The Committee considered the draft Budgetary Review and Recommendation (BRRR) Report in detail and adopted it with amendments.
The point was raised that at the previous meeting on the Auditor General’s report, that the Chief Director of Children at the Department of Social Development, Ms Margot Davies, had stated that the Department was already implementing the Children’s Act, without additional funding. It was agreed to highlight in the report that all programmes should be adequately funded, particularly the implementation of the Children’s Act.
Other discussion points included adoption figures and the Department should urgently address the hurdles that caused delays and high backlog in the processing and finalisation of foster care court orders. It was also agreed to add the recommendation that there should be a relationship between the Department and the Department of Human Settlements so that abused women who did not wish to be reunited with their husbands should be prioritised in terms of housing allocations.
As the Chairperson was unable to attend due to illness; Ms P Tshwete (ANC) was elected to take the Chair.
The Committee considered the draft Budgetary Review and Recommendation (BRRR) Report and made the following amendments to the Report:
Under 8. Report on Millenium Development Goals.
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, was amended to read ‘Alleviate extreme poverty and hunger.
In the second paragraph in that section, the first sentence reading: The programme has had positive outcomes towards eradication of poverty, amended to read ‘The programme has had positive outcomes towards alleviation of poverty’.
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women.
Ms Tshwete referred to the last paragraph ‘The Department trained 87 women and men in gender and climate change. It also trained 25 female interns on gender sensitisation’. She proposed that at the next meeting with the Department, the Department should supply more information, especially as to where the women were that were trained.
Mr Waters referred to the Auditor General’s comments. The Auditor General had mentioned that 46% of the Department’s targets had not been met. At the time of reporting the Department responded to that, but Mr Waters felt that should be reflected in the report. That was agreed to.
Ms J Ngubeni-Maluleka (ANC) thought it was only 30% that had not been reached.
Mr Waters added that nevertheless the Auditor General was saying that the target had not been reached.
Ms Tshwete asked the Committee Secretary to go back to the report of the Auditor General to check the percentage.
Some discussion ensued on item 9.3 Committee Briefings, as it was felt the word ‘briefings’ was not correct and was amended to read ‘Committee findings on oversight and meetings’.
In the first sentence under item 9.3 the word observations was replaced by the word ‘findings’.
Mr Waters referred to the last bullet on the culture of adoptions. In the Annual Report the Department had said there had been a 65% increase in the number of adoptions. Comparing the 2012 Annual Report to that of 2010/11 there was actually a 33% decline in the number of adoptions. He felt that decline in the number of adoptions should be mentioned in the report.
Ms M Mafolo (ANC) suggested checking that information as she believed there had been a general increase; the lower figures were for the black community only.
Mr Waters recalled that the Chairperson had raised the question of stigmatisation in the black community but the number of adoptions referred to the whole country regardless of race.
Ms Tshwete tasked the Researcher to check that information.
In view of the urgency to adopt the report it was agreed that the corrected document with details of the amendments would be forwarded to Members by email.
Ms Ngubeni-Maluleka suggested that the Researcher should have all relevant information on hand when discussing such documents.
Mr Waters referred to the section on findings. A question had been raised about the Children’s’ Act and the Department’s Chief Director on Children, Ms Margot Davies, had responded that it had started to implement the Act without the necessary funding. He suggested the Researcher check the audio recording. That raised the question about the quality of service and how they were doing it. An Act could not be implemented without the necessary funding. Surely extra funding was needed so that should be included in the report so that the Minister of Finance was aware of that, especially for the next year’s budget.
It was agreed that it be highlighted in the report that the Children’s Act was under funded.
The Committee Secretary suggested calling the Department to brief the Committee on the implementation of the Children’s Act, the challenges thereof, and the funding.
Ms Tshwete agreed to that but in the meantime the report had to be adopted highlighting that the implementation of the Children’s Act was under funded.
Ms Ngubeni-Maluleka said the statement of under funding of the Children’s Act should come under item 9.3 as well as under recommendations: that all programmes should be adequately funded, particularly the Children’s Act.
The Committee Researcher referred to the last bullet under 9.3 that the culture of adoption was still very low, particularly among black communities. She recalled that research was done through Wits University to determine the cause for the low statistics among black communities, but there was an increase in the number of adoptions.
Ms Tshwete asked the Researcher to ensure that information was correct before the report was adopted. The Researcher replied that she would confirm that.
Mr Waters referred to the third bullet under 9.3: delays in the finalisation and issuing of foster care court orders. These delays deprived children from receiving the Foster Care Grant they were eligible for. Foster care applications had to reviewed every two years, which caused a massive backlog in the courts. The Children’s Act was suspended (on that section only) and brought back the provisions of the Child Care Act. It was a temporary measure and something needed to be done about the backlog in foster care placements and also in the review of foster care, because people then lost that grant, resulting in the children not having a foster home.
Ms Tshwete noted that was covered under the third bullet of the recommendations. The Ministers of Social Development and Justice and Constitutional Development should urgently address the hurdles that caused delays and high backlog in the processing and finalisation of foster care court orders.
Ms Ngubeni-Maluleka referred to the centres for abused women that were funded by the Department of Social Development. A recommendation should be that where women did not wish to be reunited with their husbands and did not have financial means, those women should be prioritised in terms of housing allocation.
Ms Tshwete agreed to add the recommendation that there should be a relationship between the Department and the Department of Human Settlements whereby those women from shelters who did not wish to be reunited with their husbands should be prioritised in terms of housing allocations.
The Legal Advisor went back to the recommendation on the Children’s Act and the reference to ‘all programmes’; she suggested it refer to the Children’s Act, the Older Persons Act, and the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse Act.
Ms Ngubeni-Maluleka disagreed. She included all programmes because all programmes were not well funded, but the emphasis was on the Children’s Act that should be adequately funded.
Ms Tshwete said to say all programmes could be very dangerous, it had to be specific.
Ms Tshwete said all issues raised by Members would be added before adoption.
The draft Budget Review and Recommendation (BRRR) Report was adopted with amendments.
The Committee Secretary announced that next week the Committee would be considering the SASSA Annual Report. The report would be distributed to Members.
The meeting was adjourned.
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