Committee Oversight Reports: Road Accident Fund & Giyani Water Services Project

Public Accounts (SCOPA)

13 March 2024
Chairperson: Mr M Hlengwa (IFP)
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Meeting Summary


The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (National Assembly) convened virtually to discuss and review two oversight visit reports from 2023. The first report considered and adopted was the report capturing the Committee’s oversight visit to the Road Accident Fund (RAF) in Gauteng in June and August 2023. Members discussed text related to the accounting standard used. Members agreed to improve the language regarding the conduct of the RAF CEO during the oversight visit amounting to malfeasance.

The Committee reviewed its report on its oversight visit to the Giyani Water Services Project in March 2023. The Committee revisited its recommendations highlighting the importance of strengthening the effectiveness of government arrangements, particularly in managing audit committees.

Both reports were adopted and would be sent to the House.

Meeting report

The Chairperson, Mr M Hlengwa (IFP), greeted Members and outlined that they were dealing with the Road Accident Fund report and the Water Report, which had been circulated. He requested the reports to be displayed on the screen for a page-by-page review. He mentioned the lack of accountability and urgency regarding the issues discussed. He sought clarification on certain points and suggested adjustments regarding the responsibility for financial management weaknesses.

Twelfth Report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on its oversight visit to the Road Accident Fund in Pretoria, 23 June 2023, and Johannesburg, 16 August 2023

Ms T Siweya (ANC) proposed aligning the last part with the accounting authority, which was agreed upon.

Mr A Lees (DA) highlighted the importance of addressing the accounting standard used, suggesting adding a recommendation for the Committee to endorse the Auditor-General's stance on the matter and halt all legal actions. He proposed conducting a comprehensive investigation into the CEO's conduct to uncover any malfeasance. He recommended suspending the CEO during the investigation due to staff fears expressed during the Committee's site visits.

The Chairperson pointed out that the determined accounting standard was not set by the Accounting Standards Board but suggested a different determiner might be needed.

Mr S Somyo (ANC) sought clarification on the point under discussion. He acknowledged agreement with the notion proposed but emphasised the importance of following the standard set by the Auditor-General (AG) in auditing. He suggested that tampering with this aspect might lead to overreaching in Executive functional authority. Instead, he proposed enforcing a more comprehensive conclusion that incorporates the investigations by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU). He indicated the need to consider how the SIU's role was captured in the report and suggested continued use of their services to combat corruption within the Fund. He expressed reluctance to delve too deeply into Executive Authority responsibilities.

The Chairperson suggested that, if he understood Mr Lees correctly, there should be a mention regarding concerns about the conduct of the CEO. He emphasised the lack of a constructive and cooperative relationship with the CEO, indicating that this aspect might need to be addressed explicitly. He expressed uncertainty but attempted to summarise the point.

Mr Lees agreed with the Chairperson's suggestion, acknowledging the importance of addressing concerns about the CEO's conduct. He also supported Mr Somyo's viewpoint. Mr Lees proposed incorporating this discussion into the oversight findings section of the report, noting that malfeasance extends beyond corruption. He highlighted an incident involving the CEO attempting to block an oversight visit, indicating it as an example of malfeasance. He expressed his willingness to proceed with this approach.

Ms Siweya expressed her desire for the Committee to approach the issue methodically without rushing to conclusions. She highlighted the complexity of the situation, mentioning differing perspectives among employees regarding the conduct of the new executive authority. While acknowledging dissatisfaction with certain actions, such as the incident at Menlyn, she cautioned against taking extreme measures like immediate suspension and investigations. Instead, she suggested finding a balanced approach to express dissatisfaction while also respecting ongoing investigations by bodies like the SIU. She indicated her willingness to continue thinking about articulating this nuanced stance in the report.

The Chairperson indicated agreement among the Committee Members and suggested clarifying the location and wording of their dissatisfaction with the CEO's conduct. He proposed including this dissatisfaction in the oversight observations section of the report. Additionally, he recommended emphasising in the paragraph about the SIU's investigations that their scope extends beyond corruption to include malfeasance due to the seriousness of the allegations. He noted the need for clarity, echoing Mr Lees' concerns. The Chairperson then suggested amending the wording to call for a comprehensive investigation into the general conduct of the executives to uncover any malfeasance, considering Mr Lees' distinction between corruption and other forms of misconduct. He sought confirmation from the Members regarding these amendments.

Mr Lees expressed gratitude to the Chairperson and acknowledged that while he felt the proposed approach may not be as robust as he would have liked, he was willing to accept it and move forward.

The Chairperson instructed Members to proceed through the report, indicating that they would refine the language as they went along. He emphasised the need to proofread the report again afterwards to ensure its accuracy and coherence.

Ms Siweya proposed adopting the report, which was seconded by Ms A Beukes (ANC).

Mr Lees mentioned the standard procedure of taking matters to the DA caucus for approval, indicating that his statement was not an objection but rather a reservation.

See report

Eleventh Report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on its oversight visit to Giyani Water Services Project, from 28 to 31 March 2023

The Chairperson suggested taking a moment to revisit the recommendations. He requested that they be reviewed again to ensure they were in order.

Mr Somyo highlighted the importance of strengthening the effectiveness of government arrangements, particularly in managing audit committees according to good governance principles and enhancing the efficiency of internal bodies by addressing findings and recommendations promptly. However, he expressed uncertainty regarding whether he was specifically referring to governance within the organisation's own structures and requested clarification on this aspect.

The Chairperson recalled an issue concerning the functionality of the audit committee and identified lapses in its operation, if memory served correctly.

Mr Somyo queried regarding 9.5, whether the issue lay with the functionality of the audit committee itself or with the failure to implement the recommendations made by the audit committee. He suggested that when documenting this, they should ensure to emphasise the need to ensure the proper functioning and respect for the audit committee within the entity.

The Chairperson confirmed with the Committee Secretariat whether she had captured the discussion. Upon receiving confirmation, he instructed her to move up and clean up the paragraph accordingly. He then directed the Members' attention to the report, indicating that they would proceed from there.

Mr Somyo sought clarification on point 9.5 from the Committee Secretariat. He questioned the meaning of revisiting the total population of expenditure to determine the extent of non-compliance, which would supposedly lead to regular expenditure. He expressed a desire to understand the intended message better and suggested revising the wording for clarity.

The Chairperson suggested that the issue lies with the introduction of point 9.5, indicating that it should be revisited. He clarified that the total expenditure is revisited to determine the full extent of noncompliance, which would then lead to rectifying irregular conditions. Afterwards, he thanked the Secretariat and requested them to navigate to the bottom of the document. Upon reaching the desired section, he noted that the standard term used is "executive authority" instead of "accounting authority" for reporting to Parliament. He requested the Secretariat to adjust the wording in the report accordingly.

Mr Somyo proposed adopting the report, which Ms M Lubengo (ANC) seconded.

Mr Lees stated that the same applies for the DA, as they would need to consult with the DA caucus before deciding to support or oppose the adoption. He then commented on recent news reports, expressing concern that staff at the RAF were going on strike. Confirming the accuracy of his information, he noted the timeliness of finalising the report on the same day. He mentioned that the next step would be to present it in the House.

The Chairperson confirmed that it was the intention of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) to strike, with their demand being the removal of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Mr Lees expressed gratitude for the clarification.

See report

Adhoc matters

The Chairperson addressed the Members informing them that the Eskom report would be discussed the following week. He mentioned ongoing efforts to arrange an oversight visit scheduled for 20 March 2024, with confirmation expected by the end of the day.

Mr Lees interjected, expressing appreciation for organising the oversight visit but requested that it be scheduled in the morning due to the public holiday the next day, allowing for easier travel arrangements.

The Chairperson confirmed that the visit was indeed scheduled for the morning, from 9:00 to 1:00.

Ms Siweya then inquired about the Committee's deadline for submitting their report for consideration in the House.

The Chairperson explained that it was up to the Programming Committee and that he had requested prioritisation of their reports.

Ms Siweya added a request for timely follow-up on the matter.

The meeting was adjourned.


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