Department of Social Development Budget and Strategic Plan 2010-2015

NCOP Health and Social Services

20 April 2010
Chairperson: Ms N Rasmeni (ANC) North West
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Social Development presented its Strategic plan for the current period to 2015. It was presented branch by branch with the main focus being the need to adhere to governments manifesto and the ten priorities of the MTSF. The presentation explained current plans and programs, touching on the DSDs achievements thus far. The bulk of its focus was on the need for its policies to be coupled with action and for there to be greater tradition of monitoring and evaluation at all levels, carried out by the Department.

Members raised a number of concerns particularly related to monitoring and evaluation and the need for greater workable policies. It was also suggested that the manifesto itself, which the entire strategy was based upon, was unrealistic. Members took issue with the fact that the focus of the Department seemed to be prevention of social ills and not cure. It was noted that in a numbr of cases the suggestion seemed to be to provide greater grants and access instead of sustainable employment or other options such as viable adoption programs aimed at the South African public. The DSD highlighted the positive movement with regards to both the Child Justice Act and Older Person’s Act, noting that both had been passed and were in a process of implementation. The members also questioned the purpose of certain programs being based on foreign models, utilising foreign practitioners. They also raised certain issues that had come to visibility at provincial issue. The Department was also asked about their current drug programs and whether these were situated at a national level. Members also asked about those that did not fall within the grant bracket, those within the 18-59 age group, what was the Department doing to ensure these people did not fall into destitution.

Meeting report

Department of Social Development (DSD) Budget and Strategic Plan 2010-2015
Mr R Hlatohwayo, Strategy, Department of Social Development, highlighted that over the past fifteen years the focus of the Department of Social Development (DSD or the Department) had been on a transformative agenda in order to level the playing fields with regard to service delivery. He mentioned the role of legislation in giving rights to the most vulnerable in society. He stated that the focus currently had to go beyond simply generating policy to also ensuring that policies were accessible, and that this would require research on policy gaps.

The strategy adopted by the DSD to date had been to deliver services through a network of non-government organisations (NGOs) as it had been realised that without them, the DSD would not be able to reach across the entire country. There were, however, also agencies under the Department’s control, including South African Social Services Agency (SASSA), the National Development Agency (NDA) and the Central Drug Authority (CDA).

The first priority of the DSD for the next five years, would lie in building a comprehensive security system. This would include income support and a safety net for the destitute. He noted that there were comprehensive proposals being discussed currently by the Department that would aid in closing the net around comprehensive social security. The second priority would be care protection for vulnerable groups, especially children, women and people with disabilities. He noted that the challenges in this area included the increasing levels of abuse. The third priority lay in strengthening of family and communities as there was a belief that stronger families and communities could prevent social ills. The fourth priority was to transform social relations, with a specific focus on gender and victim empowerment. Here, he noted that the main areas of focus would be combating  human trafficking and addressing gender mainstreaming. The fifth priority was the strengthening of institutional capacity to deliver quality services and he reiterated that since the majority of the DSD’s services weare delivered through NGOs, there was a need to look again at funding models to ensure that the Department was providing adequate support. The sixth priority was to reinforce participation in key bilateral and multilateral initiatives that contributed the most to poverty eradication. This required the Department to exercise more careful choices as to which programmes and regions it could support, based upon the value they added to social development.

Mr Hlatohwayo explained that the Strategic Plan took into account the 2009 Government manifesto, from which sector priorities were identified, that were then translated into goals and interventions for the Department.

The Government manifesto had placed some emphasis on the creation of decent work and sustainable livelihoods. The corresponding Medium Term Economic Framework priority was to speed up economic growth and transformation of the economy in order to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods, and that decent employment would be linked to inclusive growth. The DSD would be contributing to this by providing for comprehensive social security. Studies that had been done revealed that grants increased the mobility of households, allowing those who were currently out of work to seek work far more easily than previously. He also highlighted the positive spin-off of the grants in keeping children in school.

DSD would continued to reduce income poverty among the poor and vulnerable in South Africa. He noted the need for policies dealing with social relief and distress provision, and the need to ensure that this happened faster and more effectively. He indicated that the Department would also be looking into a comprehensive social insurance system and the merit of pulling the respective branches currently responsible for this together in unified efforts. The DSD also hoped to establish systems for adjudicating social assistance appeals. DSD would be playing a lead role in helping to create decent work in line with requirements laid out in the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). He noted the high rates of youth unemployment and stated that the Department was aware of the need to link youth to economic opportunity.

In regard to the Government’s emphasis on the need to fight crime and corruption, he stated that DSD had been working on this already, but needed to intensify its efforts. The outcome, though challenging, would ensure that all people of South Africa were safe and felt safe. The DSD intervention would be a commitment to significantly reducing social crime over the next five years. DSD noted the relationship between substance abuse and social crime. He suggested that another strategic intervention required of the DSD within this area would be the reduction of sexual and physical violence against women, and the promotion of gender equality.

In regard to education, another vital point of the manifesto, Mr Hlatohwayo noted that DSD had had some difficulty in deciding where it could contribute, but felt that it could assist in Early Childhood Development (ECD).

Government had wished to have a comprehensive rural development strategy linked to land and agrarian reform and food security, in order to achieve vibrant, equitable, sustainable rural communities contributing towards food security for all. DSD could contribute to this goal through the strengthening of families and communities, and had been working on this for some time already. He noted the need for communities to have a say in their own development, and said that DSD’s role in this regard would be to support and strengthen family and community interventions that fostered social cohesion.

Another Government priority was improving the health profile of society, to achieve a long and healthy life for all South Africans. DSD would contribute by reducing the incidence of HIV/Aids and minimising its psychosocial impact.

Government had also set economic and social infrastructure as a priority. DSD had a role in providing social infrastructure, which would support integrated service delivery. In regard to the priority to build a developmental State, including improving public services and strengthening democratic institutions, he noted that DSD had a key responsibility in strengthening institutional capacity in order to deliver quality services and create a sustainable environment for service delivery partners. Another DSD strategic intervention would be to institutionalise evidence-based policy making in both the DSD and the social sector, which would build confidence from the people in what government was providing.

DSD would, as stated, support and strengthen families and communities, and would help to sustain them by implementing youth programmes that assisted youth to access decent work and participate in the mainstream economy. It would also improve the social welfare service to older people, protect and promote the rights of people with disabilities, and ensure the provision of quality social welfare services to children, mainly through the Children’s Act.

Mr T Rakdoti, Chief Director: Social Assistance, DSD, then gave a presentation focusing comprehensive social security. This involved both social grants and social insurance. In future, the DSD would be focusing on expanding the social safety net. He noted that at present, there were 13.8 million people receiving grants, of whom 10 million were children Government intended to extend the child support grant to all those aged eighteen and under. DSD had been working to register those not currently registered, starting at the 15 to16 year old age group. 200 000 children who had previously not been included in the system were now registered.

Mr Rakdoti addressed the issue that the primary caregiver should be ensuring that the child for whom support was given was enrolled at and attending a school. He noted that this was key to improving the human capital of society. However, there was a need to better monitor this through improved communication and collaboration between departments. If a child was found to be not in school, then it would fall to the Social Services professionals to investigate the matter.

Mr Rakdoti noted that since 2008 it had been decided that there should be parity for men and women in accessing the old age grant, with all senior citizens qualifying for the grant from the age of 60. The Department would be finalising this in 2010 and creating public awareness.  

The DSD currently had a proposal before the Portfolio Committee on Social Development to amend the Social Assistance Bill. The amendment would deal with current issues and problems around the definition of disability. Fraud in this area was undermining the integrity of the social grant system. The Bill would also provide a harmonised assessment tool for health professionals so that they could assess disability far more easily.

Mr Rakdoti noted that social relief was currently provided by the provinces, but it was a problem that each provided it in a different format. DSD was aware that it would need to have a more coherent approach, although he maintained that social relief was best served at provincial level.

Social insurance was a major issue in South Africa, as the country did not have mandatory social insurance, which meant that the level of contribution during employment was far lower than a person would need on retirement, which forced many to rely on the old age grant. The DSD believed that some mechanism was necessary to ensure long-term savings for retirement.

Ms V Petersen, Deputy Director General: Programme Manager Appeals Tribunal, DSD noted that there was a backlog of around 60 000 appeals from people whose applications for grants had been rejected. Although she aimed to deal with the backlog and provide swift administrative justice, she noted that she had only been four days in office and would need some time before tabling a business plan to state how it was proposed that the backlog be dealt with. However, the DSD was currently looking at how to decentralise the tribunal in order to ensure that it worked faster and in closer proximity to those who needed to access it. She also highlighted that more than 50% of the current backlog related to disability grants.

Dr Maria Mabetoa, Deputy Director General: Welfare Services, DSD, informed the Committee that welfare services was divided into various categories, including those of social crime prevention (including victim empowerment), programmes that dealt with services to families in general, services to children, older persons and people with disability, management and support services to NGOs that were in partnership with Department, and programmes around service standards.

Welfare Services’ first objective was to reduce the risk of sexual and physical violence against women. It aimed to develop prevention programmes dealing with gender based violence by March 2011, as well as ensure that NGOs delivering these services were capacitated and supported. This would include training on the Criminal Law: Sexual Offences Act and training on victim empowerment for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and human trafficking. DSD would ensure that all its partners were involved in the 16 days of no violence against women and children.

Welfare Services also aimed to implement the Shelter Strategy to guide NGOs who provided shelter services. She noted that DSD had also been involved in collaboration with NGOs targeting men and boys. In terms of supporting and strengthening families and communities, DSD had in the past year drafted the Family Policy, although Cabinet had commented, when it saw this, that it was not broad enough. Cabinet suggested that families were a cross-cutting institution of society and the Department was advised to develop a White Paper. It would be doing so, but would first create a Green Paper on the issues. Other programmes developed over the past years – including one to inculcate positive values in families – would be run. The Positive Parenting Programme was central also to other programmes in the branch and she committed to developing this further.

In regard to social crime prevention, Welfare Services would focus on victim empowerment. There was a policy already in pace, but there were notable gaps, including the lack of legislation dealing effectively with domestic violence. Many organisations currently providing victim support were not registered with the Department as there was no system, and this must change in order to ensure that they would become accountable to the Department. She highlighted the problem of enforcing norms and standards that were not backed by legislation.

Dr Mabetoa noted the recent implementation of the Child Justice Act, and acknowledged the role of DSD in providing secure care facilities, for which a blueprint and minimum standards had been developed. She hoped that these would be approved and implemented this year. She stated that DSD also had a draft crime prevention strategy, which should also be approved and finalised this year. With regard to substance abuse, DSD was in the process of implementing regulations to ensure that legislation on substance abuse would be fully implemented. DSD was also focusing on prevention and aimed to heighten the current campaigns and review, coordinate and implement the mini Drug Master Plan. The National Drug Master Plan was placed within the DSD but was managed by the Central Drug Authority (CDA). However, the DSD still had an obligation to present a mini Drug Master Plan to the CDA in this financial year. She noted the need to strengthen the capacity of the CDA, particularly with regard to the management and coordination of the National Drug Master Plan.

Dr Mabetoa reiterated that the Older Persons Act had been implemented and that the Department was in the process of ensuring its full implementation across the provinces.

With regard to people with disabilities, she noted that in 2009 the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was acceded to by South Africa, requiring the Department to report, on how it was implementing this Convention, to the Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and People with Disabilities. The DSD’s main programme for the coming year would be to align all its policies with the UN Convention, and that there was also a need to begin developing policies, regulations, norms and standards, followed by legislation dealing with service delivery.

Dr Mabetoa reported that in terms of social services and service standards the Department was continuing with its recruitment and retention strategy, the main programme being the scholarship program which currently had 5 000 students enrolled across the country. Welfare services was also currently working to standardise its programmes across the country. It was also in the process of reviewing its financial policy and developing a policy on social service professions.

Welfare Services would be focusing on the full implementation of the Children’s Act this year, including the Child Protection Register, the national surveillance system on child abuse and neglect, the transformation of the residential care facilities, and guidelines for statutory services for child headed households.

Mr Peter Netshapale, Acting Director General, DSD, stated that he would be presenting the Community Development Strategy Plan. He noted that the branch was divided into three fundamental areas. The first related to community development, to ensure that communities were self-reliant, and to deal with poverty and under development. He noted that youth were also a targeted group. The second area of focus was that of non profit organisations, and this would also deal with the implementation of the Non Profit Organisations (NPO) Act, to ensure that NPOs were registered in time and provided with capacity. The last area of focus was HIV/Aids, and would deal with the contribution of DSD to the reduction of the psychosocial impact of HIV/Aids.

He then dealt with each of those areas. Community development was formed of three units; one dealing with development of policies and the implementation plan, the second dealing with sustainable livelihoods through facilitating social cooperations, and the third facilitating the linking of community organisations in food banks and skills development. Projects within communities would be facilitated either by the DSD or provinces and funded by donors or funders. DSD aimed to help communities to link with available economic opportunities. It hoped to link 4 500 to existing developments in the country, and ensure that there were Community Development Practitioners (CDPs) appointed by the Department. These people needed training, and provinces should be employing more.  For the youth, there were two programmes currently in place, one in collaboration with Cuba (the Masupatsela Programme), which trained youth mentors.

In respect of HIV and AIDS, the DSD would contribute to minimising the psychosocial impact by providing support such as counselling. There was a need to develop programmes for counselling and needs provision, specifically for orphans and vulnerable children. He noted that a current programme in this area was that of Home and Community Based Care, which aimed to train as many home based carers as possible. He also noted the need for prevention programme, to be developed and implemented in conjunction with the Department of Health.

The DSD’s main role in relation to NPOs lay in administering the NPO Act, ensuring the registration and therefore creation of a database of capacitated NPOs. Most of the achievements so far were community development focused - included the developing of a policy framework for CDPs and the four community food banks. The development of the monitoring and evaluation system for home and community based care in the country was a milestone for the Department.

Ms Dorothy Snyman, Acting Chief Financial Officer, DSD, highlighted that the Department’s budget would grow from R86 billion in 2010 to R114 billion four years later. The major allocation related to the payment of grants. The average annual increase of the Department’s budget was 9.6% per year.  She highlighted the various areas in which that budget would be spent. The spending pattern of the DSD in relation to previous years was close to 100%. She stressed that the figures now presented were unaudited figures. The major difference in the budget figures for 2011/12, when compared to those of 2010, related to the Department’s receipt of a once-off allocation of R20 million, which would be used for the Total Security Conference. She also highlighted a once-off allocation the Department had received in order to deal with the backlog in appeals, and the special allocation in order to run its national scholarship programme.

Mr W Faber (Western Cape DA) suggested that the manifesto was neither realistic nor workable.  He suggested that the creation and maintaining of livelihoods under EPWP was not creating jobs, and he stressed a need for programmes that created sustainable jobs.

Mr Faber asked whether there was a drug programme in place, at a national level, to fight against crime and corruption and drug abuse.

Mr Faber noted that it had been proven that commercial farming, and not following land reform and related policies, would secure food security.

Mr Faber stated that in regard to Health and HIV issues in particular, DSD seemed to be curing problems, not preventing them.

Mr Faber noted the lack of decent solutions for crippling social issues, such as lack of adoption programmes.

Mr Faber asked for an explanation of the difference between social workers under local government and CDPs and whether or not the existence of both was not a problem.

Mr Faber asked what the Department was doing to improve LoveLife.

Ms B Mncube (Gauteng, ANC) enquired as to how the system worked. She noted that there was a child currently being held in detention at Ventersdorp prison, who had refused bail, because this was the first time in his life that he had ever received three meals a day.

Ms Mncube asked why most of those wanting to start NGOs seemed to be concentrated in Gauteng and the Western Cape and not in rural areas, and enquired about the building of their capacity. She asked for the Department to define the provinces that are covered by specific programmes.

Mr S Plaatjie (North West, COPE) questioned how NGOs accounted to the Department and whether the Department was satisfied with there services? He also asked what the qualifying criteria for youth to become involved in programs such as the Cuban program? He asked the Chair for protection before stating that he was aware that the Department had a number of good programs but when it came time for these programs to be translated into action, he suggested that they were often used for political recruitment. He said he would make indication of which programs if the Chair would offer him protection

The Chairperson, clearly angered by his remark, suggested that it would be best if he withdrew his statement

Mr Plaatjie withdrew his statement. He further raised the issue of a social worker auxiliary program in the North West Province, which has recently been shelved, he asked the Department for information on where this program went? He stressed that other programs were being misused. He asked if the Department had created a youth program with Cuba because there were no qualified experts that could do so internally?

Ms W Makgate (North West, ANC) expressed concern over the Departments inability to link to sectors that it had prioritised as in the case of education. She questioned the ability of strategies to translate into action. She noted that what was being spoken about nationally was not happening in the ground. She stated that situation such as Limpopo suggested that the Department did not have adequate monitoring measures. It seems that Social Development either does not exist or is not cooperating with other Departments. She requested more information on how the EPWP program can be expanded and how it will filter in to social development.

Mr M De Villiers (Western Cape, DA) asked the Department what its plan for improving service delivery in rural areas was. He expressed concern over areas such as Limpopo. Enquired when the Department would be sending the Committee its policy on Social Relief, what was its working program with regards to this? He also asked whether Ms Pietersen had a team in order to deal with the backlog of appeals. He also raised the issue of the three provinces that seemed to be excluded from the Youth Development Services audit.

Ms Z Rantho (Eastern Cape, ANC) questioned why it was that the Department only seemed to act when the Committee visited areas in need. She stressed that this could only make people lose faith in them. She highlighted the need for monitoring in the provinces and at project level. She suggested that the ECD program lacked guidance and that this was endangering children. She questioned how well the Department was doing with its social awareness programs.

The Chairperson suggested that the Department needed to stress to its officials that there are other means of helping children to access grants and tat children cannot simply be left without grants. She also stressed the need for social workers to be aware of child headed households. She expressed shock that the definition for disability was still being debated and requested that the Department fast track the issue. She requested more information on human trafficking and enquired as to whether the Department had done any studies analysing the contributory factors involved in human trafficking in South Africa. She asked for the number of secure care facilities that the Department had established? She asked the Department about its plans for poverty eradication focused at those who do not fall within the grant categories available. She asked how communities benefit from food banks established.  She asked as to what monitoring mechanisms would be put in place if relief was to happen at a provincial level. She stated that the Committee was very interested in the future presentation to be provided by Ms Pietersen on the appeals tribunal process.

Mr Rakdoti reiterated that in terms of education all the recipients of the CSG had to be in school, ensuring they remain in school. He agreed that there was a need to work with the Department of Education to ensure that they stayed in school. In terms of social relief, he highlighted that the policy was being developed internally it would then be sent to Cabinet for Cabinet approval at the same time the Committee would be engaged on the policy. He noted the Chairpersons concern for monitoring and evaluation and the critical role it played. He stressed that even though certain responsibilities would fall to provinces national would still have certain roles and responsibilities particularly with regards to money. He noted the concern over access particularly where children are concerned but stressed that the expectation on the part of the Department was to serve those children. He highlighted that policy had recently been amended to allow a variety of different forms of identification to be permissible as proof for grant access. With regards to be people ages 18-59 he noted that this was a big policy issue for the Department. He referred to previous discussions about the Basic Income Grant, this would fall into the Comprehensive Security Framework. He noted that this would also effect those relying on the Disability Income Grant, when the definition of disability is finalised.

Ms Pieterson stated that in terms of appeals and staff issues that she currently had around eighty staff members, with thirteen permanent staff in place. She suggested that she would only be able to deal with staff issues once she had a definitive business model. She highlighted that she would prefer a more decentralised, quicker to the ground work program. She thanked the Chair for the invitation to present to the Committee in the future but requested that she be given sometime before the presentation as she had only been in her position for four days.

Mr Netshapale acknowledged the Departments shortcomings: in terms of LoveLife he noted that ther was an issue but that the Department had developed a monitoring strategy, which they would implement. This would scrutinise the program. In terms of NPOs and capacity building, he noted that NPOs were concentrated in urban areas simply because funding was easier to access. He noted though that all provinces had a number of NPOs and that the Department was busy developing a guideline and a management guideline for NPOs. He stated that youth programs targeted all youth out of school, programs are designed at national level and provinces execute them. He clarified that they used the Cuban model because it was common for government to copy programs from other countries in order to avoid trying and testing different things. With regards to the provinces missing in the Youth Audit he highlighted that they would come on board during the course of the year. He thanked the Committee for the information on the orphans without grants. He explained that Food Banks benefit communities by providing food for them and by helping to create organisations to manage the food. With regards to the expansion of the EPWP he highlighted that the Department coordinates it and one of the things it focused on was the provision of community caregivers who are trained and on the ground. These caregivers are then remunerated for their work. Phase two of the EPWP would be maintain that employment of the home based care workers and remunerated according to an hourly basis and that they are well managed, particularly with regards to NPOs.

Dr Mabetoa she noted that the Department did have a drug program and that they were fortunate to have the CDA within the Department. She offered to make the National Drug Master Plan available to the Committee. As of this year the target of the drug programs would no longer simply be schools but society in general. She also noted there were a number of rehabilitation centres run by NGOs but funded by the Department. She informed the Committee that together with Home Affairs the Department had undertaken a study on orphans in order to find out where these children were situated and what assistance they required. She informed the Committee that the Department had an adoption strategy in process, which was waiting for approval. She highlighted that they were reviewing their financial policies to ensure that NGOs in rural areas had access to funds. She also explained that drug abuse actually falls under social crime prevention. She noted that it was unfortunate that people were unaware of how to access ECD programs and how to register for these programs. She identified a gap in the Departments ability to identify ECD programs that had recently been established and were not registered, in these cases the Department relied heavily on the communities for information. She informed the Committee that they lacked statistics on human trafficking; this was largely due to the fact that the Bill and information was still in process. She recognised the Committees need for this information and said she would furnish them with this. She noted the issues around monitoring and evaluation at provincial and national level. She agreed that services to disabilities was a huge gap, she raised the issue of lack of legislation, which was highly problematic. The Department works closely with the Department of Health in providing assistive devices but she acknowledged that it is the Departments duty to facilitate the process.

Mr Hlatohwayo stated that the Department was working towards better service delivery. He noted that the Department was of the belief that EPWP would develop core skills as people become exposed to training and will give some understanding of the labour market. He noted this was not the ultimate solution with regards to employment but that it did assist

Mr De Villiers asked for clarity on the non-statutory military veteran. He enquired as to whether it was people in the former struggle army or otherwise. He asked for information on the maternal orphans database and whether it was considered a pilot project He also enquired after the role of the Sports and Recreation Department with regards to Sports and Recreation.

Mr Rakdoti replied that in terms of the maternal orphans database a study was undertaken and the Department wanted to integrate the results into the existing system.

Dr Mabetoa informed the Committee that the person with information on Sports and Recreation was not present but that they would endeavour to provide the Committee with information

Ms Snyman informed the Committee that in terms of monitoring and evaluation the Department was in process of developing a set of indicators across the social development sector, this would assist in improving the monitoring and evaluation thereof. Although she stressed that it was a large task

The Chairperson reminded the Department that her office would be waiting for all out standing reports. She suggested that the presentation from the Appeals Committee would take place in June or later.

The meeting was adjourned


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