The Public Accounts Committee (WCPP) convened in the Western Cape Parliament to consider the 2022/23 Annual Reports of the Department of Transport and Public Works and Government Motor Transport.
The Department achieved its 11th consecutive clean audit, and it was a good way to wind up the Department and close the book as the Department would start to focus on the future, being the Department of Infrastructure and Mobility.
Members had assumed that when the planning of strategic plans and annual plans was done, there was always a relationship placed between indicators and they are costed, but the reports suggested that a department can achieve below its spending. Members also asked the Department to share whether they foresee any challenges that may impact on its run of clean audits with the changes happening in the Department, considering the split of the Department into two.
The Department of Infrastructure explained that it is important to understand that not all indicators are directly tied to the budget, and it is not always simple to put a budget cost to an indicator. In programme 3, from a road perspective, while a budget is spent there are some aspects which impact and cause projects to be delayed, which forces the Department to redirect its resources. For example, the number of kilometres of roads re-gravelled is one of the areas where there was an underperformance. When there was flooding in the year under review, some of the resources, including staff of the district road engineering team and from the municipality were redirected to go and deal with the repairs that needed to be done across the gravel road network.
The Chairperson welcomed the members to the meeting. He said the meeting would be run in three parts. The first part would be a closed meeting between the Committee with the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) and the Audit Committee of the Department. In the second part of the meeting, the Committee would be joined by the Department of Mobility Infrastructure with its entity, Government Motor Transport (GMT) in an open meeting, and the in third part, the Committee would allow comments from the public.
In the second part of the meeting which was an open meeting, the Chairperson welcomed the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, as well as representatives from the Government Motor Transport to the meeting. He noted that the meeting was after an in-committee meeting between the Public Accounts Committee and the AGSA and Audit Committee on the Department’s audit outcomes and that this was an open meeting which would also be open for public comments.
MECs opening remarks
Mr Tertius Simmers, MEC: Western Cape Department of Infrastructure, said the Department had its 11th consecutive clean audit and it was a good way to wind up the Department and close the book as the Department would start to focus on the future, being the Department of Infrastructure and Mobility.
Mr Ricardo Mackenzie, MEC: Western Cape Department of Mobility, said he would not add anything to what was said but was just happy that South Africa is still the Rugby World Cup champions.
Ms Marissa Moore, HOD: WC Department of Mobility, was happy to be part of the meeting and to see how the proceedings work.
Ms Jacqueline Gooch, HOD: WC Department of Infrastructure, said the final report from the Audit Committee that was exclusively for the Department of Transport and Public Works was now changed to be an Audit Committee for Mobility and Infrastructure. She thanked the Audit Committee for Transport and Public Works for the role that they played and the support they gave to the Department.
The Chairperson allowed members to ask questions on Parts C, E, and F of the Department’s 2022/23 Annual Report.
Deliberation on the 2022/23 Annual Report of the Transport and Public Works
Ms L Maseko (ANC) congratulated the Department on its 11th clean audit and was looking forward to the 12th at the end of the current financial year with the new structure of the Department, noting that it was going to be possible to achieve regardless of the changes. She said in the Minister’s foreword, he mentioned the achievement of 99.8% spending on the Department’s budget, and on programme 6, the Department achieved 100% of its targets on the service delivery indicators, but it was difficult to align the expenditure to the achievements. There is also an underachievement on programme 3, but the audit report said money was spent. She asked the Department to link this with the Annual Performance Plan (APP) delivery indicators that are listed as underachievement. She asked the Department to simplify the matter as it was confusing to read.
Mr D America (DA) said it was not the first time that the Department remerged out of a very dark hole and managed to not incur any irregular expenditure, which was an indication of the rigorous internal control mechanisms embedded in the Department and its leadership, which was commendable. In the previous meeting, there was an in-depth discussion regarding the 30% procurement, and subsequently, there was a meme that was posted on social media that suggested that the DA in the Western Cape opposes the 30% procurement preference for small contractors as per the Procurement Policy Act.
He said the Department did not express itself as opposing the preferential procurement legislation and policy imperatives, instead, they were taken to a Constitutional Court Judgement that expressed itself on that. He understood that people would do such things for political purposes, but when things like that happen, it does not reflect on the DA, but rather on the Department and its hard-working individuals who ensure that equitable and transparent procurement processes are followed. It is an indictment on the officials and it should be dismissed with utter contempt.
Regarding the succession planning, he asked the Department to share whether it foresaw any challenges that may impact its run of clean audits with the changes happening in the Department. What assurances can the Department give to the Committee that the standard of performance will not drop?
Mr I Sileku (ANC) said on page 138 there are a lot of risks that are mentioned, and considering that the Department is closing, are those risks going to be transferred to the new structure of the two departments? On page 201 regarding disciplinary actions instituted in three cases, he asked for the background in terms of the cases, as well as the other four cases where officials were found not to be responsible for the irregular expenditure and asked for clarity in that regard.
Ms N Nkondlo (ANC) said programme 2 in the Report has about six sub-programmes, and according to the AGSA, programme 2 achieved 78% and 22% not achieved. Programme 3 has five sub-programmes, and achieved 26%, but both programmes spent 99.4% and the other one spent 99.8% budget. She also wanted to know the relationship between spending and the budget and asked that it be explained in terms of the Department’s performance indicators.
Her assumption was that when the planning of strategic plans and annual plans is done, there is always a relationship placed between indicators and they are costed, but the reports suggest that a Department can achieve below its spending, as it says the Department achieved 26% with a 99.8% budget, while it did not achieve 74% of the indicators it had set. Interestingly, considering page 101 on the sub-programmes listed on programme 3 from a money point of view, there is nothing that indicates the relationship of the 74%. She asked the Department to clarify the matter in simple terms so that it could be understood.
Ms A Cassiem (EFF) said in Part E of the compliance report, under labour relations, there are three cases listed, a dismissal, a suspension without pay with a final written warning, and then there are two cases of bribery and fraud, which are serious cases, as well as another case of absence without reason. She wanted to know whether one of the people who were charged with bribery and fraud was still working in the Department.
Ms Gooch said Ms Cassim was reading from GMT’s annual report and the Committee was not there yet.
Ms Gooch said it is important to understand that not all indicators are directly tied to the budget, and it is not always simple to put a budget cost to an indicator. In programme 3, from a road perspective, while a budget is spent there are some aspects which impact and cause projects to be delayed, which forces the Department to redirect its resources. For example, the number of kilometres of roads re-gravelled is one of the areas where there was an underperformance. When there was flooding in the year under review, some of the resources, including staff of the district road engineering team and from the municipality were redirected to go and deal with the repairs that needed to be done across the gravel road network.
This meant that the money that was allocated was transferred to the district municipalities to pay for the staff of the district road engineering team, but the team must also do other work which does not contribute to achieving the number of gravel roads that were gravelled. The budget is spent because they are still doing the work that is necessary, but their attention was redirected away from the re-gravelling of the roads that were in their programme to respond to the flood damage. There is no indicator in the performance plan that speaks to responding to gravel roads because of flood damage or the number of damaged roads that were repaired because of the floods. It is not incorporated as an indicator in the APP, and it is not captured in the final annual report.
However, reading through the performance part of the annual report, it may be mentioned that there were flood damage teams that were deployed to respond to the flood damages. looking at the other targets like work opportunities created, such as for youth, women, and people living with disabilities, it is not necessarily that the people were not employed, but it means there is not enough evidence to prove that this has happened from the contractor to the Department to justify including that work opportunity on the Department’s system that is not auditable to standards required by the AGSA.
The work may be done, the projects are done, and there are work opportunities, but potentially, there is no ID or an attendance register, so that opportunity is not counted formally in the performance information. The contractor is paid because the work is done and the project is delivered, but the total number of what you were targeting is not available because there is no evidence to justify the quantum.
The Chairperson asked if the Department did not have the evidence because it was not given to them.
Ms Gooch said it was not provided by the contractor to the Department in a way that meets the necessary standards so that when the Department is audited, it meets the necessary requirements.
Ms Nkondlo asked if the possibility of not getting the information from the contractor was not factored in when it was set as an indicator.
Ms Gooch said it was factored in because the team engaged with the contractor to try and get that information, but in some instances, the information is unavailable. But it is factored in because even the Department’s reporting on such indicators has improved over the years because they made it a requirement for contractors to share that information with the Department and its teams do go and do assessments to gather that information. The teams are more circumspect in their target setting, understanding the challenges that occurred in the past, and acknowledging the greater focus that is required in terms of auditability.
Mr Sileku asked if it is possible that a department can use 98% of its budget, without fulfilling some of the targets of the programmes of the Department.
Ms Maseko said she understands that it is possible to spend your entire budget without completing all the intended projects, especially in situations that cannot be controlled. She said the Committee wants to understand performance auditing, and target setting is the key to every issue that was raised in the Committee. The key question is whether, in the reporting, targets are revised to accommodate the emergency deployment to avoid underachievement in the annual report.
Nkondlo said there is a problem in the way the Department is setting its own targets because setting targets for things that are out of their control puts them at risk of underachieving on their targets. This is a managerial issue because the Department would have known these challenges from past experiences running the Department. Out of the six sub-programmes of the Department, which ones used up the budget?
Ms Gooch said across the two programmes, the Department sits with national sector indicators, so at times the indicators are set but they do not necessarily align with the work done by the Department. In the year under review, there was an adjustment budget where budgets were reduced, and no indicators or targets were changed. Unless a department is allowed or provided with an adjustment process to adjust their targets downwards if there is a budget cut, it is going to sit with that anomaly until the end of the year.
Within the road context, the targets are set in February when APPs are finalised, and during the year, there are a lot of things that impact road infrastructure, whether it is flood damage, weather, or not getting approval for a specific project. Within roads, an example would be a project which requires agreement from Transnet because the project goes over a freight railway line, if that project is not approved, that means the project is delayed before it can go out to tender or before work can happen. While there is a date in which you put in your planning for the achievement of this plan in the APP, that can shift, or an environmental approval could be delayed meaning the project would not start on your anticipated date.
Another issue within the road space and in public works that impacts construction is that there is a requirement that one gets a certificate of authorisation from the Department of Labour which can take a minimum of a month or longer, so when your anticipated starting date does not materialise given that aspect, this could also affect your annual report. The project can also be completed in that the budget has been spent, but the practical completion certificate comes in later than anticipated, which could also affect the annual reporting. It is possible to have a 99% spend and not have a reported performance in terms of the numbers.
In programme 2 for provincial public works, the number of infrastructure designs ready for tender, indicator links back to education infrastructure designs ready for tender, but the Education Department held back and put projects on hold, so the projects did not go out for tender. There is little in that instance that has to do with the Department of Transport and Public Works budget because the main budget is with the user Department, but the staff are, meaning the Department would have paid the cost of employees (COE) in terms of its staff to manage the work done generally through consultants, but the performance would have been under because of some of the aspects taken from the user Department.
Regarding succession planning, she said there are now two separate Departments, the Department of Mobility and the Department of Infrastructure that have some of the previous Department’s management and new management and systems and processes that are required. Looking back, her intention and approach with her management was to try and bring in youth to get them exposed to the type of work of the Department, and they brought in observers to their Bid Committee meetings so that the younger less experienced staff members could get a sense of the culture, questions, and issues within the organisation. this was also a way to convey the message from the top and the way either Department would function in the future.
Regarding the risks, she said from the Department of Infrastructure’s perspective, they have carried some of the risks that were from the DTPW that are pertinent to the Department of Infrastructure into the Department. They considered those risks alongside those that came from the Department of Human Settlements and tried to re-formulate their strategic risk register, reviewed the risk register per programme and assessed the operational risks. The next necessary steps would be to look at the actions that could be taken to respond to the risks.
Mr Bashir Rahim, Director: Financial Governance, Government Motor Transport said page 201 speaks about the three cases of progressive discipline and four cases where there was no discipline taken. All the cases were in relation to irregular expenditure, the three where there was progressive discipline were in relation to the officials not sufficiently checking issues of conflict of interest. Even though the supplier had signed to say there was no conflict of interest, there are other mechanisms in addition to the ones that the Department has that went and checked, so in that case, the officials were retrained and were given progressive discipline to show them that their actions were unacceptable.
The four cases where none of the officials were held responsible relate to an old case where there was a difference of interpretation on how Value Added Tax (VAT) may be applied, so the year under review was the year in which the matter was condoned by provincial Treasury, who required confirmation about what the Department did to discipline the officials and agreed that no discipline could have been done because it was a genuine disagreement between the Department and provincial Treasury about how that would be applied.
Ms Nkondlo said she asked for clarity about the circumstances that led to the irregular expenditure being condoned as shown in section E on page 201.
Ms Gooch said the provincial Treasury condones irregular expenditure in some instances.
Ms Nkondlo asked if the Department would not know the circumstances behind the condonement.
Ms Gooch said they do know the circumstances and can respond to that.
Ms Nkondlo asked the Department to explain the increases in the damages and losses mentioned on page 204. On page 206, she wanted to know the percentage of the limited bids to the Department’s total contracts and the circumstances that led the Department to take the option of limited bids instead of competitive bids.
Ms Gooch said on page 201, what is listed as table 4: details of current and previous year irregular expenditure removed and not condoned was dashes which indicate that this needed to be completed, but there was nothing that had to be recorded and the zeros mean that there was none to be captured. The R7.8 million is linked to Mr Rahim’s comment that in the previous year, it was picked that the Department, while comparing and doing its assessment and analysis of bids, removed VAT from certain bids to try and get a proper comparative analysis from the Department’s perspective of some bidders that were registered versus the bidder that was not.
In removing VAT to make them comparable, that was identified as incorrect in line with a specific regulation and deemed to be irregular, which needed condonation from Provincial Treasury for the expenditure that was incurred on those bids where that analysis was done. It was a result of a difference in interpretation of the regulations that was had by Treasury compared to the Department’s view.
Ms Nkondlo asked if the difference in interpretation was between the Department and Treasury.
Ms Gooch said it was between the Department, Treasury, and the AGSA.
Mr Rahim said the difference was between two sets of legislation, what came from the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) was that the Department must remove the VAT to make bids more comparable. What came from the Provincial Preferential Procurement Framework Act (PPPFA) indicated that the Department should keep the VAT. On the basis that a supply chain management system should be fair as well as what was in the CIDB regulations, the Department removed the VAT to make it more comparable.
After consulting Provincial Treasury, the AGSA and National Treasury, the confirmation was that the Department should have followed what is in the Preferential Procurement Regulations irrespective of whether it conflicted with what the CIDB was saying. It was condoned on that basis by Provincial Treasury. The bulk of the R7.8 million, about R6 million of it related to that issue, and the rest of it was because of suppliers not declaring their conflict of interest, and the third one was the tax status of certain suppliers being non-compliant at the time of signing off on the bid. It is possible for someone to be compliant when submitting a bid, but after a while, the status can change so that the check was not done for some suppliers, and that automatically becomes irregular expenditure. The Department also updated its systems in that regard.
Ms Nkondlo confirmed that based on the opinion of National Treasury and of Provincial Treasury this was condoned because the Department should have followed the PPPFA.
Ms Gooch agreed.
Mr Rahim said the material losses at the bottom of page 204 which runs over into 205 total R2.1 million broken up into the different categories of it, which is 65 cases of damages to GG Vehicles. In GG Vehicles, if you take the R822 000 in total, it rounds up to about R12 000 losses per vehicle. This is the same for the other matters with the 125 vehicles and so on. Essentially all those losses are either the result of an accident or a pothole on the ground, or public liability claims because of a shortcoming on the road which contributed to the vehicles being damaged. In the instances where the incidents are to GG Vehicles or any of the Department’s plant and equipment before they are written off, they go through thorough investigations on the reason something happened, who was at fault, etc., and after a long-winded process, they get written off if there is a need.
Ms Gooch said understanding that not all the limited bids are necessarily for a single year, the total value that was awarded was R396 million out of the R9.4 billion budget, which amounts to about 4%.
Adv Chantal Smith, CFO: WC Department of Mobility, said there is a general approach that the Department follows in an open bidding process, but there are exceptional circumstances in which the Department does limited bids such as when it is instructed by Provincial Treasury to do so, meaning for any limited bid that is above the R5 million value, the circumstances must be proved to Provincial Treasury with evidence.
The first circumstance is where the goods or services are designed or manufactured by a supplier, this means the Department can not put out an open bidding process because it is the sole copyright ownership of one supplier. Secondly, if the Department went on an open bid and the responses are either all non-compliant or exorbitantly high and it has run out of time to go on another open bid, the Department can go on a limited bid process. Thirdly, if there is a business case around a market assessment that is completed, and it shows that the only possible way is to do a limited bid.
A limited bid does not always mean one bidder is approached, it can go to even 5 bidders, but it is different from open bidding in the sense that a department can choose a group or individual. Fourthly, when the Department can buy under exceptionally good circumstances from a bidder, and lastly, when there is an issue of continuity where work is incomplete, but not because of anything that was done by the consultant. For example, if there are outstanding planning approvals and the Department needs to put them in place and the consultant did not get to do that or in the instance of drafting legislation and the process is not favourable for the consultant to finish its work.
In the table listed in the report, there are several security companies appointed through limited bids. Technically, all those companies were bought off the Open Bid Framework from Provincial Treasury, and at the time when they were bought, Provincial Treasury was in the process of extending their contract, meaning they had not gone through the complete process, and they did not give the Department packages. The Department was able to use the same service providers on that list in an open process, but through a limited process to get the approvals correct.
There are others where specific training interventions like ethics training. The training content was designed in collaboration with the Department based on some ethical issues encountered over the years and the training was rolled out within the Department under the ethics implementation plan, which was also a limited bid. In cases of emergency, the Department goes on limited bids with contractors that have proven their capability and to react immediately.
Ms Nkondlo asked if there is a specific ceiling or quantum that a department can go out on a limited bid.
Ms Maseko said on page 207 there is a mentoring construction CIDB in the Cape Winelands and Garden Route region which are also in a limited bid. Is that mentoring done like the appointment of consultants for the development and mentoring of the constructions in those areas?
Ms Smith said there is no limit to a limited bid, but there is a limit in terms of how the Department may deal with it. the provincial Treasury instructions indicate that anything that exceeds the value of R5 million must go through Provincial Treasury, meaning the limited bids cannot be concluded until they have checked that it complies with the rules, and the system is not being abused; then they give a formal letter of approval.
Ms Maseko wanted to know what the intention of the mentoring contract and why it was important. Was there a needs assessment that was done in the areas?
Ms Pat Jenniker, Director: Construction Industry Innovation and Research, WC Department of Infrastructure, said the reason the Department did mentoring in the Cape Winelands and Garden Route area was for on and off-site mentoring, and the contractors in the area had their own contracts in which they required mentoring support. it became a limited bid because it was advertised twice, and it did not receive any bids. The first one was on and off-site mentoring and the second one was for assisting them with enterprise development support.
Ms Maseko said she understood the bidding process but wanted to know if a needs assessment was done and why it was important for the Department to provide this mentorship within the region.
Ms Jenniker said with contractor development, the Department normally first identify specific areas and does a construction information session (CIS) for contractors in an area, and within the financial year, it had done a CIS in the Cape Winelands and the Garden Route area, of which contractors in the areas mentioned that they would be interested in mentoring and others wanted structure training. The Department identified where people could go on the different types of training according to their needs and put them, so these specific groups said they needed mentoring support and enterprise development support because they were doing projects in those specific areas. It was linked to a previous information session which was meant to identify needs.
Ms Maseko said in her understanding, that if the Department is doing a training programme for upcoming projects, it should develop an anticipation of the work that must be done. She wanted to understand if there were any alignments between the diagnostic assessment for the needs in the areas and what the Department wanted to achieve.
Ms Gooch said there was no direct correlation between the two, so the training programmes are what the team does as part of its duties because it is important for the Department to invest in and support contractors whether there is work coming from the Department, municipality, national Department or any or private work. The Department views training as always beneficial for anyone to undergo.
Mr Sileku asked the Department to explain whether there is a possibility that one could go to a district and find that the SMMEs operating in that district do not meet the requirements for the scope of work that they need to assist a bigger contractor. How does the Department manage such situations?
Ms Gooch said the Department undertakes an empowerment impact assessment for projects that are more than R10 million to bring in the elements for a tender process so that a contractor can know what is expected from it. The empower impact assessment covers several aspects which include the types of skills that are available in the area considering the type of projects that are looming, as well the potential suppliers that are available in close or broader proximity depending on the materials required for the project. It also considers whether there are SMMEs or smaller contractors that can do a specific type of work in close or broader proximity.
All that information is put through to some of the people who are appointed to inform the tender documentation against which the contractor will tender. It is then that those contract participation goals are monitored throughout the course of the project. Just because the empowerment impact assessment said there could be suppliers of materials in that specific area, the supplier must still be able to meet the relevant requirements, whether it is legal requirements, tax compliance, etc. Ms Jenniker’s team from the Department then goes out and has information sessions with potential suppliers, SMMEs, and service providers in those specific areas to try and assist them, bringing along the South African Revenue Services (SARS), Treasury, and others with them to try to assist the companies to become compliant with the various legislation.
Ms Smith the supplier staff were in Mossel Bay on Thursday and on request of the contractors, there were about 100 of them wanting information sessions and support. The Department took everyone who was able to assist the contractors along, including SARS, the accreditation agents for Black Economic Empowerment, the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC), etc., so they could assist the contractors in getting registered in the central supplier database (CSD), explaining how it works and how they long in and how they can access tender processes.
Mr Sileku said the frustration was the lifespan of the project in Mossel Bay and his argument was that it does not help to be in a training session while the project is closer to the completion of its lifespan. The project is already happening and there is movement all around, but the people of the area are not being considered. That needs to be avoided going forward.
Ms Nkondlo said of the information sessions done by the Department, what percentage of SMMEs get contracted in the projects?
Ms Smith said the empowerment impact assessment process is a process that precedes any contract, it informs about the contract participation goals for the project and community. The Department sets annual training projects and delivers them across the Western Cape, and then it goes to whichever place as per the request of any contractors for training interventions. The Department went there because it was requested to do so after the Committee’s visit. When the Department does training interventions from a supply chain perspective, it does not check who was on the training and who of them got jobs because their sole mission is building capacity. The team that does the empowerment impact assessments and the participation goals does the evaluation of the goals that were included in the tender, how much of them were achieved, and who from the area was included.
Ms Nkondlo asked if the Department does evaluate that information at all or if it is Ms Jenniker’s team that gets the information.
Responses were inaudible as the microphones were off.
The Chairperson allowed members a 10-minute break and the Committee dealt with the GMT report thereafter.
Deliberation on Annual Report of the Government Motor Transport (GMT) for the 2022/23 financial year
Ms Cassiem asked for an update on the investigations on material losses that are investigated by various bodies including GMT, the South African Police Services (SAPS), and Provincial Forensic Services (PFS). Who committed these acts and are they still employees of the entity?
In Part E of the compliance report, under labour relations there are three cases listed, a dismissal, a suspension without pay with a final written warning, and the there are two cases of bribery and fraud, which are serious cases, as well as another case of absence without reason. She wanted to know whether one of the people who were charged with bribery and fraud was still working in the Department. To get to the final written warning, there were two warnings were issued before, meaning one of the three was dismissed, so which of the employees was dismissed?
Ms Gooch said the question asked by Ms Cassiem was on part D of the report and the Chairperson asked members to ask questions in Parts C, E, and F, so she wanted clarity before she could respond to that question.
Ms Cassiem said page 132 is under Part E.
Ms Gooch said it is section 312 on labour relations, which is part D.
Ms Cassiem said it is under part E.
Ms Gooch said the one person who was dismissed was dismissed on the basis that they either stole, bribed or committed fraud. The other one was listed as a suspension without salary and a final written warning for stealing, bribing, or committing fraud. They were still in the employ of the entity as of the end of March 2023, and that would have been the outcome from the Presiding Officer in terms of the disciplinary case.
Ms Cassiem said she was asking the question because suspension without pay and a final written warning mean different things, so is the person still employed by the entity?
Ms Gooch said as far as she understood, the person was not dismissed but may have left because of other reasons.
Mr Riaan Wiggill, CFO: GMT, said the R4 million for fraud and corruption was investigated by the PFC, there were staff members involved not from the GMT, but from one of the client Departments. Car fraud affects GMT as a fleet owner, as there are syndicates that target fuel cards, and it is something that GMT is taking seriously. The investigation was conducted and there were officials who were dismissed as a result, but it was not GMT officials. PFC is also working with SAPS because the case was also reported to SARS.
Ms Cassiem did not understand how the Department nor GMT did not have a report on whether the person was dismissed or not, noting that the person could have been sitting amongst them in the meeting.
Ms Gooch said this was a disciplinary matter that was reported in the annual report that happened sometime in the 2022/23 financial year, as far as disciplinary processes are concerned, when the Department issues disciplinary processes against one of its officials and it goes through a disciplinary hearing, the Presiding Officer issues the outcome of the sanction that is to be applied. If the Presiding Officer, even if the Department may call for and argue for a sanction of dismissal, which it does in every instance of allegations of fraud, bribery, corruption or theft because that is a zero tolerance of the Department, it does not mean that the Presiding Officer will grant that dismissal.
In this instance, the sanction that was issued was suspension without a salary and a final written warning. As it stands, there is no report of the specific individual to know the date of the sanction, or whether the person is still in the employ of the Department. The case against the person was that they amended the date of their sick certificate, which is fraudulent activity, and the disciplinary committee found that there were mitigating circumstances, in their case severe depression, and sanction just short of dismissal was issued in terms of the suspension without pay and the final written warning. The person still is in the employ of GMT, and the Department hopes they will not repeat their mistakes.
Mr America wanted to know whether there was a time limit attached to the final written warning, as it cannot linger forever.
Ms Gooch said written warnings or final written warnings are usually on personal files for up to 6 months.
Ms Maseko said this was the last Annual Report that the Committee sat with HOD Gooch and thanked her for being the person she is, being a powerhouse, and for being generous in every way that she could be. She appreciated the work that she had done over the past few years and thanked her on behalf of the Committee and handed her some flowers.
Ms Gooch thanked the Committee for their kind gesture and for the professional way it handled the Department over the past years and wished them the best going forward.
The Chairperson said that Ms Gooch must accept the flowers as a token of appreciation for the work that she did over the years for the Department and the time she spent with the Public Accounts Committee, noting that it reflected the kind of person she is. He said the Committee also has the humanity to give credit where it is due. He thanked the Department and GMT for their engagement in the meeting and thanked the members for their dedication to the work of Parliament.
The meeting was adjourned.
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