Presidency tables 2016/17 Annual Report registering good progress in implementing Programme of Action

The Presidency tabled its Annual Report 2016/17 today, 29 September 2017 in the National Assembly, registering an unqualified audit and a lot of progress that has been made in various areas outlined in the annual performance plan.

The Annual Report reflects the activities undertaken by The Presidency during the past financial year in continued efforts to provide support to the President in the execution of his Constitutional responsibilities and electoral mandate, supported by the Deputy President.

The Presidency achieved 78% of its key programme targets and spent 97% of its allocated funds for the reporting year.

Throughout 2016/17, significant support was provided to the President and the Deputy President in leading government's programme of action. The Presidency continued to work as a centre for strategic coordination in government, and in identifying and addressing major impediments to the effective implementation of government's programme of action, which is aimed at eliminating poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Cabinet and cabinet committees as well as the Forum of Directors-General met and continued with the strategic tasks of leading government planning and implementation of the programme of action, the Medium Term Strategic Framework, which is derived from the National Development Plan.

The President convened statutory bodies and also undertook work aimed at taking forward the POA such as the work of the President's Coordinating Council (PCC) which worked on many projects during the period under review including monitoring the implementation of the Back to Basics programme on the revitalization of municipalities.

The Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) also brought together the leadership of the three spheres of government, to discuss the seamless delivery of infrastructure programmes across the country. The Black Economic Empowerment Advisory Council (BEEAC) advises the President and government on broad-based black economic empowerment interventions. Progress is being made in fighting fronting through the BBBEE Commission as such practices reverse the gains of transformation. The private sector, which has larger procurement muscle, was encouraged to also embrace broad-based black economic empowerment by actively buying from black owned companies and supporting SMMEs.

The Presidency also interacted with constitutional bodies such as the National House of Traditional Leaders and Chapter 9 Institutions. Various stakeholders were engaged through Presidential Working Groups including business, youth formations, religious leaders, black professionals and non-governmental organisations.

The Deputy President leads government's effort in the fight against HIV and AIDS as Chairperson of the South African National AIDS Council. He launched the new National Strategic Plan on HIV/TB and STIs which is drawn from the insights, experience, learning and concerns of dozens of different partners, organisations and individuals.

The Presidency continues to provide support to state owned companies, addressing governance and financial challenges. Ongoing support is being provided to the SAA, SABC and Eskom and other entities facing difficulties.

The social partners at NEDLAC reached a historic agreement on labour stability and the introduction of a national minimum wage. Following two years of intensive engagement between government, labour, business and the community sector, an agreement was reached with an outcome that would contribute to reducing inequality and that would support efforts to create more jobs.

The President undertook public engagement programmes such as the Presidential Siyahlola Monitoring Programme visits to communities to assess service delivery, and also izimbizo to engage communities and hear their concerns and suggestions on government programmes. The Deputy President engaged in public engagements including the popular youth outreach programmes.

Among the achievements of the past year with regards to improving corporate governance within the Presidency has been the implementation of Anti-Corruption Strategy encompassing wide-ranging measures to prevent and combat corruption within the organisation.

To minimise the potential for conflict of interest among staff, The Presidency adheres strictly to the new Public Service Act, (PSA) and the Public Service Regulations (PSR) which came to effect in 2016 which preclude public servants from doing business with the state. The full cohort of senior Presidency staff has complied with and has made financial disclosure declarations. As per PSR, The Presidency will in the current year cascade the requirement of financial disclosure to middle-management and all SCM staff. Staff is also required to obtain approval for remunerative work outside the public service in order to prevent conflicts of interest.

The Presidency also undertook a review of 56 operational policies aimed at enhancing operational processes and management practices of the organisation.

To be able to lead and coordinate effective policy formulation and implementation in government, The Presidency requires a strong central policy capacity to provide technical and policy support to the Political Principals in the Presidency, as well as providing strategic leadership to the whole of government. In this regard, one of the key priority areas for 2017/18 is the strengthening of the policy coordination capability of The Presidency to ensure that it is well positioned to deliver on its strategic priorities, whilst operating with limited resources.

While The Presidency welcomes the unqualified audit from the Auditor General, (AG), a lot of work must be done to deal with the matters of emphasis that the AG has raised, especially relating to irregular expenditure.

For the 2016/17 financial year, out of a total budget of R495,810 million The Presidency reported in its Annual Financial Statements that it incurred irregular expenditure to the amount of R16, 913 million, just under 3.4%. The findings have necessitated a serious re-examination of the financial systems, and especially the financial control measures.

The categories of irregular expenditure include the following instances:

Failure to adhere to local content requirements

Not obtaining three quotations for procuring of services

Not awarding tenders or contracts on time

Deviations from or other non-compliance with SCM processes

Acceptance of an invalid BEE certificates

Incorrect calculation of BEE points for appointment of service providers

Acceptance of a non-compliant tax certificate

The cause of irregular expenditure and the nature of transgressions are under investigation. In addition, and in response to the AG's findings, The Presidency also requested the National Treasury (NT) to undertake a performance audit of the supply chain management system in order to address the nature and causes of the irregular expenditure. The National Treasury investigation looked into the functions of the supply chain unit to ensure that they are in alignment with DPSA standards. It also looked into the structure of the SCM unit to ensure that there are adequate internal controls and capacity in place, so as to ensure the segregation of duties in SCM. The National Treasury investigation further reviewed the SCM policy and procedure that are currently in place and made recommendations to align these to legislative instruments, including the PFMA, Treasury Regulations and SCM Practice notes.

The final report, which is not yet finalised, will deal with the oversight role of management over SCM.

Parallel to this process, the Presidency internal Audit unit is conducting a full scope audit on collusive bidding, which is basically irregularities that the AG uncovered of certain competing companies.. The AG audit outcome then prompted an initial forensic audit on this matter, which was conducted at the time on a smaller sample of transactions. The forensic audit report recommended that the scope of the forensic audit be expanded to review any other instances that this could have occurred.

The Presidency has put in place appropriate remedial measures to address systemic weaknesses which permitted these incidents of irregular expenditure. The Presidency has also opened criminal cases against the implicated persons in the transactions that have been reviewed, while disciplinary action has been undertaken against other officials involved.

Importantly, a Supply Chain Management Turnaround Plan has been developed and is being implemented to ensure improvements going forward.

Source: The Presidency Republic of South Africa