Social Development perspective on 2011 State of Nation Address; Progress on Issues Raised in 2010 State of Nation Address

Social Development

14 February 2011
Chairperson: Ms Y Botha (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee researcher and content advisor gave a two part presentation on the social development perspective of the 2011 State of the Nation Address, and the policy objectives that came out of it. These were the extension of the Child Support Grant to include even more of the children under 18 and those living in poorer households, eradicating fraud and corruption within the Department, reducing serious and violent crime by educating and guiding probation officers, child and youth care workers, providing frameworks for the accreditation of diversion services and providing secure care centres for children, building a performance oriented state by increasing skill capacity and training in monitoring and finally improving Expanded Public Works Programme as a response to unemployment and to create work opportunities.

The second presentation looked at
progress to date on Social Sector goals identified in 2010 State of Nation Address. There was a focus on the New Growth Path and how it would reduce poverty and create decent work in South Africa by investing in social capital and public services. There was provision for financial and non-financial support to cooperatives in order to stimulate a growth in employment opportunities, especially in the social sector. There was the creation of work opportunities by supporting public services targeted at low income households and generating job opportunities for young people by contributing to programmes such as Home Community Based Care and Early Childhood Development.

The Committee raised questions about corruption and details in dealing with it, Department vacancies and how to fill it with the current resource constraints, monitoring provincial non-government organisations and their funding to avoid abuse and fraud as well as the multiple challenges faced by South African Social Security Agency especially in poorer provincial communities where information did not reach those most in need. Finally the Committee suggested they might request the NGOs come before them for questioning, or the Committee could hold meetings in the provinces to get a first hand view of the challenges.  

Meeting report

The meeting opened with the announcement that the Chairperson would not be able to attend. Ms P Tshwete (ANC) was elected acting chairperson. The secretary informed the Committee that according to parliamentary rules the Committee required a quorum of at least seven members to make any decisions. As the Committee had only five members present, the deliberation and adoption of the Committee Report on the SAHRC Report on the 2008 Public Violence Against Non-Nationals would be postponed due to a lack of quorum.

Social Development Perspective on 2011 State of the Nation Address (SONA)
Ms Siyavuya Koyana, Committee Researcher, spoke about social development matters that emerged from the State of the Nation Address 2011 and covered the following points (see Document):
▪ Policy Objectives – Social Development

▪ General Strategic Objectives
▪ Extension of the Child Support Grant (CSG)
Eradicating fraud and corruption
▪ Reducing serious and violent crimes
▪ Minimum norms and standards for secure care centres for children
▪ Policy framework for accreditation of diversion services
▪ Guidelines for Probation Officers, Child and Youth Care Workers
▪ Building a performance oriented state
▪ Improving Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP)
Discussion
The Acting Chairperson asked how many Department vacancies had been filled. She asked what had happened to staff members found guilty of corruption and had they paid back the ill-gotten money.

Ms H Lamoela (DA) wanted to know if people were paying interest for the money garnered in a corrupt manner, and were they allowed to stay on in their positions afterwards. She asked how South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) could possibly fill the 59.6% vacant posts in six months unless Treasury gave them more money.

Ms J Masilo (ANC) asked how SASSA would tackle corruption. She asked how SASSA would get in touch with their most needy recipients. How would the Department deal with the President’s remarks that South Africa was not a welfare state but a developmental state.

Ms N Gcume (COPE) asked [inaudible]. She questioned if SASSA was still there for a purpose, was it still needed? She would like clarification on the child support grants and the R350 poverty line referred to in the presentation.

Ms Yolisa Nogenga, the Committee Content Advisor, explained that the R350 was the household poverty line not the amount received in grants.

Ms Lamoela commented that fathers should be made to pay child support for children they father. She expressed concern that South Africa was becoming a welfare state. She commented that in the Western Cape, competent SASSA employees made plans to visit recipients who for some reason could not come to SASSA and took down their application details in their homes. Why could this not be done in other provinces? She would also like the researchers to take note that SASSA reviews could take up to a year to process, during which time recipients go without pensions.

The Acting Chairperson clarified that they did not expect the Committee researchers to answer these questions, but that these were concerns that should go directly to the Department of Social Development (DSD). Other questions put forth by the Committee members were about the challenges faced by SASSA, and they wanted help to understand these concerns. The Acting Chairperson reminded members to take note of their questions as SASSA would be presenting its annual report on 1 March. She had made a special request that SASSA give the Committee its documents one week before 1 March so they could prepare for the presentation.

Ms Koyana noted that she had already prepared some questions on the SASSA Annual Report and could distribute these to members. This was an analysis of the Annual Report.

Ms Lamoela claimed that SASSA had not presented anything yet.

The Committee Secretary clarified that SASSA had tabled their Annual Report to Parliament and that it had been referred to the Committee. All that was needed was to disseminate the hard copy of the report which could be done by the end of the week..

Ms Lamoela also asked if they could have the questions the researchers were preparing on SASSA.

The Acting Chairperson wanted clarity on the number of work opportunities created by the Social Sector of 206,421 as presented in the researcher’s presentation.

Ms Lamoela wanted to check the accuracy of the figure for the number of work opportunities created as that meant that more than double the number of work opportunities had been created than what had been set down as the goal of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).

The Acting Chairperson reiterated the need for clarity on this and wanted to get the facts right on this number.

Ms Lamoela wanted contact numbers and/or addresses for centres mentioned in the presentation so that the Committee could contact them and confirm the numbers they had given in the report before SASSA came before the Committee.

The Acting Chairperson wanted to know the link between the Social Development programmes of the DSD and those of the Department of Public Works.

Ms Lamoela wanted to know the sustainability of the projects created by the Extended Public Works Programme, stating that only if the jobs lasted for a longer period could people flourish under them.

The Acting Chairperson noted the need to watch the time as there was another presentation left. She also wanted to know if there was Social Relief for people in distressed situations.

Ms Masilo confirmed that there was a Social Relief Fund at SASSA for distressed situations. She wanted more information from DSD on substance abuse and would like to see volunteers earn some kind of stipend for their work.

Ms Gcume stated bitterly that SASSA did not function in all provinces, especially with concern to the dissemination of information, and that many people were left in ignorance about its services because of this.

Ms Lamoela would like to see monitoring of SASSA to avoid any abuse or neglect of SASSA’s resources as anyone in need was entitled to its aid.

The Acting Chairperson commented on the dissemination of SASSA information in all regions. She suggested that the Committee might look at policies and programmes around such issues and get officials to work through these issues efficiently.

Ms Masilo suggested that provincial managers from the different regions come before the Committee so that they might explain themselves.

Ms P Xaba (ANC) added that SASSA was in a derelict state in her community.

Ms Lamoela wanted the Director General to speak to the provinces and work out some form of universal agreement among them.

The Acting Chairperson ended the discussion so the second presentation could be given.

Progress on Issues Raised in 2010 State of Nation Address
Ms Yolisa Nogenga, Committee Content Advisor, reviewed the Department’s success in implementing the goals of the 2010 SONA which were incorporated into the 2010 DSD strategic plan. In doing so, she covered progress to date on the following items (see document):
▪ Social Sector performance in creating work opportunities.

Providing financial and non-financial support to cooperatives.
▪ Employment creation.
▪ Finalisation of the Government position paper on social security reform before the end of 2011. 

▪ Fight against substance abuse. 

Discussion
Ms Lamoela was concerned by the meaning of the term “social wage”, and wondered if it should perhaps have been social needs instead.

The Acting Chairperson shared the concern about this term. She thought it made one think automatically of money, and wanted clarification.

Ms Nogenga explained that what was probably meant was that the government needed to invest in communities through these means. The term was taken directly from the New Growth Path, but she would consult with other colleagues and establish what was meant by the term.

The Acting Chairperson asked how many provinces had access to the projects mentioned.

Ms Masilo asked how communities could be assisted in receiving the stipends they were due, she also wanted a stronger monitoring and evaluation of the non-government organisations (NGOs) operating in poor communities to avoid fraud, embezzling and downright corruption.

The Acting Chairperson wanted to know if there was any funding for the Masupatsela Youth Pioneer Programme, if they were active in the provinces and if they were monitored at all. The Committee needed more information on Masupatsela.

Ms Gcume agreed with the Acting Chairperson that monitoring and information about Masupatsela was required.

Ms Lamoela would like to see the Department’s own mobile trucks used in a more productive way in the provinces, perhaps they could be set the task of monitoring instead of remaining in disuse.

Ms Gcume wanted NGOs to be checked and double checked to see what happened to all the Rands that went to these NGOs. She wanted to know what could be done to rectify and advise these NGOs in the work they do. Communities should be allowed to say what they need, instead of having outside NGOs coming in and deciding what needed to be done and where the communities needed assistance. She wanted the Committee to be able to say what would be sustainable and what would not, and to get rid of the ‘White Elephant’ NGOs who did not benefit local communities.

Ms Lamoela added that the main problem with the NGOs was the assistance from the Department, she claimed they had no real business plan, they did not turn in the necessary reports and meet the criteria set by the Department and therefore lost their support. Again she reiterated the need for the contact numbers of these institutions so that the Committee could monitor them to avoid corruption and abuse.

Ms Gcume commented that there were ‘sitters’ in the Department who were supposed to run the programmes for the government; however she claimed that one could not actually say what they were doing.

The Content Advisor suggested that a time slot could be set aside in the next quarter to invite NGOs to come in so that the Committee members could engage with them on issues of concern.

The Acting Chairperson wanted to know when the 2011 Strategic Plan would be written so that they could include the issues raised here today.

The Content Advisor said that the meeting on the Strategic Plan would be on 4 March and she would come up with a draft for that plan.

Ms Lamoela wanted to move the meeting to the 11 March.

The Acting Chairperson reiterated the need to invite the NGOs for questioning as there seemed to be much work to be done in the provinces. The NGOs would then be able to tell them of their challenges. This could be looked at in the next term.

Ms Masilo suggested the Committee should meet in the provinces so as to be able to monitor NGOs. They could spend two days in the provinces and visit four to five projects while there.

The Acting Chairperson wanted to make sure that there were no clashes in the programme. She wanted to not only listen to the NGOs but to see the actual work they did. She would also like to include the seminar suggested in the presentation which would invite experts in the field of social security to update the Members of Parliament on financed schemes and contributory schemes, in the Committee Strategic Planning. She reiterated that they did not expect any answers from the researchers at this time.

The meeting was concluded.

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