A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
Social Development Portfolio Committee
27 October 2004
DEPARTMENT ANNUAL REPORT; NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY AND CENTRAL DRUG AUTHORITY: BRIEFINGS
Chairperson: Ms T Tshivase (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Central Drug Authority PowerPoint presentation
IDASA Budget Brief: Government spending on children
National Development Agency PowerPoint presentation
Department Director-General’s PowerPoint presentation on Annual Report
Members received briefings from the National Development Agency (NDA), the Central Drug Authority (CDA) and the Department of Social Development. In the ensuing discussion, Members asked the NDA about internal matters, civil society funding priorities and the monitoring of funding. The CDA answered questions about drug awareness campaigns, access to treatment and research priorities. Discussions with the Department focused on child support grants, child-headed households, rural development and improved information management systems.
Ms L Madubela, Director of the National Development Agency (NDA) and Ms B Masondo, Director of Communications, briefed the Committee. Ms Masondo reported that the NDA wanted to enhance the strategic co-ordination of the poverty eradication initiatives of government and civil society. Ms Masondo emphasised that the NDA’s key project sectors were food security and economic development. The NDA’s funds were derived from government and the European Union (EU). R109 million had been received from government, of which R74 million had been disbursed. The EU had committed funds of R52.8 million, of which R24 million had been disbursed during 2003/2004.
Professor E Mokoko of the Central Drug Authority (CDA) explained that the CDA had been established five years ago to oversee the national prevention and treatment of drug abuse. The National Drug Master Plan (NDMP), developed in 1999, envisaged a drug-free society through collaboration with all stakeholders. Professor Mokoko outlined eight challenges for co-ordination across all nine provinces and fourteen government departments. Their primary obstacle was a lack of resources; the CDA functioned for four years without any administrative support. The CDA hoped to establish a toll-free hotline and local drug action committees. Professor Mokoko stated that the CDA’s annual report would be tabled once the Minister had signed it.
Ms T Tshivase invited Members to put questions to the NDA and CDA.
Mr B Solo (ANC) asked the NDA how it intended to capacitate civil society organisations, particularly struggling community based organisations (CBOs) in the rural areas.
Ms S Rajbally (MF) requested the NDA to forward a list of all the NGOs, CBOs and FBOs they funded so that Members could follow up in their own constituencies.
Mr L Nzimande (ANC) asked whether the NDA has a strategy to spread allocations equitably so that they reached deep rural areas and how it assessed progress in this regard. He expressed concern about funding accessibility for new organisations that cannot produce audited accounts.
Mr M Waters (DA) asked why the NDA had not produced an annual report. He enquired about the fire at the NDA’s offices and the outcome of the investigation. He requested clarity on the appointment of Mr K Plaatjie and the status of disciplinary action against the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and his deputy. Lastly, he asked when the forensic audit report was due for release.
Ms X Makasi (ANC) called a point of order with regard to Mr M Waters’ questions and suggested that the Committee deal with the presentation itself, and not with sub judice matters surrounding internal disciplinary issues. Mr M Waters responded that the role of the Committee was to provide oversight.
Mr Nzimande (ANC) commented that as a matter of principle, Parliament did not deal with sub judice matters. Mr B Solo (ANC) concurred and proposed that the Committee interrogate the forensic report once it had been published.
Ms Tshivase invited the NDA to answer the questions that they felt they could answer.
The NDA representatives responded that the CEO’s disciplinary hearing was continuing despite the fact that he had resigned. The Committee would be informed of the outcome. The NDA’s audited financial statements had been submitted to the Auditor General at the end of May 2004. They were returned for further refinement, but the fire at the NDA offices prevented timeous re-submission. The draft annual report is available and will be tabled in Parliament once the Minister had signed it
The NDA fire happened on 1 July 2004. The CSIR conducted a forensic investigation and submitted a report to the insurers, SA Eagle and Mutual and Federal, who had classified the information as privileged. NDA had made a written request to release the information.
On the issue of capacity building, NDA indicated that there were about 98 000 civil society organisations in South Africa. The NDA was currently engaged with SANGOCO and other institutions to develop a capacity building programme. A cross-sectoral team was scheduled to meet for the first time on 9 November to take this further.
NDA worked with civil society networks and the SA Non-Governmental Organisation Coalition (SANGOCO) about compiling a meta-database of civil society organisations. Three initial meetings have taken place and progress is being made.
More than 85% of NDA’s funding had gone to projects in rural areas, with progressive focus on Rural Development Project (RDP) nodes. The NDA had decentralised its operations by establishing offices in all nine provinces. NDA Project Managers would be allocated to each District Municipality. Organisations can access NDA funding through submitting an application. Alternatively NDA Project Managers approach identified communities to conduct a needs analysis and jointly conceptualise a strategy that the NDA can support.
Ms L Madubela explained that the NDA monitored its work through two impact assessments. One assessed the impact of cross-cutting issues on gender, HIV and food security. A second measured the impact of the NDA on South African communities. The Committee was assured that monitoring received high priority.
Ms H Weber (DA) asked the CDA whether more could be done to combat alcohol abuse.
Ms J Chalmers (ANC) expressed concern about the degree of deviation from set targets and proposed more regular follow up by the Committee. She asked how the CDA proposed to meet its challenges given the lack of resources. She enquired whether the old NDMP was still being used.
Mr D Waters (DA) asked when the previous annual reports were submitted and why there had been a delay in attaining the Minister’s signature to the latest report. He noted the CDA’s objective of amending the Drug Dependency Act and asked why it had failed to submit proposed amendments when they were due in March 2004. Mr D Waters further enquired whether labels would be placed on alcohol packaging carrying a similar health warning to cigarette packets. He requested information on budgets and timeframes for CDA’s proposed information clearing-house and hotline.
Mr L Nzimande (ANC) asked about the composition and operating budget of the CDA. He commented that not much is known about the NDMP and suggested that the Committee had a role to play in reviewing the existing plan and formulating a revised version.
Ms C Dudley (ACDP) asked whether a model for treatment of young addicts had been implemented and what role the CDA played. She raised concerns about the closure of substance abuse centres that had a record of success, and asked for clarity on CDA’s involvement in the closure of the Noupoort centre.
Ms S Rajbally (MF) asked about the balance between under-resourced and over-resourced substance abuse projects.
Ms X Makasi (ANC) commented that the Imoja awareness campaign was not operating in the townships and asked about the accessibility of drug rehabilitation centres in the Western Cape.
Ms P Tshwete (ANC) enquired about mechanisms to resolve duplication of resources on drug prevention and treatment.
The representatives of the CDA reported that they had participated in an International Day against Drug Abuse and Trafficking event in Kimberley on 26 June at which CDA promotional material about illicit drugs was distributed. A website provided information on drug use and a resource directory had been made available. A drug awareness campaign would be rolled out in all nine provinces.
Professor Mokoko added that each province had different resources and capacity. Research done in urban areas only provided statistics about the situation in cities and ignored the problems of the rural poor with regard to drug production and use. Most of the treatment centres were in Gauteng and the Western Cape. There were more than 20 treatment centres in Cape Town while Limpopo had only two. The CDA promoted identification of own problems and own solutions by each province. She stressed that existing resources, such as one-stop centres and schools, could play a greater role.
Professor E Mokoko suggested that duplication could be reduced if each department reported to the CDA as well as reporting internally. The CDA had experienced a lack of commitment from several departments. For instance, the Department of Safety and Security had stopped attending meetings. She reported that South Africa had been the first country in the SADC region to formulate a drug master plan and had helped other countries to do the same. The plan had to be reviewed every five years. The review would be completed by the end of the year and recommended amendments would be made available. The development of a model to treat young people was being piloted and would be evaluated. Two provinces (Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal) had indicated that they were ready to roll out the Imoja campaign that was about hard drugs and was therefore not applicable to all provinces.
Professor E Mokoko said that language presented an obstacle to putting warning labels on alcohol packaging. DA Members recommended using pictures instead.
Twelve experts from universities and treatment centres served on the CDA. The CDA chairperson had retired and a new chairperson was being sought. The Department of Social Development was primarily responsible for the CDA. The CDA budget had always been a “mysterious” matter.
The review of the NDMP would concentrate on areas that needed attention and would aim for a more user-friendly plan. The proposed national clearing-house would be a library and information centre on substance abuse. The CDA is still waiting for resources to be allocated.
Ms T Tshivase requested a copy of CDA’s substance abuse directory for the Committee and handed over to Mr K Pakade for a briefing on the Department’s annual report.
Department of Social Development briefing
Mr K Pakade introduced himself as the Acting Director General (DG) of the Department and communicated apologies on behalf of the DG.
Mr K Pakade reported that two key pieces of legislation had been passed during the year under review, viz. the new Social Assistance Act and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) Act. The Department was on track to meet the April 2005 deadline to create a functional head office for SASSA. Regional structures would be established later. The regulations under the Social Assistance Act have not got a timeframe, but would be informed by processes within the Social Security branch. All regulations must be operational before the Agency started to function.
The Department was engaged in debates on the definition of disability. The outcomes would affect eligibility assessments for disability grants. The Department was confident that those people eligible for grants were receiving them, but some fraudulent claims were still being approved. The fraud hotline was launched in March 2004. Inequity between provinces remained an obstacle. The ratio of officials to grant recipients had been benchmarked at 1:800, but in the Eastern Cape, one official worked with over 2 000 grant applications. People wait an average of 90 days for grant approval while 45 days was the target.
R1.2 billion had been allocated in the national budget to the child support grant (CSG). The Department had seen drastic increases in take-up rates in most provinces, while the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape and the North West had underspent their funds. Co-operation with the Department of Home Affairs was required to ensure that applicants had the requisite documents.
The Auditor General’s report highlighted problems with under-spending on conditional grants. The Department had established guidelines, sent out templates, and visited officials to rectify the situation, and had seen improvement. The CSG and Food Emergency Scheme presented major challenges. Un-audited figures were being used as the final audit report was not yet available. CSG underspending had been recorded in the Eastern Cape (34%), Northern Cape (17%), North West (52%) and Western Cape (18%). HIV/Aids underspending had been recorded in Limpopo (17%) and Northern Cape (20%). Provinces sometimes stuggled to get data from the implementing agencies. KZN (30%), Gauteng (85%) and Mpumalanga (15%) had underspent on their food emergency relief funds. These figures excluded provinces that underspent by 10% or less.
Ms X Makasi (ANC) assumed the role of Chairperson and opened the floor for questions.
Mr D Waters (DA) commented on patterns of underspending in certain provinces, indicating that 113 000 children had not been reached by CSG and that four provinces had failed to issue food supplements at all. He asked how this had been allowed to happen. He suggested that children who reached the cut-off age for the CSG remained on the system so that their grants could automatically be resumed when the age limit increased. He asked what the Department was doing to resource the CDA adequately.
Ms J Chalmers (ANC) noted the Finance Minister’s concern about the escalation of grant spending. She asked about the impact of HIV infection rates on grant spending. She acknowledged the many studies conducted by the Department and requested that these be made available to the Committee so that they informed decision-making. She recommended the inclusion of seed packets in food parcels in co-operation with the Department of Agriculture.
Ms H Weber (DA) asked about strategies for eliminating fraud in grant allocation.
Ms I Direko (ANC) asked about the sustainability of food parcels and alternative methods.
Mr K Pakade replied that underspending was often linked to lack of provincial capacity and differing provincial challenges such as under-staffing and budgetary constraints. The Eastern Cape government had placed a moratorium on staff appointments. The Government responded by sending highly skilled teams into provinces that were struggling, as in the Eastern Cape. The plan was to implement norms across the provinces from a central authority utilising national staff. He agreed that it was important to establish the impact of HIV/Aids on social security, and announced that the National Treasury would assist in such a study. The Department had developed guidelines on food supplements.
On the question of transferring CSG recipients in line with age increases, he explained that the provinces had had to go through an onerous process of reassessing applications to close loopholes. He expressed confidence that the 2001 census would provide more accurate data on which to base uptake projections. The model was being revised so that new targets could be used in the next budget. In terms of adequate resourcing for the CDA, he said that the Department would be willing to give more funds on receipt of a strong business plan. The Department had identified poverty “hotspots” through Stats South Africa and these would be supported.
Regarding the sustainability of food parcels, Cabinet had agreed that the Department was obligated to continue services to these households. The Treasury was concerned about continuation of food relief, especially with the stabilisation of food prices. Parcels would be distributed this year, but next year alternative options would be considered. National government would re-strategise social development in partnership with provincial governments focusing on service delivery. Alternative income generation projects such as vegetable gardens would be considered. The information management systems would be improved in collaboration with the Department of Home Affairs to remove corrupt data. Efficient service delivery in rural areas was a priority and hospitals and schools would be utilised to facilitate effective registration. The economic and social empowerment of women was an important component of the strategy.
Ms Direko asked about progress in appointing new service providers regarding food parcels.
Ms Tshwete inquired about alternative arrangements for those recipients under investigation or reprocessing applications to receive continued support.
Mr Waters suggested that payments should be frozen until identity had been confirmed and the Departments of Social Development and Home Affairs should co-ordinate information systems more effectively. The need for annual reconfirmation of permanent disability status was questioned. More social workers had to be employed to address demand.
Ms Chalmers stated that social workers had to be retained within NGOs and clarity was sought on the operating procedures of early childhood development facilities.
Ms Tshwete requested further information on the provision of old-age homes, including location and standard of facilities.
Ms Rajbally asked what percentage of the IDT transfer had been spent.
Mr Pakade replied that the process to identify new service providers was at the last stage and December was the deadline.
Ms Direko asserted that recipients appreciated delivery at Christmas time and asked whether previous providers could not continue in the interim.
Mr Pakade responded that Treasury would not allow the continuation of previous contracts and new tenders were required. Re-registration was a quicker process than initial registration and automatic termination of deceased recipients would be improved in partnership with Home Affairs. Permanent disability could be handled more effectively including a life certificate. Increased staff within NGOs was a controversial topic and a report on old-age homes would be made available.
Dr Mabetoa (Chief Director-Children) stated that the child-headed household study was a pilot providing some understanding of the challenges. Different definitions of such households prevailed, including the age requirement. Studies indicated gaps in the provision of child-support grants and the preference of children to live in child-headed homes. Children over 18 could act as foster parents if required. The Department did not discourage children from remaining in their own communities and child-care forums were being established to assist vulnerable children and identify needs. Provincial departments were recruiting extended family members to assist in the care of children. The finalisation of the Children’s Bill would clarify structures to be used. Community-based organisations would monitor the care-givers and assist in grant applications. The audit of old-age homes had been completed and more were needed in rural areas. The Department wanted to attract additional social workers into the government and NGO sector and NGOs would submit programmes of action highlighting financial needs. Early childhood development guidelines were almost complete.
Ms Weber asked about progress on the disability grant training manual and whether the Committee could have a copy. A list of NGOs receiving funding was requested.
Dr Mabetoa replied that the information on NGOs was available on the website and the training manual would be completed following the promulgation of pending legislation.
Ms Tshwete claimed that the circumstances around child-headed households had to be reviewed to provide a clearer definition. A workshop within affected communities was suggested to enhance understanding of the problem.
The Chairperson referred to the difficult situation prevailing in the Eastern Cape that was exacerbated by staff shortages and the large number of child-headed households. Aids sufferers were dying in large numbers without sufficient intervention by social workers. The Department was losing staff at an unacceptable rate and the Committee would strive to identify suitable responses.
The meeting was adjourned.