2021/22 Annual Report process of WC Government; Planned Oversight Visits to Gauteng and KZN SCOPAs; APAC Matters

Public Accounts (SCOPA) (WCPP)

24 August 2022
Chairperson: Mr L Mvimbi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


The Western Cape Provincial Committee on Public Accounts convened virtually to deliberate on the draft parliamentary programme to prepare itself for the annual reports of various provincial departments that would be discussed towards the end of the year.

It further deliberated on the planned visits to the provincial standing committees on public accounts of the KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provincial legislatures. Members resolved that the matter should be rescheduled for the period between late January 2023 and end of February 2023, because of Committee programme congestions.

Lastly, it discussed matters of the Association of Public Accounts Committees, where it resolved there should be sessions to discuss amendments to the Association's Constitution and establishment of provincial National Municipal Public Accounts Committees.

The Committee then considered and adopted one set of minutes, dated 29 July 2022.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks
The Chairperson opened the virtual meeting, welcoming the Members and support staff to the meeting. He asked the Committee's procedural officer if there were any apologies.

The procedural officer, Mr D Davids, indicated that Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) would not be able to attend the meeting, but Ms D Baartman (DA) would be standing in for him. That was the only apology received.

He then took the Committee through its programme for the upcoming term.

Deliberations on the Annual Reports of the Western Cape Government for 2021/22 Financial Year
The Committee's procedural officer took the Members through the Draft Parliamentary Programme, page by page. He indicated that the provincial Department of Education and some departments were going to delay submitting audited reports because they were challenging the AG's findings, which might have an impact on the parliamentary programme.

The Chairperson indicated the draft programme was for Members to prepare themselves for the tabling of the annual reports later in the year. Discussions would be held in person.

Deliberations on the Visit to KZN and Gauteng
The procedural officer informed the Committee that he received correspondence from the procedural officer of the Gauteng Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Gauteng SCOPA) about the purpose of the visit. The main idea was to find out if the Western Cape Committee would like to join them when they are doing their oversight so that the Western Cape could be accommodated in their agenda. Alternatively, the Gauteng SCOPA would visit the Western Cape when it is conducting its meetings to observe the interaction. That is what Gauteng wanted to know.

The Chairperson asked if Members had questions and comments.

Mr D America (DA) said that, even though the Committee had discussed the possibility of visiting these legislatures to observe the best practices, he is of the opinion the visits should be rescheduled for the new year (2023) because of the congestion of the Committee programme this year.

Ms N Nkondlo (ANC) suggested that Members should be allowed to send agenda items or points of interest to whatever targeted legislature the Committee would be visiting.

Ms M Maseko (DA) indicated that it might not be possible to use the constituency period for the Gauteng visit unless there is an agreement with Members. The first two weeks of September 2022 could be used for the visit, and to send agenda points to the legislature that would be visited. Her main concern was the unavailability of time in the hands of the Committee Members.

Mr America stated that the NCOP provincial week had been rescheduled for 12 September 2022, and there is also a by-election during the week planned for the Gauteng visit. He indicated that he would be part of the by-election process. The timing was awkward, and that was why he suggested the exchanges should be done in the new year.

The Chairperson asked Members not to be too concerned about dates because Gauteng has even indicated that the Committee could suggest other possible dates. So, there is no need for the Committee to put itself under pressure.

The procedural officer suggested that Members could use the period between late January to the end of February 2023 for the visits because the Committee is usually not busy during that time. When the Committee meets in October 2022 for annual reports, it will have to confirm the dates for the late January/February 2023 period so that all preparations can be done.

Mr M Xego (EFF) supported the procedural officer's suggestion.

The Chairperson agreed the matter should be rescheduled according to the suggestions of the procedural officer.

Deliberations on the APAC Matters
The Chairperson informed the Committee that, in the recent APAC annual general meeting (AGM) and conference, it was resolved there should be a special AGM for the presentation of audited financial reports, and election of an executive committee. There was also a suggestion for establishing provincial NAMPACs (National Municipal Public Accounts Committees). The Western Cape was seen as not having that structure, even though it has a forum similar to that structure.

Ms Maseko wanted to know if the APAC constitution amendments would be allowed in the special annual general meeting because Mr Xego had some amendments he wanted to propose. She further suggested there should be an engagement with SALGA (South African Local Government Association) on establishing NAMPACs by municipalities because some municipalities do not recognise MPAC chairs as full-time councillors, although the statutory systems state that position is a full-time one. These are the loopholes that the Committee has to discuss with SALGA and not trample on what it does not want to happen. It is also important to get the status of NAMPACs – where they are now – because they are non-existent in principle. This would be to know what the Committee is going to work with.

Mr America added that NAMPACs are non-existent organisations, and there are no structures in place. His main concern was that if the idea was to create these new structures and escalate the costs for the municipalities, what would be the costs of these structures because most of our municipalities do not have the necessary financial resources for them? He further wanted to know what benefits would be there for the municipalities from these MPACs, and why that role should not be played by the current speakers' forum of the municipalities. That is why it is important to discuss with SALGA and municipalities about the NAMPACs.

Mr Xego agreed with the sentiments shared by the Members – that there should be engagements with SALGA and municipalities to iron out challenges.

Ms Nkondlo commented that the Committee conversation reflects the APAC conference that Members attended. She reckoned that there is a need to consider proposals for amending the Constitution, and these should be consolidated in a SCOPA meeting before being tabled in the conference. The matter of having no audited financial statements in an AGM should be constitutionalised. Further, she said there should be a conversation in the Committee about the role of APAC. The Committee needs to understand the interconnectedness of financial accountability so that it can discuss this governance model of APAC and get international best practices. This would also help the Committee get ahead of the pack regarding financial controls.

District and local municipalities should be invited to the workshops to get a semblance of ideas so that the province knows its contribution to improvements. It is not acceptable to have a national APAC that talks about financial accountability when its own financials are not in order.

The Chairperson commented that the Western Cape delegation was united during the APAC discussions. He requested the procedural officer to disseminate all the APAC resolutions to the Members so that the Committee could prepare for the amendments to be made to the Constitution and also make an input to the resolutions.

Ms Maseko suggested that the Committee have a session on the amendments of the Constitution before the start of the special annual general meeting of APAC.

Committee   minutes
The Committee then considered and adopted one set of meeting minutes dated 29 July 2022.

The meeting was adjourned.


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