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JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
23 May 2007
OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC PROTECTOR ANNUAL REPORT 2006/07
Acting Chairperson: Mr G Magwanishe (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Office of the Public Protector Annual Report 2006/7 PowerPoint Presentation
The Office of the Public Protector briefed the Committee on its annual report and financial statements for the 2005 and 2006 financial years, as well as giving a separate presentation on the forecasts for 2007/08. Full details were included in the report of performances, statistics, financial performance in 2005/06, challenges, collaboration with other institutions and plans for the way forward. Its mandate of the OPP was to assist in strengthening constitutional democracy by investigating maladministration, undue delays, abuse of power or any conduct that would result in prejudice by an organ of State. The Office of the Public Protector had shown significant growth and additional offices were planned to reach the rural people. There was still a malfunctioning of the case management system, and the Minister had been asked to assist in finalising the matter. An audit firm had been hired to check statistics. There had been unqualified audits by the Auditor General. Full statistics were provided, for each of the financial years, of cases, samples of turnaround times, gender and race staff profiles, financial performance, economic classification of spending, and challenges. The budget for the next three years indicated a drop in years two and three. The office had not spent fully in the last year and had requested a deferment of funds to 2007/08.
Members expressed concern over the shortcomings in the IT system, noting that the Public Protector's apology that he himself was not proficient enough to comment fully was not an excuse. Members asked for clarity on the mandate, on what was meant by malfunctioning of systems, the costs of the audit, and the reason for closing down the old system. Further questions were asked on the internal audit, whether departments were cooperating, the relationship with the Government Communication offices, a breakdown of those offices that were under investigation, the nature of complaints, the new communications director post, the clinics, and the necessity to clear the backlogs. Members commented that the pie charts did not present the matters very clearly, and questioned the skills audit, spending, the cases taken on "own initiative", whether the office would become involved in litigation, the case statistics and trends, and whether there was overlap with other institutions. The Committee indicated approval of the clean audit, the reduction in turnaround time and the lower-than-average vacancy rate and staff turnover.
Briefing by the Public Protector
Advocate Lawrence Mushwana, Public Protector (PP) stated that in his presentation he would focus on three points, although full details were included in the report of performances, statistics, financial performance in 2005/06, challenges, collaboration with other institutions and plans for the way forward. He summarised that the mandate of the OPP was to assist in strengthening constitutional democracy by investigating maladministration, undue delays, abuse of power or any conduct that would result in prejudice by an organ of State.
In the past year the Office of the Public Protector (OPP) had shown significant growth in expansion and composition of its staff members. Two additional offices were opened in George and the other Siyabuswa. Further offices should have been opened but administrative problems prevented this; however OPP had already appointed staff in the respective areas in anticipation of the offices opening shortly. All additional offices were planned to reach the rural people.
The second issue was the malfunctioning of the case management system. This continued to be a huge problem and OPP was still engaging with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and had now had to request the help of the Minister. OPP had been unable to appoint an IT manager, partially because its low salary scales were uncompetitive. An IT manager was finally appointed on 16 April and was currently working on the case management system. OPP had been forced to use a manual filing system, and as a result its statistics were not accurate. A manual filing inspection revealed discrepancies in number of cases carried over and OPP subsequently hired an audit firm to perform a complete audit to correct the faulty statistics. He added that OPP investigated a number of high profile cases, which it tried to finalise as quickly as possible. OPP had reduced the turnaround time and promised to continue to improve on the turnaround period of cases. Adv Mushwana was pleased to advise that OPP had received a clean audit report from the Auditor General (AG) without any matters of emphasis
Full statistics were given in the presentation of all cases, samples of turnaround times, gender and race staff profiles, financial performance for 2005/06, economic classification of spending, and challenges in 2005/06. The performance on the 2006/07 strategic objectives was defined and described, and statistical overviews of cases given. The communications and marketing programmes, outreach projects, corporate service and IT achievements and human resource representation was set out. Challenges included the poorly functioning IT system, and the need to request deferment of funds to 2007/08. OPP proposed that in the coming years its organizational framework would be lean and professional, and that it would follow a project and thematic approach for investigations. Mobile offices would be piloted in this period. The strategic goals were set out in detail.
Mr J Van der Merwe (IFP) asked why it was taking so long for the OPP to implement an updated IT system since the situation as it stood was a cause for concern.
Adv Mushwana replied that OPP was concerned about this but was not simply sitting back. . There was documentation to show that OPP was doing its best but he was not an IT specialist. This was a situation beyond his control and he could not think of anything OPP could have done over and above what he had already done. He assured the Committee that there was now an IT manager who was working on the issue and by the end of the year the system would be fully operational. Despite this problem, he said that there was no prejudice suffered and the only problem was the faulty statistics which forced OPP to have a manual inspection of files to check the numbers of cases.
Mr L Joubert (DA) asked for the cost of the specialized audit.
Adv Mushwana replied that he had not yet received the cost of the audit.
Ms S Camerer (DA) asked why OPP listed as its mandate to assist parliament, when it was an independent body that was supposed to promote constitutional democracy, which rather reported to and received its budget from parliament.
Adv Mushwana replied that he had understood that everyone understood the functions of the OPP, which was to carry out its mandate independently. He had meant that OPP and parliament together had a role to promote constitutional democracy. He said that the problem might be in the wording, but not in the understanding. He pointed out that his first language was not English.
Ms Camerer asked for clarity on what was meant by malfunction.
Adv Mushwana replied that when he joined the OPP in 2003 the system in place was called ombudsman. This was an IT program that recorded cases. Along the way this system stopped functioning properly and SITA, who was in charge of servicing the IT system, informed OPP that the parts for the old system were no longer available and resultantly OPP had to replace the system. SITA, while in the process of implementing a new system, automatically shut down the old one. The replacement took longer than anticipated and the new system could not take off on the due date. SITA sent in experts to fix the problem but to no avail. In addition, the payment became due to SITA and an amount of R500 000 was paid for a system that was yet to work. As a result OPP had been in dispute with SITA ever since. Since he was not an IT expert there was nothing that Adv Mushwana could do and he went to the Minister for assistance in ensuring that SITA provided the requisite IT support they were entitled to as a state institution. OPP was extremely concerned by the current state of affairs. The other problem was the acquisition of an IT manager as highlighted already, although one was not appointed. The IT manager was working on the problem and OPP was confident that by the end of the year the IT system would be fully operational.
Imam G Solomon (ANC) remarked that the Constitution set out the mandate and in its own words the OPP as well as the other Chapter 9 institutions were there to support a constitutional democracy. He added that he fully appreciated the problem regarding the IT system and he approved of the idea of having an audit before the new IT manger took over.
Mr Joubert remarked that he was a bit surprised that the PP was unaware of the price of the audit as he had arranged for it.
Adv Mushwana replied that the financial people were better equipped to give the cost of the audit.
Mr Joubert asked why OPP had shut down the old system rather than leaving the old and the new system to run concurrently. This would also have been the best way of checking on which was the preferable system.
Mr Van der Merwe agreed with Mr Joubert that the IT status was unsatisfactory, especially as OPP were using taxpayer’s money and they were still not operational. As a result they had not only lost the money but had also left parliament and themselves open to criticism. The fact that the PP was not an IT specialist was not a good enough excuse; Mr van der Merwe was in a similar situation himself but managed to get an IT system up and running within about a month.
Adv Mushwana replied that these were personal viewpoints and he would not answer to them. Indeed the implementation of the new system was taking longer than anticipated but he maintained this was not the fault of OPP. It was SITA that was delaying and OPP had documentation to prove that they were trying to rectify the situation as best as they could.
2005/06 Financial Statement Briefing
Ms P Mogaladi, Senior Manager, Executive Support, OPP, told the Committee that her presentation was going to cover the financial years, which were 2005/06, 2006/07 and 2007/08, and that she would concentrate on performance. In 2005/6 five strategic objectives were defined, which were investigations and reporting, corporate services, communications, outreach, the learning organization and information technology. Each of these was further divided into sub-programmes of strategic objectives. Service delivery had been a major element. Of the nine systematic investigations, three had been finalised, and there were 24 formal and special reports issued. In all the cases of the OPP that had remedial recommendations or findings, the managers would do follow up. OPP started to draft a manual in 2005/06, which was finalised in 2006/07. A classification of cases was developed and this input was going to be used to develop a costing model in 2006/0.
Under Corporate Services OPP had three sub projects. Objectives of the OPP remuneration policy and strategy were defined and were being implementing. A skills audit and analysis of staff was deferred to 2006/07. A healthcare consultant was appointed to start implementing their HIV/AIDS strategy and policy. In order to improve senior management OPP embarked on the coaching and mentoring of 8 female senior managers. It also embarked on a preliminary audit of the HRM, which was finalised, and the review of the management system was still ongoing. Training was ongoing, and OPP had defined its own security strategy and had appointed a security manager.
OPP had appointed a firm of accountants as internal auditors. Internal controls were reviewed to ensure compliance and to avoid risks. All the financial policies were developed and adopted by management and a Supply Chain Management unit was established in May 2005 and was fully functional. Communications was defined as an objective and OPP had drafted an internal and external strategy, to be finalised in 2006/07. In international relations, the OPP was the secretariat for the African Ombudsman Association and in 2005 had hosted a conference of African ombudsman. It had established formal relations with the Government Communication and Information Service (GCIS) and had engaged with the Department of Foreign Affairs to assist it in protocol training.
She reiterated what the PP had said earlier about attempts to reach the rural areas, resulting in the opening of new offices. OPP also collaborated with the Multi Purpose Community Centres (MPCC), had 78 clinics in all the nine provinces, and had received about 1634 complaints. Despite the failure of the case management system OPP had developed and adopted IT policies and the IT disaster recovery plan.
Ms Mogaladi stated that OPP had received about 17 415 new cases in the financial year 2005/06 and had finalised about 17 619 cases. A full breakdown was given of the cases, the sample turnaround time, and the age of the cases. About 59% were finalized within three months and only about 2% were older than two years.
The pie charts were presented on the representation at the senior management and showed the present state of employment equity at the top echelon of management. African males and females were at 33% each, white females at 19%, white males at 10% and Indians at 5%. The overall representation of all the groups in the OPP showed that the African male was the dominant gender with just over 42%, followed by the African female with 37.3%.
The unaudited financial statements for this period indicated a budget of R69.4 million and spending of R61,3 million. The surplus had been earmarked for projects. Full details of comparative budgets and spending were given since 2002.
Imam Solomon asked why the CFO had not established an internal team of auditors.
Ms Mogaladi replied that the PMFA regulations made provisions for an audit committee that had external members and a provision that an institution either appoint a team of internal auditors or outsource from external auditors. The auditor’s job would be to support the accounts officer and the other departments and OPP had appointed Sizwe Ntsalaba to perform this task. External audit members were also appointed to perform a review on a quarterly basis, although OPP did not have an internal audit team to oversee the CFO and the respective departments.
The Acting Chairperson asked if OPP had systems in place to capacitate their own internal audit team and for how long it was intended to use an external team.
Mr Z Docrat , Chief Financial Officer, OPP, replied that the contract with Sizwe Ntsulaba was to end in 2010. Nevertheless it was not feasible to capacitate a full internal audit just yet because of the size, the nature and the skills required for the job. As a result OPP needed to outsource the skills.
Mr Joubert asked if OPP got full co-operation from all the departments they investigated, and, if not, wanted a break down of the notorious departments.
Ms Mogaladi replied that generally the co-operation was very good but there were some departments that were notorious for stalling and submitting information late, such as the Department of Home Affairs. Matters had improved of late.
Adv Mushwana added that the co-operation was fairly good, as he had never needed to use a subpoena to ensure co-operation. The only time this was threatened was against the Premier of the Western Cape,but this warning prompted a quick response. The delays faced were concerned with cash payments, such as late payments of pensions. As a result OPP would be holding a conference with relevant stakeholders in order to come up with a solution as to how best to deal with the issue.
Ms Camerer asked why OPP felt it needed to have a relationship with government communication, when essentially GCIS was government and OPP was an independent body. Moreover, she wanted to know when the relationship was established and the nature of that relationship.
Mr Charles Phahlane, Senior Manager, Communications, OPP, replied that he reported to the PP, but in terms of administrative issues he reported to the CEO. He added that the relationship with GCIS was essential because GCIS had extensive experience in media monitoring and business, which OPP could tap into. If OPP needed information on media briefings they were available from GCIS and GCIS was also assisting OPP in developing internal communications. For OPP to establish such a system independently would be costly, and it needed such support owing to the wide distribution network. GCIS would also assist with distributing documents to the public.
Mr Joubert asked if they could get a breakdown of the government departments and institutions they normally investigated.
Ms Mogaladi replied it was unfortunate that OPP did not have this information as in the previous financial years it did not take down the statistics but she added that for financial year 2006/07 this statistical breakdown was available.
Ms N Mahlawe (ANC) asked about the nature of the complaints normally received at the clinics.
Ms Mogaladi replied that she did not have the information at hand, but OPP did have detailed information at the classification of the nature of complaints.
Adv Mushwana added that the complaints were mostly ordinary complaints despite the impression created through the media that OPP dealt with mostly high profile cases. The bulk of the complaints were issues such as late delivery of IDs and delays in the application of grants. Home Affairs was rather problematic. He cited one particular case where the records were so mixed that it might be necessary to resort to DNA testing to establish identity.
Ms Camerer asked when the new communications director was appointed, his salary scale and the role he played in the management system.
Ms Mogaladi replied that he was appointed on 1June 2007, and the previous senior manager for communications had left. The communications manager’s salary was the equivalent of a public director’s salary, which was R502 000 per annum, and he was part of the management system.
Mr Mushwana added that the former communications manager’s contract was not confirmed owing to non-performance. This manager had been under probation but his work was not up to scratch. Good communications and IT managers were now on the same salary scales as the DDGs, and OPP had had to cast the net wide.
Ms Mahlawe asked who serviced the clinics and what issues did they address at the clinics.
Ms Mogaladi replied that the investigative staff went out to the clinics once a month to service the clinics and their primary job was to receive complaints and to provide information.
The Acting Chairperson asked if OPP had reached its goal of appointing 2% disabled.
Ms Mogaladi replied that it had not yet reached the 2% target, and was still at 1%.
Ms Camerer asked how far OPP had gone with the classification and the costing model, and how OPP would deal with a cost overrun of a case.
Mr Joubert remarked that even though OPP had finalized 200 cases above the ones received it still had a serious backlog.
The Acting Chairperson informed the OPP that the Committee would require, in writing, the nature of the complaints and the departments that were not co-operative.
Ms Camerer asked about the vacancy rate since it was not mentioned in the presentation.
Ms Mogaladi replied during the current financial year the vacancy rate was 12% and the staff turnover was 7.4%
Ms Camerer wanted to know if the women appointed were qualified for the job in the light of the fact that there were 8 women who were being mentored.
Ms Mogaladi replied that the mentoring and coaching programme had nothing to do with skills. It was an additional support for the acceleration of managerial skills. The situation had improved between 2003, when there was only one black woman in a managerial post to 2005, when there were about five women in managerial positions.
Ms Camerer remarked that the pie chart on cases did not show whether this was a representative sample.
Ms Mogaladi replied that it was a representative sample but not all cases were used.
Ms Camerer asked if OPP could elaborate on some areas that might need systematic investigations.
Adv Mushwana replied that some of the systematic investigations revolved around the case backlogs, especially in the areas of appeals. This was because people generally did not know how to deal with appeals. He did not know to what extent this was linked to lack of capacity in the prisons and lack of knowledge on the part of prison officials. OPP had therefore had to conduct workshops in prisons. However, its main concern was not to finalise cases but to get to the root cause of the problem.
Imam Solomon asked if the lack of co-operation from the government was a cause for concern.
Adv Mushwana replied that the co-operation had not reached the stage where OPP had to use their powers of subpoena but that there was a lack of co-operation. A threat to subpoena would normally result in response
Ms Camerer asked if OPP picked up anything during the skills audit.
Ms Mogaladi replied that nothing in particular had been identified other than the general need to improve and complement skills.
Financial Overview 2005/06
Mr Z Docrat gave the financial overview for the year 2005/06. He said that the total money OPP received was R55.12 million and because it was handling a lot of high profile cases it had requested and received an additional budget of R3.5 million from the Department of Justice. Interest income amounted to R628 000. An additional R3 000 was received on assets. The expenditure for the financial year was tabled and it was noted that the difference between these calculations and the ones in the annual reports was that depreciation and capital expenditure had not been included. The AG audited these figures and OPP received an unqualified audit. The economic classification was tabled. In terms of performance OPP had still to fulfill some of its strategic objectives, which it was to carry over from previous years.
Ms Camerer asked how OPP spent the capital expenditure, and how it would like to spend.
Mr Docrat replied that most of the R1.7 million was spent in furnishing the two new offices and the other money that was transferred from public works was used when moving offices
Imam Solomon asked how OPP felt about its financial position because it was a clear fact that one of the reasons it was unable to fulfill their objectives was because of financial constraints.
Adv Mushwana replied that the two questions were quite fundamental. There was a lot that needed to be done as many people were still not aware of the OPP, or often confused this office with the Public Prosecutor. In addition OPP was being forced at times to hold back on cases in the outreach, because an increase in cases meant a corresponding increase in the financial budget. The European Union (EU) had made a comprehensive study of the institution and had assisted with creating an additional unit in the OPP, being an outreach unit headed by a chief director with nine other employees. The EU was funding this for the next two years but OPP would thereafter need to take it over. These were the areas where OPP needed to collaborate with NGOs, but unfortunately some were stretching themselves already. OPP also had to refrain from too much outreach because it also needed to write up the reports of finalised cases, which was very time consuming, and it had been found by the EU that the data base in the library was insufficient. OPP could not venture into a lot of areas it would have wanted because of the lack of money.
Financial Statements 2006/07 Year
Ms Mogaladi continued with the presentation for the 06/07 financial year. In this year OPP defined four strategic goals of investigations and reporting, communication services, corporate support services and knowledge management information technology. The sub-programmes and strategic objectives were tabled in the presentation. The statistical overview showed that OPP received 12 629 in 2006/07, a decline on the previous year. It had finalised 13 434 cases. 67% of complainants were male, and 33% female. The average turnaround had dramatically dropped with 53% of cases finalized within three months.
Communications marketing was identified as a priority, and the steps taken were detailed. Outreach included investigations of about 73 clinics and OPP had received about 1759 complaints there, and had also opened regional offices in the Northern and the Eastern Cape and identified areas of collaborations with other institutions. The outreach clinics and information sessions were detailed on graphs. The implementation of the remunerations strategy was still ongoing. The introduction of additional regional offices was now deferred to the next financial year. Information technology and knowledge management was still a challenge and OPP had not achieved anything due to the fact that IT was malfunctioning. The human resources representation at senior management level was tabled, and Ms Mogaladi indicated that retention of senior management staff was a challenge, as these were constantly being poached. OPP had requested to defer finds to 2007/08. The unaudited financial statements for this period indicated a budget of R69.4 million and spending of R61,3 million. The surplus had been earmarked for projects. Full details of comparative budgets and spending were given since 2002.
Ms Camerer remarked that the graphs and the pie charts were deceptive, as they did not show the actual breakdown.
Ms M Meruti (ANC) agreed with Ms Camerer, noting that the pie charts did not show the actual gender and racial breakdown at the upper management levels.
Ms Mogaladi replied that the breakdown was available in some of the documents with the Committee.
Mr Joubert asked for the explanation of own initiative and asked for an example and the criteria they used to pick them
Adv Mushwana replied that these were everyday cases OPP took up on its own initiative, without a report having been made specifically. There was no particular criteria in choosing these cases, but many were picked up from newspapers, especially the Sun. One was a case where OPP represented a woman whose trial kept on being postponed, so that she was facing an extensive time in jail if the situation continued. OPP took on the case and was successful in having the matter concluded.
Ms Meruti asked if OPP also accommodated issues such as alcohol abuse in their employee wellness policies.
Adv Mushwana replied that OPP indeed made provisions for alcohol abuse. However, since his appointment, there was only one instance where this had occurred. Mostly the health service centred on HIV/AIDS policies.
Ms Camerer asked why the North West had a lot of clinics when it was obvious that they had fewer complaints.
Adv Mushwana replied that he could not give an accurate answer because OPP had yet to do an analysis of why this was so. He speculated that it could be that as the people became more knowledgeable about how they themselves could take action their complaints should drop. As a rule, if an area began to generate few complaints, then it should naturally have fewer clinics. He was going to look into the situation.
Ms Mahlawe remarked that in the northern areas of the Eastern Cape there were no clinics. She was positive that in these areas the people might not be aware of the OPP and she asked if OPP could not consider opening some clinics in the area.
Adv Mushwana replied that the CEO came from the area and he was sure that OPP would be attempting to open up clinics there.
Imam Solomon asked if there was overlap in the areas of investigations since OPP seemed to have joint mandates or ventures with other Chapter 9 institutions, such as the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).
Adv Mushwana replied the areas of overlap were relatively few and this was because the institutions dealt with different issues. The OPP was there to ensure delivery of service, ensuring that the services should be done speedily and qualitatively. The SAHRC dealt with all the human rights issues so the chances of overlap were very minimal.
Imam Solomon asked that since OPP was involved with the EU, how it was accounting for the funds.
Adv Mushwana replied that the EU currently had a working committee that dealt with this, but any money OPP received was accounted for in the normal way. He added that the finance department could give a more detailed answer.
Ms Meruti asked why there were a high number of complaints from males, as she assumed that females probably experienced more problems as primary care-givers for families.
Advocate Mushwana replied he did not have a full answever, he noted that most of the complaints centred around criminal appeals, and on mine workers' issues. The majority of prisoners and miners were male.
Ms Mogaladi added that OPP had been to prisons in an effort to analyse why there were fewer complaints from females but could not identify the reason.
The Acting Chairperson asked if OPP regulated internet abuse the same way they regulated telephone abuse and, since it worked in conjunction with other Chapter 9 institutions, if consideration had been given to using an intranet.
Ms Mogaladi replied that internet abuse was regulated by the IT policy, and that this was a challenge.
Ms Meruti asked if the institution faced the same problems as other institutions in losing staff.
Ms Mogaladi replied that OPP was not immune, especially since it had a low scale of salaries. This was so bad that OPP had had to appoint a new CFO every year.
Adv Mushwana added that this was exacerbated by females in managerial positions being in high demand.
Financial Overview 2006/07 Briefing
Mr Docrat informed the Committee that the figures for the financial year 06/07 were yet to be audited so they were subject to change. The budget allocation was R67.7 million and substantial interest was generated of R1,3 million. An amount of R360 000 was described as a rollover. In fact this was more like cost adjustments. The expenditure was tabled. OPP was projecting to spend R61million despite the fact that it had an allocation of R67million. On economic classification he apologized for the mistake in the numbers, which should read as 67% for the staff, 27% for goods and services and 6% on capital expenditure. OPP was projecting a surplus of R8 million. This was not because it was unable to spend the funds allocated but because OPP needed this money to fund the objectives that had been deferred to the subsequent years. There was a conscious decision to earmark the surplus, as without it the carried over objectives were not able to be realised. OPP had received substantial increases in the budget because it was rapidly growing. The MTEF budget overview showed an increase of about 16% in the year 2007/08 but this would be followed by a decrease in the financial years 2008/09 and 2009/10. This decrease would inevitably mean a decrease in the number of investigations and OPP needed to cover this deficit.
Ms Camerer remarked that she could not quite reconcile the fact that OPP's budget was set to decrease when it had been one of the few institutions that could boast of a rapidly rising budget in the past seven or so years. She was not averse to the budget increases but was concerned that it had complained when in fact it had received a good deal.
Mr Docrat replied that the decrease in the investigations must be understood in the light of the fact that OPP had taken on more high profile cases, which took more resources than the ordinary cases. Secondly, unlike other departments, OPP was growing at a rate of two offices per year and they had to sustain this growth. Lastly, despite the inflation of about 6%, OPP had needed to continue with the public awareness campaign. All these factors had a bearing on the decrease of cases.
Mr Joubert asked about the R8 million, and whether approval had already been given to roll this over.
Mr Docrat replied that OPP had had discussions with the National Treasury and was hopeful that Treasury would approve the rollover.
Mr J Sibanyoni asked what type of awareness was used
Adv Mushwana replied that OPP used adverts in the media and radio that spelt out who OPP was, how to reach it, and the services provided.
Mr Phahlane added that other methods of awareness included information on current affairs programmes and government publications.
Financial projections 2007/08 Briefing
Dr R Russen, CEO, OPP, wanted to highlight the direct inverse relationship between constitutional democracy and the number of cases received. As people understood more of their rights and which avenues to follow the number of cases would decline. OPP had already started to witness this decline, which happened as soon as OPP decided to split up jurisdictional and non-jurisdictional cases. It was expected that although the numbers of cases would decline there would be an increase in the quality and complexity of cases, and therefore OPP needed to reconsider its strategic imperatives. Another fundamental issue was the identification of the vulnerable groups. OPP would then need to decide how to deal with the challenges. Therefore it was looking into revising its strategic imperatives and looking into a framework that was divided into organisational and operational.
OPP would create a lean organisational department that could deal with the inverse relationship and also needed to look a concertina model due to the fact the budget would be decreasing in the subsequent years.
On the operational level OPP wanted to adopt a thematic approach for investigations, taking one theme and sensitizing the government and the people. Moreover, in a bid to bring the OPP to the people pilot mobile-offices projects had begun in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, with a view to rolling out further if they were successful. The strategic goals did not differ much from the previous years but more focus was being attached to developing investigative techniques and creating a barometer. OPP would try to shorten the turnaround time for cases from two years to a single year, and any that needed longer would need the approval of OPP to be continued outside the framework. Corporate services needed to attract and retain staff and this would be addressed in the job evaluations.
Imam Solomon asked how far OPP pursued cases that needed legal representation.
Adv Mushwana replied that OPP normally did not go to court, as this was the duty of institutions such as the SAHRC. However, it would do so if the case had an overwhelming chance of success, rather that litigants wanting their day in court. OPP dealt with issues of service delivery and thus mainly dealt with issues where the government was a stakeholder. OPP was essentially supposed to be the last port of call after exhausting all other avenues, and was required to deal with the matter speedily and without high costs. If the matter had the potential to become contentious OPP referred it to the Legal Aid Board.
Mr J Malahlela (ANC) asked for time frames for knowledge management, as also an indication of the cost and the staff required.
Adv Mushwana replied that OPP needed to establish a basis for the investigation into the knowledge management first before then calculating the other matters. The OPP was passionate about the knowledge management and they hoped to achieve it this year.
The Acting Chairperson remarked that OPP should not try to achieve objectives by chance and should actually have set parameters in place to deal with the issues.
Mr Joubert was interested whether OPP had a benchmark of cases it put down to deal with every year.
Adv Mushwana replied that OPP had not reached this stage, but desired to get to a point where it was able to estimate the benchmark cases per year, as this would greatly help in their budgeting.
Ms Camerer asked if the PP and his Deputy Public Prosecutor had managed to set their differences aside, as there was apparently still a court case pending between them.
The Acting Chairperson remarked that although this was an important issue, it should not be addressed in this particular committee.
The Acting Chairperson congratulated the OPP on its clean audit and the fact that it had managed to reduce the turnaround period for cases. The vacancy and retention rate was better than other organizations and therefore OPP needed to look at improving upon its own achievements.
The meeting was adjourned.