Review of the FMPPLA & accompanying regulations; organisational realignment; PBO challenges

Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament

19 March 2024
Chairperson: Ms B Mabe (ANC) and Ms D Mahlangu (ANC, Mpumalanga)
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Meeting Summary


The Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament, comprising Members from the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, held a virtual meeting to receive status reports on several key agenda items. The Committee discussed the review of the Financial Management of Parliament Act (FMPPLA), development of regulations, organisational realignment, and challenges facing the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO). This was the Committee’s last engagement with the administration for the Sixth Parliament.

The Committee was taken through a briefing on the financial management of Parliament, legislation, and the regulations developed focusing on Parliament’s budget allocation and developing a funding model for Parliament. The presentation highlighted the need to review the Financial Management of Parliament Act and the Money Bills Amendment Act to align them and address regulatory issues. 

Members urged a robust debate on the imbalance of power between the executive and the legislature, advocating for a stronger legislative branch capable of holding the executive to account.

The Committee was then briefed on the organisation realignment with a comprehensive suite of interventions aimed at repositioning the organisation for the Seventh Parliament's macro strategy framework. The focus was on embedding a paradigm shift, transitioning Parliament from being process-oriented and procedural to being more outcome-focused on developmental objectives affecting the country and society.

The Committee was also briefed on the challenges that impact the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO). Matters raised included recruitment challenges and budgetary constraints.

Members underscored the importance of the PBO and sought more details on the lack of sufficient budget, resources and human capacity. The PBO was urged to send direct recommendations for improvement.

It was noted that these issues would be taken up by the incoming Seventh Parliament through the Committee’s legacy report. The administration was urged to review the Committee’s recommendations in its tabled reports over the sixth administration. The Committee acknowledged the progress made in a variety of areas during its tenure.

Meeting report


Chairperson Mahlangu noted that she had sent a WhatsApp regarding her situation but confirmed her presence in the meeting.

Chairperson Mabe said she was also traveling but hoped to remain stable for the duration of the meeting. She expressed uncertainty about the participation of the Speaker and the NCOP Chairperson, asking for clarification.

The Committee Secretariat noted that she had not heard from the Speaker or the Chairperson, assuming they might not be able to attend. She mentioned the agenda items and Mr N Singh’s (IFP) apology for his absence.

Chairperson Mabe proceeded and suggested moving on to the review but first sought a mover and a seconder to adopt the agenda.

Chairperson Mahlangu raised a point about the live broadcast of the meeting, urging those with stable network connections to activate their video feeds, acknowledging network challenges. She moved for the adoption.

Chairperson Mabe supported the idea, acknowledging her inability to activate her video due to door-to-door travel and wearing political regalia. She then asked for a seconder to adopt the agenda.

Mr B Radebe (ANC) seconded the motion, expressing his support.

Chairperson Mabe moved on to invite the Secretary to Parliament to present the status reports, including the review, development of regulations, organisational realignment progress, and challenges related to the Parliamentary Budget Office.

Parliamentary Financial Management and Legislative Alignment Plan Presentation to the Joint Standing Committee

Mr Xolile George, Secretary to Parliament, said his focus would be on the financial management of Parliament, legislation, and the regulations developed to implement the provisions of the Act.

He then outlined the topics to be covered, including a separate presentation by his colleague on changes in the Budget Office of Parliament. Mr George noted that Members would see the potential for aligning processes and discussed the importance of considering substantive reviews within the Act itself. He mentioned structural issues identified in previous discussions, such as the process of developing and managing Parliament's budget, and the need for a structured process to engage with the Minister of Finance.

Regarding the Money Bills Amendment Act, Mr George highlighted the requirement for Parliament to develop a budget and justify its use of funds. He discussed the challenges in providing clear explanations and proposed developing a funding model for Parliament. He also touched on the procedural aspects and structural issues related to the timing of budget adjustments and interactions with the Minister of Finance.

Mr George emphasised the need to review the Financial Management of Parliament Act and the Money Bills Amendment Act to align them and address regulatory issues. He suggested utilising existing mechanisms, such as the Joint Rules Committee and the Joint Standing Committee, to establish processes for oversight and budget approval.

(see attached for full presentation)


Chairperson Mabe reflected on the evolution of democracy over the past 30 years, emphasising the growing prominence of the legislature in asserting its rightful role. She highlighted the critical function of parliamentary oversight in preventing errors and ensuring accountability, underscoring the need for strong oversight committees.

Looking ahead to the Seventh Parliament, Chairperson Mabe urged a robust debate on the imbalance of power between the executive and the legislature, advocating for a stronger legislative branch capable of holding the executive to account. She expressed confidence in the Committee's ability to tackle these challenges effectively.

Chairperson Mabe commended the Members for their dedication and fearlessness in addressing issues related to regulations and legislation, noting the transformative impact on the legislative process. She concluded by inviting comments from Members.

There was an absence of hands, so the meeting proceeded to the next item. 

Organisational Realignment

Mr George began by contextualising the work being discussed, emphasising its interconnectedness with previous engagements with the Joint Standing Committee. He highlighted the comprehensive suite of interventions aimed at repositioning the organisation for the Seventh Parliament's macro strategy framework. This framework was socialised with the Committee through various engagements, detailing the process outline for operationalising the strategy.

He explained that the focus was on embedding a paradigm shift, transitioning Parliament from being process-oriented and procedural to being more outcome-focused on developmental objectives affecting the country and society. This shift prioritised outcomes and impacts.

Mr George outlined the areas of focus for this transition, including data-driven issues, impact assessments, capacity-building, change management, policy reviews, and business process optimisation. He stressed the importance of addressing reliability, ICT infrastructure, data dependability, and the reconstruction of the precinct.

He mentioned that while only one aspect, the organisational review, would be discussed in detail during this update, other aspects such as policy reviews, change management, and business optimisation had been previously presented to the Committee. He then sought permission for Mr Griffiths Lubisi, [position unconfirmed], to provide the Committee with an update on the process and progress of these aspects.

Mr Lubisi outlined the scope of his presentation, focusing on the work done between July 2023 and the present, particularly emphasising major outputs and the project schedule.

He explained that the project consisted of five stages: planning, analysis, design, implementation, and embedding. Currently, the project is in the design phase, with significant progress already made. This phase includes not only structural considerations but also other artifacts such as operating models.

Mr Lubisi detailed the completion of certain tasks within the design phase, including capability mapping and the completion of the macrostructure. He mentioned upcoming activities, such as workshops on information systems and the role of management in implementation.

He then provided an overview of the business model developed through workshops, highlighting its role in delivering value to Parliament's beneficiaries. He also presented a functional model outlining core business processes and supporting functions.

Moving on to the project schedule, Mr Lubisi outlined key milestones, including the development of the business model and target operating model. He provided target dates for completing various workshops and structural elements, aiming for completion by April 2025.

Mr Lubisi concluded his presentation by summarising the stages, processes, and deadlines of the organisational realignment project.

(see attached for full presentation)

Challenges Impacting the PBO Fulfilling Its Mandates

Dr Dumisani Jantjies, Director, Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), proceeded to outline the purpose of his presentation, which aimed to update the Committee on challenges impacting the Parliamentary Budget Office's ability to fulfil its mandates.

Dr Jantjies emphasised the importance of addressing these challenges, particularly in relation to supporting Parliament's oversight function. He highlighted the need for continued deliberation on these issues and provided a brief overview of the presentation's key points.

He discussed the longstanding issues faced by the PBO since its establishment in 2014, particularly regarding budget constraints and the inability to fully execute its mandate. Dr Jantjies stressed the importance of adequate funding to enable the PBO to fulfil its obligations effectively, including conducting substantive analysis and providing advice to Committees.

The presentation touched on recruitment challenges due to the current temporary arrangements, which hinder the office's ability to attract and retain skilled staff. Dr Jantjies expressed concern about the impact of prolonged processes on staff morale and the office's ability to plan effectively.

He also highlighted the lack of clarity in the budget process for Parliament, which affects the PBO's planning efforts. Dr Jantjies emphasised the need for clearer budget allocations to enable better planning and implementation of the PBO's objectives.

Dr Jantjies concluded by reflecting on the PBO's achievements over time and reiterated the importance of continued support from the Committee in addressing the challenges faced by the office. He thanked the Committee for the opportunity to provide an update.

(see attached for full presentation)


Chairperson Mabe expressed gratitude for the presentation and requested a simplified summary of key points. She specifically asked about the allocated budget for the past financial year, the current structure of the office, the number of recruits thus far, and the strategic positions that still need to be filled for the office to function optimally.

Chairperson Mabe emphasised the Committee's awareness of budget constraints over the past five years and the importance of understanding the path forward for the office. She invited Members to ask questions once the summary was provided.

Mr M Moletsane (EFF, Free State) sought further clarification on the issue of human capacity raised in the presentation. He asked whether the lack of sufficient budget and human capacity was due to the office being understaffed or if it stemmed from the existing staff lacking the necessary skills. Additionally, he questioned whether the overload of responsibilities might be causing staff Members to struggle to perform effectively. He requested clarification to better understand the situation.

Mr X Qayiso (ANC) expressed that he was satisfied with the earlier remarks made on both presentations. However, he raised concerns about the operations of the PBO without adequate resources. He emphasised the importance of considering this aspect. He then shifted focus to the last part of the presentation concerning staff and equipment. Mr Qayiso mentioned the need for clarity regarding the staff establishment and its associated costs. He inquired whether such a structure had been presented to the Committee or if it was forthcoming. Mr Qayiso stressed the importance of a clear and costed structure to effectively support the PBO's operations. He indicated that while he had covered other aspects in his earlier remarks, he sought clarification on this particular matter.

Chairperson Mabe expressed gratitude for any input from the Committee Members. She emphasised the crucial role of the PBO within Parliament and highlighted concerns about its lack of effective operation over the past decade. Chairperson Mabe questioned whether additional human resources for the PBO would result in duplication within the existing parliamentary structure. She stressed the need for tangible solutions to address the challenges faced by the PBO and urged the office to provide clear recommendations for moving forward. Chairperson Mabe underscored that the Committee's decisions would be reflected in their legacy report.

Chairperson Mahlangu urged the management of Parliament to carefully review the Committee's recommendations and concerns outlined in their reports. Chairperson Mahlangu emphasised the importance of incorporating these recommendations into the Seventh Parliament's agenda to improve their mandate, address expectations, and alleviate concerns from citizens, Members, and various organisations. She reflected on the progress made since the Fifth Parliament, acknowledging the initial challenges but highlighting the unity and cooperation that propelled them forward. Chairperson Mahlangu expressed her willingness to continue working collaboratively and thanked all those who supported the Committee's efforts. She urged officials from Parliament to review the reports and take action on the recommendations for the betterment of South Africa.

Mr B Radebe (ANC) acknowledged the significant progress made during the sixth Parliament, despite challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Radebe emphasised the importance of supporting the reports presented during the meeting, particularly regarding the financial allocation of Parliament, the review or amendment of relevant acts, and the structural relationship with Treasury. He suggested that the Joint Standing Committee could handle these matters through regulations rather than creating a new committee. Mr Radebe stressed the need for thorough engagement between the Committee and Treasury before budget allocations are finalised. He expressed optimism about the organisational realignment in the seventh Parliament and underscored the critical role of the PBO, urging compliance with relevant legislation. Mr Radebe called for proactive action to address funding issues and prioritise key areas for improvement in the upcoming Parliament. He concluded by thanking everyone involved in Parliament for their efforts.


Dr Jantjies expressed gratitude to the Committee Members for their questions and guidance. He acknowledged the importance of having more time to engage with the Committee to provide a comprehensive overview of the office's work and specific issues. Dr Jantjies highlighted that while the office has made progress and achieved its targets, there have been limitations in terms of resources and capacity.

He emphasised the need for a three-year planning cycle as required by legislation and expressed concern about the lack of mechanisms in place to support the office's operations effectively. Dr Jantjies clarified that the issue lies not in the competence of the staff but in the limited headcount and resources available to the office.

Regarding recruitment, Dr Jantjies explained that the office faces challenges in hiring due to its reliance on Parliament administration and the prioritisation of resources. He stressed the importance of providing support to Committees and influencing the budget but noted that capacity constraints have hindered these efforts.

Dr Jantjies addressed questions about staff competence, stating his pride in the competency of the team and attributing limitations to resource constraints rather than staff abilities. He highlighted the office's efforts to build capabilities to advise Parliament on budgetary impacts and expressed willingness to provide further information and engage more extensively with the Committee.

Dr Jantjies reiterated his commitment to providing support and contributing to the legacy report, emphasising the importance of understanding the office's functions and constraints in order to address its needs effectively.

Mr George expressed gratitude to the Chairperson and highlighted areas where Parliament could improve, emphasising the importance of realising the full potential of legislation and assessing its impact. He suggested that experimentation, both internationally and locally, along with benchmarking, could inform the strengthening of legislation.

Mr George noted the significance of tightening legislation to address specific issues, such as ensuring that budget offices have the necessary resources and capacity to be effective and accountable. He underscored the importance of accountability mechanisms in line with the macro framework of the Seventh Parliament, which focuses on outcomes and impacts.

He stressed the need for offices to be strengthened to assess unemployment, allocate budgets, and align with national development goals. Mr George highlighted the importance of addressing urgent issues related to reporting, accountability instruments, and coherence in parliamentary work to shift focus towards outcomes and impact. He looked forward to providing advice to the Seventh Parliament once established.

Chairperson Mabe expressed gratitude to the STP, acknowledging the progress made during their time in Parliament and emphasising the importance of attracting the best team to implement recommendations for the betterment of the legislature. She wished the STP well in their future endeavours and hoped for a strengthened legislature that could effectively hold the executive to account. Chairperson Mabe then invited Co-Chairperson Mahlangu to summarise the comments and close the meeting.

Chairperson Mahlangu emphasised the importance of reviewing and considering the recommendations and concerns raised in the reports presented and adopted by both Houses. She encouraged the team not to be too hard on themselves, acknowledging the progress made and urging them to continue working together in the same spirit.

She highlighted the impact of vacant positions, particularly on those in acting roles, noting that it affects decision-making and overall performance. She stressed the need to address these vacancies promptly while adhering to labour laws and regulations.

Chairperson Mahlangu appreciated the opportunity to work with the Committee and expressed her willingness to continue contributing if necessary. She acknowledged the positive impact made by the Committee and encouraged them to focus on improvement and consultation as they move forward.

The Committee Secretariat announced this would be their last meeting with the administration. She reminded everyone that the next Committee meeting to address Committee business is scheduled for 26 March 2024. Regarding the Legacy Report, she mentioned that in the previous Committee meeting, Members requested to submit their input in writing. However, after the two meetings held including the present meeting, the team would continue to make additions to the report based on the presentations received.

Chairperson Mabe proposed adjourning the meeting, noting that the next meeting would likely be the last. She suggested that during that meeting, Members could deliver farewell speeches, allowing each Member one or two minutes to reflect on their relationship over the past five years and the challenges they've faced. She then offered the floor to the STP for any final remarks or contributions.

Closing remarks

Mr George expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the Committee's work over the years, acknowledging the meticulous attention to various issues and engagements despite tremendous pressure. He specifically highlighted the Committee's focus on the reconstruction of Parliament, quarterly reporting on performance and finances, and guidance on key priorities for the Seventh Parliament. Mr George thanked the Committee for its support, respectful manner, and constructive feedback, which has helped the team to grow and improve. He expressed confidence that the upcoming Seventh Parliament will benefit from the strengthened resolve and ongoing engagement with the Committee. In conclusion, he thanked Chairpersons for their leadership and support, noting their role in creating a welcoming atmosphere for parliamentary management.

The Chairperson thanked the STP team, and the meeting was adjourned.


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