Department Strategic Plan and Budget 2006/07

Social Development

13 March 2006
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Meeting report

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
14 March 2006
DEPARTMENT STRATEGIC PLAN AND BUDGET 2006/07

Chairperson:
Ms T Tshivhase (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department 2006/07 Strategic Plan Presentation (PowerPoint)
Departmental Budget Vote Presentation [email docs@pmg.org.za]

SUMMARY
The Department of Social Development presented its Strategic Plan and Budget for 2006/07 to the Committee.

The Committee asked for clarity on the lack of trained social workers to assist in realising the Department’s vision and goals, corruption in processing grant applications and funds and lack of an integrated approach amongst departments to help combat poverty. Members were concerned that there was no clear indication of what was being done to officials who were involved in corruption. The Committee also acknowledged that the problem of inadequate social workers in the South Africa impacted on the country’s ability to address poverty and illiteracy.

MINUTES
Mr V Madonsela (Director-General) introduced the Department’s delegation as Ms V Nhlapho (Deputy Director- General), Mr C Phakade (Chief Financial Officer), Mr S Jehoma (Acting Deputy Director -General), Ms D Moutlatse (Director: Disability and Retirement Benefits), Mr J Segole (Chief Information Officer), Mr R Hlatshwayo (Deputy Director), Ms L Mxenge (Chief Director), Ms S Sadiluka (Chief Director: Development Implementation Support), Ms P Maloka (Acting Chief Operations Officer), Dr C Kganakga (Chief Director), Ms N Kela (Chief Director: Welfare Service), Ms M Ngcobo-Mbere: Disability and Children), Ms L Peterson (Parliamentary Liaison Officer-Minister’s Office), and Sean Whiting (Parliamentary Liaison Officer-Deputy Minister’s Office)

Briefing by the Department of Social Development (DSD)
Ms V Nhlapho (Deputy Director-General) said the Department was committed to providing a caring and integrated system of social development services that facilitated human development and improved the quality of life. She outlined specific priorities for 2006/07 highlighting improving the effectiveness of social development programmes to provide a cushion of support for people exposed to poverty and taking measures to address poverty, under-development and marginalisation. The Department also prioritised interventions directed at higher levels of growth and development in support of government’s 6% economic growth target.

The Department’s budget allocation for 2006/07 amounted to total of R 62,005,460 that was allocated to Administration, Comprehensive Social Protection, Social Security Transfers & Administration, Social Welfare Services, Development & Research and Strategy, Regulation & Oversight. The Department informed the Committee that even though fraud and corruption remained a challenge, leakages due to fraud and corruption have been minimised within international norms. However, there was room for improvement especially around budgeting and supply chain management.

The Department’s programmes were presented with an indication of what each programme intended to do, challenges experienced, key achievements and going forward with priorities for the future. The Department concluded that its priority in going forward was to ensure that the challenge of service delivery continued to be centered on eradicating poverty. The Department sought to consolidate all its efforts in improving Human and Social Capital Capacity at a local and family level.

Discussion
Ms H Weber (DA) commended the Department on an informative presentation but pointed out that there was no mention in the presentation of internship training for social and auxiliary workers considering that the country is currently experiencing shortages of such professionals. She was also concerned with little or no co-ordination between social workers and other entities such as homes or shelters.

Ms Kela responded that the training of social workers would take place at two levels, one particularly at Universities. The problem was the gap between social workers coming directly from Universities and those that had been working for a while. It became evident that social workers from Universities were not equipped with practical experience and therefore were unable to use the development approach required by their practice. She acknowledged that the Department did not do much to train and provide practical experience to such social workers.

Ms Kela also indicated that in order to retain social workers, they were working with tertiary institutions to improve the intake of students in the Social Work field. There were also bursaries made available to help students in the Social Work field finish their studies.

Mr M Waters (DA) posed a question about the Department’s achievements on resuscitating the Ke Moja Campaign. He asked when it was done, how the Department hoped to roll it out and finally what budget had the Central Drug Authority been given to combat drug abuse in South Africa?

Ms Kela said that Ke Moja was launched in 2004 in Cape Town and there was a rollout by the Minister of Social Development in 2005. The rollout was then extended to all other provinces and the Department would appreciate feedback from provinces to indicate progress and challenges.

Mr Jehoma added that with the introduction of the National Drug Master Plan they intended to ensure that all departments became involved in the programme by also allocating budgets. The budget allocated by the Central Drug Authority saw an increase even though capacity still continued to be a challenge, especially in monitoring work that has been done in the provinces.

Ms I Ludwabe (ANC) wanted to know where the Umsobomvu Youth Fund (UYF) information could be accessed in Port Elizabeth. She said that she had very little information on their projects.

Ms X Makasi (ANC) also raised her concern around accessing the UYF. There were complaints from the youth sector in general that despite the presence of their offices, the Fund did not assist the youth. Had the Department done anything to revamp the UYF in order to assist the youth as expected?

Mr Madonsela said that the Department worked fairly well with the UYF and had collaborated in enrolling projects and training of probation officers. At a broader level, the collaboration was issue-based because the Fund was not directly linked to the DSD. For that reason, the Department could not underestimate the work done by the Fund even though they could not exercise any political control over the Fund.

Advocate M Masutha (ANC) asked to what extent other departments saw fit to facilitate the implementation of an integrated social policy in South Africa. He questioned whether or not South Africa was going forward in expanding capacity to deal with social security systems.

Mr Jehoma replied that other departments were working hard towards promoting the development of social policies. Generally it was at an integrated level that policy objectives were achieved. Over the last few years, significant progress had been made in improving social security systems. However, there had been less progress on the reformation of the Road Accident Fund (RAF), but the latest report to be published soon would indicate what progress has been made and what challenges lay ahead. The Population Unit had been a facilitator in getting expertise and access to demographic specialists.

Ms X Makasi (ANC) asked how many of the Departmental officials were involved in corruption and had been exposed.

Mr Jehoma responded that there were statistics that could be provided later to indicate the number of fraudulent cases reported and how many of those involved Department officials.

Mr Waters asked what problems the Department faced with regards to the Child Protection Register and how they intended to address those challenges.

Ms Ngcobo-Mbere said that the Department was in the process of implementing part A only and not part B yet. The Department had approached the South African Police Services (SAPS) and the Department of Justice to share information on how the Register would be consolidated and monitored. Those two departments already had Registers on sexual offences and convicted criminals. The problem was mainly lack of capacity in provinces to designate staff to track cases and capture information at the same time. The Department was looking at other ways to improve things while also working with the relevant Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) and the IT department for technicalities. She acknowledged that there were problems with administering the Register but they were hoping to provide solutions to such problems. One other solution would be to provide adequate social auxiliary workers to work on cases and perform other administrative tasks.

Advocate Masutha questioned the location of the Population Development Unit and the role it played in monitoring population trends.

Mr Madonsela echoed that the Population Development Unit had its own history especially around its location. It is properly located and the Department resolved that the unit was an integral part of the work done by the DSD while it should also service other Government departments. However its location currently limited the ability to work better. Their role was acknowledged in many areas of interest such as HIV/AIDS and other social issues. The DSD hoped to properly locate and streamline the role of the Population Development Unit in future.
 
Advocate Masutha was concerned that in many instances, people were not informed of the way to access social grants that they qualified for and ended up not getting their money. What was being done to make sure that such occurrences did not take place?

Mr B Solo (ANC) also raised his concerns around the inability to reach people especially the poor and the illiterate. He added that lack of access was a huge problem and needed immediate attention. He proposed that the Department, together with the Committee as well as relevant stakeholders arrange an Imbizo where issues around accessing social grants could be debated.

Mr Madonsela shared Members’ sentiments and agreed that there was still a lot of work that needed to be done to improve the status of the Department.

Advocate Masutha posed a question regarding the Department’s budget wanting to know if South Africa was moving towards a phase where provincial departments would be expanding their social services and budget to programmes such as drug dependency and caring for children.


Mr Pakade, responded that substance abuse required an integrated approach with all departments involved. There were slightly more funds available to the Central Drug Authority (CDA), and this needs to be distributed to the local level. He said that there was lack of  a monitoring function, and therefore there needed to be an increase in capacity at all levels.


[Note: The PMG monitor was unable to capture the response to this question and a follow-up question.This will be provided shortly]


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