In a virtual meeting, the Portfolio Committee was briefed by the Department of Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation (DPME), Brand SA, and Statistics SA on their Annual Reports for 2022/23. The Committee was also briefed by the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) on the audit performance of the departments. According to the AGSA, the overall audit outcomes for the planning, monitoring, and evaluation portfolio showed improvement from the previous year, and the annual financial statements submitted by DPME, Stats SA, and Brand SA did not contain material misstatements. It was highlighted that Stats SA remained a huge contributor to the negative audit findings of the portfolio. The entity advised the Portfolio Committee to closely monitor the executive authority on matters such as filling vacancies, pending mergers, performance management and integrated planning across all spheres of government to promote better coordination.
The DPME indicated that one of the functions carried out was to ensure that monitoring and reporting systems assist in assessing the performance of departments, compile reports on the progress, and determine whether government bodies are on track to deliver on the objectives of the National Development Plan. To properly execute such roles, the Department still awaits the approval of the amendment bill as the control they have over other departments remains limited. This affects the effectiveness of the work done as consequence management cannot be enforced where recommendations are not taken into account.
Brand SA showed no matters affecting the audit report related to misstatements in the financial statements and no significant deficiencies in their internal controls were detected. The entity continues to implement proactive marketing, communication and reputation of brands and shows outstanding performance in various programmes performed.
Stats SA showed improvements in comparison with previous financial periods, however, challenges still remained within the entity and these were attributed to budget cuts from the National Treasury.
The Portfolio Committee expressed an overall contentment with the work accomplished by the Department and the various entities. There were a few concerns about the limited authority of the DPME over the different departments it is supposed to oversee, and how this has the potential to cause dysfunction within government due to non-compliance. There was also a call to Brand SA to show involvement in socio-economic factors that arise from other departments’ incompetence that affect the country’s image, and a point was highlighted that it seemed as though Stats SA misused its independence to justify not following certain procedures.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone and acknowledged the attendees present.
Apologies were noted for Mr VZungula (ATM) and the Deputy Minister.
Mr Siphesihle Mlangeni, Senior Audit Manager, Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA), stated that over the 2019 to 2023 administration period, Brand SA and DPME have had four unqualified audits with no findings, and Stats SA has had five unqualified audits with findings. Stats SA has contributed 99% towards irregular expenditure coming from census-related contracts; they have broken procurement rules by awarding contracts to companies that have not declared any affiliation with the state or its employees and have not investigated wasteful expenditure from previous years. Brand SA and Stats SA have each achieved 93% of their targets while the DPME achieved 95% of its targets; unachieved targets are not considered key targets. No material irregularities were identified after the MI Process was applied, but a few areas of concern were identified on the reporting and monitoring compliance within the portfolio. R186 867 worth of fruitless expenditure, an average credit payment period of 13 days, overdrafts and unauthorised expenditures were identified. Brand SA and Stats SA were found to have applied uncompetitive and unfair procurement processes for the past year and breached all five procurement pillars.
See attached for full presentation
DPME Annual Report 2022/23
Mr Robert Nkuna, Director-General, Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, said that the Department plans to achieve an improved country developmental outcome as stated in the National Development Plan (NDP) through effective implementation of the Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). A total of 95% of targets have been achieved, with Programme 3 being the best performing programme in the current year and the 1st and 5th Programmes being the least performing programmes. In Administration, the identified challenges included 80% of designated employees complying with the submission of financial interests by 30 June 2022, and in Programme 5, the Centralised Data Management and Analytics System (CDMAS) software solution packages were not developed, piloted, or deployed for use.
Ms Camagwini Ntshinga, Chief Financial Officer, DPME said that as of 31 March 2023, total expenditure across the programmes amounted to R442 599 000, saving R38 795 000 of the allocated amount. Administration took up most of the funds and Evidence and Knowledge Systems took the least at R33 899 000. For Economic Classification, R38 795 000 was saved from the allocated amount, with Compensation for Employees taking most of the funds. There was a 5.5% improvement in the spending compared to the 2021/22 expenditure, and reported irregular expenditures improved due to internal controls and consequence management improvements.
Dr Annette Griessel, Deputy Director-General: National Planning Coordination, DPME, said that the Department implements the Policy Framework on Integrated Planning to improve the institutionalisation in the planning system aimed toward improving results. Cabinet approved it on 21 September 2022. Its implementation will occur through various planning instruments outlined in the Implementation Plan which supports medium and short-term planning. Workshops on the Policy Framework on Integrated Planning were also conducted with all government departments. A project plan is currently being finalised to facilitate in-year implementation of the IP and to monitor progress. The DMPE conducts quarterly engagements with national departments through the National Technical Planning Forum to ensure coordination across institutions and alignment across government.
Ms Mmakgomo Tshatsinde, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Sector Monitoring, DPME, said that the Department ensures that the MTSF Monitoring and Reporting System assists in assessing the performance of departments, to compile reports on the progress and determining whether the government is on track to deliver on the objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP). This progress includes sending progress reports against the interventions, indicators, and targets of the MTSF, then analysing the reports so that they could be combined with relevant cutting-edge research to produce monitoring reports against Medium Term Strategic Framework.
See attached for full presentation
Brand SA Annual Report 2022/23
Deputy Minister’s remarks
Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Ms Nomasonto Motaung, said President Ramaphosa, during the 2022 SONA, highlighted that State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) must fulfil their economic and development mandates. She added that Brand SA directly and indirectly contributes to six administrations’ various priorities. By 2030, the country needs to be serviced by a set of efficient SOEs that address developmental objectives. She indicated that Brand SA encourages patriotism and social cohesion amongst South Africans to coordinate the development of the country.
Ms Sithembile Ntombela, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Brand SA, said that they are proud to have received a clean audit outcome for the past financial year and that this was achieved by having decisive leadership, implementing audit action plans and improving internal controls. Creditor turnaround was 30 days and was achieved by tracking and following up on invoices.
Ms Thoko Modise, Acting Chief Marketing Officer, Brand SA, stated that 27 out of the 29 targets set for the 2022/23 period had been achieved and targets that were not met were due to non-accumulation of points for organisational control, supplier, enterprise, and socio-economic development. Another reason was due to the moratorium that was placed on Brand SA by the Minister of Presidency on the filling of permanent positions. Personnel have been appointed to act in vacant and fixed contract positions to fix these low performances. Programmes like the “This is Who We Are" campaign, the Loeries Awards, and the “#GrowWithSouthAfrica” campaign were some of the highlights of the entity for the past financial period. She mentioned that the overall staff vacancy rate stood at 26%, there is also a good ethical culture within the entity, the board has transitioned from King III to King IV practices, and they have shown good performance.
Mr Zolile Zibi, Acting Chief Financial Officer, Brand SA, said that of the R219.5 million allocated for the 2023/24 period, R109 763 000 has been allocated and received by the entity. The entity has shown improvement in its internal audit practices, preparation of the financial statements, and digitalisation of the Annual Performance Plans (APPs) and registers.
See attached for full presentation
Stats SA Annual Report 2022/23
Mr Calvin Molongoana, Acting Deputy Director-General: Statistical Support and Informatic, Stats SA, said that the Amendment Bill had been gazetted on 6 October 2023 and that the funding deficit on the compensation of employees remains a challenge. A total of 93.6% of targets were achieved and 127% of funds in the current year had been spent, resulting in a clean audit finding. The administration stood at 38% performance and the major reasons for not meeting targets are dependency of stakeholders, scope changes, Human Resources (HR) constraints, and the extension of the census. He stated that there is currently a record of 643 vacant posts, 81 women in Senior Management Service (SMS), and 33 staff members with disabilities, resulting in a total of 54.5% female staff in the entity. He added that the census programme had the highest expenditure.
See attached for full presentation
Mr M Manyi (EFF) asked the AGSA what value the reference to the NDP has as it missed all of its targets and if it was not time to review the entity’s mission statement as the set goals had not been achieved.
He was concerned that on slide one, there had been non-implementation of recommendations, as was highlighted in the presentation. He expressed his disappointment at the unauthorised expenditure by Stats SA, considering their constant abuse of their independence. He said that he had a problem with the non-recommendation of the consequence management to the entity and monitoring the recommendations made in the 2021/22 financial year that were not implemented.
He asked Minister Ramokgopa why she spoke about the 7th administration as if she knew for sure that the current management would be in charge of that administration. She spoke a lot about the future without accounting for the Department's current state.
He commented that in the absence of the pronouncements of the performance agreements of the ministers, there were Director Generals who did what they pleased, and asked what the plans were to mitigate this. He asked for clarity on what the progress was concerning the performance agreements of the ministers to date and what the rating of each minister by the President has been.
He asked Mr Nkuna to account for the lack of reporting on other departments as the presentation was more about the entity’s internal matters rather than issues stemming from other departments. He stated that the DPME should be able to know what the causes of problems such as load-shedding, water-shedding, and unemployment are and ensure that the government functions as it should. He said he did not welcome the Department’s presentation as it did not address core function as stated in their mission statement.
He welcomed the presentation by Brand SA and noted that he did not hear what they had done with what was in the engine or what would make their screen saver job difficult. He highlighted that key issues negatively affect the brand of South Africa as a country, including the Phala-Phala Farm, load-shedding, crime rates, money laundering, and corruption. He asked what the entity did to address such issues.
He asked if there was value in investments because of the involvement of Brand SA in the marketing of the country.
He asked Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Mr Kenneth Morolong, to reference the objective of the legislation and reflect on the extent to which this good work done by the entity indeed achieved the mentioned objectives.
He was conflicted in understanding the need to fill the 19.4% vacant positions if the entity can meet 93.6% of its targets without them. He added that seeing the administration at 38% was concerning because this gave the idea that the leadership was weak. He said that he found the employment equity numbers to be irrelevant as they were not compared against any target.
Highlighting the 188% payments of goods and services, he said that it showed that the entity was quick to pay debts with money it did not have. He said that unauthorised expenditure needed to be accounted for and that there was no justification for the unauthorised expenditure approval using regulation 16a 6.4.
Ms C Phiri (ANC) asked the AGSA about the provisions in place for the DPME to be able to conduct consequence management action against departments that do not implement their recommendations. She also inquired on how the Committee could assist the Department in enforcing compliance considering that there is no constitutional bill giving the DPME enforcement rights.
She asked about the observations made by the AGSA for the weaknesses in implementing the mandate from the Department and what the recommendations from the AGSA to the DPME were.
She asked the Chairperson to reactivate a new workshop period to assist all Members of the Committee in understanding their role in the portfolio so that those who present before them are not frustrated.
She commended Deputy Minister Morolong for his quick adjustment to his position and the involvement of the entity in technological advancements. She inquired about the requirements to reduce the staff turnover rate in the entity because, as a portfolio, they wanted Stats SA to work well.
She recommended vacant positions be filled urgently and for Stats SA to write a report stating when the following would be achieved; at least 20% of staff with disabilities and 50% of female staff, as there is currently 1.2% of staff with disabilities and 43.3% of women in the SMS. She indicated that this was concerning.
Mr K Pillay (ANC) commended the DPME for their audit findings and asked which specific services the Department failed to attract suitably qualified audits, and if they analysed operational plans.
He asked if there were unfilled vacancies and what the consequence management was if a department in the ministry was found to have failed in carrying out recommendations.
Regarding the two out of 29 targets not being achieved, he asked Brand SA what contributed to that outcome and whether the Ndlovu Youth Choir had been engaged after their achievement in America’s Got Talent.
He inquired whether Brand SA contributes to the link in marketing between SA Tourism and other departments such as Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.
Mr J McGluwa (DA) thanked the presenters for their presentations and noted his concerns about the small power the Department has as a monitoring department over all the other departments. He said that it has been concerning that it takes 24 months for a person to be employed in Stats SA and stated that the merger saga between Stats SA and Brand SA caused instability in the Department. He suggested that the Committee put its foot down to finalise the merger between the two entities as competent people are being lost due to this.
He asked for the DPME to address allegations put out against them for irregular appointments, priority crime investigations, and the contravention of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). He asked that they also explain the difficulties faced with sourcing people with disabilities and the report on the reports issued by the Zondo Commission.
He asked Brand SA for clarity on whether the amalgamation would happen or not and to what extent the entity dealt with uncertainties in its ranks.
He noted that there was no mention of the SpringBoks considering that their duty as an entity is to promote South Africa and that the minister of sports failed to submit the changes to the SA Institution of Anti-Doping Compliance to Parliament. He asked if anyone from Brand SA was in France representing South Africa and what was their role in promoting the country for the Rugby World Cup.
Mr Z Mbhele (DA) welcomed the presentations and asked the DPME if they could outline the impact and mitigation of the impact of increasingly tightening budget cuts and resource constraints as a part of the government. He highlighted that the cuts were bound to affect the staffing and the quality of services delivered by the entities, and this was very concerning.
Mr B Yabo (ANC) welcomed the presentations and asked Stats SA what has been the major driving cause of targets not being achieved, and what mitigating plans are in place to ensure that the unachieved targets are achieved in the following period.
He asked how long the vacant post existed, and whether these were funded and inquired about the steps taken to institutionalise the transformed capabilities to make them part of the process. He asked if the field workers would be taken through to do their work with the mentioned transformed capabilities which speak to technology, utilisation of digital technologies in conducting the census, or where these specific to certain parts of the entity.
Regarding automating the system, he inquired about the personnel responsible for it, whether this would be outsourced to 3rd parties, and the potential costs involved in the transformed capabilities.
Highlighting the high vacancy rate of 19.4%, he said there should have been a process outside of the moratorium that addressed these vacancies as soon as possible. He congratulated Stats SA for keeping the gender rates balanced.
He asked about the issue that arose where expenditure, procurement, and contract management were concerned and what was the recommended consequence management. He noted that it is expected that if people err in their performance and commit mistakes, departments are at risk and the individual’s capabilities should be reevaluated. He added that consequence management should speak to whether there is a clear identification of what each person has to do and their individual targets before there could be any talk about primitive measures.
Response by AGSA
Ms Nompakamo Matanzima, Business Unit Leader of Finance Portfolio, AGSA, said that due to other departments not taking heed to the recommendations made by DPME, they have suggested that DPME should be invited and present in Parliament to include their inputs when the APPs of different departments are tabled. She noted this would work until the integrated planning bill is finalised and the AG would work with the DPME key executives to ensure that the APPs are of good quality, and all government priorities are included. She recommended that the Committee follow up on the confirmation of the presence of DPME in Parliament and clarified that recommendations made in the previous period were included in the APP so that respective departments address them.
She stated that the NDP is still important as it provides a roadmap for the country to achieve its goals and overcome challenges; it is a document that can be adapted and needs all spheres of the country to create a better future for all South Africans. She acknowledged that the AGSA is the supreme audit institution, and therefore could not be complacent but should strive to be better than before. She noted that the census is a big project for Stats SA and they have not made comparisons of service providers that would help render their services to complete it.
A representative from the AGSA said that Stats SA did well in the financial statements and performance areas, however, they struggled with compliance but are committed to walking with the entity on a journey of good compliance. He stated that over the years, there has not been any consequence management to Stats SA and the aim is to work together to implement the recommendations included in the APP.
Response by DPME
Mr Nkuna said that the Department has been trying to go digital and has been failing for three years. While working with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), they have enquired with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to get tips on how to run a digital platform.
He indicated there were below 10% open vacancies, however, the Department still needs to deal with the recent budget cuts by reprioritising internal departments. A schedule is being worked on that will plan the execution of implementing unimplemented recommendations. He said there were two published reports relating to COVID-19 and that the Department interacts with committees inviting them for engagements. They are attending to matters relating to the Public Service Commission (PSC) reports.
He stated that the Department supports the President in dealing with the implantation of the Zondo Commission outcomes, and has played a part in implementing the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU’s) recommendations. He added that the impact of COVID-19 has been tracked after the deserter period for a few years.
He said that the performance and governance of the 22 SOEs in schedule 2 of the PFMA entities had been tracked and reported, and given an opportunity, the Department would share its findings during the cross-referencing period. He noted that they were open to answering more questions in writing.
Mr Thomas Nkosi, Acting Deputy Director-General: Corporate Services, DPME, said that the Department stood at 7.2% open vacancies, which was compliant with the 2% threshold of appointing people with disabilities.
Ms Ntshinga said that projects had to be cancelled because of not meeting minimum procurement requirements, including the MTSF review and development. The report on implementing Gender-based violence (GBV) and benchmarking on reducing inequality and promoting social cohesion received inadequate market responses.
Response by Brand SA
Ms Modise said that it was a proven factor that sports is a big driver of social cohesion and patriotism in the country and the entity was reporting on what has been asked in the invitation by the Committee. She indicated that there was a representative in France and that Brand SA always supports the SpringBoks. In the previous year, the entity worked well with women’s sports by partnering with the G Sports Awards, and Banyana-Banyana and national teams are always included.
Ms Ntombela said that the only funds received came from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC), and processes to finalise a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Department of Sport was underway to state the advantages of financial empowerment. She said that the Siya Kolisi Foundation articulates the country's success stories in sports, and there has been an agreement between Brand SA and the Ndlovu Choir to use their video material to showcase a South Africa that inspires. However, they had not fully onboarded them.
She stated that the entity’s job is to bridge a gap between perception and reality by bringing true reasons to believe in the country and being present in some interviews to coordinate the communication of interventions done by government to deal with energy security issues.
She highlighted that Brand SA partners with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to publish messages internationally. The entity also partners with the Ministry of Police for the ‘Play Your Part Vimba’ campaign. She added that the entity avails itself to present its involvement with other departments to the Committee in detail.
She noted that the entity’s role has been misunderstood and clarified that its role is to address the influence and perception of the country; it constantly fights to dilute the bad stories with the good stories and is able to prove its impact even though it is not demand/transaction based.
Response by Stats SA
Mr Bruce Jooste, Acting Deputy Director General: Corporate Services, Stats SA, thanked the members for their engagement and said that the census was started during the peak of COVID-19, there were Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) elections held thereafter, and the fleet rental companies got rid of their stock due to no travelling. This resulted in the failure to find vehicles to procure for census. A decision to extend the census was then made and the money the entity had, lasted up to 31 March 2022, and at that point, there was an amount of R190 million which had not been spent.
He stated that the tablets were procured in bits and pieces in the 2022 period because the factories in China were closed. The irregular expenditure resulted from a contract awarded in 2021 to vendors who were not fit to provide the vehicles. The entity then had to correct the issue by using any suitable vendor found in 2022. He explained that the unauthorised expenditure process is a regulatory process that involves engaging the National Treasury regularly to give feedback on the progress of their major projects. He added that Stats SA indicated that the census needs to be concluded and additional funding had been sought for the exception of the census.
He said that in 2016, the National Treasury cut funding for the compensation of employees (CoE) which continued till the 2021 financial year, and as a result, many staff members were lost. In 2020/21, R132 million was received from the National Treasury to start recruiting and due to COVID-19, the process of advertising positions started in August 2020. Internal candidates were offered preference to apply for the positions because it had been a long time since promotions took place and the corporate service function was an integral part of the support group to census. Concentrating on the ongoing census work affected the conclusion of some of the reports but there should be an expectation that the reports will be finalised as the census was completed recently.
Mr Jooste indicated that the legislative targets stated in the APP would not be met in the current financial year and instructions to stop recruiting were forwarded. As a result, the entity was back to the state it was in in 2016, where there are over by R60 million on COE due to the cost-of-living adjustments.
He highlighted that the HR challenges are historic. Mitigation plans would be achieved in terms of written reports and the 93.4% achieved was a result of some targets that have been dropped to ensure that highlighted targets could be delivered. He stated that the vacancy rate would remain as long as National Treasury decides there will be no recruitment for the current financial year.
He said that the entity has a good relationship with AGSA to improve its consequence management cases, and would revert back to the Committee to report on the progress.
National Treasury implemented the review of the census spending, but external service providers have caused delays in delivering a report on their findings. The entity would be meeting with the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) to account for the four years of unauthorised expenditure. It would then report back to the Committee before the end of the 6th term. There are also engagements with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that deal with persons with disabilities so that when there are job advertisements, such individuals can be reached. Currently, 406 people have been appointed since 2020 and these consist of 270 females and 136 males.
Mr Nakedi Phasha, Acting Chief Financial Officer, Stats SA, said the procurement relation is not the bone of contention for unauthorised expenditure. The entity is driven by payment of field workers who were on the field beyond the period of the census given the challenges experienced in the Western Cape. He said that in 1996, Stats SA received a disclaimer audit opinion; in 2001 and 2011, the entity received a qualified opinion and for the first time ever, it received an unqualified opinion. He exclaimed that this should be celebrated considering the history.
Mr Molongoana added that it was a pity that the presentation focused on the annual report, however, he was pleased that the Committee affirmed a date to discuss in-depth on the census. He said that the independence that the Statistician-General (SG), has relates to the standards and methods of statistics which are under common governance legislations that guide the administration of an entity. Despite the challenges, 140 000 of the tablets that the entity had in its possession have been donated to the Department of Education, which is almost R600 million back into the processes of improving the country.
He said that the entity lost 60 senior managers involved in the previous census but has managed to build capacity using local resources to progress and build systems that were never built by any other department.
Follow up discussion
Mr Manyi welcomed the responses but noted that he had not been covered on the issue of the unauthorised expenditure by Stats SA. It sounded like the AGSA was slacking on recommending enforcing policies on them due to this.
He noted that he was worried that the NDP had not been reviewed since 2012 and to be referring to it as a frame of reference did not make sense.
He indicated that it was not wise for Brand SA to state that they are involved in investment attraction when they cannot produce a rand value of the number of investments that exist because of their influence.
He highlighted that there was no stability within management as a large number of people occupied acting roles. He expressed his concern that the dropping of some targets by Stats SA lowered the confidence he had. He assumed that 38% of administration was for the central administration. He said this was a worrisome situation because it looked like numbers had been manipulated to make it seemed like good progress was achieved.
He sought clarity on numbers not compared to targets. He said that the reason behind unauthorised expenditure made things worse because the entity was aware from the beginning of the census that no funds were available to continue.
Mr McGluwa said that the responsibility was on the political principles to indicate why the issues raised by the Members of the Committee were out of their scope. He stated that the Director General (DG) did not go into detail on the irregular appointments and questions raised in the meeting. He requested that the DG give more detail on issues relating to the provision of reports from different committees for interrogation.
The Chairperson asked what happened to the Chief Financial Officer position in Rand SA.
Follow up responses
A representative from AGSA said that they are aware of the unauthorised expenditure and have emphasised it in the presentation. One of the unauthorised expenditures came about because the census was prolonged for three months due to challenges such as the shortage of employees in the Western Cape. The entity recommended that the Department investigate the matter so that an action plan can be compiled and engagements conducted. He added that there are currently engagements with National Treasury and SCOPA about the matter.
Ms Matanzima said that all matters had been raised to the Committee so that further oversight could be done. She added that the Committee’s participation would be appreciated going forward.
Mr Nkuna said that the Department interacted with committees inviting it for engagements, including the Standing Committee on Appropriations. He said the PSC report was available and the Department was willing to present it to the Committee as directed.
Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Ms Maropene Ramokgopa, appreciated the contributions by the Members and noted that her team presented according to what was requested in the invitation. She welcomed the idea of the workshop and hoped that the Department would receive an invite to be able to give an outline of the mandate so that there is no confusion in the future.
She stated that the 7th administration was mentioned because government is government, bureaucracy continues to work and plan until the present political principles give direction at the time. The Department remains responsible for accounting for things that happened in the past, whether the current administration was a part of it or not.
She said that the NDP is a strategic objective that the government wants to achieve, what would have to change are the tactics used to achieve the targets that have been set in the document and there are performance reviews that have already been done.
She indicated that the Department was open to presenting the five-year review to see if the country is closer to achieving the targets in the NDP by 2030. She added that they facilitate the performance of the ministers from time to time and the findings can also be presented to the Committee.
She said that the digitisation of the work done is in progress, to allow members of the public to gain access to the President’s analysis on ministers. She added that the Department would appreciate being called by different portfolios during meetings with different entities so that they can keep track of their performance.
Ms Ntombela said that the last time they had a permanent CFO was in 2019, the previous CFO was suspended and won the case in the high court early in the current year and there was a mutual agreement between her and Brand SA to part ways in May 2023 with a settlement of about R7.4 million. She acknowledged that they should be able to substantiate whatever they write and corrected that Brand SA indirectly contributes to the investments made in the country.
Deputy Minister Motaung said that the merger of Brand SA and SA Tourism is in discussion at Cabinet level and the status of the matter would be reported on.
Mr Jooste said that Stats SA indicated to the Committee that some of the targets would have to be adjusted to cater for the budget cuts, therefore, there was no point where there was any manipulation of targets against the vacancy rates. He explained that administration covers various areas such as corporate services, the office of the SG, and financial management. He indicated that SMS members have not been getting bonuses for the past two years and when performance reviews are done, the only benefit a person gets is a 1.2% pay progression.
He said that the AG agreed with the entity’s interpretation of the disclosure of the expenditure on the census as unauthorised. They hope to debate this further with the Committee in the future.
Ms Celia de Klerk, Executive Manager: Strategic Planning, Stats SA, said that targets not achieved in the current period would be carried out in the next APP. When the budgets were cut, they did not have adequate staff for the key priorities of the entity. The National Treasury regulation states that funded targets should be included in the annual performance report. As such, the entity has gone through vigorous prioritisation with the aim of protecting the quality of the national indicators, although this meant that other targets were dismissed or reduced in frequency. She said that there are specific targets that Stats SA is working towards and these are around employment equity (EE) and national targets, however, there are also improvement targets for women in SMS, disability etc, aligned in book two of the annual report.
Mr Molongoana said that the entity did not intend to be reckless by not considering the law. Towards the end of the planned collection period, it was clear that the information collected would not be usable as it was below 50% and R2 billion had already been spent. Stopping the project at the time would have resulted in wasteful expenditure and there would not be any census results for the period.
Deputy Minister Morolong said that he had no doubt that census 2022 would be able to stand the test of scrutiny, and was looking forward to discussing the capability of the entity to perform their legislative duties with available staff. They could also discuss the effect that the budget cuts have had on the 250 reports to be produced annually.
He disagreed with the opinion that the SG is misusing his independence and all they do is get approved by relevant bodies.
The Chairperson said there would be a meeting in two weeks to discuss the census, the efforts and irritations behind it, and how it would be conducted.
He thanked all the attendees and adjourned the meeting.
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.