Briefing by the Department of COGTA and on the cost of boreholes at uMzinyathi District Municipality and Briefing on Departmental reports (2nd Quarter Report 2021/22 (Financial and NonFinancial); Expenditure to-date; presentation on the 2020/21 Annual Report; Presentation on the Fraud and risk) Date: 5/11/2021 Chairperson: Hon. ZLI Cele Meeting
The portfolio committee on COGTA met virtually on the 5 th of November 2021 to get a report on the cost of boreholes at uMzinyathi District and to also get departmental reports i.e., 2nd quarter report 2021/22(NonFinancial and Financial), expenditure to date, annual report 2020/21 and fraud and risk plan of the department. The HOD and his team presented on these issues to the Committee. Hon. SC Nkosi asked the department if they had filled the vacant posts in the department and if not, how long they need to have them filled. He also further asked if the non-filling of these vacancies had an impact on the operation of the department. On the issue of water, Hon. Nkosi stressed that they have failed the people of Kwazulu Natal. He argued that the department has dismally failed to provide citizens with water and sanitation and there is need to develop clear programmes that will address the water and sanitation issues. Hon Nkosi argued that the water situation was demoralizing. He however applauded the department for a clean audit. Hon. M Govender shared the same sentiments with Hon. Nkosi on the issue of vacancies and asked if these vacancies had any impact on the performance of the department. She also asked the department if these vacancies are part of the yet to be presented organogram of the department. On the issue of Izinduna, Hon Govender asked what the situation is now regarding their payments. Chairperson applauded the Committee for a clean audit and stressed that even on areas and programmes that the department failed to achieve the reasons for not achieving were very much convincing and compelling. On the issue of boreholes, the Chairperson asked why the department did not achieve the goal that was set and why there is an underspending on the money budgeted for boreholes. The Chairperson also touched on the issue of Izinduna posts and asked what the department was doing to address the challenges in filling the Izinduna posts. On the machinery and equipment category, she asked what the department was doing to spend the money budgeted for that category as they had only spent 30% of the amount. The department responded and argued that on the filling of vacant posts the department is sitting at 13 posts now which will be advertised. The HOD noted that they have recruited several people for priority posts, and these have been approved by the Premier. In terms of the impact of these vacancies on the work of the department, HOD said they try to reprioritize and make sure work is not disrupted while they wait for the positions to be filled. Responding on under spending, the HOD argued that various issues inhibit the department from spending the budgeted amounts. Treasury sometimes delayed approving the budgets and this then impacts on the department’s spending. On payment of Izinduna, HOD said the delays have been caused by the fact that the gazette of the payments is not yet out and as the department they cannot bypass that process but wait till the national department gazettes the payments. Responding to the issue of water, the HOD reiterated that the department is yet to approach provincial treasury and ask for a second transfer of money and this second transfer is targeted at addressing the water issues/service authority. HOD stressed that the water issue is a serious matter and advised the department to also invite the department of water and sanitation so that they can also help with answers and possibly advise of the gaps that as Cogta might need to address. The HOD on infrastructure development advised the Committee that as a department they had engaged the department of Public works to also do infrastructure development in KZN and in the 3rd quarter report, the percentage of what has been done should go up 30% Chairperson also asked on why the district champion has not spent a cent on OSS. She asked the department if they are not taking OSS seriously. The department was asked why they have only spent 38% on PPEs while the pandemic is still on. The department responded and noted that they have raised the issue of OSS and they have engaged with the office of the MEC and were told that they were programmes that were lined up and will be launched soon. The programs could not be included in the report as they are yet to kick start. However, HOD advised that in the 3rd quarter report they will be included. The CFO shared the same sentiments and argued that the programs had not been accounted for in the current report but however in the next quarter report the money OSS money will have been fully spent. On PPE the HOD noted that they will be an increase in the next report and argued that the challenge is that the Ministry of Health takes time to bill the department and its not possible to include unbilled expenditure in reports. Hon. Nkosi asked the department to explain on what’s delaying the gazzetting of the Izinduna payments. He also asked the Committee to also summon the water and sanitation department to come and appear before the Committee. Chairperson agreed with Hon. Nkosi and pointed out that as a Committee they will also need to invite Eskom so that they can also answer on why they are not responding to people’s challenges and give a full report on load shedding. She also commended the department for having a sound fraud and risk plan. The Chairperson also asked the department how often they update the plan. She further asked what the mitigation plans on the issues and challenges facing Izinduna. In response the HOD said on the payment of Izinduna the department is doing well on the back payment. He noted that the major issue on the payment was that some Izinduna were employed when the department had issued a freeze on the appointment of these posts. However, as the department they are dealing with the problem on a case-by-case basis and progress is being made. On the fraud plan the department said it is a standing document and it is updated quarterly and as and when there is a fraud case. Responding on the gazette, the CFO advised that it is done towards the year end by the President and then comes to provinces in the second and third quarter. She noted that this year it was disrupted by the second wave but as the department they wait for it to be finalized at the national level. Chairperson also asked the department when they are going to do the Thembe transfers. CFO responded and noted that they will transfer it by the end of the fourth quarter. Resolutions • Water and Sanitation department to be invited • National Portfolio COGTA Chairperson to be invited • Eskom to be invited to appear before the Committee AOB Members were advised that on the 7Th of December they will be a stakeholder engagement and Members need to attend. The chairperson adjourned the meeting.