Parliament’s revised 2022/23 budget; and draft 2023/24 annual performance plan and budget; Parliament’s 2022/23 Quarter 2 and Mid-Year reports

Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament

02 December 2022
Chairperson: Ms B Mabe (ANC) and Ms D Mahlangu (ANC, Mpumalanga)
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Meeting Summary


In a virtual meeting, the Joint Standing Committee was briefed by Parliament on the institution’s revised 2022/23 budget and draft 2023/24 annual performance plan and budget. The briefing also included a report on Parliament’s 2022/23 quarter two and mid-year reports.

On the 2023/24 revised Annual Performace Plan (APP) and budget, Members were taken through the key issues arising from strategic planning, including greater public demands, stronger oversight, better information and analysis and improvement of the present service culture. Members were taken through Parliament’s strategic priorities. The fire damage came up in the presentation noting fire damage to NA and Old Assembly compounded the existing space problems with hybrid and virtual meetings continue, scaled to the relevant situation. Regarding the budget, there are significant shortfalls based on the current budget estimates and this will impact the quality of Parliament’s oversight and public participation mandates. There is a significant need to modernise the parliamentary ICT infrastructure and parliamentary facilities – this was exacerbated by the fire.

Members asked for an update on repairs following the January 2022 fire and the issue of ownership of buildings in Parliament. Members asked what type of amended strategy Parliament could develop to ensure citizens do not complain about participation in parliamentary activities. It was suggested that the administration develop strategies that speak to the current circumstances, which can be presented to the Committee in the early stages of next year.  Members said performance should not be based on client satisfaction surveys but on meeting the strategic objectives of Parliament. Members asked about the escalation of costs on translation services. Concern was raised about Parliament's inefficient petition system where petitions were considered years after they were submitted when issues were already resolved. 

On the mid-year performance report, Members asked about written questions that had not been responded to, and asked the executive to provide a briefing on the matter. Members inquired about the 16% budget of the office of the secretary. 

Meeting report

Chairperson Mabe welcomed all Members to the meeting. She stated that it had been an interesting yet challenging year, but the Committee has been able to work through the challenges. She highlighted that the burning of the National Assembly was a massive setback for the Committee, and it delayed all the necessary proceedings. However, the current term has been a moment to set everything back in place. At the end of the term, the Committee should be at 80% completion of the reconstruction of Parliament.

The Chairperson commended the cordial working relationship between the Members of the Committee. She indicated that the Committee was the first team to formalise the structure of the Parliament. Previously, committees would follow what was set out by Parliament, and overlook its real mandate. The Committee has ensured that there is pressure applied concerning filling vacancies, especially senior vacancies. The Committee has accomplished quite a few milestones.

She mentioned that the current meeting was the last one for the year.

Mr N Singh (IFP) asked for a turnaround time for the plans of the intended renovations of the Old Assembly, now that there has been money received.

Chairperson Mabe said that she had intentions of allowing Members to make their reflections, but she would keep that space open for the end of the meeting.

She highlighted that Parliament’s Executive Authority and senior staff members went for a retreat planning session. Part of what would be reported to the Committee would be the plans that Mr Singh has referred to. It would be in the interest of the Committee to receive an update on the planning [of the fire repair], because the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure is no longer in charge of the implementation process. Parliament has maintained a clean audit throughout, and there should not be anything that interferes with the clean audit.

Co-Chairperson Mahlangu suggested that the question posed by Mr Singh should be left to Secretary to Parliament. She also indicated that she had to attend an NCOP meeting and would not be available after 13:00.

Mr Ravi Moodley, Strategic Management and Governance, Parliament, indicated that the Secretary to Parliament was attending another meeting, and he was standing in on the Secretary’s behalf.  

Apologies were noted.

Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) highlighted the challenge of flights between Cape Town and East London, and indicated that he would have to leave early if the meeting goes beyond noon.

Ms R Lesoma (ANC) said she had slight confusion with the starting time, and indicated that she would log off the virtual platform at 10’o clock because her flight would be leaving for Durban.

The Chairperson noted all the apologies and outlined the agenda of the meeting.

Briefing on Parliament’s Revised 2022/23 Budget and Draft 2024 Annual Performance Plan
Mr Moodley took the Committee through the outline of the presentation. He indicated that Part A would highlight the strategy formulation for the Sixth Parliament; Part B would be the Draft Annual Performance Plan and Budget for 2023/24, and Part C would deal with the next steps in strategy execution.

He took the Committee through the Strategic Management Framework, highlighting that the APPs are in line with the framework. A few key consultations took place before the Strategic Plan was tabled in March 2020. The presentation provides further details on the dates on which the consultations took place.

Key issues which emerged during the Sixth Parliament planning process:
-The public demands greater involvement, more vigorous scrutiny of executive action, and consequently more open, responsive and accountable government
- Stronger oversight requires better information, hence improved research and content services, to provide Members with deeper insights into issues.
- Better information and analysis require technological renewal, specialised skills and a different structure of Parliament
-Limited facilities, resources and budget available to Parliament.
-Improvement of the present service culture

Mr Moodley also took the Committee through the linkages between inputs and outcome and new approaches to measure services.

The final draft 2022/23 and the revised 2023/24 APP were tabled on 10 June 2022. There had been a lot of changes, including that of the fire. There needed to be an assurance that the processes in the APP still made sense.

The strategy execution includes dealing with the immediate space, accommodation, and operational issues, following the fire damage. It also includes dealing with the overall decreased budget allocation, and lower operational expenditure. There are plans to continue engagements with National Treasury about budgetary shortfalls. The future business model of Parliament will also be reviewed.

See presentation for further details

Chairperson Mabe said that she hoped the presenter would respond to Mr Singh’s question regarding an update on the plans and the strategy to rebuild Parliament, following the fire.

Mr N Singh (IFP) welcomed the presentation. He said that it is no secret that many of these outcomes are not always achievable, because of the circumstances that the state finds itself. He indicated that it is firstly due to COVID-19. Secondly, it is due to the burning of Parliament and not having access to venues. He then asked what type of amended strategy Parliament could develop to ensure citizens do not complain about participation in parliamentary activities. There have been talks about introducing a free TV channel for ten years, but nothing has materialised from those talks.

He also said that even though there are community meetings where Parliament takes legislation to the people, the cost-benefit analysis is too much. He suggested that the administration develop strategies that speak to the current circumstances, which can be presented to the Committee in the early stages of next year.

He indicated that, often times, Members do not use the services asked of in the survey because they do not attend physical meetings. Therefore, it should not just be a tick-the-box exercise.

He asked whether the Members would ever get the compiled Hansard books for future generations to see what chairpersons speak about and debate on in Parliament.

Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) stated that the issue of basing performance management on the methodology of client satisfaction should not be a primary issue. He said that it should be regarded as just an impact of the implementation of performance management. Performance management should be based on the strategic objectives of the Parliament.

Mr T Brauteseth (DA, KZN) asked for clarity on the exact costs of the translation services, and whether these are in-house or outsourced. He also asked for the level of the translation services, because he has been receiving concerning comments about the amount of money spent on translation services. He added that perhaps the outsourcing may be adding to the high costs involved in the matter.

He raised his concerns regarding the petition system, which he indicated should be escalated to the Speaker and the Chairperson in Parliament. He said that, in November 2019, he served a petition, on behalf of the residents of the Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma Municipality, to the House Chairperson. He was then called as a petitioner to address the Committee on 04 August 2022, which was three years later. He added that it was unfortunate that the petition was presented without any reflection or introspection. The system of petitions had completely failed in terms of addressing issues urgently. He stated that there is a serious overall number of petitions and Executive Undertakings of the Committee in Parliament. He said that it cannot be that petitions are stated as a parliamentary mechanism but the system simply does not work, as it continues to address petitions long after issues might have been resolved. He added that there needs to be a separate meeting in the year 2023 to urgently address the efficacy and speed of petitions.

Ms O Maotwe (EFF) asked for clarity on the ownership of the Parliament buildings. She said that it remained unclear whether the DPWI has been renting the building from someone or if it owns the building, which would, in turn, make it state-owned.

She highlighted that, after the burning of the Parliament buildings, there were talks that the building was not insured. She asked for clarity on whether the properties of Parliament in Cape Town were insured or not.

Co-Chairperson Mahlangu echoed the sentiments shared by Members. She said that delays in the parliamentary process do not reflect well on the Committee, and it makes the public lose trust in the work of government.

She disagreed with the point raised by Mr Brauteseth on the issue of outsourcing. She said problems should be identified and addressed without outsourcing, as they may be seen as an opportunity for corruption.

Mr Brauteseth said that he agreed with Ms Mahlangu that there should be no outsourcing. The complaints he had received were about the possibilities of outsourcing.

Mr Moodley stated that the language section was under Dr Leon Gabriel’s area (Knowledge and Information Services Division), who has confirmed that all translation services for South African official languages are provided internally, and that the only thing that is ever outsourced is in the instances of multilateral meetings, i.e., IPU, where the language may be French or Portuguese.

He also addressed Mr Singh’s question and stated that Hansard was only printed on demand, and the unrevised Hansard was published electronically on the Parliament website.

He stated that client satisfaction is just a singular dimension for monitoring performance, and other dimensions have been included. There was a strategy session in November, and certain other variables and performance indicators are being considered.

Ms Mabatho Zungu, Division Manager: Institutional Support Service, confirmed that the building of Parliament is owned by the DPWI, and the buildings within the precinct are not leased.

She also addressed the question of the insurance of the buildings. She indicated that the buildings were not insured.

The Chairperson asked her to elaborate on the reasons why the buildings are not insured.

Ms Zungu said that the DPWI may be best suited to answer the question, and suggested that she could bring the DPWI on board to answer the question in the next meeting.

Ms Ressida Begg, Division Manager: Core Business Support, addressed concerns about the delay in processing petitions. She stated that the matter had been taken up with committee chairpersons via the offices of the respective house chairpersons. She said that the matter had been raised with committees, which tend to prioritise legislation on their programmes. Petitions have slow progress. She indicated that there had been a pick-up in processing and finalising petitions. These are reported in both programming committees, where the status of the processing in the respective Houses is included.

She also addressed the question from Mr Singh on citizen participation. She said this may be largely due to [the public] not having access to Parliament. However, there will be a way to capture the strategies looked at, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic and post-pandemic – considering that not all Parliament facilities are operational due to the fire. She said a document would be prepared and submitted to the Committee.

Co-Chairperson Mahlangu stated that any outstanding responses could be sent to the Member directly or through the Committee Secretary.

Briefing on Parliament’s 2022/23 Institutional Mid-Year Report
Mr Moodley took the Committee through the presentation. He outlined the work done by the various Houses. He also outlined some of the notable sittings and activity in committees.

He shared with the Committee the appropriation statement per programmes. He indicated that Parliament spent 47% of its appropriated budget of R2.757 billion. The full appropriated budget is projected to be spent at the end of the 2022/23 financial year.

The presentation also looked at the performance of the various programmes.

See attached for further details

Mr Rayi asked for clarity on the number of written questions that have not been responded to, and he asked the executive to provide a briefing on the matter. He also asked what actions the Executive takes in addressing the high number of unanswered questions, in terms of raising the matter with the Leader of Government Business.

He inquired about the 16% budget of the office of the secretary, which gives the impression that there would be underspending. He asked for clarity on the matter.

Mr Masibulele Xaso, Secretary to the National Assembly, said that the NA had adopted a mechanism where the Speaker regularly writes to the Leader of Government Business and the Minister affected directly, not only to indicate that there are outstanding questions but also to request that there should be reasons provided for the outstanding responses. He said the system was adopted on 02 September 2021, and there has also been a review of the system in the NA Rules Committee. He assured the Committee that the matter was receiving the attention of the Rules Committee and the sub-committees.

Mr Moodley stated that the Chief Financial Officer was not on the platform to address the matter of the budget of the office of the Secretary. He said the issue has been noted and will be responded to in writing to see if there had been a virement or transfer.

Mr Henry McGregor, Head: Treasury Advice Office, Parliament, indicated that the office of the secretary cost centre has two items that are very large, including the vacancy budget (which is moving). Adverts have been put out, and as soon as the positions have been filled, the vacancy budget will be moved to the cost centres where they are housed. The office also has a disaster recovery cost centre, which is also a big amount. Closer to the month of March, the funds will be spent directly from the secretary’s office. These funds are housed in the secretary’s office to not distort the budgets of the other divisions and for oversight by the secretary.

Mr Rayi asked about the Restitution of Land Rights Act which was found to be unconstitutional and returned to Parliament. He asked how far this Bill was. He asked because people in his constituency lodged claims which should be governed by this particular legislation.  

Ms Begg said a written response would be provided to this question.

JSCFMP Strategic Planning Workshop - preparatory briefing
The Committee Secretary, Ms Cindy Balie, indicated that the former Content Advisor shared documents in preparation for a Committee strategic plan, but he now occupies a new position. Seeing as the Committee is nearing the end of its term, she suggested the Committee consider an operational plan for the last year of the Committee’s term to consolidate what had been done over the Sixth Parliament to work towards the handover report for the Committee of the Seventh Parliament.

Ms Balie took the Committee through the draft programme for the first term. She indicated the agenda and the objectives of the agenda, as planned for the year 2023.

The programme was considered and adopted by the Committee Members.

Consideration and Adoption of Minutes
The Committee Secretary took the Committee through the minutes from 21 October 2022.

The Members moved for the adoption of the minutes.

The Chairperson declared the minutes as adopted.

Members wished each other well as it was the final meeting for the year.

The meeting was adjourned.


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