Social Development Response to State of Nation Address 2013, with Deputy Minister present

Social Development

25 February 2013
Chairperson: Ms Y Botha (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Social Development presented to the Committee on its reaction to issues raised during the State of the Nation Address. Key focus areas were the provision of job opportunities to young people and women in order to alleviate poverty. Early Childhood Development programmes were identified as essential tools in developing children. Programmes were needed in order to control the scourge of gender-based violence.

Members raised a number of concerns, touching on drug abuse and the lack of implementation of the National Drug Master Plan. The role of the media in reporting on gender violence was questioned. While there was a shortage of social workers, a number of trained social workers were not being employed. There was a question about the commitment of the Department to fighting corruption.

Members were concerned over the poor maintenance of some of the shelters for victims of gender violence, and the lack of security at some facilities. The Deputy Minister undertook to investigate these cases, while it was recognised that others were very secure. Alcohol regulations needed to be enforced as drug and alcohol abuse was at the root of many crimes, as was poverty resulting in crowded living conditions and other social evils.

Some cases of excellent service delivery were highlighted. The Department was busy with a programme to provide better service delivery at its offices. Members asked how the job seekers' grant would be implemented.

The Committee's report on the 2011/12 National Development Agency Annual Report was adopted.

Meeting report

Presentation by Department of Social Development

Ms Bongi Ntuli, Deputy Minister for Social Development, introduced the presentation, saying it was a response to the State of the Nation Address (SONA) made by President Jacob Zuma on 14 February 2013.

Mr Coceko Pakade, Acting Director-General (DG), Department of Social Development (DSD) said that there were a number of issues to be addressed from a Social Development perspective. Social grants were one of these areas, and the need for a comprehensive social security package to be finalised. Proper co-ordination was needed to consolidate a number of insurance schemes The National Development Plan (NDP) would ensure a minimum level for every household.

Mr Pakade said that households living below the poverty threshold needed to be assisted. The President had outlined the key social challenges faced by the country. There had been a meeting of minds at the National Economic Develop and Labour Council (Nedlac), where the President had agreed on core issues in the labour market. The inequality gap needed to be closed, as witnessed by the events at Marikana. The private sector also needed to look at the socio-economic challenges faced by its labour force.

Mr Pakade said that the President had outlined the need to fight gender abuse, and the abuse of children and the elderly. There were challenges posed by the economic downturn. More jobs had to be created and the growth rate increased. To ensure sustained development, the country needed to grow at a rate of at least 5%.

Mr Pakade said that DSD was developing a response plan. The Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) was busy with work on developing infrastructure. Treasury had made funds available to develop a plan. Some areas had been finalised. A report had been presented on the state of many old age homes, and an estimate made on the cost needed for rehabilitation. The same applied to Early Childhood Development (ECD) facilities. One factor identified was that some offices needed to be prioritised for rehabilitation. The South African Social Services Agency (SASSA) had a project to look into their own offices and pay-points for dispensing social grants. A blueprint for facilities was being developed. Access for clients had to be client-friendly for dignified service delivery. Customer care issues and turnaround times were also under investigation. Mr Pakade added that these initiatives would contribute to job creation.

Mr Pakade said that the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) and community works programme would be used to create job opportunities, especially for young people. There were about 3.3 million young people not engaged in further education or employment. In terms of ECD, an allocation had been made for the new financial year (FY). There was great potential to create more jobs.

Mr Pakade said that DSD would contribute towards creating broader social cohesion. A summit had been held, and DSD was one of a group of departments involved. One of the key issues relating to gender-based violence was the realisation that the country needed a new consciousness, concentrating on the root causes of this violence. A focus was needed on prevention even though protection was also needed. Some useful research studies had been tabled. Relevant departments in the cluster were working on a strategy, which would soon be presented to the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC).

Mr Pakade said that the President had made a statement on education. The DSD was pleased to see the growth in Grade R facilities. Education had been identified as an essential service. There was a need for the country to strengthen ECD. One of the motivations was the belief that a child developed at a young age was an investment into the development of the nation. A lot of money was spent where this was not done to correct flaws in the development of the child. A conference had been held in East London in March 2012. An action plan had been developed. A study had been conducted on the state of ECD in the country. A panel of experts had interrogated this report, and a consolidated report had been presented to Cabinet. A joint strategy would be put in place. This process was under way and would be presented to Cabinet.

Mr Pakade continued that the base of broader plan was to develop a new ECD plan. The state would be able to provide more facilities. The proposal from the NDP was the first two years of ECD prior to the start of Grade R, for children aged four and five, should be made universal and compulsory. Various forums had in fact felt that a four-year period should be compulsory. There had been discussion on government having a clear policy. While there was a dual model of mainly private sector schooling, government needed to be more involved. Local government had a role to play in this area, and this would be addressed in the action plan.

Mr Pakade said that the matter of child support was studied against various models. An effective service delivery support model was based on extensive state support as ECD was in the public interest. The included home and community based models. What was clear was that current interventions would not work. National and provincial governments were doing work in this area, but an agency was needed that would reach into the provinces to coordinate initiatives. It would deal with issues of capacity and curricula. An integrated model would look at the first 1 000 days of life. ECD began when life began. Many studies had been done on the impact of the pregnant mother's lifestyle on the unborn baby. The effects of smoking and alcohol use were well known, but diet was also a consideration. Many pregnant mothers did not attend antenatal classes. Transport was one reason for this, and the matter was being investigated.

Mr Pakade told the Committee that the strategy response was to draw DSD closer to successful societies which made massive investments in education.

Mr Pakade said that the following strategic objective dealt with gender-based violence. At the IMC meeting, two research studies had been presented. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had presented a focus shift onto perpetrators. Interviews had been conducted with many convicted rapists. The attitudes found included a belief that they had done nothing wrong. Some men believed that if they bought drinks for a woman in a shebeen then they had a right to sex with that woman. There was a need to deal with the psyche of young men. The cause for this kind of thinking had to be considered. There was a linkage made between poverty and violence against women.

Mr Pakade added that people coming from an identical background had different attitudes. The focus should not be just on the victims. Awareness campaigns were needed. Young women should be aware of dangerous circumstances. In many cases, perpetrators were themselves the victims of abuse at an early age. There was also a study into the causes of violence and murder between intimate partners. One of the findings was the issue of the effectiveness of laws put in place to control firearms. This had led to a significant reduction in crime rates. However, the case of violence towards close partners, especially women, was not dropping compared to other categories.

Mr Pakade informed Members that the new strategy would ensure the effectiveness of the criminal justice system. There would be a stronger emphasis on prevention. While there was a focus on the violent behaviour of men, there would also be a focus on creating awareness amongst young women. Counselling services and shelters were needed for victims. The 'Everyday Heroes' programme would outline how women could protect themselves. The awareness campaign targeted on young men would be a focus area. The effectiveness of rehabilitation programmes in prison needed to be considered, as many convicted rapists committed the same offence after being released or even while still on bail. There would be a programme on fatherhood, concentrating on the role of men in the family. Men needed to be supportive of their partners and raise the children equally.

Mr Pakade said that there was an area of improving the status of women. Targeted procurement policies were needed for female enterprises. Targets were needed. This matter was on the table and would be taken forward with the relevant Departments. Supply chain management policies had to be in line with the objectives of public entities. More women needed to participate in the economy through co-operatives and small business.

Mr Pakade added that a pilot project would be established to create enterprises for women, young mothers in particular, to manufacture school uniforms. They would be trained in needlework. There was a ready market.

Mr Pakade said that the President had spoken on diseases of lifestyle. Resolutions on substance abuse were being implemented. Drugs such as nyaupe would be declared illegal. In Gauteng the Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) had been vocal in this area. The NPA and other Departments were looking into this issue. Provinces were reviewing their alcohol regulations.

Mr Pakade continued that government was continuing its fight against corruption. DSD was particularly concerned with social grant fraud. Civil servants were now being prevented from doing business with government.

Mr Pakade said that the President had spoken about youth employment incentives. The job seekers grant could be one of the solutions. A two-pronged approach was needed to assist persons between the ages of eighteen and 24. These would be school-leavers and those in some form of tertiary education. They needed to develop their skills with government assistance.

Mr Pakade reported that the social work and internship programmes would continue to be provided. Targets were being exceeded in some cases.

Mr Pakade said that DSD would continue to participate meaningfully in the international arena. During the 2010 World Social Security Forum in Cape Town, a steering committee had been set up with the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). The DG of DSD had been appointed as chairperson. This bloc represented 43% of the global population. These countries faced similar social challenges.

Mr Pakade informed the Committee that a key project identified by Pres Zuma was to get government departments to pay small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMME) within 30 days. All departments would be required to make monthly reports on their payments. Some challenges had been identified, particularly regarding internal management issues. A workshop would be held shortly with Chief Financial Officers of government departments. This would be part of performance agreements of government officials. There would be consequences for non-compliance. In order to advance job creation, government could not hinder the growth of businesses. Punctual payments would boost growth.

Discussion
The Chairperson noted that the presentation was based on a response to SONA. Many questions prepared by the researchers focused on budget issues. The responses of DSD did indicate the areas which would be touched on in the budget process.

Ms P Xaba (ANC) asked where drug abuse was at its worst. She knew of people with disabilities needing assistance.

Ms P Tshwete (ANC) had been part of the conference on ECD. A strong issue arising was the training of teachers. She had not heard about this in the presentation. Rehabilitation was not about social development alone, and other departments also had a role. It would be wise for Members to know about the update on the twenty worst offices in each province. There would be a debate in the National Assembly (NA) on gender violence. The media played a role in shifting the focus onto the perpetrator. In the current case there was a focus on Oscar Pistorius rather than Reeva Steenkamp. Many cases of rape occurred in the rural areas. When black people were the victims, the media were harsher on the victims. There was a different approach between coverage of attacks on white and black people.

Mr M Waters (DA) noted the emphasis on the protecting women and children from rape. Social workers would be needed to identify vulnerable persons, and to do something about that. There had been an extensive costing report when the Children's Act had been introduced. A need was expressed for 60 000 social workers. He had not seen any plan of action to meet this target. DSD talked about a scholarship programme. He knew of 160 graduates from the programme in the Eastern Cape alone who had not been employed. He asked how the goal of protecting women and children from rape could be realised if the workers were not appointed. He asked why there was not a national drug master plan in place for over a year, given the amount of substance abuse in the country. On corruption, he asked for an indication of how serious DSD was taking this matter. He asked if officials remained in office or were suspended once they were arrested and charged. On ECD, he wanted some elaboration on the provincial reach of programmes. He asked if there would be interference in the work of provinces. On the EPWP, a number of responses had been listed. There were no specifics on how the 3 million young people would be employed. Deadlines were needed so that the DSD could be held to account.

The Chairperson asked if the CDA had been appointed yet.

Ms J Ngubeni-Maluleka (ANC) asked if the women's shelters were part of the protection programme. She asked who was responsible for these centres, as many were in a poor state of maintenance. Often perpetrators forced their women to leave the shelters and committed acts of violence there. Security was lacking. On ECD, she asked about the 1000 days of life programme. She asked if women would be given healthy food parcels. Women's co-operatives would be established. She asked when this programme would be rolled out.

The Chairperson knew of victim empowerment programme (VEP) centres which were extremely secure. She asked Ms Ngubeni-Maluleka to provide DSD with details of those centres where security was poor so that the situation could be remedied. There would be a serious problem where men could get away with disregarding court orders.

Deputy Minister Ntuli said that immediate action would be taken where centres were not in the required condition.

Ms F Khumalo (ANC) asked what could be done in terms of gender violence. She wondered how men and boys could be educated. Initiatives were often proposed in the wake of incidents. Nine schools would be established to form the co-operatives. There would be three in three provinces. She asked which districts would benefit. This should be in rural areas. DSD should be working closely with the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) on alcohol trading hours. She understood that dti had been involved in that programme since early 2012. She asked what impact DSD would have to ensure that the programme was finalised. Many taverns stayed open until late. Schoolchildren were often sent to buy liquor for their parents. Closing times should be set. Tavern owners should be made aware on the prohibition of children from entering their premises.

Ms N Gcume (COPE) said that DSD was trying hard to change the lives of people. These same people would often be those standing up to say government was not doing anything. In her area, SASSA had deployed an excellent official. Changes had been made in the municipality. False grant claims had been reduced significantly. However, there were still cases of grants not being given to deserving people. She also knew of many unemployed graduates in the Lusikisi area. She asked if more social workers and community development officers could be employed. Many problems could be identified if workers were on the ground. Good projects needed to be publicised. The National Development Agency (NDA) did good work but this was not public knowledge. Some officials had good intentions but payments were late. There were some co-operatives. The one making school uniforms in Vereeninging was working well. They needed to be encouraged.

Ms E More (DA) wanted to know how the youth empowerment project could be quantified. She asked if DSD would ensure that EPWP opportunities would be created, of if this would be left up to local government. She asked if another state owned entity (SOE) or sector education and training authority (SETA) would be established to conduct training. She asked when listed programmes would be implemented. She asked if there would be any special focus on disabled women, as nothing had been mentioned in the presentation. She asked how the needs of disabled children would be met in the ECD programme. She agreed that the national drug plan should be implemented. She asked when the norms and standards would be drafted. She asked how the job seekers grant would be implemented.

Mr R Bhoola (MF) said that the President's plan of action to deliver social improvement and job opportunities for all should be welcomed. The process should be allowed to be unveiled before Members became too critical. Clarity was needed in some areas, such as the job seeker's grant and scholarships. Some of these might be overlapping. He asked if programmes could be more specific. The issue of drugs had been highlighted, and he welcomed the commitment of the MEC in KZN. He was glad to see some of the programmes coming to light. More could still be done. He did not want to impact on the budget, but fully flighted infrastructure had been created by DSD. Floods had a massive impact. In Umzinto, floods had damaged the infrastructure. He asked what assistance could be rendered. He agreed that nutrition was an issue of paramount importance. He asked what criteria were used to monitor and ensure that the right people received relief. On rape and sexual abuse, he did not entirely agree on the shift to the perpetrator. The statistics showed that one man in 250 000 wanted to speak about rape, but three women were killed by their intimate partners every day. A woman was raped every 17 seconds. He asked how the programmes could be correlated to the available statistics. If a child was fed with knowledge it could feed itself. Departments must be aligned. In the rural areas, programmes should be implemented and targeted at the poorest. He asked what practices had been learned from international programmes.

Ms M Mafolo (ANC) said that the Police were slow to react to cases of abuse.

The Chairperson said it was important to alert the Deputy Minister to places where this happened. Police officers were trained to handle these matters. If there was a failure to act correctly, the situation needed to be remedied.

Ms Tshwete said it was not just DSD that was responsible. She asked how often DSD met with other departments.

Deputy Minister Ntuli agreed that there was a shortage of social workers. DSD was working with NT to sustain training programmes. A budget had been allocated to provinces for training and absorption. It was a pity that provinces were not absorbing trainees. Some of the trainees were not prepared to work in other areas. Accommodation was part of the problem. Language could also be a problem if a trainee had to move. The dti had introduced legislation some time previously to regulate the distance between taverns and shebeens from schools and churches. These regulations were being flouted. Law enforcement agencies should take their duties more seriously. There was discussion with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) on practitioners. DBE should be responsible for the curriculum. Stipends also had to be determined. Uniformity was needed. The root cause of drug and alcohol abuse had to be addressed. The family fibre was broken. Families needed to be rebuilt. Many things were involved. One of the rapists had said that a woman was made for sex. This raised serious questions about that man's upbringing. The pattern of settlement was unsatisfactory. Squatter camps were crowded with families sharing rooms. Children saw things at a tender age which they should not. The situation needed to be corrected. Land was needed for dignified settlements.

Ms Khumalo said that unemployment led to crime such as rape.

Mr Pakade said that there were challenges that could not be shied away from. The President had said this. The country had to do more with less. Saving was critical. There had been progress with resource allocation. While the medium term budget would remain the same, in reality departments would have to absorb certain cuts. DSD was fortunate that after the cost-cutting procedure, additional funding would be provided for ECD and VEP. Two or three Minister-MEC meetings (MinMEC) had been created just to discuss the absorption of graduates into employment. Some funding had been made available to provinces. There had to be negotiations with non-governmental organisations. These organisations had to be strengthened in terms of capacity. A medium to long-term strategy was needed. Cabinet had debated the critical needs. Fiscal constraints had to be borne in mind. There was competition for resources. A human resource strategy would be put in place. The demand had been outlined as described by Mr Waters.

Mr Pakade said that poverty impacted on safety. Poor areas were not lit properly. Living conditions were cramped. The most vulnerable times were while parents were at work. Children were left in the care of neighbours, or unattended. Gauteng was one of the provinces worst affected by nyaupe. This substance needed to be classified as illegal. It was currently regarded as an undesirable substance.

Mr Pakade said that there had been a comprehensive presentation on ECD at a MinMEC the previous week. The need for training was highlighted. The media was an effective channel. They should not sensationalise stories. It was not necessarily about race. Class was also a major consideration. More prominence was given to well-known people. Partnerships were needed with the media houses to get the message out. The focus was not just on prison inmates. The focus was on men in general. Forums for men were being established. Children should be taught of the responsibilities of men from an early age. Some cultural activities had taught children about life values.

Mr Pakade said that there had been tireless work on the drug master plan. It had now gone to Cabinet. DSD did take corruption seriously. Many SASSA officials had been dismissed for colluding with syndicates. Suspension was automatic for those charged with corruption. The reasons for implementing a suspension centred on the gravity of the charges and the possibility of interfering with witnesses. Guidelines for reporting had been distributed.

Mr Pakade said that the need of a specialist agency had been raised in 2012. Most challenges related to access. Service points were needed in rural areas. The design had to be finalised. Social development covered all infrastructure. There was still debate over the first 1 000 day programme. Someone needed to take responsibility. The Department of Health was appropriately positioned. Interventions could be through food parcels or cash subsidies. Viability and sustainability issues had to be addressed before the pilot programme could be rolled out in all areas.

Mr Pakade added that the provinces had their own regulations regarding alcohol. A national framework was needed to which provincial regulations could be aligned. An impact study had bee finalised. Draft norms and standards had been presented to the policy council. The blood alcohol limit for drivers would be reduced from 0.05 to 0.02 and to 0 for professional drivers.

Mr Pakade said that DSD made a number of interventions in peoples' lives. Often the stories were untold. Money was often transferred to provinces and agencies. A lot of money went to LoveLife without the contribution of DSD being recognised. Branding was an issue. Unemployed and semi-skilled youth would benefit from programmes, both financially and in terms of experience.

Mr Pakade said that all service points should be accessible to those with disability. A donation of equipment was expected from Japan. Criteria for the first 1 000 day project would be set to identify beneficiaries. If this proved too costly, then universal interventions would be made. The Justice Cluster departments met regularly on prevention and criminal processing programmes. Information should be analysed and inform policy. Additional forensic social workers would be appointed as part of the interventions. DSD would play a co-ordinating role. Where there were shortcomings they would be addressed. There had been an announcement on the re-establishment of special courts.

Ms Osborne Masilele, Chief Director, DSD, said that the CDA Board had been established and would be inaugurated shortly.

Mr Waters asked what had happened since the CDA Board had been established.

Mr Masilele said that the Board had always existed.

The Chairperson asked for more clarity. If the Board had been established on 2 January they should have met already.

Ms Tshwete said that the Committee had been tasked to conduct interviews. Members had not received any feedback on what had happened in the interim.

Mr Pakade undertook to provide a detailed update.

Mr Waters said that the term of the Board could not be extended randomly. It should be gazetted.

Mr Rogers Hlatswayo, DSD Chief Director: Strategy Planning, Risk and Business Process, said that DSD had developed an infrastructure policy. A strategy had been developed to turn around the 20 worst DSD and SASSA offices in each province. Progress had been made in some areas. It was as much about culture of staff as physical facilities. The entire aspect of infrastructure had to be taken into account. Local labour was used in the building process. Labour intensive practices were followed. DSD worked closely with the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Independent Development Trust (IDT). There was a good relationship. On the EPWP, jobs would come primarily from community-based projects. DSD was intensifying its focus on bottom-up, community based projects. There were 106 shelters across the country, 56 of which focused on victims of human trafficking. There were one-stop centres. There were 43 centres which provided counselling.

Ms Vuyelwa Nhlapo, NDA Chief Executive Officer, said that the co-operative project was a pilot one. If the programme was seen to be working it would be rolled out to other provinces. The pilot scheme covered three provinces. The districts had not been identified, but would be in areas where the poorest schools were located. Branding was a challenge. The NDA put aside amounts for branding as projects were approved. Boards were erected indicating that NDA supported the project. Funding would be expedited. For projects approved in December, funds would not be transferred in December as they were often used correctly. Transfer would be made in the New Year.

The Chairperson questioned media coverage of abuse cases. The tabloid press often showed pictures of bodies of children. This was illegal. DSD should engage the press on a reporting protocol. Children should always be treated with dignity, even in death. Officials should not get irritated with Members when they asked questions.

Committee Report on National Development Agency 2011/12 Annual Report: adoption
The Chairperson felt that the word 'lowlights' was inappropriate in the report. The word 'challenges' was more conventional, even though the content advisor had found 'lowlight' in the dictionary. She read through the observations made by the Committee. She had concerns that the proportion of spending on salaries was still high. There were a number of questionable human resources practices even though the agency's audit report was unqualified. Recommendations had been made.

Ms Tshwete agreed with the recommendation made on turnaround strategies.

Ms Xaba proposed that the report be adopted, seconded by Mr V Magagula (ANC).

The meeting was adjourned.


 

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