2008/09 Annual Report of the Department of Social Development

Social Development

26 October 2009
Chairperson: Mr V Magagula (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Chief Operations Officer and the Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Social Development (DSD) briefed the Committee on the 2008/09 Annual Report. The report covered the five key strategic programmes developed by the Department as well as the financial statements for the 2008/09 financial period. The Department had received an unqualified audit opinion for the seventh year. The Auditor-General had raised certain concerns over weaknesses in the management of the Department and a detailed action plan was developed and implemented to address the issues related to compliance; control; financial administration and providing value for money.  The Department was responsible for the disbursement of R71.176 billion allocated for social grants by the South African Social Services Agency.

The Committee asked questions about the criteria the Department used to register Non Profit Organisations, the assistance available to the smaller Non Profit Organisations, the skills development programmes, the communication of National policy to the local level, the utilisation of an integrated database system to prevent duplicated records of persons receiving social grants and the reasons for the under-spending of the funds allocated to the Department.

Meeting report

The Honourable Edna Molewa, Minister of Social Development and Ms Bathabile Dlamini, Deputy Minister of Social Development attended the meeting

Briefing by the Department of Social Development (DSD) on the 2008/09 Annual Report
Mr Zane Dangor, Chief Operations Officer; DSD, presented the 2008/09 Annual Report to the Committee (see attached document).

The briefing covered an overview of the Department’s strategic commitments for dealing with the social problems associated with poverty, social inequality and social dislocation. Part A of the presentation dealt with the Department’s mission and vision statements and the priority areas that were identified as the key strategic interventions. Part B of the presentation covered the Department’s Performance Programmes for the key strategic priorities identified in Part A.

The Performance Programmes were divided into five programme categories. Programme 1 covered Administrative matters and included the policy and strategic direction by the Ministry and top level management and the overall management of the DSD. The achievements of the programme included the development of a draft policy on Social Insurance (which was evaluated by an international panel of social security experts); compiled research reports into the feasibility of the work seekers’ grant and wage subsidies and the profiling of unemployed beneficiaries of social grants. Partnerships were developed with Zambia and Swaziland to develop access to social security on the African continent. The Child Support Grant to children was extended to include children under the age of 15 and as a result the Child Support Grant reflected a 7% growth in the number of recipients (8 189 975 in 2008 to 8 765 354 in 2009). Significant gains in the number of recipients of Disability grants and the Older Persons grants were achieved.

Programme 2 covered Comprehensive Social Security issues, which involved the development of standards for the facilitation of economic planning, compliance monitoring and policy provisions to ensure a comprehensive system of social security and the payment of social grants to eligible recipients. Under the programme the Department achieved increases in the provision of grants for the Old Age pension, Foster Care, Care Dependency, Child Support and War Veteran grants.

Programme 3 covered issues of Policy Development and the implementation of the Welfare Services in an integrated developmental manner, using relevant partnerships to leverage the Department’s efforts. The programme achieved success in the approval of the regulations, norms and standards of the Children’s Act by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) as well as partnerships with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), which approved funding to the value of R35 million to assist in combating child abuse. The National Integrated Plan for Early Childhood Development (NIPECD), which saw the development of 13 736 Early Childhood Development sites during the 2008/09 period was approved. The passing of the Bill on the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse was a key success under the programme. The approval of the Mini Drug Master Plan and its implementation by the Department was another key success under the programme. The training of Departmental personnel in the implementation of the Mini Drug Master Plan as well as other training programmes to build capacity in the Department were carried out.

Programme 4 covered issues concerned with Community Development, which included the development, facilitation, monitoring and implementation of the policies and strategies aimed at strengthening the communities (including the youth) and measures to improve the livelihood of communities. The achievements of the programme included the draft Community Development Framework, which involved conducting a skills audit of community development practitioners in Community Based Organisations (CBO’s) in all nine Provinces. A community development professionalisation task team was established to drive the process of the registration of community development practitioners. The registration statistics of Non Profit Organisations (NPO’s) were included in the report. The Masupatsela Pioneer Programme, which encouraged the participation of the youth in community development, was a notable success.

Programme 5 covered the strategic management components of the DSD, including operational efficiency through the alignment of the Department’s strategies with the institutional capacities to ensure the achievement of the goals of the Department.

2008/09 Financial Report of the Department of Social Development
Ms Dorothee Snyman, Chief Financial Officer, DSD presented the financial statements of the DSD and the Auditor-General’s Report for the 2008/09 financial year. The Department had spent 99.4% of its budget during the year under review.

Following the shifting of the social assistance function from the Provincial Government to the National Government, the entire budget for the social assistance transfers (i.e. social grants) of R71.176 billion was voted to the Department. 
The South African Social Services Agency (SASSA) remained responsible for the distribution of the funds to social grant beneficiaries.  The Director-General of the Department of Social Development remained accountable for the expenditure.  In terms of the present flow of funds arrangement, any shortcomings and/or failures in SASSA’s internal control systems in the area of social assistance transfers would have a negative impact on the financial statements of the Department of Social Development.

The Department had received an unqualified audit opinion for the seventh year in succession. The Auditor-General had raised concerns over certain weaknesses in the management of the Department and a detailed action plan was developed and implemented to address the aspects related to
compliance; control; financial administration and providing value for money. Implementation of the action plan was monitored on a monthly basis. 35% of the weaknesses identified have already been addressed as they related to issues of disclosure in the financial statements.

Ms W Nelson (ANC) asked what guidelines were used to register NPO’s and whether or not those organisations that were not registered were provided with assistance to ensure that the compliance requirements for registration were met.

Ms P Moloica, Deputy Director-General, DSD, replied that the Department was aware that certain NPO’s were more established than others and dominated the smaller NPO’s. The Department ensured that NPO’s that failed to register with the Department were provided with the necessary assistance and any capacity skills training that might be required in order to meet the compliance requirements for registration with the Department.

Ms Molewa said that the Department was aware of the need to grow the NPO base in South Africa to ensure the successful implementation of developmental projects. The strategy of incremental growth was favoured by the Department as it allowed the NPO’s access to capacity and skills. Opportunities for mentorship were created, where smaller NPO’s were paired with the larger, more established NPO’s to encourage the development of organisational efficiency, improved management of budgets and the sourcing of funding.

Ms T Kenye (ANC) asked for clarity on the definition of disability.

Mr Dangor replied that a task team had been established to refine the definition of disability to enable the Department to develop a clear policy guideline for determining who was entitled to a disability grant.

Ms Molewa advised that a Bill was in the process of being introduced that included clarity on the policy and definitions of disability for the purposes of profiling who qualified for the disability grants.

Ms H Malgas (ANC) asked for clarity on the integrated services approach that the Department mentioned in the report.

Mr Dangor explained that the integrated services approach was based on the use of multiple stakeholders, including other Government Departments (for example, the Departments of Health and Education) to assist the DSD in formulating a better approach to the implementation of the National strategic objectives.

Ms N Gcume (COPE) asked how the Department ensured the dissemination of information on the National policy to employees in the regional and district offices.

Ms Molewa replied that the DSD had a structure in place, called the Heads of Departments of the Department of Social Development, for the purpose of providing a platform for the communication and dissemination of information. The Heads of Departments were responsible for ensuring that the information was communicated to the Social Development offices in the various regions.

Mr Dangor added that the Department had arranged training workshops for the purpose of increasing the skills capacity of DSD personnel, which included the training of employees based at the regional offices situated throughout the country.

Ms Malgas asked if the DSD had a risk assessment division and why the budget was under-spent.

Ms Snyman replied that the Department had an auditing unit, which was responsible for conducting various risk assessments and the provision of other related services.

Ms Kenye asked whether the DSD had a system to monitor the national database to ensure that a person who received a grant in one Province could not receive another grant in a different Province.

Mr Dangor replied that there was an Integrated Information System that allowed for the screening of all recipients of grants and that can be accessed by the regional offices and other remote systems.

Ms Gcume commented that the under-spending by the Department was unacceptable. Many people were suffering and the resources available should be fully applied to address the plight of the masses that it was intended for.

Ms Snyman explained that some of the rolled-over funds were intended for specific projects that were put on hold because of changes in the administration and which had resulted in the funding that was allocated to the projects being rolled over.

The meeting was adjourned.

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