Parliament’s 2023/24 Annual Performance Plan & 2022/23 Q4 Performance
Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament
19 May 2023
Chairperson: Ms D Mahlangu (ANC, Mpumalanga) & Ms B Mabe (ANC)
The Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament met on the virtual platform to receive a briefing from the executive of Parliament, on Parliament’s fourth quarter performance as well as its budget and Annual Performance Plan (APP) for 2023/24.
After the executive had concluded its briefings, Members enquired about the impact of loadshedding on MPs’ parliamentary activities and Parliament’s operations. They also asked about the additional staff members appointed to build Parliament’s capacity; the implementation of some of the recommendations in the State Capture Report; the filling of vacancies; Parliament’s transformation agenda, and Parliament’s role in the upcoming BRICS summit in August. A Member emphasised the view that it is crucial that Parliament needed to ascertain its authority in the area of international relations and proactively support the executive on the international stage.
Some Members were satisfied with the performance of the Sixth Parliament despite the adverse conditions that Parliament had faced.
The Committee shared the concern about the non-responsive of the executive in responding to Members’ questions. Responding to those questions is essential to the oversight function, but the non-responsiveness undermines Parliament’s oversight role. Some Members also expressed deep concern with the regression of public trust in Parliament, as shown by its performance indicator which saw a sharp decline from 65 percent in 2003 to 29 percent in this Parliament.
Members urged Parliament’s executive to avoid underspending and to be a good leading example in managing its own finances.
A Member requested an update on the internal investigation report following the Parliament fire.
The Chairperson indicated that the meeting may commence. She greeted Members in attendance and asked the Committee Secretariat to display the agenda.
The Committee noted the apology of Mr N Singh (IFP), who was attending another Committee meeting. Mr M Moletsane (EFF, Free State) also indicated that he would have to leave early due to other commitments.
Consideration of the meeting agenda
After the flighting of the meeting agenda, Co-Chairperson Mabe expressed her confusion that the Committee Secretariat had not amended the displayed agenda despite her request on Monday. She said that she had requested the agenda be amended to indicate that this meeting would only be dealing with two items – Parliament’s Annual Performance Plan 2023/24 and Parliament’s fourth quarter performance. She proposed to amend the agenda immediately.
Ms S Gwarube (DA) requested more information on the agenda amendment since Members were not privy to that. She asked if the report on the investigation of the fire could be tabled.
Chairperson Mabe explained to Ms Gwarube that, in terms of parliamentary procedures, the Committee support staff needs to ensure that there would be sufficient information provided to Committee before the agenda can be issued. So, first of all, those key people involved need to be informed well in advance so that they would have sufficient time to prepare to gather all relevant information. The report on the fire accident was not part of last week's presentation but emerged in that meeting. However, the Secretary to Parliament (STP) was on leave during that time and was unaware of that request. So, the STP requested to defer three items to the next meeting to allow him more time to gather more information about those issues. However, should the deferment of the agenda affect Members’ debates next week in any way, they should personally communicate with STP to get the required information.
Ms Gwarube requested the date for the proper presentation about the Parliament fire incident.
The Chairperson agreed that the Committee needed to ask STP when that information would be ready.
Ms R Lesoma (ANC) and Mr B Radebe (ANC) supported adopting the agenda.
Parliament’s 2023/24 Budget and APP
Mr Leo Sibanda, Office of the STP, presented Parliament’s budget and Annual Performance Plan (APP) in 2023/24. He highlighted that the part of this APP would also show its preparation to start the shift to the seventh Parliament.
This presentation provides an analysis of the gaps in the current sixth Parliament and envisions a Seventh Parliament which would address and close those gaps. Some of those ideal traits for the Seventh Parliament included:
- A Transformative Parliament
- A responsive and accountable Parliament
- Effective stakeholder management and participation
- Effective decision-making
- Optimal resource allocation according to strategy
- Effective strategy execution.
2023/24 strategic priorities:
- Strengthening oversight and accountability;
- Enhancing public involvement;
- Deepening engagement in international fora;
- Strengthening co-operative government;
- Strengthening legislative capacity
It was highlighted to the Committee that there is a significant decrease in the public’s opinion on the direction of the country and a loss of trust in Parliament as an institution.
Filling of critical positions
- Secretary To Parliament – Post filled
- Chief Financial Officer – Post filled
- Chief Of Security – Post was advertised, however did not yield suitable candidates. The services of a well established executive talent search company have been procured and they are underway searching for suitable candidates.
For the 2023/24 financial year, divisions requested an amount of R 443.5m more than what was received from National Treasury. The indicative allocation from National Treasury (NT) is R 3.895 billion. Compensation of employees budget received from NT is insufficient to fund current staff complement and fill vacancies. Compensation of employees budget of R1.120,120 b is based on the March 2023 staff establishment for the 1 257 filled positions.
The focus of the revised 2023/2024 APP and budget is to see out the 6th Parliamentary term whilst putting in place the building blocks of the 7th Parliamentary term.
See attached for detailed presentation
Parliament’s Performance in the Fourth Quarter of 2022/23
Mr Sibanda said the quarter 4 performance report is based on the tabled 2022/23 APP which is aligned to the 6th term Strategic plan of Parliament, the 6th Parliament Strategy Map and priorities.
Members were taken through the key activities in the quarter such as meetings, sittings, debates, questions and oversight visits. Activities outlined also included legislation, public participation, petitions and international visits – see presentation
Parliament achieved all its targets for the quarter.
A budget of R1 035 336m has been allocated for the fourth quarter (January to March 2023). Parliament has spent 70 percent or R724.3m of the budget of R1 035 3m for the fourth quarter
See presentation for detailed programme performance in the quarter
Mr M Moletsane (EFF, Free State) indicated to the Administration that the country is now under an era of loadshedding that negatively impacted Members’ ability to participate in parliamentary activities. The report is silent on the issue. He wanted to know how the Administration intended to manage the problem. Is the silence because all MPs and support staff members would be working in-person in Parliament now, or does the Administration think that loadshedding does not affect the operation of Parliament’s activities?
Mr B Radebe (ANC) commended the Administration for performing relatively well, even though it is facing adverse conditions, as evidenced by the number of portfolio committee meetings, the number of questions asked, etc.
However, he commented that it was critical that the Administration needed to find a way to ensure that Members’ questions were being responded to, as it is an indispensable part of the oversight.
He appreciated that the Administration included preparatory work for the seventh Parliament to ensure a seamless transition. But since constituency office work was put as the base of the sixth Parliament’s Strategic Plan, he wanted to know what resources were made available by the Administration to ensure that concerns which Members raised in their constituency offices were being followed up. In his observation, he noted that the executives sometimes hide away from the questions raised by Members in their constituency offices.
He supported the Administration’s transformation plan, and asked whether the Administration had enough capacity to ensure that the transformation plan is being implemented.
Ms S Gwarube (DA) highlighted the Administration’s internal investigation of the fire. She requested that report and wanted to know when the report would be made available.
She recognised the importance of public trust and commented that public trust is also driven by the institution’s ability to effectively manage its own finances. She wanted to know what additional staff members were appointed during this period of Parliament’s restoration project or the period when the Administration was undergoing strategic realignment. If so, she wanted to know the number of staff appointed. Were those appointments advertised, or were they located in the STP’s Office? And what roles were they fulfilling?
She noted that the recommendations of the State Capture Report were sent through to the Rules Committee. Obviously, those recommendations would then go through a deliberation and voting process during which they could be voted to be implemented or voted down to be abandoned. She thus wanted to know what has been implemented by the Administration, and what the Administration has decided not to implement so far.
Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) raised the same concern on the Administration’s implementation of the recommendations of the State Capture Report. Since he was away due to ill-health, he was not privy to that information. But he suggested that, if it has not been tabled yet, it should be tabled in the Joint Committee so that Members could discuss and interact on that.
Mr Rayi expressed his deep concern on the public trust indicator, since it has regressed from more than 50% in 2003 to a merely 20% now. He wanted the Administration to advise what it has done and what it can do to improve. He wanted to know what Members could do to strengthen public participation because he was of the view that Members spent so much time in Parliament, which resulted in the distance between Parliament and the public. He highlighted the importance of strengthening parliamentary constituency offices so that the public would have access to those offices to be helped.
He agreed with the point of Mr Radebe on the interaction between committees and the executive. He suggested a meeting between the Joint Committee and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), as the Department approves departments’ annual performance plans. Since the Committee’s role is oversight, the Joint Committee should meet with the department with a similar mandate. He further suggested that the Committee meet with National Treasury on how it assists departments in achieving their performance indicators.
He hoped there would be an indicator for filling general vacancies and not just for critical vacancies for this financial year.
Mr X Qayiso (ANC) was concerned with the Administration’s underspending and references being made to its underspending and saving. He urged the Administration to avoid any underspending as it would be setting a wrong precedence for other organs of state. He urged the shift to be fast-tracked so that Parliament could be a leading example of the healthy management of finances.
The Chairperson commented that it is good to see that the Administration is interested in implementing the recommendations from the Zondo Commission. But the Administration also needs to check Parliament’s constitutional legal mandate and how far Parliament can go and avoid overstepping the mark. She cautioned against the approach that Parliament should take the entire report without deliberation.
Mr Xolile George, Secretary to Parliament (STP), thanked the Chairperson, and asked his Office to respond to the questions.
Mr Sibanda acknowledged the impact of loadshedding on the smooth operation of Parliament. He explained to Mr Moletsane that the reason why the Administration is not reporting on it in its presentation is because the item is not on the APP as a deliverable. But he recognised its impact, as he pointed out that a stable power supply is essential for how Parliament’s functions can be guaranteed such as its sittings, whether in-person, virtual or hybrid. During loadshedding hours, Members’ activities in the parliamentary precinct are normally unaffected as there are backup power generators. However, there is no guarantee of power backup in parliamentary villages and at Members’ homes. The other limitation is that Parliament sessions are not always held at City Hall where there is capacity to absorb a joint sitting set up and with guaranteed non-interruption. In the Chamber of Good Hope, there are less than 130 seats. All of these issues pose the question of the effectiveness of the hybrid setting. Parliament’s executive Administration has no other capacity besides the NCOP, which has a sitting capacity of about 100 people. But that would not be sufficient seats for a joint sitting. As a result of the fire, a number of committee rooms were wiped out. The Administration currently has 15 committee rooms of different sizes. Some of those committee rooms are not hybrid-enabled. The presentation from last week showed a deficit of 31 committee rooms which the Administration would need. To solve that issue, the Administration has begun its conversation with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) on the possibility of acquiring more rooms from the sixth up to the fourteenth floors of the 90 Plein Street building. An amount of R161 million has been budgeted to gradually install hybrid enablement for each committee room. In the interim, the Administration will continue using the City Hall for the joint sittings, as it did during the State of the Nation Address.
Mr Sibanda replied that the Administration allocated R471 million last year to capacitate those parliamentary constituency offices (PCOs). An additional allocation of R544 million has been set aside. The Administration would have a more structured constituency allowance compared to that of last year. The APP itself also talks about how to enhance the constituency activities of Members.
Mr Sibanda assured the Committee that all parliament staff members were taken on board regarding the issue of transformation. There are 52 vacant positions across all divisions in the institution. The Administration would be filling those positions in due course. He explained that the filling process would begin with the heads of divisions and reported that, so far, the filling for the head of finance and chief of staff was successful. The Administration encountered some challenges in filling positions for the Chief of Security, and Sergeant-At-Arms. Further, he reported that the Committee Services Division currently does not have a manager and that filling process would be accelerated, as well as the filling for vacancies in the legal services. The capability limitations in the institution mean that it needs to invest more in the capacitation of employees. He highlighted that there have to be certain interventions in the seventh Parliament to address the issue.
At the core of its APP, the Administration needs to drive the restoration of Parliament. It needs to review the business model of Parliament to ensure that it supports the macro-strategy. The Administration also plans to invest in business analytics and big data to capacitate the current systems that are not interconnected. The Administration also plans to develop its broadcasting strategy, change its management plan, and review policies. All of these require additional support. Hence, the temporary measures the Administration has taken are to build the capacity of the STP’s Office. The Office has appointed three people so far, changed the management advisor on a short-term basis for a year and a built environment advisor for a year. However, given that Parliament is embarking on its restoration project, it is very likely that the contract might need to be renewed.
He explained to the Committee the role of Parliament’s executive in the institution’s effort in strengthening its oversight and implementing some of the recommendations contained in the State Capture Report. The normal procedure is that when those recommendations are processed and approved by the relevant committee in Parliament, the Administration will be able to track which aspects to support. For instance, if the high-level panel recommends the assessment of bills, the Administration’s responsibility would then be to develop an instrument of tracking system that focuses on the percentage of implementation and the outcome of what has been done.
Mr Sibanda acknowledged that there had been a regression in the public’s trust in Parliament, as the percentage was 65% in 2003 and that percentage slipped to 29% in the sixth Parliament. He suggested that Parliament needed to work hard to create awareness and inform the public about the role of Parliament. In addition, Parliament should execute its authority in the domain of governance, increase responsiveness, such as responding to petitions timeously, and report to the public about the impact of its oversight work. For instance, he recalled an incident where an oversight visit by the Committee of Home Affairs revealed that there was not a Home Affairs office in the Northern Cape, and the Committee took it up with the executive in the form of recommendations. It was after that that a satellite office was opened. The Administration is investing in data modelling that underpins the oversight modelling of Parliament.
Mr Sibanda noted the concerns that Members raised about its savings and underspending. He explained that the incurred underspending was due to its internal organisational structure review. The review is an ongoing process and has not yet been finalised. The purpose of this organisational realignment is to ensure the responsiveness of each division and to enable those divisions to have the capacity to implement operations. The Administration is committed to avoiding underspending but needs to review its organisational structure and realign its objectives to the strategic goals. For instance, the Administration has introduced agility in its supply chain process. The observation is that Parliament is always asking for quotations in December for certain work that was planned to be done. However, as very few service providers work in December, the delays in getting quotations directly contribute to the delays of many of its projects. So, the agility approach means that the planning and prioritisation must start now in preparation for the SONA, which takes every year in February, and for the possible SONA next year after the election in May or June.
Mr Sibanda replied to Ms Gwarube, saying that the Administration had just received the draft recommendations for the fire incident. However, the Administration still needed to apply its mind to the draft recommendations and have internal engagement on them. He assured the Committee that the Administration would brief the Committee once it received the final recommendations.
The Chairperson asked Co-Chairperson Mabe to take over.
Mr Radebe appreciated the Administration’s commitment to transformation. Change always comes from people who are already in the system. He thus asked the Administration what plans it had to take the current staff members on board to ensure that transformation was for the benefit of everyone so that there would not be any silent resistance.
He supported that Parliament must provide the Administration with the resources it required so that it could address critical issues.
He emphasised the importance of parliamentary diplomacy and to communicate with the legislative bodies of other countries. He reminded the Committee that the legislative bodies in Sweden and the USA made great contributions in assisting the fight against apartheid. The Congress in the US had introduced a Private Member’s Bill to ensure that Apartheid South Africa was isolated. He urged Parliament to ascertain its authority. Noting the BRICS summit in August 2023, he wanted to know what Parliament does in preparation for that. It cannot be right that the legislature supports the executive in other countries whilst this legislature in this country takes a back foot. He said that Parliament needs to take a more proactive approach in dealing with those diplomatic matters.
Ms Gwarube wanted to find out about the recruitment processes of the appointed advisors, such as advertisements made, etc.
Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Speaker of the National Assembly, confirmed that her Office had received regular fire investigation reports.
Co-Chairperson Mabe commented that the sixth Parliament had done quite well. The longest-serving Members, Mr Singh and Mr Radebe, could attest to that. Parliament was able to discuss issues such as transformation which had never been considered since the advent of democracy. Even if it did not achieve anything between now and the election, she was very satisfied with the performance. At least the Committee has set the agenda for its successors.
Mr Sibanda confirmed to Mr Radebe that the Administration was very deliberate in ensuring that all levels of the organisation were taken on board on the issue of transformation. It started at the senior management level and has now extended to third, fourth and fifth levels of management in Parliament in February and March. The Office of STP plans to engage with labour to ensure it is also taken on board on all issues central to this process. It also plans to engage with the lowest levels of employees at the engagement level to ensure that everyone in Parliament understands what it means to drive a transformative parliament.
Mr Mpho Mokonyana, Division Manager: Human Resources Management, indicated to the Committee that recruiting temporary staff is not new, as it has been done for years. The policy on talent acquisition in clause 8.335 allowed the Administration to source additional capacity for specific projects. Even in recruiting temporary staff, all the processes, such as qualification verification and criminal record check, are applied. The Administration had gone into the market to look for industry experts but has not been successful due to the non-competitive offers. Most professionals want to work for five years or even more, so Parliament’s offer of a one-year contract does not seem enticing. The recruitment process relied heavily on referrals from experts. Since the skills-hunting process has not been successful, Parliament approached an international talent search company to seek help to find those experts.
Mr Dumisani Sithole, Division Manager: International Relations and Protocol, informed the Committee that the BRICS parliamentary forum would take place immediately after the BRICS heads of state summit which was scheduled on 23 and 24 August 2023. The proposal for convening the BRICS parliamentary forum would be from 26 to 29 September 2023. The Administration is dealing with the details as the National Assembly would need to find space for the debate at the upcoming BRICS summit. The Administration is about to submit the topics for that particular debate to the Chairperson on International Relations. The target is that all documents and communications to the legislatures of other BRICS nations would be done by the end of May.
Consideration and Adoption of Committee Minutes
The Committee report on the 2022/23 mid year performance of Parliament was duly adopted.
Committee minutes dated 21 April 2023 and 12 May 2023 were also adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
Mabe, Ms BP
Mahlangu, Ms DG
Brauteseth, Mr TJ
Gwarube, Ms S
Lesoma, Ms RMM
Lotriet, Prof A
Mahlo, Ms NP
Mapisa-Nqakula, Ms NN
Moletsane, Mr MS
Qayiso, Mr XS
Radebe, Mr BA
Rayi, Mr M
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.