This report will focus on the developments within the Business Unit Master of the High Court, it seek to address challenges , report on progress as well as project currently underway in the Unit.
The core business of the Unit is reflected in its vision and mission statement.
"A dynamic, business like, commercially-viable Masters Division dedicated to the pursuit of service excellence."
"To provide efficient, cost effective and specialized services of supervision, custodianship, arbitration and information regarding Deceased and Insolvent Estates and Trusts.
To serve Estate practitioners, beneficiaries of Estates and Trusts, minors and mentally challenged persons in South Africa, for the purpose of safeguarding those beneficiariesí financial and proprietary rights.
THE CORE PRINCIPLES
AND SHARED VALUES
The following are the basic core principles and shared values of the Masters Business Unit:
- Excellent customer service
- Justice for all
The Business Unit of the Masters of the High Court has the following strategic goals:
- To revise the Organizational Structure of the Masters to ensure efficient and effective administration and control; providing safeguards against corruption and mismanagement and establish a new support structure for the Masters Division.
- To separate all administrative and legal work processes ; create an environment of specialization of functions; develop and sharpen the special skills and expertise of the Masters through constant training and evaluation and harness these skills to combat crime, corruption and maladministration.
- To improve policy development within the Unit and through planning, evaluation and research, review the processes of administration of estates with the aim of streamlining and simplifying these procedures and creating uniformity of systems, procedures and practices thus providing a more efficient, cost effective and user friendly service.
- To broaden and make the services of the Masters more accessible and convenient to all sectors of the South African Population and the global economy by inter alia maximizing the use of Information Technology.
- To develop a disciplined, motivated workforce and improve the image of the Masters with the general public and the professional fraternity and promote and maintain the principles of Batho Pele by actually practicing it on a daily basis.
- To promote the concept of self-funding and income generating by adopting a business approach and offering the range of services.
- To forge close working relationships and partnership with role players in order to monitor and improve service delivery on a constant basis.
- To act pro-actively to meet the demands of the future such as initiating changes to accommodate Black Intestate Estates, the Cross Border Insolvency Act, the Access to Information Act, Empowerment Legislation, etc.
The Masters Business Unit has developed the following action plan to assist it in attaining the goals which it set for itself .
PROGRESS TOWARDS THE REALISATION OF THESE GOALS.
In working towards the attainment of these goals the following steps have been taken and implemented;
The restructuring of the Master into specialized divisions has been implemented in some of the offices. Where it has not been implemented it is already reached an advanced stage and will be implemented within the next few months. It is expected that by the end of the current year the all the Masters would have specialized. This would greatly improve service delivery within the Unit.
It is expected that specialization will have a phenomenal impact on the quality on the services being provided by the offices.
Intensive efforts are also being made to improve the service delivery in the Curatorship section.
In terms of the organizational structure it has been decided to de link the Assistant Masters rank from that of Estate Controllers. This will ensure a proper and a particular path of these ranks and enhance the professional status of the Masters.
In so far as making the services of the Master more accessible to the public , Magistrates offices throughout the country have been designated as service points where the services of the Master is made available to the public. The unit is currently engaging HR to conduct a workstudy at the service points in order to determine the workload at the service points for the creation of posts
In addition to the above please find information on the provincial offices.
The appointment of the office Manager has had a positive influence on the office. Discipline in the office has improved and the office is benefiting from the management expertise of Mr. Makhari. The filing system has improved considerably and the phenomenon of files going missing within the office is slowly diminishing. The office accommodation is adequate. Steps are being taken to further improve the working environment of the staff by upgrading the physical conditions of the office. Equipment and furniture needs have been met.
The proposed restructuring of the Master into specialized divisions has reached an advanced stage and will be implemented within the next three months. It is expected that Specialization will have a phenomenal impact on the quality of services being provided by the office. Additional accommodation is presently being negotiated to house the new Insolvency Section. An intensive effort is being made to improve the service delivery in the Curatorship section. Specialization will also bring about long term solutions in this area of the Masters work.
The DNS roll out to the office has been finalized. All officials have access to a computer. The staff have also benefited from computer training courses.
The turn around time in making appointments has reduced considerably. The fast lane section caters for same day appointments if certain criteria are met. The backlog in the office is being reduced and it is expected that the office will be at least 80% up to date by the end of May 2003.
The office continues to lose valuable expertise as officials resign due to pressures of work and more lucrative salary offers from the private sector.
The saga of the suspension of the Master and Deputy Master is still continuing. The position of the Master/Senior Deputy, is presently vacant due to The suspended official having been absorbed in the Mmabatho vacancy. The advertising and filling of this post will address many of the problems that the office is experiencing at present.
The acting Master and his staff are doing their utmost to enhance the image of the office and the Business Unit as a whole. An excellent example is the Charity Golf day that was organized in collaboration with all the various stake holders that are served by the office. This culminated in an amount of in excess of R40 000 being raised that was donated to Streetwise an organization caring for street children. This innovation on the part of the Master and his staff is proof of their commitment to transformation in their office and the society in which they serve.
The appointment of Dr.Singo and Ms. Kaywood as Office Manager and Snr Admin Officer in the Cape Town office heralds the beginning of much needed transformation in the office. The reports on progress this far is encouraging.
Service delivery levels are satisfactory. The implementation of the Moseneke decision is running smoothly and the ever-growing Guardians Fund is balanced and up to date.
As yet no plans are made to establish any sub office, as a proper needs analysis still needs to be done.
The office accommodation is a matter of growing concern as the need for more space is only matched by the demands of Courts Services for more Court rooms in the same over crowded building. This building used to be available to the master for its exclusive use. Allowing the other Justice units now results in competition for the same resources
There appears to be consensus that new accommodation needs to be found.
The specialized units in the office are functioning very well. A further unit has been established, this unit deals with Curatorship estates. The new division has uncovered a lot of unscrupulous persons that were appointed as curator bonis in estates. Meetings were held between the Master and the Road Accident Fund to determine the exact conditions of the payments made by the RAF to specific estates. The Curatorship section is very successful and is truly protecting the interests of the persons under Curatorship.
The Guardians Fund has not balanced yet. The processing of payments is still an area that will have to be accelerated. A report on the fraudulent losses in the past has been submitted and the matters are attended to.
Additional office space has been obtained for the Masters Office and most of the filing problems have been attended to. Additional shelving will be ordered to assists with the filing space problems.
The creation of the Durban office has been effectively managed by the Pietermaritzburg office and deserves recognition.
The difficult race relations in the office appear to be subsiding and management has worked very hard at improving on the situation.
The office delivers a satisfactory service to the public. Appointments are made within 5 working days and attempts are made to improve on this.
The Guardians Funds of the Ciskei and Transkei have been incorporated into the Guardians Fund Grahamstown. The workload in the Guardians Fund has increased significantly and the personnel are working very hard as is the case through out the country.
The office has sufficient office space and adequate equipment and furniture.
Grahamstown has been involved in the stabilizing of the Bisho and Umtata offices. They supplied staff and skills as well as supervision to the said offices. Matters appear to be well in hand at these distant offices.
The master Grahamstown has actively pursued the establishment of the Port Elizabeth office. The building renovations are under way and substantial progress can be seen. The accommodation is in the same building as the State Attorney thereby improving closer working relations.
The office continues to excel in its service delivery to the public despite the fact that the Masters post is vacant at present due to the promotion and transfer of the previous incumbent. The acting Master is doing sterling work. A Batho Pele project was initiated and the response of the public was overwhelmingly positive. The results indicate that the office is providing an excellent service.
The office has also initiated the STEP project (Succession Planning, Transformation, Empowerment Project.) The staff has embraced this enthusiastically and the project is aimed at the fast tracking of personnel, skills transfer and empowerment . Interns are presently being trained in the Insolvency Department and this is aimed at accelerating transformation in the Insolvency Industry. One of the Interns has recently been appointed in a R20 million rands estate.
The success of this office can be attributed the fact that the office has embraced the concept of specialization. This enables the office to provide a fast and efficient service. All aspects of the work is usually attended to in less than 4 days.
This office continues to perform well. The service delivery provided is satisfactory. There are no backlogs in the office and the work is kept up to date on a daily basis.
The General Manger (Inland Operations) looked at various files during a recent visit to the office and found that the quality of services provided was exceptional. A recent inspection by the Inspectorate indicates that the administration of the office is sound.
The Master and his staff are commended for their dedication and enthusiasm.
Through the Masters efforts, the Municipality has erected signs in the city clearly pointing the way to the office. The public are being accommodated and served with dignity and the principles of Batho Pele is abundantly manifest in this office.
This office can be described as a model office at present.
The office is headed by an acting Master, who is a Principle Estate Controller. The Master Grahamstown has been appointed as the Master of this office as well and been entrusted with the supervision of the office. The Grahamstown office is monitoring the situation and the training needs of the office are being addressed.
This office is suitably accommodated and equipped. The sharing of the same building with the State Attorney facilitates better co-operation. Proper control and office administration procedures have been installed and are monitored by the master Grahamstown.
There is a need to fill the position of head of office as soon as possible.
The office has secured new accommodation. The new building is much more satisfactory than the magistrates office where the office were previously accommodated. The building is safer and more accessible to the public. The Master Grahamstown has also been appointed as the Master Umtata and supervises the functions of the office. The present Head of Office is a Principal Estate Controller from the Grahamstown office and is rendering a valuable service. The Grahamstown Masters office will monitor the situation and address the training needs of the office.
Proper control and office administration procedures have been installed and are monitored by the master Grahamstown.
There is a need to fill the position of head of office as soon as possible.
The Mmabatho office falls under the supervision and control of the Masters Office Pretoria. Mr. P M Modibela serves in the office as the acting Master. He is doing sterling work in turning around the negative image of the office that resulted from the mismanagement by the previous incumbent of the post. He personally attends to most of the Insolvency matters in the office in addition to his management role.
The filing system is receiving attention and additional shelving is being purchased to ensure sufficient accommodation for the files. The present accommodation of the office is unsatisfactory and the acting Master is working with Public Works in searching for suitable accommodation.
The staff has recently received training by Justice College to enhance their skills in the administration of Deceased Estates.
The service delivery of the office has improved and Mr Modibela deserves to be commended for his dedicated and loyal service.
Efficiency Advisory Services are presently considering the establishment of this office. The statistics appear to indicate that this office only warrants an Assistant Master and Estate Controller to provide services at this office.
THE MVELEDISO PROJECT
This project addresses the consequences of the Moseneke judgement.
The implementation of the Moseneke Judgement has made the services of the Masters to be more accessible to all the members of the public. Various Magistrates offices throughout the country have been designated as service points where Masters Services are made available to the public. This unit is currently engaging HR to conduct a workstudy at the service points in order to determine the workload for the creation of posts.
The magistrates commission has undertaken to encourage the Magistrates to provide assistance and advice to the Masters personnel accommodated in their courts. We are also getting support from the Magistrates in this regard.
In each and every Masters office throughout the country a Project Manager has been identified to harness the process. This Project Manager is assisted by a team running with all the Moseneke needs.
Regular feedback sessions and reporting is done to the Master in each and every office.
Decentralized courses to train Magistrates' offices personnel as well as our personnel on the implementation of the Moseneke decision have been ongoing since January 2003.
The first course was conducted in Mmabatho then Polokwane. Other courses were also conducted in Justice College.
OPENING OF SUB OFFICES
New offices have been secured in the following areas.
In Port Elizabeth an office has been obtained in Western Street-City centre within the building of the State Attorneys Office. The Master is expected to take occupation of the building on 30 May 2003
In Durban an office has been obtained in the Maritime House-Victorian Embankment. In this regard the Master has taken occupation of the premises. Staff from the Pietermaritzburg office have been placed in Durban. It is expected that this office would soon be open to the public.
In Johannesburg an office has been secured next to the High Court.
In Polokwane an office has been secured in Nedbank Gardens-Landdros Mare Street.
APPOINTMENT OF LIQUIDATORS
The Masters Business unit is developing a policy document on the appointment of liquidators. The primary objective of the discussion document is to guide the Masters in effecting transformation in the appointment of liquidators.
The Business Unit has adopted an interventionist approach to the appointment of liquidators. In this regard the Unit intervened in the 711 liquidation in the Western Cape as well as the the Tygon matter in Kwazulu Natal. The net result was that liquidators who would otherwise not have been appointed was indeed appointed.
The programme: Masterís Office Administration System (MOAS) which entails the computerisation of the Masterís Offices throughout the country includes the
Guardianís Fund, Masterís Administration System for Estates, Trusts and Insolvencies (MASETI), as well as the Website, among others
It is important to note that the various computerised system being implemented are designed in such a way that they complement each other to bring about a revolution in information management geared to service deliver in the Masterís Office industry. At present, phase one of three is near completion.
The capacity constraints facing the Masters are the following:
Insufficient, inexperienced, untrained Managers and others. This has affected the service delivery of the Masters considerably and resulted in backlogs. Personnel to staff sub offices are needed.
The Masters have been supplied with the computer hardware, but the necessary programmes to replace the archaic methods of interest calculation and accounting practices in the Guardians Fund are lacking.
Computerization of the Masters will enhance service delivery and reduce the paper driven environment of the Masters that is clogging the system.
To accommodate the possible assimilation of Intestate Black Estates and to make the services of the Master more accessible to all South Africans, the establishing of sub offices in strategic centres are planned.
4. Equipment and Furniture
This will be needed to establish the sub offices.
The Masters have been inadequately funded for many years resulting in deterioration in infrastructure and the ability to attract well-qualified and experienced personnel. A drain of experienced personnel has crippled the service delivery potential of the Masters.