Budget Speech 2009/2010: Department of the Premier (Vote 1) | Western Cape Government

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Budget Speech 2009/2010: Department of the Premier (Vote 1)

18 June 2009
Honourable Speaker
Cabinet Members
Leader of the Opposition
Leaders of political parties
Honourable Members
Colleagues and friends
Citizens of the Western Cape

As Minister Winde pointed out in yesterday's sitting, the budget allocations for each department of this provincial administration were in place before our government was elected in April. The bulk of this process was completed in March, based on an Annual Performance Plan for the Department, which was tabled in February.

But one thing is distinctly different. The DA Ministers have all dispensed with the tradition of hosting lavish events to mark their budget votes. An initial estimate is that we have saved up to R250 000 per budget vote, and more than R500 000 by leaving out the puffery usually associated with the State of the Province Address. This amounts to a saving of at least R3 million.

In the Department of the Premier, and all other departments, we have already started to lay the groundwork for the implementation of our government's Five-Year Strategic Plan, which we will begin drafting at the end of this month.

Formally this plan will come into effect from April 2010, when it will translate our core policy objectives into a specific set of targets and projects in each department - and shape the annual budget.

Well before that, however, we will use the plan in draft form to guide the formulation of each of our departmental Annual Performance Plans (which begins in August), including for the Department of the Premier.

For the year ahead, while our work on the strategic plan proceeds, we will apply, as a guiding principle, our government's over-arching objective of "combating poverty and promoting opportunities for all, through policies that encourage sustained economic growth; that attract, develop and retain skills and capital; and that drive infrastructure development."

The Department of the Premier's job during this time will therefore be to help the Premier gear the entire administration toward our overall objective.

Each department must be guided by our government's core objective in the constitutional mandates it performs, sometimes alone, and sometimes in concert with other departments.

The Department of the Premier, in its current form, fulfils its function by coordinating the work of the departments through monitoring and evaluation, intergovernmental relations, and providing internal corporate support like IT, legal and forensic audit services.

We have not made any major changes to this year's allocations for each of the four programmes out of the Department's total budget of R491m, that is: Administration (R40m) ; Institutional Development (R92m); Policy and Governance (R124m); and Information Communication Technology (R235m).

There have been some improvements in this year's budget when compared to preceding years, particularly the reduction in money for advertising (from R15 m last year and R12 m the year before, to R2.5m this year), legal services (from R16m last year to R12m this year) and food (from R270 000 last year R26 000 this year). I also welcome the increase for IT (up from R200m last year to R235m this year), and increases for training and staff development (up from R2.5m last year to over R3m this year) and bursaries (up from R200 000 last year to R600 000 this year). The increase in the budget for IT is offset by the decrease in the rest of the department's budget by R17m due to the economic downturn.

Any major shifts we decide to make in the current year's budget allocations will be introduced in the adjustments period later this year, taking into account the need to maintain institutional stability and continuity.

Speaker, what we are changing, and this has started already, is how the existing allocations are used. We are introducing a new set of priorities for the year ahead, based on our policies as a new government. (I would like to thank this department's staff for leaving the current Annual Performance Plan's outputs and performance measures fairly open-ended, creating lots of room for adjustments. This was an ethical move, which respects the right of voters to change government policies through the ballot box.)

Our first priority will be modernising this department so that it is run entirely on the basis of best practice, and is fit for the purposes it is intended to serve.

The Department must have the capacity to meet the new tasks we will be setting for it.

It needs to be strong enough to help other departments do the same.

We are therefore in the process of assessing organisational structures, efficiency and skills development initiatives.

We have a very large staff contingent in the Department, with a total of 816 posts. Of these, 213 are vacant. We are currently determining which posts need to be filled (and a similar analysis is being carried out across all other departments).

We must fill the most critical vacancies first, especially at the service-end of the organisation. We are also moving to build existing staff capacity through initiatives ranging from training (including IT courses for 200 educators), an overhaul of the Cape Administrative Academy in Stellenbosch so that it can build capacity in the Province and in local governments, and cost-effective awareness campaigns for provincial employees and the public, like the sustainability drive, 2wise2waste.

In terms of modernising the Department, we will also focus on improved IT infrastructure and systems, and on the standardisation of our IT systems as far as possible.

In our IT systems, and in our monitoring and evaluation, we must follow the principle established by Bill Gates -- that the best systems are standardised, simple and user-friendly.

The key measure we are taking to improve the monitoring and evaluation role of the Department is introducing a new Dashboard System, which is an IT-based management tool for the entire administration.

The Dashboard will not replace existing monitoring systems, but will complement and incorporate them. It will build a unified and user-friendly set of protocols for performance management.

It will be run by existing staff, not an extra layer of bureaucracy.

Heads of Department will be accountable for implementing the system in each of their departments, in terms of their performance agreements.

Financial information will come directly from Treasury, and therefore manipulation or 'spin' by under-performing managers will be difficult.

And the Department of the Premier will manage the system centrally for use by the Premier and Cabinet, and every staff member in the Province.

The most important consequence of this system will be a close alignment between the overarching Five-Year Strategic Plan, the Annual Performance Plan of each department, and the actual projects implemented on the ground in each department.

In the past the Auditor-General has raised concerns around performance management in this organisation. We are currently carrying out an audit on our existing performance evaluation processes, and that will also help us to fine-tune the Dashboard.

The consensus in this organisation, from speaking to senior officials, seems to be that performance agreements and Annual Performance Plans for departments have not been aligned with the strategic goals and objectives in the Five-Year Strategic Plan.

This has led to a situation where Treasury has had to drive the priorities for each department, because political leadership was not strong enough and monitoring not tight enough.

We believe it is time to make this organisation function together as a unit, with one set of policies.

The Dashboard will directly link and align high-level, strategic goals and objectives in our government's Five-Year Strategic Plan, with each departmental programme, and finally the actual projects which fall under the programmes.

This will be done in conjunction with more comprehensive performance management of Ministers and HODs, with clear, tangible goals set, on which they must deliver, including qualitative measurements of outcomes, not just quantitative measures of outputs. Where necessary, we may also measure performance outside of the standard Public Service Commission guidelines which are currently being used (which are mostly quantitative). In order to deal with any serious cases of maladministration or misconduct, we are going to increase the capacity of our Forensic Investigative Unit.

This brings me to another new priority for this department, namely the introduction of a project-driven approach to governance.

This approach will allow us to measure the implementation of our policies against clear milestones like budget expenditure, timelines, and actual outcomes and value added.

We will carry out quarterly reports on these project targets, so we can make interventions on time when we see work falling behind. Reporting on performance on an annual basis is not effective, because problems are often identified too late to be corrected.

By introducing these measures, we will be able to steer the work this organisation does on the ground according to the voters' mandate.

And we intend to make this government more accountable to the public by holding public dashboard sessions on real outcomes, like housing projects. These will replace the current imbizo approach, which was regularly abused as a political platform rather than for meaningful government engagement and interaction with communities.

In order to kick-start our new approach, we will introduce a Strategic Projects Unit in the Department of the Premier.

The unit will drive strategic projects that cut across departments, removing blockages to key processes as quickly as possible, offering specialist legal assistance to departments, cutting red tape and continuing the review and removal of obsolete provincial legislation that started last year.

Some of its key priorities in terms of inter-governmental coordination will include assisting local governments, in conjunction with the Department of Local Government, to overhaul their bylaws, and with other legal advice, capacity building and general coordination between provincial and municipal departments, especially on issues like upgrading of informal settlements with electricity and formal housing. We intend to build bridges between Eskom and local authorities in order to fast-track the provision of electricity to communities, which is currently a top priority for many informal settlement residents and backyard dwellers. This will, in turn, help reduce the risks of fires and illegal connections, and encourage communities to take a more cooperative approach toward municipalities and Eskom. Our new unit will also work with local government and our department's IT branch to spread IT technology into municipal administrations and community facilities like libraries. And we are currently involved in talks with the City of Cape Town about a possible partnership with their IT department on the City's broadband network project. We are hoping to ensure synergy between the City and Provincial IT projects and prevent duplication. We are working toward a collaborative agreement in this regard.

In terms of inter-departmental cooperation, the new Strategic Projects Unit, together with the Governance and Integration Branch, will be focusing on implementing this government's commitment to reducing substance abuse, as well as abuse or neglect of children, and gender violence.

During the year ahead, all major political, economic and social decisions taken by this government will be analysed in terms of their impact on these issues. This is particularly critical when it comes to rape, which has become a time-bomb for teenage pregnancy, HIV/Aids, psychological trauma and our country's international reputation. Yesterday the BBC World Service reported that "One in four South African men questioned in a survey said they had raped someone, and nearly half admitted having attacked more than one victim". The survey by South Africa's Medical Research Council was based on a questionnaire given to 1 738 men from urban and rural areas, of all race and cultural groups, in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. One in 20 men surveyed said they had raped a woman or girl in the last year, and nearly three quarters of the men who had raped someone had done so for the first time before the age of 20.

This is a crisis we have to address.

If we fail to do so, we also cannot expect to reduce poverty by attracting investment and creating jobs in South Africa.

To address crime at community level, our department's Strategic Projects Unit will work with the police and municipal police to increase safety in communities through coordination with neighbourhood watches, and the creation of joint substance abuse units to crack down on drug dealers. And it will be mandated to draft a strategy, drawing on international best practice and expert advice, to combat corruption in the police force so that this government can execute, in full, its functions in relation to the SAPS, which are set out in Section 206 of the Constitution.

As part of its endeavour to create a safer environment for children, the Department of the Premier will also be establishing a Commissioner for the Protection of Children (in terms of Section 78 of the Provincial Constitution), which will work with the police to address issues affecting mothers and children such as the non-payment of child maintenance, neglect and abuse.

In terms of disability issues in education, we will be lobbying for the inclusion of Sign Language as a subject for matric in the National FET syllabus. Deaf learners who have studied Sign Language as a school subject in lower standards should not have to fight in court, like Kyle Springate from Westville (Durban), to have access to this opportunity in matric. Sign Language is a first language for approximately 1 million South Africans. There are languages that can be taken as matric subjects that have far fewer users (for example, Telegu, which can be taken at first and second language level in matric. We do, of course, recognise the rights of learners in this language, but we want to see Sign Language included too).

Speaker, the final area I would like to mention in today's Budget Vote is the role of the Department of the Premier in coordinating projects related to the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

The local government of Cape Town is the lead agent for 2010 preparations and infrastructure, as it is the host city.

In addition to supporting the City, as a provincial government we aim to extend the benefits of hosting the event as far as possible across the region.

The Department of the Premier, together with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, leads our 2010 initiatives by coordinating and driving 2010 projects across departments. Our task, through the 2010 Technical Steering Committee, is to work with Community Safety, Economic Development and Tourism, Cape Town Routes Unlimited, the Department of Health, Local Government and Housing (especially for disaster management), the South African Police Service, Transport and Public Works and the Provincial Treasury.

Over and above the approximately R12 bn of investments from national government (in the Cape Town International Airport, the new Green Point Stadium and Integrated Rapid Transport System) there are a number of key provincial projects flowing from 2010 which will benefit local enterprises and leave lasting infrastructure improvements.

These include the development of Integrated Rapid Transit System (coordinated by the provincial and municipal transport departments), the development of public viewing areas around the Western Cape (in partnership with municipalities), Provincial road infrastructure upgrades (including the Koeberg Interchange, White Bridge (Knysna), the N2 between Somerset West and Sir Lowry's Pass, the rapid transport lane on the N2), community projects like FIFA's Centre for Hope in Khayelitsha, and opportunities for volunteers and young people to develop skills and experience during the event. The Department of the Premier is also specifically responsible for the upgrade of the Philippi stadium, which will be available after the event for the use of young people on the Cape Flats, and we are looking for a long-term tenant to operate the stadium for their benefit.

The 2010 World Cup has also provided an opportunity for the Department of Health to build overall capacity in delivering health services, with a focus on emergency medical services, aero medical services (helicopters) and medical command and control infrastructure. The bulk of provincial 2010 funding has gone into ensuring the delivery of health services for 2010, but it has been in operation for a year already - an example of legacy in operation before 2010.

There are many other benefits that we want to maximise, especially in terms of marketing and international media exposure of the Western Cape as a tourist and investor destination. These are too numerous to list here. But, in general, I can say that we are committed to continuing the 2010 related work that is already in progress in the Department of the Premier, and we will continue to drive the Province's partnership with local and national governments in this regard.

Speaker, this brings me to the end of my address on the budget vote for the Department of the Premier. I will now leave the floor open for my colleagues in the government and opposition benches to provide their input on this debate.

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