National Health Amendment Bill: Final Mandates, Minister & Department of Social Development Annual Report 2012

NCOP Health and Social Services

12 November 2012
Chairperson: Ms R Rasmeni (ANC, North West)
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Meeting Summary

The Select Committee called for the final mandates on the National Health Amendment Bill and to hear the presentation by the Department of Social Development on its Annual Report. The Eastern Cape and Free State did not send a mandate. The Gauteng provincial legislature had sent through a mandate, but it was unsigned and had to be returned. Support for the Bill was indicated from KwaZulu Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West (although it did summarise some of the submissions to the Bill), and Northern Cape. At this point in the proceedings, a Member questioned which was the version of the Bill being debated, and it then appeared that, due to an oversight, the provinces had been sent a draft ‘D’ version of the Bill, instead of the ‘B’ version and ‘C’ list. Three provinces had considered the ‘D’ version. Eastern Cape had not sent a mandate because it had not been sure which Bill it should be using. It was agreed that in light of the confusion, the matter could not be finalised, and the provinces would now be formally asked to consider and provide a final mandate on the correct version.

The Minister and Department of Social Development (DSD) presented the Annual Report for 2011/12. Priorities of the DSD in this year included expansion  of child and youth care services, through the Isibindi programme, promotion of early childhood development, combating of substance abuse, provision of food to poor households through the Food For All and Zero Hunger campaigns, and promotion and protection of the rights of older people and people with disabilities. The context of its work was outlined, and it was stressed that it had to collaborate with a number of entities. The achievements of each of the programmes was outlined. The number of social assistance beneficiaries had increased to 15 595 705 beneficiaries, of whom 10 927 731 received the child support grant, and 2 750 857 received the old age grant. The Child Support Grant had been shown to impact positively upon reduction of poverty and improved academic performance of the beneficiaries. A proposal had been made for establishing a separate Department of Social Security, which had been presented to Cabinet. A policy on financial awards, and the anti-drugs campaign were rolled out. Over 900 000 people now benefited from Early Childhood Development programmes. 475 456 vulnerable households were reached through HIV/Aids prevention programmes. Over 2 500 communities and 224 145 households were profiled nationally for appropriate interventions. The DSD cooperated on a number of international bodies. It had achieved 54% of targets fully and 26% partially. It had spent  98.90% of its appropriation, with under-spending of R1.1 billion on social assistance. The audit performance had improved, with unqualified audits for the national Department, South African Social Security Agency and seven provincial departments (excluding North West and Gauteng) whilst only Free State and North West had any unauthorised expenditure.

Members were pleased with the improvements, but questioned why sustainable livelihoods was not mentioned in the report, and wondered if the targets were correctly stated. They asked how the DSD would improve the audit performance, what consequences there were for non-compliance, and what steps it took to recover misappropriated funds, in addition to criminally charging offenders. Members also asked for details about the cuts in funding to a Drop In Centre in North West, and wondered if there was a systematic plan and process for moving of shebeens. They questioned the fact that no social work scholarships had been awarded in Gauteng, and commented that caregivers were trained in Hopetown, but were not employed. In general, the remark was made that the DSD needed to follow up what was happening in the provinces on the ground. They asked about the ruling for foster care for grandparents, and suggested legislation, if it was necessary, asked for more old-age centres in every province, and asked if the Expanded Public Works Programmes were giving value, and that conditions at the Early Childhood Centres had to be monitored.  More details were sought on the food security programmes.

Meeting report

National Health Amendment Bill [B24B-2011]: Presentation of Final Mandates
The Chairperson noted that all the necessary processes on the National Health Amendment Bill had been followed and all that remained was to poll the provinces on their individual mandates. Western Cape and Free State had sent their apologies, but had submitted mandates.

Ms D Rantho (ANC, Eastern Cape) said that the Eastern Cape had not sent any mandate.

The Chairperson noted that there  was also no mandate from the Free State.

Ms B Mncube (ANC, Gauteng) said there was no mandate from her province, as the document sent to her had been unsigned and had to be returned.

Mr G Govender (IFP, KwaZulu-Natal) said his province had had a successful public consultation process. Inputs from different stakeholders had been considered. The provincial legislature had considered the Bill and supported it.

Ms M Boroto (ANC, Mpumalanga) read out her province’s statement, which mandated her to vote in favour of the Bill.

Ms Boroto also read the Limpopo mandate, which noted that Limpopo had voted in favour of the Bill.

Mr S Plaatjie (COPE, North West) said his province noted the objections of various stakeholders, but had voted in favour of the Bill.

Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) said his province voted in favour of the Bill, with amendments.

Ms Mncube raised a technicality, asking what the final Bill was named, as there seemed to be some discrepancy.

Mr Monwabisi Nguqu, Senior State Law Advisor, Office of the Chief State Law Advisor, said the version that had been sent to the provinces was a ‘B’ Bill. It would then become a ‘D’ Bill after it had been approved. He clarified that the original was a ‘B’ Bill, after amendments it was named as a ‘C’ Bill, and finally it became a ‘D’ Bill after it was approved by the House. The Committee Secretary should note for the record that the Committee was considering the ‘B’ Bill.

Ms Rantho said that some provinces had considered the ‘D’ Bill. She sought advice from the state law advisors on the way forward.

Mr Nguqu said the Committee had considered the ‘B’ Bill, with amendments which then became a ‘C’ Bill . This appeared as such in the report to the NCOP.

Ms Mncube also said her province had considered a ‘D’ Bill.

Mr Nguqu said the provinces should have considered the ‘B’ Bill, although a ‘C’ version was sent to them informally, to assist them in their deliberations. This was not the normal procedure. The provinces were normally sent a report of the deliberations of the Committee. The Committee was still in the negotiating stage. This meeting was the final mandates meeting.

The Chairperson asked if the voting on the ‘D’ Bill by some provinces was of concern.

Mr Nguqu said this was not a major concern.

Ms Boroto agreed, for the sake of progress, but she stressed that the provinces needed a thorough explanation because this was the first time this had happened. Her province had not voted on a previous occasion because there had been confusion about which version of the Bill it was required to consider.

Ms Mncube disagreed that in law there was such a thing as agreement for the sake of progress. She questioned that it could surely not be correct to say that it did not matter which version the provinces had discussed and voted upon.

Ms Rantho said that she was merely saying that the Committee must find a way to move on. If it was necessary to reverse the process, so be it. The Committee should do things in accordance with the law.

Mr Govender agreed that the correct legal route had to be followed. There had to be clarity on the version of the Bill. It was clear that KwaZulu-Natal had voted on the ‘D’ version.

Mr Plaatjie stated that he raised queries that he had previously raised also, and he questioned whether a Bill with amendments was considered to be a new Bill, or merely “the Bill, as amended”.

Mr Gary Rhoda, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, explained that the version introduced in the National Assembly (NA) was an ‘A’ version. Members in the NA voted on an “A” with an ‘A’ list, which was basically a list of all amendments proposed by members in the NA. The ‘A’ Bill with an ‘A’ list was then voted upon in the House. A ‘B’ Bill (the original incorporating the amendments agreed to in the NA) was sent to the NCOP. The Committees would discuss it and if the committees made any amendments, these would be incorporated into a ‘C’ list. The ‘B’ Bill and ‘C’ list were sent to the provincial legislatures and they would vote on that. They would then return that Bill and their suggestions would be incorporated. The NCOP Chamber, not the Select Committee, would adopt the ‘D’ version.

Ms Mncube highlighted the fact that effectively only three provinces had voted on a correct version, but the other six had voted on an incorrect version.

Mr Rhoda further clarified that the version that had been sent to the provinces had been a “proposed” ‘D’ version, for their ease of reference.

The Chairperson asked that in future the Parliamentary Legal Office brief the Committee on procedure to avoid future confusion. The Chairperson made a ruling that the Bill would be accepted. The Committee would report to the House on the confusion and technicalities involved.

Ms Rantho stated that she had just read a SMS from the Eastern Cape Provincial Chairperson, saying that the reason that no mandate was forwarded was that the Eastern Cape was equally confused about which version it was supposed to be voting upon.

Ms Mncube asked whether the Chairperson was aware of the fact that only three provinces had voted on the right Bill. That was a minority of provinces, and she questioned if it was proper to finalise the proceedings.

Ms Boroto said her province had not voted. Clarity was needed all around. What the legal experts were saying now was different from they had said previously.  The legal department needed to reconcile and communicate to the provinces properly. She suggested that it would not be fair to try to pass the Bill as it was imperative to get the procedures straightened out.

Mr Plaatjie sought clarity on the process forward.

The Chairperson said the legal department would handle the process. She wondered if the Committee would not exceed the deadline for the passing of Bills, if it delayed the matter.

Ms Rantho said the period for Bills had been raised in the Whips’ meetings. The six-week deadline may be exceeded if necessary.

The Chairperson concluded that the Members should go back to the provinces with proper instructions on how to formulate the final mandate. She apologised to the Minister and the Department  of Health for the delay.

Department Of Social Development 2012 Annual Report Briefing
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, to the meeting. The Minister said that she would allow the Director General to give the presentation and would assist with answering questions.

Mr Wiseman Magasela, Acting Director-General, Department of Social Development, noted that not only the Department’s units were represented, but the Chief Executive Officer of the South Africa Social Security Agency (SASSA) was also present. The 2012 Annual Report was based on the objectives and goals that the Department of Social Development (DSD or the Department) had set at the start of the year, and on the twelve Government Outcomes.

Mr Christopher Mulaudzi, Director: Monitoring and Evaluation, DSD, highlighted that the priorities of the DSD in the 2011/12 financial year had included:
- expansion  of child and youth care services (Isibindi programme)
- promotion of early childhood development (ECD)
- combating substance abuse
- provision of food to poor  households (Food for All / Zero Hunger campaigns)
- protection and promotion of the rights of older people and people with disabilities.

The relevant government outcomes linked to these were Outcomes 2 and 5.

The DSD had five programmes. He set the context for its work. This Department operated in an environment marked by high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality. The Department was largely responsible for policy formulation, although it rendered some services directly to the public, for example the registration of non-profit organisations. The Department also collaborated with numerous entities, as it could only meet targets if others kept commitments. Reprioritisation was often necessary to accommodate certain instances.

Mr Mulaudzi highlighted some of the achievements of each programme. Under the Social Assistance Programme, the number of social assistance beneficiaries had increased by 5.5% to 15 595 705 beneficiaries. Of these, 10 927 731 received the child support grant, and 2 750 857 received the old age grant. An impact study of the Child Support Grant (CSG) had been completed. It confirmed that the CSG reduced poverty and improved academic performance of recipients. Adolescent recipients of the CSG were less likely to engage in risky behaviour.

Under the Social Security Policy Development Programme, highlights included the completion of a proposal for the establishment of a new Department of Social Security, and the approval of the consolidated policy proposal by the Inter-Ministerial Committee, which this unit had presented to the Social Protection and Community Development Cluster Cabinet Committee. Regulations giving effect to the Social Assistance Act of 2004 were published and implemented.

Highlights of the Welfare Services Programme were the development of an implementation plan for the Policy on Financial Awards, and the roll-out of the national anti-drugs campaign in all nine provinces. The number of children accessing Early Childhood Development (ECD) services and programmes increased by 26.5%, so that by now over 900 000 benefited from ECD services in all provinces. There was a 65% increase in the number of children accessing adoption services, and 49% increase in number accessing Child & Youth Care Centres. There was also a 641% increase in access to drop-in centres. 220 service providers were trained on human trafficking. Regulations on the Human Trafficking Bill and forms were drafted. The Integral Parenting Framework and the Manual on Mediation Services were approved. 475 456 vulnerable households were reached through HIV/Aids prevention programmes.

In the Social Policy and Integrated Service Delivery Programme, 50 policy-makers were trained in Social Policy and social policy analysis. 2 520 communities and 224 145 households were profiled nationally for appropriate interventions. A DSD strategy on Zero Hunger was developed.

The Department also played an active role internationally, on various African Union (AU), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and United Nations (UN) forums. The cooperation with the UN on child trafficking and bilateral support to South Sudan continued. There had been active participation in the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Social Security Association (ISSA).

Mr Mulaudzi stressed that the DSD had achieved 54% of its planned targets, whilst 26% were partially achieved and 20% not achieved. Reasons for non-achievement included reprioritisation of projects and dependence on other institutions.

No Bills had been submitted to Parliament during the year.

Audit outcomes
Mr Johnny Modiba, Acting Chief Financial Officer, DSD, presented the Expenditure and Audit Outcomes for the 2011/12 year. The Department had spent 98.90% of its appropriation. There had been under spending of R1.1 billion in social assistance.

The split of the allocation per programme was: 70% Social Welfare, 19% Administration and 11% development. The split per economic classification was: 40% Transfers and Subsidies, 39% Employee Compensation, 16 Goods and services and 5% capital.

The National Department, National Development Agency, South African Social Security Agency and all the provinces, except North West and Gauteng, received unqualified audits. Only Free State and North West registered unauthorised expenditure.

Mr Modiba highlighted the fact that only the financial statements generated an audit opinion; although performance on pre-determined objectives and compliance with laws and regulations, inter alia, was audited.

Discussion
The Chairperson commented that the improvement in the meeting of targets was appreciated.

Mr T Makunyane (ANC, Limpopo) thanked the Minister for her presence. The promotion of sustainable livelihoods was a vital part of the mandate of government. This Department was the one that should be responsible for this, yet it was not mentioned anywhere in the report.

Mr Makunyane asked if the DSD was over-achieving or under-targeting, because it seemed to have over-achieved on almost all its targets. He wondered what the effect of the over-achievement on the budget was.

Mr S Plaatjie appreciated the improved performance, but was concerned that some provinces had not improved on their audits. He questioned what steps the Department was taking to ensure clean audits, and what consequences were there if the provincial departments failed to improve. He commented that irregularities in supply chain management were a problem in most departments, and asked if the DSD had a plan to fix this.

Mr Plaatjie commented that the funding to a Drop-in Centre in North West had been cut and the local municipality had wanted to close it down. He asked what the DSD was doing to help vulnerable centres such as that one.

Mr Plaatjie questioned if there was any systematic process behind the moving of shebeens, or whether it was random. He also asked if the establishments were simply demolished or the owners were helped to move their businesses elsewhere. These businesses were legitimate and families depended on the income they generated. Whilst it was good that shebeens were not being allowed to operate next to schools or churches, there was now a dilemma where the shebeen existed before the school had been built.

Ms Mncube asked why no social work scholarships had been awarded in Gauteng. She wondered if the outstanding issues in some of the programmes would be followed up on in the next final year.

Ms Mncube commented that the Committee, during oversight had observed unemployed people in Hopetown in the Northern Cape who had been trained as community caregivers. She wondered if there was any follow-up to make sure they did the work for which they had been trained.

Ms Boroto acknowledged the improved report and said that the DSD seemed now to be on the right path to alleviating poverty. She suggested that there should be old age homes in each district. This was necessary, despite the cultural or traditional taboo towards placing older people in these homes.

Ms Boroto sought clarity on the ruling about grandparents not being able to collect foster care. She asked the Department to come up with a Bill to remedy the situation.

Ms Boroto said the DSD deserved praise for the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP), which made a difference in people’s lives.

Ms Boroto commented that the Auditor-General (AG) had raised concerns about the non-compliance of staff with rules and regulations. Although it was reported that some officials were arrested and had to appear in court, she wondered if they ever paid back the money misappropriated.

Ms Boroto asked what the DSD could do to increase the capacity of doctors issuing disability certificates to relevant people.

Ms Boroto asked the Department if it was able to help its departments at provincial level, to prevent Constitution section 100 interventions.

Ms Rantho said she was sure the Minister was aware of the Committee’s oversight visit to the Northern Cape, where it had found substantial problems with DSD. She urged the national Department to send a delegation there, to see what was happening at grassroots level.

Ms Rantho suggested that the DSD must monitor and check whether there was value for money gained from the EPWP programmes.

The Chairperson sought an explanation on where the Department had sourced the money for the 0.26% overspending on personnel, and was worried that it might catch up with it, later in the budgeting cycle.

The Chairperson called for elaboration on the food security programmes.

The Chairperson bemoaned the conditions at the ECD centres the Committee had visited, and said that the DSD had provided funding for the centres. She realised that the Committee was asking for a lot from the Department but she asked to collaborate with other departments on some projects.

The Chairperson asked what the function was of the service providers on human trafficking.

The Minister thanked the Committee for the positive feedback and stated that the Department had begun to focus on ECD in the last year. This was in support of the Department of Basic Education. Education was an apex priority for the government. An ECD campaign had been launched in rural areas, recognising that the rights of rural and urban children were equal. There had been no standardisation with allocations and the training of practitioners. The construction of buildings was the responsibility of local government, though some provinces were trying hard to build ECD centres. The allocations had been standardised. The Department paid R15 per child per day, but this was only for 166 days of the year. It was now trying to fund the full calendar year. Of the R15, R5 was for food, R5 for education/stimulation and R5 for administration.  A conference had been held the previous year to address challenges in childhood.

The Minister stated that the whole world had begun focusing on the “first 1 000 days of the child”. This started in the womb, ensuring that the mother ate well and then the first two years of the child’s life. There had been a presentation to National Treasury and R1.4 billion had been allocated for ECD initiatives. The Department was also working with the National Development Agency (NDA). The EPWP was being incorporated into certain elements of ECD. However funding was always an issue because social services always suffered in budget cuts in provinces.

The Food For All initiative was introduced in reaction to the widespread malnutrition that the Ministry had observed, during tours with the President. South Africa was in fact above the accepted number of people living with malnutrition, especially children. Malnutrition in the cities had increased because people moved from rural areas to cities to seek work opportunities and ended up living in squalor. It was also especially rife in the former Bantustans, farms and in dry areas. The farming areas in the Western Cape were especially bad, due to the historical legacy. Children, as always, were a priority for the DSD and there were also initiatives to re-open soup kitchens in the Western Cape.

The Minister said that the DSD had been trying to motivate all officials to get out of their offices and visit the grassroots. They could not only formulate policies but they should go out and make sure that these were implemented. This was a culture that was being engendered, and the response was positive.

The Minister agreed with the concerns about budgets and achievements, and said the issue of overachievement was one of her pet projects. There were ways to prevent under-targeting.

Mr Modiba answered questions related to finance. He said each province was responsible for its own expenditure, but the national Department had ways of intervening when there were problems, such as through the CFO forum. The 0.26% overspend had come from provincial goods and services budgets.

Mr Modiba assured the Committee that entities that had received negative audit outcomes were required to formulate action plans, which were then submitted to National Treasury and the AG. Their progress was then monitored. Supply chain management was still a problem and so a procurement plan was formulated. It was hoped this would reduce problems. Workshops and information sessions were planned because certain problems were due to ignorance of proper procedures.

Ms Connie Nxumalo, Acting Deputy Director-General: Welfare Services, DSD, asked the Committee for details on the Drop-in Centres that had been closed, so the Department could investigate.

Ms Nxumalo said a demand model had been developed to deal with under-targeting, and this was based on the new census data, to make sure targets were appropriate. Over-achievements did not have major financial implications.

DSD was working closely with the Department of Trade and Industry to resolve the issue of shebeens. A programme of action had been approved. Uniformity of regulation with the different liquor boards in the provinces was sought.

Ms Nxumalo explained that the role of human trafficking service providers was to help implement the provisions of the Prevention and Combating of Human Trafficking Act.

In relation to social workers, she explained that although Gauteng had not received an allocation for the social work scholarship, this province had used its own budget to train social workers. DSD would fund students in Gauteng in the future. Programmes that had not been finalised in the current year would be reprioritised in the following financial years.

Ms Virginia Petersen, Chief Executive Officer, SASSA, said that on the issue of foster care grants, the judge had ruled that families had a duty of support. This resulted in interpretative problems but the issue would be tested again in court, in December. The judge had emphasised that the needs of the child were paramount so the implementation could not be rigid. The Department had engaged the Justice Cluster on the matter. The Department had also prioritised child-headed households.

Ms Petersen asked Members to inform SASSA when necessary of any problems that were reported. In the cases of fraud and corruption, the pension funds of the perpetrators were frozen to recover funds. In the last financial year, recoveries were up to R25 million. It would be hard to recover from beneficiaries, but it was often easier to recover from officials.

SASSA was now trying to make space for doctors at SASSA offices.

Mr Peter Netshipale, Acting Deputy Director-General: Integrated Development, DSD, spoke on the government‘s agenda on sustainable livelihood and the creation of jobs, saying this was actualised through the EPWP. 829 000 job opportunities were achieved through EPWP initiatives. Provinces spent R18 million on projects, including co-operatives. These went towards alleviation of food security issues. DSD profiled communities around the country and set up over 4 000 food gardens.

Mr Netshipale said the issue of unemployed care workers would be investigated. They were selected and trained through NPOs that were funded to accommodate them.

The Acting Director-General summarised by explaining how the Department worked and bemoaned the continuous shortage of social workers, which hampered DSD’s efforts.

The meeting was adjourned.

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