PC Social Development: Committee's Strategic Plan: adoption; Committee's Second Term Programme: adoption; Briefing on International Agreements

Social Development

12 March 2012
Chairperson: Ms Y Botha (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Content Advisor reported on the Committee’s Strategic and Business Plan. The five-year strategic plan approved in 2009 had encompassed priorities of the State of the Nation Address. The mandate of the Committee was to build an oversight process that ensured a quality process of scrutinizing and overseeing Government’s action, monitoring the Department of Social Development to fulfil its mandate, conferring with the National Council of Provinces on Social Development legislation affecting Provincial legislatures, and enhancing the capacity of Committee Members through continuous training and further education.

The method of work of the Committee was approved by Parliament with the aim of ensuring that the Executive was accountable to the needs of the public. The report looked at the strategic priorities arising from the 2012 State of the Nation Address and addressing the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality through the strategy of infrastructure development, employment creation, especially targeting youth.

The report also touched on key issues emanating from the Committee and noted the legislation and policy that was still pending. It touched on service delivery where closer cooperation and consultation with other Committees was essential and noted that closer cooperation and consultation with local and international non-governmental organisations that delivered social development services was needed.

The report looked at areas of oversight where the Committee had to monitor and evaluate the roll-out and impact of various programmes. It also looked at the performance of the South African Social Security Agency in relation to key areas to be addressed by the Agency, and the performance of the National Development Agency. It examined the operational plan of the Committee. It concluded by noting the importance of cooperative governance in terms of fostering cooperation within the three spheres of Government and among the Committees of Parliament.

The Committee adopted the Second Term Committee programme.

The Content Advisor from the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation briefed the Committee on oversight issues highlighting implementation of all International agreements, compliance with international obligations, ensuring ratification, ensuring domestication, submission of ordinary/executive agreements, and possible framework for early involvement.

Members asked questions of clarity on both presentations.

Meeting report

Strategic Plan and Operational Plan of the Committee: Content Advisor’s presentation
Ms Yolanda Nogenga, Content Advisor: Portfolio Committee Social Development noted that the Committee had a five-year strategic plan which had been approved in 2009 and reviewed every year in light of the priorities identified by the President in view of Parliament in the State of the Nation Address (SONA). The strategic plan was about setting out priorities for the Portfolio Committee based on SONA. It was to develop a monitoring tool in terms of the resolutions taken by the Committee, progress made, implementation, or any report back that was given with regard to the resolutions.

Ms Nogenga noted that the mandate of the Committee was to build an oversight process that ensured a quality process of scrutinizing and overseeing Government’s action that was driven by the ideal of realizing a better quality of life. Further, the Committee’s mandate included facilitating public participation, monitoring and oversight function over the legislative processes relating to social development, conferring with relevant governmental and civil society organs on social development matters, enhancing and developing the capacity of its Members to exercise effective oversight over the Executive Authority in social development, and monitoring the Department of Social Development to fulfil its mandate. It also included processing and approving legislation and international protocols and conventions related to social development, participating in national and international social development conferences, conferring with the National Council of Provinces on social development legislation affecting provincial legislatures, engaging In any activities and programmes aimed at development and delivery of quality social development to all South Africans, and enhancing the capacity of Committee Members through continuous training and further education.

Ms Nogenga noted that the method of work of the Committee was approved by Parliament where emphasis was placed on oversight visits that were well informed by the needs of society and ensured that the Executive was accountable to the needs of the public.

In terms of the strategic priorities arising from the 2012 SONA she noted that the main highlight was the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality which were priority areas which Government needed to address. The strategy highlighted in the SONA was the infrastructure development, employment creation, especially targeting youth and building cohesion as some of the interventions to address the above mentioned challenges.

On the key issues emanating from the Committee Ms Nogenga noted that there was legislation and policy that was still pending or outstanding from the 2011 SONA, namely, the Social Assistance Amendment Bill, Social Relief of Distress Bill, policy regulation for the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act, the National Policy on Financial Awards for non-profit organizations, the Government Position Paper on Social Security Reform before the end of 2011, the Supply Chain Management Policy (SCM), and the Social Crime Prevention Strategy.

The following policies and legislation emanated from the 2012 SONA: the Policy on Social Infrastructure; Gender Equality Bill; Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Policy; and the Policy reforms on anti-substance abuse.

On service delivery she noted that there should be closer cooperation and consultation with other Committees when the need arose. Those included the Portfolio Committee on Health in relation to the HIV and AIDS advocacy programmes, Basic Education with regard to Early Child Development (ECD) and substance abuse, and Women, Children and People with Disabilities in order to improve service delivery for women and children. The Committee should also take into consideration the implementation of International Conventions. It should have closer cooperation and consultation with local and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that delivered social development services.

Ms Nogenga noted the areas of oversight were informed by the briefing from the Department in line with key priority areas noted by the President. The first was the Zero Hunger Programme where the Committee had to monitor and evaluate the roll out and impact of the programme, particularly focusing on the improved access to food and partnership between the Department of Social Development, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The second programme was the Expansion of Welfare Services. The Committee’s role was to monitor and evaluate the recruitment of Child and Youth Care Workers; expansion of child and youth care services through the Isibindi model and ECD. Raise questions to the Department regarding the extent that disabled children access ECD services and whether relevant capacity and infrastructure was provided for their needs.

The Rolling out of the Social Infrastructure was the third programme whereby the Committee had to monitor the roll out of social infrastructure according to the needs of the social development sector – social infrastructure related to ECD; improving the Department’s facilities; and the National Integrated Social Information System (NISIS).

Ms Nogenga noted that another programme was the Youth Development and Job Creation Programme whereby the Committee had to monitor and evaluate the Department’s targets to job creation and youth development through the recruitment of personnel to implement welfare services (Community Development Practitioners, Home Based Care Workers, Child and Youth Care Workers, probation Officers, Social Workers and Social Auxiliary Workers; profiling of Child Support Grant primary care givers for vocational training, youth leadership programmes and bursary programme. The Committee should also engage the Department on matters relating to training communities, resource Non-Profit Organizations, monitoring and evaluating programmes and initiatives that focused on training women and unemployed youth in rural and poor urban areas.

The Anti-Substance Abuse was a programme whereby the Committee monitored progress made on the policy reforms that would bring coherence on how Government dealt with alcohol and illicit drugs. Another programme was the Fight against Abuse of Women and Children whereby the Committee was still considering the Gender Equity Bill.

On the performance of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) Ms Nogenga noted that the Minister of Social Development had announced key areas which needed to be addressed by the agency - the re-registration of social grants beneficiaries, filing of vacant posts, acquisition of office space which was part of Government infrastructure programme, amendment of the South African Social Security Agency Act to make provision for the establishment of the Board to address the issue of dual accountability, and enhancing and improving its internal controls to address matters of emphasis raised by the Auditor-General.

In terms of the performance of the National Development Agency (NDA) she noted that the Committee needed to evaluate job creation through awarding of project funds and ECD programme, the performance and sustainability of projects, and the support given to the projects. On the issue of budgeting/funding there should be value for money and delivery of services with regard to better funding of social sector. In staffing and remuneration the Department and entities should meet Government’s goal of creating job opportunities by filling funded vacant posts.

Ms Nogenga noted that the operational plan of the Committee consisted of legislation, oversight, capacity building, public participation and cooperative governance. The structure of the operational plan consisted of the strategic objective, activities, Means of Verification (MOV), and resources. Under legislation the strategic objective was that there was legislation that had been proposed under the Gender Equality Bill, Women Empowerment and Gender, Equality Policy, Policy on Social Infrastructure, and Policy on Anti-Substance Abuse. The activities included a briefing by the Department, commission research on identified legislation and policy gaps, conducting public hearings, deliberating on areas of review and new proposals and formal consideration of the report.

In terms of MOV she noted that there was a policy and legislation review, briefing sessions and minutes of meetings, presentations to the Committee, submissions and reports, review papers and reports from public hearings, and finally Announcements, Tablings, and Committee Reports (ATC). The resources used by the Committee included research and content analysis, the Committee Secretary/Assistant for administration support and logistics, legal and content advisory services, advertising for hearings, translation services, venues for hearings, presentation equipment, transport for both the Committee and communities involved, catering and accommodation.

Ms Nogenga noted that the strategic objective in relation to pending legislation included the SASSA Act, Social Relief Bill, Social Services Professions Bill, and the Regulations on Social Assistance Amendment Bill. The activities would be to invite stakeholder presentation to the Committee on specific legislation and policy, commission research on pieces of legislation and policy at hand, deliberate on various legislation and policy documents, process bills through all relevant stages and table reports on the legislation. The MOV included presentations and minutes, stakeholders and interest groups presentations and submissions, research papers, and Committee deliberations and minutes, reports and ATC reports. The resources included the Secretary’s administrative support, venue hiring for hearings, presentation equipment, research and content analysis, legal and content advisory services, advertising for hearings, translation services, presentation equipments, and transport for both the Committee and communities involved, catering and accommodation.

Ms Nogenga noted that in areas of oversight by the Committee the strategic outcome would be in the Zero Hunger Programme, the expansion of welfare services, rolling out of the social infrastructure, youth development and job creation, anti-substance abuse, and the finalization of the social security reforms. Activities included briefing by the Department, public hearings, annual oversight visits to provinces to monitor performance of the department against its plans, and draft and table reports. The MOV would be the concept notes, bookings and programme for the trip, minutes of proceedings, attendance registers and reports, quarterly reports, quarterly financial reports, Committee reports and ATC reports. The resources included secretary’s administrative support, venue hiring for hearings, presentation equipments, research and content analysis, translation services, venues, presentation equipments, transport, catering and accommodation.

Ms Nogenga noted that the strategic objective for public participation was to ensure that the public was central in all aspects of legislation formulation, implementation and evaluation through interactive and meaningful engagements. The activities in that regard was to invite the public’s and stakeholders’ inputs and comments on legislation and policy making processes, and open Committee meetings for the public to observe. The MOV would be the stakeholder submissions and inputs, minutes of meetings and Committee reports, and ATC reports. The resources included secretary’s administrative support, presentation equipments, research and content analysis, translation services, venue, presentation equipments, catering and accommodation.

On capacity building Ms Nogenga noted that the strategic objective was to foster conditions and support systems which enhanced the Committee capacity and processes for robust and critical oversight and guidance over the Executive. The Committee had to undertake study tours at national or international level. The MOV was the concept paper, the programme for the study tour and reports. The resources included secretary’s administrative support, research and content analysis, travel and accommodation.

Ms Nogenga concluded by noting that cooperative governance was intended to foster cooperation within the three spheres of Government as well as with Committees in the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on matters of common interest. The Committee had to monitor how the Department worked and collaborated with different spheres of Government. It had to oversee the role of the Department as a facilitator. The MOV would be the monitoring and evaluation of reports and oversight reports. The resources included the secretary, the monitoring system, and the research and content analysis.

Discussion
The Chairperson corrected the language used in the last paragraph of page 1 of the report where it was stated that “the fourth Parliament has placed emphasis on oversight to ensure the implementation of service delivery targets is met”. The word “is” should be “were”.
 
Ms J Masilo (ANC) asked how far the processes were of the vacancy rate at SASSA. She also asked if the Committee had spent 75% of its budget in current financial year, whether it had under spent or was on track with its current budget.

The Chairperson reminded Ms Masilo that what Members were currently busy with in that meeting was the method of work for the Committee; Members were not analyzing specific reports. Members were looking at the framework of the strategic plan of the Committee and the operational basis thereof.

Mr M Waters (DA) noted that as a Committee there were a number of issues that Members needed to address that were not mentioned in the report. The first one was foster care – there was a huge problem under the Children’s Act which needed to be addressed. The Children’s Act dictated that there should be a review of foster care grants every two years and that encompassed a review of the Child Care Act. The Committee needed to engage the Department on the process involved in doing the review. Secondly, there were one and half million children leaving with relatives and who did not have mothers and fathers, and only half million of them had a type of foster care grant, and a half million did not receive foster care grants. It seemed as if there was some sought of discrimination where children not living with close family members were not entitled to the foster care grant. The Committee needed to sort that out and clarity should be asked from the Department as to the basis on which it determined the foster care grant.

The Chairperson noted that Mr Waters had touched on an important issue which was not in the report but was in the legislation that governed social development. She proposed that in terms of the legislation there was a policy which emanated from SONA but there was a long list of policies. As a priority the Committee should take the Children’s Act and call in the Department to account on those issues besides the strategic plan, reporting, and quarterly reviews. Therefore the Committee needed to go back to the Children’s Act because the foster care grant was a very important issue. In terms of the Committee’s strategic plan the Committee needed to evaluate the impact of legislation quantitatively as well as procedurally and its application to provinces. The Children’s Act and other related Acts should be the priority of the Committee especially the state of foster care currently and the review process and, that would be added to the strategic plan of the Committee. The Committee should also engage with other departments that were involved with social development responsibility like the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Department of Health.

Ms M Mafolo (ANC) was concerned about outstanding legislation, especially the Social Assistance Amendment Bill which looked at the definition of disability.

The Chairperson concurred with Ms Mafolo; the bill was outstanding and this was why it was back on the agenda. The issue of regulation was still pending and it was time to put it on the agenda. On the Government Position Paper on Social Security Reform, the National Treasury had released a discussion document last year and the Committee should call National Treasury to give an implementation paper on social security. The Gender Equity Bill was a bill within the competencies of the Ministry on Women, Children and People with Disabilities.

Mr Waters was concerned that the Department had been talking about the definition of disability for the past five years but there had been no progress. He also was concerned about the policy reforms on substance abuse because when the Department last visited the Committee it had not developed the regulations for the Substance Abuse Act 2008, but it wanted to amend the Act.

The Chairperson noted that the Department had not finalized the regulations.  

Mr Waters raised a concern about the court extension of ECD centres because there seemed to be no set curriculum or standard extended for every centre whereby children were taught the same thing. The Committee needed to look at the standard of EDC centres.

The Chairperson responded that there was an EDC Curriculum which prescribed the development programmes of each EDC Centre. The provinces had to monitor that the scholar programme was implemented because ECD Centres were registered in terms of the number of children, the programme involved, and so on. Therefore’ what was important was the monitoring and evaluation at district level and provincial level. The quality assurance thereof should be very effective at provincial level to ensure there was development programme in the ECD centres.

She noted that the issue of foster care homes and the homes of abused women and children would be part of the Committee’s oversight programme.

Ms Masilo also agreed that the Committee should focus on homes of abused women and children as part of the Committee’s oversight work and identify those homes in their constituencies.

The Chairperson noted that they should also look at issue of dual accountability which had been raised by the Auditor-General (AG) every year.

In terms of study tours the Chairperson stated that the Committee was entitled to two study tours per term. The Committee had gone to Brazil in its first study tour. She had requested the Content Advisor to come up with research on social development issues from the United States (US) and Canada and check if the Committee could do the second tour this year or early next year.

Ms Masilo asked if why the Committee could not try one of the African countries for its study tour if nothing was available from the US and Canada.

Ms Nogenga stated that she also had an idea emanating from the presentation that was made by the Department on African countries with which it had partnership that the Committee should consider a study tour to one of those African countries.

The Chairperson asked if there were any movers for the adoption of the report.

Ms Mafolo moved for the adoption of the report.

Mr V Magagula (ANC) seconded the move.

The Committee adopted the report with amendments.

Committee’s Programme for the Second Term, April – June 2012
Mr Magagula moved for the adoption of the programme.

Ms Masilo supported the move.

The Committee adopted the programme.

Presentation on the Oversight Issues of International Agreements
Ms Dineo Mosala, Content Advisor: Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation stated that she was asked by Ms Nogenga to come and brief the Committee on international agreements. She noted that since 1994 Parliament had had a robust engagement in its role in conducting international relations. The bulk of its work had been on the review and repeal of South African laws but it had had little focus on international agreements/treaties in terms of implementation. The issue of the role of Parliament in the approval of international agreements/treaties was on the agenda of many parliaments around the world.

Ms Mosala explained that the definition of agreement/treaty was that it was a binding instrument between states and/or international organizations governed by international law in writing which included one or more instruments. The distinction between ordinary/executive agreements (OEAs) and a Treaty (TRT) was that OEAs implemented clauses within existing treaties which came into effect on the signature by representatives of States. It did not required approval of Parliament. The treaty on the other hand was effective only after ratification which required parliamentary approval.


Ms Mosala noted that Section 231 of the South African Constitution of 1996 provided that international relations policy and the signing of treaties and agreements were the responsibility of the Executive.
All international agreements had to be tabled in Parliament. Agreements falling within the ambit of section 231(2) of the Constitution required tabling and approval of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces. Agreements falling within the ambit of section 231(3) required tabling for information purposes only. Tabling was the responsibility of department concerned.

In terms of approval Ms Mosala noted that Section 231 (2) presupposed that a treaty bound South Africa at the international level only after it had been approved by both Houses of Parliament. In order for the treaty to be applied domestically, it should still be enacted as specified in section 231 (4), unless it was self-executing. The Department needed to make Parliament aware on that regard. Section 231 (4) introduced the concept of self-executing clauses into the South African law. The provisions of a treaty to be approved by Parliament which had those clauses became part of South African law unless inconsistent with the Constitution.

Ms Mosala concluded that the committee concerned had the duty to examine a treaty in order to recommend approval or rejection. The committee should recommend approval or rejection in writing. The approval or rejection should be accompanied with concerns. The approval could be with reservations on certain parts of the treaty, but not on the principle. Concerns should be highlighted at the initial stage and should be included in the domestication of the treaty at a later stage. There should be an introduction on the national interests when entering in those agreements and treaties.

Discussion
The Chairperson thanked Ms Mosala for the very informative presentation. She noted that the presentation spoke to the mandate of Social Development and it was something the Committee had budgeted for in its oversight work, and it was something it had to evaluate from time to time.

Ms Masilo also thanked Ms Mosala for the good presentation. She asked for clarity as to who proposed treaties in terms of both Houses of Parliament. She also asked whether the free movement of foreign nationals in the country was by way of a treaty or by an agreement between SA and other countries.

Ms Mosala responded that the Executive was responsible for proposing treaties in Parliament and requesting approval from different Committees of Parliament.

Ms Mosala stated that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Treaty / Protocol was responsible for the free movement of people in the SADC region.

The Chairperson thanked Ms Nogenga and Ms Mosala for their presentations.

The meeting was adjourned.

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