Justice department on its way to turning around performance, DG says

07 May 2021 - 16:57
By ernest mabuza AND Ernest Mabuza
The justice department says its turnaround plan will improve its performance. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/EVGENYI LASTOCHKIN The justice department says its turnaround plan will improve its performance. Stock photo.

The justice and constitutional development department is well on its way to turning around its performance, director-general (DG) advocate Doctor Mashabane said on Friday.

In November last year, the portfolio committee on justice was so concerned about the declining performance of the department that it wanted the Public Service Commission (PSC) to assist the underperforming department to get its house in order.

In the 2019/20 financial year, the department underspent its budget by R754m. It incurred irregular expenditure of R800m and only achieved 51% of the targets it set for itself.

Its performance in the first quarter of the 2020/21 year was at 45%.

Mashabane was appointed DG in February this year, and on Friday outlined the  department’s plans to turn around its performance.

Mashabane told the portfolio committee that upon his appointment he met the chairperson of the PSC, Richard Sizani.

“I invited the chair to meet senior management in the department. We asked that he give us 100 days starting April 1 to implement a turnaround plan. We said if in 100 days we are not taking the corner, we invite him to put us under administration,” Mashabane said.

He said the plans outlined before the committee on Friday were responding to the call to turn around performance and address concerns the committee raised in November.

“In the last quarter, we have broken through the psychological threshold of 60% in performance. We have abated the downward spiral,” Mashabane said.

He said there were key points identified as part of the plan. One is human resource development and the need for the justice college to develop skills for officials.

“We will undertake a skills audit to determine the skills people lack at the department.”

He said the department needed to deal with historical matters the auditor-general has identified.

Mashabane said he was meeting officials across the provinces to understand what the department should be doing to assist in making sure its improves the services it provides.

He said he had been to the Western Cape, the Free State and the North West, and the issue of facilities was a major challenge.

“Our facilities are in a serious state of disrepair due to ageing.”

He said there were issues with leaking roofs, lack of reliable water supplies, load-shedding and lack of power generators.

Mashabane said he will be meeting with the department of  public works and infrastructure to address these challenges.