Update on restoration of Parliament buildings; Parliament Q3 2022/23 Performance; with DPWI Minister
Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament
03 March 2023
Chairperson: Ms B Mabe (ANC)
In a virtual meeting, the Joint Standing Committee on Finance Management of Parliament was briefed by the Secretary to Parliament on the restoration of Parliament buildings and Parliament’s performance for the third quarter of 2022/23.
The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) is the custodian of the parliamentary precinct and villages. The project entails four components; the refurbishment of the burnt buildings, remodelling the fourth and fifth floors to create 155 offices, redesigning the parliamentary precinct and total facilities management. A multi-disciplinary team comprising Parliament, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, National Treasury and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure is needed for successful implementation. After considerable engagements, the Developmental Bank of Southern Africa was identified by Parliament as a suitable entity to undertake this task based on its footprint and track record.
It was indicated that National Treasury had allocated a budget of R118m to Parliament to provide alternative offices for Members of Parliament and other urgent and unforeseen expenditure occasioned by the fire incident. An amount of R2b has been estimated for the project cost for restoration over the next two financial years from National Treasury. The safe access roads project will start on 13 March 2023. The 3D scanning will start on 24 March 2023. The rubble and debris removal will start on 29 May 2023 and should be completed by 11 July 2023. The offices project will start on 19 May 2023. The restoration of the old and new assembly will begin on 4 December 2023 and will be completed by 10 September 2025. The parliamentary precinct master plan should be completed by 13 December 2023.
Members were disappointed that the institution has been slow in the process of restoring the precinct after the first more than a year ago, where not even the rubble had been removed yet. There was unanimity that Parliament needed to get back to a “normal way of working”, especially in light of loadshedding. Members expressed concern that the DBSA was chosen as the implementing agency and asked how this decision was reached. Members asked what level of oversight this Committee would have regarding the procurement process. The estimated budget is R2b; it is well-known that the country loses billions on goods and services because of overpricing, infrastructure, and construction. As soon as the job commences, there is an escalation of prices that end up being double the original price. It was sugested the AGSA get involved early on with pre-audits to help prevent this. Members asked who will be held accountable for the work being done under DBSA? How is the parliamentary administration envisioning this Committee to be kept up to date not only on the finances but also the deliverables?
On Parliament’s performance in the 2022/23 third quarter, Members were taken through the highlights of the business of Parliament. This included the number of oral questions, written questions, debates, oversight visits, public hearings, bills processed, statutory appointments and virtual meetings. Members were taken through the overall performance of Parliament. There were 12 performance indicators and these were all met. There was thus a 100% target achievement. The Committee was informed that a budget of R762 850m was allocated for the third quarter. Members were taken through the programme’s performance.
Members have raised concerns about the underspending of the budget in the 2022/23 third quarter performance of Parliament. Members suggested that when information such as the number of bills and oversight visits are indicated, it should be compared against the necessary standards.
Opening remarks by the Speaker of the National Assembly
Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Speaker of the National Assembly, thanked the Committee for the invitation and for the opportunity to appear before the Committee where the executive authority and the management of Parliament can account, share information, and receive guidance on various aspects of work. She said that, like every other year, the work of Parliament kicked off with a congested programme for the month of February. Parliament was officially opened with the State of the Nation Address (SONA) by the President, followed by the presentation of the National Budget by the Minister of Finance.
She was glad to report that both these important sessions were once more a resounding success, demonstrating the resilience of Parliament’s operations, under conditions of the unusual business state it had been forced to operate in. For the second year running, Parliament has had to hold the sittings for both the SONA, the debate, and the National Budget, at the Cape Town City Hall, following the fire disaster that destroyed most of the infrastructure last year.
She also expressed that she was glad that the Secretary to Parliament and his team were part of the meeting to brief the Committee with an update on the work that is being done for the restoration of Parliament, including some of the interventions to ensure a return to normalised operations, both in the immediate and mid- term. The third quarter report, based on the tabled annual performance plan for 2022/23 and the strategic plan for the 6th Parliament, will be presented. It has been working very hard to ensure that these reports reflect the impact of the work of Parliament on its constituencies and the extent to which it addresses the plight of the people as the electorate, instead of just ticking the compliance boxes.
This review on the focus of the reporting systems is aimed at enhancing the qualitative performance of Parliament in all its pillars of work. The report is also guided by a new strategic direction, emanating from the successful strategic planning session of management last year. The session was aimed at responding to the new challenges facing the institution, including the new working conditions created by both Covid-19 and the fire disaster. Going forward, much of the work of this institution will also focus on the ability to lay a sound vision and capacity for the work of the 7th Parliament, as it draws closer to the end of term of the 6th Parliament.
Members will also receive a briefing on the work being done to restore the infrastructure of Parliament following the fire disaster of January 2022. Thus, work is based on the accepted principle and reality that whatever it does, this historic heritage asset, has to be restored, as a pride of the nation and the seat of the Apex political institution. It has taken the considered decision that while everything needs to be done to ensure a smooth, compliant, and responsible processes for this project, it should also be done with the necessary appreciation for urgency. In this regard, the briefing by the Secretary to Parliament will also serve to assure members that everything will be done to ensure that this project is implemented with the highest level of integrity, sound project governance, prudential use of resources and absolute guarding against corrupt practices. An institution such as Parliament, the apex structure for accountability should never be found wanting about its good governance practices. If it fails in this regard, the institution may never recover to be able to hold anyone accountable going forward.
Before she handed over to the Secretary to Parliament and his team to make the presentations, she took the opportunity to pay respects to one of the Members in the National Council of Provinces, Ms Maurencia Gillon (ANC), who sadly passed away three days ago during one of the training sessions. She extended condolences to the family, colleagues, the African National Congress, the people of the Western Cape and all the Members. She asked for permission to observe a moment of silence in her memory. She thanked the Chairperson.
Road Map to the Parliament Restoration Project
Mr Xolile George, Secretary to Parliament, took the Members through Parliament’s restoration project.
The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) is the custodian of the Parliamentary precinct and villages. Parliament has the option to utilise DPWI or implement projects and related maintenance of its facilities. Parliament requested the DPWI Minister to devolve the restoration project to Parliament regarding four projects. The Minister of DPWI is considering the transfer of custodial powers to Parliament in line with section 19 of the Government Immovable Asset Management Act.
The project entails four components. These components include refurbishing the burnt buildings, remodelling the fourth and fifth floors to create 155 offices, redesigning the Parliament precinct and total facilities management. A multi-disciplinary team comprising Parliament, the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), National Treasury and DPWI is needed for successful implementation. After considerable engagements, DBSA was identified by Parliament as a suitable entity to undertake this task based on its footprint and track record.
The remodelling of offices on the fourth and fifth floors is planned to be completed by April 2023. The refurbishment project is planned to be completed in 24 months. The DBSA has implemented many projects on behalf of government departments and other entities. The DBSA has streamlined procurement processes and has the capacity to deliver quickly. They have a multi-disciplinary team to manage the project implementation. The DBSA’s fees are based on a cost recovery model and fall below market rates. The DBSA has relationships with the South African Heritage Resources Agency, which is based on their facilities management work at the Union Buildings.
National Treasury has allocated R118m to Parliament to provide alternative offices for Members of Parliament and other urgent and unforeseen expenditure occasioned by the fire incident. R2b is the estimated project cost for restoration to be allocated over the next two financial years from National Treasury. This is subject to the completion of a detailed design and rebasing the costs. A detailed project implementation plan will be developed to outline the deliverables/milestones over the 24-month period. The project management fees are 4.5% of the total project cost for the implementing agent. This includes value-added tax and may be subject to negotiation between Parliament and DBSA.
(Please see presentation for further details)
Indicative schedules for implementation and delivery of Parliament infrastructure programme
Mr Niraj Naamdhew, Senior Programme Manager, Development Bank of Southern Africa, took the Members through the indicative schedules for implementation and delivery of Parliament infrastructure programme. Parliament’s infrastructure programme consists of four work packages. The first work package includes safe access roads, 3D scanning, rubble and debris removal and offices. The second work package consists of restoring the Old and New Assembly. The third work package consists of the Parliament precinct master plan. The last work packages consist of the total facilities management.
The safe access roads project will start on 13 March 2023. The 3D scanning will start on 24 March 2023. The rubble and debris removal will start on 29 May 2023 and should be completed by 11 July 2023. The offices project will start on 19 May 2023. The restoration of the old and new assembly will begin on 4 December 2023 and will be completed by 10 September 2025. The parliamentary precinct master plan should be completed by 13 December 2023.
(Please see presentation for further details)
Ms M Hicklin (DA) asked what process was followed to appoint the DBSA. She said the first presentation (slide 8) indicated that design cost was still not done. She said that she was concerned about that, given the fact that there is a figure for the rest to be paid on an annual basis. She asked for clarity on this matter. She understood that it could be a moving target but a figure of R2b would assume that a more or less, set in-stone price would be indicated. She was concerned about establishing how the DBSA was decided on as the facilities management partner for this contract. She said that she was not unhappy about the decision but just wanted to know the process that was followed.
Mr T Brauteseth (DA, KZN) requested that the presentation on the schedule be provided to the Committee. The road map of restoration programme stated that floors had been made available. However, it also stated that the Minister is considering the release of the 8th-14th floors. The presentation does not give additional information. It has now been over a year and the Members are still waiting for in-person meetings. The excuse has been that there is no space because of the fire. Why has it taken the DPWI one year to respond to the ministers around the 8th-14th floors in the 90 Plein building? This should be expedited as soon as possible because there cannot still be meetings on the Zoom platform. There is loadshedding daily and it is difficult to have virtual meetings. He said it had taken so long for the Parliament to get to this point of discussion. He said that he understood that reports take time, but it was only presented to this Committee in September 2022 and now it is March 2023. DPWI should account for the reasons why it has taken this long.
He said that the presentation on the schedule does indicate a set idea of when the restoration project should be finished. He asked what level of oversight this Committee would have regarding the procurement process. Will the Committee be taken through the process as it happens, or will it have to wait six months for someone to be appointed? This government has a very bad history; there must be real-time audits. He suggested that the Auditor-General maybe go along to ensure that stuff is done correctly from a financial point of view. There has been a lot of discussion about buildings that can be damaged by heavy-duty vehicles moving in and out of Parliament. He asked what assurance is there that the cobblestone roadways in Parliament and the marble blocks over the roadways were not damaged by 10-ton trucks. What is DBSA going to do to ensure that there is removal of waste in the area and that it brings in all the building material? How will it guarantee the safety of parliamentarians? What level of safety is there for the Members and the preservation of the existing infrastructure?
Ms M Siwisa (EFF) asked how much is being spent for the repairs of the other House that was partially damaged. She said that she had concerns about the lack of project management. It is a problem for Parliament if the DPWI still must work on project management. She was interested in the process of how DBSA was picked because there is now a problem with entities and parties that do not have jurisdiction and end up with the DPWI taking over projects. She asked what criteria the DPWI and Parliament used to decide that DBSA was the best partner to do the project with.
Ms D Dlakude (ANC) welcomed the presentation by the Secretary of Parliament and his team. She said that she appreciated the fact that Parliament has opted for the best-implementing agent in the country, which is DBSA. DBSA’s track record speaks for itself. She appreciated the phasing out of 90 Plein building for more offices and boardrooms. She said that this Committee should do oversight. There is no need to have a multiparty committee. She said that she is sure that the safety of the Members at the precinct will be taken care of and that there will be tightening of security at Parliament. She said there is no problem having an administrative committee on board which will help steer the oversight of this project. She said she appreciated the speed at which this project would be implemented.
Ms E Ntlangwini (EFF) agreed that physical meetings should be reinstated, especially when important matters such as rebuilding Parliament are concerned. The time it has taken the DPWI to move with speed is concerning. It has taken two years; will it take another three years to get Parliament fully fleshed in operation? She said that she really hoped there would not be a delay on the side of the DPWI. She said that she hoped that the DPWI would work faster within Parliament. It is now two years after the fire and there is still a discussion about the removal of rubble. This is concerning and she asked when it will be removed. She expressed her interest in how the DBSA was appointed as the implementing agent of this project. Has the DBSA completed all the other projects within budget? This is important to know to avoid a situation where the DBSA must ask for more money to rebuild Parliament. She asked if the completion date is still the same as in 2025. It looks as if after the 2024 elections, Members will be sworn in the City Hall again and Parliament cannot function in any other place.
Ms S Gwarube (DA) said that she thinks everyone will agree that it has been a frustrating and long process. Members have spoken about how reports are only being presented now and the removal of rubble is only taking place this year. This is not necessarily a beacon of excellence. She said that reconstruction and rebuilding would begin on 4 December, is this work only a particular phase of the project? She agreed that this Committee is the correct committee to do oversight. People underestimate the powers of the Committee and what the Committee is empowered to do. She said that the oversight of this project is important for this Committee until the end of term. Meetings must be prioritised religiously. This work must be taken seriously because the Committee does not always correlate. It is important for this Committee to understand when the work will begin and end, this includes the work deviations. She feared that there might be an overlap. She understood that the building would be handed over soon. Where does the work of the DBSA begin and end? Who will be held accountable for the work being done under DBSA? How is the parliamentary administration envisioning this Committee to be kept up to date not only on the finances but also the deliverables?
Mr X Qayiso (ANC) expressed his deep condolences to the family of the member, Ms Maurencia Gillon, who had passed on. He said that he accepted that there had been progress as far as the refurbishment of Parliament is concerned. This Committee plays an important role as an oversight structure. He agreed that this is the correct Committee to deal with this matter and that there should not be another parallel committee. He said this is not the first time that the issue of DBSA has been raised. He recalled that it was previously questioned why the DBSA was suggested as an alternative agent who can assist with project management especially with heritage matters. DBSA was preferred because of its track record for successfully executing massive projects. He said he did not understand why this issue was raised again. It is the Committee’s responsibility to ensure that it does not undermine itself and give itself enough space to devise a mechanism to ensure there are no problems when it comes to oversight. He said that enough attention should be given to these loopholes. Loopholes must be identified in advance, especially when dealing with such a massive project. Parliament should be functional. He reiterated that he found the progress acceptable.
Mr N Singh (IFP) said that there should be phasing in of the work and a partial handover. He said that the offices are not a priority now; the priority is to have Parliament functioning again. He asked when the Old Assembly building will be handed over as it can accommodate all 400 Members [of the NA] when it is fully functional. This will allow the National Assembly to do its work. He said the fire was very unfortunate. He asked whether factors such as equipping the committees with sufficient rooms with video conferencing abilities have been considered. There has not been a complete inspection of the entire damage because rubble will still be removed. When will this assessment be done? He said it should be able to function as a Parliament in the Old Assembly before the end of 2024.
Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP) said that there is an urgency to ensure that Parliament is functioning fully. As a result of loadshedding, there is a greater need to speed up this entire process. His concern was that there was so much red tape and discussions that seemed to be going on which was slowing down the process of getting construction to commence, so that the project could be completed timeously. Parliament must function in its entirety. He asked how the DPWI and DBSA would ensure that there is no overlap or disagreement. He said the Portfolio Committee on Finance could also come in to assist and provide guidance. This will help ensure that the project is running satisfactorily and that the necessary deadlines will be met, including the financial obligations. The estimated budget is R2b; it is well-known that the country loses billions on goods and services because of overpricing, infrastructure, and construction. As soon as the job commences, there is an escalation of prices that end up being double the original price. He said the offices should not be a top priority because people have their homes. The priority should be to have Parliament working again.
Mr B Radebe (ANC) said that he appreciated the reports that were presented. He said that this Committee is an extension of the House. This means that there should not be any party-political regalia in the next meeting. If someone is wearing a particular colour, the person must not show up on the screen. The protocol must be observed through and through. This can create chaos. He made mention of the R118m after the adjustment budget and said there is no way in which DPWI could have expedited the restoration of Parliament. Previously, concerns had been raised about the fact that Parliament had never implemented such a big project of infrastructure before. This is where the DPWI came in and DBSA as a public entity, where the management fees are already 4.5%. This is far lower than the industry standard and therefore is a benefit.
Ms Ntlangwini raised a point of order. She said the Members are now being abused.
The Chairperson said that Mr Radebe should be allowed to continue with his inputs.
Ms Ntlangwini asked how Mr Radebe could continue if she raised a point of order. The entities and the Minister had been invited to this meeting. Mr Radebe cannot respond on behalf of them.
The Chairperson said that everyone should have a chance to participate.
Mr Radebe said that no one could tell him how to express himself and that he did not interfere with anyone’s opinion. He said that when it was said that government is useless, he did not interfere with that, because that is someone’s opinion. He said that he was a Member of Parliament in his own right. He referred to the Minister of Finance and the budget debate where issues like that are propellant. He said as a governing party, it is in total support of the DBSA. Regular reports should also be requested from the DBSA. If the offices will be finished at the end of April, then that is when the first report should be received. Many offices have been lost and there are many Members of Parliament. This makes the issues of offices very important. He said that the statutory body which has been established by law that must oversee the funds of Parliament is this Committee. It seems this Committee does not have a right to oversee or micromanage the project. This Committee cannot expect to be informed beforehand whether it will oversee this project. However, the Committee should be given regular reports and where there is a preferential procurement policy of government. He said he wanted to see companies that belong to historically disadvantaged individuals being used and being part of this project. The report should be very clear on whether companies belong to disabled people, youth, or women. He agreed that there must be physical meetings, so that Members can interact without the disruptions of loadshedding. He gave appreciation for the work that has been done so far.
Speaker Masipa-Nqakula said that it wants the project to be expedited but within the framework of the law. A lot of technical work will have to be dealt with. The Members have raised issues around the administrative processes. She said that reference had been made to two years, but it has been one year since the fire. The DPWI could not access the site for six months because it was declared a crime scene. She said that all this work was allocated in November 2022. This was a green light for Parliament to begin engagements with the DPWI around restoration and the DPWI has done a very good job so far. The DPWI was also responsible for the actual assessment of the extent of the damage. She stated that rubble removal is part of the phase of rebuilding. This has now been declared a repeal site, meaning it will start with the rubble removal before the work can be done. She wanted the Committee to understand that for a period of six months, Parliament was declared a crime site and therefore no one could access the place for anything. Indeed, Parliament has not had a site to operate from, but it has provided the little it could by using the control centre which was a chamber for decisions of the committees and the Parliament. Nothing could have been done without a budget allocation. There are still some negotiations happening at the time. But even if there was a budget, no work could be done for as long as Parliament was declared a crime scene.
DBSA is a public entity. It saw the progress of DBSA and the speed at which things were done. This Committee has an oversight responsibility, but having an oversight responsibility does not mean it equals micromanagement. She said that regular reports on the progress would be received. She said that it would reach out to this Committee or if the Committee needs information, it can reach out. She agreed with reinstating physical meetings but said that it does not always have to wait for Parliament to be fully restored because sometimes physical meetings occur. This is done to collect effective oversight. Members may have to come to Parliament to see for themselves and to receive reports on the progress made. She said that there was a time when there was a discussion around the possibility of building a modular structure on the site of Parliament so that it could proceed with the work. This did not happen as the estimated amount of building the modular structure was like the costs of the restoration.
Mr George said this is one of the most unprecedented occurrences facing Parliament post-1994. The fire had a devastating impact, rendering the entire institution unusable. He said it was one of the most extraordinary circumstances the institution had faced. For the past 29 years, Parliament has not been responsible for project management and capacity of construction or infrastructure-related matters. There are a lot of roles regarding public works, infrastructure and custodial responsibilities. Parliament does not have the capacity to manage its projects, let alone a project of this scale and magnitude. This meant that Parliament would have to establish its own capability and, given the extraordinary circumstances of Parliament, to return to full service. He mentioned that DPWI made a presentation on the estimated timeframes, which were around 42-48 months. He said it would be impossible to return the heritage of the building. Before the fire, Members of the National Assembly will be able to recall that chairs had to be brought from the National Council of Provinces when there was a joint sitting. The safety requirements before the fire were also not met. These details are in the assessment reports. Parliament has looked at measures to ensure that it moves with speed.
Parliament has been looking at its own legislation, which is the Financial Management of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act. Parliament looked specifically at section 6 of the Act. This section includes the factors that would inform the degree of the speed it can move in. The second factor is to look within the state capability and its institutions that would have spun the processes that would have the required scale for the infrastructure project and the project management capabilities. Parliament looked at DBSA and requested them to show its project capability statement. DBSA provided Parliament with a portfolio of some of its work. The South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd had also requested DBSA when it faced difficulties around the R24b. It took 60 months to settle around strengthening procurement and completing the work. There were several projects such as building hospitals, schools and prisons. The DBSA will do a feasibility assessment and that can only be triggered once the request of Parliament is made to DPWI in terms of section 19 of the Act is considered. There is a scaled-up initiative for Parliament to build its capacity. There is a collaboration with DPWI and DBSA to ensure that Parliament is consistent and commensurate with its capabilities. This is a discussion that has been agreed upon between the DPWI and Parliament which to date will still require the scoping of that area. He referred to the 4.5% of the cost they will receive. This is impressive work, especially since DPWI and DBSA can deliver based on an emergency of 24 months. This demonstrates that the implementing agent will help restore Parliament to normality. Parliament will also have to demonstrate that as an organisation, it can own its own accountability project management scope that involves a multi-encompassing partnership between National Treasury, Parliament and DPWI. He said that this partnership would be able to put a necessary technical monetary of DBSA where it will be reporting to those project management structures. It is a state-owned enterprise and is audited by the Auditor-General and must account to National Treasury. Both institutions also account to Parliament. This gives assurance that the institutional mandate of Parliament will not be escaped, because all the institutions come back to Parliament.
Mr George stated that work would be done the following week, which would allow a structural engineer to move into place to determine the pathways and the safety zones. When the rubble removal starts, the structural engineers must oversee coordination to ensure safety compliance measures are adhered to. It does not replace facilities management that is contractually responsible in terms of the service level agreement and the statutory terms. DPWI will manage the facilities, but it has not reached that stage yet. So, there will be no point of intersection in terms of the facility management and operation components of the work. He said that National Treasury and DPWI’s management would receive regular implantation progress from the information agent for people to sign off and certify reports. This will allow for the down payments on the side of Parliament to be aligned with the project signed-off schedule. He said he was proud of the office space on the 8th-14th floor that will be released. It will take some time and a follow-up will be done soon. There is indeed an indication that this matter will be considered. One of the flaws is that currently, there are tenants, but this will be dealt with in terms of the current contractual commitment of the DPWI.
DPWI will provide guidance on this and the additional 55 offices of Members that the Parliament could not assist at this point, as indicated by the audit report. The role of the Auditor-General is very central in this matter and how it would disperse and manage the funds allocated to Parliament. There will be a focus on project reports and safety concerns, including the marble tiles and when the contractors will be appointed. The safety measures will be observed and revised when necessary. There will also be a focus on project management and regular meetings to monitor this. He again reiterated the fact that Parliament lacked project management because it had not dealt with such a major project post-1994 democracy. Parliament is focusing on building its own capacity for facilities management to at least have a minimum project capacity to monitor future work. Parliament will appoint a construction manager so that anything signed off is signed off by a certified person qualified to do this work. This will ensure that there is accountability. This is also central to monitoring the separation of responsibilities around sign-offs. The safety measures will be investigated. If construction vehicles are moving on the site, there should be an overall security plan, and this will allow Parliament to improve its own security management to ensure that the extent of possible issues of safety probabilities and vulnerabilities are minimised.
It does not take two years to remove rubble. There were limitations, which are also linked to the actual work of handing over the site. The budget confirmations only took place at the end of October. Parliament has been working tirelessly to ensure that it moves quickly in ensuring that there is capacity to implement a business plan. He said that more money is needed despite the R2b. This is an allocation that has been made by the finance team and was made on the basis of the report that was presented on the detailed assessment. However, this was a constrained assessment, in the sense that there is rubble in the building and at some stage, there was heavy water flooding. The rubble has not yet been removed. The technical construction people made their assessment and once the rubble is removed, the project can start. It will ensure that the heritage requirements and modifications that are needed are all-encompassing in terms of capacity and variables leading to higher costs. He said that he would be able to update the Committee regularly on the different workplace packages. Parliament will be able to indicate to the Committee the detailed designs and cost estimates consistent with the signing of the designs final model so that Parliament is aligned. The final detail design will indicate whether it will cost R1.4b or R2.6b and the costs will not be discovered after the fact.
He said that the work packages would be running simultaneously. So, when the process starts on 4 December, work package two will run simultaneously, allowing DBSA to procure the necessary capacities around the detailed design. This will also allow DBSA to get the professional teams to do the work while the rubble is being removed. Once the rubble is removed, the roofing fencing can occur. All of these will run concurrently, but once the detailed designs are done, the information agent will start calling for proposals around August-October. He said this is why the date for December to start the construction was indicated. It is not the start of everything but only the actual work that is considered. He said that things such as the full procurement process to get the right contractors and how often administration should take place are also considered. Quarterly performance reports of Parliament can be provided to the Committee. It will be guided by the Members on the scale and magnitude thereof, if reports must be done less than quarterly.
Reports will be based on progress, but this does not stop the Committee from asking for full transparency for this work. The motivation for using DBSA as an experienced heritage organisation, the cost recovery fees, and infrastructure has been indicated. The facilities management of DBSA has been indicated in its portfolio. As demonstrated, the facilities management of DBSA is that of a military hospital on behalf of DPWI, the Union Building Precinct, Agrivaal building and the Civitas building. These are implemented gradually, allowing DBSA to build capacity around fastest management to achieve a better scale and agility to respond timeously on this matter. He said that this Committee would be part of the briefing given to the implementing agent on how the work will be phased in and the handover of the Old Assembly. The percentage of the destroyed buildings will still have to be confirmed but it is likely to only retain 1% of the rebuild of a New Assembly if it expands infrastructurally outside the current structural scope. This will make it easier to complete one of the Houses in terms of the Old Assembly. It may also present a reality that it is not feasible to finish one. It will be living in the realm of speculation as management if it says it will be done. As soon as the detailed design is done, this Committee will be briefed on the different phasing and whether it will be possible to restore one component of the House before 2024. If it is not possible, it will be part of the architectural and detailed design outlook that will be reported.
He said that the offices currently there and the new ones would be equipped to enable functionalities to ensure that work is done. He said it would even be better if the 8th-14th floors could be made available to sit and emphasise the release of offices of Members in a manner that faces full restoration. The DPWI will assist Parliament. He said that the circumstances are extraordinary, and the matter is urgent, so it has to ensure that there is no overlapping in managing this project. It will ensure no cost escalation to prevent over-the-budget matters. As soon as the detailed design costing is done and signed, it will be a requisite for management to ensure that it is working with DPWI and DBSA as the main key role players. It must ensure that the matters are strictly monitored except in circumstances where an exceptional justification is permissible in the construction working environment. This will be subjected to proper auditing at the time the situation arises which Parliament hopes does not arise. However, it does happen in the construction environment where there might be overruns within the project management or any other implications. He said the suggestion of quarterly reports had been noted.
Closing remarks by Minister de Lille
Minister de Lille stated that there was a report presented to the Minister by the Coega Development Corporation regarding the timelines for the restoration of Parliament which was presented on 27 May 2022. The Committee convened a meeting on 9 September 2022 however, the meeting was cancelled, and a new date was set for 23 September 2022. In that meeting, DPWI was advised not to continue until Parliament directed them on what to do. It is six months later, and the Committee has convened again. There was also a recess period of Parliament in 2022. The DPWI is currently busy with two processes. The DPWI is busy preparing the paperwork for signature in consultation with Coega Development Corporation before the handover. There are two legal processes. The first one is called the assignment in terms of section 18 of the Government Immovable Asset Management Act. This is the one that the DPWI is currently finalising. Section 18 of the Act states that through assignment in writing, one can assign power, duties and responsibilities as a custodian. This is the first part that the DPWI is completing. The second part, which is a different process, is for the application by Parliament for the custodian powers to be devolved to Parliament in terms of section 19 of the Act. Section 19 of the Act provides that it must consult with the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Public Service and Administration. She said that the consultation means that it must agree and then it must gazette the devolvement of the custodial powers to Parliament. These two processes are currently under consideration within the DPWI.
She said DBSA was appointed by Parliament and not DPWI. The DWPI, in terms of its own internal processes, have appointed Coega Development Corporation for the work that they have done. She said that the offices on 90th Plein street, 8th-14th floors, is a request from Parliament. The offices of the Ministry and appointed officials have conducted an audit and a walkabout on the floors. This inspection indicated that the space is not being utilised optimally. The deeds office is doing a need analysis to see how many staff there actually is and how much space is needed. In principle, they have agreed to move to another premise according to the needs. This will help the process of finding alternative office accommodation for Parliament. She said, looking at the building, it is mostly just office space. Some of the offices are not big enough for committee rooms, but there is something the DPWI can work with Parliament on. The deeds office is accountable and responsible to Minister Didiza, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development. Parliament was advised to meet with this Minister to discuss the way forward. There is a need for Parliament to use those floors. She said the first process, in terms of section 18 of the Act, will deal with the components of the refurbishment of the burnt buildings, the Old Assembly, and the New Wing. This will also include remodelling the 4th and 5th floor to create offices for Members of Parliament, redesigning the parliament precinct and facility management and preparing the legal documents. She said that as soon as the legal documents are done, she will contact the presiding officers and the Secretary of Parliament to arrange for the signing of those documents. This will ensure the legislative framework is in place before the handover. She assured Members that work had been done. She thanked the Secretary to Parliament for the assistance that had been provided.
The Chairperson thanked DPWI and said they could be excused for the rest of the meeting.
Parliament Quarter 3 Report 2022/23
Mr George went over the introduction, the business of Parliament, executive responsiveness, and the highlights of both the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces sittings. He also went through the Committee oversights, the bills considered by the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, public participation via multimedia platforms and the international relations highlights.
(Please see slides 2-15 of the presentation for further details)
Mr Ravi Moodley, Executive Head: Strategic Management and Governance, Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, took the Members through the overall performance. He said that all the targets had been achieved. A budget of R762 850m had been allocated for the third quarter. Parliament has spent 94% or R599 727m (excluding direct charges) of its budget of R635 068m for the third quarter. The projections show that the annual budget will be fully spent at the financial year's end. This is because of the refurbishments that will be completed by the end of March 2023. The spending on direct charges is R125 748m or 98% of the third quarter budget of R127 782m and there is projected overspending of R32 154m at the end of the financial year. This projected overspending will be refunded. This is the same for the compensation of members. The spending on compensation of employees is 100% or R351 316m of the third quarter budget of R350 602m. This slight overspending is attributable to salary increases paid in December month. Indications are that there will be a full spend on the R1 286 842 annual budget at the end of the financial year. The available budget includes the institutional budget for vacancies amounting to R17 509m. The spending on goods and services related to the annual performance plan is 79% or R82 463m of the third quarter budget of R104 721m. The current underspending is because of the institution's slower-than-anticipated planned spending. These variances will be spent in the next quarter. Indications are that there will be a full spend of the goods and services budget at the end of the financial year, largely driven by spending on the restoration works. The spending on goods and services, which relates to Members’ entitlements, is 103% or R41 292m of the third quarter budget of R40 000m and indications are that the full annual budget of R 130 372m will be spent at the end of the financial year. Spending on transfer payments related to transfers to political parties represented in Parliament for the third quarter is 99% or R127 261m of the budget. The full annual budget of R518 572m will be spent at the end of the financial year. The spending on capital expenditure is -22% or –R2 605m of the third quarter budget of R11 778m with a variance of R14 383. The variance emanates from the audio-visual assets’ corrections during October. The budget for the restoration works is included in the capital budget. The full annual budget of R39 873m will be spent at the end of the financial year.
Programme one: Administration
All the targets have been achieved. The administration programme has spent 91% or R185 928m for the third quarter and indications are that there will be a full spend of the annual budget of R961 821m by year end.
Programme two: Legislation and Oversight
All the targets have been achieved. The legislation and oversight programme has spent 93% or R221 344m of the budget of R236 955m for the third quarter and indications are that there will be a full spend at the end of the financial year. Lower than anticipated expenditure during the quarter results from a slow spend within the programme. The variances are expected to be spend in the next quarter.
Programme three: Associated Services
The associated services have spent 99% or R192 465m of its quarterly budget of R193 436m. Indications are that there will be a full spend of the R755 750m annual budget at the end of the financial year.
(Please see slides 17-46 of the presentation for more details)
Mr Radebe said that he appreciated the presentation. He said it is critical to see what oversight had been done. It becomes a qualitative type of input. Parliament must avoid the issue of underspending and must ensure that there is limited underspending. There cannot be a situation of unemployment and poverty but there is also underspending. The underspent money should not be returned; the market prices are increasing and there might be less money for goods and services.
Ms N Mahlo (ANC) appreciated the work that Parliament has been doing. She asked what steps would be taken for the parliamentary capacity building programmes. She asked about the funding and resources of the programme. She said that she had connection problems and might have missed this information. How useful is Parliament’s capacity building programme and how can the process be measured? Will measures be put in place to ensure satisfactory feedback? What steps will be taken to enhance Parliament's analysis and research services to support better quality and recommendations? She said the presentation lacked information on the search budget analysis and gender analysis. What steps will be taken to ensure the implementation of recommendations and resources? There should be a follow up, on whether the recommendations are implemented. She asked what instructional standards and quality management processes would be introduced to ensure the objectives were achieved. What steps will be taken to visualise public meetings? There is a problem where the Committee does not go to the public as usual. She said that there are Committees that are now starting to go out. She asked what plans were put in place for the petitions. Will there be meetings with partners, stakeholders, the legislative sector, government, communities, organisations and institutions? How will Parliament improve coordination and cooperation amongst the role players in public participation? This must include the use of more official languages on radio stations. There are also radio stations in rural areas. It must ensure that information is being reached through social media, mobile technology and external network reach for the public. What is the status of the project currently? Will it be licensed through the Independent Communications Authority in South Africa for greater public awareness of the business of Parliament?
Mr Qayisa asked what the number of bills and oversight visits are. He said that there should be a comparative chart on the report. The report should be able to measure to what extent this has had an impact. He said that the impact refers to the new work of Parliament as far as doing oversights. He said he meant that if it states that ten oversight visits were done, how many did it expect to get done? If this is something that is not indicated, someone will think that, for instance, 19 oversights visits of whatever standard is acceptable. The report should indicate whether sufficient work has been done. He said that when the Committee does oversight or checks the performance of Parliament in the Auditor-General's report, it should immediately make sense. He again expressed the importance of comparing what has been done against the actual standard. He said that this was his only issue and that he appreciated the report because it did go into detail about the progress that has been made under the period of review.
Mr Brauteseth said that petitions must be dealt with quickly. Petitions are usually compiled when the Committee is in the field and problems are brought forward. This is usually urgent. There is a problem with a lack of electricity and water over an extended period. He suggested that a protocol be put in place so that when a petition is served it must be dealt with in a week. For instance, one week, it gets referred to the Committee and then that Committee must endeavour to set aside just one hour in a committee meeting to hear the petitions and call the relevant departments to hear the issues. The matter must then be referred to that department for urgent action, if possible. He said that this protocol might solve the issue. It can be two weeks from the Speaker’s office to the Chairperson’s office. Thereafter, the petitioners are called in. He said that these petitions should appear before the petitions committee within one month. People and communities will lose faith in the parliamentary optimism of petitions. He said that he had assisted a community with a petition for lack of water for 40 days. The petition was submitted in November 2019 to the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces and in August 2022, he [Mr Brauteseth] was called to appear before the committee. He said there was no way anyone could say this was acceptable. He wrote to the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and that very same evening, the Minister phoned him and again the next morning. So, within 24 hours, the Minister was on it, but it took the committee 18 months to see the petitioners. He said he hopes the committee can act as quickly as the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
The Chairperson said she was interested in partnering with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation in hosting BRICS. There is no hype, because South Africans are unaware of what is happening in the country. If Parliament is involved, people in the country should at some point hear from Parliament in the form of statements or something. She said that she had not heard of anything. It denies the public an opportunity to understand and connect with BRICS. If there is information, it should be shared. If there is no information, it is something that should be considered.
Mr George said there was a strategic plan, and the focus was on reviewing the strategic framework of Parliament. It looked at the progress since 2019 and the ultimate intention was to shape it for the 7th Parliament. It also looked at the issues that need to be framed and in what form. He said there could be a meeting where this new outlook builds on issues raised in July and September. The emphasis must move away from inputs to look at outputs that must be measurable in terms of what outcomes it sees as a result of parliamentary interventions. This new outlook will be linking Parliament to deliberate investment in data gathering capabilities of ballot data analytics alignment to the country's national development goals. It will also examine how Parliament impacts those areas in its mandate. He said that when the presentation indicated several visits, questions and responses, it referred to whether there had been a response. A letter has been received from the Ministry and it agreed that there is a response only to the degree to which it aligns with what Parliament recommended and what was meant to be achieved. So, it will have to determine whether the recommendation was achieved or should be kept alive until the impact has been achieved. This will be part of the qualitative shift that it needs to invest deliberately in the strategic framework and embed this system in the institution. So, if there are any meetings, the contributions towards impact can be tracked. This will guide Parliament to build its capacity towards this shift in the area of management and avoid under-expenditure. Parliament will monitor this to ensure that if there are any limitations, it can ramp up that expenditure in this financial year. March is one of the focus areas where it needs to achieve higher spending levels.
There is currently capacity building under the Member support services and legislative sector support, where a parliamentary institute was launched in 2020/21. These are some of the areas that it is looking at to measure the support and growth of the Members in terms of their capacity. It will also generally ensure that there is an overall improvement in how Members must be able to be empowered to discharge their responsibilities. This will allow Parliament to report properly and track the impact that has been done. The institute will be very simple in driving those quality systems.
He said that when the matters come from the National Council of Provinces and the National Assembly, it rests squarely on the improvements it needs to effect the qualitative shift. There will be a macro strategy framework. It can report back to the Committee if there are new reviews on the strategy. This might include schemes that need to be put into place. He said that perhaps the Committee would allow them to improve the systems to see the standard which is the measurement index or a benchmark for the previous term. He said that Parliament has been very consistent on this in the petition system. This included how to set the standard and the protocol. He said there may have to be a particular focus on this matter. He asked for permission for when it reviews the workers management, the Committee will allow it to present on these matters and to see if everything is on the right track. The Committee can also be briefed on the timeframes set for petitions and how it ensures that the tracking system is robust. The report on BRICS can be shared.
Mr Dumisani Sithole, Division Manager: International Relations and Protocol, Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, said it has been working on the issue around the hospital. It has developed a concept document that will be linked to what the presidency has said. It is in the process of finalising its arrangement with the Research Council. The goal is to engage with people through different activities such as seminars. As soon as the presiding officer has approved the concept document, it will be able to organise all the events. It is not only thinking of building Parliament but also the future. South Africans will be given an opportunity to engage with those that have applied for membership. As soon as the concept document is approved, it can start with the process.
The Chairperson said that the Committee does not form a quorum so the outstanding reports and minutes of the previous meetings cannot be adopted. She suggested that some time during lunch, the Committee can adopt the outstanding reports and minutes. She thanked everyone who participated in the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
Mabe, Ms BP
Brauteseth, Mr TJ
De Lille, Ms P
Dlakude, Ms DE
Gwarube, Ms S
Hicklin, Ms MB
Lesoma, Ms RMM
Lotriet, Prof A
Mahlo, Ms NP
Mapisa-Nqakula, Ms NN
Moletsane, Mr MS
Ntlangwini, Ms EN
Qayiso, Mr XS
Radebe, Mr BA
Shaik Emam, Mr AM
Singh, Mr N
Siwisa, Ms AM
Van Schalkwyk, Ms SR
Van Staden, Mr PA
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