Meeting SummaryThe Parliamentary Researcher provided the Committee with an analysis of the Department of Social Development Annual Report for the 210/2011 financial year. The presentation highlighted the performance per programme against its set objectives and targets as outlined by the Department’s Strategic Plan (2010/11 - 2014/15).
Programme 2 highlighted that the Child Support Grant was extended to children aged 16 and 17 years and the number of beneficiaries increased by 8.06%. The number of beneficiaries from the Older Persons Grant was also increased by 4.67%.
In Programme 3, the targets not achieved for people with disabilities were: transformation of Older Persons Service Centres into Community-Based Care & Support Services and completion of a situational analysis report thereof; completion of a report on alignment of DSD policies and programmes with the UN Convention on people with disabilities and completion of the Mainstreaming Strategy for people with disabilities. Targets were also not achieved for development of programmes for prevention of child abuse, neglect and exploitation; a pilot report on cluster foster care models; and an audit of partial care and Early Childhood Development programmes. Findings of the research on frail care in all provinces had not been shared, nor was the impact of the results on Home and Community-Based Care known. Another outstanding issue was whether the Inter-generational Programme would be expanded to all provinces. Issues to consider regarding substance abuse were: when the Regulations of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act, 2008 would be finalized- for implementation of the Act; what the way forward was following the Anti-Substance Abuse Summit; and when the Central Drug Authority Report would be tabled in Parliament.
The Researcher believed that the Department had made a good attempt to meet its targets, but a number of them had been missed. He advised the Department to set more realistic targets with time-frame commitments to enhance Parliament's oversight responsibility.
Thereafter, the Department presented its 2010/2011 Annual Report. Underspending was due to the impact of austerity measures; staff vacancies; capital assets - mainly due to the fact that the delivery and payment for the new official vehicles for the Minister and the Deputy Minister was only effected in April 2011; lower than expected beneficiary uptake rates of social grants; Appeals projects that were carried over into the following financial year; a decision to delay the replacement of IT equipment; planned transfers to the National Association of Burial Societies of South Africa and National Association of People Living with HIV and Aids (NAPWA) being withheld due to non-compliance issues.
The Department continued to spend the money appropriated by Parliament at the rate of 98.01 %, with all five of its programmes spending over 90% of the appropriated budget. DSD received a qualified audit report due to scope limitation that was occasioned by non-existent and incomplete files relating to social assistance beneficiaries. Dual accountability relationship existed between the Department and SASSA over the social assistance grants and therefore resulted in the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) having an impact on the audit report of the Department. The Auditor-General had reported that the oversight responsibility of the DSD had not focused on the detail of the operational function performed by SASSA, and the accountability lines between the Department and SASSA were not clearly defined resulting in uncertain responsibility and accountability.
SASSA had subsequently put together a 3 year plan to address the missing files and inadequate information in those files and DSD had reviewed its oversight on SASSA focusing on operational matters by beefing up its internal audit unit. Joint Audit Committee meetings were also being held to oversee SASSA performance. Further, DSD had revised its Annual Performance Plans to ensure adherence to the Strategic Planning Framework of National Treasury. All the issues identified by the AG, including the objectives and targets in the Annual Performance Plan, had been revised for the current and outer years.
Members asked what the specific issues were relating to the Appeals backlog; if the Substance Abuse Summit had positively impacted on the status of substance abuse in the country; if aftercare services would expand from the Western Cape and Mpumalanga to other provinces; if a plan of action was in place to remedy the decline in the number of recipients of the social grants (excluding CSG and Older Age grants); and when removal of the means test would be phased in.
They also asked if the relationship with SASSA and within DSD and other entities had strengthened; whether DSD had ensured SASSA skills transfer from Ernst & Young consultants; why investigations into irregular and fruitless expenditure were not done within 30 days; and what the reason was for irregular expenditure not being reported to National Treasury.
Members then asked what the reasons were for the delay in transference of funds to Love-life and other NGOs; what the progress was on the Green Paper on Families; what the progress and time-frames were for the Social Relief Bill; what challenges the provinces were experiencing with implementation of the Children's Act and how DSD was monitoring implementation of the Act; and what challenges the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development was experiencing with regard to implementation of the Children’s Act.
Finally, Members asked what impact the Bursary Fund had made on addressing the chronic shortage of social workers and what Retention Strategy was in place to absorb graduates into the social welfare sector; if the DSD vacant posts were funded and what the time-line was for the posts to be filled; and what the minimum wage was for the Expanded Public Works Programme.
Summary Analysis of the Department of Social Development (DSD) Annual Report 2011
Mr Sean Whiting, Researcher, Parliamentary Research Unit, provided the Committee with an analysis of the DSD’s performance (per programme) against its set objectives and targets as outlined by the DSD Strategic Plan (2010/11 - 2014/15).
Programme 1: Administration
It was unclear whether the vacancy rate of 8% included the officials who had left the DSD. A total of 135 appointments were made, while 74 officials had left the DSD.
While Information Management System and Technology services were developed to complete the Child Protection Register (CPR) and Child and Youth Care Administration compliance with the Children's Act and Child Justice Act, DSD did not perform well in terms of targets relating to the financial management and administration function. Furthermore, it did not meet targets to review the Policy on Social Services Professions and Mandatory Retirement Systems, as well as on developing a draft SASSA Amendment Bill and draft National Development Agency Amendment Bill.
Programme 2: Comprehensive Social Security
The Child Support Grant (CSG) was extended to children aged 16 and 17 years and the number of beneficiaries increased by 8.06%. The number of beneficiaries from the Older Persons Grant was also increased by 4.67%.
Outstanding questions were: why did only the number of recipients of the CSG and Older Persons Grants (OSG) increase (between 2010 and 2011); what was the reason for the decline in the number of recipients of all other grants - war veterans, disability, foster child and care dependency grants; how many people qualified to receive grants but did not receive them; and what was the plan to remedy the situation.
Other issues for consideration included: the implications of not finalising and implementing the Harmonised Assessment Tool (HAT); whether an interim or alternate plan was available to chronic patients to receive the Disability Grant; what the progress was on the Green Paper on Families and the Social Relief Bill; and why the DSD deviated from drafting and finalising the National Development Agency Bill in 2010/2011.
In terms of the Estimate of National Expenditure (ENE) target, 15 000 new appeals should have been considered. However, the Social Assistance Amendment Act (2010) stipulated that all appeals had to be considered by SASSA before being adjudicated and as a result, all new appeals after 16 September 2010 had been referred back to the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) causing reduced intake of new appeals for adjudication.
Issues to consider included: why the DSD did not draft a Social Assistance Appeals Adjudication Policy; what the backlog and special issues were; and how SASSA dealt with old appeals which were returned to SASSA.
Programme 3: Policy Development, Review and Implementation Support for Social Welfare Transformation
Targets not achieved for people with disabilities were: transformation of Older Persons Service Centres into Community-Based Care & Support Services and completion of a situational analysis report thereof; completion of a report on alignment of DSD policies and programmes with the UN Convention on people with disabilities and completion of the Mainstreaming Strategy for people with disabilities. Targets were also not achieved for development of programmes for prevention of child abuse, neglect and exploitation; a pilot report on cluster foster care models; and an audit of partial care and Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes. Findings of the research on frail care in all provinces had not been shared, nor was the impact of the results on Home and Community-Based Care (HCBC) known. Another outstanding issue was whether the Inter-generational Programme would be expanded to all provinces.
Issues to consider regarding substance abuse were: when the Regulations of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act, 2008 would be finalized- for implementation of the Act; what the way forward was following the Anti-Substance Abuse Summit; and when the Central Drug Authority Report would be tabled in Parliament.
On ECD programmes, the Committee should be informed on the challenges that provinces had highlighted with regards to the Children's Act; how DSD was monitoring progress of implementation of the Children's Act; how DSD was interacting with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on integrated issues related to the Children's Act and the Child Justice Act and what challenges had been identified by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development; and finally how the DSD was dealing with unaccompanied minors coming into the country from neighbouring countries and what was the extent of the problem.
Programme 4: Community Development
The DSD had deviated from the following targets: the training of staff to implement Social Behaviour Change Programmes; assessment of the Love-life Programmes and establishment of an Interdepartmental Committee for managing these programmes; that three provinces would implement HCBC; and establishment of an occupational framework for social services to professionalize community development. DSD had not developed a discussion document on norms and standards for Community Development Practice, nor trained 100 mentors for the Masupa-Tsela Youth Pioneer Programme (MYPP). Online non-profit organisation registration and compliance monitoring system had not been developed because SITA had withdrawn – the reason for SITA’s withdrawal was unknown. Finally, DSD had indicated that it had not developed Integrated Community Development Plans (ICDPs), as this fell under local government function. The question then was why DSD had included ICDP development in its Strategic Plan.
Programme 5: Strategy and Governance
Special Projects did not meet targets included in the 2010/11-2013/14 Strategic Plan. Training of internal consultants and the Beneficiary Satisfaction Survey had not taken place due to financial constraints. Concerns raised by the HSRC on ethical clearance for research on teenage pregnancy; a Corporate Governance and Performance Management Framework for public entities, bodies and boards was not implemented; an Entities Oversight and Management Strategy was not developed; and Institutional Performance Reviews of accounting authorities was not conducted. Annual Delivery Agreements were not concluded and governance aspects of the founding legislation were not reviewed. Detail had not been provided on the study of services to youth, minimum pay for EPWP workers and on the 'Phuza Wize' initiative.
Auditor General Report
SASSA and DSD had dual accountability for the Social Assistance Grant and SASSA, although it had an unqualified report, it had an impact on the audit report of the DSD. Thus the relationship with SASSA was very important. Issues for consideration were how DSD was addressing its qualified audit and what processes were in place to better monitor implementation of improvement plans by SASSA.
In conclusion, DSD had made a good attempt to meet its targets, but a number of them had been missed. DSD should set more realistic targets with time-frame commitments to enhance Parliament's oversight responsibility.
The Chairperson thanked the researcher for the very good analysis. She suggested that any questions of clarity be directed to DSD in the scheduled upcoming meeting.
Department of Social Development Annual Report 2010/2011
Mr Christopher Mulaudzi, Director: Department of Social Development presented the Department’s annual report for the 2010/2011 financial year. The Committee had received a briefing on the Draft Annual Report at the fourth quarterly report feedback meeting in August 2011. The targets and annual achievements/performance for the five programmes were listed (see attached document for detail).
The Legislative Programme and International Engagements for 2010/11 were also presented. The Social Assistance Amendment Act, 2010 (Act No.5 of 2010), was drafted and taken to Parliament during the reporting period. It was passed into law on 16 September 2010 and become an Act of Parliament. Regulations under the Children’s Act, 2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005 as amended) were approved by the Minister, published in the Gazette and came into operation on 1 April 2010. Regulations under the Older Person’s Act, 2006 (Act No. 13 of 2006) were approved by the Minister, published in the Government Gazette and had become operational in April 2010.
DSD was an active member of the African Union, Southern African Development Community (SADC) and United Nations structures, which included among others, the UN Commission on the Status of Women and the UN Commission on Narcotics. During the reporting period, the DSD successfully hosted a number of international delegations on bench-marking excursions from China, Kenya and Tanzania. The DSD also continued to lead consultations on the Social Dimensions of NEPAD on behalf of the Africa Group, the G77 in the UN Commission for Social Development. Through the Deputy Director General for Welfare Services, DSD continued to serve on the Board of the International Social Services (ISS) and had hosted a successful World Social Security Forum on behalf of the International Social Security Association (ISSA).
Mr Coceko Pakade, Chief Financial Officer:, DSD, presented on the expenditure of the Department for the 2010/11 financial year as at 31 March 2011. DSD continued to spend the money appropriated by Parliament at the rate of 98.01 %. All five programmes had continued to spend over 90% of their budget. As per the economic classification, audited actual expenditure for compensation to employees was R 246.9 million (96% of appropriation); Goods and Services was R253.5 million (92% of appropriation); Interest and rent on land was R 45 million (no appropriation given); Transfers and Subsidies was R92.5 billion (98.03% of appropriation); Payments of Capital Assets was R6.2 million (61% of appropriation); and Payments for Financial assets was R186 million (no appropriation given).
The 3.6% underspending on Programme 1 was owed to austerity measures for expenditure during the economic recession (Circular 1, 2009), but in the current year this was not impacting on spending. The underspending on capital assets (39.6%) was mainly due to the fact that the delivery and payment for the new official vehicles for the Minister and the Deputy Minister was only effected in April 2011 due to delays in the process of engagement with the banks.
Programme 2 incurred 2% underspending mainly due to the lower than expected beneficiary uptake rates of social grants. SASSA would present on its drive to improve on the grant transfers, particular with regard to CFG and Old Age Grants. The underspending on goods and services in Programme 2 (14.1%) was occasioned by Appeals projects (visual training centre; MIS; call centre, digital pen solution) that were carried over into the following year. However, the bulk of underspending related to the social grants underspending.
Programme 3 underspending (1.3%) was mainly due to implementation of austerity measures.
Capital assets were not replaced due to a decision to delay the replacement of IT equipment to the following year in order to align it to the five-year asset management replacement strategy of the DSD.
Programme 4 underspending (2.7%) was related to austerity measures as well as planned transfers to the National Association of Burial Societies of South Africa (NABSSA) and National Association of People Living with HIV and Aids (NAPWA) withheld due to non-compliance issues. Money had subsequently been approved for transfer.
Programme 5 underspending (6.7%) was mainly due to the impact of austerity measures and staff vacancies. The posts were deliberately not filled until the restructuring exercise was complete.
DSD received a qualified audit report due to scope limitation that was occasioned by non-existent and incomplete files relating to social assistance beneficiaries. Despite significant improvement from the previous financial year, the amount involved was still above the materiality level as determined by the AG. Dual accountability relationship existed between the DSD and SASSA over the social assistance grants and therefore resulted in SASSA having an impact on the audit report of the DSD. The AG had reported that the oversight responsibility of the DSD did not focus on the detail of the operational function performed by its agency, and the accountability lines between the DSD and SASSA were not clearly defined resulting in uncertain responsibility and accountability.
SASSA had subsequently put together a 3 year plan to address the scope limitation relating to the missing files and inadequate information in those files that were present. The plan was implemented with effect from the 2010/11 financial year and it was expected that this audit opinion would be unqualified in 2011/12 financial year as there were signs of significant improvement in SASSA’s registry management. The DSD had also reviewed its oversight framework over SASSA focusing on operational matters other than performance information. This meant beefing up its internal audit unit which would perform audit samples on social grants expenditure in cooperation with SASSA auditors. Joint Audit Committee meetings were also being held to oversee SASSA performance by the DSD. Further, DSD had revised its Annual Performance Plans to ensure adherence to the Strategic Planning Framework of National Treasury. All the items identified by the AG, including the objectives and targets in the Annual Performance Plan, had been revised for the current and outer years.
Mr Vusi Madonsela, Director General, DSD, welcomed questions of clarity from the Committee.
Ms H Makhuba (IFP) asked what the current status was with the Appeals backlog.
The Chairperson requested that Members confine their questions to the Annual Report. She asked if the DoH would agree to make the figures on the current Appeals backlog available to the Committee.
Ms M Mafolo (ANC) asked what the specific issues were relating to the Appeals backlog.
Mr Puseletso Loselo, Acting Deputy-Director General: Appeals; DSD, replied that the backlog of cases at end of the year under review was over 19 000 cases. DSD would provide an update on the current status. The causes for delays were that applicants did not supply their ID numbers or physical addresses, or they had invalid postal addresses. DSD had succeeded in tracking many of these applicants. Also some appeals documents were as old as four years old, and were not legible. Through engagement with SASSA, records were checked and it was possible to physically retrieve and make sense of some documents. However some older documents had been legally destroyed according to the National Archiving Act.
Ms Makhuba asked if the Substance Abuse Summit had positively impacted on the status of substance abuse in the country.
Ms Maria Mabetoa, Deputy Director General: Welfare Services; DSD, replied that it was too early to determine the impact of the Anti Substance Abuse Summit. DSD had developed a programme of action approved by Cabinet 2 weeks earlier and it would dictate what the responsibility of each Department was in terms of measures that had been implemented, such as legislation on licensing of liquor outlets. More information would be made available to Committee. The Central Drug Authority had to date been sending reports to the DSD too late. With the new Central Drug Authority, submission would be at the same time as the DSD Annual Report to Parliament.
Ms Mafolo asked if aftercare services would expand from the Western Cape and Mpumalanga to other provinces.
Ms Mabetoa replied that the aftercare model was initially implemented in two provinces but was moving to other provinces in the current year. A report on specific issues on substance abuse and aftercare treatment numbers would be submitted to the Committee.
Ms S Kopane (DA) asked how DSD planned to address accessing of grants for those who qualified for them.
Ms Makhuba asked if a plan of action was in place to remedy the decline in the number of recipients of the social grants, excluding CSG and Older Age grants.
Mr Madonsela replied that there had been an increase in CSG and older age grant uptakes due to deliberate policy intervention. Late-age equalisation, which accounted for more older men coming in to the system and a reduction in age requirements and also the CSG age for eligibility had been extended. Had these alterations not been made, there possibly would also have been a decline in the number of those grant uptakes. Regarding slow spending of social grants, it was difficult to tell how many people who qualified for the grants were not on the system. A number of requirements had to be met before they could qualify for the other grants. An estimated 2 million children probably qualified and were not yet on the system. It was expected that these children would be found in communities on working farms and the Department of Labour would assist DSD with enabling SASSA officials to track these children. There may also be children in other places who did not have the necessary documentation or information on grants. DSD was aware that there were a number of people who did not come forward to take full advantage of grants available to them.
Mr Selwyn Johoma, Deputy Director General and Head of Social Security; DSD, added that while budgeting in collaboration with SASSA and NT for higher take-ups of social grants, there had been a natural tapering off in numbers of recipients, at 75%. This was a universal phenomenon. Going forward, DSD expected a decline in the share of social grants in proportion to the GDP. Also, better fraud detection and prevention measures had been implemented by SASSA, along with more regular maintenance of grants and these improvements had contributed to ensuring fewer leakages.
Statistical analysis would be introduced to compare the income of people and to target people per province/per branch but whether they would come forward to apply for grants was another matter.
Ms Kopane asked what the factors were that contributed to the high level of expenditure on compensation to employees. In addition, she asked what the reasons were for the delay in transference of funds to Love-life and other NGOs that performed work on behalf of DSD.
Ms Mabetoa replied that this was due to service level agreements and compliance reports. A new system and guidelines had been developed to process transfers more speedily.
Ms J Masilo (ANC) asked what the implications were for not finalizing and implementing HAT.
Ms Masilo asked what the progress was on the Green Paper on Families.
Ms Mabetoa replied that the Green Paper on Families had been approved by Cabinet in Sept 2011 and had been submitted to government printers for gazetting for public comment. Workshops were also planned for accumulation of more information for development of the White Paper on Families.
Mr Madonsela added that as part of the public consultation process on the Green Paper, DSD would make a proposal to the Committee that public engagement be performed through the Committee’s processes. This would be DSD’s preferred platform for public participation.
Ms Masilo asked what the progress and time-frames were for the Social Relief Bill.
Mr Johoma said that the DoH had in its engagement with the Committee in the past on amendments to the Social Assistance Bill outlined four challenges relating to the definition of chronic disability conditions for social grants. The disability benefit was not targeting such individuals optimally and the DoH would be working on a response to accommodate such individuals through the Primary Health System. DSD pointed out that more training was needed for medical doctors and that there was also a shortage of doctors. A benchmarking exercise on Brazil’s Primary Health System had been undertaken and the report of the visit resulted in a 10 point plan of the Minister of Health. In the years going forward, a significant portion of funds would be allocated to improve the Health Care System and the infrastructure. While DSD was dealing with proceeding with the proposed definition and amendments of the Bill, DSD had proceeded where possible to improve the assessment of people with disabilities through training of doctors. Also, issues of clarity were still required by the Committee before continuing with the passing of the Bill. DSD hoped to put the Bill to rest before the end of the financial year.
The Social Relief of Distress Bill had taken longer than envisaged because DSD had been somewhat overambitious. The responsibility of social relief had shifted from SASSA to provinces and a period of consultations with provinces was required. They did not have the necessary IT infrastructure and dedicated staff.
Also, with the change of political leadership and administration in 2009, Minmec and the new Heads of Departments had to look afresh at the Bill. The Social Distress Bill would also provide Relief Funds to the Departments of Home Affairs and Defence and implications of proceeding with the Bill were therefore significant. While provincial departments provided for infrastructure, IT and human resources, DSD would proceed with a conditional grant as a transitional measure to fast-track devolution of functions to provinces. The matter would be concluded before the end of the financial year.
Ms Kopane asked what challenges the provinces were experiencing with implementation of the Children's Act; how DSD was monitoring implementation of the Children's Act; and what challenges the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development was experiencing with regard to implementation of the Children’s Act.
Ms Mabetoa replied that foster care placement was the main challenge in the Children’s Act as well as the extension orders on foster care. After 2 years, foster care of a child had to be reviewed administratively by the provincial department. The new act made it compulsory for the extensions orders to be extended by the Children’s Court and not by the Provincial Court and this had resulted in backlogs. The High Court in Gauteng had provided for children in foster care 2009/10 to be extended. DSD was dealing with lapsed cases and the numbers were now manageable. A strategy to deal with the backlog had been approved by Minmec and the Heads of Social Development.
With regard to the Child Protection Register, convictions were received but the person convicted had also to be found to be unsuitable to work with children during and after the trial. DSD had circulated this requirement to all courts.
The number of such cases had currently increased to 18 and it was hoped that this number would be reduced.
Mr Madonsela added that while people convicted for abuse or maltreatment of children faced implicit criminal charges, they could not be placed on the Child Protection Register until the justice system had taken the further step of making a further enquiry as to whether the guilty person was unsuitable to work with children.
Ms P Tshwete (ANC) asked how far DoH was in implementation of HAT. In addition, she asked what Retention Strategy was in place to ensure that social workers who had been awarded scholarships would be absorbed into employment in the DSD.
Ms Mabetoa replied that The Occupation Specific Dispensation was one measure to retain social workers. Their salaries had increased and subsequently there was no longer an exodus of social workers to other countries. DSD was also in the process of finalising rural allowances which enabled social workers to stay and work in rural areas.
The Chairperson asked what the impact the Bursary Fund had made on addressing the chronic shortage of social workers and what the new figures were for social worker/population.
Ms Mabetoa replied that a bursary impact study would be performed the following year. The ratio of social worker/population ratio had decreased to 1 to 5000. However the case loads had not decreased as the challenges of services to people with disabilities and children and older persons had increased due to poverty levels and other social problems. More social workers were required to contain the challenges.
Mr Madonsela added that DSD had just over 5000 students on the scholarship programmes and recent figures showed that around 1017 students had graduated. The impact had been small as there were fewer graduates coming into the system than the demand of social challenges. The graduates had been placed by Social Development provincial departments and in some cases were placed in non-government organizations.
The Chairperson asked for an update on the Statutory Governance Report-on the status of health, mortality, mortality in South Africa.
The Chairperson said that although SASSA had moved from a disclaimer to unqualified report, she questioned whether work that had been done to ensure to improved financial momentum would continue; if it was efficient in terms of delivery on DSDs mandate; whether the relationship with SASSA and within DSD and other entities had strengthened; and whether DSD had ensured SASSA skills transfer from Ernst & Young consultants.
Mr Madonsela replied that the CEO of SASSA would better respond to questions on the relationship with the consultants and describe the process of skills transfer. The improvements that had occurred with SASSA social grants transfers were now built into systems at SASSA and a permanent feature on how SASSA performed its work. There would be long-term intervention. Additional people were employed to clear files and ensure beneficiary correspondence as standard procedure. DSD would continue to engage closely with SASSA. The social grants money was not only dealt with by the audit committee of DSD, but the audit committee of SASSA. The two audit committees would meet, compare notes and monitor from both sides.
Ms S Kopane (DA) commented that she hoped that the dual accountability relationship on the flow of funds for grants with SASSA did not compromise the integrity of DoH. She asked what the outcome was of the consultation with SASSA.
Mr Madonsela replied that the real issue on accountability related to the flow of funds determined by NT. The budget would be transferred to SASSA for the CEO to be fully accountable for administration of grants. Currently NT was aware of the challenges that the flow of funds posed to the DSD and DSD would continue engagement with SASSA on acceptance reports, internal audits and collaborative reports. SASSA would implement systems and guidelines to ensure that there were no discrepancies on how the law should be understood at the cold-face of implementation of policy and to fine tune success by ensuring SASSA files were properly kept and officials at the right levels at SASSA were employed.
Ms Kopane commented that the President had called for all vacant posts to be filled by June 2011. She asked if the vacant posts were funded and what the time-line was for the posts to be filled.
Mr Eugene Webster, Chief Director: Human Capital Management, DSD, replied that there was a plan for filling of vacant posts. The posts were funded and the time-line for filling of posts was 3 months. The Public Service vacancy target was 10% and the current DSD vacancy rate was 9%. Owing to DSD’s realignment process, some top management (DDG) posts were held vacant. Since MANCO had approved the alignment structure, the Minister would consider the proposal on vacancies the following month and these posts were expected to be filled within the current financial year.
Ms Mofolo asked what the minimum wage was for the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
Mr Madonsela replied that the stipend was R65 per day, which was an averaged R1200 salary.
Ms Kopane asked when removal of the means test would be phased in.
Mr Johoma replied that barring no additional policy changes, the old age means test should effectively take 3-4 years and the CSG and other grants should take 9 to 10 years to phase out.
Ms Kopane commented that DSD should set targets more realistically.
Mr Johoma said that targets missed were a result of over-ambition and the complicated nature of policy processes. It had been a learning process. DSD acknowledged that the issue of targets was a challenge and was addressing this by looking at regular training at technical level of managers on how to manage targets in line with its Performance Framework and executive coaching at executive level as well as MME training providing technical hands on support. Address issues and setting more realistic targets based on available human resources and financial resources available and on prevalence information and target research that had been conducted.
Ms Kopane asked for clarity on the AG finding that investigations into irregular and fruitless expenditure were not done within 30 days and also what the reason was for irregular expenditure not being reported to NT.
Mr Pokade replied that the Accounting Officer had the immediate responsibility to report irregular, wasteful or fruitless expenditure to NT and the AG and each year thereafter submit progress on the financial misconduct to the Public Service Commission. The AG’s opinion was that DSD’s processes of investigating and finalizing matters was slow. Thus, it was not that this expenditure was not reported, nor a transgression in terms of the PFMA. Backlogs in the current financial year would be dealt with within a period of 2 months.
The Chairperson asked for follow up engagement on the Green Paper. She agreed that the Committee should be involved in the Green Paper discussions and in the process itself. Through the PLO, the Committee would communicate with the Minister to distinguish which policies required the Committee’s attention. She congratulated the DSD on the improvements since the previous year’s financial report and also in terms of level of commitment. Challenges had been highlighted by Members and the Committee would continue to monitor the progress made by DSD.
The meeting was adjourned.
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