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The Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration/Monitoring and Evaluation has encouraged the upward trend in sharing of good practice by government departments in the country. This week the Committee is in the Free State on an oversight visit to assess the effectiveness of the values and principles of Public Administration as enshrined in Section 195 of the Constitution.

The Provincial Treasury informed the Committee that it has engaged the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Treasury to learn how it was handling its support to municipalities in relation to governance and accountability. These interactions have led to a drastic reduction in disclaimers by municipalities in the province through the support provided by the provincial government.

“We, as a Committee are happy that there is an increasing appetite to share good practice within government departments in South Africa. This trend will reduce the travel costs seen in the past where municipalities and government would travel overseas to learn of systems,” said Dr Makhosi Khoza, the Chairperson of the Committee.

Despite this, the Committee was concerned about the exceedingly high unemployment rate within the province. The province highlighted that the figures of unemployment stood at 35.5% in the province. This far outstrips the national rate which is hovering around 25%. “And we are only talking about those people that are still actively looking for employment. If we add those that have stopped looking for employment, then the number will be even higher. This is concerning,” Dr Khoza emphasised.

Similarly, the life expectancy in the province was highlighted as a concern, especially considering that the national average has increased over the past few years. Life expectancy in the province between 2011 and 2016 was 58.0 for females and 52.5 for males. While this has increased from 48.3 and 45.6 respectively between 2006 and 2011, the Committee highlighted that it is a factor of concern and points to the quality of life of people in the province.

The Committee is also concerned about the non-compliance by the Education Department in relation to various MPAT (Management Performance Assessment Tool) standards. Most worrying of the standards is the 50% non-compliance in relation to governance and accountability. Some of the indicators under this standard include functionality of management structures, accountability mechanism (audit committee), fraud prevention strategies, as well as risk management strategies.

“It is concerning that of the 12 provincial departments, the education department was the lowest performing in relation to this standard. The Committee is worried that the continued non-compliance might have a knock-on effect on the impressive matric results that the department has been producing of late,” said Dr Makhosi Khoza, the Chairperson of the Committee.

Furthermore, the 2016 assessment points to an overall decrease of compliance over a three-year period for the Education Department. In 2014, the department recorded a 70% overall compliance rate, 71% in 2015 and 54% in 2016. “This drastic decline must be arrested before it undermines the generally good work of the department,” Dr Khoza emphasised. 

The Committee will today visit various frontline service sites to assess the quality of services granted to the people.    

By Malatswa Molepo

27 June 2017