Budget Vote 18: deliberations

Social Development

05 March 2002
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Meeting report

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
6 March 2002
BUDGET VOTE 18: DELIBERATIONS

Chairperson:
Mr E Saloojee

Documents Handed Out:
Briefing on Budget Vote 18

SUMMARY
The meeting was a continuation of the Budget Vote 18 presentation of 27 February. The Committee questioned the Department on issues such as the poverty relief programmes, HIV/AIDS, Non Profit Organisation, population and development, cross cutting priorities and the funding of the Department.

MINUTES
Ms A Bester: Director-General, Department of Social Development, briefed the Portfolio Committee on the Social Development Budget Vote 18.

Poverty Relief Programmes
An ANC Member asked when the audits would be made available. What was the nature of the audit? Would it be a simple audit or an expanded analysis to give a holistic idea of poverty in South Africa?

Ms A Bester, Director-General, replied that she was very proud of the audit that has been funded in this year. The final report will be submitted by the Audit Committee and will be presented before the Portfolio Committee. It is shameful that a number of projects and programmes will be considerably reduced.

Mr E Saloojee confirmed that the completion date for the report is the end of March 2002.

Dr E E Jassat (ANC) asked if any measures have been taken to address deficiency problems with poverty relief programs.

Ms Bester confirmed that the mid-term report last year detected deficiencies and these are beginning to be addressed. The biggest problem is the issue of capacity to sustain development. It must be documented that the Northern Province has shown significant improvement.

Dr O Baloyi (IFP) asked whether the audit would be a report on the social development aspects of poverty in general.

The DG remarked that the independent evaluation of poverty includes all governmental Departments. Questions regarding the allocation of funds given to specific Departments need to be answered.

Mr M T Masutha (ANC) questioned what the Department of Social Development's strategic role concerning the duplication issue was. What happened to the flagship programmes that were initiated?

The DG assured the Committee that the sixteen flagship programs are still going according to plan. The repositioning of the Department was largely responsible for duplication. One of their priorities is to identify and document good practices. The problem in the past was that a very large number of projects lost sight of the benefits for the Committee. The Department's role is to contribute to development and progress.

Mr Masutha (ANC) focused upon the long-term expansion of development and poverty relief. More emphasis should be placed upon rural development programs.

An ANC Member noted that comments concerning developmental and financial duplication should wait for after the evaluation report. They should also focus on what other Departments have done to eliminate duplication.

The DG responded on the issue of duplication and noted that it would be looked at.

Dr Baloyi (IFP) was concerned that the programme lacked a relief benefit. This indicated that poor people would always remain poor. Another concern was the survival rate of programmes due to the fact that more than 85 % of programmes do not show sustainability. Could interaction between the Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Social Development attempt to deal with the above-mentioned problem?

The DG agreed that the next level would be discussions with other Departments on this topic. The Department of Social Development incorporates an exit strategy to see how a project graduates to the next level.

The DG responded on the issue of sustainability, that the mid-term review indicated that half of the projects are sustainable.

Mr Saloojee's (ANC) primary grievance was funds that have not been spend.

The DG reported that there has been improvement on the expenditure of poverty relief programmes.

HIV/AIDS

Mr Masutha (ANC) asked the Department what its strategy is in dealing with the impact of HIV/AIDS on children and the family. What is the extent of their help to date?

Ms J Chalmers (ANC) asked to what extent the Department would assist community members to access basic resources, for instance, the comfort mechanism. How could the Department assist families to deal with the isolation of HIV/AIDS?

The DG responded that there is a need for a broader response and that they are constantly changing their approach.

Dr Jassat (ANC) raised the issue of orphans and proposed that a kibbutz community be initiated to become more self-sufficient.

The DG stated that the Department believes in an integrated approach. The idea of a kibbutz will only perpetuate isolation. In the past this proposal was already raised but was quickly discarded. The Department wants to encourage that people are integrated in the broader community.

Ms I Mars (IFP) was concerned about the present state of HIV/AIDS children and families. How is it possible to expedite this process? There are community members that are willing to assist, how could the Department guide them?

The DG assured the Committee that they are not stopping work while broader issues are sorted out. People who are eligible will receive help from the Department. It must be kept in mind that placement of children receives main priority. An example is the Home Base Projects that already provide refuge to fifty thousand children this year.

Ms Mars (IFP) stated that the above answer was not clear and that her main concern was that there were limited or no foster grants for these children.

The DG raised the notion that interdepartmental interaction was required to access all forms of social assistance. The Rapid Appraisal Project is a simple mechanism to locate needy children. She agreed that there was a need for a more comprehensive system.

Dr Baloyi (IFP) asked about the financial commitment of the Department and what percentage it pays.

The DG replied that the Department of Social Development's main contribution is towards the sick and they must provide material and emotional support. They provide food parcels to the impoverished and have joint projects with the Health Department.

Mr B M Solo (ANC) questioned the accessibility of information. He asked whether the Department was aware of the significant role the constituency offices in the provinces played. Why are organisations such as churches not considered at all?

The DG said that the Department would provide the Committee with more information on this topic after April. On the issue of constituency office they felt it could create problems due to its political dimensions.

Ms O R Kasienyane (ANC) acknowledged that limited funds are available but failed to understand why the youth are turned away when they offer themselves as volunteers.

The DG stated that there is a certain framework for volunteers. Although it is an opportunity to develop skills there should not be unreasonable expectations of the Department to provide job opportunities.

Ms Chalmers was concerned about the access of assistance. She asked whether only recognised organisations like the Home Base Projects were used and at what stage could a person have access to a disability grant.

The DG replied that potential projects goes through an assessment process. With respect to the disability grant, there are no norms or standards. There is only a medical examination that could prove if they are able to work or not.

Dr Baloyi (IFP) asked what the various Departments and the various levels of government could do to assist the Department of Social Development.

The DG answered that the Department of Social Development had the opportunity to discuss opportunity structures with the various Departments especially the Health Department.

Ms S V Kaylan (IFP) asked what the time frame is between the first application for a food parcel and when the person actually receives it.

Non-Profit Organisations
Ms E Gandhi (ANC) asked whether the boards are functional.

The DG assured the Committee that the boards are indeed functional and that the Portfolio Committee needs to actively recommend and promote members.

Ms C M P Ramotsamai (ANC) inquired about the duties of the NGO's and CBO's and their contribution in helping capacity building.

The DG stated that these organisations support the Department in the transformation of welfare services.

Mr Saloojee (ANC) noted that many of the various councils functions have been taken away. What is the purpose for their existence?

The DG replied that the audits would provide information and input of policies. The National Councils provide frameworks and the audit will assist the Department in decision-making regarding the councils.

Population and Development
Ms Chalmers (ANC) wanted clarity on the interaction of Statistics South Africa and the Department of Social Development and how much they rely on each other. Further, what was the impact of the published information?

The DG stated that the interaction was crucial as the Department relied upon Stats SA for data on population changes. There has been a close working relationship as the Department of Social Development are not in the position to duplicate what Stats SA are doing.

Ms Gandhi (ANC) asked how poverty relief programmes could be established in specific areas. Why has the budget been cut?

The DG reported that the adjustment of the budget was due to the restructuring and the integration of the Department's work.

Cross cutting Priorities
Mr Saloojee (ANC) noted that there is nothing substantial yet on moral regeneration.

The DG answered that in the Minister's ten point plan, he primarily focused on the rebuilding of the family.

Mr Saloojee (ANC) made an appeal to the Minister to address the Committee on the issue of moral regeneration.

Dr Baloyi's (IFP) main concern was that South Africans come from a culture of concepts. Many concepts like Ubuntu where placed on the table for discussion but never acted upon.

The DG responded on the issue of redefining concepts that one need to be practical about it and that the concept should just be fitted into the new Constitution. She continued with the issue of partnership and stated that the Department should focus on NEPAD and its critical issues.

Ms Gandhi (ANC) stated on the issue of NEPAD that South Africa has its own capacity problems, which indicate that neighboring countries problems will be included.

The DG took note of it.

Ms Kasienyane (ANC) asked about the availability of programmes to strengthen volunteering.

The DG explained that the Department has established a committee with a volunteer movement.

Ms P W Cupido (DP) stated that networking with churches could lead to significant development. Churches have the social and financial infrastructure to assist the Department.

The DG responded that they are working with the religious sector and that they are preparing a draft partnership plan.

Funding of Departments
Ms Gandhi (ANC) noted that 77 posts were vacant.

The DG replied that they did not establish a task team yet to look at filling the vacant posts. The Committee must keep in mind that there was a major restructuring of the Department.

Ms Ramotsamai (ANC) was concerned about the role over of funds and whether it would affect the present budget.

The DG stated that most of the funds were already committed to projects and programmes.

Mr Saloojee (ANC) reacted strongly to the debate on volunteerism. He was aware of lists of volunteering organisations that played a significant role especially during the apartheid years. He was greatly distressed, due to the fact that subsidies have been cut drastically. The result is that they will become weakened to the point that they no longer can provide essential programmes. He concluded that a crisis is looming at ground level that needs to be address.

The DG agreed that they are in serious need of lifelines but could not give a satisfactory answer.

The meeting was adjourned.

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