Public Service Commission Report on Home Affairs Department; TEBA Briefing

Home Affairs

19 June 2001
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Meeting report

 

HOME AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
20 June 2001
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION REPORT ON HOME AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT; TEBA : BRIEFING

Chairperson: Mr. Mokoena (ANC)

Documents Distributed:
Public Service Commission Presentation
TEBA Presentation

Relevant Documents:
PSC Report on Examination of Department of Home Affairs (Oct. 1999-March 2000)

SUMMARY
The Public Service Commission presented its report on the operations of the Department of Home Affairs (October 1999 - March 2000). The report focused on administrative problems and made recommendations which would facilitate more efficient operation of the Department in accordance with "Batho Pele" principles, that is, putting "people first" - both Department staff and customers.

The main recommendations included the need for fundamental re-engineering of all business processes, and the design and implementation of a performance management system. As a result of Department leadership's commitment to better performance, some improvements have already become apparent. This trend will hopefully become more evident when a follow-up report is prepared.

TEBA (The Employment Bureau of Africa Ltd) presented its role in the SA mining industry and on how mineworkers are recruited. A key purpose of TEBA's briefing was to categorically refute the allegations made to the Committee concerning its involvement in the recruitment of illegal workers, and its role in corrupting Department officials in that process.

MINUTES
The Public Service Commission was represented by Prof Sangweni, Deputy Director General Dr R Levin, and Ms. Faure. Prof Sangweni noted the delay in the publication of the Report, after completion of the data collection process fifteen months ago, was due to "regrettable publication problems". This would hopefully not recur when the Public Service Commission moves to the next phase in facilitating improvement of the Department's performance. The Report should not be viewed narrowly, but as a "comprehensive and far-reaching diagnostic tool" producing recommendations to improve service delivery by the Department. The presentation highlighted the methodology applied to the analysis, and the resulting recommendations.

Dr. Levin supplemented the text by noting that despite the Department having been targeted for an "intervention", it was not the only government structure which had not formerly adhered to Batho Pele principles, and that a culture of such adherence needs to be inculcated within many departments. There had not yet been a formal follow-up "audit" of the Department. However the informal post-Report follow-up reveals that there has been an effort to implement a strategic plan based on the Public Service Commission findings. This is particularly in the areas of service delivery and maximization of human resource efficiency, with implementation of the recommendations via the corrective Project Tiro initiative.

Discussion
After the presentation the Chair noted that depending on the inflection in pronunciation, "Batho Pele" can either mean "people first" or "where are the people?" He asked if, in the Report's jargon, the terms "re-design", "re-engineering", and "restructuring", are synonymous.

The Professor stated that "restructuring" refers to internal bureaucratic reorganization. "Re-engineering" concerns how business is carried out, such as the planned devolution of civic services delivery from the Department to local governments.

Dr. Levin elaborated that "service process re-engineering" refers to the streamlining of "nitty-gritty, nuts and bolts" delivery functions, and that "re-design" encompasses both "re-engineering" and "restructuring."
Transformation is a goal of Project Tiro, and that a program to combat fraud within the Department is being developed. The Public Service Commission is willing to assist with this.

Dr Levin agreed that the lack of a Department Director General during the data-gathering period contributed to the problems observed. The subsequent filling of that post had led to performance improvements. Department budget constraints should not prevent implementation of Project Tiro. While no time had been finally determined for preparation of a formal follow-up report, it was hoped that it might be conducted later this year.

Mr Grobelaar (DP) asked if the Department problems are less financially based, despite perpetual complaints about underfunding, and more attributable to inefficiencies. He suggested that the difficulties are largely a function of the need to "work smarter".

In response Levin indicated that, at least partially, improved performance is a function of working smarter, adding that it cannot be unequivocally stated that the Department is not adequately staffed.

Replying to other questions from Grobelaar, Levin went on to indicate that judicious reliance by the Department on outside consultants was useful, as necessary. The Department's new staff training initiatives, and assistance from SAMDI and SITA, were helpful but cannot fill all needs.

Mr Waters (DP) asked if the use of converted Spoornet containers to bring Department services to rural areas had been co-ordinated in conjunction with delivery of services by other departments. Also was the Department still "strangling itself in internal red tape". Speaking to the latter point, Levin indicated that this is what the PSC was trying to fix.

Mr Beukman (NNP) asked if the PSC is assisting in the development of Department leadership, and what the PSC's view was of the level of unfilled Department posts. Levin replied that the PSC is assisting in leadership development and that while budgeting for staff is a problem issue productivity has increased, and can be further improved.

Mr. Mathebe (ANC) indicated that in his rural constituency there are many empty Department offices, but no deployment of staff despite repeated requests. In reply it was noted that while the PSC cannot speak for the Department, it can be said that staff redeployment involves strategic planning, for example, the allocation of IT assets.

Responding to Mr. Mfundisi (UCDP), it was noted that an internal Department audit unit was in place and functioning. Mr Mfundisi pointed out that there had been 248 formal labor grievances filed by Department staff. He queried what percentage of the Department staff had filed these complaints.

The Chair tried to conclude the discussion at this point due to time constrainst. However Mr Waters and Mr Beukman objected to questions having been left unanswered. In reply the Chair noted that PSC officials would return during the next parliamentary session.

Refutation of Corruption Allegations by TEBA Ltd.
The Chair noted that TEBA had been invited because its policy of making deferred payments to mineworkers had been noted during public hearings and to respond to Mr Gabarone's May 30 allegations concerning TEBA's involvement in recruitment of illegal workers and related corruption of Department officials.

Dr. Herbert’s prepared text explained TEBA's role in recruiting foreigners to work in South African and other mines. He described TEBA's role in facilitating provision of labour for the SA mining industry. In categorically denying Mr Gabarone's allegations, Herbert emphasized that its recruiting activities adhere to inter-governmental agreements. At the practical level there are many checkpoints within the systems which prevent the kinds of abuses Gabarone alleged. He stressed the contribution which TEBA makes to the economies of SA and neighbouring countries and its role as a delivery agent for a range of "social services" to mineworkers and their families via its well-developed infrastructure of offices in rural areas. TEBA had recently been identified by the government as an important agent for rural redevelopment which is such a critical part of government's overall economic program. In conclusion Herbert reiterated that Gabarone's statements are "groundless allegations", and noted that TEBA welcomes further scrutiny of its activities.

The Committee decided that in order to progress on the issue, both Mr Gaberone and TEBA representatives should be present.

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