Social Services Select Committee 2011 strategic plan: consideration and adoption

NCOP Health and Social Services

21 March 2011
Chairperson: Ms RN Rasmeni (North West, ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The National Council of Provinces gave Members the Committee's strategic plan for 2011-2014 and the annual plan for 2011/12. The plan covered six key strategic objectives, which had specific objectives and activities that were planned to take place and target dates. The first key strategic objective was to process, pass and monitor the implementation of relevant legislation. The second key strategic objective was to undertake an effective process of scrutinizing and overseeing executive actions and entities reporting to the relevant departments. The third key strategic objective was to ensure that the public was central in the processing of legislation and scrutinizing of executive action. The forth key strategic objective was to strengthen support systems to enhance the efficient and effective functioning of the Committee. The fifth key strategic objective was to ensure cooperative governance and the sixth key strategic objective was to expand knowledge through international exposure.

Members were satisfied with the plan but were concerned with the checking progress of oversights and planned to balance the cover of old visits and the introduction of new areas to be visited. They were also concerned that legislation passed was not evident at the level of the community. Members recommended partnering with other institutions in order to enhance their current knowledge and also to work with the provincial legislatures in planning visits.

Members were not satisfied with the time taken for them to receive the Committee minutes,  since this made it difficult to keep track of what had been said in those meetings and to make corrections.

Meeting report

Ms B Mncube (ANC, Gauteng) said there were four pieces of legislation, but when going through the document she found that there were more than four. She asked for clarity.

Mr Sean Whiting, Researcher, National Council of Provinces, said that when working with the Children’s Act, it would be a good idea to have other institutions included such as UNISURF and other children's institutions, in order to share and analyse funding and ascertain what each province was spending on the Act.

Ms M Boroto (ANC, Mpumalanga) asked if Members could identify and do an oversight of a particular area.

Ms D Rantho (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked if Members could leave the Western Cape, specifically Cape Town and look at where provinces where the Act was applicable.

The Chairperson said Members should look for areas to be dealt with specific to the drug policy. She directed Members' attention to the Northern Cape.

Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) said that, in the Northern Cape, Members should look at the Upington area, where the vineyards were situated, because he believed that some of the farmers were still using the "dop system". They should not just look at the Coloured people in that area but also the Tswana people that were seasonal workers on the farms as they got into alcohol abuse.

Ms Mncube said that, during the monitoring, Members that the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development had issues outstanding regarding the Children’s Act. 

Mr T Mashamaite (ANC, Limpopo) said that the Children’s Act was a cross-country issue, so when doing oversights Membersshould not repeat what other select committees were doing with the issue. He asked what the relationship was with other Committees.

Ms Ganyaza-Twalo said that it was up to the Committee Members to decide if they wanted to work with other Committees. The “how” was probably one thing the Committee had to decide on. In terms of the Children’s Act, Mr Whiting had proposed the interaction with the civil society organisations and children's  institutions, so that could have been the “how” that the Committee still needed to decide on. What was known was what the Committee wanted to do on the Bills/Acts passed in Parliament. There was a lot that the Committee had decided on regarding oversights and it was necessary to see if would be possible to factor in all those in the current year since there was a process of approving of the oversight trips that the Committee planned to take and it might end up not taking all the oversight trips it had planned.

The second key strategic objective was to undertake an effective process of scrutinizing and overseeing executive actions and entities reporting to the relevant departments. In terms of the oversight Members would look at issues in the Department of Health, and specifically the Joe Gqabi District in the Eastern Cape to assess that state of the health care facilities. The proposed date for this was April 2011. It was also necessary to investigate the deaths of babies at hospitals. The substance abuse intervention in the North West and the Free State was for July 2011 and the foetal alcohol syndrome intervention was proposed for September 2011.

The second specific objective was to ensure the accountability by the Department; the first activity would have been the briefing on progress made in achieving the Governments’ priorities and that needed to be done on quarterly basis in terms of target. The second activity around the National Health Insurance and that was planned to be dealt with in July 2011. The third activity was to hold briefings, annual reports and budget expenditure. In August 2011 it was planned to obtain feedback from the South African Social Security Agency, Appeals tribunal and National Development Agency (NDA) report on the progress made to rectify some of the challenges noted in the 2009/10 annual reports. In September the Committee would have to be busy with the annual report.

The third specific objective was to scrutinize Departmental strategies and mechanisms for service delivery. The activity comprised briefings by the Department of Health, Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Social Development and that could be done between May-June 2011.

The Fourth specific objective was to monitor departmental expenditure and the activity was to review and analyse the quarterly expenditure report of the three Departments  reporting to the Committee and the research unit would provide the Committee with the report.

The Chairperson said that the items on the template differed from the previous slide. She asked for consistency. She said that it was agreed that the Committee wanted the Department of Health in the Eastern Cape to make a presentation about the infant mortality rate. She said that there were recommendations made on the issue of agencies that fell under the departments that accounted to the Committee, she asked for a list of those agencies to be developed and for them to be invited to present to the Committee

Ms Boroto said that Members had been told that no trips should take place during April 2011 and asked for the Joe Gqabi District trip to be moved.

Ms Mncube suggested the trip be held after elections. She said that Members needed to get a report from the Portfolio Committee as process.

Mr M de Villiers (DA, Western Cape) said that the previous week Members spoke about the state of babies in Gauteng as well and that was not mentioned. He asked for that to be included.

Mr Mashamaite was concerned that Committees’ monitoring was not as efficient as it should be. In the previous years Members conducted oversights, if the checking process of the previous visits was not included in the year plan, than that did not reflect well on the monitoring standards. It was the duty of the Committee Secretary to remind the Committee of the findings of previous visits.

Ms Rantho asked what was happening with the Limpopo visits; it was said to do follow-ups, yet more provinces were being added.  needed to be consistent in their work in so they could make an effect.

The Chairperson said that  needed to find a balance since it was difficult to go to provinces as a Committee, and to go back to check progress would take time and would end up neglecting other provinces.  should identify problems everywhere and go back to check once all visits had been done.

Ms Mncube said that she was not against new areas but  needed to make follow-ups on issues that had been picked up on Taking Parliament to the People and/or provincial works. An oversight was done in Limpopo and the Committee went with the Department of Social Development to the Free State and problems were identified but had not seen a report.

The Chairperson said that  could put old areas in their plans as follow-up visits and still introduce new areas that were problematic.

Ms Ganyaza-Twalo assured that she would do so and said that the Committee had to be in contact with the Content Manager of NCOP because he had completed the report on the Free State visits and the NCOP would device a strategy to tackle issues that were identified during Taking Parliament to the People. She asked if the Committee would allow for information to be brought in from the Content Office and align the Committee programme with the strategy of the NCOP, especially with the Taking Parliament to the People trips to the Free State and Limpopo.

Ms Mncube reported that the House Chairperson for Committees said that he was informed of difficulties from committees and the whips were not intervening.  So the issues of Taking Parliament to the People were taken back to Committees to identify what related to each and every area.

Ms Ganyaza-Twalo said that the third key strategic objective was to ensure that the public was central in the processing of legislation and scrutinizing of executive action. It was planned to hold or conduct public hearings in the provinces and work together with the provincial legislatures in conducting public hearings as often as required on the passing of the legislation.  also planned to participate in public engagement events annually.

Ms Boroto said that  had been warned on the issue of public hearing in terms of passing legislations that the issue was not their competency as such. What they had to do was to inform the
Provinces on which date they wanted the negotiating mandate and that part of organising the hearing would be left to the Province.

The Chairperson said that the Committee would have to find another name for that activity

Ms Mncube said that public hearings were conducted in any legislative process. On the question of monitoring whether legislation was changing the lives of the people or had unintended consequences,  public participation was necessary. She asked for other strategies to be brought forward.

Ms Ganyaza-Twalo said that the “how” was important and the document did not cover that. The Committee might decide that with monitoring of legislation,  should hold a round table on the issues identified, than invite input so that the Committee would know if the legislation passed had made an impact. The Committee needed to state how it planned to achieve the outcome of its objectives.

The Chairperson said that  should take the round table and seminars as an area of establishing impacts made.

Ms Mncube asked when the programme should be submitted, because there was a deadline for  submissions

The Chairperson said that  needed a clear indication of what they would be doing and a time frame.
Ms Rantho said that the legislation that was being dealt with was passed the previous year and briefings to the provinces and public hearings were made, yet the people were still struggling as if there was no legislation passed. That needed attention.

Ms Ganyaza-Twalo said that Members needed to understand how Government worked. The Act might have been passed but the process of formulating regulations for the Act took time and one found that the actual implementation of the provisions of the Act took place three to four years later and the outcome of the provision of the Act was when the Act finally went to the people on the ground. The monitoring should not be general; one had to be specific at what stage the monitoring would be done and what information was wanted.

The Chairperson said that it was a long process since  had to find people to implement the legislation, which was costly. But  could ask how far they were with the implementation and what the obstructions in the process were.

Mr Whiting said that as part of  the constituency work of Members of Parliament they could write a letter to the Minister to explain the exact problem in a particular area and that would be sure way of getting things done immediately. There might be gaps and hiccups that Members could address with the Minister

Ms Ganyaza-Twalo said that the programme was the “how” and the Members' input to the programme was important. The strategic plan, for the Committee, was long term and the annual plan was what the Committee wanted to do, but the programme stated how the Committee would realise the annual plan.

Mr Mashamaite said that the “how” was part of the programme which would indicate time frames and a tool that would assist with the performance.

Ms Ganyaza-Twalo said that the fourth key strategic objective was to strengthen support systems to enhance the efficient and effective functioning of the Committee. The first specific objectives were to build and enhance the capacity of the Committee. The plan for April 2011 was to work with the Millennium Development Goal, the Oversight Model of Parliament for May 2011 and the training for Computer Literacy in March 2012.

The second specific objective was to improve and strengthen internal administrative research and the Content support to the Committee.

The third specific objective was to provide strategic direction to the work of the Committee and review the strategic plan and assess the Committee's performances according to that plan. That had to be done quarterly.

The Chairperson said that the NCOP needed to be specific on the issues of Social Policy workshop and suggested it be put in brackets

Ms Boroto asked for dates around the last week on May. Members needed to bear in mind that they would be using their own days (Tuesdays) and they would not be able to have Computer Literacy Training in one day and they had to negotiate as a cluster for days.

Mr De Villiers asked if Members could find other dates and if they would fit the Computer Literacy Training in the current year instead of the following year.

Mr Faber offered to assist with Computer Literacy Training.

Ms Mncube said that workshops enhanced capacity but were not mandatory. She said they did not have to schedule  everything in April, May and June.

The Chairperson made grammatical corrections. 

Ms Ganyaa-Twalo said that the fifth key strategic objective was to ensure cooperative governance. The first specific objective was to get provincial inputs into some of the work of the Committee and the activity was to invite provincial departments to brief the Committee on specific issues that affected that particular province.

The second specific objective would be to strengthen the NCOP Committee collaboration with provincial legislatures. The activity would be to develop a strategy for provincial legislatures and the Committee on how they would collaborate.

Ms Rantho asked if it was possible to do it towards the end of the year because by November the legislature’s programme for the following year would be published. 

Mr De Villiers said that when there was a delegation meeting in the provinces, Members had to take that to their advantage. He said he would use that opportunity to address the activity.

Mr Mashamaite said that Members should check if there were no constitutional provision for committees of Parliament to work with the provincial legislatures and if there was a tool that could be used.

Ms Mncube said that there were inter-governmental relations or cooperative government. She proposed that Members should get provincial plans, legislative and portfolio committee plans and work together with those three spheres.

The Chairperson said that previously Members did not mention the issue of communication via radio and media. They needed to identify activities that they wanted to engage in during that current financial year. A strategy was developed towards that and the Committee had to say which areas were seen as priorities. The Committee also had to say how it wanted to communicate, be it visits, daily work or other activities.

Ms Mncube said that the draft strategy had to be linked up with the strategic objectives and considered as to the need for revision.

The Chairperson asked for the draft strategy to be circulated to allow Members to comment on the strategy.

Mr Whiting said that the NCOP had only communicated with the Chairperson.  The Social Service Committee could be used as a pilot for the strategy.

The Chairperson said that Members wanted media involvement and reports about a specific area, and also reporting back to the communities about findings

Mr Whiting said that the structure of the strategy should be in line with the annual plan and talk to the broader issues of the State of the Nation Address and the Government's programme of action

The Chairperson said that those people who were delegated by the Committee must report back.

Ms Mncube asked when the programme would be discussed and asked for it to be attached to the annual plan

Ms Ganyaza-Twalo said that the second term programme had been submitted and was waiting for approval.

Ms Mncube asked if Members could take the submitted programme and the annual plan and see if they could make amendments, because it was being said that the Committee was submitting weak reports

The Committee Secretary read out the second term programme to the Committee:
19 April - Adoption of minutes
22-16 May – Break
18 May – Local elections
24 May – Budget, Votes and Strategic plan of the Department of Health
31 May – Budget, Votes and Strategic plan of South African Social Security Agency (SASSA)
07 June – Budget, Votes and Strategic plan of the Department of Home Affairs
14 June – Budget, Votes and Strategic plan of Department of Social Development
21 June – Oversight period
04 July – 22 July – Constituency period

Mr Faber said that they would be working on 12 April 2011 because the constituency period only went up to 11 April 2011. 

Ms Boroto said that Members could identify something to be done for the week of 12 April 2011 since they had it open.

The Chairperson said that they could make visits to provinces

Mr Faber recommended that the Committee split into groups in order to have a faster working process.

Ms Ganyaza-Twalo said that the sixth key strategic objective was to expand knowledge through international exposure. The first specific objective would be to establish partnerships with various stakeholders and invite Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working with orphans and vulnerable children to make presentations to the Committee in order to enhance the knowledge and partnership. That had to be done annually.

The second specific objective was to go on study tours to enhance community work and reach deliberations of specific policy related matters. Members had to determine areas of priority related to Government's programme of action relevant to the Departments over which the Select Committee on Social Services had oversight.

The Chairperson said that she was satisfied with was had been recommended and asked for the final plan to be submitted the following afternoon

Committee minutes of previous meetings
All the amendments had been submitted and made.

Mr De Villiers made a correction to the spelling of his surname

The minutes were adopted

Ms Mncube was concerned that Members did not have the January minutes and that minutes were taking long to be given to the Members who ended up not having anything raised because they had lost track of what was said in the meeting. This was unacceptable.

The Chairperson suggested that Members should stop putting minutes aside and deal with minutes in every meeting.

Ms Mncube asked if Members could get audits on their decisions because they were not keeping track on what was meant to be done, the progress, what was outstanding and the implementation.

Ms Boroto asked if Members could use their afternoons to follow up on minutes if there were no institutional activities that took place.

Mr Mashamaite said that the research section should make available research on the aspects to be covered in presentations before the meeting with the Department  concerned so that Members would be better informed.

Mr Faber agreed with the proposal of researchers giving briefings upfront so that Members would know what to ask and avoid asking irrelevant questions and have shorter meetings.

Mr De Villiers said that the research unit should brief Members in preparation for forthcoming meetings  with the Department or any other entity a week before the meeting.
Ms Rantho said that Members should use spare time on Tuesday mornings for the adoption of minutes.

Ms Boroto emphasised that minutes must be given in good time. Researchers would have time to do their work correctly.

The meeting was adjourned.


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