Interim Management Team Progress Report on Eastern Cape: briefing

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PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
11 August 2004
INTERIM MANAGEMENT TEAM PROGRESS REPORT ON EASTERN CAPE: BRIEFING

Chairperson: Mr J Gomomo (ANC)

Document handed out:

Reflection on the work of the Interim Management Team in the Eastern Cape (11 August 2004)

Relevant Document:
Reflection on the work of the Interim Management Team in the Eastern Cape (30 January 2004)

Ministerial delegation: Ms G Fraser-Moleketi, Minister of Public Service and Administration; Prof R Levin, Director General: DPSA; Mr M Sikhosana, Director General: OPSC; Mr R Kitshoff, Manager: Public Service Anti-Corruption; Ms V Motalane, Interim Management Team Co-ordinator; and Mr M Mxakwe

SUMMARY
The Interim Management Team gave a briefing on the progress in its Intervention in the Eastern Cape following allegations of misuse of government funds in some of the provincial departments. The discussion that followed included the following issues:
- personnel auditing of government departments in the province

- measures to address the problems of scarce skills in the country

- the importance of co-operative governance

- centralisation of government files in the province

- monitoring of the intervention team members


MINUTES
The Chair welcomed everyone in attendance, especially the Minister and her delegation and also congratulated Prof R Levin on his appointment as Director General of the Department of Public Service and Administration. He thereafter called upon the ministerial team to make their presentation.

Reflection on the work of the Interim Management Team: Eastern Cape

Minister G Fraser-Moleketi welcomed the opportunity presented to them by the Committee and also took an opportunity to specifically welcome South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) members in the meeting. She thereafter gave a brief background on the reasons that led to the formation of the Interim Management Team (IMT) in the Eastern Cape. Amongst others, this was to ensure that sound management and leadership was provided following a number of problems in the province. Noting the preliminary January report, she then that the present report reflected on the final work of the IMT and how the intervention should be taken forward in order to ensure sustainability. She emphasised the need for very close collaboration whenever the government is called upon to take an intervention of this nature. Finally she noted that government would be using the Eastern Cape initiative in order to develop a model for governance that could be utilised throughout the country. Reiterating the importance of co-operative governance, she said that the same report was being presently tabled by the Premier before the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature.

Mr M Sikhosana (Director General: Public Service Commission) said that this report does not represent a closure report of the IMT since the process is still continuing, although the team is no longer the sole drivers of the process. This report is simply a reflection on the progress of the IMT in the Eastern Cape. He then took the Committee through the presentation (see document). The Committee was asked to take note of the report which would soon be produced by the Provincial Treasury exhibiting instances of double, and even triple, payments in the province which had resulted in Human Resources backlogs.

Discussion

Mr R Ntuli (DA) noting that the EC province has been flooded for sometime with problems of unaccountability and corruption, welcomed the initiatives taken by the IMT. He stressed the importance of ensuring that there is continual support throughout.

Mr Skosana acknowledged that some managers are corrupt but said that corruption is not only done at that level as there are also corrupt officials within lower levels, including private individuals. Therefore the fact that government is doing all in its powers to address this problem is there for everyone to see.

A SADTU representative (Eastern Cape) expressed concern at the low number of Senior Management Service (SMS) officials that have been arrested for corruption in that province. SADTU was of the view that they are the ones who are most corrupt.

Mr Skosana acknowledged the concern but noted that there are only a small number of managers as compared to other officials. There were some cases where managers were able to escape the clutches of the law even though they were chargeable. But since the IMT could only make recommendations to the MECs and other structures, there was nothing that they could really do in those cases about implementation.

Mr Ntuli (DA) asked if the question of poor auditing in the province had been addressed.

Mr Skosana replied that there is still a lot to be done in this regard, especially in the Education Department. However government has initiated a number of projects aimed specifically at addressing the issue around personnel auditing countrywide and not just in the Eastern Cape.

Mr Ntuli (DA) noted that the issue of scarce skills is not unique to South Africa but faces the whole of the developing world. He asked what cogent measures are being taken to address this.

Minister Fraser-Moleketi responded that a lot of work has been done to turnaround the situation, especially in the health sector, and incentives measures would also be introduced to attract more capable people into the public service. However it is important that every sector holds an annual review of all its identified scarce skills areas since what amounts to a scarce skill now may turn out not to be one in three to five years to come.

Ms S Mgabadeli (ANC) was of the view that when government embarks on a programme to fill the identified scarce skills areas, it should be sceptical and guard against recruiting international professionals who are not even employable in their own countries.

Minister Fraser-Moleketi while acknowledging the concern, noted that it would be to generalising to say that the professionals who are brought into the country are not valued in their own countries since some of them had made an enormous sacrifice to come over to SA. Therefore what is important is to check and balance the barriers that might be in place while at the same time South Africa develops its own professionals.

Mr Ntuli (DA), noting that the presentation alleges that the province is "unmanaged", asked what is the target ratio.

Mr Skosana responded that while the ratio of managers to personnel varies from sector to sector and so there could not be a general norm, however compared to other provinces the team was of the view that Eastern Cape is greatly under-managed.

Dr U Roopnarain (IFP) pointed out that such reports usually take some time before they reach national Parliament and so suggested that there is much that can be done by the provincial portfolio committees with regard to accountability.

Minister Fraser-Moleketi agreed and noted that the move is indeed to encourage provincial legislatures to play a much greater role in the future.

Ms L Maloney (ANC) asked whether there any safety measures in place to ensure the safe arrival of government files at their destination when centralisation takes place.

Ms V Motalane (Interim Management Team Co-ordinator) replied that in the past, files used to disappear between the districts and head office thus resulting in litigation. With this new system, measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of files so that they are properly recorded and accounted for before leaving the central office.

Mr Skosana called upon the members to pay a visit to the site whenever they are in the province so as to see how the system unfolds.

Ms Mgabadeli (ANC) applauded the IMT report and said it puts the Committee in a strategic position to better play its oversight function. However she expressed her disgust at the treatment that local authorities receive from some department officials. She asked Ministers to open their doors and listen to the concerns coming from the local authorities so as to ensure good service delivery.

Minister Fraser-Moleketi replied that if government officials are unable to get access to the Minister's cellphone then they should contact the personal assistant of the Ministers as they have 24 hour access to the Ministers.

Mr Skosana noted that there are a number of redress mechanisms that various sectors have developed in order to address the concerns raised by Ms Mgabadeli such as the installation of hotlines.

A SADTU representative (Eastern Cape) asked how the department is going to monitor the people sent by various departments to the Eastern Cape to be part of the intervention team. They should not further their own interests at the costs of locals.

Minister Fraser-Moleketi agreed that the intention of the process is not to open opportunities for people to scout around and promote themselves but to ensure that service delivery is improved throughout South Africa.

Mr Skosana noted that they would indeed monitor every person sent to be part of the intervention team.

The Chair thanked the ministerial team for its presentation and repeated the request that Ministers should be accessible so they can respond to the concerns of the people on the ground.

The meeting was adjourned.

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