an indication of the number of signatures needed except for the percentages given to the Committee.
She wanted clarity on the Minister's comments about independent candidates contesting in more than one region being at an advantage compared to party candidates who contest only one region. She did not grasp the Minister fully and asked him to repeat this in his closing remarks.
Ms Modise said that she was largely covered by Mr Pillay's submission. In the previous discussions, the Committee had not found consensus on independent candidates contesting multiple regions. She agreed with the IEC proposal that independent candidates should be allowed to contest in all regions. What was not clear was what would happen with the votes garnered across all regions. Were the highest votes received from regions only to be considered for independents or were they allowed to collect votes from all the regions to consolidate them? That would be unfair to political parties. In clause 11, the National Assembly ratio of 200:200 should remain instead of changing to 300:100.
The Chairperson thanked Members for their input in resolving the decisions on the issues raised in the recap. It demonstrated the consultation process of engagement on these issues. The Committee had agreed in principle on issues it needed to finalise in the Electoral Amendment Bill. This included the Droop formula, vacancies and number of votes.
The Chairperson pointed out that if the Department had properly finalised its responses on policy matters then the Committee could have resolved all the outstanding issues and proceeded with the drafting of the A-List for presentation in the next meeting. He invited the IEC to comment on the issues raised. The Committee would then determine if the Minister wanted to comment today or in the next meeting when the Department legal counsel gave its report and the Committee could finalise the process.
Mr Mosotho Moepya, IEC Commissioner, discussed independents contesting regions and the National Assembly being seen as one huge constituency and anyone being able to contest. The IEC view was that independent candidates should be able to contest in more than one region and the same was extended to political parties. The IEC had indicated that this did not mean that if a candidate contested multiple regions that votes were pooled from all regions to bolster one region. It would not be so. That should clarify the question on equality treatment as well as eligibility to contest regions for both independent candidates as well as party candidates.
On the deposit amount, the IEC had indicated that ahead of every election it would normally invite professionals, economists, political analysts, parties and anyone in the nation that the IEC was considering what the requirements for deposits would be for a particular election. Based on that participation, the IEC would make a determination. The IEC had offered that as an option for the Committee to consider. There was a general warming to the idea by the Committee but it would need to make the decision if it preferred a different method for the determination of deposits.
On signatures, the IEC had indicated that it was important that an objective criterion was sought. Its submission was that perhaps objectivity could be found by looking at the proportion based on the previous election. That suggestion dealt with a number of factors. One was that everyone could calculate it. It made it very easy to understand what the quantum would be. What the IEC had not said was if that quantum should be 1% or 2% or 3% or any percentage of that previous allocation. The IEC provided the 2019 numbers in today’s presentation. The IEC had also acknowledged that there was a differentiation on the deposits. When a candidate contested a province it was not the same amount as a candidate contesting the National Assembly. In the event that there were three ballots then three distinct deposits would have to be worked out for each type of ballot.
The Chairperson invited the Minister to respond to Members. The Minister could respond outside his counsel team or wait for when the counsel responded to the Committee. The counsel may affirm or correct his views.
Minister Motsoaledi replied that he would rather wait for the Department’s legal counsel to give advice so that when the Department presented to the Committee it was based on legal advice. Quite a number of the issues were complex. He would not like to venture into them outside the advice of the counsel. He hoped that as promised it would be given by the end of this week so DHA would submit it to the Committee.
The Chairperson said that was a fair process for the Committee to be clued in on these issues. He invited the Parliamentary Legal Advisor and the State Law Advisor to make comment on the issues raised.
State Law Advisor response
Adv Suraya Williams, Principal State Law Advisor, Office of the Chief State Law Advisor, discussed preparation for the A-List. There were still a lot of outstanding matters, and it was largely related to policy. To prepare the A-List, there needed to be definitive responses from the Committee so the legal teams could clearly crystallise what the proposed amendments were. As soon as the Committee provided clearer instructions on which amendments it wanted to the Amendment Bill then the legal team would be able to prepare the A-List. Many of the items the Parliamentary Legal Advisor raised earlier still needed clarity and decisions needed to be taken. Once those decisions were taken it would be clearer how the legal team would proceed with the A-List.
Parliamentary Legal Advisor response
Ms Daksha Kassan, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, agreed that there were lots of issues still outstanding where firm decisions needed to be made. The anticipation was that these would be made after the Committee had heard from the Department. The legal team had taken note of the deliberations. To prepare that A-List, firm decisions on many issues needed to be taken. For example, while in principle Members agreed that the term ‘party liaison committee’ should change there were two possible names: the ‘political liaison committee’ or the ‘liaison committee’. Once such decisions were made, the legal team could prepare the A-List. Another example was there was in principle agreement that independent candidates should have agents. What was missing was the detail on how the Bill should provide for agents for independent candidates. Should independent candidates have one agent at every voting station? Should they have two? Those decisions still needed to be made for the legal team to prepare the A-List.
The Chairperson thanked the IEC and legal teams. There were certain issues that it ought to resolve after the detailed response from the Department. That would take the Committee to the drafting of the A-List as indicated by the legal team. The Committee in principle agreed with the items identified by the Content Advisor and Parliamentary Legal Advisor. Where there were different views, Members had come closer to each other in reaching consensus. The Committee would meet on 12 July for the Department presentation. The Committee would take resolutions and reach finality on the outstanding policy matters. He remarked that where there was no convergence, Members have been able to find consensus. The Committee would reach finality on this in the next Committee meeting. He asked Members if they agreed.
Mr Roos, Mr Pillay, Ms Modise and Ms Khanyile each agreed.
The Chairperson said that the decisions tentatively taken would be presented comprehensively for the Committee to affirm those decisions in the next meeting. He thanked the IEC for providing technical advice.
Minister's introductory remarks on GPW investigation report
Minister Motsoaledi in his introductory remarks presented the Panel chosen to investigate GPW. On the collapse of the ICT system on 4 February 2021 at GPW, a whistleblower provided an affidavit which was sent to the Speaker of Parliament which claimed that what happened was not an accident and that it had been planned. That statement had troubled and worried the Minister a lot. It had given him sleepless nights because GPW was a national key point where security was very important. It worried him that the legal profession stated it was unable to finalise estates because it could not obtain certain documents that it required. That worried him a lot because this could hold South Africa's economy to ransom. He had appeared before the Committee announcing the foothold the Department was starting to gain on the African continent in servicing them. There were countries on the continent like Namibia that wanted the Department to print very important security documents for them. Subsequent to his announcement about Namibia, Kenya came on board. President Ramaphosa and Uhuru Kenyatta signed an agreement on work to be done by GPW. Since that time many other countries came forward. Last week he had a lengthy meeting with the DRC ambassador. The amount of work the DRC wanted the Department to do was overwhelming. If it accepted work from so many countries was the Department about to disappoint them especially on security? These countries had placed much trust in the Department. For that reason, he had approached the President and asked him to appoint a tribunal to investigate what was going on there.
Later he received a response from the President that he, as the Minister, had the right to appoint such a tribunal. That was why he had chosen to appoint the Panel to inspect the loss of data and determine how it was lost and if it could be recovered. The Panel was also supposed to look at security. This Committee on its oversight visit to GPW had been told that there had been a power surge. It had also been told that specific job applications and CVs were selectively stolen. This was discouraging for South Africans to apply for jobs only to find that their CVs were stolen. The Panel was also to look into that. While the panel recommendations would be about consequence management, the most important recommendations were on ICT governance, digital transformation and the corporate and physical governance of the institution. He wanted very strong recommendations on those matters so that when he came to the Committee to boast about the number of countries using GPW, it would be that he was reassured that no misdemeanour would happen to those countries as it would be extremely unfair to them.
Government Printing Works (GPW) investigation report
The Panel Chairperson, Mr Papati Malavi, briefed the Committee on the GPW investigation report on loss of financial data and CVs as well as investigations by the Hawks on the corruption allegations against the GPW Chief Executive Officer. The primary mandate of the Panel was ‘to probe and make recommendations on, amongst others, information and communications technology systems failure, loss of critical state information, leaking of information to entities external to GPW, governance systems and labour relations between the employer and organized labour at GPW. The Minister had appointed seven Panel members. The terms of reference tasked the panel in making recommendations to the Minister on issues which the Panel organised into six clusters.
The Panel’s key direct finding is that the incident of 4 February 2021 was caused by poor maintenance of the ICT infrastructure due essentially to the fact that the CIO and his team did not know how to perform proper functions on the server, such as loading discs, scrubbing them before loading new data, ensuring that there are proper back-ups should there be a problem, because ICT equipment does fail. All of this was accompanied by a lack of support and maintenance contracts with service providers for the servicing of ICT equipment. Underpinning these issues, however, is a failure of management and supervision at various levels which was the ultimate cause of systemic failures at GPW.
The Chairperson appreciated the work done by the Minister's panel in developing the investigation report. The Committee had conducted an oversight visit on several occasions in an attempt to come closer to facts based on the allegations submitted to the Committee. The Committee would interact with the report and carefully look at the recommendations. The Committee should be furnished with the full report. At the end of these deliberations, the Committee would outline a way forward to track the implementation of the recommendations.
Mr Pillay appreciated the presentation by the Panel which was quite lengthy so he would give a brief overview of his comments for now. GPW officials had initially said that the ICT collapse was the result of an electricity outage. The Panel found that there was no load shedding and that it was due to internal non-compliance. That was quite key. He appreciated the Panel recommendations. The Panel said that it was due to gross negligence. He noted his overall concern linked to the Committee’s concerns that GPW had failed to provide information to Auditor-General South Africa for auditing. Many of the Panel findings were those that the annual audit by AGSA would have found. There needed to be action when a government institution failed to submit documents to AGSA and failed to correct audit findings. It was important for the Committee to support the recommendations. Clearly there needed to be a contingency plan and risk mitigation. He proposed that GPW present its risk mitigation. There needed to be a clear and concise plan with timelines and guidelines on how GPW intended to address the recommendations. The Committee would hold GPW accountable for their implementation.
Ms Khanyile asked what action was to be taken against the CIO. The CIO had resigned from GPW; did that mean that the CIO was off the hook? She noted the amount of damage caused by the CIO’s inaction that system maintenance was done properly. What measures were in place to ensure a similar incident did not occur ever again? A detailed plan was needed on that. What action was taken by GPW against the HR official who employed somebody that refused to sign a mandatory employee contract? There was one particular employee that refused to sign their contract but carried on working for GPW. This was quite a lengthy presentation for Members to grasp all the issues. The Committee would need to meet again to look at the recommendations.
Mr Roos noted that Members had received the presentation document only during the meeting. He wanted to understand why the Committee had not received the PowerPoint in advance. It was impossible to look at 30 slides filled with text, unpack what happened and make meaningful contributions. The Committee needed the PowerPoint slides and the report. When was the actual report produced and when would the Committee receive it? The Committee needed to look at prior audit reports as Mr Pillay had alluded to. A number of IT findings had come up in these audit reports.
There was a recommendation that the CEO should receive education to understand the IT function. There was a massive consequence here. What happened was that audit data for several years had been lost in this collapse and it had not been backed up for years. Although a lot of emphasis was on the ICT function it was key for its audit data to be stored and backed up. The Committee needed to correlate this to the audit report findings that were not addressed year after year. Did it contribute to this? It was one thing to blame the CIO and IT department but the ultimate responsibility lay with the accounting officer. This was a national key point, and it was clear that it was run like the Wild West. It was actually quite frightening.
The question is why the offsite backup of this critical audit data was not in place. Was this addressed? He wanted the Committee to receive an indication about that. When the Committee visited the GP Waite, it indicated that there was a disaster recovery (DR) backup site. Clearly, that was not being updated. It was a line item but was data recovered from that or was it completely lost? Part of the role of a DR backup site was that those systems needed to be absolutely reliable. Was there a service level agreement with a service provider for that? Between 2019 and 2021 there appeared to be no backups. He asked for clarity about the recommendation that a forensic audit be conducted into two GPW contracts with DAC Systems and Intervate.
There was a recommendation for disciplinary action against Ms Moyo who was the Acting CEO between 2017/2018. The recommendation was for disciplinary action for reckless disregard of business continuity. He asked why the difference between that Acting CEO being charged with reckless disregard of business continuity and the current CEO merely being cautioned to understand the role of ICT? Surely the current CEO should understand business continuity and implement that? Was the Panel saying that because there was no budget or because of a DPSA process that it was acceptable that no backup was made whatsoever? When this matter was first discussed in this Committee, the Minister had suggested that this was not an accident but sabotage. Was possible sabotage investigated at all or just negligence by officials?
Ms Modise said that to date GPW seemed to be facing difficulties in complying with the audit requirements. This report proved that there was no effort to mitigate risks or to ensure that such incidence did not repeat itself. There was a failure to take decisions and act promptly on ICT. As a result, that led to the system crashing. Were any preventative measures being put in place? What management or leadership was the CEO providing if unable to ensure that governance was in place? The current CEO should also be held accountable. The Committee welcomed the recommendations and urged the Department to act promptly in implementing these recommendations. Clearly, there was no proper governance or management in the entity. The report findings were that GPW failed to follow simple procurement processes and lacked supply chain management contracts. The findings were very serious. Prompt and serious action must be taken against all those found to be at fault. The entire Exco must take responsibility for this mess. The Committee welcomed the report and would follow up that the recommendations were being adhered to.
Ms Legwase said that the Committee needed to follow up on the implementation of the recommendations by the Department. At some point towards the end of the year the Department needed to report back on how far it was with the implementation of recommendations.
The Chairperson said that the report indicated that the financial data for the financial years 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 had been irrecoverably lost. He asked the Panel how it would impact the audit process. How long would it take to reconstruct this financial data from scratch? Had the Panel interacted with AGSA? He got the sense that some of the recommendations came from AGSA.
He noted that the Hawks had not concluded its report. The Panel had been favoured with powers to interact with all the institutions involved in investigating the GPW governance system. What was the Panel’s understanding of the Hawks' delay in concluding its investigation and report? The understanding from the report was that Exco must ensure that all the recommendations were in place. The report spoke to the entire system of GPW. How was Exco going to implement those recommendations when the same report noted that the current GM and CEO needed to be cautioned on particular issues? Where did that responsibility lie? The Committee earlier took the view of referring this to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) to assist GPW. What was the Panel’s attitude towards that? The institutions that the Committee oversees present their strategic plan and annual report to increase their governance footprint.
GPW was a most important government parastatal as it generated its own revenue. The Committee needed to protect its governance. The human resource that presided over the execution of the institution needed to adhere to the law and institutional policies. The Committee would develop a process with a timeframe of how it was going to track the implementation of the report. The Committee must assist GPW during the Sixth Parliament as there needed to be a sense of the work of the collective of the Committee.
Mr Malavi said that the Panel Members with him would assist in answering the questions. Since the report had made findings of poor governance, who was going to implement the report? In the report, there was the recommendation for an implementation team and it indicated the nature of the team that would assist.
Indeed, there was poor governance at GPW. The Panel had asked for the charter operating at GPW. The only charter the Panel was given was signed in June 2021. Before that, no charter was signed by Exco. The Panel was told that around 2017/2018 there were no formal Exco meetings. The secretary to Exco informed the Panel that he could not get any minutes prior to 2019. This indicated that there was a total collapse of governance at that level.
On the GPW adherence to the Auditor-General's prior audit recommendations, it was very difficult to get information from GPW. The Panel insisted and insisted until it got critical information. The Panel had even written a letter saying that if GPW did not provide that information, the Panel would make an adverse finding against them. This related especially to the contracts that were recommended for forensic audit. There were deviations from that period until 2020. The Panel wanted to know on what basis GPW was making these deviations because there was no original contract. No direct answer was forthcoming from GPW.
He noted the concerns raised about the Panel's presentation being delivered late to the Committee. He responded to the question of why Ms Moyo was recommended to be disciplined but the current CEO was only recommended to be educated. It was a difficult decision to take. It was because when Ms Moyo took those decisions she knew that there were no requisite skills at GPW. As a consequence, GPW was left under-capacitated. The Panel felt that Ms Moyo should have ensured at that time that the requisite skills were in place before she terminated that contract. Failing to do so put GPW at great risk. The Panel's finding was that it was not through negligence of the current CEO or failure to exercise oversight.
The Panel asked the CIO why when faced with these problems did they not go directly to the current CEO and say that they needed assistance. The CIO indicated that he never went to the current CEO’s office; they met at Exco. The Panel found that very strange. It was clear that there was a very toxic relationship between the CIO and the current CEO. The CEO insisted that no reports were received from ICT. Most of the issues did not happen under the current CEO’s term but happened during Ms Moyo and Ms Meyer’s period. There was duplication of functions. Functions were concentrated in the CFO office until the arrival of the current CEO at GPW. Problems started when CEO started to ask for contract registers which were grouped under Supply Chain Management and managed by Ms Meyer as CFO. There were challenges with the non-separation of duties. Ms Meyer had signed documents as the CFO and CEO and said that there was nothing wrong with that, it was allowed and nowhere was it stated that she could not sign those documents. The current CEO came in when challenges were already happening in GPW. The CEO was trying to put things in order, and she was met with a toxic atmosphere of non-accountability.
These were the issues the Panel left to the executive authority to deal with because the report was for the Executive Authority. The Panel could not take away his executive powers. The Minister should consider how he dealt with educating the current CEO about seeing to it that issues were elevated to CEO level whenever there were problems.
On the Minister’s initial assertion that it was not an accident but sabotage, Mr Malavi replied that in the Panel’s first meeting with GPW staff, especially the Exco, this was what the Panel was informed about. Upon further probing, there was no submission that came in that indicated sabotage. However, there was awareness of the ICT staff of things that were happening which were left unattended. For example, the electrical installations at Pavilion 2 at GPW which housed the crashed server were first identified as non-compliant in 2019.
There was a stage where the Acting CEO said that they should be resolved before the end of 2019. She wanted a breakdown of how they were going to be resolved and how the report was going to be implemented but that was not taken any further. Even the Department had written to the CIO to say that the non-compliant electrical installations at Pavilion 2 were interfering with the tech refresh programme. Even then the CIO did not attend to it. It went up until December 2020 and most of the staff had gone on holiday. The Department had written another letter around that time and the CIO responded that everyone was on leave and that they would see to it when they came back in 2021. Unfortunately, early 2021 was when the incident happened. From that, it could be seen that there was clear foresight that a server collapse could happen at any time.
There was awareness by the CIO up to the time the servers crashed that the servers may crash at any time. There was even a warning from the infrastructure specialist that the server was one foot in the grave. However, there was no urgency in migrating that. The support and maintenance contracts in the ICT business were left to lapse. The infrastructure could crash at any time. The infrastructure specialist even said that when he had support and maintenance contracts from the original equipment manufacturers he did not have problems because there were spare parts at hand when there was an ICT problem. He would phone and they would fix the issue. That was why the Panel insisted that there must be a forensic audit on the collapse of that server, how the data disappeared and why there were no data backups for that period.
Panel member, Dr George Sibiya replied that the ICT team informed the Panel that the backup site was not a DR site. What they had were servers which they had set up temporarily to remotely backup their data. The ICT team informed the Panel that they had had issues with the backup servers before the incident. Nothing was recovered from the servers. The Panel was not finished with reporting on the incident that led to the collapse of those remote servers. The data that was managed to be recovered was from the tapes. The ICT team had a way of backing up data onto tapes. The data that they had recovered up until 2 November 2019 was recovered from the tapes. Those were the measures the ICT team had in place as a backup. They did not have a SLA as a backup service provider before the incident.
Panel member, Dr Batandwa Siswana replied about the two contracts. He noted the Intervate contract appointment process, the absence of critical information about the contract, and the continuation of deviations once there was no contract in place. That was critical as it boiled down to not following SCM processes and ensuring it was done properly. Also of concern was that the Panel did not get the DAC Systems contract. It was critical that a forensic process was started so that the Panel could get to the bottom of it. It would reveal what actually happened during that time. It might involve other contracts in the process. A data forensic audit would answer questions.
The loss of financial information would have a negative impact on the audit process. The Panel was informed that the accounting officer and the team were busy reconstructing the information and data lost. The CEO would report on that matter at a later stage.
Panel member, Ms Rose Boatwright, responded about the Hawks. This matter related specifically to the theft of CVs and loss of human resources information. Ms Fosi had interacted with the Hawks and opened a criminal case. Based on the information provided to the Panel, at the date of the report being drafted, the matter was still pending an investigation with the Hawks. The internal investigation that was conducted had been finalised. Written warnings had been issued to the four officials identified for negligence and dereliction of duty. As far as the investigation with the Hawks was concerned, it was still pending.
Panel member, Adv Mojankunyane Gumbi, replied that when the Panel was established it was four months after the event. The collapsed server that the Panel was supposed to check was gone already and had been taken out of the country and shipped off abroad. The Panel depended entirely on the information it gathered from the experts about what happened to the actual hardware. The experts said that the reason the hardware failed was because the disks were not properly loaded. The disks were not cleaned before they were loaded. There was a problem with the knowledge of the people doing the maintenance. The server was loaded in the wrong way. That was the primary reason the server collapsed. The environment in which the server was located was not being maintained properly.
Adv Gumbi noted the sabotage allegation. There was very little backup information. The Panel could not make an independent assessment if somebody interfered with the server. The Chief Information Officer was part of the most senior management in any organisation. The one thing the CIO was supposed to do was to ensure that backups were running daily because these machines do crash. It needed to be ensured that the backup was functional, operational and could be accessed. That was the mark of a good CIO. That did not happen in this case. Whoever was still in the system was going to be followed up. Whoever was not in the system, the Department and GPW would look at means to ensure such people were followed up. This was especially the case as AGSA reconstructed what happened and looked at the financial documents. The Panel had met with Treasury as well. The Treasury team said that it would also work with AGSA to see that GPW used the original invoices to reconstruct the financial statements.
Adv Gumbi replied that the Panel did not want to treat GPW staff differently. The facts influenced their findings. The former Acting CEO, Ms Moyo, was asked specifically by the CIO, Mr Anele Apleni, to cancel the contracts of those who were supporting GPW. Mr Apleni said that he had enough staff to take over those functions. She was the CEO and gave the go-ahead for contracts to be ended without ensuring that Mr Apleni had enough staff. Whereas with the current CEO, when Mr Apleni came to say that he needed to beef up his department there was already a process of restructuring and beefing up GPW. A request had been sent already to the Minister to capacitate and set up a new structure. The CEO said that Mr Apleni needed to discuss it with the HR manager. Mr Apleni did not do that. There were different facts that applied to both of them. It was not the intention of the Panel to try and absolve one over the other. She hoped Members would understand why there were those different findings.
The Chairperson thanked the Panel for the responses. What was becoming clear was distinguishing the role of the current CEO and the former CEOs in the processing of decisions and inheriting decisions.
Minister Motsoaledi remarked that he had been worried about the state of GPW while it was serving so many countries. However, he was satisfied that the recommendations were enough to deal with that. He would personally oversee the implementation of the recommendations, especially from the expert panels and various organisations engaged to ensure that GPW did not get dragged backwards. He was aware that quite a number of challenges that happened in 2017, 2018 and 2019 had already been reversed. It had reversed the official holding two positions, which was very unsafe. Quite a number of the shortcomings had already been dealt with or were in the process of being dealt with.
The Minister noted that the Panel said that the lost data was not recoverable and there was no instrument to recover that. However, it could be reconstructed. The current CEO had instructed the current CFO to reconstruct the information. The financials for 2020/2021 had already been reconstructed and had been submitted to AGSA. At the moment the CFO was finalising the reconstruction of the 2021/2022 financial information which would be submitted in due course to AGSA. The Minister would ensure that the recommendations and the corrections were made. There could not be a GPW, which was so important to the country and other parts of the continent, having these kinds of gaps and problems.
The Minister said that in his view, Mr Apleni’s leaving was not innocent. The former CIO was confronted about lying to the Department and the Committee about the power surge. Immediately after the Panel showed him the evidence that he was lying, he resigned. The Minister was surprised by the resignation as the investigation was still ongoing. The Minister was very suspicious about why Mr Apleni resigned after being interviewed. The Minister wanted to stop it, but labour experts told him that the Minister could not stop someone from leaving an institution. The Department was looking at recourse through the law.
The Minister initially had said that sabotage must be investigated because a former member of GPW actually said that in an affidavit. The former employee said that it was not an accident but sabotage. The Panel did not find a ‘smoking gun’ of sabotage, but they found gross negligence. In his understanding, a person could sabotage an institution by neglecting things that they were supposed to do. Gross negligence could be a form of sabotage. Unfortunately, the Panel could not find sabotage because the equipment was already shipped out. The Minister had made that statement on the strength of somebody who was working there. Mr Malavi indicated that the CIO was aware that something was going to happen but it became very difficult to find the distinction between sabotage and negligence.
The Chairperson thanked the Panel for the good work and for accepting the responsibility given by the Minister. The Committee observed the Minister’s continuous good work in the Department. The Committee needed to ensure that all recommendations were implemented and to receive progress updates. The Committee was aware that corrective measures had already been taken at Exco level. Issues raised by Members cautioning the Minister and GPW were what collectively needed to be worked on to ensure the GPW governance system was strengthened. It was one of the most important institutions in its business outlook. Towards year end, the Committee would invite DHA and the Panel to track the implementation of recommendations. The Committee would schedule a meeting with GPW to demonstrate that it was able to implement the recommendations. Errors needed to be corrected at GPW. Clean governance was at the centre of the Committee’s resolve. The full report needed to be forwarded to the Committee.
Ms Khanyile requested that Members be provided with the full report of the current investigation. It would be proper for the Committee to support these recommendations after it had seen the full report. The Panel was appointed four months after the incident. When the Panel went on site it found that the equipment was taken out of the country already. The Panel was making these findings based on advice from the experts. It was important that Members made an informed decision to avoid being sued. She requested that the Committee be given the full report before it could fully support the recommendations.
The Chairperson said that the report had been presented on the Committee-approved investigation. The Committee could not stop the recommendations because these were sourced from the investigation process. The Minister and the Panel would send a full report to the Committee. The Committee would not reject the report because that would not assist the process that had been approved by the Committee. The Committee needed to support the report recommendations. The Committee needed to track the implementation of the report. The Minister and his team needed to come back towards the end of the year to provide progress on the report. The Committee needed to ensure that by the end of its term of office, the issues it needed to do oversight on were resolved and the recommendations implemented. In September the Committee would interact with the Department to recap all the issues since the Sixth Parliament which involved Home Affairs, GPW and the IEC. The Committee would develop its legacy report. The Committee accepted the investigation report and would allow the recommendations to be implemented. The full report needed to be immediately sent to Members.
Minister Motsoaledi said that the Department understood that. There was no way to wait on implementing the recommendations. Work needed to go on. The Department would be in a position to report to the Committee on the progress made. The Minister wanted to allay the fears of Ms Khanyile. When the Panel said that it went in four months after the incident it was not because nothing was happening within those four months. Many experts were called in to try and help because at the time the Department thought that it was an ordinary disaster. The Panel came into being when someone tipped off the Minister that what had occurred were acts of sabotage. That was when the Minister wrote to the President because it was a national key point and a very important structure in government. The Minister informed the President what had happened and that someone might be sabotaging a national key point. It took a bit of time before the President responded and said that the Minister could appoint a team. That was when the Minister put the team together and they started the work. During those four months before the Panel was appointed, it was not as if nothing was happening and the collapse was neglected. It was because nobody suspected that someone had deliberately caused the incident. The investigation report showed that the ICT system could crash at any time. DHA would be ready and prepared in September it give the Committee a progress report on the recommendations.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would also interact with the AGSA as it interfaced with the report during the course of the year. He asked Mr Malavi for closing remarks.
Mr Malavi corrected what had been raised by Ms Khanyile; it was only one controller that was shipped out of the country by HPE for destruction. It was HPE policy that whenever one of its components was no longer in use it should be destroyed so that information could not be compromised and be used for other purposes. He thanked the Committee for allowing the Panel to present the report. The Panel’s recommendations were up to the Executive Authority to accept or reject. The Panel was happy that so far everyone was satisfied with the findings and the recommendations.
The Chairperson said that the Minister would send the Committee the Panel report so Members would be able to zoom in on some of the issues. By the time the Department came back with a progress update, Members would have satisfied themselves with the details of the report.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister who established the Panel that had done exceptionally well. The Committee looked forward to ensuring that the errors committed were corrected with the intention to tighten the system and for there to be clean governance. The Chairperson thanked all in attendance.
The meeting was adjourned.
Chabane, Mr MS
Khanyile, Ms AT
Legwase, Ms TI
Modise, Ms M
Molekwa, Ms MA
Motsoaledi, Dr PA
Nzuza, Mr NB
Pillay, Mr KB
Roos, Mr AC
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