Copyright & Performers Protection A/B: public hearings report; DEL 2023/24 APP; with Ministry

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Meeting Summary


Trade, Industry and Competition

Employment and Labour

The Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment and Labour met on a virtual platform to consider the public hearings report on the Copyright Amendment Bill and the Performers Protection Bill.

The Committee Report on the remitted Bill reported on the processes followed by the Committee concerning the Bills and included key points raised by national stakeholders in the public hearings as well as the constitutional and legal responses to the public comments as provided by the parliamentary Constitutional and Legal Services Office. The report also contained the very detailed response of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition to the public submissions. The report ran to 85 pages. After extensive debate, it was decided that, in order for the public hearings held by the National Council of Provinces to have any meaning, it was essential for the provinces to have insight into the input by the public at a national level as well as the legal, constitutional and policy responses. The intention was to inform the provinces, not to oblige them to take the matters raised into consideration.

The Department of Employment and Labour presented its Annual Performance Plan for 2023/24. The Department stressed the importance of its impact statement which drove its work: A labour market which is conducive to decent employment. The Department was implementing government service delivery priorities one to four, six and seven and an implementing programme had been worked out for each priority. The Department had drawn up a list of key indicators to address critical problem areas in its service delivery. These included the finalisation of 75% of corruption and fraud cases within six months of receipt; the National Employment Policy would be developed by the end of the current financial year and that would include the policy on migration. The bulk of inspections in 2023/24 would be in Gauteng where there were 184 cases of fraud and corruption under investigation. The long queues at Labour centres would be prioritised in terms of queue management, particularly for people with disabilities, the elderly and expectant mothers. Client Services would screen clients to direct them to the appropriate service area. The Department had identified many risks to the programmes but risk mitigation had been planned for each risk. Key risks included non-compliance with labour legislation by employers and users; unreliable Inspection and Enforcement Services performance information; insufficient placement of registered work-seekers in registered opportunities; the inability to extend collective agreements to non-parties within the appropriate timeframe. The Department had an allocation of R4.1 billion for 2023/24 of which R1.185 billion was allocated to provinces and R1.8 billion was transferred to various entities including the CCMA and Nedlac.

Members had questions based on their own experiences. One Member asked how the matter of long queues at Labour centres would be addressed. Why did it take months and months for the unemployed to receive UIF benefits? Had the new IT application gone online as scheduled on 1 April 2023? When would Mpumalanga have a Supported Employment Enterprise entity? When was the Department going to visit farms in Letsitele and Tzaneen in the Mopani District where farm owners failed to comply with labour laws?

Members also had more general questions relating to processes and policy. What impact did load shedding have in creating jobs as businesses were closing down and many people were losing their jobs? How many cases of fraud and corruption were currently outstanding, and how many employees in the Department were on suspension and receiving their monthly salary? What was the impact of the reduced budget on the Department? Why was the Presidential Employment Initiative coming to an end? What was the current status of the migration labour policy? How did one know, when the inspector had been to a workplace, whether he or she took the next step, for example, enforcement? How did one measure whether there was compliance by inspectors with all the required processes? How did one assess performance in the Department in the matter of statutory processes?

The Select Committee had also scheduled a briefing by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition on its 2023/24 Annual Performance Plan. However, as neither the Minister nor either of the Deputy Ministers was able to attend the meeting, it was postponed to a later date.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks
The Chairperson welcomed the Members and the Minister of Employment and Labour. The Committee would be addressing a report on the Copyright Amendment Bill and the Performers Protection Amendment Bill before engaging with the Department of Employment and Labour.

Performers Protection Amendment Bill and Copyright Amendment Bill Public Hearings Report
Ms Mahdiyah Solomons, Committee Secretary, explained that the report was developed following the public hearings on the remitted bills and included responses from the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition (DTIC) on the public submissions. A total of 65 submissions had been received. It included a list of all the stakeholders who had made written submissions to the Committee and those associations and stakeholders who had made oral submissions to the Committee over the three days of public hearings. The report was essentially divided into three sections: Part A covered issues specific stakeholders raised in terms of the Copyright Amendment Bill; Part B covered issues that stakeholders raised in terms of the Performers Protection Amendment Bill; Part C covered responses by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, as well as by the parliamentary Constitutional and Legal Services that gave inputs in terms of constitutional and legal issues raised during the public hearings. The report was 85 pages long.

The main areas raised, particularly in terms of the Copyright Amendment Bill were the concerns around definitions and fair use. Members of the public also raised concerns about exceptions and limitations, personal use and adaptation of formats for personal use, reproduction and adaptation, libraries, archives, museums and galleries as well as artistic works in public spaces. There were several presentations about persons with a disability, imports, statutory licenses for the production and translation of orphan works, technological protection measures and copyright management information. The absence of effective legal remedies to combat online copyright infringement, ephemeral rights, and ownership of copyright information commissioned works were further concerns. Those were just a few of the issues raised. Concerns about the Performers Protection Amendment Bill addressed definitions, penalties for noncompliance with registration requirements, avoidance of double payment to a performer for the same act, the Minister's regulatory powers and compulsory contractual terms as well as technological protection measures.

All the written responses were sent to the DTIC, so the Department's response encompassed all the issues that were raised. Parliament's Constitutional and Legal Services focused on issues of constitutionality, compliance with parliamentary processes, compliance with legal drafting principles and whether the words of the Bills gave effect to the policy decided by the Committee. The Legal Advisor made certain proposals to give effect to the BlindSA versus Minister of Trade and Industry Constitutional Court judgment. The report included the list of proposed amendments made by Constitutional and Legal Services.

The last section of the report consisted of the responses by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC). The DTIC noted the public comments and made a direct response to each and every one of the public comments.

The Chairperson asked if there were any comments from the Members before he called for a vote on the adoption of the report. He clarified that it was more of a process report about what had happened. It did not include the positions of Members of the Committee. It was just a process report that had to be adopted and then sent to the provinces for them to consider the issues that were raised at a national level when developing their voting mandates. It addressed only the actions of the Select Committee, the submissions by the public and the responses to those submissions by the parliamentary Constitutional and Legal Office and the DTIC. It did not contain any political party inputs.

Mr J Londt (DA, Western Cape) took note of what the Chairperson had said about it being a process report. He acknowledged that the Committee was not going into the details but there would be time at a later stage to work through the Bills, clause by clause, and to raise concerns and give inputs and alternative proposals, but the Committee needed to have a discussion or conversation on its role and responsibility to make sure that the provinces undertook adequate public hearings. There was already anecdotal feedback that there were some serious flaws in some of the provincial public hearings. That would impact the Committee and affect Members when they made their final decisions. The Committee could not do its job properly if processes were not carried out properly in the provinces. Secondly, the Committee should use the correct wording when discussing the Bills, even when speaking to one another, because there were not "just a few issues" that had been raised. Many valid and substantial concerns had been raised. Saying that there were just a few issues did not truly reflect the feedback from stakeholders that engaged the Committee. He added that when the Committee engaged in conversations about the Bills, Members should be present in person. It was much easier sitting around the table, looking one another in the eye and having a conversation on all the concerns that were raised, as well as on the inputs from the provinces. And the Members should be honest with one another about which provinces did not meet the minimum standard. It might be subjective for Members, but it might also end up in the courts. The Committee had a responsibility to make sure that Members at least raised those concerns with one another and spoke about them.

The Chairperson informed Mr Londt that the next meeting on the Bills, which would be on the negotiating mandates from the provinces, would be held in person as reported at the meeting the previous week – there was even a room number for that meeting. So he had already agreed that the next meeting would be in person. Both he and Mr Brauteseth attended the Standing Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament. It was indicated in the meeting that a decision had been taken to hold all Committee meetings in person after 9 May 2023. The meeting of the following week on 2 May 2023 would be virtual, but after 9 May, they would meet in person.

Mr M Mmoiemang (ANC, Northern Cape) concurred with the process outlined. It was important to respect both the internal and also the external processes, such as the public hearings because the three public hearings that the Committee held had opened the floodgates and he appreciated the interest that the public has shown. But he agreed with the process outlined and the Committee should send the report to the provinces and thereafter the Committee would have the guidance of the negotiating mandates decided upon by the provinces.

Mr M Dangor (ANC, Gauteng) cautioned the Chairperson about announcing that all meetings would be physical. He should be conscious of the fact that at the last meeting of the Whips, a request had been made that the Secretary of Parliament produce a report on progress in building matters in the NCOP and in Parliament. At present, the indication was that only two committee meeting rooms were ready for use and that other committee rooms were not ready. At the meeting the following week, the whips would probably get a report on that data but one should be cautious when saying that all meetings will be physical. It depended on what was available.

The Chairperson informed Mr Dangor that it seemed like the decision was taken at a higher level than the Whips meeting and that all future meetings would be in person because there were additional rooms. Tenants had been moved out to make room to accommodate committee rooms. So his understanding was that the decision at the Whips meeting might have been overtaken by a decision at a higher level.

Mr Londt said that before the Committee adopted the report, it should request feedback from provinces on, firstly, the process or the type of communication that had gone out and the general attendance at the meetings because he had already had feedback, from the Chairperson's own province, that by the sound of it, the first public hearings did not go well at all. He was not going into the details but, apparently, the province was scheduling additional public hearings, which was commendable if things had not gone well initially. One should schedule further hearings but also correct the mistakes that had caused the first public hearings not to go well. The Committee needed to get information from other provinces so that when the Members got together and discussed the matter, Members had that information as well. He encouraged the Chairperson to make a footnote of that in the report when sending it to the provinces.

The Chairperson responded that he did not know if the Committee had that authority over provinces. He did not know what was happening in his province concerning the public hearings. What normally happened was that the Committee would get the reports with the negotiating mandates from provinces on the understanding that the correct processes were followed in terms of the advertisements for the public hearings, the public hearings themselves, and then the processes back in the legislature in terms of a committee sitting and deciding on the negotiating mandate. Perhaps Ms Ally could advise on whether the Committee had the authority to tell the provinces how to run the public hearings and the processes to be followed.

Ms Shamara Ally, NCOP Table Procedural Officer, stated that the NCOP could not dictate to provinces how and when to carry out public hearings. It was only for Parliament to encourage public hearings. She undertook to speak to her colleagues in the provinces so that the Committee had a complete picture before the next meeting. She requested time to investigate the matter further.

The Chairperson agreed but stated that the report was the Committee's own report. It had nothing to do with the processes of the provinces. What was happening in the provinces did not have an impact on the report itself. So the Committee could go ahead and adopt it. Was that correct?

Ms Ally confirmed that the Chairperson was correct. She would, however, like to give Mr Londt and other Members a complete picture of what happened concerning the public hearings in the other provinces, so that when it came to negotiating mandates, nothing would hamper the Committee's processes.

The Chairperson appreciated the clarification.

The Committee Secretary stated that she had a schedule of the provincial public hearings that she had as the staff had anticipated that several stakeholders would contact them directly to request information about when and where the provincial public hearings would be taking place. She could share the schedule, which was a working document, that she had kept updated from the get-go. She had the schedules for the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, Northwest and Western Cape. To date, seven of the nine provinces had concluded the public participation process. The Free State had only started public hearings that day, immediately following the provincial briefing in the legislation. The only other province that was still outstanding was the North West Province. She would make the schedule available on the WhatsApp group for Members.

The Committee Secretary apologised for her wording earlier when she introduced the report. There had been substantive comments in the report, which was, if Members looked at the report, about 85 pages long. The Committee staff had gone through all submissions and had tried to capture all the submissions. The wording that she had used earlier on was more to define some of the areas that she was going to cover, recognising that she would not be able to go through the whole report because it was quite a lengthy report.

Mr Dangor asked if he might vote for the adoption of the report as it was and as outlined, and that any other matters be dealt with at another time.

The Chairperson stated that in terms of the rules of NCOP Rule 153 on page 120, when a question was to be decided, the business may proceed irrespective of the number of delegates present, when a question is to be decided in terms of section 76 of the Constitution, Committee Members representing at least five provinces, or six provinces in the case of a constitutional amendment, must be present. He asked if a quorum was present.

The Committee Secretary confirmed the quorum.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee would vote on whether to adopt the Performers Protection Amendment Bill and Copyright Amendment Bill Public Hearing Report process. He followed the voting procedure.

Results of the vote: The Committee Secretary announced the results: Five votes in favour of adopting the report; zero against; three abstentions. In terms of provinces, those in favour were: Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Free State and Gauteng; those in abstention were KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Mpumalanga.

The Chairperson announced that a majority of five provinces were in support of the adoption of the report. The report would be sent to the provinces. It was expected that the provinces would take the report into account when considering the negotiating mandate.

Mr Brauteseth understood that the provinces were still embarking on a very lengthy process. Was Parliament going to send a directive to the provinces that they had to consider the Committee's report before they submitted a negotiating mandate?

The Chairperson confirmed that was the suggestion at the very start of the process. Because they were section 76 Bills, the Bills were sent to the provinces and Members of the Select Committee briefed the provinces about the Bills, together with the representatives of the Department. Some of the Members had done that, and as was indicated, Ms Mashodi would be doing that in her province that day. In an attempt to understand the point of the NCOP Committee holding public hearings when the negotiating mandate would come from the provinces, he had consulted Adv van der Merwe and he was advised by the Advocate and Ms Ally that the provinces should take into account the Select Committee's report on the process and concerns raised, as well as the departmental advice and parliamentary constitutional and legal advice. Provinces were to take the report into account but without it imposing on the provinces as they determined their negotiating mandates. In that way the NCOP was doing its part; otherwise, the process of the NCOP holding public hearings was just meaningless. The Committee had applied to the Chairperson of the NCOP to extend the process beyond the normal eight weeks. That request was agreed to.

Mr Brauteseth appreciated the clarity in the matter, it was the right position because the Select Committee had probably had the lion's share of engagement with all the stakeholders, and it was absolutely vital that the provinces took into consideration the views of the stakeholders, the academia, the lawyers, the artists and the performers themselves. Public participation in the provinces was not any less important but provincial input would come from the general public. The same process should be applied in respect of all other section 76 Bills, such as the Expropriation Bill, where it appeared that the provinces were ahead of the NCOP in that process because the Select Committee still needed to do its entire public participation process. That principle should be forwarded to the provinces. The Committee should inform provinces that the report covered its engagement with the majority of the stakeholders and provinces were to take into account what the Committee had uncovered.

Mr Londt asked whether the Committee would be meeting the following week to discuss the provincial negotiating mandate.

The Chairperson corrected him stating that the meeting was in the programme but it was not the following week. He requested Committee staff to send the legislative programme to the Members on the WhatsApp group. The dates were tentative and over two days, not in succession, the following week, But the meeting date would be guided by the processes in the provinces. The Free State was only receiving its briefing that day and they still had to embark on public hearings. North West was still to receive a briefing from the Member of the Committee that could affect the scheduled days for the negotiating mandates. The Committee should wait for all provinces. He requested Ms Ally to indicate whether there was a particular threshold in terms of numbers with which the Committee could go ahead.

The Committee Secretary informed the meeting of the dates for the negotiating and the final mandate meetings: the negotiating mandate meeting was scheduled to take place on 16 May 2023; the final mandate meeting was scheduled to take place on 23 May 2023. As indicated, both of those meetings would be physical meetings.

Mr Londt stated that he had just seen a red flag and sought clarity if the Committee was meeting the following week as there were so many public holidays coming up. He requested that the Committee Secretary send the letter that was sent to the NCOP Chairperson, as well as the reply, to Members so they had it on record.

The Chairperson agreed. He added that the Committee did have a meeting on Tuesday of the following week with the Department of Small Businesses Development on the Annual Performance Plan and Budget. The Members had to prepare for the Budget debates.

Mr Brauteseth stated that, obviously, the mandate meeting dates had to be very tentative because if some provinces were only just receiving the briefing and had not begun the public participation process, he imagined that those dates were going to be moved out by at least a month.

The Chairperson asked Ms Ally what happened if some of the provinces delayed the process. Was a threshold reached when several provinces had completed all the processes? That would avoid delays simply because one or two provinces were not ready.

Ms Ally stated that there was a threshold of five provinces, following which they could move forward with taking a decision. However, because of the nature of the two Bills under consideration, she would seriously recommend that, even if it meant that the Committee had to delay the meeting a week or so, the Committee should consider that rather than moving forward with the final and voting mandates without all the inputs, even if it were only two provinces that they had to wait for. With regards to the timeframes, she pointed out that when the Committee applied for an extension, the approval had not given specific dates but had left it as an open-ended process. The extension was granted due to the nature of those Bills, which was possibly why the Chairperson had not indicated the timeframes within which the process had to be completed. So if a meeting were postponed to a later date, it would not matter as the Committee had received the required permission. Hence, her advice to the Committee would be to delay a meeting, rather than to continue without all the provinces.

The Chairperson agreed and indicated he was ready to move to the next item.

Mr Brauteseth apologised for beating a particular drum but it was important because of all the section 76 Bills coming their way. There were legal precedents. One particular case related to the Mineral Resources Department, where it was found by the courts that the NCOP had to err on the side of full participation by all provinces. And all provinces had to err on the side of as much public participation as possible. That particular court case said that the NCOP had to make absolutely sure it gave full meaning to the word "public participation". So, to exclude provinces because they were just a bit tardy or were slowing down the process would be most irregular and would open them up to a constitutional challenge.

The Chairperson said that he would try his best – he could even ask the Chairperson of the NCOP to intervene in the matter by contacting the provincial Speakers so that the committees in the legislature took those matters seriously.

Mr Mmoiemang added a word of caution. Members had to remind themselves where they came from. The Northern Cape was quite clear that the adoption of the two Bills was urgent and it had to be expedited, especially taking into account the fact that it was not the first time that it was before the Committee and that previously it was adopted by both houses. Therefore, the delays were in stark contrast to what they sought to achieve in the industry. The copyright regime and the profession had to make it much easier for artists in the industry and to ensure that there were copyright exceptions both for educational and developmental purposes. So, the delay had to be minimised because there should be no reason for further delay on the matter. There were many contending interests, particularly around the copyright regime, but Members should all agree that it had to be transformed so that it was able to address the developmental agenda and the transformation agenda.

The Chairperson said that the Committee should follow the processes and if there was a need to be flexible in terms of the date to accommodate the two provinces, the Committee would just have to accommodate them. Everyone should do their best to involve all the provinces that had not yet had their public hearings.

Mr Dangor reminded the Chairperson of the time and the need for some Members to withdraw at 12 o'clock.

The Chairperson moved on to the Department of Employment and Labour.

Ms Ally stated that she was following up on the matter with the provinces directly, which was much quicker than going via the Chairperson to the Speakers. She would advise accordingly if there were a need to postpone the meeting on the 16th.

The Chairperson welcomed the Minister of Employment and Labour.

Minister Thulas Nexi did not wish to waste time so he went straight into the presentation. The team was not led by the DG who had urgent business but by the Chief Operating Officer, Ms Marsha Bronkhorst. She was accompanied by several Deputy Directors-General and Heads of provincial departments. The Minister would be excusing himself for 30 minutes but the Deputy Minister was also participating in the meeting.

The Chairperson welcomed the Deputy Minister.

Presentation by the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL)
Ms Bronkhorst introduced the members of the Department - Ms Bahumi Matebesi, Deputy Director-General  Corporate Services, Mr Sam Morotoba,  Deputy Director-General Public Employment Service, Ms Aggy Moiloa, Deputy Director-General: Inspection and Enforcement Services and Mr Bheki Maduna, CFO. Quite a number of heads of provinces were joining the meeting, but some of them were having problems with connectivity.

Annual Performance Plan 2023/24
Ms Bronkhorst stated that the impact statement of the Department was key: A labour market which is conducive to decent employment. That was what the Department was working towards. The statement drove the work of the Department. DEL was implementing government service delivery priorities one to four, six and seven and an implementing programme had been worked out for each priority. The DET had four Programmes: Administration, Inspection and Enforcement Services (IE), Public Employment Services (PES), Labour Policy and Industrial Relations (LP&IR). Indicators had been devised to address service delivery concerns. One of the key indicators was that 75% of corruption and fraud cases were to be finalised within six months of receipt. Another indicator was that the National Employment Policy would be developed by the end of the current financial year and that would include the policy on migration. Concerning provinces, she noted that the bulk of inspections would be in Gauteng, followed by the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape with fewer inspections in the remaining provinces as per the graphic on slide 28. The vacancy rate had been a challenge and was currently at 7% but DEL would finalise all posts up to salary level eight within three months of the post becoming vacant, and the senior management posts within six months of those becoming vacant. 40% of goods and services would be procured from women-owned businesses. The long queues at Labour centres would be prioritised in terms of queue management, particularly for people with disabilities, the elderly and expectant mothers. Client Services would screen clients to ensure they were directed to the correct service area. The Department had identified many risks to the programmes but risk mitigation had been planned for each risk. Key risks included non-compliance with labour legislation by employers and users; unreliable Inspection and Enforcement Services performance information; insufficient placement of registered work-seekers in registered opportunities; the inability to extend collective agreements to non-parties within the appropriate timeframe.

(See Presentation)

DEL Presentation on Financials for 2023/24
Mr Maduna indicated that the Department had an allocation of R4.1 billion of which R1.185 billion was allocated to provinces for expenditure in the provinces which represented 29% of the budget allocation. Two transfers and subsidies to the public entities took about one-quarter of the budget. If he deducted transfers and subsidies, then the percentage of the budget going to the provinces increased to 51%. Some provinces overspent and others underspent but he reconciled the budget against programmes in the provinces within the same economic classification that were underspending or overspending. Overall, the Department was not overspending on its budget. One point he needed to mention was that the budget in the current year had minimally decreased simply because Treasury's allocation for 2023/24 showed a decrease. That decrease should be shared by all the programmes in the national department and provincial departments, excluding transfers and subsidies because those were managed differently in terms of the SLA's (service level agreements).

(See Presentation)

The Chairperson opened the floor to Members of the Committee.

Ms H Boshoff (DA, Mpumalanga) said that she had been inundated with calls regarding the long queues at service centres. It was a general problem and not restricted to one or two branches. She would like to know how the matter was to be addressed. She enquired about the UIF. The report stated that the UIF was mandated to alleviate poverty for all unemployed workers who qualified. Unfortunately, she was also inundated with calls from the public who were struggling to receive their benefits from the UIF. It took months and months, sometimes, years, before an application was finalised. What were the problems in that regard? Why were people struggling to receive their so-called subsidy or payments from the UIF and why were they waiting months for it to be executed? The report on employment services spoke of an app. Did the app go online on 1 April 2023? The report spoke of youth centres built in 2023 that were going to be given Wi-Fi. Had that taken place? Was it provided to all the youth centres? Mpumalanga still did not have a Supported Employment Enterprise entity. Could she be advised as to why not and whether the Department was looking into creating a Supported Employment Enterprise entity in Mpumalanga?

Mr Mmoiemang said the key performance indicators and targets for the Administration Programme, the Enforcement Services Programme and the Public Employment Services Programme in 2023/24 clearly indicated that there was a positive response by the Department in terms of the policy directive issued by the President to those that were tasked with the coordination of efforts to create jobs and reduce unemployment. The Administration Programme indicated that there was an additional responsibility given to it but there was a decrease of 6.85% in the budget, which was close to R2.5 million in nominal terms, which to him created a bit of a challenge. Considering the additional responsibility given to that Programme, would the officials be able to execute those additional responsibilities in the face of the decline in the budget of Administration, and also in the sub-programme of the Minister where there was a decline of 5.69%? Parliament expected the ministry, both the Minister and the Deputy Minister, to be on the ground ensuring that they had oversight over several areas, the key to which was the emphasis on the migration labour policy. The fact was that there had been tension between foreign truck drivers, and also tensions between the locals and the employees from neighbouring countries, for which there had to be political leadership. They were in the last 12 months of the current administration, so how was the policy to be executed?

Secondly, he addressed Programme 2 which dealt with Inspection and Enforcement Services, particularly its emphasis on the realisation of decent work. The key thing which emerged from the presentation was the emphasis on regulating employment conditions through inspection and enforcement. It gave him comfort that there was a R5.2 million increase in real Rand compared to the 22/23 budget. For all other programmes, there was a decrease, so the increase in compliance monitoring and enforcement services had to be appreciated. But given the decrease, although minimal, would the Department be able to ensure that each province had a share of that programme? The decrease was a concern. Maybe the Department could give some comfort in terms of the decrease?

Mr Mmoiemang had a concern about the Public Employment Services that had to be addressed. He saw that it was expected that the Presidential Employment Initiative might, at some point, be coming to an end. Maybe the Department could just provide clarity on that because, given the new mandate of the Department, there was an expectation that there would be a much more vigorous and rigorous programme. He noted that the Supported Employment Enterprise had received an increase, but what was concerning was the decrease at an average of 10.6% from R1 billion in 22/23 to R725.6 million in 2025. Why was the Presidential Employment Initiative coming to an end? The Department could probably give Members a reason in terms of its conceptual framework. Lastly, was the Labour Policy and Industrial Relations. He noted that the programme was meant to facilitate the establishment of an equitable and sound labour relations environment. Its sub-programmes also talked about that but he was concerned about the point raised by the COO in terms of the national minimum wage in the foreseeable future. What were the tools that she referred to? The last point was the issue of Nedlac. There was a real increase in terms of that transfer. But the focus of Nedlac could be an area that the Committee could explore by inviting them at some point to come and make a presentation. It was quite clear that was the only programme that had received an increase. He appreciated the fact that the CCMA received the largest share of the programme budget at R1 billion, given its centrality and its proximity to the provinces in terms of resolving employee disputes. Other than that, he was happy with the presentation.

The Chairperson said that Nedlac was on the second term programme. Nedlac had been invited together with its social partners, including the Department of Employment and Labour. He requested the Committee Secretary to read the questions of Ms B Mathevula (EFF, Limpopo) who had connectivity problems.

The Committee Secretary said that Ms Mathevula asked what the Department was doing to address the challenges of long lines in the Department of Labour and Employment in the Giyani branch and Tzaneen branch in Mopani in Limpopo as community members had to sleep over to be assisted.

Ms Mathevula also asked when the Department was going to visit farms in Letsitele and Tzaneen in the Mopani District as farm owners failed to comply with labour laws. In some farms, there was no compliance with occupational health regulations as farm workers had to bring their own water from home and other farm workers were working without protective clothing and were ill-treated. What impact did load shedding have in creating jobs as many businesses were struggling to cope and closing down their businesses and many people were losing their jobs? She asked for a breakdown of corruption case numbers per province.

Ms Boshoff asked, concerning fraud and corruption, how many cases were currently outstanding, and how many employees in the Department were on suspension and were receiving their monthly salary.
Mr Dangor asked if the Select Committee looked at the performance of SOEs and the staff performance agreements at SOEs. He requested guidance.

The Chairperson explained that it depended on the limited time available. Portfolio Committees would call entities but it had the time. The Select Committee might invite the Department and entities to brief the Committee but that usually took a whole day and usually the NCOP did not have that time. It was up to the Committee to arrange briefings by entities.

Mr Dangor asked for the Department to bring the SABC along.

The Chairperson explained that the SABC belonged to the Communications Committee. He asked the COO about the Inspection and Enforcement Services Programme which consisted mainly of the number of inspections. It was difficult to assess performance in terms of inspections and the follow-up stages. How did one know, when the inspector had been to a workplace, whether he or she took the next step, for example, enforcement? How did one assess performance in the Department in the matter of statutory processes? There was a likelihood that the inspector just talked to workers and management, and then went away and never came back. Many inspections were going to be taking place, but there was no clarity in terms of whether all those other processes after the inspections, such as enforcement would happen. How did one measure whether there was compliance with all those processes?

He asked about implementing the Public Employment Services; his focus was on the database. The Committee and its sister Committee that met on Wednesdays dealt with eight departments. Most of those departments spoke about jobs that would be created as part of the outputs of departments, whether those jobs were in the private sector or within the public service. Did other departments and entities tap into DEL's database? That afternoon, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition would be tabling its APP that talked about the creation, in the current financial year, of one million jobs. Did that Department make use of the DEL database? Lastly, he turned to the Labour Policy and the Industrial Relations Programme. He knew that there were trade unions under administration, but the Committee did not get that kind of a report. Could there be a key performance area around the administration unions? The Committee was given figures regarding the resolution of disciplinary matters and yet some unions had been under administration forever. He knew of one in particular. Could the Committee have information on that particular union and any other unions that were under administration or any employee organisations that were under administration?

The Chairperson withdrew from the meeting and Mr Mmoiemang took over as Acting Chairperson.

Mr Mmoiemang handed over to the COO and her team to respond.

Mr Morotoba responded to Ms Boshoff about the new application. It did not go live on 1 April 2023 but was scheduled to go live on 8 May 2023 following some technical challenges experienced around stabilising. However, the legacy system was still operational. He linked the question around DEL's expansion to Mpumalanga of the Supported Employment Enterprise (SEE) to a question raised by Mr Mmoiemang around the budget allocation to SEE that has been very marginal. The Mpumalanga SEE had been suspended until such time as National Treasury could allocate sufficient funding. The status of the economy and the allocation to the purse had been restricted and DEL did not have sufficient funding to establish the factories. Expansion would also depend on the factories getting sufficient business because DEL would be able to raise revenue from other factories and that would give it sufficient surpluses to connect, establish or expand the footprint to Mpumalanga. It had been a matter of concern, but DEL would revisit that issue in a year or two. Concerning the decrease in the allocation of the purse raised by Mr Mmoiemang, Mr Morotoba confirmed that the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative only had a budget allocation for three years. DEL was engaged in discussions with National Treasury, together with the Office of the President.

Ms Bronkhorst noted that Mr Morotoba had a connectivity problem and Ms Moiloa, the Inspector General, would respond to questions relating to the Inspection and Enforcement Services.

Ms Moiloa responded to Ms Mathevula's query about visiting farms around Tzaneen. She could not provide specific details about specific farms visited, although she was aware of visits to farms in the area. If she could get details regarding a specific farm, she would arrange a visit to make sure that there was compliance with the laws. In response to the Chairperson's concern about the decrease in the budget, she said that DEL put a certain level of reliance on partnerships and found this to be quite helpful in terms of consolidating resources and making sure that there was a coordination of efforts to achieve more in that regard. DEL conducted a number of coordinated inspections that included other government departments, depending on the nature of the inspection being conducted. DEL had several memoranda of understanding that were used both internally and externally. That type of approach did, to a greater level, assist DEL to make up where it lacked financial resources. So she did not anticipate that the market action was going to have a huge impact on the work that the Department undertook.

In terms of the question about targets and numbers, in particular relating to inspections, and the assurance that when inspectors went out to conduct inspections, they did what they were supposed to do, Ms Moiloa assured the Committee that all work was quality assured. DEL had a case management system which meant that there was oversight of all processes concerning the work of the inspector from the planning process to education courses. The immediate supervisors were quite involved, first of all, in the area of allocation of work, so that they allocated a certain number of workplaces to various inspectors and during the inspections themselves if non-compliance was picked up, the standard determined that relevant notices needed to be issued within certain timeframes. Each and every step undertaken by the inspector was documented and there had to be a portfolio of evidence that was captured on the system as well. DEL notices had different lifespans, ranging from 15 days to 60 days. If an employer continued to not comply after the notice had expired, then there would be a referral to various courts or the CCMA, depending on which law had been violated. Even at that point, quality assurance took place and there was a standard that talked to referral for prosecution. So in a nutshell, every part of the work of the inspector had a quality assurance process and there had to be an inspection report for each and every inspection that showed the cycle of inspection and what happened. And to top it all, in terms of DEL's consolidated report using the case management system, the supervisors performed a quality assurance role so every inspection that was reported and captured on the system underwent a quality assurance by their immediate supervisor and their precise role was to add an element of quality. And then there was another layer of quality assurance that came from verifying the performance information, both from all the internal structures.

Mr Morotoba continued. Concerning the labour migration policy, DEL was aware of its urgency. The policy had gone through the public comment stages and DEL had incorporated comments. The policy would be taken to Nedlac during the May/June 2023 period and DEL hoped to conclude those discussions so that the policy could go back to Cabinet around August 2023 and hopefully the DEL would receive approval to refer the final policy and Bill to Parliament. He understood that the issue around Service Level Agreement was not directed to DEL but it might be helpful if he explained that when DEL transferred money to one of the entities in its programme, a service level agreement was concluded between the Programme and the entity, signed by the DG as a basis for the transfer of funds and the board responsible for the entity assisted in providing oversight of the entity. Concerning the database of employment, currently, section 10(1) of the Employment Services Act says employers may register opportunities with the Department, in other words, there was no compulsory registration. So government departments and private bodies registered opportunities with the Department on a voluntary basis. They were not compelled to do so. They were generally registered on SAYouth-Mobi. He wished them to register all those opportunities with DEL so that it could reach out to as many young people as possible. With the Department's service delivery improvement, it was hoping to do that.
He noted the question on the budget decline. That is due to the current allocation by National Treasury. The allocation to the SEE was stable but currently, the entity was running on a deficit of about R25 million. It was hoped, firstly, to secure more business, but also to consider various savings in the Department to assist the entity, especially with the compensation of employees.

Ms Bronkhorst said the DDG for corporate services to respond to the issues around fraud and corruption.

Ms Matebesi began with the question on the corruption case. Ten people in the Department were currently on suspension following the alleged UIF fraud cases in Gauteng. She had a detailed table on fraud cases in the provinces: Western Cape – 15 cases; Northern Cape – 31 cases; Limpopo – 44 cases; Mpumalanga - 33 cases; Free State – five cases; KwaZulu-Natal – 146 cases; Northwest - 18 cases; Eastern Cape - eight cases; Gauteng Province was the highest with 184 cases; Head Office - two cases. That was a total of 486 corruption cases of which 26 had been referred to the South African Police Services. Other cases had been recommended for disciplinary action. There were additional targets for her branch under Administration, i.e. Corporate Services but she would use the existing administrative staff and the capacity that she already had to increase the management and report on the additional targets that were added to the Annual Performance Plan.

Mr Maduna said that the decrease in budget applied throughout Programme One: Administration and not only the ministry budget. Ever since COVID, budget cuts had been implemented over the years. There had been a sensitivity to not affecting the core programmes, so the main programme that had been adversely affected by the decrease in the budget for the Department had mainly been Administration and that had included the ministry, the DG, Corporate Services and Finance Administration. So whenever they said that there is a decrease, Administration was the target. Unfortunately, that was the situation until such time that the whole budget was increased.

Ms Bronkhorst stated that the Department was not involved in unions that were under administration. The administration of unions was a legal process and the courts set up the conditions. She had taken note of the comments concerning Nedlac and the Chairperson had explained about Nedlac. The issues of long queues in the labour centres as pointed out by Ms Mathevula and Ms Boshoff were indeed a concern to DEL. The long queues were the unintended consequences of load shedding which sometimes took four hours out of the work day and not all offices had generators as yet to allow uninterrupted service. Also, generators brought their own challenges. The other issue was that the UIF had approved the appointment of an increase of close to 4 000 staff across the provinces. The UIF was in the process of recruitment and selection and that would assist with service delivery. The UIF was also acquiring an easy queue management system to assist the clients as they came into centres and managed the queues and the number of people serviced every day. The UIF had invested in Wi-Fi routers so that clients could assist themselves online if they were computer savvy. The UIF was rolling out the routers within the next few weeks, as well as the UIF app, which was another self-help process. All of that would cut queues at the labour centres.

Regarding the number of people who waited a long for benefits, Ms Bronkhorst said that it was advisable to give those particulars to the Labour Commissioner who could look into why claims were being delayed. It was often because of a challenge in terms of either non-reconciliation with the Department of Home Affairs or challenges around banking details and so forth. She asked that the Commissioner be provided with the particulars as it was unacceptable that people should have to wait for their money.

Ms Boshoff followed up on the question on corruption and suspension. Could she be given the cost to the Department concerning the 10 people on suspension? When did the Department expect those cases to be finalised? She explained to Ms Bronkhorst that she normally sent all her queries to (... break in audio). He then interacted on her behalf with the Commissioner and most cases were resolved but the fact remained that there had to be an intervention. Why was the Department not able to finalise matters without intervention?

Ms Mathevula put the names of the farms on the Zoom chat. She asked if it were possible for the Department to visit those farms as soon as possible as the workers had been complaining about the issues for a long time. The inspectors were in the area but when they went there, they took bribes and crates of oranges. The farms were: Bear and Seun Farming Company  – workers not registered; CPJ Erasmus and Seun  - did not provide water; Westfalia Fruit Estate – ill-treatment of workers.

Ms Bronkhorst stated that she would have to submit the financials for the people on suspension. She agreed with Ms Boshoff that it was unacceptable for her to have to intervene as people did not do their work, but consequence management was taken against officials because in-time service delivery was one of the most important reasons for the existence of the Department. It was unacceptable that Ms Boshoff should have to intervene. The Department would take corrective action.

Mr Mmoiemang thanked the presenters from DEL and invited the Deputy Minister to add her comments.

The Deputy Minister thanked the Acting Chairperson for his acknowledgement. She said that the Department was part of the Committee and could do nothing without the Committee. Where Members lacked information, she would do everything in her power to make sure that they received the necessary backup and information that they were seeking.

Mr Mmoiemang thanked the Deputy Minister for her remarks.

Ms Bronkhorst reminded the Chairperson that the Minister had said that he would leave the meeting for a short while.

Concluding remarks
Mr Mmoiemang thanked the team. As the Committee prepared for the last 11 to 12 months of its term, there was a semblance of convergence in the work that it was doing. The outline of the Department's programme gave comfort in terms of the synergy of its work. It was quite critical to the Committee that it built on the work led by the President. There was a convergence between the key issues highlighted in the State of the Nation Address (SONA) and there was no substantial difference between the labour sector and SONA 22 and 23 as job creation remained at the centre of the national agenda. From the presentation, the Committee noted the fiscal sustainability and its impact on the key performance indicators of the Department, mainly on the Administration, the Inspection and Enforcement Services, the Public Employment Services, and Policy and Industrial Relations. It was quite clear that there was a lot of work to be done. As a Select Committee in Parliament, there were key areas that it was focusing on, given the complexities that the country was going through, particularly with the approach to addressing unemployment and inequality and ensuring transparency. The Select Committee had a role to play in ensuring that the government was stable by ensuring that the departments ran smoothly. The Committee would return after lunch to hear a briefing on the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition.

After lunch, the Chairperson noted that there were apologies from the Minister and both Deputy Ministers of DTIC. Because changes had been effected to the APP, the Committee required at least one of the political leaders to be present. He said that another Committee had set the precedence when it decided not to proceed where the political leadership was not present. Although the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition had indicated that he would not be available, it had been decided to proceed with the meeting with a Deputy Minister but neither was present.

Ms Boshoff concurred that the meeting should be postponed and that a strongly worded letter be sent to the ministry as the NCOP was always neglected by the ministries.

The Chairperson asked the leader of the DTIC delegation to comment.

Ms Malebo Mabitje-Thompson, Acting DG, DTIC, stated that the executive team was ready to present but she understood the position of the Select Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

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