DPME & Brand SA 2019-2024 performance; Stats SA three-year review; with Deputy Ministers

Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation

01 March 2024
Chairperson: Mr R Dyantyi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


The Portfolio Committee on Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation received briefings on the multi-year performance of the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), Statistics SA and Brand SA.

Members commended the work done by the DPME. However, they raised concerns about the effectiveness of its monitoring and recommendations concerning government departments. They asked about interventions in municipal water crises, the payment of social grants and problems at the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

Stats SA listed key achievements as the publication of 265 statistical reports; the compilation of the first ever Residential Property Price Index (RPPI); commencement of an income and expenditure survey; and finalisation of the Census 2022 data.

Members raised questions about funding for Stats SA. They asked about access to the data it gathered and about the impact of proposed legislative changes to better coordinate data gathered by different government departments. There was a suggestion that Stats SA should have the same status as independent Chapter 9 institutions.

Brand SA assured the Committee that it was committed to reaching its targets for improving South Africa’s image. It was addressing corporate governance issues and a board was being put in place after a long delay. 

Meeting report

The Chairperson made brief opening remarks and welcomed all present in the meeting.

Apologies were heard.

Mr M Manyi (EFF) said he had a problem when the executive was prioritising executive commitments over coming to Parliament to account. He said this was a bad sign as it was the Parliament of the people and Ministers needed to account for their responsibilities. He said Parliament was sacrosanct.

The Chairperson noted Mr Manyi’s concerns.

Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation: 2019-2024 performance

Mr Clement Madale, Director: Strategy and Service Delivery Support, made a presentation on the performance of the Department of Monitoring, Planning and Evaluation (DPME) in implementing its 2019-2024 strategic plan. He outlined the Department's priorities, its achievements and its challenges. He also briefed the Committee on special interventions to assist other departments in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, civil unrest and natural disasters. In the 2022/23 financial year, the Department achieved 95 percent of its targets. It received clean audit reports in all four years. 

(See attached presentation)


Mr K Pillay (ANC) said it was important to acknowledge the good work that the DPME did. He asked what was being done about municipalities with water crises. What has been achieved concerning the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)? He asked about linkages between the policy on integrated planning and the draft Development Planning Framework Bill. Were there consequence management mechanisms to deal with departments tabling strategic plans not approved by the DPME to their legislatures? How did reports developed through the frontline monitoring and support filter into the relevant departments with the aim of improving performance? He asked about links to the District Development Model (DDM). 

Mr Madale said that regarding the water crisis, 29 municipalities were tracked in terms of basic services, and a report was compiled.

The Department had liaised with NSFAS and concluded that it needed to change the way it delivered its product. Innovation and IT were considered. A study was done at a university in Mpumalanga to see what happened when students returned to universities.

Policy implementation mechanisms were in place in the absence of the planning Bill. Departments were aware of the need to submit annual performance plans (APPs) to the DPME, but the Bill would strengthen this. The Department made recommendations on APPs, but the final decision on implementation lay with Ministers. The DPME had just finished a very long report detailing the APPs of 110 provincial and national departments and entities. He requested that he make a presentation on this at a later stage. The economic cluster departments were not participating in the DDM. The DPME has written to them, and a special meeting on this has been planned. 

Mr Manyi commended the presentation and said it was an improvement from the last one. He thought it hit the target, but missed the spot. This DPME was about monitoring and evaluating the rest of the government departments. The Committee had heard about the state of readiness of the DPME over the past five years and this was good. What was worrying was that the DPME made its own interventions. Who would monitor the DPME’s success in these interventions?

The DPME was like an audit Department and the report the Committee received should have been two-fold. About 30 percent of it could be about the systems in place to do the work and 70 percent should be about the work done.

Considering youth unemployment at 60 percent, the uncontrollable load shedding, and increasing irregular expenditure in government departments and municipalities under administration, where did the DPME fit in? Targets on inequality were missed. The DPME needed to be an unpopular department and be able to say that another department was letting it down. There was disturbing news that Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel had to be taken to court to drive transformation. This was over his failure to gazette the B-BBEE Legal Sector Code (LSC) since 2021. Transformation was a policy of the government. Had the DPME called Minister Patel to enquire about this?

He suggested that the DPME prepare a PowerPoint slide on where all departments were at, using a robot system, for the next presentation to the Committee.

He referred to the child sleeping on railway tracks shown on slide 25 and wanted to know where the child was or whether the DPME had just taken a picture. This was someone’s child and a human being. What was done with the child?

Slide 26 dealt with tracking performance, but it did not show anything about the performance of the departments. He cautioned that another department might be needed to monitor the impact of the interventions. The DPME should write a report and the departments in question should do their job. He said strong recommendations should be made to departments so that they did the work, and not the DPME.

Mr Madale responded that an example of an intervention by the DPME concerned implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) Act. A meeting was convened with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), the SA Police Service (SAPS) and National Treasury. The purpose of the meeting was to ensure that there was alignment within government. In this engagement, it was realised that the SAPS had not been engaging about the Bill and there was confusion about whether the SAPS medical aid scheme was taken into consideration.

Concerning land reform, R700 000 was provided during the assessment period. The budget cuts meant that that support had been in decline.

Ms Josephilda Hlope, Outcome Facilitator, DPME, said Transnet was called and asked why it had gone unnoticed that a child had fallen asleep on the railway tracks. The child was discovered by a DPME monitoring team. Transnet said fences were put up, but they were stolen by communities. The Department of Social Development sent a social worker and the child was now in a safe place.

Adv Gugulethu Thimane, Deputy Director General: Public Sector Monitoring and Capacity Development, DPME, clarified that the Department usually does an analysis of areas of intervention, and the DPME monitors the results of its interventions.

Ms S Graham (DA) thanked the Department for their presentation. Seeing what had been achieved over the last few years was nice. She said the DPME website was outdated and offered reports from 2014-2017. Key focus areas of some of the programmes the DPME was involved in were listed on the website, but this information was also outdated as new key focus areas were raised in the meeting. This should be a central repository about what was being done in government. For example, the 10-year assessment of the National Development Plan was not accessible. The COVID-19 interventions were great, but this was not a current focus for the government.

She was concerned that the Department was not yielding results. Regarding its annual financial plans, what happened to the monitoring and evaluation phases of those plans? Regarding interventions at the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA), people were not able to receive their grants when offices closed in some areas. The DPME should monitor departments as part of their mandate. While no active intervention was necessary, there should be some overarching idea of being able to place the right people together to resolve problems. She was concerned that there was no communication on SASSA and that people were not able to access their grants. Everyone was left in the dark and some people remained outside the offices, having travelled 50km and being unable to return home as they had used the last of their money to get there. This was a major crisis which had to be addressed. There was a need for information on the ground about what was happening.

She was also concerned that the excuses given remained the same regarding staff and under-resourcing. Considering the financials of the DPME, the vacancy rate was one of the lowest she had seen compared to other departments. Perhaps the DPME was under-resourced regarding where it was placing its staff. A lack of resources could not be used as an excuse for not meeting the objectives of the Department.

Mr Madale said the Department went to the extent of presenting the issues relating to payment of SASSA grants to the Office of the President. The website would be updated.

Adv M Mothapo (ANC) commended the Department on the presentation. It had performed well despite budget cuts. She asked about land reform and said the Department was moving at a slow pace. She requested the DPME to intervene in SASSA issues. She asked the Department to do remote monitoring to access government facilities and health centres. She said female nurses were at risk and were working 24 hours a day to help communities.

Mr Madale said the security of frontline staff in different areas had been considered.

The Chairperson said the Department still had many gaps to focus on and emphasised that there was a very big gap between the Department’s mandate and the work it was doing. He said the mandate of the Department went beyond being an effective post office. There was a lack of evidence on impact assessment research, which indicated that a lot of work still needed to be done. The Department’s website was not agile and it needed to be repositioned in terms of personnel. The Department should be more thorough in its work.

Stats SA: Three-year review 

Mr Risenga Maluleke, Statistician-General, reported on the performance of Stats SA in the 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23 financial years. Performance against targets ranged between 90 and 93 percent. Key achievements for 2022/23 were listed as the publication of  265 statistical reports; the compilation of the first ever Residential Property Price Index (RPPI); commencement of an income and expenditure survey; and finalisation of the Census 2022 data .

The Committee was told that the capability of Stats SA had been transformed in terms of people, systems and technology. It received unqualified audit opinions for three years, but there was emphasis of matter relating to litigation, underspending and irregular expenditure.

(See attached presentation)


Mr B Yabo (ANC) referred to the statistical products that the Statistician-General was responsible for and commented about a decade going by without such projects being embarked on. He asked what the constraints were that made it difficult to conduct such surveys regularly. The census had demonstrated an upward trajectory in population studies. Population growth has been recorded over a period of decades. Growth registered for these periods or decades was about 10 million for each period. If that was the growth within a decade, it was safe to assume that there would be population growth of about five million in half a decade. Was it not then prudent to have these surveys done to track performance in various sectors of society? Poverty was one of the biggest measures to track. What made it impossible for Stats SA to do this every decade?

Who did the administrative data belong to? There was a need for a national statistics record. Stats SA should play a bigger role in collecting all information in one place. How did Stats SA allow general access to its products on its website? There was a portal which could only be accessed after payment. Did the public have to pay for access now? Had Stats SA focused on what proposed legislative amendments meant, would they be ready for implementation without a big financial impact? Stats SA previously had only R3 billion to work with and made this work. How would they deal with gathering new information? Would they have access to people’s premises and what was required regarding resources and logistics?

Mr Maluleke said the constraints on conducting surveys, particularly the income and expenditure survey, related to the funding on a project basis. Parliament funded Stats SA for R3 billion. Of that, R460 million was given for the census in 1996. With the population and scope increasing, Stats SA wanted R6 billion for the census of 2022. The lack of funding was an issue. An amount of R300 million was funded for the income and expenditure survey. Being project-based, if there were no funds, the work could not be done.

The [Statistics] Amendment Bill would assist with coordination of data from different entities. Administrative records were still very unstructured, and information was stored in different databases. The forms used by the various departments were different. Stats SA succeeded in working with the Department of Home Affairs on the death notification form and the provision of causes of death. Some of the forms were driven by legislation. SAPS released official statistics. Stats SA could not be punitive about collecting information. Stats SA never released personal information.

When accessing data, the website was revamped and made user-friendly. Data was not sold. The funds for this were collected from public coffers. Since 2001, Stats SA has not sold any data.

On costing the Amendment Bill, the process of dealing with the amendments required a strategic plan and work programme. To coordinate data production moving forward, it would be necessary to raise budgetary requirements. If the South African Quality Assessment Framework was used to deal with administrative data already collected, costs could be reduced. 

Mr Manyi said he appreciated the presence of the Deputy Minister.

As to whether officials should enter dwellings, he did not think that getting accurate data required entering each and every house in South Africa. Wherever he had lived in the country, he had never had Stats SA officials enter his premises. He suggested that drones be used as the only interest was numbers. He wouldn’t have a problem if a drone was certified to ensure the safety of the community. He was unsure about vetting and the robustness of officials. He asked what the chances were of upgrading Stats SA into a Chapter 9 institution as the independence of the institution was crucial for the development of South Africa. He asked if there was any interaction between Stats SA and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) as he had heard of votes being attributed to people who were deceased. 

Mr Maluleke said Stats SA would not insist on accessing private dwellings. The safety and security of the public was critical. Stats SA visited traditional leaders in rural areas. The local policing forums were usually aware when officials were moving around. In the suburbs, gated estates presented difficulties as estate managers had to be approached. Criminals could impersonate officials. There were documented cases where staff members were attacked and dogs were set on an employee by members of the public. Technology, including drones, would assist, but it would not address all the requirements. Online registration had the lowest response.

Stats SA was seen as part of the government, and when it created its own logo, people were uncomfortable with it and didn’t know who it was. Becoming a Chapter 9 institution would require a constitutional change, but Parliament was better placed to deal with this. The IEC used the information from the population census. Stats SA did not have a mandate to get records from the IEC to check whether people were deceased or not.

Mr Kenny Morolong, Deputy Minister in the Presidency, said he believed South Africa would be able to achieve more by developing the statistical capacity of organs of state. In the long term, the government could save a lot of money once that capacity was developed and some of the studies could be upgraded into official reports. The biggest concern at Stats SA remained the vacancy rate of 19 percent. However, Stats SA continued to perform. He assured the Committee that the institution would remain undeterred. The suggestion about Chapter 9 status for Stats SA was a valid one because the Chapter 9 institutions were created to guard democracy.

Brand South Africa:  2019-2024 Performance

Ms Nomasonto Motaung, Deputy Minister in the Presidency, made introductory remarks. She said the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) period was almost over and it was important to reflect on the issues and environment of the current administration.

There had been a number of challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic which led to a global lockdown from 2020 to 2022. This resulted in slow economic growth and a high rate of unemployment while inflation rose. There were unprecedented challenges domestically and in geopolitics, with political instability in some parts of the African continent.

The growing challenges of poverty and inequality plagued the nation concerning reputation and brand image. It was pleasing to know of government interventions such as Operation Vulindlela, where steps were taken to improve ease of doing business, and the diversification of energy supply.

During these trying times, it was not all doom and gloom. There was a plan and good stories to tell. The BRICS forum allowed the country to take a lead on issues related to the economic agenda and African prosperity. The World Health Organisation applauded South Africa for its innovative strategy in combating the Corona-19 virus and providing vaccines to the African continent.

Its participation in the African Continental Free Trade Area was closely linked to South Africa’s role in advancing the African agenda, which had done outstandingly well in promoting intra-African trade. South Africa had done extremely well in advancing peace and security on the continent and creating a better Africa and better world.

South Africa has done extremely well in the areas of science and technology, creative arts, and sports. For example, South Africa was the Rugby World Cup winner for the second time. Amapiano also continued to trend globally. Other trailblazers included the Ndlovu Choir and Trevor Noah, to name but a few.

Brand South Africa’s role was now more critical than ever before. It conveyed a compelling story and positively shifted perceptions. It adjusted to implementing its mandate using online platforms during the COVID-19 lockdown. It also moved from qualified audit findings to a clean audit with no findings in 2022/23.

During the period under review, Brand SA supported strategic country engagements in forums such as BRICS, the African Union, the G20, the South African Investment Conference, state visits and the World Economic Forum. Such initiatives assisted in shaping the perceptions of South Africa’s brand internationally. It was important to the success story of the country to rally behind the brand. Brand SA did this successfully through its Play Your Part programme, which was created to inspire South Africans to contribute to social change.

There were still some areas requiring focus and improvement. There were challenges related to corporate governance. A moratorium imposed in 2020-2022 led to a high vacancy rate. Significant budget cuts continued to impact operations. She assured Members that all vacancies on the board of Brand SA had been filled and they were in the process of registering all members. The entity was hoping to have a fully-fledged board in operation by March 2024. 

Ms Sithembile Ntombela maNdaba, acting CEO, Brand SA, gave a presentation on Brand SA’s performance against targets.

(See attached presentation)


Adv Mothapo said a promising picture of South Africa was painted compared to a corrupt picture that was often painted. There were capable Chapter 9 and law enforcement institutions and agencies. The presentation was commendable and was a true reflection of South Africa.

Ms T Tobias (ANC) said the presentation brought light and hope that, finally, the board would be in place after a very long time. There had not been an acting CEO for a long time and she expected executives to be appointed expeditiously. She asked when it would be recognised that the organisation required a better budget for its marketing. There was an impression that funding should come from other sources in terms of the scheduling of the institution, but National Treasury needed to allocate more money. The location of Brand SA was important and perhaps it needed to account to the Government Communications and Information System (GCIS). There were prophets of doom who believed Brand SA had not done enough, but in her considered opinion, the organisation worked very hard with a limited workforce and deserved more support. GCIS should assist the institution.

Mr Yabo said one of the things that stood out in the presentation was the hexagon model on slide 11. He asked about the implementation and tracking of the model. He also asked about the impact of rating agencies on Brand SA and the interface between Brand SA and the agencies. Did Brand SA play a role at this level, considering that a junk status rating would negatively affect its work? Perhaps there should be a conversation about reclassifying Brand SA regarding its legal framework. Part of Brand SA’s work was to position South Africa internationally in a good way, and the rating agencies would be a blind spot. A good picture could have been painted for South Africa, and the following morning, a rating agency could have stated that South Africa was not a good investment destination and would be downgraded. Brand SA should perhaps be placed in a position where it could engage with the rating agencies.

He was pleased with the progress of Brand SA’s work given the governance challenges and the absence of a board. He hoped that the presence of a board would enhance performance. On financial resources for Brand SA, he agreed with the previous Member’s comments. He said Brand SA had been surviving on a shoestring budget for a while.

Mr Pillay said he agreed with Members' comments on funding. He asked about critical vacancies that existed within Brand SA. What was the vacancy rate? He asked about the process of appointing a CEO. 


Deputy Minister Motaung said the support and guidance offered by the Committee were appreciated. She said Brand SA might not have performed to its full potential for various reasons, some of which were beyond its control. Recruitment to fill vacancies was approved in 2023 and was underway. The only outstanding vacancy was for the chief executive. The institution was committed to reaching its targets and intended to strengthen its Play Your Part initiative and ensure that patriotic South Africans were part of building and branding the country. She assured the Committee that the institution would leave no stone unturned to improve the image and credibility of the country.

Ms MaNdaba said the hexagon model was impactful. Many scholars have researched this. It was used by many other countries. Brand SA had a mitigation plan for addressing rating downgrades and had called roundtable meetings. It liaised with National Treasury and representatives of the business sector, civil society and the media to counter the negative narrative and profile new and current interventions. Investment studies showed that political stability and the openness of the market drove investors. There was no empirical data to show the long-term effect on the brand, but it had a short-term effect which negatively swayed perceptions of South Africa. The Minister of Finance had asked Brand SA to push the G20 agenda.

The meeting was adjourned.


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