Governance and Administration Cluster Post- SONA Media Briefing


09 Mar 2017

The Governance and Administration Cluster held a post-SoNA media briefing to provide a report of its work and to unpack its key plans going forward. The cluster said the work it has performed has contributed to changing lives as envisaged by the Constitution. The Cluster said, amongst others, that following the successful constituting of local government, it was pleased that municipalities are making progress in delivering services to communities as expected. The only challenge was Nquthu, which was dissolved as per section 139(1) (c) of the Constitution which empowers the Provincial government to intervene

The briefing was attended by cluster, Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Malusi Gigaba; Minister of Public Enterprises, Ms Lynne Brown; Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Mr David van Rooyen; Deputy Minister Public Service and Administration, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo; Director General Public Service and Administration Mr Mashwahle Diphofa; Deputy Ministers, Director-Generals, Senior Managers, and Members of the Media.

Questions and Answers:

Journalist: Why are the Municipalities failing to pay Eskom when it did pay other service providers on time? There are operational budgets as well as multi- projections budgets.  Is it because they can get away with it? How many Public Servants doing businesses with the State have resigned by 31 January, signified their intention to resign or relinquished their business interest? What sorts of financial interest have these Senior Management Staff (SMS) employees and middle managers as well as those that have come forward? Is it big business people or just small medium enterprises that they are busy with?

Journalist: Is there indication from government side of a likely intervention into the matter of Matatiele and the African Independent Congress demands to be reincorporated into KwaZulu-Natal. What would it take to move a Municipality from one Province to another? Is it something that government is considering intervening on? What is the essence of the Minister’s meeting last week with Mpumalanga Premier? He proposed repayment agreement between Eskom and two Municipalities. There is very little to indicate what he suggested as a solution instead of what is being put on the table. Could you provide clarity on that meeting?

 I want a follow up on the demotions of 137 people as well as 395 prosecutions of those found to be doing businesses with the State and Public Service. What would the result be? What is the progress on the plans between government and Public Service Commission to bring reforms into government Departments that limit the power that the Minister would have to pick their own Director Generals?

Minister Van Rooyen: The non-payment to Eskom started as far back as last year. There is an inter-ministerial team comprised of the Department that I am leading, the Department of Public Enterprises as well as National Treasury. We have started engaging with the affected Municipalities as well as the Office of the Premier in those affected Provinces. Findings made indicated there were many reasons such as financial, structural and technical. Municipalities had unacceptable inconsistency and imbalance between what was paid to get electricity from Eskom and what is charged in the form of Municipal tariffs. These led most Municipalities to provide this important basic service at a loss. There are also structural issues. The way Eskom has been managing the credit leaves a lot to be desired. Eskom charges interest as of the 15th while Municipalities use the municipal financial management provision of 30 days. Also, Eskom charge their interest plus prime rate of 5%. Technically, Municipalities were still using the old conventional meter system and some of these systems were unable to detect some of the losses incurred by Municipalities as the Municipalities provide these services. The Department was working together as a task team with Eskom who has made certain undertakings to deal with those structural issues and the Department was looking at how to assist because most municipalities are unable to deal with issues of raising capital layout to replace some of these conventional meters. In those two Municipalities in Mpumalanga, there is a problem of non-payment and lack of strong credit control Policies and implementations. Sustainable solutions are needed to deal with these problems. The Matatiele issue is a matter that deals with Provincial boundaries. When you deal with provincial boundaries, Constitutional provisions will be tampered with. The process of engaging affected Communities is continuing. This issue also applies to other Municipalities that are involved in that particular situation.

Deputy Minister Dlodlo:  I will leave the question on the number of people charged and demoted to the DG Public Service Commission in Pretoria. It gives an indication that work has been done. The tolerance levels for corruption are not taken lightly. The regulations on Public Servants doing business with the State are new and less than one year. There are no tangible facts. The Commission is in the process of collating the information throughout the service. By the end of April, the information would be available to pass to the media.

The DG was not available at that time; another official from the Commission answered the question: In terms of the people found guilty of misconduct in reported cases, departments are required to take action against those officials in terms of the various rules and regulations. On the demotions, these are the avenues the departments are taking in terms of those people that have been reported for misconduct relating to corruption.

Minister Gigaba: The point is that for some time government has taken action to prohibit Public Servants from doing business with government. There are now expansions as indicated in the media statement, to ensure that beyond just making a declaration, the practice is prohibited. An Official is required to either resign from government or the business in which the official is involved in.  In terms of how many people have resigned or declared their intention to resign from government or Companies, it will be provided to the Public through the Media once they are available because these resignations are not to be done privately but publicly. Merely making a declaration that you are doing business with the government is not sufficient as there was need to stop the practice.

Deputy Minister Dlodlo: Everything around this issue was discussed in Parliament yesterday. People do business; they are found out through the systems in place. Disciplinary measures are taken. The fact is that the Commission has not collated the information because the process only began towards the end of 2016. It is difficult to provide full information now. There will be collation of information from the various systems within the State to determine who is doing what outside what they have been hired to do in government.

DG Public Service and Administration: In addition to what the Deputy Minister has said in terms of the roll out of this provision, there was no prohibition in the past. When the Public Service Regulations were amended last year, the Provision was included. Chapter 2 of the Public Service Regulations prohibits Public Servants from doing business with the State. It came into effect in August 2016. There was a transitional period for persons to decide whether to stay with Public Service or their Companies in the State. This was allowed until January 2017. From January 2017 till now, the Public Service Commission worked with the Department to collate information on who had resigned as well as those who have not and were still staying with their companies. On what disciplinary action has been taken against such Public Servants, it is too early to give the total numbers. As part of dealing with the implementations, the Minister in February issued directives. It is only after this stage that there will be adequate information on who is not complying and what action has been taken against such.

Journalist: What is the latest on the Ministerial handbook? Has it been updated or concluded?

Deputy Minister Dlodlo: It is almost at its final stages of conclusion before presentation back to the Cabinet. The Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) is supposed to meet sometime this week. The Minister’ brother passed away as indicated by Minister Gigaba, so he has been unable to hold the IMC. When the Minister returns, the IMC will sit and the process will be taken forward. A lot of work has been done and it is almost at the final level of conclusion.

Journalist: Why did it take so long to finalise it?

Deputy Minister Dlodlo: The ministerial handbook is a lot of work. There are competing interests. The process did not begin and end at the Cabinet level. Other interested parties have been invited to give inputs and this affected resolving the matter spedily.

The briefing adjourned.