Minister on changes to Social Assistance Act Regulations & Child Support Grant extension

Social Development

08 February 2010
Chairperson: Ms Y Botha (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Minister spoke on all the changes to the regulations. However, there was a last minute change that was not even in the regulations yet. This change was as a result of engagement right up to the previous night with Treasury. There was now agreement with Treasury that with effect of 1 January 2010 a primary caregiver of a child was eligible for a Child Support Grant, if the child was born on or after 31st of December 1993 (not 1 October 1994 as earlier agreed on). It thus accommodated all the children that were born in the year of democratic freedom. The cost implications were significant. The estimate coming from the Treasury, is that it would cost another Billion rand.

The child between 17 and 18 should be enrolled and attend school. The word ‘condition’ is too strong a word, but rather a provision that provides for an incentive that caregivers ensure that their children attend school. Where children do not attend school, the intervention, by means of a social worker, is to work towards getting the child back into school attendance.

The growth in the number of beneficiaries is unprecedented. There is not a developing country at South Africa’s level of income that can match the amount of resources spent and share of GDP neither such a growth over such a short period of time.

Meeting report

[PMG Note: Unrevised transcript available only]

Hon Minister Edna Molewa
…So indeed we appreciate it, the extension that has been done that we agreed to that was announced by Cabinet late last year sometime around October November. We have been hard at work since that announcement and also I must say we appreciate all the partners who were on board, in terms of insuring that we achieve this very important milestone.

We have been hard at work ensuring that we look at the regulations as we know once implementation starts it has to be backed up by very clear regulations, as it would be referred to in the presentation. But we have also had just heard from the front again, indeed we know, that even these regulations we should at least have held some public hearings, through a body like this one. But as you know we are working on a very tight schedule that Parliament was on recess when that provision was made, however we went through public participation called for submissions that the public responded to as well.

And there was a first set of the regulations that we later amended, published a second set and today we are detailing the further proposed amendments or approaches, let me say approaches to some of the issues, particularly in regards to the time. The timing for the grants to be paid, as you know in the regulations that we have published we were talking about timing the implementation from the 1st of October, which means that we were covering children who were born in 1994 October, instead of 1993 December who are then becoming 16 years old were falling out. So there was a nine months gap that we detected and I think the presentation will talk to that issue and how we are trying to approach it.

On that note Chair, I thought I must just do the introductory remarks, before you allow the presentation to be made by Mr Jehoma who is the DDG dealing with the Social Assistance Programme in the Department. As I said there are people from SASSA; the acting CEO as well as the branch management.

Thank you

Selwyn Jehoma (DDG: Social Development):
Thank you Chair Honourable Members, Minister, Deputy Minister and colleagues. Chairperson we have provided the committee members with slides that go through the detail of the regulations, but as the Minister indicated and you yourself alluded to, the focus would be on the extension of the Child Support Grant.

Again, by way of introductory remarks, the Minister indicated that in November, Cabinet approved the phased extension of the Child Support Grant to children up to the age of eighteen years. It was shortly thereafter, that we prepared draft regulations, which was then published for comment. I should indicate, Chair and Members, key amongst the issues raised, by means of submissions, in respect of the regulations related to the phased extension and the concern that institutions and advocacy groups had, that previously when the Child Support Grant was extend, it resulted that people were getting onto the system, then when they reach the age when they are no longer eligible the grant was stopped and again by following, on-going, periods of time and then when they get to the next age, they then qualify. That was a key concern raised.

The second concern is related to the conditions that we were intending to set and then thirdly people felt that we were was perhaps too much a haste, and we were giving them a limited amount of time to make submissions. We, nevertheless, Chair through you and others, appreciate comments that were received, and it got us to think around how one deal with, what I would call for the lack of a better word, the vexatious issues to deal with. The difficulty is on the one hand, in every institution where the intention is to progressively realise the rights or to extend social security, one has to do it within the available resources.

And we had to take our cue, from those who manage the purse and based on that we then published, or the Minister, signed off the regulations that indicated that the Child Support Grant was going to be extended as from the 1st of January. We, therefore could not accommodate people who asked for more time, in the case of for example the Human Rights Commission for another three months, l because it would have meant that that part of the money available during the current financial year would be lost and in a sense forever children would lose out on the benefit and the opportunity to extend the benefit to children who were already on the system would have fallen away completely. So we felt we needed to move with speed and therefore 1st of January became the next date.

The other concern that people raised was, if we were going to go with previous ways of formulating, under 16, under 17 and under 18; that those who would reach the age of 17, who were 16, during the course of the year, their grants again would be lapsed. So, to accommodate that or prevent the lapsing of grants, the regulations were formulated to allow the grants to continue even when children turn 17 within this calendar year. We also set a date, the 1st of October, to allow children who were born on or after 1st of October in a sense going back, but that meant amending in a sense what Cabinet had approved, but we had done this in consultation and concurrence with the National Treasury.

In any case Chair, the regulations then came into effect and for those children who turn 16 as from 1st of January, they continue to stay on the system, so had the benefit of the grant. Also, in terms of the date of the 1st of October, children would have turned 17 later in the year that is October in this financial year, for them the grant would not have lapsed. In other words, we would have had 17 year old children on the system. I am sorry some of these comments are not on the slides, but I think I need to make them by way of introductory remarks so that people get a sense of the issues that we had to consider as we drafted the regulations, but I should in digression comment, our Chief Legal Services, Putsoletso Loselo who helped us formulate it.

I return to the slides, as I indicated the draft regulations were prepared and it is on slide 19 of your notes. I should then say, Chair and committee members that there were several concerns raised, we believe raised with this committee, some of them raised directly with the Minister’s office, with ourselves as the policy people and some of the raised through the media to indicate that what the date of 1st October implied was that children who turned 16 before then would not qualify. Again, I should say that because means tested grants and approved progressive realization was to make sure that we could, within a limited budget we could provide grants to a limited group of people and would call for us to therefore address a further concern to before 1st of October, would in fact imply that we would move from, instead of under 16 and then another fiscal year under 17 and then under 18, that we would effectively then provide within the same fiscal year for two age cohorts. But we nevertheless raised those concerns with the Ministers who took initiative to talk to the Minister of Finance, and I should say Chair, that over the last couple of days, we have been involved in intense engagements, modeling, costing exercises, as well as looking at where savings can be generated within the system.

I would therefore like to direct the Members attention to slide twenty that indicates that the regulation 6, amongst other s, determines that with effect of January a primary caregiver of a child is eligible for a Child Support Grant, if the child was born in or after 31st of December 1993. Now that is not in the regulations yet. This change is as a result of engagement, involvement and costing and up to last night there was agreement between us and the Treasury.

The implication thereof is in fact that we would be going forward, we will publish the new regulations, that the Minister will shortly sign-off and we would accommodate children under 16 and under 17. The cost implications are significant. The estimate coming from the Treasury, is that it would cost another Billion rand and therefore between them and ourselves there was an intense engagement, between the Treasury, ourselves, SASSA as well as the SIU, to give effect to this new requirement.

The details there are basically self explanatory, on slide 21, a child that is between 17 and 18 must be enrolled and attend school. Again, another challenging issue and I am happy to indicate that SASSA has worked around the clock to deal with the SOCPEN system, to adjust that as well as be between us provisions of children who receive the grant attend a school. Again what we have to make clear here is that the provisions are not of a punitive nature, where a child does not attend school, the grant is not going to be stopped so that the child suffers, again with the skilful use of language, as per our legal advisor, we have crafted the regulation to ensure that where a child is not attending school, based on the information received from the Department of Education, or lack of provision of information by the child caregiver then the social worker will attend to the family. Again the question has been raised that if we have such good attendance why set a condition? I can maybe again say the word condition is too strong a word, but rather a provision that provides for an incentive that caregivers ensure that their children attend school. Where children do not attend school and we do not receive the report, the intervention, by means of a social worker is to look at the situation or the conditions of the household and work so to speak, again in inverted commas, work towards getting the child back into school attendance.

What this does is giving effect to the social protection framework, which Cabinet adopted in 2003 which we said that for people in poor households government wants to ensure the range of basic services, both in terms of grants and basic services and education and health care. So, without setting conditions that punish people when they do not give effect to, what one would call their responsibility and obligations, the idea is to intervene through a social work network. Regulation 6 was amended and regulation 26 has also than indicated that that date must change to 31st of December 1993. It does accommodate all the children that was born in the year of democratic freedom. We will ensure that we give effect to the envisaged changes within the next couple of days as we indicated, Chair. I will skip the terms and beneficiary numbers, except to say that the growth in beneficiary numbers within our country is unprecedented anywhere there is not a developing country at our level of income that can match the amount of resources that we spend and share GDP neither the growth over a short period of time. I will skip the impact and expenditure that I am sure the committee members are familiar with, but a point to note here is that about two to three years ago we envisaged that we would maintain the expenditure on grants as a share of GDP at more or less 3.1% to 3.4%, we are no longer able to do it in the last year or two, we have all been suffering under the financial crisis and as a result thereof the social grants expenditure would be way above that share of 3.1 to 4%  and again unmatchable by any of our peers in the world.

Maybe I should leave it there, Chairperson and committee members and thank you for your indulgence and allow for questions and perhaps also the Minister make additional remarks.

Honorable Minister Edna Molewa:
Thank you Honorable Chair, perhaps even before honorable members ask difficult questions we need to say, perhaps just need to elaborate and highlight on what Mr Jehoma mentioned in his presentation and we are working around the clock to ensure that with Treasury we achieve the desired results and the desired result must be in the instance, that because we are making these changes now, when the budgets were almost, at least at the level of government at the level of Cabinet, finalized en route to Parliament for agreeing or whatever Parliament chooses to with it. Then we have to ensure that we look at other areas where there could be some money realigned and we need to be report to yourselves Honorable Chair and Honorable Members that there is a matter that we are working on and that is along the lines ensuring that our people benefit in accordance to their needs as it is prescribed in terms of the law.

 We still have some holes in the system and those are the holes that we are working on together with Treasury and SIU, I’m sure Honorable members are quite surprised why SIU, why bring SIU into the discussion? But we are aware , through the investigation that we did through SIU there are people on the system, who are not suppose to be on the system, who are working, who are earning and already between yesterday and today we have already removed some 28 thousand of such people. The number is huge and I think that we are going to really realize that there I a lot of money, how much, I think that R3 million already.

So, this will give us some money for purpose of this nature, for children who are needy, for people who are needy and not those who are really not needy, these are some of the things that we are working on to release money to people where it belongs and where it should go. I just want to emphasize that there are other options. We will come back to the committee, to yourselves and work out with yourselves to work out a campaign as to how we can work together and achieve this. Because it is going to affect some of the people and some of the people may raise some issues, may raise some complaints with yourselves so we must just be at the same level of understanding at that time.

Secondly, just to add on the conditionalities, I think we also had members of the public complaining about the hard conditionalities. We would like to really make a point that we call for the committees support , Honorable members , just to give a, explain also, what we mean by these conditionalities, because indeed it is necessary that we have conditionalities , maybe this English word like Jehoma said the is quite tough, but we want our children to be in school and indeed we need to make sure that we work together in ensuring that government supports children and they go to school, that is the basic and fundamental necessity wise for the grant and support. So I thought I must just augment on those two things again, Honorable Chair. But thank you very much again, for having raised these issues Honorable Chair who have raised it on behalf of the Honorable committee and other members. So, we are very appreciative, but we must also thank our Treasury for understanding as well, under these difficult situation and difficult conditions we are working with.

Chair of the PC for Social Development Yolanda Botha:
Thank you very much Honorable Minister and the team from the Department of Social Development, especially Mr Selwyn Jehoma. Who made the presentation, Honourable members its time for questions of clarity.

Honorable member Motsheka

Honorable Motsheka: Thank you very much Chair, I would like to thank you for the information and the presenter this is information that will really assist us. It will be information that we are able to take to our constituencies. We will be able to carry this to people who are in need of the grant and also the need of the … this information is really going to empower us to especially our constituencies.

My question is on slide 21, slide 21 bullet number 3 talked about proof of school attendance submitted to the Director General of the National Director of Social Development and I know we might have to rely on it, in terms of pupils not being able to submit, but I know that most schools might not have the role, for me that child might have to show for the 6months, whereas he might have a reason to say for this 6 months. What mechanisms do you use or what do you do if the school does not meet the deadline of every 6 months, if they don’t submit the attendance, the school attendance, say for six months, do you say to them it is over or do you have a placing time? I am raising this, because I am from the Eastern Cape, I know that the Eastern Cape Schools are very vulnerable, you might have the chance of a child not attending a school. Thank you very much.

Honorable Malgas: Good day Honorable Minister, I am Honorably Member Malgas …. And thanks a lot Chair person and I would like to thank the Minister and the Department for the changes in the Regulations, because yesterday within my constituency I told that we won’t be accommodated, according to the draft. So, I can speak a different story now to them. What I would like to know is about, we spoke about…. Proof of acceptance, so there is going to be a lot of administrative work, so I would like to know what are the stints do the Department has in place, what type of support? Then it comes to the social workers, we have a shortage of social workers, so we are telling the social workers if the children are not at school they will step in.

And then the other question I would like to ask is what your link with Education? Because according to the South African Schools Act, although it is not implemented, but we as members have the responsibility to our community members, to say that if children are still under compulsory attendance, if they don’t attend school, the parents can be charged. So I would like to know, what is your link; although Education is not implementing that portion of the Act. I would like to check your relationship with Education. Thank You

Honorable Chair Botha: Thank you honorable Malgas. Honorable Member Lamoela.

Honorable Lamoela: I think I have been covered by the previous two speakers, but I would just like to know, children with disabilities that are out of school predominantly because of the school environment, that are not adapted to accommodate them, how will these provisions affect them, especially those who are out of school now? I am referring to the situation we had in Chatsworth, this week still, where thousands of children are out of school, not having a school. What about those children, they need access to the grants how will this effect them and what provisions will be made for them? Children who have not been placed, all of those children need access to grants. And I am very worried now, I have been covered on this, but what type of systems are put in place. Especially, all those children at schools who have access to grants, who needs to report to the Department every 6 months. What is the system or criteria to follow?

And, perhaps a very stupid question can the National DG instruct a social worker employed by Provincial Government to conduct an investigation. I am just interested, thank you.

Honorable Chair Botha: Thank you Honorable Lamoela, Honorable member Kopane

Honorable Kopane: Thank you Chair person, thank you for your presentations by the officials. My question is very simple according to the Regulations it says that a caregiver must provide proof of attendance in order to get the Child Support Grant. Now the question is the way this regulation is written it is as if it for a new application and not for a present application for children who already receiving the grant, is this correct? And what type of proof will be accepted? And the other thing, the regulations clearly state that the proof of attendance must be brought after the Child Support Grant application has been approved but there are reports of SASSA officials asking for proof of school attendance in order to apply for the Child Support Grant. What steps are you going to take to take that such officials are correctly briefed and know how to implement the regulations?

My last question according the presentation the social workers, the National DG must take appropriate steps to ensure that the child receives the grant that the child is enrolled and they are attending school. What degree of non attendance will trigger a response by the national DG? And can you give an example of what appropriate steps will be taken children not attending school are often very vulnerable children HIV infected and children with Disability, like my colleague already said … and children from a very poor family. How will you ensure that those children’s grants are not suspended.

Honorable Chair Botha: Thank you very much, Honorable member Nelson, Makhuba and Council

Honorable Makhuba: I thank you very much Chair, thank you so much for the Minister and the presenter. My concern, is not a concern in a way its just an emphasis I can say, slide 21. We are saying our people are hungry and poor, but we must not be creating a situation where people are manipulating the resources the Department is having. The item number 4 says the process, school enrolment and attendance is not a condition, but 1 says a child between the ages of, who is a recipient of the Child Support Grant must be enrolled. It must be a “must” . It must be a “must” because we have seen this programme last week, Cutting Edge, where people were saying, we’re working with social workers, Home Affairs, two childs at school to get the documents to get the grants. So the Department is losing a lot of money from people who do not even have children. The one women was earning money for five children and does not even have one, so that proof of school enrolment will encourage the community to take children to school, as the Minister was saying that. So I am just saying, that is my comment or input saying it must be a must, not unless there are certain circumstances which will force the child not to attend school, thanks you.

Honorable ………: Thank you Chair person, thank you for the presentation. I just want to ask, what measures are being taken by the Department of Social Development to alert the public to the new Regulations in general and in particular the requirement to prove attendance?

Honorable Chair Botha: Honorable Member Nelson

Honorable Nelson: Thank you Chair, mine is also going to go around the issue of children having to be in school if they receiving a CSG. In fact my children are in a FET, I am sure that how are we going to address that method in the Regulations as well, will the Department be involved in that as well. Because weknow that FET students have to pay full for their fees there is some way that we can get them included as well.

Honorable Chair Botha: Thank you very much, can we have Honorable Member Masilo and then Honorable Member Malgas, please?

Honorable Masilo : Thank you Chair person for welcoming me back after six months of sickness and thanks for the support from the members and thank you for the presentation from the Department and the Minister and the Deputy Minister. I just want to find out about those beneficiaries, the Minister was talking about 28 thousand people off the system where we saved plus/ minus R53 million, which is very good saving. But are the beneficiaries aware of the removal of their names from the system. Did the Department make some provision to inform those people, I think they will be coming to our constituencies, saying my children or my so and so is no longer getting the Child Support Grant, so we will have to be able to explain to them why? But, I just want to check if there are some provisions made by the Department to inform those beneficiaries.

Honorable Malgas: Thanks Honorable Chairperson, I am not going to ask a question, comment to the Department of Social Development, because it is correct what the member said about the 100000 children out of school, but I want to tell the meetings and our Chairperson , that the last few weeks there were meetings in the Northern areas of Port Elizabeth, with the area at the back from the ANC constituency office to Booysens Park, because we had relocation of people. And the MEC of Education, granted the school to the area on the 15 Decemberand there are talks now with the community. Because I was in the last meeting last week, Just to let you know there is a school being built in that area, thank you. I think the Minister knows the area.

 Honorable Chair Botha: Thank you for that good news Honorable member Malgas. I think Honorable Ministerif you listened to the questions asked by the members. We are very much concerned about the implementation, how it is going to be implemented and in terms of your processes, I would just like to get clarity on , are there going to be any delegations to the various provinces or various regions of SASSA in terms of responsibility and the practicality of the implementation of the regulations? I think that is very important.

Without the violations of children’s rights, I think that is the rights issue is extremely important, but with rights also comes responsibilities and I am satisfied that there are rights and obligations built into the regulations, which is fair, where parents have to see that children are attending school. And, I think, without being or saying that the conditions should be punitive, I think the regulations should be implemented fully.

In terms of the SIU’s role I am sure Minister, are you referring to the further review of grants, because I think you can have a review, you can runs with UIF and the government pension fund, but it is the implementation thereof, of these results that really makes a review process successful. When we take people off the system that does not belong on the system, you know, that you have people prosecuted, because I think people who are fraudulently on our system should be prosecuted. They shouldn’t get off light, especially where they are in receipt of more than one income and clearly they fall outside the means-test that is fraud. So we have to make examples all over the country, when it comes to the abuse of grants.

Thank you

Minister Edna Molewa: Thank you very much Chair, and Honorable Members as I said there are other colleagues here that will deal with the technical issues and or other issues that I may have omitted. But just on the question on implementation in relation to, our relationship with other stakeholders, and stakeholders there I include the Department of Education, we have built in the regulations and in the process the implementation … Chair and Honorable Members that process to ensure that we don’t leave just one party with the obligation to make this a success.

Because all of us, as stated in the Regulations have a role to play, a very important role to play, we see a caregiver in the first instance as somebody who has to take the responsibility of ensuring that from home, from a household a child goes to school. And that is the reason that we find it then necessary to put that responsibility on the caregiver to provide even the necessary documentation. We can ask even questions honorable members about whether such documentation is always available or not available. We believe it’s a necessary thing to say, it’s a necessary thing to do, but all of us must work towards ensuring that we get that necessary documentation.

The second obligation that is on Education, dealing with that necessary documentation again, we all know that to some extent it is not all our school in the country that are fully functional, but we believe that this is another process that is going to help make schools also functional in a way, it contributes to what is making schools function.

It is expected in the Schools Act, it is expected as part of procedures and processes that we all know that we all grew up under, that every quarter there should be a school report. A school report that indicates how many days that child attended school and I am sure the majority of us, many schools in South Africa do give such reports too. That kind of a report that the Department of Education will then put together if they can detect that there are non-attendance of a particular child. We are not asking for a report that says the social worker was here and this child looks a bit uneasy, this child looks…again that is a job, an obligation that we put on social workers. All we ask within the system that exist currently in South Africa, let’s perfect that system. If we pick up that there is non-attendance of 12 children, lets pick up that 12 and send it to the Director General of the Department of Social Development. Again, the obligation is put on the Department of Social Development and to say once we receive such a report, we then would say DG, obviously the DG can’t go to schools. There must be mechanisms, we must liaise and work with various provinces leading up to the local level of where schools are found. The reality is that we all know that this is actually a national function and we are a national system and we are a country. So we have to manage matters in such a manner that we still retain accountability, it is mainly accountability at National level, so that things happen so if DG says I am not able to do that myself, so we delegate to provinces and then they give the DG a report, as a matter of fact, we have a system that we account and coordinate our functions. As a matter of fact we have a system that we account that we coordinate our functions. As a matter of fact we have a MINMEC, we meeting with MINMEC in two days time, where obviously such reports would also be discussed, collated it is not quite an instruction, it’s a necessity, the right thing to do Honorable Members, we have to cooperate, in terms of the constitution. So the cooperation of concurrent spheres of government functions on concurrent functions is not a negotiable thing. It is a compulsory thing that has to be done in terms of the Constitution.

So, each and everyone knows that wherever I am, whether I am MEC, or in Education, if I am obliged by the Constitution to do 1, 2,3, ..I must do that without the being instructed. All we have to do is monitor, to coordinate, to correct, and to call for correction where there is no compliance.So that is the obligations that we have put in and we this indeed as something that will help schools become more functional and even help those schools that may not necessarily right now have this kind of a system. We are aware also, that currently where we stand the situation is not as we want it to be, but this is a step in the right direction.

It may well be that some of the issues that were raised by the honorable members here today, you will read in the in the regulations, for instance that page 21, or slide 21 where Honorable Members referred to the need to have that being compulsory. If you read that area properly, where it says proof of school enrolment is not a condition for the child support grant. All we saying is, in the South African Social Assistance Act we don’t have this as a condition, a condition for a grant is a child’s vulnerability, all those things are listed in there. This is a mechanism to get to school. So, it is not a, we won’t say add another condition in the Act for instance, it is just a mechanism to ensure that we support the Department of Education and the entire country for children to attend school.

With regard to issues, issues that dealt with DG delegation and implementation by the provinces . If I have honorable Chair the FET colleges, I suppose they will have somebody dealing with that. And the beneficiaries that have been removed from the system, I don’t know how to put this. Firstly, Chair, honorable Chair, the Act requires, or the procedure requires, it is a necessary thing, what is it called, PAJA, Administrative Justice. You are to hear from a person, even before you take someone off a list. This particular group of people that we are talking about are people who have gone through that kind of process already. Some of them are those who have actually signed acceptance and acknowledgement that they have defrauded the system. They were so many that government could not say, we prosecute all of you, we’ll fire all of you, of course we could do that, but I am sure it may well have happened that some of these are government employees, so some of Departments could have been left with no employees at all.

So, Cabinet looked at this issue previously, and really took a decision that it is necessary, that we make people sign acknowledgement and they pay. So, there is also at the same time repayment of this money, which is part of a punitive measure as well, but also that they have been removed from the system. There are those that we still have to remove. And those processes are ongoing, as we speak. For instance, we’ll say, within 90 days we suspend you now and those who we think are still doubtful cases , we suspend this thing no w and within 90 days come back to us and indicate why we should not remove you now, so there is that process of consultation.

Those who we think are clear cut cases, like in Edna Molewa who receives a grant, for goodness sake it shouldn’t be, it’s a straight forward case. Even if there has to be consultation, as long as that is not a foster care grant, there can be no other way, otherwise we are just wasting time. We really are looking that those things and doing them that way Chair.

So I want to ask Honorable Members not to worry too much about, for now, the implementation with regards to ourselves and Education and other care givers. Of course, we are aware that we running short on social workers. We are continuing to train, every year we give out bursaries to get more and more social workers, but also social practitioners. Of late, we getting another crop of our army soldiers, who were called Masuphatsula, who sort of relief the load that Social workers currently have, so that we can then focus, as we are training more social workers, we have more Masuphatsula’s and social work practitioners on almost every corner of our country and when we need a social worker, we have that kind of a service.

I, think , Chair, that I will stop there for now, there is still the issue of vulnerable schools and children who are in vulnerable schools, I don’t know if my colleagues would answer, but if they don’t , I’ll come back to it.

Honorable Chair Botha: Thank You Minister, I don’t know, the Deputy Minister would you like to say anything?

Honorable Deputy Minister Bathabile Olive Dlamini: Thank You Chair, I think its to support the Minister, basically. Because in draft the report is not a condition, but it is going to help us towards ensuring that we help families take children out of inter generational poverty, because the reason that we take kids to school and also prioritizing basic Education as one of the priority areas, within this period of government, is to ensure that we use Education as an instrument for fighting poverty. So that it is going to have a positive result and I think the Minister has said that we would find ways of communicating with people and then the possibility of the National DG working with Social workers, I think that is possible, because it could be distributed to districts but under the instruction of the DG. So it is not a very, it is not a steel tight thing, but if you want to give dignity to your process, to ensure that it is linked with the highest decision maker or accounting officer in the department. Really I think there isn’t anything wrong with us doing these things through the DG’s office. And also the importance of ensuring the importance of Social workers, follow up on the work is going to help us to deal with other problems that may be linked to the child not going to school. If the social worker makes a follow-up she might pick up other multiple problems and come up with proper interventions and dealing with other problems we do have other interventions and social workers will find their own way of ensuring that they work with other auxiliary workers, as to ensure that there is follow up on a number of areas.

On the issue of FET’s I think it is the Minister of Higher Education, made an announcement, when schools were open that children at FET’s that don’t have money should not be sent back home and I thought that was a very straight forward instruction, which also covers children that don’t have enough money, because we know that, jah. But if this was not clear, there was an announcement, I don’t want to bite my tongue, like I did when we were discussing the issue of the October 1994 and that is how I discovered that there is a problem with the whole thing.

And I just want to go back again, to the issue of ensuring that we don’t punish people who have their own problems, through saying that the report is compulsory, because we will find out that our children don’t go to school because of conditions for instance disabled children, others don’t have relevant homes around where they stay, so they don’t go to school. So, I think as we develop with the regulations and the system we will find a proper and definite way of dealing with a number of challenges.

Thank you very much Chair person.

 Honorable Chair Botha : Thank You honorable Deputy Minister, Honorable Members at the beginning of the meeting, I have omitted to introduce to you, the new researcher for the portfolio committee, its Ms Siyavuya Gayana Gadula. Could you just stand up so that we can all see you? I am sure members that you can exchange telephone numbers and chat to her after the meeting. Thank you very much.

Honorable member Kopane, would you like to ask another question? Honorable Member Kenye?

Honorable Kopane: Thank You Chair person, maybe I could have missed something during the presentation, I just wanted to find out from the Department was there any research based on the conditionalities on the Child Support Grant, because in 2009, February, there was a presentation of this nature where Human Science Research Council and the Centre of Analysis South Africa Social Policy, that is the University of Oxford and the Community Agency for Social Enquiry presenting their research based on the conditionalities and it was clear out of the research done by all these institutions that there is no evidence that the conditionals as opposed to a grant without conditions actually works in practice. So, I just want to find out from the Department did they managed to do their own research based on the issue.

Thank You

Honorable Kenye: Thank you Chairperson, I am glad that the Minister has elaborated more on the issue of the shortage of Social workers, which was my first question. The Deputy Minister has now touched on the issue of the investigations by social workers on the children who are not going to school and my question is, since it will take a long time for a social worker to arrive at the school to investigate why the children is not got going to school, can you guarantee that a child’s grant is not suspended in that due course. Thank you.

Honorable Chair Botha : Honorable Member Kopane Due to time constraints it’s the last one.

Honorable Kopane: My last one, I remember an incident I think it was three weeks ago there was a child in KwaZulu Natal, it is based on the shortage of social workers, where the caregiver is receiving a grant for 2 grand kids and she managed to chain those kids everyday and the matter was reported to Social Development by the community members, and none of Social Development people were on time to go and assess the situation. Now what if we come with these conditionalities in the regulation, how are we going to cope, because already with the current situation that is facing us, we cannot cope? Thank you

Honorable Chair Botha: Thank you, Minister, would you like to respond?

Minister Edna Molewa: Thank you very much Chair, let me start with the easier ones. No, we will not suspend the grant, we have not said so and we don’t even have to guarantee it. We will investigate the course of the problem, we didn’t respond to the question that says what constitutes non -attendance. The Department of Education has got standards, norms and standards as to what do they call non-attendance, I just forget, honorable member, maybe this is what the researcher can do for us, check what the number of days are, but there are certain number of days that if a child only attended those days or less it is an equivalent of non-attendance. So it is set in norms and standards.

What we need in this instance and what we need to do really is to do what the Deputy Minister spoke about, to ensure that if there is, what we call non-attendance. Let’s say a child has got to attend 200 days and that particular child attends 80 or a 100, let’s say that that is what the standard is, that is an equivalent, it says something to us as a school, it must say something to the care giver, it must say something to ourselves as Social Development, and even to us as ordinary members of society. And therefore, what we really saying is that we want to get into the very causes of non-attendance and support our people, parents, caregivers.

It can be, it may well be, when we look at the situation it may be that this is an orphan child living with a caregiver who is receiving a grant on behalf of the child and the grant is not being utilized properly and the, what do we call them, it is not a caregiver only, it is a, the guardian that is not using this money correctly. And does not even care whether the child goes to school, in this instance it is not the child’s fault it is the guardian that we have to deal with. So it is actually helping us to get into the ills of our society. And I think Honorable Members that we think that we acknowledge that we do not have adequate social workers, but these are the problems that we cannot run away from, we cannot put our heads in the sand and say we will start attending to them, only at the time when we have adequate number of social workers.

We must start now, and infact this is the reason why I am saying we increasing social workers, we increasing, in instances of this a Masuphatsula, an auxiliary worker, can go and find out, when it has been determined what the actual problem is, only then we can be able to bring social workers. So what I am saying is that we increasing other forces even in our social development arena who can actually help us. We are also calling on Members, by the way, to work with us in this regard, we work with the National Interfaith Religious Council, right now of churches and so on, to help us in this regard. So the cases that will go to social workers would be the referral cases. I don’t think we are hearing Members say that we currently don’t have enough Social workers, we shouldn’t go this route. We believe we should do both.

 

If our systems work properly in the constituency offices, if all of us, if the schools work properly, then in fact a case like this could easily be determined under these conditions that we have now, easily. Whereas, if we don’t do anything about it, it would be hidden forever and none of us would even detect that it was there. Sometimes you call and sometimes there is an overload, but this is the situation and we are saying that we want to deal with it in terms that we ensuring that we are increasing the social workers.

The research that has been done, we are aware of it and in fact it is our understanding that if an institution like the HSRC conducts research, they do it on behalf of the country and on our behalf as well.  We do not necessarily need to find another mandate to do similar research. So based on some of the research that they have done, some of the research that they have done by the way has been sanctioned by us as Social Development. For instance the one that deals with allegations that is in the public that children get babies to get grants, it was ordered by us and we work very closely with such institutions even international research bodies. We have looked at that and we do believe it even though there is a research outcome that says that in SA there is a great number of children who have actually started attending schools, especially after the no school fees was introduced, the attendance is more than 80% or closer to 90%. We are looking for the remaining 10%. We are also looking at the problems that exist inside the 90% who is attending. It may well be that people are attending lesser days, fewer days, they are enrolled at schools but there are challenges which we have to deal with from a social point of view. This is really getting deeper into unpacking these problems and where they are. HIV/AIDS children, we didn’t deal with this issue earlier on, Chair. I’m sure Honorable Members would know that it has been tabled, well disability first, in Parliament, a new amendment to the law that better clarifies what we mean by disability in relation to social assistance programme. So that part is still coming because we want to distinguish between real disability and these other illnesses that are there within the society. It is a provision that has to be dealt with in accordance with to the law and be passed by your honourable selves. There are those who are on disability grant, the definition of disability will be better clarified and obviously such children will be receiving disability grant and not necessarily and/or this kind of a grant.

There was an issue about whether we have briefed the SASSA officials adequately for them to know what to do. We believe that this being the beginning of the process, I think it has been implemented for about a month now and at the time when we looked at it, about a week a so ago, we had registered something like 5000 new children. This is not meant for new children (by the way I’ll come to that question), but yes SASSA officials will continued to be briefed and the reason for us, Honourable Members, coming to this Portfolio Committee is also to ask our public representatives to be vigilant and spread this message out for us. We are on radios we need this information for our own constituencies offices. So that is how we can be able to work with SASSA officials. Those who may still be thinking differently will also be assisted by us, we are trying. Yesterday, the acting CEO had a meeting with all regional executive managers. There are memos that have gone to them and a full blown discussion took place yesterday on how to handle this matter.

I also wanted to deal with the issue, before I forget it, of ……… let me leave it at that, I’m sure I’ll remember it later.

Chair – Mr Jehoma and the CEO Mr Pakade

Mr Jehoma I thought Chairperson and Minister that there were issues of legal clarities sort that the Chief Legal Adviser can attend to and then also the issue of systems that the acting CEO and the Chief Director (Grants Administration) could perhaps respond to in a little more detail.

Putsoletso Loselo (Chief Director: Legal Services) The question that I’m called up to deal with is the one of whether the requirements for school attendance and enrolment only applies to new applicants? The first part of it is that is applies to new applicants. The fact that once your grant has been approved, within a month you have to produce proof of school enrolment it applies to new applicants, otherwise SASSA will not be able to deal with all proof of school enrolment in respect of all the beneficiaries. What then happens is that once a grant has been approved, every six months the primary care giver must submit a report to the Director General of the school attendance. From that point onwards it applies to everybody who is in receipt of a child support grant to produce that report.

There was also another question around the FETs, I’m not sure if I captured it correctly, the question of whether or not we require the reports from the FETs. The requirement around the reports is firstly that every child, here we are dealing with every child, whether you are at university as long as you are of the prescribed age you will still qualify and if you also meet the means test. So it doesn’t matter if you are at a university or FET, in fact the specific regulations speak of a school or an institution. An institution could a university or an FET. Thank you Chair.

Mr Pakade (Acting CEO: Social Development) – thanks Chair and Honourable Members, I think that the bulk of the issues have been dealt with thoroughly by the Minister. I must say that from an operational point of view, we unpacked the implications of the regulations and we compiled a report for the DG outlining the implications for both the Department and SASSA as we believe that we are probably better positioned in certain aspects of the ……….. to actually concretise the actual processes of who plays what role in the process. The initial meeting is scheduled for next week which grant administration people will be hosting. So Chairperson, I think, in that regard we believe that we will benefit a lot from this especially in terms of fiscal verifications of the beneficiaries. We do the life certification for old age grants but for child support grant I think the clip that was referred to on cutting edge earlier, I mean sometime last week, is actually a lesson for us. For CSG this particular requirement for ensuring that children are in school will go a long way in assisting us to verify that indeed those children do exist. I had a very new name called Invumbozo which I was not aware of but we will try and ensure that we remove Invumbozo from the system. Thank you very much Chair.

Olive Dlamini (Deputy Minister of Social Development) Honourable Minister, I just wanted to say that we should not short change ourselves, actually SASSA has registered 54255 children up until now from the beginning of the year. Thank you.

Yolanda Botha (Chair) Thank you very much. The acting CEO has made available the grant numbers by grant type for us by 02 Feb 2010 and we will make it available to all member, because it is a breakdown per province I’m sure members will be very much interested. Mr Dangor.

Zane Dangor(Chief Operations Officer). Just a general point around the managing of the conditionalities. As Mr Pakade has indicated, we are setting up this joint team and actually designing and ensuring that we are ready to meet the challenges of managing the conditionalities and we must point out that managing conditionalities is very new to us as we had a system that had no conditionalities. I think that we are very conscious of that and that is why the minister has constantly point it out. We are talking about soft conditionalities. Part of managing this, we are exploring the idea of focusing only on exception based reporting where schools begin to give us the kind of information where there clearly is problem so that we don’t get 6 million reports at a time. So where there is clearly a problem we can follow it up cross-referencing with the grant system. Are these children on the grant system, or are they not on the grant system cause often times you find out that we may be expecting people to give us reports that are on the grants system but then through the system we can also then pick up people that should be on the grants system that are not. This is something that we could be exploring through this system because the idea is to effect behavior change and not to police and that is a very different set of conditionalities that we have in place than what you might find in places like Mexico. We have actually commissioned research on the issues of conditionalities, we commissioned it to CASE as well. We have explored the issue of conditionalities from that angle. What we also will be doing is monitor the cost of managing contionalities because we need to come to a point where if the cost of managing conditionalities in 2 or 3 years time is of a certain amount and we actually looked at the kind of the type of mischief that we are trying to correct, if there has been a kind of improvement then we might come to the public and unto yourselves and talk about whether we still need sets of conditionalities like the ones that we have in the regulations. So the issue of monitoring them is also important so as we design the system we must make sure that we can do it and that we are not going to punish children because of administration issues. So the point that Selwyn and the Minister made around soft conditionalities is about effecting behavior change and not about policing and that is the fundamental difference in approach.

Yolanda Botha (Chair) Thank you very much, honourable ?????, you are the last person.

(Speaker ??) Thank you Chair. I just want to ask SASSA and the department, the number that can be used by the whistleblowers, so that give our people to report whatever is wrong?

 (Trevor John(DSD) Thank you. The number that may be used is 0800 601 011.

Yolanda Botha (Chair) Thank you very much. The national totals for the grant types, if you look at the old age grant, it is 2.5 million grant beneficiaries and in terms of the disability grants it is 1.2 million. A comprehensive document will be made available to the members. In terms of grant in aids it’s 52 000, the foster care is 511 000, the care dependency grant is 110 000 and when you look at your total children’s grants it is 9.9 million. You will also find the breakdown in term of CSG per age group. The total grants in payments are 13.7 million and I am thinking that that is a large amount. Those are the grants that are currently been paid to South Africans. Honourable members I think that we have come to the end of our meeting.

Hon Edna Molewa (Minister of Social Development) In conclusion, Chair, there is a question that is unasked and is unanswered. If we may just volunteer it, when are we going to actually maintain this situation? We will be coming to this committee at some stage with a project called ‘Linking beneficiaries to economic opportunities’ ensuring that the young mothers who are here, those who deserve to go to school, go to school, those who can get into agricultural economic development go and so are really given that opportunity and if you look it is just around 6 million or so, we can actually help in a big way. It is a project that we are running in the department. We are not looking forward to the situation where we easily get unplugged but it is intended to ensure that South Africans are also empowered on a continuous basis so that they don’t remain beneficiaries of grants.

Yolanda Botha (Chair) Thank you very much honourable Minister. Members as I said, we’ve come to the end of our meeting and I think that we are satisfied with the responses from the Ministry and the department around the extension of the Child Support Grant although Minister we did not take kindly to the fact that as a committee we could not hold public hearing on the regulations. We hope that this will not happen again. I think it is also an initiative we need to take to National Treasury on the matter but we are eagerly awaiting the communication plan, that is very important so that we can make sure that deserving people end up on the system and especially our people in the rural areas who sometimes do not have access to relevant information that could improve their lives. If we could reach them, the poorest of the poor. Thank you very much for coming honourable members, the meeting is adjourned.






Share this page: