The Committee met to consider and adopt its reports on the strategic plans of the Department of Social Development, the South African Social Security Agency and the National Development Agency.
Concerning the report on the Department of Social Development’s strategic plan, Members raised the staffing of the Department as a matter that needed urgent attention from the Minister, in her role as the accounting officer of the Department. The matter had been on-going for the last three years. In addition, they proposed that the Department come up with other strategies to ensure delivery on the targets that had been set, for instance reaching the legislated 66 000 social workers needed for the implementation of the Children’s Act. The report was nevertheless approved with amendments.
With respect to the report on the National Development Agency Strategic Plan, it was highlighted that the matter of decreasing staff could be problematic and lead to the intervention of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). The Department should look at other strategies and maybe redeploy the staff. Concern was expressed that the entity was not getting enough funding. The DA
highlighted that the entity was spending only 35% of its budget on the core functions and projects of the entity, and 65% was spent on salaries and offices. They should report to the Committee on how they intended to spend the additional money before the Committee could approach National Treasury on their behalf. The Committee adopted the report despite the objections raised by the DA.
The Committee also approved its report on the South African Social Security Agency Strategic Plan despite the objections of the DA.
In the absence of the Chairperson of the Committee, Ms Y Botha (ANC), Ms T Tshwete (ANC) was nominated to chair the meeting.
Ms Lindiwe Ntsabo, Committee Secretary, advised the Committee of apologies she received from Ms Y Botha (ANC) who was attending a Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) meeting and from Ms H Makhuba (IFP) who was sick.
Committee Report on Department of Social Development Strategic Plan 2013
The Chairperson asked Members to go through the document and note any errors and concerns.
Mr M Waters (DA) proposed that under “observations” on the second bullet, the report should change the “several acting positions” to “majority of acting positions” in order to emphasise the severity of the matter. The majority of the senior management level had been in acting positions, and some had been in those positions for the last three years.
Ms M Mofolo (ANC) said the Department gave a way forward on the matter and was conducting interviews to fill the vacancies and appointments were to be made in 30 days, therefore there was no need for the amendment.
The Chairperson proposed that the report should note that the Department was conducting interviews.
Ms E More (DA) noted that the paragraph that stated that the Department had several acting positions at senior management level. She suggested said that changing the wording to “majority” would be indicative of the high vacancy rate at a senior management level and emphasise the problem. The section would then address concerns on what the Department was doing to resolve the matter.
Ms N Gcume (COPE) proposed that it should state that the Department was conducting interviews for some of the acting positions, which would address the debate over “several” and “majority”.
The Committee moved that the report should say that “the Department has some acting positions in the senior management level.”
Mr Waters said that the target of 66 000 social workers was not a figure the Department had come up with. It came from research done for the detailed costing of the Children’s Act. It was not an unrealistic target, the 66 000 was what was needed to implement the Act properly. The Member disagreed with the statement that it was unrealistic and did not support it.
Mr V Magagula (ANC) agreed with what Mr Walters was saying. However he said the meeting was to adopt the report not debate. That should have been done before when the report was open for discussion.
Ms More clarified that the 66 000 was not the total number of social workers needed; it was just specific to implementation of the Children’s Act. As mentioned before, it was from extensive research done for the Act.
Ms Gcume said the report should specify that the 66 000 was for the implementation of the Children’s Act. The following line should then address that the Committee felt it was unrealistic due to the low numbers of students graduating from the scholarship programme.
The Committee voted not to change the sentence.
Ms Gcume had a problem with the term “missing children” as they were not missing; they were just not registered in the social assistance programme.
Ms More said the term missing had been used from the strategic meeting. The Committee could not derail from using it. They were not missing they had just not come forth to reregister.
The Committee Researcher said that the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the Department had found that two million children were missing from the system and this had been published in a report by UNICEF. The Minister had indicated that new research had located the two million children. That report had not been published it yet but the Department knew where the children were.
The Chairperson proposed that the information about UNICEF, SASSA, the Department and their research should be noted in the report.
Ms More said that the Department was required by the Sexual Offences Act to report to Parliament on the Victim Empowerment Programme and not the Child Justice Act as stated.
Mr Waters said that the Older Persons budget was reduced by one third, and did not believe that only affected non-core functions such as advertising, venues, substance and travel.
Ms Ngubeni-Maluleka said that the report could not say the Act should be reviewed because of the 66 000 social workers needed, there was a remedy to the matter already to improve the number of students that were coming out of the programme.
Mr Waters suggested that the report state that the Department or Minister should review the strategy to achieve the 66 000, it was the strategy that was not working.
Ms More said the 66 000 could not be reviewed because it was an important number that came from expensive research in relation to the implementation of the Act. There needed to be a reviewed strategy to reach the target.
Mr Waters suggested that the report should call on the Minister to fill the vacancies in the senior management posts.
Ms Mofolo reminded the Committee that the Department had said they were going to fill the posts within 30 days; the prerogative of the Minister was to only appoint the Director-General (DG) and not the Deputy Director-Generals (DDG).
Ms Gcume said that the Minister was accountable for the Department; the matter had been going on for more than three years. For emphasis on the urgency of the matter the Minister should be called on.
Ms More said that the Minister was the accounting officer of the Department; it was her prerogative to ensure that the Department was fully fledged by staffing the senior management posts.
The Chairperson saw nothing wrong with calling on the Minister to ensure the vacancies were filled due the severity of the matter.
Ms Khumalo said that everyone was in agreement that the issue had been on the table for quite some time. There was a 30 day timeframe given to the Committee, however no one knew when the 30 days were running out. In order to highlight the seriousness of the issue, there should be emphasis in the report that the overall accounting officer, the Minister, should ensure that the vacancies were filled.
Ms Khumalo proposed adoption of the report with amendments. Ms Gcume seconded.
The Committee adopted the report as amended.
Committee Report on National Development Agency Strategic Plan 2013
The Chairperson went through the report page by page and asked Members to note their concerns and corrections.
Ms Mofolo said the matter of decreasing staff could be problematic and lead to the intervention of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). The Department should look at other strategies and maybe redeploy the staff.
The Chairperson said it was a concern that the NDA was not getting enough funding. It was the Committee’s responsibility to ensure that the NDA was properly funded.
Mr Waters was concerned that the NDA was spending only 35% of its budget on the core functions and projects of the entity, and 65% was spent on salaries and offices. They should report to the Committee on how they intended to spend the additional money before the Committee could approach National Treasury on their behalf.
The Chairperson said that how they spent their budget was a separate issue. The matter at hand was to get more money for the NDA as it had indicated in its presentation to the Committee that it needed more funds.
Ms Gcume said a serious concern was raised about the budget of the entity. No entity should spend a large percent on salaries and much less on their core business. However, the report did state that the entity should review how they were budgeting.
Ms Mofolo said that the Committee should approach National Treasury for additional funds for the NDA, and then the Committee would monitor how that money was spent.
Mr Waters said the turnaround strategy was not enforced yet. The budgeting trend historically and going forward was the same, the new budget showed an increase in expenditure on salaries. Before the Committee could approach Treasury, the NDA needed to show where the money was going to be spent by presenting a revised budget showing that they were going to change the trend.
The Chairperson said the role of the Committee was to monitor how that money was spent.
Ms Gcume said that according to their strategic plan, they did need more funding to implement their programmes.
The Chairperson said it would be noted that Mr Waters objected to additional funds being raised for the NDA.
The DA objected to the adoption of the report.
Ms Mofolo moved to the adoption of the report with amendments, Ms Khumalo seconded the motion.
The Committee adopted the report as amended.
Committee Report on South African Social Security Agency Strategic Plan 2013
The Chairperson read through report page by page and asked Members to look for errors and note any other issues they had.
Ms More proposed that under the recommendation of the Committee the issue of safety and security at pay points should be added to the report as an urgent matter.
Mr Magagula proposed the adoption of the report; Mr R Bhoola (MF) seconded the proposal.
Mr Waters asked if there would be an opportunity to raise their objections in Parliament.
The Committee Secretary said Members would have an opportunity to do so on 8 May 2013.
Mr Bhoola said Mr Waters had made amendments to the report but then objected to the report. Did that not affect the adoption of the report?
Mr Magagula said one could not make amendments and not support the whole report.
The Committee Secretary said that the minutes of the meeting would reflect the objections of the DA. The Members of the Committee accepted some of the amendments made by the DA. The report was a report of the Committee and therefore represented the majority voice of the Committee.
The Committee adopted the report as amended.
Adoption of Minutes
Committee Minutes dated 12 March 2013
The Chairperson confirmed with Members that the resolutions were a true reflection of the discussions of the meeting.
Mr Magagula moved for the adoption of the minutes, Ms Khumalo seconded.
The minutes were adopted with no amendments.
Committee Minutes dated 19 March 2013
The Chairperson read through the minutes asked for corrections from the Committee.
Ms More made a correction on what seemed to be an incomplete sentence.
Mr Magagula proposed the adoption of the minutes and Ms Ngubeni Maluleka seconded the proposal.
The minutes were adopted with amendments.
The meeting was adjourned.
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