In its submission the Department of Social Development said that the bulk of its welfare services were carried out by NGOs. Social grants were currently being received by thirteen million beneficiaries, with the child support grant seeing the most notable increase. With the economic downturn and resultant rise in unemployment figures, the need for social grants had increased. An uncoordinated Government response to social development, lack of information by communities and poor infrastructure had served as challenges for the Department.
The Department had, however, optimised access to services for improved poverty reduction (with priority given to rural areas), improved infrastructure at local service points so as to better the experiences of people accessing its services and it continued to communicate to its customers about services they were entitled to.
Members asked what the Department was doing about children without Identity Documents, and those child-headed households thus not being able to access grants. Was there a mechanism or strategy in place which allowed for the managing of people entering and exiting the system? Did the Department have a strategy which allowed for people to exit the system?
The Ministry of Health submission said that its Programme of Action was based on a 10-Point Plan. The delivery of healthcare was a problem at all three levels of Government and the foundation of this lay with poor District healthcare systems. The revitalisation of its primary healthcare at District level was therefore of importance for the Department. It had, to this end, called for the establishment of District Health Councils. It was also planning to audit all primary healthcare facilities during the coming financial year. Some of the challenges the Department faced included the impact of poverty with its resultant demand for health services, poor human resources as well as a poor integrated planning system.
Questions included the extent to which the ‘brain drain’ affected the National Health Insurance (NHI); why was more emphasis placed on HIV/AIDS than on other diseases; what was role of municipalities in providing adequate healthcare?
The Committee listened to submissions from the Department of Higher and Basic Education,
SALGA pointed out that the Constitution envisaged clearly defined functions for the various spheres of government, however there seemed to be a disjuncture between the functions, and it was not clear which functions fell under which sphere. Among other thing they recommended that a clear legislative framework be developed to provide as regulation between the spheres. Regarding the institutional systems, the local government that had been envisaged had not come to pass. Local government was over regulated and that the complex provisions should be simplified, or made applicable on the basis of capacity.
The Department of Human Settlements highlighted its key challenge: the inadequate capacity of the state, lack of bulk infrastructure, social and geographic disparities, and cost price escalation. In looking at the current interventions, it was important to understand the scope. Using the integrated human settlement approach, land was needed, together with social amenities, internal services, and the participation and support of commercial and business entities.
The Department of Basic Education highlighted its challenges, together with their causes. The most significant problem was the huge division between wealthy children as opposed to poorer children in certain geographic areas, who held the burden of poor performance. Two things needed to be done. Strategic interventions were needed, and accelerated delivery could be leveraged by focusing on performance management accountability and remediation.
The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union outlined some of the reasons for service delivery problems: interference with administration, accountability in procurements and tender awards, non-filling of vacancies, competency concerns about the posts that were filled, the skills shortage and a failure to retain skills and outsourcing of municipal services.
Empowerdex pointed out that there was a steadily increasing obligation but a lack of resources. Examples of problems faced were indigent policies that penalised poor households, and tariffs that were not design to maximise revenue solutions. Its own turnkey solution had been developed for municipalities that were battling to fulfil their mandate and statutory requirements and included a manual, training and ongoing support.
The Institute for Local Government Management said that one of the problems was that there was no meaningful follow-up on the resolutions made by premiers. There was also a lack of retention of skills, which were often poached by other spheres of government or the private sector. There needed to be a skills retention programme and legislation to professionalise management.
Department of Social Development submission
Mr Zane Dangor, DSD Chief Operating Officer, said that the Department’s biggest budget item was the Social Grant System, which was delivered through the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). In terms of its service delivery per municipality, its systems were not adequately geared towards providing municipal breakdown as it still required manual manipulation. Together with SASSA it actively participated in the Integrated Development Plans (IDP) processes. SASSA’s grant application system known as SOCPEN used residence codes not yet linked to the Municipal Demarcation Board. The payment system used payment and pay-point codes linked to Geographical Information Systems (GIS). Thirteen million beneficiaries were currently receiving social grants, with the biggest increase in grants given to children. Care dependency grants had increased by 13 048 beneficiaries.
Some of the challenges the Department faced within the current system of service delivery was the fact that its mandate was extensive. When there were failures in the economy, poverty increased and this led to greater need for social assistance programmes. There was also an uncoordinated response to community development. There was also a lack of information by communities on what Government was doing. In addition, the poor infrastructure and capacity at local service points did not allow its customers a dignified and respectful experience. This was found to be weakest at district/ municipal levels. A full list of the challenges follows:
• Uncoordinated community development practices
• Lack of skills and capacity within communities
• Lack of information on government by communities
• Business processes not aligned and supportive of the business at hand
• Poor infrastructure and capacity at local service points for dignified and respectful experience by customers
• DSD service delivery model excluding municipalities
• Drug Trafficking
• Insufficient services for the disabled
• Children living and working on the streets
• Substance Abuse: Drug Master Plan, local committees not properly working
• ECD coverage, especially in rural areas
• Insufficient number of social workers
Some of its interventions to improve the current situation included the following: Optimising access to services for improved poverty reduction (with priority given to rural areas), Improving infrastructure at local service point so as to better the experiences of customers when accessing its services, Continued communication to its customers on services they are entitled to, and Continuing to implement the Human Capital and Customer Care strategies (giving emphasis to the empowerment of the local service points). It worked together with the Department of Home Affairs on the Integrated Rural Outreach Programme (ICROP), which brings its services closer to rural communities. Other interventions were:
▪ Business Process Re-engineering for improved efficiency
▪ Paypoint conditions: relocation of paypoints to community halls and other municipal/traditional infrastructure
▪ Increase numbers of beneficiaries being paid through electronic modalities. (70%)
▪ Acceleration of non-profit organisation (NPO) registration process
• Community awareness and campaigns
• Development of community development policy framework
• Development and implementation of high impact programmes such as:
- Hemp project
- Community food banks
- Community cooperatives
▪ Strengthen diversion programmes at local levels
▪ Implementation of norms and standards for social welfare
▪ Adoption strategy implementation
▪ Support shelters for abused women
In conclusion, the Department said that it now had more control over the service delivery environment for the administration of grants. It could work together with SASSA at improving service delivery to its clients. In the Welfare Services Environment and Community Development, where DSD worked primarily through provinces, its influence was through “accounting” forums such as MINMECS and Heads of Social Development meetings. National, provincial and district realignment was needed to push resources to where it interfaced with its clients. This was to be done through its Human Capital and Organisational Realignment strategies.
Mr A Williams (ANC) asked what the Department was doing about children without Identity Documents. If they were the head of child-headed households, they were not able to access grants.
Mr Dangor replied that provision was made for people without IDs who could, through an affidavit, for example, prove that they were residents of South Africa and entitled to a grant. To be seen as a child-headed household, the head of said household had to be 16 years of age or older.
Mr G Selau (ANC) asked whether there was mechanism or strategy which allowed for the managing of people entering and exiting the system. Did the Department have a strategy which allowed for people to exit the system?
Mr Dangor answered that the Department was looking at what could be done so that, over time, the demand for social grants decreased. This demand would only decrease once the economy improved, unemployment figures decreased and fewer people qualified for grants. This question should be asked of the economic sector.
Ministry of Health submission
In her submission, Dr Kamy Chetty (Acting Director-General) said that its Programme of Action was based on a 10-point plan. She proceeded to list the ten points which included the provision of strategic leadership and the creation of a social compact for better health outcomes, The implementation of a National Health Insurance (NHI) plan, Improving the quality of services, Overhauling the healthcare system and improving its management, The revitalisation of physical infrastructure, Accelerated implementation of HIV/AIDS plan and reduction of mortality due to TB and other associated diseases, Mass mobilisation for better health for the population, Review of its drug policy, and Strengthening of research and development.
The revitalisation of its primary healthcare at District level was a strong focus for the Department. In the National Health Act, the Department had called for the establishment of District Health Councils. It had also developed a Primary Healthcare Package for comprehensive and innovative healthcare.
The delivery of healthcare was a problem at all three levels of Government and the foundation of this Lay with the poor District healthcare systems. DOH was looking at strengthening its community-based approach to healthcare. It was planning to audit all primary healthcare facilities during the coming financial year.
Some of the new initiatives which would assist in improving service delivery included the establishment of its 18 Priority District Project, the aim of which was to overhaul primary healthcare in those Districts. These Districts were chosen by looking at which of the 52 Districts were most in need.
The challenges the Department identified in relation to service delivery included:
• Impact of poverty and demand on health services
• Inadequate human resource for health
• Poor integrated planning framework – across sectors
• Poor intersectoral collaboration
• Inadequate management and operational capacity
• Poor basic management support systems
• Lack of accountability, which are further complicated by inadequate delegations
• Inadequate promotion of quality of care - quality standards being developed
• Increased verticalisation and moving away from service integration
▪ Integrated planning and accountability must be mandatory for all departments
▪ Responsibility and power must be decentralized to the lowers level of service delivery
▪ Prioritization of social determinants of health by all other sector departments such as Roads and Transport, Human Settlement
▪ Cluster arrangement of departments must be enforced up to the provincial level
▪ Capacity must be developed at service delivery level as opposed to the central offices
Mr Selau asked to what extent the ‘brain drain’ affected the National Health Insurance (NHI). Why was more emphasis placed on HIV/AIDS than on other diseases? What was role of municipalities in providing adequate healthcare?
Ms Chetty answered that the NHI was one of the points in the Department’s 10-point Plan. Every other point in this plan was important for the implementation of an effective NHI. In addition to there being a ministerial advisory committee looking into the policy framework, there would also be a consultative process around this proposed plan which would be done so as to ensure it benefited everyone.
When considering the burden of disease as well as mortality rates, HIV/AIDS became a major issue for healthcare in South Africa. The Department did not think that other diseases were not important. Non-communicable diseases were important, especially considering the burden of disease.
The National Health Act dictated that, while provinces were responsible for the bulk of health services, municipalities were responsible for municipal health services which focused mainly on preventative care. The Department was looking at having municipalities provide a more comprehensive approach (that is, both preventative as well as curative health services).
South African Local Government Association (SALGA) submission
Ms Zoleka Capa, Executive Mayor of the SALGA NEC, went through what had been envisaged when the legislation and local government establishment was founded and highlighted the gaps in the current state of affairs (see document). She explained that the function of the local government was affected by the other spheres of government. There was very little interaction and political will to link the local government with other spheres of government, despite the constitutional obligation. The current definition of integrated development programme was unrealistic. Some believed that only listing was required, and did not see cross-cutting and integration as a necessary component.
Mr Johann Mettler, Executive Director of SALGA said that his submission would focus on the current state of affairs. With regards to the powers and functions, what had been envisaged were clearly defined functions for the various spheres of government. However there seemed to be a disjuncture between the functions, and it was not clear which functions fell under which sphere. He recommended that a clear legislative framework be developed to serve as regulation between the spheres. On institutional systems, local municipalities had remained dominant even after the new municipal order had been implemented, and the local government that had been envisaged had not come to pass. The local municipality and the district municipality should have a differential approach. As for political systems, they had envisaged a directly elected municipality with three modes of executive government. The role of the councillors should be clearly defined so as to prevent unrealistic expectations. The challenge to the administrative system was that municipalities had not taken up the new approach to service delivery. Retention strategies should be implemented to prevent loss of experienced individuals, and a stronger approach should be adopted to regulate those entering the municipality. Political interference in appointments should be discouraged.
Turning to the state of municipal finance, he said that the principle of differentiated approach was critical. There were different financial and socio-economic factors that affected each municipality and a one-size approach was no longer suitable. He listed the recommended categories for municipal classification. S1 municipalities were the metros and large urban areas. S2 were the secondary cities, with S3 being the rural areas. S4 consisted of district municipalities which were not water service authorities and S5 being those district municipalities that were water service authorities. An intervention was needed for municipalities that were technically insolvent. S3 municipalities had a high reliance on government grants, and different financing methods might be needed to meet their needs. Funding for the district municipalities should be proportional to their obligation. The red tape should be to removed to provide for better access to funding, and the tendency for government to dump fund when nearing the end of the financial year should come to an end.
He said that local government was over regulated and that the complex provisions should be simplified, or made applicable on the basis of capacity. He went through other recommendations which included an amendment to the Constitution.
Ministry of Human Settlements submission
Mr Mziwonke Dlabantu, Acting Director General of the Department of Human Settlement, highlighted the key challenges. These included the inadequate capacity of the state, lack of bulk infrastructure, social and geographic disparities, and cost price escalation. In looking at the current interventions, it was important to understand its scope. Using the integrated human settlement approach, housing was paramount. In order for this to be effected, land was needed, together with social amenities, internal services, and the participation and support of commercial and business entities. Environmental space should be taken into account to ensure that the environment was not destroyed. He said that in order to provide sustainable human settlement and quality of livelihood, the development of housing opportunities had to be accelerated. The focus was on upgrading human settlements. A housing accreditation strategy was being developed for the metros and the top 21 municipalities. Municipalities would be required to meet the set standard, and measures would be put in place to assist municipalities that did not meet this standard. Using land more efficiently and improving the property market would assist in improving access to basic services.
He went through the financial resources that had been put into the project and their allocation. In terms of the progress being made, jobs had been created from the capital spent, and housing opportunities had been created. The department was trying to get provinces to look at cross-cutting factors in order to develop sectoral plans to assist in going forward.
The Chair, Mr S Tsenoli (ANC), said that he had a problem with the suggestion to remove limitations on local government. Defining public participation would mean that anything that did not fit into this description would not be considered as such, and this approach would be very limiting. He asked why the Department of Human Settlements was not being innovative about housing material. It was not necessary to keep using the traditional brick method were alternative methods could be used to speed up delivery.
Mr G Selau (ANC) asked what conditions had led to certain municipalities being insolvent, and what was being done to assist them.
Mr Z Makhubele (ANC) enquired about the human settlement policy.
Mr J Mc Gluwa (ID) asked what SALGA could suggest as a solution to the red tape that prevented access to funding. What was being done to combat corruption?
Mr T Botha (COPE) asked what SALGA had in mind when it came to the realignment of public services. There was knowledge that poor quality houses were being built, but there were houses still being built with the same material. Why were these houses still being built despite the material not being suitable?
Mr D Kganare (COPE) said that this hearing was a result of public protests that had occurred. He asked where we had gone wrong as a country, and what could be done to change the situation.
Mr W Doman (DA) said that taking things away from councillors and implementing more legislation showed lack of confidence in them. He asked why it was that certain municipalities were succeeding with the same set of rules being applied.
Mr M Swathe (DA) asked what was done when SALGA discovered that the Department of Human Settlements was only keeping lists, and not assisting in various ways. What was being done about municipalities that were owed money by government.
Ms W Nelson (ANC) asked what was being done about the houses being rented out.
Ms G Borman asked what could be done to improve the current situation of the beneficiary lists. Local municipalities could assist by keeping an eye on this list and doing quality checks.
Mr Clarence Johnson, National Executive SALGA, responded and said local government was responsible for the delivery of housing. However queries and complaints were being directed to the Department Of Human Settlements. The housing list was not being properly maintained. The gap between the national intent to eradicate informal settlements and local government which actually delivered housing, had to be bridged.
With regards to public participation, he said that the ideal would be to receive petitions, and the department was assessed when it came to what was done with these petitions. Only 23% of public protests had been effective. The nature of the protest should be assessed to ascertain whether there was any violence involved.
Ms Zoleka Capa said that it was clear that councillor capacity had been lost. When possible, the counsellors should not be limited to two terms in the face of such a skills shortage. People, such as teachers and police, could not be fully devoted to the duties of a counsellor.
Mr Mziwonke Dlabantu said that when it came to housing innovation, what was critical to note was how the plans were accepted. There was a negative perception that could only be fought over time with regards to using new ideas. Sometimes problems were encountered when using alternative technology due to a lack of skills to maintain it. Despite these difficulties, the Department was trying to promote alternative methods. Accountability would have to be strengthened to ensure that people were held accountable. They were currently trying to find ways to follow up on contractors to ensure that the work being done was up to standard.
Department of Basic Education submission
Mr Bobby Soobrayan, Acting Director-General, Department of Basic Education, highlighted their challenges, together with their causes. The most significant problem was the huge division between wealthy children as opposed to poorer children in certain geographic areas, who held the burden of poor performance. Two things needed to be done. Strategic interventions were needed, and accelerated delivery. This could be leveraged by focusing on performance management accountability and remediation. He highlighted areas of focus, which included ensuring better senior certificate exam performance, measured by access to a bachelor’s degree, improved literacy and numeracy at schools, and high quality teaching and teaching tools.
Key interventions included basic functionalities at schools, improvement on curriculum quality, improved learner retention strategies, including a diverse set of pathways that learners can follow. This could only be achieved if all the departments worked together.
Ms M Wenger (DA) said that the level of literacy at grade 3 and grade 6 left much to be desired. There was no base line indicator on what had to be improved upon. This was a scary piece of reading and something drastic needed to be done.
Ms W Nelson (ANC) asked whether there was a special strategy for farm schools. Many farms did not have high schools, and this contributed to the high dropout rate. Many schools had to settle their own service accounts. Was there a budget allocated for this?
Ms I Ditshetelo (UCDP) said that teachers would never be committed as long as they were hired on a temporary basis and not being paid well. Why were the closed teacher colleges not being opened?
Mr Swathe said that many teachers were unionised politicians, and often had to leave school to go and campaign. This should be addressed.
Mr Botha (COPE) said that teachers were more loyal to their union movements than they were to teaching. This was because they regarded the unions as their saviour, and that one thing that could help would be to pay them more.
Ms S Kopane (ANC) said that removing the limit to the number of times one was allowed to repeat after failing could assist in improving the Maths and Science pass rate.
Mr Bobby Soobrayan said that any expert would agree that the target to move from 30% literacy and numeracy to 60% was a very ambitious one. Although 100% was the ultimate target, it would be unrealistic to try and achieve this by 2014. With regards to farm schools, the critical problem was security of tenure and an enrolment levels. Small schools were hard to maintain, however the department was looking at ways to have this addressed. Budgeting for municipal debt was a local government issue, however this had been raised with the department briefly on occasions, and they had tried to address it. The issue of teacher colleges was to be addressed by the Higher Education Department. With regard to teachers being politicians, he stated that there were some very good teachers, and that they should not be painted with the same brush. The focus should be on individual teachers and undesirable union activities. He said that departments at all levels should come together if these problems are to be addressed.
Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU) submission
Mr Shadow Shongwe, Regional Manager of IMATU Gauteng region, outlined the reasons for service delivery problems. Interference with administration and in procurements and tender awards were problems (see document). In terms of human resources, non-filling of vacancies was a major problem. There were competency concerns about the posts that were filled. There was a skills shortage and a failure to retain skills. There were disparities in employee per capita ratio across the different regions. There was a lack of uniform pay, which was inherited from the old system.
Due to continual restructuring, there were placements that had not been finalised, which meant that many employees on the payroll had nothing to do. He said that when he came to disciplinary hearings, these were often postponed to benefit the pockets of external lawyers. Even when employees were dismissed, the CCMA often ruled in their favour. The outsourcing of municipal services was a problem. With regards to the municipal services themselves, there was a lack of infrastructure. Within the constitutional structure of the local government, there was an overlap and uncertainty in respect of service delivery functions to be performed by the local municipality and the district municipality. The impact of migration patterns was that some municipalities were overstretched and unable to provide for the growing population.
He proposed that to improve governance and accountability, clearly defined roles were needed. On the matter of human resources, he said that municipalities had more than enough capacity and the use of external lawyers should stop.
Institute of Municipal Finance Officers (IMFO) submission
Mr Ben Dorfling (Institute Councillor) listed the critical problem areas (see document). He said that it was critical that proper financial management should be implemented in all municipalities. The Accounting Officer should be the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and not the Municipal Manager. The lack of professional recognition of municipal finance officers was also a problem. There had been no regulation since the abolishment of the Municipal Accountants Act of 1988. Legislation similar to the repealed act should be implemented to fill the gap. Onerous statutory reporting from National Treasury, provinces and departments overwhelm municipalities. With regards to annual financial statements, he recommended that GRAP should be deferred and implemented over a longer period of time. There was unsustainable pressure on municipalities to sustain people moving from the rural areas to informal settlements. Among the recommendations made was that consumer accounts should be sent out timeously so as to reach consumers before paydays.
Mr McGluwa said that he did not agree with the inference that internal audits were ineffective, since having internal auditors meant that information would be available on hand on a daily basis. He asked about performance bonuses, and why staff members were kept in the pool for so long with nothing to do and at such a great cost.
Mr Selau said that IMATU’S submission was mainly labour orientated, and asked what role the department played in providing a solution.
Ms Borman asked whether the proposed legislation to get qualified people on the ground would lead to less use of consultants.
Mr Sidwell Mofokeng said that he would provide details in writing as to why internal audits were ineffective.
Mr Dorfling said that if the Chief Financial Officer were qualified, there would be no consultants. The problem was the financial responsibility was held by the Municipal Manager, who could delegate functions to the CFO as he wished. The Municipal Manager could choose to keep some duties to himself, which would cause problems for the CFO. Finances could not be handled in this split manner and should be handled as a whole. This delegation should be regulated.
Mr Shoywe explained that in establishing the new municipal order, it was required that the people from the old municipalities be moved to the new municipalities. Some positions were done away with in the transition process, which was why there were people still awaiting placements.
Mr Paul Berkowitz, Empowerdex analyst, outlined the view of the state of local government. There was a steadily increasing obligation and a lack of resources. Examples of problems faced were indigent policies that penalised poor households, and tariffs that were not designed to maximise revenue solutions. Municipalities were not interpreting municipal legislation in the intended spirit and purpose. Among the solutions provided by Empowerdex was its turnkey solution which was developed for municipalities that were battling to fulfill their mandate and statutory requirements. This consisted on a manual, training and ongoing support.
Institute for Local Government Management (ILGM) submission
Mr Jean Venter, CEO: ILGM, said that one of the problems was that there was no meaningful follow-up on matters discussed and the resolutions made by premiers. There was also a lack of retention of skills, which were often poached by other spheres of government or the private sector. He proceeded to list the challenges to the current system. Among the solutions presented was the introduction of a skills retention programs. Legislation should be implemented to professionalise management in order to address the challenge of human capacity. The resolutions of premiers in inter-governmental forums should be managed to assist in co-ordination (see document).
Mr Borman asked what had been done to assist in the retention of skills.
Mr Doman asked for clarity on how the indigent policy could be said to penalise poor households. With regards to professionalise municipal management, he asked whether this would require certain qualifications or experience. Most people coming into the municipality had no experience, and left the municipality after being trained. Attaching conditions to the training would go a long way in retaining skills. There should be a system that tracked the progress of resolutions once they have been made.
Mr D Mavunda said that the concept of “together we can do more” should be applied to solve the existing problem across the board because it was evident that everyone wanted change.
The Chair asked how affordable the Empowerdex system was and how it differed to the other systems that existed.
Mr Jen Venter said that the private sector had sophisticated methods for retain skills. However these had not infiltrated into the government departments. Looking at how the private sector retained its skills could assist the government in coming up with ways to do so as well. Municipal planning had to be a career, and not just something to be done for two or three years. One of the problems being faced was that plans that were not part of the planning were being presented at a later stage, which caused certain imbalances. The suggestion to attach conditions to training should be followed.
Mr Paul Berkowitz said that Empowerdex was internally funded, and structured in such a way that the financial benefit to municipalities were sufficient to cover costs. The system was unique in that it assisted municipalities in implementation, and it conducted checks to see whether the goals were being met.
With regards to the indigent policy, although it had been designed to assist the poor, it was being used by the municipalities to give as little as possible. Certain conditions attached to being on the indigent register bordered on the unconstitutional. A lot was being dictated to these households, and the publishing of their personal details, including household income was an infringement on their privacy. A household on the register was not allowed to operate a business. What this said in essence was that that the household could either receive the benefits due to it, or try and get themselves out of poverty, however they could not do both.
The Chair said that answers to the remaining questions would be provided in writing. He thanked the members and the presenters.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Department of Social Development presentation
- Department of Water Affairs presentation
- Department of Basic Education presentation
- Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union presentation
- Department of Environmental Affairs presentation
- Department of Health briefing
- Empowerdex presentation
- South African Local Government Association presentation
- Institute for Local Government Management (ILGM) submission
- Institute for Local Government Management (ILGM) presentation
- South African Local Government Association Annexure
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