Lifestyle Audits; Financial Disclosures; Public Service Complaints; with Deputy Minister

Public Service and Administration

01 March 2023
Chairperson: Mr T James (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


The Public Service Commission briefed the Committee on reported complaints on service delivery as well as on corruption and maladministration submitted via the National Anti-Corruption Hotline (NACH) in 2021/22 and provided a synopsis of the cases investigated by PSC and their outcomes. The challenges faced by the PSC in resolving complaints were noted and recommendations were provided on how to aid the Commission in combatting corruption and misconduct.

The PSC also reported on financial disclosure compliance to Public Service Regulations 18 and 19. It noted that 554 (6%) of senior management did not disclose their directorship in companies. Figures were provided for those that did not disclose immovable property and vehicles or other remunerative work or gifts and sponsorship. Feedback on action taken by executive authorities for cases of conflicts of interest were surveyed.

Committee members were concerned with the tolerance of the PSC for non-disclosure of assets and conflicts of interest by government officials as well as the large number of complaints that remain unresolved, especially the pace of these investigations. The degree of disciplinary measures based on lifestyle audits clearly troubled the Committee . Other challenges emphasised by the Committee was the importance of the protection of whistleblowers which was shared by the PSC and the poor work ethic in the public service.

On 1 April 2021 it became compulsory for government departments to conduct lifestyle audits. The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) presented on this relatively new project. The challenges faced by the DPSA and the potential way forward for lifestyle audits were outlined.

Committee members were unhappy about the number of complaints by the public and the slow feedback on these investigations. There was criticism of the number of government departments not complying with lifestyle audits and the quality of these audits. Another concern was the outsourcing of lifestyle audits by some departments despite a budget allocation to do this internally. Members suggested DPSA’s lack of a permanent minister is aggravating such inefficiencies.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks
Dr Henk Boshoff, Public Service Commissioner, said one of the responsibilities of the Public Service Commission (PSC) is to investigate the National Anti-Corruption Hotline complaints submitted to the Commission. The report will provide details on the different kinds of complaints as well as the outcomes.

The Financial Disclosure Framework is contained in Chapter Two of the Public Service Regulations. It is expected of all Senior Management Service (SMS) members to disclose their financial interests to the Head of Department (HOD) or the Executive Authority (EA). This needs to be submitted to the PSC by 31 May each year. The PSC scrutinises these disclosures and thereafter the findings on potential conflicts of interests are handed over to the EAs. It is expected of EAs to indicate what steps were taken in implementing the recommendations.

Overview of Complaints Lodged with PSC in 2021/22
Mr Matome Malatsi, PSC Deputy Director-General: Integrity and Anti-Corruption, said that the Constitution demands the public service be held accountable and that ethics workshops are a key strategy in preventing corruption. The National Anti-Corruption Hotline (NACH) remains a key facility in combatting corruption. All complaints to the PSC were assessed and referred to relevant departments within seven working days (see presentation)

Mr Malatsi indicated that irregular recruitment processes were stopped in the Department of Social Development in Limpopo as well as in the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport in the Western Cape. The PSC made several recommendations on the cases investigated, including corrective action on implicated employees, rectifying irregular appointments, and interventions for policy enhancements. The PSC also made interventions in service delivery, including obtaining outstanding pension payouts from the Government Employment Pension Fund and assisting matriculants in obtaining their identity documents.

In conclusion, Mr Malatsi said that the PSC has observed that departments are taking an extended period of time in providing feedback to the PSC despite whistleblowers requesting feedback on progress. The PSC will continue to investigate and provide support to teams investigating departments as a way of contributing towards fighting corruption.

Financial Disclosure Framework Implementation 2021/22 Report
Mr Malatsi said that the report enables the PSC to promote ethical conduct, accountability, and transparency in the Public Service by reporting on the extent to which SMS members in the Public Service complied with the provisions of the Framework; engaged in Other Remunerative Work outside normal employment; and received gifts and/or sponsorships during the period under review. It also highlights actions taken by the EA in cases of non-compliance with the framework and conflicts of interest (see presentation).

Mr Malatsi said its 2021/22 findings indicate that:
• 554 (6%) of Senior Management Service (SMS) members who have interests in companies did not disclose their companies (354 are SMS members from national departments including government components and 200 are from provincial departments and 27 SMS members in provincial departments were repeat offenders)
• 314 (3%) SMS members did not disclose their ownership of immovable properties and 512 (5%) SMS members did not disclose their ownership of motor vehicles. Most of these offenders were from national departments, including national components.
• On conflicts of interest, the Public Service had 1409 (14%) SMS members involved in activities that could be construed as posing potential conflicts of interest. The majority (846) came from national departments and components; 563 were from provincial departments. No cases of actual conflict of interest were identified.
• On Other Remunerative Work (ORW), 379 SMS members were engaged in ORW although no Heads of Department were identified engaging in national departments or government components. The PSC recommends that in cases where approval was granted, SMS members must be sensitised not to perform such work during official working hours or use official equipment or state resources for such work.

PSC recommendations:
• Parliament and Provincial Legislatures must hold to account the HoDs and EAs who failed to submit financial disclosure forms on time.
• EAs should take disciplinary action against HoDs who failed to ensure full compliance with the Framework in their departments, as part of setting the tone from the top.
• SMS members involvement in companies must be tightly monitored to ensure it does not lead to actual conflicts of interest.
• Ethics Officers in the departments must periodically consult the Central Supplier Database (CSD) of National Treasury to check the companies do not appear on it.

Ms M Kibi (ANC) welcomed the presentation and noted it was clear. Service delivery complaints top the chart with 324 complaints filed. What does this denote about the public service culture?

On procurement irregularities in Water and Sanitation, Ms Kibi said sanctions imposed on officials ranged from written warnings, suspensions without pay, and opening of criminal cases. Whereas at Home Affairs, solicitation of bribes from foreign nationals for fraudulent identification documents led to dismissals and criminal cases against officials. Why are these inconsistencies happening regarding criminal activities?

Ms Kibi noted the non-disclosure by 554 SMS members of company directorships. How long will the PSC and government be tolerant of this behaviour? Regulations and legislation oppose this non-disclosure.

Ms Kibi said there were SMS members involved in activities that could be construed as potential conflicts of interest. Does the PSC alert them or do they get investigated without their knowledge to affirm the PSC suspicion?

Lastly, when officials are found to be involved with other remunerative work, do they get stopped from this up to the time they receive permission to do so or is it straight misconduct that is subject to disciplinary procedure?

Ms M Ntuli (ANC) asked about the stumbling block faced by PSC waiting for departments to file an investigation response on such a large number of outstanding complaints? What is the PSC turnaround strategy? The departments should not be hiding from these complaints. It is bringing down the reputation of the public service. She is not happy with the turnaround pace. The PSC should push for this.

Ms Ntuli turned to SMS financial disclosures. It would be good news if there are no SMS members doing business with government. We do want to see improvement on that front. What is done with people not disclosing assets such as vehicles or immovable assets – what is the policy on this? How fast are these investigations taking place?

Ms Ntuli addressed the lifestyle audits, saying that people are living in luxury which does not match their salaries. How do we strengthen the disciplinary measures for this? There is still no one in government that has been arrested for committing these crimes. They are also converting gifts into bribery. What is the outcome? Does the PSC follow this through to the end? To root out these perpetrators we need the PSC to see to it that justice is done.

Ms Ntuli said that the 554 non-disclosures is so large that it constitutes a banana republic. There is something wrong. It is as if the disciplinary measures are not as rigid as they should be.

The Chairperson said said to Ms Ntuli that the Eskom CEO would not be happy if he heard her calling an Honourable Member a ‘comrade’ as he was very critical about that.

Ms Ntuli apologized.

The Chairperson said that there was no need. They should be unapologetic for calling each other comrades as that is what they are. We are waging the struggle for our own freedom in this country and there should be no apologies about that.

Mr J McGluwa (DA) raise the issue of whistleblowers. Members will agree that most corruption cases opened were done through whistleblowers. The presentation rightfully said that whistleblowers do not receive the necessary protection. Whistleblowers must flee the country for their lives. Little has been done about investigations into this. This presentation gives some hope, however the urgency of whistleblower protection is underestimated as it is still busy with proposals on how to protect whistleblowers. What are the time frames for submitting these proposals so we can protect the lives of whistleblowers and their families? There are instances of whistleblowers reporting threats on their lives that fall on deaf ears.

Mr McGluwa raised the number of recommendations in the presentation. What concerns him are the recommendations for the Minister. You can sense a dissatisfaction with the Ministry response and action. The lifestyle audit has become law since April 2021. He posed a question to the Ministry: Are these recommendations from the Department being acted on? He asked the Ministry to give a sample of the recommendations that have actually been acted upon.

The Act has been changed and the Commission has been given more powers, but does the Commission have the power to go to the police and open a case itself? In the past they were not allowed to do so.

Mr McGluwa said that public servants doing business with the state is a criminal offence. SMS members might not get directly involved in businesses but is there a safeguard when it comes to tenders where these might fall into the hands of family members as the public servant can just withdraw from the company? The role of the Ethics Officers needs to be addressed also. What is their role in terms of the bridge between those in positions and the contracts that have been tendered?

Ms R Komane (EFF) noted that social grant fraud was the highest reported issue. Unfortunately, there are a large number of beneficiaries who are benefitting fraudulently. PSC submits the complaints to the relevant departments but how sure is the Commission that they are dealt with swiftly? How sure is it that the money will be paid back into the state’s coffers? How soon will this be and are any cases opened? Fraud in the system is tantamount to criminal activity. When the departments have handed in their reports to the Commission, do they get the attention this needs? This impacts the lives of the people and service delivery. Members have mentioned that the PSC has no teeth. When will the Commission put its foot down on this matter?

Ms Komane said the complaints are still being submitted to the PSC about the way department officials treat people. DPSA says it has been addressing this but when you get to those departments, you would cry considering how people are treated there. The attitude of officials on the ground is shocking. You find people waiting outside departments until 15:30. What is DPSA doing to ensure this is attended to? We conduct oversight so we can attest that this has not been attended to. Yesterday we were in North West at the Home Affairs, and it was shocking. She had to buy an old woman food because she was waiting so long for a death certificate.

PSC reported that 480 officials have been found guilty of misconduct. What where the sanctions? Considering the sanctions on misconduct, she doubts PSC is satisfied with the verdicts given.

Ms Komane asked about the sanctions for repeat offenders. It is worrying that says 6% of SMS members did not disclose directorships. Some of them are repeat offenders. Members should take note of that. Either there is a problem with DPSA or PSC oversight. What teeth does the Commission have? What needs to be done for them to be effective?

Ms Komane asked if there are recommendations to open criminal cases against instances of misconduct. If yes, have these criminal cases been opened? People have accumulated taxpayers’ money fraudulently. Has money been recovered from such cases? Where are those cases so far?

Ms Komane said we should take whistleblowers seriously. We want to know what the timeframes are for the whistleblower safety proposals. These people are dying. We are no longer going to have people coming forward with information. We as government, we as lawmakers, do not seem to care about them. We are complicit. The Commission has stated it is finalising a report on whistleblower safety. What is the timeframe for that? This needs to be brought to the Committee. She said she was very emotional because of this.

PSC response
Dr Boshoff, Public Service Commissioner, responded that once the draft PSC bill has finally been enacted, it will address many of the concerns raised by the members. Specifically in regard to service delivery complaints, other complaints, and concerns over social grants.

Dr Boshoff replied the reality is that at the moment the Commission does not have a mandate for local government and public entities. The National Assembly took a decision in 2011 that the Commission mandate should be expanded to include local government and public entities. The Commission has gone through all the stages now for a Draft Amendment Bill. The cabinet memo has been finalised and the Draft Bill has been sent to the secretariat of cabinet with a request for it to be fast-tracked so we can effect what this Committee but also what the Commission wants.

PSC receives service delivery complaints but has no mandate, especially complaints about SASSA or local government. For example, local government complaints are referred to the relevant MEC or Provincial Department for Local Government. PSC requests that these complaints get sent to the relevant municipality for investigation. These get reported back to the PSC via the relevant MEC office. This is how the process currently works. It is a very tedious and long process. The PSC sometimes struggles to receive feedback on implementation and on investigations conducted by municipalities and local government in general. The PSC firmly believes that once the Bill process has been finalised, the challenge of service delivery complaints and social grant investigations will be addressed.

On the consequence management inconsistencies, Dr Boshoff said Members are absolutely correct. The PSC has noted inconsistencies in other departments.The PSC’s hands are tied as well as departments. This is because when a disciplinary process unfolds, a presiding officer is appointed. The sanction is determined by that presiding officer. The presiding officer considers the evidence, mitigating and aggravating circumstances. This is the main reason for inconsistencies in consequence management. Some get final written warnings and others are dismissed.

Dr Boshoff said what the Commission also sees – and this is where Ms Komane’s question is relevant – the tendency of the public service to discipline middle-level and lower-level public servants where many are dismissed due to financial misconduct. The challenge is, although SMS members get disciplined or dismissed, it is unfortunately not happening on a regular basis or to the extent we would like to see. Surely wrong decisions were taken at a higher level, but it is always middle management and lower-level employees that get disciplined.

Dr Boshoff replied that the Commission is also concerned about assets not being disclosed. The PSC has a process to verify the information submitted and has access to car registrations and property deeds. The PSC immediately knows when assets are not disclosed. These assets are identified and immediately reported to the relevant executive authority. The EAs are expected to act on it. In fact, public service regulations are clear on the role of the EA. "The executive authority shall, within 30 days after such a referral, report to the Commission by stating whether any steps were taken. If steps were taken, giving a description of those steps, or providing reasons why no steps were taken". It is an obligation for the executive authority to take action and report to the Commission on what they have done. The Commission then reports to this Portfolio Committee on the information received.

Dr Boshoff replied that serious concerns over whistleblowers have been expressed by the Commission on numerous occasions. In fact, as recently as last month, the integrity and anti-corruption specialist team of the Commission resolved to develop a research paper on incentivising whistleblowing. This is based on experiences of other countries. It immediately started with the process of developing this research paper and contacted the Department of Justice. The PSC was informed that Minister Lamola, under the auspices of the Anti-Corruption Task Team, has also started with a process of not only strengthening the protection of whistleblowers but also incentives for whistleblowing. Not only has the PSC identified this challenge, but it is in the process of developing something that will go to all provincial and national departments.

Mr Malatsi replied about the service delivery complaints. There are very committed officials in the public service who really want to serve their country. On the other hand, there are others whose work ethic is questionable. With the professionalisation of the public service, PSC will consider the ethical conduct of employees in the public service. They must have a high work ethic and seek to serve their country ahead of themselves.

Mr Malatsi replied that the inconsistencies in consequence management are because of the disciplinary panels. Once you constitute a panel, the department stays outside the proceedings as an employer. This is because if you are involved, whatever outcome will be reversed by the court. The panel must be independent and therefore that chairperson will take over. The law only says to consider a list of sanctions as you evaluate the evidence. It does not say: “when you have done X, you must be fired”. In our country, there is zero tolerance for fraud and corruption. Zero tolerance means those guilty of fraud or corruption must be fired outright whether it is a first offence or not.

On potential conflict of interest, Mr Malatsi replied that this must be drawn to the attention of the EA who must take the necessary action. They contact the people involved and ask if they are aware of the misconduct. They respond that they will deregister but that the process of company deregistration takes a long time. They also respond that they were unaware of the conflict of interest and will respond accordingly. This is based on the responses received by PSC and the proof provided.

Mr Malatsi replied that Other Remunerative Work without approval is a straight misconduct case that requires a disciplinary hearing. There are no two ways about this.

On the many complaints reported, Mr Malatsi replied that when you have more complaints being reported to PSC ethics awareness workshops, it shows people are aware of what wrongful conduct must be reported, where it must be reported, and how it must be reported. In an environment where there is more awareness, we see a high number of allegations that can be substantiated when investigated. That is how good governance can be improved. When people see action being taken against misconduct, allegations will increase. This is because now they have confidence in the system compared to environments where there is a code of silence such as the environment at PRASA and other parastatals during the period of stealing. Nobody was reporting on anybody. People have either agreed not to report one another or they are mindful that if they report, they will be victimised to the end. PSC will continue with awareness raising and ethics workshops and advise people what and how to report. This is to make it easier for investigating agencies.

Mr Malatsi replied that PSC is not happy with the pace of finalising investigations. It takes place at a very slow pace. PSC occasionally comes up with mechanisms to improve this. For instance, the PSC is urging investigative units to finalise investigations within nine working days. Their own investigations also need to be finalised in this period. You will find cases that are complicated due to the money involved, that requires more time. If you rush it, you are going to miss salient points that indicate criminality and the amount stolen. Such cases the PSC refers to the Hawks. The PSC does open criminal cases and the relevant agencies follow them up.

When they investigate and recognise criminal aspects as well as internal problems in the department, PSC refers it to the Hawks or the SIU. There were cases in the past where people were found guilty and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. However, the PSC does not include names or brag that the Commission brought the case forward. Therefore, Members might not know of these cases. The PSC might do a spreadsheet of these cases to provide its findings and recommendations that criminal investigations take place.

Mr Malatsi replied that gifts as bribery is where the differentiation gets blurred. An example of this was a Home Affairs official working at the border who received a packet of biscuits as a thank you from a person who was helped. That official was fired and went to Labour Court. The court stated that when you live in such an area you cannot receive any gifts because that department has a ‘no gift’ policy. Anything received will get you dismissed. Most transgressions in these departments are very serious as they put the security of the entire country at risk. That is why you see so many dismissals in that department. It is different in other environments where you only get a final warning. Those are the inconsistencies we must address through policy. We must be explicit in prohibiting any gifts in the public service when we make policy proposals to our sister department, the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA).

On the timeline about whistleblower safety, Mr Malatsi replied that they are targeting the first quarter of the 2023/24 financial year to convene with all stakeholders that have raised concerns over whistleblowers. The PSC has made certain proposals and put them together, referring them to the ministries that must amend the legislation.

On social grant fraud, Mr Malatsi replied that SASSA has a small component of forensic professionals who follow up on cases referred to them. They work with Home Affairs to verify the details of those who apply for grants. These persons are also called to the police station to sign an affidavit. Most admit to wrongdoing and offer to pay back the money. PSC has taken action to this extent, but because of how the PSC provides feedback, it does not show what actions have been taken. If Members need more information they can be referred to SASSA.

Mr Malatsi replied that repeat offenders must be disciplined and there is no other recommendation to be made. Of the 480 who were found guilty, 180 officials were dismissed and the other 300 faced sanctions that ranged from final written warnings to suspension without pay.

PSC Commissioner Makhanya said it is clear from the questions raised by Members that more information needs to be given in the reports. We insist on reporting on the outcomes of criminal investigations so that reports are as comprehensive as possible.

Commissioner Makhanya said whistleblowing safety raises serious concerns. He assured the Committee that the PSC is pursuing this. He committed that at its next meeting with the Portfolio Committee the PSC report on whistleblower safety will show progress. Aside from protecting whistleblowers, we want to make it part and parcel of the culture of South Africa. Even those involved in criminal activity in the public service will be aware that they will be reported. Once that culture is instituted, it will leave society in a better place. Currently whistleblowers are fearing for their lives because of the lack of security around them. It is an area that requires serious attention because once it starts working we will have a better way of addressing corruption.

Ms Ntuli said she is happy with the awareness of the number of complaints. Her concern is the hindrances that causes the complaints to pile up before they are dealt with. PSC must have a turnaround strategy if departments are not compliant.

Ms Komane appreciated the Commission's response. The PSC works with all the departments. To stop fraud in the system, what is needed is a government-wide system that links all departments. When fraudulent social grant applications are made, such a system should reject it immediately. Sometimes people defraud the system for more than a year. Requiring a police affidavit is not assisting in stopping the fraud. We are rejecting people from social grants who actually qualify, yet fraudsters are receiving grants. The current system not helping us get rid of these fraudsters.

The Chairperson asked the Deputy Minister to give her opening remarks for the DPSA presentation on the lifestyle audits of government departments and challenges experienced.

Deputy Minister opening remarks
Deputy Minister, Dr Chana Pilane-Majake, said that DPSA will present a comprehensive monitoring report on the implementation of the lifestyle audit by government departments and challenges experienced. This is the second year departments are implementing the Guide to implement lifestyle audits in the Public Service. As was done the previous year, the Public Administration, Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit (PAEOITAU) provided assistance to departments to implement the Guide. It provided awareness but also specialist training to provincial and national departments. The implementation rate for 2022/23 improved dramatically for provincial departments. It increased from only 47 to 71 provincial departments performing lifestyle audits. The number of lifestyle audits conducted by national departments decreased slightly from 27 the previous year to 24 in 2022/23. The departments that did not conduct lifestyle audits will continue to be given assistance to conduct these important audits.

Lifestyle Audits by Departments and Challenges: DPSA Monitoring Report
The DPSA Chief Director: Technical Advisory presented:
• On 1 April 2021 it became compulsory for departments to conduct lifestyle audits.
• A Guide to implement lifestyle audits in the Public Service outlines the process.
• Extensive awareness was raised, including training interventions by the Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary technical Assistance Unit (PAEIDTAU).
• To monitor implementation, DPSA requested departments report by 30 January 2023 for 2022/23.
• Implementation support interventions were synchronised with the prescribed disclosure periods: April 2022 for SMS and June/July 2022 for the other categories (Levels 9 and 10).
• 24 National Departments (27 previously) and 71 Provincial Departments (only 47 previously) provided feedback. Only Kwazulu-Natal and Western Cape Provincial Governments had 100% compliance with lifestyle audits. See document for non-compliant departments.
The provincial departments have shown a huge improvement compared to 2021/22.
•DPSA will be informed on the outcomes of referred investigations of cases.

Some of the challenges faces by the DPSA are:
•Ethics Officers, key role-players for lifestyle audits, are designated and not appointed so ethics management is an over and above function making capacity building difficult.
•Some departments rotate Ethics Officers yearly, making training and support difficult.
•Ethics Officers identified a lack of knowledge to determine when an employee is living beyond his or her means. PAEIDTAU has rolled out formal training to address this challenge.

The priority for PAEIDTAU is to stabilise the cohort of Ethics Officers. In the next financial year, the focus of PAEIDTAU will be to assist with professionalisation of Ethics Officers. PAEIDTAU received funding to improve the eDisclosure system so that it will automatically detect unexplained wealth. This will assist Ethics Officers and strengthen oversight of the PAEIDTAU.

The Unit will continue to provide support to improve skills of Ethics Officers and ensure the process becomes institutionalized in the public service.

Ms M Kibi (ANC) welcomed the presentation and asked if the designated ethics officers would be able to report possible conflict of interests of senior management of their departments. Would ethics officers not be treated as whistleblowers and be victimised? Did DPSA together with its entities and the PSC conduct lifestyle audits? If yes, how far is the process and what are the outcomes? Ethics officers recognise their lack of knowledge to determine if employees are living beyond their means – is this not a sign that the decentralization of lifestyle audits was not an ideal solution? Are technical assistance units well capacitated to analyse these in a centralised office, including outsourcing certain functions where there is a possibility of conflict of interest?

Ms C Motsepe (EFF) said she is very concerned that lifestyle audits are not compulsory for every employee in all spheres of government. Why is DPSA not complying in keeping them accountable? The Department has been given a mandate and the power to do so. Maybe DPSA is part of the misconduct and afraid to be implicated too. Where are DPSA’s teeth? The Committee is tired of hearing DPSA still negotiating. The time for negotiating is over. DPSA needs to do what it is paid to do. No consequence management is applied.Time for theory has passed; practical action is what the community wants to see.

Mr McGluwa said he is absolutely disappointed by the presentation; he is actually upset. The Coca-Cola company delivers to all corners of the country, including villages and spaza shops. Blue Ribbon delivers bread to all corners of the country. SARS audits millions of people. Yet here is a department that cannot do what it is supposed to do and is presenting such a report. What is the rationale or idea behind conducting these audits? We want to see if people are living beyond their means. He has been to the North West Legislature and noticed even the Personal Assistants have triple story houses and convertibles. Yet DPSA reports that only departments from two provinces did not comply. It is a disgrace and complete ignorance.

Mr McGluwa asked for the role of SARS when these audits are done. When SARS suspects someone is not declaring everything, they investigate. There should be a working relationship between DPSA and SARS to get rid of individuals who are stealing and to determine the lifestyle of government employees is in line with SARS and in line with their salaries. In November 2021 all the provincial departments were given training on lifestyle audits. Nothing has been done since. A budget was made available but now the Northern Cape province is saying they outsource their lifestyle audits. How can the Premier Office say they are outsourcing lifestyle audits? Where is the appetite of DPSA, politicians, and Premier Offices to take ownership and get this country in order? Another department wants the SIU to conduct their lifestyle audits. Where is the legality in this? What happened to the money made available for these audits? This trend is unacceptable and there is no excuse for that.

Dr J Nothnagel (ANC) asked if it would be better for government to appoint ethics officers on a permanent basis.

Ms Komane said she does not acknowledge the presentation as it fills her with dismay. Maybe it is a consequence of not having a Minister that nothing is happening in DPSA. You can appoint the best Commissioners but if they do not have a department to support them then all is lost. We are not going to get any results this way. Does the Deputy Minister know what is at stake? Does DPSA know the gravity of its duties for the whole country? So little has been achieved by this department. Maybe they should take stock of this department because it is underperforming. The PSC reported earlier that some senior management were skeptical of their lives being audited due to the legality of it. There is a budget for training in lifestyle auditing. North West province not submitting on time is unacceptable. There are officials who live a better lifestyle than the President in terms of what they are being paid.

Ms Komane asked if DPSA was afraid to conduct lifestyle audits because they are complicit. She said they must not shy away from the fact that this department is not doing anything. There are public servants who claim they are not paid enough and it is true some are underpaid. What then supports their lifestyle? We will not know until their lifestyles are audited. You cannot have departments outsourcing these audits. The SIU has got its own mandate. Issues should be referred to the SIU based on the evidence received. Unless senior management or DPSA are afraid to take their people to task. Can DPSA tell us why they exist – they are failing in their duties.

The Chairperson said it is a pity that DPSA does not have a permanent Minister . Be that as it may, he thinks the Deputy Minister has taken note of what Members are saying. He asked the Ministry to address the concerns raised. Perhaps in the next meeting they will receive a better report. He agrees with Members that DPSA cannot invite the police to conduct lifestyle audits when they have the skills to do so themselves. The police must be contacted when something has been uncovered such an act of criminality. When criminal conduct is uncovered you must contact the SIU. He asked that they get a better report next time.

Deputy Minister
Deputy Minister Pilane-Majake responded that the comments have been noted. The Ministry will hand over the process to make the necessary improvements to lifestyle audits. They also need to take into consideration that the process is not even a year old. What has been good are the comments from the Committee so the measures in place can be reviewed. When the review is done, it will take into consideration concerns over police involvement. She wanted the DG to comment on the matter so the Committee can be assured that they take this seriously.

The Chairperson said it will not help for the DG to respond now because the work that was supposed to be done by this department, was not done. This Committee says DPSA must do its job and not offload its responsibilities to the police. He does not need the response of the DG. All they need is for the concerns raised by the Committee to be addressed. In the next meeting they must receive a better report.

The Deputy Minister said the point is noted.

The Chairperson and the Committee Secretary, Mr Masixole Zibeko, reminded the Interview Subcommittee about the Public Service Commissioner interviews on 8 March for which the subcommittee must come to Cape Town as the interviews will be held in person at Parliament. Members must indicate availability for the oversight visit to in Kimberley from 28 to 31 March as the Committee is in the process of requesting permission for the visit.

The Chairperson thanked Members for their contribution during the meeting and speaking out against deviation from what should be happening.

Meeting adjourned.

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