Consideration of BRRRs: DPSA, NSG, DPME, PSC & StatsSA

Public Service and Administration, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

18 October 2022
Chairperson: Mr T James (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


Tabled Committee Reports

The Portfolio Committee met on a virtual platform to deliberate on its draft Budgetary Review and Recommendation Reports (BRRR) for the budget votes of the Department of Public Service and Administration, National School of Government, Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), Public Service Commission, and Statistics South Africa.

The Committee Content Advisor took the Committee through the various reports, outlining the key findings and observations made by the Portfolio Committee.

The Committee pointed out some corrections that needed to be made and discussed the recommendations. Amendments were made to some of the recommendations after robust discussions by the Committee Members.

The Chairperson stated that the reports would be adopted in the follow-up meeting the next day.

Meeting report

The Chairperson opened the meeting and welcomed all the Members present. He noted an apology from Ms S Maneli (ANC).

He then handed over the virtual platform to the Committee Content Advisor for the briefings.

Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report: Statistics South Africa
Mr Julius Ngoepe, Committee Content Advisor, took the Committee through the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report of Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) for the 2021/2022 financial year. He said he would go through the report page by page and allow the Members the opportunity to make any corrections.

He outlined some of the report's observations and key findings made by the Portfolio Committee. He indicated that the Committee had commended Stats SA on consistently receiving an unqualified audit opinion up to the 2021/2022 financial year.

He made corrections on a few grammatical errors, as he read through the report.

The Chairperson stated that changes need to be made to the conclusion, in the last paragraph. The line read: “During the year under review, Stats SA has embarked in preparation of the Census phase. The Committee welcomed the progress made thus far in conducting Census 2022 under tough conditions which hampered the collection of data such as COVID-19”.

Mr Ngoepe suggested that the last line should be removed and end at “…collection of data.”

Ms M Ntuli (ANC) suggested that the line should be read as “…conducting Census 2022 under tough conditions such as COVID-19 pandemic and KwaZulu-Natal floods which hampered the collection of data”.

The Chairperson highlighted that, in the meeting, Members were only going to make corrections to the reports. The adoption would be in the following day's meeting.

Ms M Kibi (ANC) stated that recommendations that speak on people living with disabilities should be amended to people with disabilities.

The Members deliberated on the suggestion made by Ms Kibi, as there was a bit of confusion, but the suggestion was accepted.

Mr Ngoepe indicated that the terms of reference related to people with disabilities have always been contested.

Report on Department of Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) & Brand South Africa
Mr Ngoepe highlighted some of the key observations and findings made by the Portfolio Committee. The Committee commended the DPME for achieving the ninth clean audit outcome in consecutive years.

Mr J McGluwa (DA) suggested that the agreement made by the Committee to conduct an oversight visit to the Presidential hotline should be added to the report.

The Chairperson supported the point suggestion made by Mr McGluwa.

Mr McGluwa indicated that it should be noted that there was a prominent concern from the Brand SA representatives about the delay of Cabinet in deciding on the merger.

Mr Ngoepe indicated that, to his knowledge, the chairperson of BrandSA had indicated that Cabinet had not yet been consulted on the details of the merger. He said his understanding was that the two Ministers were supposed to meet and come up with a way forward. Thereafter, Cabinet would be consulted, before the point raised by Mr McGluwa would be added to the report.

The Chairperson agreed with Mr Ngoepe.

Ms R Komane (EFF) supported Mr McGluwa, and said that the concern was raised. The delay had either been caused by the Ministers not meeting, and it cannot be concluded as though it was not a cause for concern. Both the Portfolio Committee and BrandSA had raised their concerns regarding the matter, which should be noted in the report.

Ms Ntuli echoed Ms Komane’s sentiments.

Mr McGluwa rebutted that it was not the two Ministers who were going to decide on the merger; it was Cabinet.

The Chairperson responded and indicated that after the Ministers have met and come to an agreement, they would then go to Cabinet for endorsement.

Ms Komane added that it should be noted that the meeting of the two Ministers was imperative, as it has caused instability within the entity.

It was concluded that the Portfolio Committee should urge the two Ministers to meet urgently and resolve the reconfiguration process.

Recommendation 10.5 was amended to include the discussion of the Committee Members on the meeting of both Ministers from DPME and Tourism, concerning the reconfiguration process.

Mr McGluwa raised his concerns about recommendation 10.9, which stated: “During the process of uncertainty, Brand SA should be allowed to fill critical positions on a five-year long-term contract rather than 24 months to ensure stability an accelerate performance of the organisation.” He said that, during the meeting, what was spoken of was the two-year contracts. The concern was on the future of Brand SA. He asked for clarity on how the recommendation would be formulated.

Mr Ngoepe said that it was indicated in the presentation that, with the 24 months contracts, the institution could not attract competent candidates to fill positions. The chairperson of the Board had instructed the Acting CEO to consider the appointment of the vacant positions on a five-year contract rather than permanently, due to the uncertainty of the reconfiguration process.

Ms C Motsepe (EFF) suggested that recommendation 10.9 should be changed to: “Brand SA should be allowed to fill critical positions” and “During the process of uncertainty” should be removed from the recommendation.

Mr McGluwa said that the Committee appeals to the Ministers to ensure amalgamation. On the other hand, there are talks of a five-year contract. He asked what effect the process would have on the amalgamation.

Ms Ntuli agreed with the point raised by Mr Ngoepe, and said that two years would not attract any suitable candidates.

Mr Ngoepe said it would be advisable for Brand SA to fill the positions on a contract basis to attract the best candidate. He understood the concerns raised by Mr McGluwa, but said that once the merger has been concluded and people are on a contract, it would be easier to let go of people.

Mr Z Mbhele (DA) indicated that the Democratic Alliance reserves its right for the final budget vote.

The Chairperson said that the reports would be adopted in the following meeting, and the point raised by Mr Mbhele would be for that meeting.

Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) Report
Ms Kibi stated hoped the financial figures in the report had been double-checked.

Mr Ngoepe confirmed that indeed they had been checked and finalised in line with the annual report.

Ms Ntuli said that on recommendation 11.7 the second sentence would be changed to: “The Committee urges the Department and the CPSI to maintain a similar trend on unauthorised, irregular, fruitless, and wasteful expenditure in the upcoming financial years.”

Ms Mgweba stated that it should be noted that the Committee agreed to conduct an oversight visit in the Northern Cape province for the virtual Thusong Service Centre and Monitoring System project by the CPSI.

Ms Kibi agreed with the point raised, but she said that the point should be added to the recommendations.

Ms Ntuli recounted that the Committee had also noted the underspending of the institution. She also said that it should be noted that the Committee was concerned about the vacancy rate that contributed towards the underspending.

Dr M Gondwe (DA) said that recommendation 11.12 should be changed to: “all innovative projects by the CPSI” and not just focus on the Northern Cape because the Committee had never conducted oversight on CPSI projects.

Ms Ntuli indicated that, to avoid seeming as though the Committee only performed an oversight on the Thusong Service Centre, it should be noted that the Committee will be overseeing all the projects while prioritising the Thusong project in particular.

The Members were all in agreement.

The point raised about the envisaged oversight visit in the Northern Cape province was also included under the recommendations on 12.8, as the Members agreed it would carry more weight. The amendment was added as: “The Committee should conduct oversight in the Northern Cape province to physically oversee Thusong Service Centre and Monitoring System and all innovative projects by the CPSI across the provinces.”

Dr Gondwe referred to recommendation 8.8 of the DPME working together with the DPSA, concerning the matter of HoDs and DGs. She suggested that a similar recommendation should be added. The amendment was made under recommendation 12.6 and it read as: “The Department, together with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, should review the Policy on Performance Management Development System for the DGs and HoDs in the public service, as per the Auditor-General South Africa’s recommendation. Both departments should review matters identified in the PMDS policy…”

Mr Ngoepe handed over to the Committee Secretary, Mr Masixole Zibeko.

National School of Government (NSG) Report
There were no amendments noted for the report.

Public Service Commission Report
Ms Gondwe indicated that under observations and findings, the closing line in 10.3 should be amended to read “... before March 2023” because the date stated in the report has already passed and Professor Somadoda Fikeni had indicated that the PSC was waiting on Cabinet to consider the legislative amendments.

Ms Kibi asked for clarity on observation 10.5, which speaks on the issue of the vacancy of the National Commissioner position. She asked whether that was in reference to Ms Hlatshwayo’s vacancy.

Mr Zibeko explained that there are five positions nationally and four have been filled. He said the Speaker should guide the Committee on how to move forward from the position.

Mr Ngoepe supported Mr Zibeko and added that the position came to the Portfolio Committee having undergone the recruitment process, and a report was sent back to the National Assembly in 2019. The PSC has no control over the process, and the Committee needs to push for the vacancy to be filled because, under normal conditions, it cannot be acceptable that a position from 2019 still remains with the National Assembly.

Ms Kibi suggested that there should be timeframes for filling the vacancy. She suggested that perhaps the vacancy of National Commissioner should be filled by the end of the current financial year.

Dr Gondwe supported the suggestion from Ms Kibi.

Ms Ntuli stated that it should be considered whether the decision lies in the hands of the Committee, and perhaps it should be placed on the hierarchy of Parliament to make the decision.

Ms Komane supported the sentiments of Dr Gondwe and Ms Kibi because the Committee should show concern about the matter, and it should not wait on the National Assembly.

Dr Gondwe said that what was missing might be the resolution of the National Assembly, giving the go-ahead to advertise for the position. She highlighted that it remains the duty of the Committee to follow up on the matter to ensure that process goes forward. She agreed with Ms Komane that it was within the powers of the Committee to conclude on the matter.

The Chairperson stated that he would be in touch with the office of the Speaker to get the ball rolling on the matter.

It was concluded that the matter should be finalised by the end of the financial year.

Mr Ngoepe noted that an amendment should be made to recommendation 11.3. It should be added that the National Commissioner post should be filled before March 2023.

Ms Komane referred to recommendation 11.4. She stated that she was of the view that a letter should be written to the Speaker. However, she said that she would like to disagree with the expedition of the recruitment process, as it was already in contravention of Section 4 (6) of the Public Service Commission Act of 1997. She said that there needs to be consequence management with regard to the matter, and corrective measures before the expedition is put in place.

Mr Zibeko noted the comments made by Ms Komane.

The Chairperson stated that the Members would adopt the reports and minutes in the following meeting, 19 October 2022. He thanked everyone for attending and participating in the meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.


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