Minister on National Development Agency Strategic Plan & Budget 2010-2013; Child Justice Act implementation readiness

Social Development

15 March 2010
Chairperson: Ms P Tshwete (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The National Development Agency (NDA) briefed the Committee on its Strategic Plan and Budget. A report back was given on two projects that the Committee Members had visited in Mpumalanga, which were funded by the NDA, and the support being given to each by the NDA was outlines. The Triple Option Furniture Manufacturing Project had been assisted to buy premises from which to work, had branched out into brick making, and was making a profit of R50 000 a month. It functioned well as a project, but was challenged in the area of marketing. It also needed a showroom to showcase its wares. The Likusasa Lethu Leather Fern Project grew a species of fern which they sold locally to Interflora and exported to the Netherlands. It had created 60 jobs. It had been assisted by an expert from the Netherlands, but showed challenges in the area of marketing, and had asked NDA for further assistance, which NDA stressed must be built by the Project members themselves. Members were impressed with the quality of the craftsmanship shown by the participants of these projects, but asked why, after four months, the NDA still had not assisted the Triple Option project with finding a showroom. Members were asking how the participants in the projects could be equipped with the knowledge and skills to take control of their own marketing and tendering processes.

Ms Issel briefed the meeting on the NDA Strategic Plan. Its primary mandate was to eradicate poverty by granting funds to civil society organisations for the purposes of carrying out developmental programs in poor communities, and by strengthening the institutional capacity of other civil society organisations involved in service provision in these communities. Its secondary mandate lay in promoting consultation, dialogue and sharing of development experience between civil society organisations and relevant organs of the State, and in promoting debate on development policy, as well as promoting research and publication aimed at providing the basis for developmental policy. The NDA aimed to achieve a society free from poverty.

A major challenge of the NDA related to the financing, since it had received a substantial drop in funding, and would thus need to raise at least R20 million in order to meet its commitments. Members asked questions about the strategy the NDA would follow to raise the shortfall. They asked questions about the sustainability of projects funded by the NDA and whether the NDA was actually performing its function of monitoring and evaluation well. They were interested in initiatives for the disabled, asked how many disable staff NDA employed, its gender balance, and its incentives and promotion prospects for the disabled. The Minister announced that a permanent Chief Executive Officer appointment would be made soon.

The Department of Social Development (the Department) gave a presentation on the state of readiness of this Department to implement the Child Justice Act. The crux of the presentation was that more children committed more violent crime, mostly due to substance abuse. This caused huge numbers of children to come into conflict with the law. The new Child Justice Act made it possible for children to be placed at this point, in a Secure Care Centre where they would be protected, could receive rehabilitative treatment for substance or sexually abusive behaviour, and could be placed in a diversion programme, where they would have a real chance at rehabilitation. This Act would come into effect on 1 April  2010.

Members were concerned with the readiness of the Department, and the Cluster, to implement the Act and were assured that there was “ninety percent” readiness. Members asked questions around the training of probation officers, social workers, the social work scholarship and the drop-out rate of social work students. The Members questioned whether the financial resources were available to implement the Act. The fact that there was only one Secure Care Center in Mpumalanga was a serious concern for Members. The difference between Secure Care facilities and Places of Safety were outlined.

Meeting report

Minister’s introductory remarks
Hon Edna Molewa, Minister of Social Development, noted that the Department of Social Development (DSD) and the entities reporting to it had to, by law, present a strategic plan annually, to bring their objectives, intentions and programmes to the attention of the Portfolio Committee.

The National Development Agency (NDA), in its planning session, tried to align its strategic plan with the vision of Government and the needs of the people. The NDA, as part of the DSD, aimed to address the burning issue of poverty. The NDA and DSD were not working in isolation, but in collaboration with other Departments and institutions to achieve that objective.
National Development Agency (NDA) Strategic Plan presentation
Ms Rashida Issel, Acting Chief Executive Officer, NDA, delivered the presentation on the Strategic Plan of the NDA. This strategy was the result of a broad consultative process. The NDA had internal discussions as well as discussions with organs of civil society and non –government oganisations (NGOs), as well as with the Department of Social Development (DSD). All contributions were taken into account when formulating the Strategic Plan, as was the Strategic Plan of the DSD itself.

The NDA was currently focusing on government priorities, as indicated by DSD focus areas and priorities. The NDA focused on agricultural projects and projects ensuring food security. Next year the NDA would in addition be focusing on the area of Early Childhood Development (ECD). The NDA would aim to synergise and dovetail with DSD projects, to see how NDA could assist the ECD sites with whom the DSD was working. The NDA would also focus on vulnerable groups. She would later define those vulnerable groups and explain what was planned for them.

She explained that the Portfolio Committee had visited two projects in Mpumalanga. The NDA was given instructions to follow up and to partner with other government departments to overcome obstacles to progress within those projects. She would like the opportunity, together with the NDA Provincial Manager for Mpumalanga, Ms Ntsako Tlakula, to report back on those.

Ms Ntsako Tlakula, NDA Provincial Manager for Mpumalanga, said that the Mpumalanga chapter of the NDA hosted the Portfolio Committee from 23 to 27 November 2009. The Committee visited the Triple Option Furniture Making Project and Likusasa Lethu Leather Fern Project.

The Triple Option project was the beneficiary of a grant of R753.5 million, and had received all the money. It was based in Enthlanzeni District within the Mbombela Municipality. The project was started in April 2002 by a group of young men and women, who started manufacturing furniture on rented premises. With the money from the NDA, they were able to secure their own premises. The project generated 37 permanent jobs and turned a profit of R50 000 per month. Recently, brick making had been added to their manufacturing activities. They were now supplying bricks and doors to Mica Hardware Wholesale Store and to a contractor building Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) houses for the government. The Portfolio Committee had recommended that the project should be assisted to get a contract from the Department of Education (DoE) to supply and repair furniture for government schools. NDA had contacted the DoE and was told that The Triple Option Project had to go through the standard tendering process in order to become a supplier. The NDA was in the process of assisting the project to tailor their proposal to the DoE, in order for the project to get preferential treatment in the tendering process.

The second recommendation by the Committee was that the project should become a supplier to the Department of Health. The quality of the product became an issue, and the NDA was working with the project to meet the standards required to qualify as a supplier to government.

Another observation regarding this project was that the current showroom was too small. The Committee recommended that the NDA should assist the project in getting a bigger showroom in the central business district of the town, and NDA was in the process of assisting the project to find a place that was accessible and affordable.

In regard to the Likusasa Lethu Leatherfern Project, which was based in Entlanzeni District, in Umkhomazi Municipality, Ms Tlakula noted that this project received R1 990 031 from the NDA. This was a project growing and exporting the Leather Fern to the Netherlands, and selling it to Interflora in Johannesburg. This project created 60 permanent jobs. A concern was that Mr Braaks, the former owner of the farm, did all the marketing and exporting on his own, with the result that the project members did not gain expertise in this field. NDA had involved the Mpumalanga Agricultural Development Corporation (MADC) in the process. The MADC then brought a flower expert from the Netherlands to share his expertise and help the project to determine the monetary value of the plant. The NDA also consulted with other marketing experts to get quotations, in order to determine how best to market the product. The project needed new shade cloth and requested the NDA to assist them in getting it. NDA had noted the request but also pointed out that NDA required the project to become self-reliant and would assist them in becoming so.

Ms H Lamoela (DA) said that the people involved in Triple Option Project were doing wonderful work. Their products were of a high standard. She could not understand why, four months later, the NDA had not assisted them in finding a suitable showroom, and asked if there was not a timeframe for doing so. She felt that assistance with marketing was urgently necessary, because if their turnover could escalate they would have the money to do whatever was needed to expand the project.

Ms Tlakula replied that it was a challenge to find a space that fitted the requirements of accessibility and visibility, but the NDA was trying very hard. She expressed the hope that the NDA would secure a place very soon.

Ms H Malgas (ANC) said that she did not see any brick making activity when the Committee had visited the Project.

Ms Tlakula replied that the brick making venture was added in January 2010, after the visit by the Committee.

Ms M Mafolo (ANC) said that it was a good project. She also appreciated what the NDA was doing for the projects. She understood that on occasion, tasks like finding accommodation could take time, but she asked the NDA to prioritise these projects as they were important.

Mr R Bhoola (MF) commended the NDA for taking the initiative to monitor projects. It was important to ensure self sustainability. He asked whether the NDA, when visiting these projects, could foresee any problems with them eventually becoming self sustainable. He said that Ms Tlakula referred to the fact that the NDA assisted the project in meeting quality requirements and following tendering procedures. He asked to which extent the NDA made sure that the knowledge and skills of the people involved in these projects were developed, particularly in areas of tendering, marketing and quality control. Ensuring that such skills were transferred to the participants in the project would help the project to become self sustainable, and would in the long term, help society at large to deal with unemployment and skills development.

The Chairperson agreed. She noted that resolving the marketing issue was the key to ensuring the long term sustainability of these projects. She thought that the interventions such as arranging for a visit by the Netherlands expert and alternative marketing agents were valuable, but more was needed. She suggested that one or two people working on each project should be identified, and then trained in marketing. The involvement of the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) should also be considered. Using a web page as a marketing tool would immediately give these projects a national and international potential client base. The Minister could engage corporate companies. Hosting web pages for these projects could be a social corporate investment project for Microsoft. These projects had to be represented at tourism expositions, both national and international. She understood that the brief of the NDA was to alleviate poverty, not to make business, but getting the product out to the world surely fell within that brief.

The Chairperson said that the Committee was satisfied that its recommendations were taken seriously.

Continuation of presentation
Ms Issel spoke about marketing and challenges that the NDA experienced. She said that the NDA was trying to get a national Memorandum of Understanding with the dti, and was involved in negotiations with a Chief Director dealing with overseas markets. The aim of the discussions was to give projects access to these markets. The quality of the products was an important factor in these negotiations. Dti had offices in the different provinces. There was an agreement made that people from the provincial dti offices would visit the project to see how each project and product could be improved, and upgraded, in order to give it access to the international markets.

NDA also had contacts with pig and chicken farm projects. A major focus was on the quality of the products produced. NDA had set up MOUs with several agricultural organisations to make sure that if these projects had excess products that they could not sell, they should sell them to these organisations, or to the Food Bank.  

She described a project growing a mushroom species, originally from China. These mushrooms were being supplied to a supermarket chain store, and were being sold to the public at R200 per kilogram. This supermarket chain collected the product regularly, but never paid the supplier. The supplier did not have an alternative market. The NDA then had to become involved in these contractual agreements to make sure that the supplier was paid.

NDA’s aim to get associations and the dti involved was an ongoing process, and regular reports would be made to the Committee.

NDA recognised the need to have markets set up, and marketability of products was already assessed at the stage of the proposals. If the marketing did not seem to be sustainable, the project would be referred back for further thought. Marketing had to be part of the business plan.

Ms Issel noted that a further priority of the NDA was capacity building. Three years ago DSD gave the NDA R27 million for capacity building. Some of that money was spent on Intermediary Civil Society NGOs, or NGOs who would train other NGOs. The NDA’s Board, when assessing each project, would decide what skills would be needed in order for a particular project to succeed. The funding for skills training was then included in the budget for the project. In some cases the NDA would require the skills training to happen before the first tranche of funding was paid into the account of the project.

The NDA also supported a mentorship programme. She explained that NDA would select a project that was successful, and send somebody from the successful project to transfer skills and knowledge to another project that was struggling, basically acting as a mentor. The funds for this programme came from the administration budget.

Ms Issel outlined some of the challenges that NDA was facing. NDA focused mostly on the rural areas. Historically, education was not very good in some rural areas. It was often a cumbersome and difficult process to train people to draw up a budget and to run a business, and this was more difficult when the people might even be senior citizens. Sometimes, people with little formal education did not understand the significance of keeping receipts. South Africans were not natural entrepreneurs. Some places were very remote. NDA officials had to travel two to three days to reach some projects. Traveling to projects was time consuming. The money spent on financial training, governance and the software system that the NDA implemented to help projects to manage their finances more effectively, were expenses that the NDA was unable to recoup for itself.

Ms Lamoela interjected and said that she disagreed with what Ms Issel had said. In her experience, even in remote areas, semi-literate and senior citizens were eager to learn. They did indeed understand the significance of receipts and the basic principles of book keeping. There were more advanced skills, like writing a business plan, which the NDA had to teach. She suggested that NDA should be looking to the people’s will to succeed and to better themselves, and work with that.

Ms Issel noted that the business of the NDA was to give projects money over a period of three years. The projects were paid a first tranche, and after monitoring and evaluation, the second tranche was paid. Even after the funding had been given, the NDA still monitored and supported projects, and this was a further expense to the NDA.

Ms Issel then briefed Members on the NDA Strategic Plan. She noted that NDA’s primary mandate was to eradicate poverty by granting funds to civil society organisations for the purposes of carrying out developmental programmes in poor communities, and it would also strengthen the institutional capacity of other civil society organisations involved in service provision in these communities.

The secondary mandate of the NDA was to promote consultation, dialogue and sharing of development experience between civil society organisations and relevant organs of the State. It would also promote debate on development policy and promote the undertaking of research and publications aimed at providing the basis for developmental policy.

Ms Issel then outlined the vision, mission and values of the NDA (see attached document) and stressed that NDA worked towards achieving a society free from poverty.

In the next three years NDA would contribute towards achieving quality basic education, safety and security within the country, decent employment through inclusive economic growth, equitable sustainable rural communities contributing towards food security, creation of a better South Africa, and an efficient development-orientated public service, and an empowered inclusive citizenship. She outlined the strategic goals. The first was to build the capacity of Civil Society Organisations, to enable them to carry out development work effectively. The second was to grant funds to contribute towards the eradication of poverty. Goal Three was to facilitate research towards poverty eradication. Goal Four was to position the NDA as a premier developmental agency and to mobilise resources. Goal Five was to promote and maintain organisational excellence and sustainability.

She noted that National Treasury had granted more than R140 million in the financial year 2009/10, through the DSD. However, this budget had then been cut by R70 million, and R83 million was granted, of which R70 million would go directly into projects.

Ms Issel noted that the visits to projects, conflict resolution and mentoring programmes of the NDA came from the Administration budget. NDA had certain money in the bank, and was using the interest (R7 million currently) to pay for administration. NDA had a target of raising R20 million, to enable it to deliver fully on its mandate.

Ms Marcia Manong, Deputy Chairperson, NDA Board, said that the NDA had improved. The process of developing the strategy had been a very inclusive one and that the NDA was on the right track insofar as both its administration and its programmes were concerned, even within its financial constraints. However, because of the cut in budget allocation, she confirmed that NDA had to raise a minimum of R20 million to meet its commitments for the financial year 2010/11.

The Minister of Social Development then noted that she was aware that the Committee had questioned the fact that the Chief Executive Officer’s post was not filled on a permanent basis. The Board first attempted to fill the position through normal recruitment procedures, using firstly advertisements and later a process of headhunting, up to late 2009. There were certain legal requirements concerning the filling of the post, and also requirements around recognition of the role played by the executive authority, in consultation with Cabinet, based on Constitutional provisions of collective responsibility. The process was at a point where the likely candidates were going through the final screening processes, and an announcement could be made within a few days that a permanent CEO had been appointed.

The Chairperson thanked the Minister for the briefing about the filling of the CEO’s position. The Committee awaited finalisation.

Ms D Robinson (DA, Member of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities) reflected positively on the presentation. She asked what kind of projects the NDA had in mind for people with disabilities, and also which specific disabilities were being catered for. She expressed her concern that often, when persons with disabilities were appointed, their positions held no prospects of promotion. She asked whether Ms Issel was aware of this and what NDA was planning to do about it.

Ms Malgas asked what percentage of the NDA staff were disabled

Ms Issel said that she could produce a list of projects in which the NDA, internally, focused on disabilities. The NDA did not focus on a specific disability. When advertising for posts, it included and prioritised people with disabilities. She was aware of the fact that people with disabilities tended to reach a “glass ceiling” beyond which they could progress no further. NDA would treat them exactly the same as all other staff, in term of performance appraisals and rewards. Provision had been made for purchase of special devices or equipment needed by people with disabilities, to assist them in working. She conceded that where physical alterations to office buildings were needed, this was a challenge, particularly where the building was rented, and the landlord did not cooperate. She noted that 2% of NA staff was disabled.

Ms Lamoela remarked that the NDA had now been in existence for 10 years, since 2000. She said that surely the NDA was facing challenges and that some of these recurred, and asked how NDA was proposing to overcome these.

Mr Bhoola asked whether the policy directives of the NDA were addressing the core of its mandate, and whether NDA had discovered any fraud by projects that applied for and received funding, and then did not deliver the product.

Ms Lamoela asked Ms Issel how the NDA measured the sustainability of projects. She said that the presentation talked about constant monitoring.

Ms Lamoela said she had asked for list of projects in the Western Cape, with their contact numbers, but when calling them, she had found that some projects were not being monitored. For instance, when calling the number for the project at Tweefontein Farm in the Witzenberg District, she had been told that the farm had been sold. She asked if NDA was aware of this, and asked to whom the farm was sold. This area was particularly poor, with a high incidence of TB and AIDS. Another example was a project in Touwsriver, where the people involved in the project had been told to open a bank account, yet no funding was paid in. She asked how this could have happened if there had been proper monitoring. In yet another instance, in Villiersdorp, a four-year old project had been paid only half the funding it was promised, and thus could not become stable and viable.

The Chairperson wanted to know more about the point raised by Ms Lamoela, regarding projects that, although they were no longer in existence, were still listed as running. She was interested in the NDA's administrative closing processes, at the conclusion of the funding period.

The Chairperson asked Ms Issel to check on the matters mentioned by Ms Lamoela and report back to a later Portfolio Committee meeting.

Ms Issel responded that when the NDA provided the Committee with the list of projects funded by the NDA, there were 400 projects on that list, of which 366 were now still live projects. Some had reached the end of their funded period, and others has been terminated because they had not met the conditions of the NDA – although she hastened to add that the NDA would try everything in its power to keep projects open.

Ms Issel replied that the NDA was not always in control of what happened with projects, nor of whether they complied strictly with their contracts. It was not easy to gauge the sustainability of a project, and profitability was only one aspect of sustainability. The NDA was in the process of developing a tool to measure risk and sustainability. However, this tool would go still further and would explore the NDA’s function of monitoring projects in the post-funding phase. It would look at taking projects to the level of a Small or Medium Enterprise. Marketing would play a role, but sustainability was also important. NDA was considering how to cut costs and aid sustainability of projects, for instance by speaking to Old Mutual about getting a rebate on vehicle insurance. NDA’s tools thus included marketing, post funding support, and opportunities that the NDA created, as well as the Sustainability Fund.

Ms Issel added that since 2010, NDA had had a plan for monitoring and evaluation, which was submitted to the sub-committee at the beginning of the year, and which set out the plans to monitor and evaluate each of the projects in each province.

Ms Issel reminded Members that NDA would fund a project for three years. If the project needed funding for longer, then this was a problem. That was why NDA developed the concept of the Write –back policy. If the project did not fulfill its obligations, as required by government, the Auditor-General and internal audits, such as opening a banking account and keeping accounts, then the funding would be written back to NDA. This was considered acceptable procedure by the Auditor-General. NDA had an obligation to ensure that the government received value for money.

During the last financial year there were not many write-backs. In 2010 there was a process of clearing up old projects. In cases where projects did not receive money due to them, as a result of conflict, the NDA paid the money over to them. There was a concerted effort on the part of the NDA to resolve the issues. In some instances people decided that they did not want to do the project any longer. The NDA had written back more than R12 million. More recently, another R3 million was written back.

Ms Issel said that it was possible that the projects mentioned by Ms Lamoela fell into this category. However, she would get the details of the projects mentioned to see what their status was. She would report back to the Committee. She would also investigate to see whether there were instances where the NDA did not perform the monitoring and evaluation function properly and would also report on action to be taken, should this be the case.

Ms Lamoela asked when last NDA had measured the impact of its projects to eradicate poverty. She asked how many jobs were created in the nine provinces, and whether they were sustainable. She noted that the idea was that the 13 million people receiving social grants should be assisted to become self sustainable.

Ms Malgas asked how the NDA measured the impact that it had on communities.

The Minister recalled the question regarding IDP alignment with municipalities, and said that the impact of the interventions was not measured at the institutional level of the NDA itself, but at the level of Government’s regular impact studies. The last impact study indicated growing inequalities. She stressed that the work and impact of the collective was assessed, rather than the impact of one institution.

Ms Lamoela asked Ms Issel how, in the light of the budget cut of about 42%, NDA would meet the shortfall, and whether NDA intended to try to get private participation. If so, she asked what form this might take.

Ms Malgas asked the reason for the budget cut, and whether this was attributable to something that NDA had done wrongly.

Mr Bhoola ( MF) asked how the NDA  was going to fulfill its mandate in the municipalities and Integrated Development Planning, when there was a shortfall in the budget.

The Chairperson shared the concern about the R70 million shortfall. She asked if this cut was a trade-off agreement that was of a once-off nature. She also asked whether NDA was looking at donor funding, corporate involvement or partnerships around development programmes.

Ms Issel replied that the NDA was not the only institution to have its budget cut. Most departments received less money than in previous financial years. However, the fact that NDA was still holding money in the banking account probably had contributed to the decision for the cut. This money had been allocated to a project, but was only paid out to the project after a process of monitoring and evaluation.

The Minister referred to the strategy of the NDA to raise funds to make up for the shortfall. She noted that the DSD would have a close look at the Lotteries Act to consider whether it said anything about poverty eradication and the distribution of funds for programmes of the nature discussed. She was engaging with the Ministries of Trade and Industry and Economic Development, to see whether the NDA could be a recipient of any funding from there. She also started to engage the Social Corporate Investment entity(CSI) to make sure that the DSD, together with these other entities mentioned, came up with the funds needed to support the entire anti- poverty strategy, which was coordinated at the Deputy Presidency. The main reason for the budget cut was, however, the economic recession. South Africa was supposed to be emerging from the recession, and as the economic situation improved, the funding situation would also improve.

The Chairperson said that the NDA Act was to be amended to limit the overlaps between this and other legislation on social development. She asked if this was still intended, and when it would take place.

Mr Vusi Madonsela, Director-General, DSD, thanked Ms Issel for addressing the issue of the shortfall. He noted that the amendment of the NDA Act was still being considered, and the DSD was to submit a number of proposals to amend legislation to Parliament, including this Act. The amendments were intended to deal holistically with matters of governance and other shortcomings in the NDA Act.

The Chairperson said that there were norms and standards developed around ECD centres. The funding for ECDs fell within the domain of provinces. She asked what role the NDA saw for itself within that ECD environment, and whether it might relate to capacity building, improving infrastructure of ECDs or programmatic interventions. She noted that the Committee would like to be assured that there would not be any duplications, and that funding was not being put into areas already covered by provinces. The Expanded Public Works Programme had covered ECDs with learnerships, and also the upgrading of the infrastructure. She asked for clarity on the role of the NDA seen against the role of the provincial departments of Social Development.

Ms Issel replied that the NDA would partner with the DSD around the ECD projects. It would go to the provinces and ask where the province needed assistance with ECD facilities. It would then focus on the areas that the provinces indicated, specifically on capacity building and infrastructure. Only in areas where there were no ECD facilities would it assist the communities with the establishment of such facilities. It would not duplicate services already rendered by the provinces.

Mr Madonsela also addressed the issue of duplication between the NDA and the provinces. In discussions between the NDA and the DSD, it became apparent that the NDA had set its mind on becoming an endowment fund for civil society organisations. The focus of the NDA would shift towards capacity building for civil society organisations, as opposed to competing with what the provinces were doing. This role would evolve over time, but in the meantime there might be areas of duplication. The DSD was aware of this and was attending to it.

Mr Madonsela set out that the NDA had faced some challenges, internally and externally. Internal challenges were sometimes brought up by the Auditor-General’s report, or through internal audit reports, such as someone not following the correct procurement procedures. Ms Issel, in her capacity as Acting CEO, followed up audit reports on a monthly basis. She had also followed up all the Auditor-General’s reports since 2007, and took matters to the audit committee. Progress was discussed on a monthly basis. Financial reports and the monthly bank reconciliation statements were discussed on a monthly, sometimes weekly basis. She was in regular discussion with the audit committee and the finance task team. In this way the NDA was trying to overcome both internal and external challenges.

Ms Issel said that the burden of risk fell on the government. That was why there existed a write-back policy as well as standard operating procedures. Fraud had happened in some projects. This was another reason for funds not being transferred to projects. She had a list of projects being investigated for fraud and she could make it available to the committee.

Mr Bhoola thanked Ms Issel for an extensive presentation. He welcomed the statement by the Minister. It was of paramount importance as it dealt with poverty.

Mr Bhoola noted that Ms Issel had referred to assistance to civil society organisations that were struggling, and asked for some examples.

Ms Lamoela noted that Ms Issel had said that there were 366 live projects currently, but Ms Lamoela only had a list of 118. She asked for an updated list of projects funded by the NDA, as well as their contact details.

Ms M Mafolo (ANC) asked how the projects were funded.

Ms Issel replied that projects were funded in two tranches, which were paid 24 to 36 months apart.

Ms Malgas asked for a current report on the status of all projects on the books of the NDA.

Mr Bhoola said that the growth of a country lay in its knowledge industry. He asked what progress did the NDA had made in terms of youth entrepreneurship.

Mr Bhoola said that Ms Issel referred to vulnerable groups. In the rural areas there were senior citizens who did not receive funding, who were battling.

Ms Malgas asked what type of support would be given to vulnerable groups.

Ms Mafolo asked for a gender breakdown of the information in the Strategic Plan.

No answers were given to the last questions.

Department of Social Development (DSD) readiness to implement the Child Justice Act and the Older Persons Act
Ms Conny Nxumalo, Chief Director: Families and Social Crime Prevention, Department of Social Development, took the Committee through the presentation on the Department of Social Development (DSD) readiness to implement the Child Justice Act (CJA) and the Older Persons Act (OPA).

The Minister said that the Committee Members would doubtless appreciate the progress made and the fact that the process to develop and implement this legislation had not been easy. She assured the Committee that she would  process issues within the required timelines, where decision by a Minister was required.

The Minister referred the Committee to Slide 12, whose last bullet point stated that more children committed more violent crimes. This meant that there was a need for South Africa to have a united effort to address the problem. This touched on substance abuse. The Department was running this as a very important program. The Department visited one secure care centre housing 165 children 14 to 17 years old who committed serious crimes. A lot had been done to improve the circumstances of these children. Most of these children had been enticed to try substances. This was a serious problem, especially in the Western and Northern Cape and Gauteng. There was a need to join forces and work on it together.

Ms Lamoela proposed that the Committee should visit the institutions concerned. She was grateful for the training of social auxiliary workers but said that some issues could only be attended to by professional social workers. Nothing was ever said about the drop-out rate. In one information pamphlet the DSD had said that there was a drop-out rate of 30% to 75% from education. She asked how this would impact on what the Department was trying to achieve. At Hugenot College, only 300 to 400 students could be accommodated.

Ms Maria Mabetou, Deputy Director General, DSD, replied that she had a meeting with the different universities to discuss dropout rates. They explained that sometimes students failed a year, dropped out of scholarship programme, paid out of their own pockets for the repeat year, and then re-entered the scholarship programme when they proceeded to the next year. This could not really be seen as a drop-out. Sometimes, students used the scholarship programme to get into university and would then change their minds about their course of study. She did not see this as a negative development, because the student was still pursuing an education, although it might not be one that related to social work. Ms Mabetou said that she was not particularly concerned about the drop-out rate, and pointed out that most of those studying social work at university were on this scholarship.

Ms Mabetou also spoke to the issue of intake .There were not enough lecturing staff to keep the lecturer:student ratio at an acceptable level, to ensure quality teaching. The Department of Education (DoE) did not recognise social work as a scarce skill. The DSD needed to communicate with the DoE to declare social work as a scarce skill. There were 62 684 students at university on this scholarship programme. The allocation for this scholarship was R239,1 million for this financial year. For the previous financial year it was R210 million. Over the course of 2008 and 2009, this scholarship produced 2 424 qualified social workers.

The Minister, for the purpose of the record, wanted to correct what Ms Lamoela said earlier about 7 000 social workers.

Ms Lamoela said that in the Northwest Province three Municipalities had been placed under administration. She asked how municipalities would deliver what was expected of them in terms of the legislation. She felt that Integrated Development Plans were often little more than a “wish list”. She asked how that challenge could be confronted.

Ms Nxumalo said that the Department worked with municipalities in the development of the centres, as they were providing land and services. Once the centres were up and running, Municipalities did not really have a role apart from taking part in the supervisory committees monitoring the running of the facilities.

Ms Malgas referred to the second bullet point of page 12 in the presentation, which said that two national sector bids were submitted to National Treasury, through the Cluster, without success. She wanted to know from the Department of Social Development how much money was allocated to its portion of the programme and whether it was enough to cover DSD’s section of the work.

Ms Nxumalo replied that the Department had the money. The Bill had been in development for almost ten years and during this time all departments concerned had built up resources and prepared for when it was going to become law. When it was costed in 2002, all Departments received money for its implementation. She agreed that there never would be enough resources. However, the DSD was “ninety percent” prepared. DSD would obviously like to add more resources. However, the implementation was budgeted for, and had been costed.

Ms Lamoela noted that there were 484 full time probation officers. She asked for a list of those who were trained to work in the Western Cape.

The Chairperson asked whether the probation officers were servicing the Social Development sector, or the Department of Social Development nationally.

The Chairperson asked whether the Department saw Probation Services as an area of specialisation. She wanted the DSD to comment on whether it was looking at the review of Probation Services as a whole, which was linked to the sector of justice, both the judiciary and magistracy, separately from the issues of the Child Justice Act.

Ms Nxumalo said that the Department was working towards probation services being regarded as a specialty area, but not as a profession on its own. Social Work would still be the profession, but social workers and social auxiliary workers could be trained to specialise in probation work. The probation officers trained for these programmes were para-professional, in the sense that they had been trained to assist the probation officers in their work. Next year, the current legislation around probation for adults would be reviewed and aligned with the Child Justice Act.

The Chairperson said that she still did not understand, from the presentation, whether the Department was ready to implement the Child Justice Act on 1 April 2010.

Ms Nxumalo replied that, in terms of readiness, the DSD and all the other departments involved in the implementation of the Act were 90% ready to implement the legislation.

The Chairperson said that there were statements in the presentation that secure care centres were under utilised. There was a need for discussions within the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, and especially with the Chief Magistrate in each area and the South African Police Service (SAPS), to form child justice committees in order to create an awareness amongst the magistrates to refer the children to these centres. She thought she had made this recommendation to the Department.

Ms Nxumalo said that this was a Cluster concern, but the Department of Justice (DoJ) could not tell magistrates what to do, although certainly the magistrates could be informed about the requirements of the legislation. However, some children were still being sent to prison to await their trials. There was a Task Team dealing with the management of Awaiting Trial Detainees, who lobbied at the court for these children to be sent to secure care facilities. The new Act made provision for a Preliminary Enquiry, where a Magistrate could convene an informal hearing attended by the prosecutor and the probation officer, to decide upon the suitable placement of the child.

The Chairperson said that it was important to differentiate between Places of Safety and Secure Care Centres. Secure Care Centres should never replace Places of Safety, because they played different roles in society.

Ms Nxumalo replied that she agreed with the Chairperson that there should be differentiation between the two types of facilities. She noted that some Places of Safety had a wing where they accommodated children awaiting trial. They were treated differently from what the new Act recommended, having been placed there through Criminal Procedure Act procedures. The blueprint and norms and standards developed within the Child Justice Act forced the separation of the two types of facilities, because they had different functions.

The Chairperson said that the provincial spread of secure care centers was problematic. At the moment there was one center at Hendriena, to service more than 1 million people in Mpumalanga. This posed a problem with administrative justice issues. The parents would have to travel very far to visit their children. She recommended that the Committee should discuss advocating for more Secure Care Centres. It would make the implementation of the Act easier.

Ms Nxumalo said that building a Place of Safety took about two to three years. In the meantime an overnight house in another area would be created, which would offer some relief, but the facility at Hendriena would remain the only Secure Care Centre in Mpumalanga for the time being. DSD would certainly appreciate it if the Committee could advocate for more Secure Care Centres, especially for Mpumalanga.

The Chairperson asked whether children could go for rehabilitation while awaiting trial, in a similar way that adults could be referred for treatment while awaiting trial.

Ms Nxumalo said that children awaiting trial could attend rehabilitation treatment, whether it was in relation to substance abuse or sexual offences.

Ms Malgas said that she would like to congratulate the Department of Justice on Nerina House’s diversion programmes offered to inmates, started by the DSD itself. She had visited the centres in Port Elizabeth and fully agreed that it would be useful for the Committee to visit other centres.  The Ikhuzaweni Secure Care Centre was in complete disrepair, with no ceilings. The person in charge reported that in 2009 no repair work was done at the centre.

The Chairperson said that the Committee noted the concern, but that repairs to Secure Care Centres were provincial competencies. She said that if there were no ceilings, it meant that the children probably escaped through the ceilings and it posed a risk to their security.

Ms Lamoela asked whether the centres listed for the Western Cape would be completed by 1 April.

The Minister replied that four centres were completed, one was almost complete, and a sixth was planned.

Mr Madonsela warned the Members not to be alarmed when they saw some of these centers. Some might look like prisons, because of the nature of crimes committed by the children who were resident there. In some centres, there were warders from the Department of Correctional Services. He reminded the Committee that some children were gangsters, and the Centres were likely to be attacked by those gang members still on the outside, to “rescue” the inmates. There were stringent security measures in place.

The Chairperson said that any other questions could be submitted in writing

The meeting was adjourned.


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