Report of the Select Committee on Local Government & Administration on Study Tour of Municipalities in Northern Cape

Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


12 September 2003

Mr B Mkhaliphi (ANC) [Mpumalanga]

Relevant document
Report by Interim Management Team (Appendix)

The Department outlined the Interim Management Team mandate in the Eastern Cape province, the challenges facing the province and the IMT, the IMT's proposed solutions to the challenges faced and the lessons learnt from the intervention. Members sought clarity on the reasons for the extensive use of consultants in the intervention, whether the interim government and the IMT itself was yielding results, the measures taken to bring ill-disciplined officials to book and the reasons for the low number of finalised disciplinary and corruption cases.

The Chair noted that no members of the actual Interim Management Team (IMT) in the Eastern Cape were present at the meeting, but the presentation would be made on their behalf.

Department of Public Service and Administration Presentation
Mr Khaya Ngema, DPSA Executive Director: Service Delivery Improvement, outlined the IMT mandate, the summary of the challenges facing that government and the IMT, the solution proposed by the IMT and the lessons learnt from the rehabilitation process.

Ms J Kgoali (ANC) [Gauteng] asked the Department to explain why it had taken on so many consultants when it had departmental staff that could have performed the same tasks. How would the Eastern Cape government then sustain the work done by those consultants when their work came to an end?

Furthermore, Ms Kgoali asked what portion of the budget had been absorbed by these consultants. It appeared that the bulk of the funds had been spent on consultants, and that only a minimal amount had been spent on establishing the necessary infrastructure

Mr Ngema replied that approximately a year ago the Department compiled a document on the extent to which consultants were used in the public service. This document also identified those sectors in which consultants tended to be used more extensively than others. The Department had taken a principled position that it would not accept that consultants could replace the capacity currently available in the public service.

It had to be borne in mind that some Departments could not avoid the use of consultants for certain functions. The extent to which they were used does become a problem, as well as the extent to which the department's managerial structures exercise over those consultants. The Department did therefore not object to the use of consultants by government departments. The Department had found that consultants were used in the IT operation especially, because budgets do not allow large allocations for IT. Consultants add value to the department and its operations if they are used correctly.

Kgoshi M Mokoena (ANC) [Limpopo] asked whether, in all honesty, there was still a government in the Eastern Cape.

Mr Ngema said that there was definitely a government in the Eastern Cape, and the IMT was currently in the process of migrating the work it had done over to that government. The process was thus sustainable. Whatever was achieved by this process it had to be remembered that there were many good people in that government, and this sort of excellence existed before the IMT intervened.

Kgoshi Mokoena asked whether it could honestly be said that the interim arrangement in the Eastern Cape was bearing fruits, because the IMT not only discovered problems with officials but also with the leadership structures of that provincial government. Had officials in the Eastern Cape government shown any willingness or readiness to improve the situation?

Mr Ngema replied that, as stated earlier in the presentation, a Joint Task Team had been established to drive the process forward, which consisted of members of the Eastern Cape government as well. The Department was thus confident that all these measures indicated that a turnaround could be achieved.

Mr P Maloyi (ANC) [North West] asked whether the fact that the intervention taken in the Eastern Cape was not of a legal nature meant that it was not an intervention in terms of Section 100 or 154 of the Constitution. If so, what were the possible limitations in those interventions, and what could this Committee do to assist matters?

Mr Ruan Kitshoff, DPSA Manager: Anti-Corruption and High Profile Cases, replied that this was done at the request of the Premier of the Eastern Cape, and had been done with the co-operation of the Eastern Cape government. It is not a Section 100 or Section 154 problem, but legislation is needed that would give effect to the options provided in those sections. This legislation simply had to state the direct assistance that had to be provided to that province and its local government structures, the method of the intervention and when it would take place.

Mr Maloyi asked whether the Department had any early warning systems in place so that it could implement Section 154-type interventions timeously.

Mr Kitshoff replied that the Department of Provincial and Local Government's Municipal Systems Act framework had a in-built warning system, but he was not sure of the exact nature of this mechanism.

Ms Kgoali asked the Department to explain how it had engaged the Trade Unions to ensure that, at the end of the day, government officials were committed to perform the work they were supposed to be performing so that the "culture of entitlement" was done away with..

Mr Kitshoff stated that the claims put in by government officials were put through a rigorous evaluation process, and the Department would not pay any claim that had not been verified by an internal function. Claims would no longer be paid out arbitrarily.

Ms Kgoali asked whether the principle of Batho Pele was being exercised in the Eastern Cape province. Furthermore, what could this Committee do to enhance the good work already being done in that province?

Mr Kitshoff replied that the IMT had designed a range of training initiatives, and an awareness programme was linked to the revitalisation of Batho Pele in the Eastern Cape. The success of the ethics and anti-corruption drive hinged on the Batho Pele campaign.

Ms C Botha (DA) [Free State] stated that the IMT had been appointed "to diagnose chronic administration problems" in the Eastern Cape, but the problem was that the solutions to remedy the problem would be presented back to the structure that had caused the current problems. Surely the culprit was supposed to be corrected? However, this did not seem to be the case. How wouldl the matter proceed from this point onwards?

Mr Kitshoff replied that this would be implemented by redeploying existing managers from a national level or from other provinces or institutions, and included a management strategy. Action would be taken against officials that had committed offences of gross misconduct. There were also those officials who had not committed such offences but who lacked the necessary capacity, and dedicated programmes would be introduced to resolve their weaknesses.

A range of mechanisms had been designed to ensure the success of the rehabilitation. These include ongoing monitoring of the situation, evaluations of the implementation of the remedial steps as well as a mechanism for reporting in the progress made. The Department was convinced that the impetus for the turnaround strategy was much more focused.

Kgoshi Mokoena stated that approximately two weeks ago teachers in the Eastern Cape stated that they had not been paid in a while, and asked whether this matter had since been resolved.

Mr Kitshoff replied that he was not certain what the decision of the Eastern Cape MEC for Education was in this regard. It was expected that a solution to the problem would be found by the end of the month.

Kgoshi Mokoena sought clarity on the measures that had been taken to bring the ill-disciplined officials to book.

Mr Ngema replied that the restructuring exercise highlighted significant reskilling that had to take place, and it also had to be considered whether it would be cost effective to uproot them from their current positions. Thus a balance essentially had to be struck between what would benefit the organisation and what would benefit the individual official. Furthermore, labour fairness dictated the order in which officials were to be retrained, and this was thus not being reinvented for the public service.

Kgoshi Mokoena asked whether the Department was on track to implement Resolution 7 by the stated deadline, 12 September 2003.

Mr Kitshoff said that these dates applied nationally, and thus all national and provincial departments had to comply. The Department was on track to meet deadline.

Kgoshi Mokoena stated that the IMT seems to be in favour of the early retirement of those officials, but is this really the answer to the situation.

Mr Ngema replied that these officials would not simply be displaced, but the strength and excellence currently existing within that provincial government would be retained and developed.

Kgoshi Mokoena requested a progress report on the follow-up action taken on the high levels of corruption that took place in the Eastern Cape.

Mr P Matthee (NNP) [Kwazulu-Natal] sought clarity on the figures for number of disciplinary cases being processed by the Disciplinary Cases Task Team (DCTT). The figures indicate that only 467 of the total 1098 cases were currently active, and only 172 of the cases had been finalised. Furthermore, only eighteen of the 374 cases being dealt with by the Joint Anti-Corruption Task Team (JACTT) had resulted in convictions. This inability to prosecute seemed to be at the heart of the problem, because officials were led to believe that they can act with impunity.

Mr Kitshoff stated that it had to be remembered that the disciplinary cases did not deal with corruption alone, but instead ranged between transgressions such as being intoxicated at work to the disciplinary cases. The disciplinary process within the Department did not allow legal practitioners to represent the offending officials, because the spirit of the process was to avoid any sort of legal procedure. Approximately 25 persons were currently dealing with the corruption cases, and officials in the legal departments involved could be included in the process if necessary.

The 172 cases indicated had been concluded, but they had to be followed up to ensure that the decision taken had been implemented. The 467 cases referred to those cases in which the disciplinary process was in place, but a final sanction was awaited. The aim here was to follow through with the cases with a view to ultimately capacitating the province to carry its own cases.

The same principle applied to the figures provided on the cases being dealt with by the JACTT. The corruption cases were more difficult to handle though because it was a criminal charge, and the burden of proof which had to be discharged was thus higher. Significant process had been made by the JACTT.

Mr Matthee asked whether there was a difference between the cases that had been concluded and those whose hearings had been finalised, because it still appeared that something was wrong.

Mr Kitshoff replied that when the JACTT commenced its task it was presented with a stack of finalised disciplinary cases which it thought had been completed, yet upon further investigation it became evident that the sanctions imposed had not been implemented at all. The JACTT was thus currently busy verifying the outcomes of those cases. The distinction to be drawn here was thus that the hearings have been finalised by the JACTT, and the other half of the cases were those cases from the Department that the JACTT was currently following up.

Mr Matthee asked whether any assessment had been made of the costs of these cases for both the province and the taxpayer.

Mr Kitshoff replied that this assessment had been done, but he unfortunately did not have the figures with him. The costs did not include the disciplinary cases though.

Ms N Kondlo (ANC) [Eastern Cape] sought clarity on when exactly the IMT foresees its intervention would yield benefits.

Mr Ngema replied that one had to be quite careful when dealing with this, because it could not be said that the IMT itself improved service delivery. Instead, the role of the IMT was to support the government departments in the Eastern Cape so that the departments themselves could be capacitated to improve service delivery. The role of the IMT was to identify problem areas in the specific government department, and to correct these problems so that the department would deliver. There had definitely been improvement since the IMT intervened, such as the progress made in the Social Development and Health Departments, but there remained problems that had to be corrected. Mr Ngema reiterated that the progress made was an achievement by the specific department itself, and not the IMT.

Ms Kondlo asked the Department to explain when it foresees the migration of officials from the IMT to the government departments in the Eastern Cape.

Mr Ngema answered in the affirmative, especially if it related to the provision of scarce skills. If this exercise was a success, it would be implemented further across different provinces. It was true that some of the problems were not unique to the Eastern Cape province, and the Department 'was in this intervention for the long haul'.

Ms Kondlo asked the Department to explain the processes it had initiated to ensure the public service supported the rehabilitation programme, so that the sustainability of the initiatives would persist beyond the lifespan of the IMT.

Mr Ngema replied that the a programme had been initiated which involved managers in a number of government departments in the form of a road show. The Department was thus busy engaging the public service in different ways.

Ms Kondlo sought further clarity on the "Roads and Public Works turnaround" in the presentation , especially the move towards relocating this mandate.

Mr Ngema replied that he did not have the full details on this matter, but stated that other provincial Public Works Departments had been engaged.

Mr Maloyi asked the Department to indicate any other shortcomings which the IMT was discovering in the Eastern Cape. Did the IMT have the necessary capacity to complete its evaluation by March 2004?

Mr Ngema replied that the willingness of the Eastern Cape government to drive this process forward had to be noted. The IMT could, in hindsight, have done with additional resources. But the most critical point to note was the willingness of that government to have the responsibility transferred to it.

The meeting was adjourned.

Parliament Information Services: Research
Summary of the Report by the Eastern Cape Interim Management Team
10 September 2003

1. Background to the Report
An Interim Management Team was appointed by President Thabo Mbeki late in 2002 to identify and diagnose chronic administrative and management problems in the Eastern Cape and to identify ways to turn them around. The Interim Management Team dealt with four provincial Departments out of eleven. The Team is accountable to the Premier of the Eastern Cape and through the Minister of Public Service and Administration, the President.

1.1 Socio-economic profile of the Eastern Cape
The Report of the Interim Management Team (IMT) notes that the Eastern Cape is characterised by uneven development which has resulted in a "bi-modal" economy composed of two relatively developed port cities and impoverished outlying rural areas. The seaports provide a small import substituting manufacturing sector, mainly auto manufacturing, while the rural areas provide the basis for a livestock economy.

1.2 Basic characteristics of the region (as at August 2003)
The Eastern Cape is home to 15,4% of South Africa's population. It is the poorest province in SA with a GGP per capita of only half the national average; 64% of the population live in poverty, meaning there is a household income of less than R800 per month; 43% of households earn less than R500 per month. The poverty rate rises as high as 80% in the former Transkei where households survive mainly on grants and allowances. There has been a gradual decline in the province's own revenue for the last three years but it has still been above budget expectations. However, the effect of overspending has been negative on the ability of the Eastern Cape to maintain a healthy surplus. Donor support projects exceed R500 million. About R 3.4 million has been targeted for infrastructure projects in the current financial year.

2. Mandate of the Interim Management Team (IMT)
The overall goal of the IMT is:

- To ensure that service delivery backlogs are addressed.
- To establish sound management and leadership in four target Departments: the Eastern Cape provincial Departments of Education, Health, Social Development and Roads and Public Works.

Their specific mandate is as follows:
- To establish turnaround plans for the four target Departments, including the elimination of service delivery backlogs.
- To address cross cutting issues such as disciplinary matters, procurement reform and human resource management.
- To establish appropriate management structures and "back office" or administrative support.
- To monitor the implementation of the turn around plans and other interventions and also the use of conditional grants.
- To execute mandates related to specific challenges granted by the Provincial Executive and Cabinet.

3. Structure of the IMT
The IMT is made up of the Director General of the Department of Public Service and Administration, the Director General of the Public Service Commission, Director General of the Eastern Cape and the Head of Department of the Provincial Treasury. The Joint Management Teams for each Department included specialists and consultants from the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), Public Service Commission (PSC), National Departments as well as Eastern Cape senior managers.

4. Workplan of the IMT
1. Preparation for IMT work took place between November 2002 and January 2003:
-Infrastructure was set up and teams were established.
- Legal options were assessed.

2. Problem analysis was done between January and February 2003:
-Partnership arrangements with key stakeholders such as the Joint Anti Corruption Task Team (JACTT) and the Auditor General were structured.
-The impact of previous initiatives was assessed.
-A thorough problem analysis was conducted.
-Opportunities for immediate success were identified.

3. Proposals for the way forward:
-Proposals for all identified problems were offered.
-Priorities were agreed on with the Executive Council.
-Priorities were costed and detailed implementation plans were developed.
-A comprehensive programme management system was developed.

4. Implementation from April 2003 - ongoing
-The visibility of delivery has been celebrated and has contributed to a culture of delivery.

5. Evaluation and exit - until March 2004
-Strategies for sustaining the implementation drive need to be developed.
-Evaluation needs to be done and an exit report needs to be drafted.

5. The approach of the Joint Management Teams (JMTs)
The JMT leaders worked together while the Head of Department of the Provincial Treasury (HOD) remained the accounting officer. The roles of the JMTs of each Department are now being assessed to improve their effectiveness.

The tasks of each JMT were to:

- Develop plans and strategies to address service delivery backlogs.
- Identify actions in the following areas:
-Leadership and Management.
-Finance and Administration.
-Human Resource Management.
-Service Delivery.
-Ethics and Cultural Issues.
- Implement the turn around plan of the Department.

6. Relationship with other Stakeholders
The IMT's operations are emerging as a model for integrated governance with a cross-departmental and cross-institutional sharing of skills and other resources. The IMT functions in close co-operation with and receives support from the following partners and stakeholders:
-The Joint Anti-Corruption Task Team (JACTT), led by the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP). The JACTT and NDPP attend to criminal matters arising from the IMT's work.
- Intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
- The Special Investigating Unit (SIU).
- Office of the Auditor General.
- The Centre for Public Service Innovation and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA).
- Other national and provincial Departments such as the national Department of Health, South African Management Institute (SAMDI) and the provincial Treasury of the Western Cape, who provide specific or cross cutting support.

7. Service delivery challenges
The poverty of the Eastern Cape province has a negative impact on service delivery. As in other under-developed regions, there is a high dependency on Government for socio-economic development in the Eastern Cape. The Eastern Cape bears the brunt of geographic disparities from a service delivery point of view. There is an oversupply of planning activity not matched by implementation capacity. Given the lack of widely available alternatives for socio-economic development, Government remains the major provider of:

- Infrastructure development;
- Services;
- Social security, and
- Opportunities that stimulate job creation.

Job creation and increased social security are not happening visibly fast enough.
While there are plans and resources for fast-tracking service delivery in under-serviced areas (such as the eastern region), the implementation of these plans remains frustratingly slow. There is often an inadequate focus on results and too much time spent on process.

Current stakeholder perceptions are negative with regard to the following aspects:
- Quality of leadership and management at departmental level.
- Quality of human resource management practices.
- Financial management and general administrative capacity.
- Ability to uphold ethics and reduce corruption.
- Reliability and dependability of public service to deliver on government priorities.
Overall effectiveness and efficiency of public service.

8. Analysis of previous interventions aimed at improving service delivery and capacity
Number of interventions being implemented as at December 2002:
Education: 28 different interventions
Social Development: 20 different interventions
Public Works: 13 different interventions
Health: 32 different interventions

8.1 Trends in findings from previous interventions
- There is a shortage of professional/managerial staff.
- Many managers are in acting positions.
- Human Resources management is weak.
- Financial management capacity is inadequate.
- Communication is poor.
- There are huge gaps between macro plans and operational plans.
- There is a culture of "shifting the blame".

8.2 Focus areas of the interventions
The interventions have focussed mainly on the following areas:
- Human resources (which include performance management, payment of backlogs, salary payments etc)
- Service delivery (specific areas such as the payment of grants)
- Financial resource management (payment of creditors, clearing of suspense accounts, budget reviews)

8.3 Analysis of interventions
An analysis of these interventions shows that different stakeholders are supporting similar types of activities. In addition, the repetitive nature of implementing activities may be attributed to the fact that consultants' contracts are not performance based.

9. Primary concerns of the IMT
- A change in behavioural patterns is lacking but is critical for the turn-around of the Departments.
- Managers continuously fail to take responsibility and are not displaying a strong sense of accountability. Managers, however, always view systemic inadequacies, interference by unions and stakeholders and historic challenges as the cause of problems.
- While Departments continually receive audit disclaimers, no action is taken against any manager and the problems are therefore never rectified.
- Personal responsibility is therefore continually distorted.
- Unions continue to have undue influence over managers and their decisions especially in Education.
- Very high levels of corruption are reported but there is limited follow through action.
- The culture of ill-discipline and acceptance of the poor work ethic manifests in behaviour such as absenteeism and unjustified demands for overtime pay.
- A culture of entitlement prevails.
- Managers rely significantly on outsiders for work that is normal business: donors and consultants are seen as the only solutions.
- The authority and power of the Tender Board far outweighs its level of accountability.

10. The approach of the IMT
- The approach of the IMT is comprehensive and integrated in the sense that it addresses both actual delivery and the conditions that make delivery possible.
- Their approach combines Department specific and province wide input.
-There are diverse and cross-cutting challenges that have to be addressed to make departmental delivery successful, for example financial management arrangements in the Province.
- Their approach combines both short and long term solutions.
-Some solutions can be implemented immediately but will only realise benefits in coming financial years.
-Some solutions can be implemented immediately and will realise immediate benefits.

11. Turnaround Strategy
The turnaround strategy to address service delivery backlogs for implementation by the administration of the four affected Departments is a mixture of initiatives in a number of areas outlined in 11.1 -11.9 below. The report sets out the significant achievements which have already been made in many of these areas.

11. 1 Strengthening back office or administrative support:
- Decentralising financial delegations back to Departments as from May 1.
- Delegating procurement powers up to R5 million.
- Sourcing back office support for two years based on output based contract.
- Sourcing will focus on financial management, systems, closing of books and expenditure management.
- This would include human resource management and cleaning of PERSAL database.
- Separating the process for document management.

11.1.1 Achievements in this area include:
- Financial delegations have been provided to departments in line with decentralisation decisions taken by the EXCO.
- Procurement delegations have been provided to the IMT and Departments with effect from 1 May 2003 and are being used for IMT work.
- Tenders were awarded for Phase 1, which will result in the development of a detailed service level agreement for Phase 2.

11.2 Improvement of internal controls and accountability:
- Decentralising the internal audit function.
- Departments would have to have their own Audit Committees.
- The internal audit capacity would be outsourced for the first year while capacity is being developed.
- A common audit plan and strategy for rolling out internal audit was developed

11.2.1 Achievements in this area include:
- Decentralisation is to be piloted in four JMT Departments; the tender has been awarded and work has begun.
- Guidelines have been developed and Departments are establishing audit committees.

11. 3 Improving Human Resource Management:
- Implementation of resolution 7 proposals.
- Filling of vacancies.
- Through a strategy for attracting scarce skills.
- Supporting services companies.
- Through incentives for professionals in rural areas.
- Through internships and a strategy for training people in scarce skills.

11.3.1 Achievements in this area include:
- Consultation on resolution 7 plans have been finalised. Affected staff were meant to be informed by August 22.
- The process of filling vacancies is to be concluded by September 2003.

11. 4 Improving Leadership and Management:
- Increasing management to at least 1% of social departments.
Competency profiling of all senior managers.
- Performance agreements for senior managers.
Initiating disciplinary processes for managers based on existing forensic and Auditor General reports.
- Through a workplace based management development programme.

11.4.1 Achievements in this area include:
- A management appointment process is ongoing.
- A competency profile of all managers has been completed and a final report is being prepared.

11. 5 Ethics and anti-corruption strategy:
- Through an advisory panel for disciplinary cases.
- Prosecutions for old and emerging cases.
- Through education and awareness programmes.
- Through the use of a hotline
- Through forensic audits.

11. 6 Rapid and visible service delivery:
- Through a service level agreement with Coega.
- Priority projects for six Departments.
- Through a framework for monitoring projects.

11. 7 Education:
- The turnaround strategy was based on twelve projects which included:
-Human resourcing and personnel expenditure.
-District development.
-Performance management.
-Financial services.
-Learning support material.
-Matriculation readiness.
-School nutrition programme.

It was necessary to change the management structure by establishing a project management structure and the infusion of managers deployed from national Departments. An interim Head of Department had to be appointed.

11. 8 Health
Three key focus areas:
- Improving the management of health services.
- Improving targeted front line health services in Eastern region.
- Improving back office support to health institutions.

11. 9 Roads and Public Works
The focus areas were roads and buildings and property but also human resources and corporate support and procurement and ethics within the Department.

The strategy focused on priority projects such as roads and buildings through area wide building and maintenance contracts as well as community based public works programmes.

12. Proposed turn around: Social Development
- To review current leadership and management cadre.
To rid the Department of corrupt officials.
To implement initiatives to remove service delivery bottlenecks, particularly to speed up grants registration and the disbursement of welfare grants.
To celebrate short-term achievements with aggressive targeted communications.

13. Proposed turn around: long term
The long-term transformation will take place on three levels:
- A reconfiguration of how the Department interacts with the public - also known as "the front office".
- Helping the Department to make the shift from a welfare to a developmental paradigm.
- A redesign of the Department's back office, especially setting up a processing center in the Department and establishing a contract management center outside the Department but managed by the Department.

14. Progress with Departmental turnaround plans
- Implementation has begun and there has been progress in certain areas.
- Budgeting issues are hindering progress but initiatives are underway to solve this problem.
- Some concerns are also emerging with regard to the buy-in of certain Departments in implementing the turnaround plans.

15. Challenges/Risks to the turnaround exercise
-The required budget to implement the turn around is approximately R 240 million.
-Departmental and cross-cutting interventions will be funded from savings/underspending.
-Departments are busy finalising these allocations, but are experiencing difficult in balancing ongoing work and commitments.
-The success of the turn-around requires the buy-in and support of Departments.
-Management structures must be revised.
-The co-operative nature of the model requires effective lines of accountability, good communication and funding.

16. Exit of the IMT
The IMT is concurrently developing a critical structure through monitoring and evaluation mechanisms and effective management structures as well as a dedicated function located in the OTP to drive and monitor the progress after March 2004.

17. Emerging Lessons/Themes
- Some solutions will only realise their full impact over time.
- Sound administrative practices are necessary for high level activities to function well.
- A sound foundation is necessary for effective delivery and possible policy shifts.
- National and provincial Departments should be exposed to new ways of delivery through partnerships, alternative service delivery and through the use of Information Technology (IT)
- In order to complete the delivery chain local government needs to be included in turn around strategies. However, the current legislative framework hampers this integration.
- The cooperative model currently applied in the Eastern Cape has limitations and alternative models need to be available for similar interventions. This requires that interventions mandated by the Constitution, Act No. 108 of 1996, be made possible in flexible legislation.


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