Committee Report on DCDT & GCIS Q3 & 4 Performance; SABC Board interview programme

This premium content has been made freely available

Communications and Digital Technologies

06 September 2022
Chairperson: Mr B Maneli (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary


Tabled Committee Reports

The Committee Reports on GCIS & DCDT 2021/22 Quarter 3 & 4 were considered and adopted.

Members questioned why the Committee Report dealing with the entities of the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies did not include the fact that the South African Post Office had failed to pay over its medical aid contribution to the Medipos Medical Scheme and its staff were facing the suspension of their medical aid benefits.

In considering its programme for the SABC Board interviews, Memebers asked why the interviews would be conducted online rather than in person. Virtual interviews remove the “actual feel” of an interviewee. They also felt there was not enough time to properly vet candidates before they were appointed.

Meeting report

The Chairperson outlined some of the rules of a virtual Committee meeting:
- Members must mute their microphones.
- Members must show their faces and unmute when they speak during the meeting after being recognised by the Chairperson. To maximise network bandwidth, the Members may submit a request to the Chairperson to switch off their videos.
- Members should avoid raising unnecessary points of order that might disrupt the meeting.

The Chairperson announced that a short break would be taken before the Committee dealt with the SABC Interview Subcommittee programme.

The Chairperson noted that it was the first meeting after Women's Month and South Africa was celebrating the beginning of Heritage Month. September is also a month known for tourism in South Africa. He hoped that the statements made during Women's Month would find expression in Heritage Month. As the country reflects on its heritage, there must be a reflection on women and their role in keeping heritage intact. The role that women have played must be celebrated in different traditions and cultures. Historically, men have been praised for their role in running kingdoms but in doing so they had good advisors, and those advisors were women. Women kept different nations going. Women should not be celebrated in August only but throughout the year.

Committee Report on GCIS 2021/22 Quarter 3 & 4 Performance
The report was presented (see document).

Ms T Bodlani (DA) asked if the presentation was on both Quarter 3 and 4 performance.

In response to the Chairperson saying it was, Ms Bodlani said that the report did not deal with the governance matters that the Committee had dealt with in the past.

She referred to page 5 and said that this sentence needed more clarity: “higher than anticipated spending was reported under compensation of employees due to payment of non-pensionable cash allowances.”

On page 6, there were two figures for COVID spending. It stated that at the end of the fourth quarter the expenditure was R41.7 million. In the same paragraph, another sentence said there was spending of R51.6 million. The figures led to confusion as they were both speaking about the same expenditure but had different figures.

The Chairperson asked if the Committee Support Staff were able to understand the changes suggested by Ms Bodlani.

The Committee Content Advisor, Mr Mbombo Maleka, said that the Committee Support Staff would insert the suggested changes.

The Chairperson asked, if the Members had no further problem with the Observations and Recommendations, could the report be adopted.

The Committee adopted the report.

Committee Report on DCDT 2021/22 Quarter 3 & 4
The Committee Report was presented (see document).

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) referred to the section of the report on the South African Post Office (SAPO). There was a sentence which read “the Post Office is operating under severe cash flow shortages.” The sentence neglected to mention that medical aid claims are about to be discontinued because SAPO has not been paying the contributions by staff to the medical aid. The matter of medical aid should be in the report. This matter would be seen as fraud. There must be specific reference to that matter. In the meeting, SAPO did mention that it was having difficulties paying its debts. However, there are approximately 12 000 people and their families, who stand to lose their medical aid benefits. SAPO asking for more money while faced with a predicament of this nature was a huge ask. There should be criminal charges instead. Giving SAPO money would be like throwing it down a bottomless pit.

The Chairperson asked if adding the matter about the medical aid into the report would suffice or if there should be another report on the matter. He wanted the financial side of the matter to be understood – it could be that there are other benefits that have been impacted such as provident funds and pension funds.

Ms Kohler-Barnard said there are problems with bills not being paid by SAPO. She had consulted with people in the legal field and the fact that medical aid contributions were deducted from staff and not paid to the medical aid – is fraud. The Committee should be looking at this very closely. The whole incident needs to be further investigated as it is fraud.

The Chairperson asked the SAPO CEO to provide clarity on the matter.

SAPO CEO, Ms Nomkhitha Mona, confirmed that the potential suspension of certain memberships was true. The message was received two weeks ago and SAPO was dealing with it. There was a meeting between SAPO and Medipos Medical Scheme scheduled that afternoon and SAPO had made some payments to Medipos prior to that meeting to mitigate the situation.

The matter was not necessarily part of the report that the Committee was deliberating. However, the fact remained that SAPO had not been paying for medical aid benefits. She was not sure if the report should be amended to include the matter of medical aid benefits or if the matter was supposed to be mentioned in a subsequent report.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked if she could weigh in. She said that she did not have the exact dates but it seemed that payments had not been made for a considerable amount of time. The regulations that were coming up may have prompted the meeting with Medipos. The medical aid benefits had not been covered for a long period of time. Could the CEO provide information on when exactly SAPO stopped paying the medical aid fees to Medipos? That would give the Committee an indication of whether the matter should be in this 2021/22 Quarter 3 & 4 Committee Report or not.

Ms Mona replied that what the Member was saying was indeed correct. The payments had not been made for a long time. Therefore, the Committee Report could cover the matter of medical aid. However, the Member spoke about people losing their medical aid benefits which was a relatively new matter.

Ms Mona wanted the Committee to know and understand that SAPO has been struggling to make full payment to its staff members. This included statutory items and medical aid. The medical aid contributions from staff members had always reached the medical aid. The shortfall was caused by SAPO not contributing its share as a company to the medical aid. SAPO did not have enough money to pay its two-thirds part. The contribution by staff members alone was not sufficient as SAPO still had to pay its share. SAPO is still expected to pay as soon as it is able to.

Ms Mona said that the onus was on the Committee to decide if it would proceed with including the matter in the report.

The Chairperson said that the Committee had spent enough time on the matter. If there were new findings, they would be included in the new report. The Committee should wait for the Content Advisor’s input. The Committee was looking at the period under review – if this matter was not applicable to the review period – it would not be captured in the report as such. The concerns raised by Members are genuine concerns. SAPO should come before the Committee and extend more information on payments made and on the meeting scheduled for that afternoon.

Ms Kohler-Barnard said that the Committee was looking at a specific report and the monies had not been paid to the medical aid for some years. This is why the medical aid decided that it would stop benefits for SAPO staff. The Members were defaulting. There should be a sentence that says, “there is a concern that staff members stood to lose their medical aid benefits due to non-payments.”. Such a sentence would be sufficient in the report being adopted by the Committee.

The Chairperson thanked her and asked to proceed to the Recommendations section.

Ms Bodlani made a few points on page 4. The switch-off of SABC analogue television transmitters in four provinces, namely Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, had omitted Gauteng which needed to be added. The sentence that read "Eastern Cape was coordinated but could not be concluded as planned.” The sentence was missing some logic to make it read better.

Point 5.6 on page 13 read, “… that the process of merging BBI and Sentech because it creates uncertainty on the part of employees of both organisations.”. The sentence lacked background context and was difficult to understand for people who had no idea what the sentence was about.

Ms Bodlani moved to page 14 to the section about ICASA. The sentence, “that underspending mainly driven by litigation on the spectrum auction process” lacked context. There should be a mention of Telkom as it was Telkom that litigated against ICASA.

The Chairperson asked if there were any other inputs on the report. There were none and the report was adopted.

The meeting took a recess for 20 minutes before resuming

SABC Board Subcommittee programme
The Chairperson said that the Content Advisors would be taking the Members through the Programme including the candidates that were nominated for the SABC Board.

Dr Jacob Medupe, Content Advisor, and Committee Secretary, Ms Portia Ntabeni, went through the programme. The Subcommittee's first meeting was the shortlisting of candidates scheduled for 08 September 2022. The programme also noted the interview schedule and date for finalisation.

Ms Kohler-Barnard said it was a packed programme. However, the interviews were to be done virtually and that was concerning. Virtual interviews remove the “actual feel” of an interviewee. Was there an explanation for this decision? Ms Kohler-Barnard also requested the advertisement and the full list of candidates.

The Chairperson said that the programme was a proposal. In the past, virtual interviews have worked as people can be reached at any given time. Also, virtual interviews minimise the costs as there would not be travelling expenses associated with the interview process. The Committee should take advantage of what technology has done in “our lifetime”. The public would also be able to follow what is happening as the interview would be live. That is what informed the decision for virtual interviews. However, the Committee could still adopt or not adopt the programme.

Mr L Molala (ANC) said he did not have a problem with the programme. However, he wanted to know about the vetting process. Would it be done after the interviews or has it already been done?

The Chairperson asked the Content Advisors for input.

Dr Medupe replied that due to the time constraints, they reckoned it would be best to start the vetting before the interview process. It had not been done yet. Once the candidates get shortlisted, the process would start.

The Chairperson thanked Dr Medupe for clarity.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked what level of security clearance SABC Board members must have. A top security clearance is a long and exhaustive process. She had experienced this first-hand in previous interviews. One interviewee took 8 months to be cleared. Two weeks for the final deliberations would not suffice for the process. Perhaps for the SABC board, the requirement is low security clearance.

Dr Medupe asked Mr Maleka to intervene as he was not well informed on some of the matters as he was relatively newly appointed.

Mr Maleka replied that the vetting process usually starts after the shortlisting. There are subcontractors that assist Parliament HR to get the vetting done timeously.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Maleka and Dr Medupe for their input. The advertisement and the list of candidates would be forwarded. The programme takes into account the work that needs to be done in Parliament during this period. It also talks about the requests from Members. The aim is to keep the Committee together. The Committee must ensure that the programme is given a try and that it is able to achieve its targets.

The SABC Board Subcommittee programme was adopted.

The Chairperson asked the Committee Secretary if she could provide clarity on what will be sent to Members to allow them to apply their minds.

Ms Ntabeni replied that she would forward a link where the Members would have access to the candidates’ CVs. She also would forward the summaries of the CV. The published advertisement would be forwarded to Ms Kohler-Barnard.

The Chairperson advised the Members to communicate any access difficulties to the Committee Support Staff.

The minutes of 30 August 2022 were adopted with no amendments and the meeting adjourned.


No related documents

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: