Spotlight on service delivery in the Free State

Sunday, April 2, 2023

The Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration is in the Free State on a weeklong oversight visit, where it has received reports on the 30-day payment window to service providers.

Reports received by the committee also include the financial disclosure framework, disciplinary cases and the filling of heads of department (HOD) vacancies.

“On the stipulated 30 days within which invoices should be paid to service providers, the committee heard that the province was once sitting with invoices to the value of R1 billion,” the committee said on Friday.

However, according to the committee, Provincial Treasury, working with other provincial departments, has now reduced the amount owed to service providers to R621.5 million.

The Departments of Health and Education continue to be the main transgressors of the 30-day payment period.

The newly appointed Acting MEC of Education, Makalo Mohale, welcomed the parliamentary team.

The Free State provincial government has ensured stability in most departments by filling almost all HOD vacant posts, including the remaining three such vacancies.

The committee, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the province’s lack of commitment to undertaking lifestyle audits, as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“The province relies only on the financial disclosure framework for preventing unethical conduct,” the committee said.

The team also conducted an inspection in loco at the Department of Home Affairs and Pelonomi Tertiary Hospital.

The committee witnessed long queues in the Home Affairs offices.

“Members of the public raised their dissatisfaction with the time it took to receive services, as most of them had arrived in the early morning,” said the committee.

The National Department of Home Affairs, the committee said, will be encouraged to expand its services based on population sizes.

In relation to Pelonomi Tertiary Hospital, the committee believes the institution has improved immensely from what it was in 2018.

“However, there are still challenges, such as leadership instability, staffing problems, shortage of space in the maternity ward, safety concerns and ageing infrastructure.”

The acting chairperson of the committee, Miriam Kibi, said she was satisfied with the work achieved in managing the hospital, as “it used to be in the news for all the wrong reasons”. –