Parliament, Friday, 16 October 2020 – The Joint Standing Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament today received updates on Parliament’s infrastructure-related matters, on the appointment of the Secretary to Parliament, the Director to the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), on the establishment of the Treasury Advice Office, and a progress report from the Executive Authority on the implementation of the Public Service Commission’s (PSC’s) recommendations emanating from its inquiry into the tragic death of Mr Lennox Garane in September 2018.

The committee welcomed the report from the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure on the infrastructure-related projects and highlighted, among other things, unnecessary delay of the projects that have been on the cards for some time, the fact that some of the projects are unnecessary, escalation of cost due to the delays, disruption of the programme of Parliament by unending maintenance projects, maintenance contracts that appear to be automatically renewed without following tender processes, and the imposition of infrastructure projects on Parliament by the department.

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Thandi Modise, who was part of the meeting, said the renovation or upgrading of Parliament’s infrastructure ought to be initiated by Parliament, and be per the needs and requirements that Parliament itself had determined. The department should not tell Parliament what its needs are, but should respond to the needs that Parliament had identified. “Parliament can’t be told by the department, for example, to fit an alarm that is unnecessary or unnecessarily replace a gate. We need to participate, not to be informed,” emphasised Ms Modise.

She said Parliament must take over its maintenance budget. Managing its own facilities would require knowledgeable facilities management that must include expertise about how to manage heritage buildings. The attribution of the delays of the maintenance projects to Covid-19 was dismissed on the grounds that Covid-19 arrived at the beginning of the year when some of the projects have been underway since 2014.

On the filling of the critical senior management positions, the Acting Secretary to Parliament, Ms Baby Tyawa, briefed the committee that the positions were advertised. On the position of the Secretary to Parliament, she said there is a multi-party panel to assess the candidates for the position. On the Head of the Treasury Advice Office, Chief Financial Officer, and Head of Security, she said recruitment to fill these positions with suitably qualified candidates would be done by a talent-sourcing company and that the process is underway.

On the appointment of the Director of the PBO, she said interviews have been done by the Ad Hoc Committee and that the candidates were in the process of being vetted.

The Chairperson of the NCOP, Mr Amos Masondo, reported to the committee about the implementation of the PSC’s recommendations in respect of Mr Garane’s tragic suicide. He said according to the report, Parliament’s International Relations Unit has been riddled by a number of problems, some of which are historical. He said the problems included poor communication, poor conflict management and lack of conflict management skills in the unit.

Mr Masondo said there has been a broad response to the problems that are mentioned in the PSC report and meaningful progress has been made. Mr Masondo told the committee that access control and security were receiving ongoing attention. “We are not where we were some time ago, although we have not reached where we want to be,” said Mr Masondo.

He said disciplinary steps were taken against the Head of the International Relations and Protocol Division. He was found guilty on three charges, and has taken the PSC report for a review.

The committee asked the Executive Authority about the implementation of paragraph 17.4 of the PSC report, which recommends the assessment of management capabilities of Ms Tyawa and Adv Modibedi Phindela. Ms Modise said legal advice was sought and there was agreement that the PSC had not afforded the implicated persons an opportunity to respond, and that therefore one could not merely implement the recommendation. Ms Tyawa and Adv Phindela had responded to the PSC’s recommendations, and are now expected to respond to matters emanating from Mr Dumisani Sithole’s disciplinary hearing.


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