The Minister in the Presidency provided an update to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on the investigation reports submitted by the SIU.
The Committee had identified that after the SIU investigations were concluded and reports filed, they needed to go back to the originator of the proclamation: the Presidency. Implementation was not with the SIU. The Committee, therefore, initiated a process with the Presidency of developing a matrix for the purposes of processing reports to ensure that wherever a report is submitted to the affected department, entity, or municipality, it was implemented. The Committee had been worried about consequence management. It was concerned that if the SIU work was not implemented it would amount to fruitless and wasteful expenditure. It was also concerned that some of the reports dated back to 2002 without a processing mechanism. This meeting was for the Presidency to inform the Committee about how far things had processed in developing the matrix.
The Presidency acknowledged that the pace of implementation of the SIU reports was not satisfactory. The Presidency was now in the second phase, which was the pilot phase, and planned to conclude this work in August. The second phase included developing processes and procedures for the monitoring of referrals. It was also responsible for developing the technology platform, which was underway already. It was also responsible for developing the pilot system based on the minimum set of requirements.
The Chairperson said that it was a 2014 Cabinet decision that all persons in the SCM space needed to be vetted. The Committee’s issue was with the progress. It was fundamentally linked to the issue that the Committee was discussing. The Committee was concerned that there were people who were handling finances and had not been vetted. It became a problem. The Eskom matter highlighted the extent of the issue. The Committee called for vetting to happen with speed and urgency. Those who did not comply with the vetting process needed to be dealt with.
The Committee noted that 37% of the SIU reports were with provinces and 26% with local government. As a result, public accounts committees in the provinces and in municipalities needed to be involved in resolving this matter.
The SIU reported that it was owed a significant amount by state institutions (approximately R986 million) and had implemented a debt recovery project, which included timelines.
The Committee meeting started about 1hr40mins after the scheduled time
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister to the meeting. He had explained to the Members that the previous evening, the Minister had informed him of her late arrival owing to a personal matter. The assumption was that the officials would be present so that they could continue in the meeting until the Minister joined. The officials were not present. The Minister was attending the meeting alone. The Committee was to receive an update from the Presidency on the lacuna that had been identified in the processing of SIU reports. This was something that the Committee had picked up in late 2021. After investigations had been concluded and reports were filed, they needed to go back to the originator of the proclamation. Every time the Committee interacted with the SIU, or other law enforcement agencies, on SIU matters when the Committee asked about implementation of recommendations the SIU would respond that it submitted the reports to where it got the proclamation from. Implementation was not with the SIU. The Committee then began this process with the Presidency of developing a matrix for the purposes of processing reports to ensure that wherever a report had been submitted to the affected department, entity, or municipality, it was implemented. The Committee had been worried about consequence management. It was concerned that if the SIU work was not implemented it would amount to fruitless and wasteful expenditure. It was also concerning that some of the reports dated back to 2002 without a processing mechanism. That was the context of the meeting. A matrix was being developed. The Committee had met with the Presidency in February to get an update. This meeting was for the Presidency to inform the Committee about how far things had processed since then. The Committee’s outlook was that SIU reports should be implemented timeously and correctly.
Update by Presidency on the investigation reports submitted by the SIU
Ms Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, Minister in the Presidency, thanked the Chairperson for accepting her apology. The circumstances were beyond her control. Yesterday it was unclear whether her personal situation was going to be resolved on time. She noted that because the Committee had a reputation for not accepting officials without their executive authority, the officials opted to not book flights. She was comfortable being in the meeting alone. She noted that in a meeting between the Presidency and two provinces, it was realised that the implementation of the SIU reports was not moving at the pace that the President wanted it to. She had a discussion with the Director-General of Government in terms of what could be done to take forward the implementation of the SIU reports. The Presidency wanted to monitor and ensure that the reports were implemented by the relevant authorities. The Presidency had a full discussion, even in terms of the work that the Committee wanted to do and the report that needed to be submitted to the Committee. The Presidency had a full workshop. She had told the officials that she was comfortable presenting without them, as long as the SIU was present in the meeting. She discussed implementation. The Presidency had agreed on the processing of the next phase going forward. The report submitted was submitted through her office to the Committee. The Presidency was fully onboard. She discussed the previous engagements with the Committee. It was agreed that the Presidency build up a coordination and monitoring mechanism for the implementation of reports. Since February, the Presidency sought to compile a list of all the SIU reports. The outstanding reports date back to 2001. The next phase of that report was to then receive a progress report in terms of implementation. The Presidency was working together with the SIU to do a collation of the reports. The reports would be categorised into provinces, and into local and district municipalities. The work had been taking a bit longer. The Presidency was going to prioritise provinces. Whichever provinces the Presidency had finished collating the work, a letter would be sent. The provinces would then present their implementation timeframes or how far they had progressed on the reports that had been submitted to them. The Presidency would also look at what consequences the provinces had undertaken. That was the summary of what the Presidency had done and what the Presidency would be doing.
Mr S Somyo (ANC) said that he had looked into the report. He recalled the last meeting with the Presidency and the key areas which needed to be dealt with. He wanted to know the outlook of what had been done, in terms of the reports and their outcomes. There had been matters that were going to be followed through. He asked for an opportunity for the Members to deal with those specific aspects. He was not sure the Minister would be able to respond to those matters. The Committee might need to conscientise the Minister on what needed to be done, taking into account the previous meeting that the Committee had.
The Chairperson said that the main issue was the progress on the operationalisation of the coordination and monitoring mechanism. That was where the Committee was. This needed to be operationalised. What was the progress with the mechanism? The Committee understood that at the time brainstorming had been done on technical aspects. The Committee wanted to know if there had been traction and progress.
Ms C Mkhonto (EFF) discussed the apology of the Minister for arriving late. The apology had been accepted by the Committee. She emphasised that in the future it needed to be done in a better way. The Members had been waiting for the Minister for the meeting to start. She asked that in the future the time of the Committee needed to be respected. The Committee accepted the apology, but it should not happen again. The Minister knew that no officials would be present to do the presentation. That was even worse. She encouraged the Minister to do better in the future when it came to time. The Minister should show some respect to the Committee.
Minister Ntshavheni responded to the comments about the apology. She did not have control over her child getting sick. Her child was four years old. When her child was sick, she needed to get him to a doctor for treatment. She depended on the availability of a specialist to see him. She would not leave her child who was sick to attend anything. That was the reason she was late. That was the reason the officials said that because she was not sure she was travelling that they would not book flights. She could not be accused of not respecting the Committee when it was circumstances beyond her control. She attended the meeting in respect of the Committee. To be accused of not respecting the Committee and the Members’ time was uncalled for.
The Chairperson responded that he had opted to not be specific about the nature of the personal circumstance. The Minister had explained to him that it was a matter involving a child. That was why he said it was a personal matter that he understood. He was trying to be sensitive to the child. The point of concern was about the officials not being present. If the Minister was going to be late, as explained, then the officials should have still attended the meeting. The Chairperson requested that the Committee be sensitive to the circumstances of the Minister’s child. It was a personal matter as the child’s health was not for public consumption. The Chairperson requested that the matter of the apology be put to rest. The officials should have been here, but the Minister indicated that she was competent and ready to answer on the substantive issues.
Minister Ntshavheni said that the Committee had previously dealt with the concept face of the coordinating mechanism. It was supposed to be concluded on 22 July. The Presidency was now in the second phase, which was the pilot phase. It was supposed to be concluded by August. The second phase included developing processes and procedures for the monitoring of referrals. It was also responsible for developing the technology platform, which was underway already. It was also responsible for developing the pilot system based on the minimum set of requirements. That was the second phase. She assumed that the timelines had been shared and agreed to with the Committee. The Presidency was now collating the data so that it could develop a model. She discussed progress reporting on referrals and recommendations. The Presidency was in the process of issuing a follow-up correspondence to all departments, municipalities, and organs of state that had received referrals and recommendations arising from the SIU investigations. This correspondence requested updates on the implementation status of the recommendations and referrals. The Presidency would do the analysis and then provide the feedback to the Committee. That was where the Presidency was regarding the second phase.
The Chairperson said that the second phase was a three-pronged approach.
Mr Somyo said that the work of the SIU flowed into various agencies. The appetite for the implementation of referrals was far less than the findings. He discussed referrals that went to the NPA relating to PPE investigations. The President anticipated that there might be some challenges of accountability. One approach was for the Office of the Auditor-General to do real-time auditing. The result of that would go through a structural arrangement that would consist of a number of role-players, mainly those agencies which ought to be working together around those matters. That kind of initiative was a very good, focused initiative. He noted that there was a total of 346 referrals by the SIU. The number of referrals that were attended to, out of the 346, was low. There needed to be some kind of reform that was going to assist to match the speed of referrals. There needed to be a fast-tracking of attendance by those institutions on those PPE-related matters. Something needed to happen regarding these matters. The Presidency needed to be hard on these matters. The SIU had told the Committee that it had made findings that had been referred to various provinces. The actions were supposed to have been taken at that level. The SIU provided an example of one matter that involved an HOD who was found wrong in that instance. It related to the PPEs as well. The SIU had made referrals to the Premier’s office regarding those matters. That HOD was moved from the department to the office of the Premier. This was even though the SIU had made findings against that HOD. This was why the Committee wanted to work with the Presidency, to try and find a sense of coordination, sense of speed, and sense of respect for the work that the SIU had done. How were other institutions taking those reports that had been referred to them for action? The Presidency needed to monitor the outcomes based on the findings of the proclamations that had been signed. The Committee wanted to be assured that something was done around those matters. When the SIU attended the Committee meetings there was a visible urgency in them wanting to do right regarding matters that they had finalised. However, there were lacklustre actions that were taken after finalisation of the reports and findings. It was found that those who were involved in such matters, that there was absolutely no action taken against them. Eskom was a clear example where thousands of officials were found to be on the wrong side of the law. The number now stood at about 5000 Eskom officials. The actions to be taken by the institutions at the time of referrals were very slow and lacklustre. There needed to be actions visibly working towards finding a solution. He hoped that the Minister’s son would recover. It was an emotive matter which the Committee should show respect. He appreciated that the Minister had attended the meeting.
The Chairperson said that in the February meeting, the Committee had raised concerns where officials resigned or retired during disciplinary processes. What happened to them? That was an issue. It was a recurring theme. In February, the Presidency indicated that it had sent correspondence to all affected institutions asking why accounting officers were failing to act on the issues that had been raised. What were the responses? He noted that eThekwini had 75 referrals for disciplinary process. This was followed by the Department of Education in Limpopo with 36 referrals. He was underscoring what Mr Somyo had raised.
Minister Ntshavheni discussed the non-implementation of referrals that the Presidency had written to entities about. The majority of provinces had claimed that they had implemented. She provided the example of the Presidency having discussions with Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal. There was a claim that the other referrals and recommendations had been implemented. The Presidency responded that it had not seen the implementation and had not seen a report on when the provinces had implemented that referral. What was the outcome of the implementation? The Presidency had resolved that it would follow up on those matters to make sure that it received a concrete report. The claim that people made that they had implemented referrals was not sufficient. The Presidency wanted to know where the disciplinary cases were and what was the outcome of the disciplinary case as it pertained to that specific official. She responded to the question about officials resigning and retiring during disciplinary processes. It was a matter that the Presidency had taken up with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA). This was part of the work the DPSA was doing in modernising and professionalising the public service. It was common knowledge that disciplinary hearings in Government could take a year, to two years, to three years. This was while people stayed home and got their salaries. The Presidency had asked the Department how it was possible to tighten that situation. The DPSA was going to come back to Cabinet. It was part of the action plans of Cabinet. The DPSA was going to present to Cabinet how it believed the situation could be remedied. At that point, it was discussed whether it was possible or legally permissible to put a person on suspension and not pay them their salary during that period. Or it was discussed whether the period for the disciplinary process could be shortened. It was discussed whether a period could be prescribed to deal with a disciplinary offense. That was the work the DPSA would need to assist the Presidency on. The Presidency was following up with the Department to see how far it was on that matter. She responded to the matters that had been raised by Mr Somyo. She highlighted the scope and magnitude of the work on PPE-related matters. There were more than 300 referrals. Given the magnitude of it, it was unfair for the Presidency to say that it would report on it on a monthly basis. It was proposed that the Presidency report on PPE-related matters on a quarterly basis. The Presidency shared the sentiment of the Committee. The work of the SIU could not just be reduced to a report that was filed in a cabinet without any consequence, and an official was moved from one department to another without consequence. That was why the Presidency performed the exercise in the first phase of compiling the list of referrals and following up on them. It enabled the Presidency to trace where the implementation was. She assured the Committee that the Presidency would try to reach its targets faster. It was trying to follow up on these referrals as quickly as possible. In the Presidency, these matters were dealt with at the highest level. She noted that one of the reasons for the greylisting of South Africa was the high levels of corruption. The SIU was doing its work. It was only when those reports were implemented collectively, across Government institutions, as quickly as possible that the reputation of South Africa as a corrupt country would then start to diminish. She noted that SCOPA had equivalent committees in the equivalent legislatures. She hoped that the Committee would help the Presidency work with the relevant legislatures’ committees to hold the provinces to account so that it could be a joint effort. The Presidency was having a meeting next week to discuss the provinces that had not been responsive after correspondence had been sent to them. The Presidency would then follow up on them. The Presidency appreciated the partnership in terms of implementing the recommendations and referrals of the Committee. The Presidency was trying to move as fast as possible.
The Chairperson said that the Association of Public Accounts Committees (APAC) was meeting in July in Durban. The Committee would raise the matter there. The Committee would try and secure a slot with APAC’s administration and coordinate with a team from the Presidency. It would begin the discussion. The Committee would make sure of the APAC three-day conference. The Committee could see how to respond to this particular matter. That would be a step in the right direction. The Committee would communicate details with the Presidency. This would just be to engage on the critical aspect of the implementation of the reports. The Chairperson noted that 37% of the SIU reports were with provinces and 26% were with local government. A large portion of it was located there.
Ms Mkhonto said the SIU was owed a lot of money by public institutions, SOEs, and municipalities. Was there any intervention that the Minister could put in place to ensure that the SIU was paid accordingly, for it to be able to execute its duties? Did the Minister have anything to do with the performance of SCOPAs at the provincial level and the MPACs at the municipal level? Those committees were very crucial in ensuring that the implementation of the reports from the SIU was done. Were these committees formed and constituted according to the Constitution? Were these committees able to execute their duties optimally?
Minister Ntshavheni responded to the question about the provincial SCOPAs and municipal MPACs. This was a request that she had already made. The separation of powers did not allow the Presidency to dictate to the provincial legislatures on the performance of their duties. The Presidency could only plead with this Committee, that it help coordinate through the mechanism of APAC. The Presidency was looking forward to that collaboration. The Presidency was available to attend APAC in July and engage with the relevant committees in the provincial legislatures. The arrangement that the Chairperson proposed worked much better. At that conference, the committees could agree on a mechanism for how to coordinate the work that was transversal in nature.
Adv Andy Mothibi, Head and Chief Executive, SIU, responded that the SIU was owed a significant amount by state institutions. It had reported about it before. The SIU had implemented a debt recovery project. It could submit that to the Committee after the meeting so that the Committee could see the scope of the project and the timelines. He discussed what the SIU was doing in that project. The SIU would be approaching the state institutions that owed it money. The SIU would be submitting progress reports which would show what were the outcomes of the investigations. The CFOs could then see what the state institutions were then billed on and would be paying for. Once that was done, and the state institution was satisfied, the SIU would ask when the state institution would pay. The SIU would give the state institution a timeline. At the end of the timeline, if the accounting authorities still did not pay then there would be an escalation mechanism. It would be escalated to the Presidency and the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services. The SIU would then present the challenges it had with the respective state institutions, and that it required intervention. This could also involve presenting to Cabinet so that the executive authorities of these state institutions were aware. The SIU wanted to see accountability at that level so that money could be paid back. The same escalation process could be done for the provinces and local governments. That project had specific timelines. The SIU would like to have its monies recovered. The team in SIU had asked if there was no opportunity to litigate to recover funds. The project took into account intergovernmental regulations and legislation. The SIU could not just litigate without following the process, but once that process was exhausted the SIU should see the results. The SIU would send the project plan to the Committee. On an ongoing basis, the SIU could report on that.
The Chairperson noted what Adv Mothibi said about going to Cabinet. Government Departments owed the SIU around R986 million. The Committee was having a discussion with National Treasury next week. It may have a discussion about ensuring that the SIU was paid and getting that money off the baseline budgets of these Departments over the MTEF. It was a hindrance if the SIU’s resources were constrained. The Chairperson asked for the Minister to share with her colleagues in Cabinet that the sum was R986 million. The matter would also be discussed in the provinces and municipalities.
Minister Ntshavheni said that she held a different view. She found it strange that Government wanted the institution that was being investigated to be the one who paid for the investigation. When an institution was to be investigated, then provision needed to be made for that investigation. She would appreciate it if the Committee raised this point with Treasury. How could Treasury assist the SIU to help recover funds? South Africa still needed to address the challenge of corruption. There needed to be a funding mechanism that ensured that investigative agencies were fully funded and resourced.
The Chairperson said that was a discussion that needed to be had. The government needed to arrive at a model that satisfied everyone. The issue the Minister raised was far more than just the funding model. It touched on referrals and the state machinery of its own investigations. It was a necessary discussion.
Ms A Beukes (ANC) said that the Presidency was in the second phase of the establishment of that structure. While the Presidency was busy with that structure, how did it ensure that in the meantime there was effective monitoring and implementation of the referrals? How sure was the Presidency that this specific model or system would be effective? Had it been tested somewhere? Her concern was the period from receiving the report from the SIU and releasing it to stakeholders. Was there a specific timeframe for referring it to the stakeholders? Was there a dedicated unit or person who dealt with it in the Presidency? She discussed sending referrals to Departments or organs of state. Did the Presidency attach a timeframe for them to respond? After how long did the SIU follow up on the response? Were there specific Departments or organs of state who were not responding to the Presidency? There was a long list of proclamations. The Minister mentioned that the proclamations dated back to 2001. Why was it taking so long? She felt that there was no urgency to deal with the specific referrals from the SIU. What happened to cases where there was a lack of evidence and no prosecution in court, but there were some criminal activities?
Minister Ntshavheni said that the Presidency would release the mechanism as soon as it had been accepted by the President. As the Presidency received the referrals, it sent them out. Then the Presidency would write to the respective institution to see the progress regarding the implementation. The development of this mechanism would improve the monitoring. The SIU arrangement was uniquely South African. The establishment of the mechanism gave the Presidency an opportunity to follow up and improve on the system. As soon as the President accepted the report of the SIU, would it not be easier for the SIU to send the report to the affected parties? The Presidency would be putting the system in place. It would be looking at the lessons and improvements that could be implemented in the system. Those were the discussions that would be had with the legal team and advisory team in the Presidency, to see how it could improve the release of the reports.
Mr Somyo discussed the matter of vetting. He was not asking for details. He discussed the speed to attend to those matters. In Parliament, the Committee often heard of certain officials not being vetted. These officials held positions where critical decisions needed to be made. In other instances, criminality was involved which related to funds being handled and lost. How could the Presidency assist in fast-tracking vetting? The topical issue was the De Ruyter matter, where an individual had not been vetted. Billions of rands went through the decisions of individuals who were not vetted. He noted that that area needed to be improved. He noted that the SIU was doing all that it could. It took its own results to the courts and handed it over to other agencies. It was found that the agencies would receive a report and then still do more investigations. Was there a way the Presidency could facilitate a collaborative exercise that closed the gap between the SIU and the handing over of those reports? It was not a good thing for there to be a long waiting period when individuals were being investigated. It was better to deal with matters with speed. There needed to be a linkage that sought to assist the institutions to attend to these matters going forward.
The Chairperson said that it was a 2014 Cabinet decision that all persons in the SCM space needed to be vetted. The Committee’s issue was with the progress. It was fundamentally linked to the issue that the Committee was discussing. The Committee wanted the building in of mechanisms to push back on the frontiers of corruption, and its ultimate eradication. The Committee had not received any particular sense of joy on vetting. The issue of Mr De Ruyter may be a past matter, but it had become a perineal headache for the Committee as it grappled with the Eskom question. The Committee had an oversight next week on oversight-related matters. There was intelligence information gathered by people who were not vetted. The problem became even more complicated when the National Commissioner of Police was not vetted. He was echoing the concern that Mr Somyo had raised. He knew the Minister was not here on SSA matters, but it was linked to this matter.
Minister Ntshavheni said that in terms of the law, the SIU’s reports and recommendations were binding unless reviewed in court.
Adv Mothibi said that the SIU reports were reviewable. Once the reports had been through the review then they should be implemented. Before the reports were reviewed, the expectation was that they should be implemented.
Minister Ntshavheni said that the SIU reports were binding unless reviewed in court. If one did not want to implement an SIU recommendation or referral then the report needed to be taken to court to have it reviewed. If it was not taken to court, then it must be implemented. An institution could not sit with an SIU referral for months. In terms of the law, there were timeframes from when an institution received a report and when it could take the matter to court for review. Anyone that received an SIU report, whether it was an entity, Department, or municipality, had three months within which to implement the recommendation. If they did not want to implement the recommendation within that three-month period, then they must have started the three months process of taking the matter to court for the report to be reviewed. There was no excuse for why anyone that had a referral or recommendation and did not implement it under the guise that they were going to court. If the institution had not gone to court then they had accepted the recommendation. Everyone from 2002 to date should be implementing the SIU recommendations. If they did not and went on late condonation, the SIU supported by the Presidency, would oppose such late application for condonation for review.
Mr Somyo responded that he agreed. He discussed the referrals that were taken to the NPA. The NPA had informed the Committee that for some reports it still did further investigations. Through these further investigations, a long period of time was taken. The Committee had asked the NPA what prevented it from collaborating with the SIU when it completed its reports. He was focusing on the matters of prosecution. There needed to be a form of collaboration between the two so that there was no wastage of time in achieving justice for all parties involved.
Minister Ntshavheni responded that the SIU and NPA investigated through different mechanisms. The SIU investigates to then determine whether there was a case to answer. The NPA had to prove a case that was a bit higher because it was prosecutorial. She noted that there were cases classified as critical cases, which the Government facilitated through the Fusion Centre. The NPA, the Hawks, and the SIU all collaborated on those cases.
Adv Mothibi said that the law indicates that when the SIU investigates, and it picked up evidence that indicated criminal action then that evidence had to be referred to the NPA. That evidence had to be treated by the NPA in a manner that served the interests of the public. It was part of the NPA’s independent mandate to consider the evidence and to decide whether to prosecute. The SIU had engaged with the NPA on the matter of it having to do further investigations after the reports had been submitted. It had entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) so that they could collaborate. The MOU also included the Hawks. There was also collaboration in the Fusion Centre. He expected the MOU to guide the collaboration going forward.
Minister Ntshavheni discussed the vetting matter. The government was working on improving the vetting system so that it could have the proper outcomes. The report would then be taken to the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence. The Presidency would inform the Committee about when it tabled the report to the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence. This needed to be done so that the requirements of the law were met, that everyone in SCM needed to be vetted, and that those in relevant positions were vetted. Some of the delays in vetting were not because of the work that needed to be done by SSA. It was because some of the vetting candidates were not responsive in submitting the requisite supporting documents. Those instances needed to be addressed.
The Chairperson said that if those people did not cooperate then they must not stay in the job. The Committee wanted to clarify its outlook to avoid confusion. The Committee did not want to get involved in the nitty-gritty of how the vetting was done. The Committee’s issue was with why the vetting was not being done. In certain instances, it became an audit issue. There were people who were handling finances and had not been vetted. It became a problem. The Eskom matter highlighted the extent of the issue. The Committee was calling for the vetting to happen with speed and urgency. Those who did not comply with the vetting process needed to be dealt with. It could not be negotiable, given the extent of the risks and the financial implications to the State. The Minister said that phase two would be completed by August 2023. The Committee wanted a confirmation that that would be done, if sooner that would be even better. He suggested that the Committee get a report at the end of August on the progress that had been made. The Committee would send a letter to APAC today. The Presidency would have an opportunity to engage with APAC on these matters. The Committee needed confirmation from the Minister on the timelines. The processing of the SIU reports was important.
Mr Somyo said that he appreciated what the Minister had said about disciplinary cases. The Minster had said she would communicate with the DPSA on the dragging of disciplinary cases and people moving from one entity to another. He asked if the Minister could also make an intervention regarding those people who delayed the vetting process. The delay was problematic. Action needed to be taken against those individuals who were delaying the vetting process. He asked if the Minister could specifically focus on Eskom. Priority needed to be given to Eskom. There were about 5000 individuals in Eskom who had not been vetted, who were supposed to be vetted. It was a huge thing. This went to the heart of what was going on at Eskom. There needed to be high levels of accountability in these areas.
The Chairperson said that the issue was not just with officials retiring or resigning. The concern was also with companies. Companies were legal entities, but there were people behind them. The companies were shut down but the individuals behind the corruption in that company were not dealt with. This was a problem. There was a blacklisting dilemma.
Minister Ntshavheni responded that the Presidency would participate in the APAC conference in July. The Presidency would participate to deal with this matter. She confirmed that the Presidency would complete the process in August. She appreciated the Chairperson allowing the Presidency to bring the report in August. It gave the Presidency some space to do some work. She confirmed that the Presidency was following up with the DPSA on disciplinary processes and mechanisms. After the engagement with the Department, the Presidency could update the Committee on the proposal for the way forward. She discussed vetting. By the time Parliament came back from recess, the Presidency should have submitted its proposal to the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence. If not then, then definitely by the end of September. There was a team on the ground at Eskom to deal with the outstanding vetting and the other matters that arose. She noted that on the specific interest of this Committee on finance and SCM officials, she proposed that the Presidency should be able to indicate the proposals it was looking at regarding finance and SCM officials. The Presidency had a responsibility to work with the DPSA and Treasury. Part of the work Treasury did was to measure the competency of the CFOs across the spheres of Government. The Presidency should be able to bring that report by the end of September.
The Chairperson said that was a fair compromise. The Committee was comfortable with that. He thanked the Minister for the update. The matter of SIU investigations was very important for the Committee. It was crucial for functionality.
Adv Mothibi said that the SIU was pleased that there would be consequence management. This process, led by the Presidency, would go a long way in ensuring consequence management. He discussed blacklisting. The referral for blacklisting largely focused on companies. The directors needed to be taken into account. The directors would often resurface in a different entity. The SIU was happy that the State institutions would be given a timeline within which to implement. The SIU looked forward to the completion of this process. The SIU was pleased that in the interim the Presidency would do follow-ups with those State institutions so that they could respond to what they had done.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister and Adv Mothibi for their attendance at the meeting. The Committee would await the reports at the end of August on the SIU reports.
The meeting was adjourned.
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