Deputy Minister on Social Development 2014 Annual Performance Plan; Committee Report on DSD 2014 Budget

Social Development

08 July 2014
Chairperson: Ms R Capa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Summary
The Deputy Minister of Social Development said the DSD was gearing up for its re-alignment to accommodate its new functions in terms of the people with disabilities and children which are now with DSD. She mentioned the budget amounts for 2014/15 and 2015/16.

Before presenting the Annual Performance Plan, the Director General stated that the Department is being affected by the downward financial situation which has been spreading across the whole world, to such an extent that there is growing concern about the deficit in the Growth Domestic Product. National Treasury is cutting all budgets accordingly and DSD has to fit its programmes into a smaller envelope.

Discussion focused on human resources expenditure; DSD’s skills audit, number of people with disabilities employed, the Department’ vacancy rate, concern about relying social media and how does the Department intend getting its message to the rural masses, amalgamation of the new functions of the people with disabilities and children programmes into the Department, risk management, bilateral agreements with international bodies, effective stakeholder collaboration, gender representivity in the Department. Also asked was DSD accountability over the transfer of R120 billion to SASSA; the investigation into the bypassing of normal procedures in awarding SASSA’s R10 million contract for bodyguards; and the financial implications of the Constitutional Court ruling setting aside the SASSA contract with Cash Paymaster Services. The Department was requested to report back on the Public Protector’s investigation on SASSA’s purported involvement in a tender of R10 million for bodyguards. As the matter was currently sub judice, the Deputy Minister said she was not in a position to comment, but she undertook to take members into the Department’s confidence once the investigation had been finalised.

The Committee Report on the DSD 2014 Budget, Strategic & Annual Performance Plans was adopted. Topics touched on during deliberations of this report were LoveLife’s large budget, auditing substance abuse rehabilitation centres – both government centres and those privately run, the bursary programme for training social workers who are subsequently not employed. The Chairperson commented that the Department is committing itself to a new vision in line with the National Development Plan and this might require new skills that the Department did not have traditionally.  

Minutes
The Chairperson welcomed the Deputy Minister, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, and Department of Social Development (DSD) delegation. The Deputy Minister has informed her that the proclamation to include children and people with disabilities is a priority and the Committee would like to know how the Department is going to deal with this new function, especially in terms of human resources.

Meeting report

Annual Performance Plans 2014/15
The Deputy Minister asked the Director General, Mr Ceceko Pakade, to present Programme 1: Administration which provided support to DSD’s core programmes.

Mr Ceceko Pakade, DSD Director General, explained how the budget would be used in 2014/15. The presentation comprised the following elements: Purpose and Background, Strategic Overview, Annual Performance Plans 2014/15, Programme Performance and expenditure trends.

Programme 1 Administration - comprises the administration of Intergovernmental Relations and Executive Support; International Relations; Strategy Development and Business; Performance Monitoring; Entity Oversight
Legal Services; Communication; Internal Audit; Human Capital Management; Finance; Information Management and Technology and Population Policy Promotion (see document for details).

Discussion
Ms H Malgas (ANC) wanted to know the percentage that is to be spent on Human Resources.

Ms E Wilson (DA) sought clarity about a skills audit mentioned in the presentation; which skills had been identified as absent in the Department. The number of people with disabilities that are employed within the Department is not clear. As far as the vacancy rate is concerned, when will the vacancies be filled?

She questioned the aim to reach 55 000 people via social media. She felt those who have access to social media and the website are not the people who are meant to receive the Department’s services. What are the plans being made with possible partners to achieve this and how does the Department intend getting its message to the rural masses?

A committee member asked what the compensation mentioned on pages 24 and 25 meant: a percentage to be compensated to whom?

Ms Malgas asked how the vacancy rate will be affected by the amalgamation of the new functions of people with disabilities and children into the Department. Importantly, how is the Department going to reach all these vulnerable groups?

Ms Wilson wanted clarification on what was regarded as risk-based projects, as mentioned on page 24 on the Internal Audit.

Ms D Kopane (DA) asked for clarity on the signing of four bilateral agreements with international bodies as indicated on page 15. She appreciates this initiative but wanted to know what these agreements were about.

On stakeholder management, Ms Kopane wanted to know who the development partners and stakeholders are who are going to be supported and the criteria that were used to identify them. How will the Department ensure that there will be effective stakeholder collaboration?

A committee member said she was disturbed by the statement that the Department is currently focusing on recruiting more males. She wanted to know why when 52% of the population of this country is women. She thinks it is very progressive that this Department is currently dominated by women.

The Director General replied about the international agreements. In addition to the multilateral agreements the Department has in place through the UN, there has been – especially during the past two years – a particular focus on the African continent, particularly countries that are strategic for South Africa. Every time the President has a bi-national commission there are key departments which are expected to engage on a bilateral level, including DSD. For instance, the Department has an agreement with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Department spent time there and played a crucial role during the post-war situation in re-establishing the country’s institutions. The Department also has an agreement with the Namibian government. There are former South Africans in the Walvis Bay area who are still getting services from DSD and it is supporting some welfare organisations there in terms of an agreement signed in 1994. DSD is working with Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in reviewing this agreement, but the numbers are dwindling due to the advanced age of the people in question. The Department also has bilateral agreements with countries like Lesotho and there are more countries that are showing interest. The Department will provide a full list.

The Department also engages, especially on social security matters, with international organisations such as the Institute for Social Security Associations (ISSA). At that level they have also struck up relations with BRICS countries that are members of ISSA. There is a lot of work to be done, but the ISSA steering committee is involved in this. China has given them good practice models for the expansion of services to rural sectors. DSD will provide detailed written information.

The Chairperson acknowledged the worth of this information, but added that the Committee needed more information on the principle that these relationships with the countries mentioned is based on and relevant statistics. But she stressed the importance of DSD’s obligations in terms of the Constitution towards those who come from countries where there is instability and achieve refugee status in South Africa. She also mentioned the flows of refugees and migrants looking for employment opportunities – people who come for education or health care and the need for management of these matters.

The DG agreed and said the guidelines provided by the Chair were quite clear.

On the subject of employment equity and the Member’s objection against the intended recruitment of more males, the DG explained that the reasoning had been the requirement of meeting equity targets. But he noted and acknowledged that it did not “augur well”.

Discussion ensued on the matter, some members suggesting that this section be removed, but finally it was agreed that employment equity in general should prevail.

A committee member said the Department – as well as the Portfolio Committee – has historically been dominated by women and that this was not necessarily a good thing.

Mr S Mabilo (ANC) was in favour of recruiting more male members. He called for balance – “are we meeting the targets?” – and said the Department should guard against gender stereotyping in light of the country’s gender equity policies.

The Chairperson remarked with appreciation on the robust nature of the debate. The member who raised the objection said that although she still had reservations, the DG and the Chairperson had addressed the matter satisfactorily.

The DG replied on the employment target for people with disabilities within DSD. He said the Department strives to be exemplary and exceed the 2% target. He referred to the State of the Nation Address where the priority of the empowerment of people with disabilities had been highlighted. The issue of whether the budget has been appropriately configured to make provision for administration vis-à-vis costs to cover core programmes was a challenge, since DSD needed more people to perform certain functions. Due to its new mandate, the Department has been knocking on the door of Treasury and as a labour-intensive Department they have been striving to strike a balance between the integration and monitoring of services amongst provinces, non-profit organisations and its agencies. Budget for goods and services of the Department had been gradually eroded and the funds were moving to personnel. The Department monitors every cent of the transfer of R120 billion that has been transferred to SASSA. If anything goes wrong in the books of SASSA, it will become a qualification in the books of DSD. The same applies to the monies transferred to NGOs such as LoveLife and Food for All. The Department has been fighting with Treasury for an increased human resources budget when it is given new programmes. What happens is that Treasury might give funding for, say, substance abuse and not allocate a portion for support. However, a new budget is being reviewed.

The DG expressed the hope that the above will satisfactorily explain the high percentage of the budget allocated for human resources.

The Chairperson expressed appreciation for the explanations provided by the DG. In consideration of the budget she asked whether they were calling for more funds or for more effective functioning. She raised the question, before consideration of the budget, that an arrangement be built into transfer of funds to enable the Department in charge to monitor the use of the money effectively. If it is not included, she wanted the DG to inform them. This issue needed to be considered before an increase in the budget could be recommended, or alternatively whether better use could be made of the allocated amounts.

The DG replied that the Chair was touching on a sore point. Treasury earmarks an amount for a transfer and the Department has been asking Treasury to give DSD an amount to administer the use thereof. Further, if there is not in-house capacity, the costs for consulting services shoot up.

On the question of communication, the DG replied that an agreement had been reached with community radio stations and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to promote the Early Childhood Development (ECD) and Child Protection Week campaigns. The Department also has an agreement with the GCIS (Government Communication and Information System). Furthermore, among other methods, the Department uses community outreach programmes, for example, when the Minister is hosting events, through direct interaction with the local communities. The Department also deploys national and provincial staff at ward level, as well as DSD agencies, to interact with traditional leaders, councillors, women’s organisations and youth organisations. All of these interactions speak to a broader interaction and is part of information gathering that will be analysed to assist in formulating a community development strategy that “we will sell to Cabinet”.

As far as social media and IT is concerned, it might seem that it only applies to the élite, but it is part of the broader communication strategy.

In reply to the question about risk-based projects, the DG replied that every year key risk assessments were made and discussed during deliberations with the Internal Auditors. On the basis of this, a three-year roll-out plan is produced. The DG called on the relevant official to explain the process. The official explained how stakeholder programmes are looked at, for instance to combat gender-based violence. She mentioned the partnership with Vodacom which assists the Department with service delivery, that is, by way of SMSs and call centres. The Department is also engaging with the African Bank which is looking into ways in which they can assist DSD to benefit the communities.

The DSD Human Resources manager replied on the target vacancy rate and the existing rate. They are comfortable that they will reach that target, notwithstanding the challenges they face in terms of applicant suitability. The Department does not want to fill posts for the sake of filling posts. The target would be reached within six months because they did not want to change numbers. Filling vacancies within six months is a regulatory prescript and they wanted to comply in terms of numbers as well as quality.

With regard to the skills audit by KPMG in 2009, the gaps that were picked up were mainly in OD (Organisational Development) and PDP (Personal Development Plan). DSD uses the data from the performance development plans to compare them with the competencies identified to deal with these gaps.

The Chairperson moved on to the recommendations of the Portfolio Committee’s report on the DSD budget. She commented that the Department is committing itself to a new vision in line with the NDP, the SONA and in line with the policies of the Minister. However, this might require new skills that the Department did not have traditionally. To change the vision to social development more than a “welfarist” approach the Department might need change management or a skills audit so that it can be established whether the skills are in line with the Department’s goals. The personnel who are being integrated into DSD should be made to feel part of the Department.

Before the Deputy Minister and the departmental delegation took their leave, the Chairperson gave Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) the opportunity to ask a question emanating from the transfer of funds to SASSA and their accountability for every cent of the R120 billion. She referred to media reports of SASSA spending R10 million on bodyguards and bypassing normal procedures by channeling the money into a small unknown company. Was this being investigated?  Will there be any financial implications regarding the Constitutional Court ruling which set aside the SASSA contract made with Cash Paymaster Services?

The Chairperson cautioned against creating an environment or an understanding that the Committee is dealing with what is a rumour from a newspaper report in a formal Portfolio Committee. She said the Department would deal with the issue in their own way. She did not feel comfortable chairing a discussion of a matter that was still sub judice.

Ms S Tsoleli (ANC) questioned whether the Committee should refer back to its 2 July meeting when SASSA gave a presentation and the matter of the tender was discussed. It was her understanding that the Committee had taken a resolution that a comprehensive report be given to the Committee on the tender, as well as on the way forward.

Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) agreed that this matter be discussed at the Committee meeting.

The Chairperson reiterated that she had made a recommendation to the effect that the Department was mature enough in what to respond and what not to respond to.

The Deputy Minister, Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu,  rounded off the delegation’s part in the meeting by replying about bilateral and multilateral agreements. These are informed by visits of heads of state to the country. When the President hosts heads of states, commissions are established and agreements signed as those countries also have social development matters. She mentioned the BRICS countries and the United Nations. There was the upcoming conference on disabilities, the DSD reporting on the rights of children and people with disabilities in Geneva, as well as the rights of people with albinism which has been added. The Department is also responsible for population register reporting at the UN. The Department is responsible for reporting on the Drug Master Plan. Under the African Union, the Department has to report on the African Charter on the Welfare of the Retired.

The Chairperson requested a response to Ms van der Merwe’s question about the tender.

The Deputy Minister replied that the Department would not respond to a matter which was under investigation by the Public Protector. Once the investigation had been finalised the members would be taken into the Department’s confidence.

On the second part of Ms van der Merwe’s question about awarding tenders to “a small company”, she responded that this country is not about awarding tenders only to big companies that are well known. She added that small companies are linked to the spirit of entrepreneurship.

The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister and the Department for the presentation asked her to convey the Committee’s appreciation to Minister Bathabile Dlamini. She complimented them on the content of the presentation on the Annual Performance Plan; they did not hide anything and were able to answer the questions raised. The Committee members were urged to go to their various constituencies which were an extension of Parliament and asked them to bring relevant information to the Committee.

Committee Report on the DSD 2014/15 Budget, Strategic & Annual Performance Plans
The Chairperson said the Committee needed to consolidate the information in today’s presentation document with that which is provided in the Committee Report. The Committee Secretary read out the report which dealt with the following:
▪ DSD vision, mandate, strategic goals
▪ Performance and expenditure trends of Department programmes:
- Programme 1: Administration (International Relations; Stakeholder Management; Strategy Development and Business; Communications; Human Capital Management; Performance Monitoring).
- Programme 2: Social Assistance
- Programme 3: Social Security Policy and Administration (Policy Development; Appeals Adjudication; Inspectorate)
- Programme 4: Welfare Services Policy Development and Implementation Support (Service Standards;
Care and Service to Older Persons; Services to People with disabilities, Children, Families; Social Crime Prevention and Victim Empowerment; Substance abuse; Youth; HIV/Aids)
- Programme 5: Social Policy and Integrated Service Delivery (Special Projects and Innovation; Registration and Monitoring of Non-profit Organisations; Community Development)
▪ Financial implications
▪ Budget allocation per programme
▪ Observations and concerns
▪ Recommendations
▪ Resolution
▪ Annual Performance Plan and Budget Vote of Programme 3 and 4 of the previous Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities.

Discussion
The Chairperson called for questions of clarity so that the Committee could decide on recommendations. The members went through the report page by page.

On page 3 (4.1.6: Human Capital Management) Ms Kopane referred to the 10% reduction in vacancy rate in 2014/15. The Chairperson responded that the Department had explained that point.

Ms Kopane said the Department focused only on the vacancy rate but were silent on its internal strategy.

Ms Tsoleli referred to stakeholder management– “the establishment of eight stakeholders that support the Department’s initiatives and projects” – and asked for this issue to be unpacked.

The Chairperson responded that this was a reference to the initiation of a process. The Committee could ask for research on the details about the Department’s strategy regarding stakeholders.

On Observations and Concerns, the Chairperson referred to the concern about LoveLife’s large budget. She said she did not feel comfortable in singling out a particular organisation about the work they are or are not doing, as if the Committee were on a witch-hunt. However, organisations needed to know that the Committee is following their work. When they report to the National Assembly, Members can ask questions. DSD needed to provide in writing a profile of all the NGOs they fund. The Department had stated that they were already doing this. A member requested the report when it becomes available.

Ms B Abrahams (ANC) mentioned that LoveLife was not visible in the rural areas and the Chair suggested that the organisation be called upon to answer this question during a possible visit in the future. A discussion on this subject followed and the members agreed that a review was necessary. Ms Kopane mentioned that more information would obviate overlapping or duplication of funding. This would assist the design of the funding model.

Ms Kopane said it was a concern for her that many of the objectives mentioned, such as on child support and old age grants, were identified as far back as 2009. It seemed to her as if there was a shifting of the same objectives every year.

Ms Kopane raised the pressing issue of substance abuse. There was not any audit on the number of rehabilitation centres – both government centres and those privately run. The Committee did not know the norms and standards that applied to people who run these centres. She mentioned the exorbitant prices charged by private centres, the prison-like conditions that have been seen in some institutions, as well as rotten food, no trained medical staff in charge of checking of drugs and invariably those being treated generally appearing to be in a sedated state. Parents were desperate. She suggested that there should be a focus on monitoring and the establishment of additional rehabilitation centres as increasing numbers of people are being affected. In Noupoort members of the community are scared to talk to Committee members about the rehabilitation centre which is run there.

Ms Malgas also spoke about the Noupoort rehabilitation centre and the court case against the NGO which governs its operations which has featured in the media. She suggested that the Committee visit that centre.

Ms Kopane raised the scholarship programme for training social workers. After the conclusion of their studies they are often not employed. This concern is often raised.

The Chair said this was a very important matter and suggested that before making a recommendation, the Committee place on record that the relevant circumstances be interrogated.

Ms Kopane said she had raised the matter due to a survey which indicated that 60 000 social workers were needed to implement the Children’s Act alone, but she supported the Chair.

The Chairperson stressed that the Committee must do their work by furthering its mandate of monitoring compliance and accountability.

Ms van der Merwe referred to SONA and said the Committee needed to be part of that process. There should be a reminder for the policy framework to be brought to the Committee.

The Chair put the matter in the hands of those qualified - “the fundis” - in the oversight committee. She herself would be happy to be part of a fact-finding group to address and bring about radical change in the spread of substance abuse. In responding to radical change which was stressed in the SONA, she suggested the recommendation that members find out how much work had been done before and how much needed to be done going forward. They could then compile a Portfolio Committee report and engage the Minister about the requisite actions, thereby promoting good mental health.

The Committee adopted the Committee Report and its recommendations on the DSD Budget.

The Committee went through the Committee Report on the DSD entities’ (National Development Agency and SASSA) Annual Performance Plan and Budget. There was discussion on whether the NDA report had a separate budget vote, but it was noted that it formed part of the DSD Budget Vote 19  as outlined in the Committee Report on the Department Budget Vote 19 which had been adopted. The report on the department entities was adopted.

The Chairperson thanked the members for their input and their robust debate and adjourned the meeting.

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