Department of Social Development 4th quarter 2013 performance briefing, in presence of Minister

Social Development

26 August 2014
Chairperson: Ms R Capa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Social Development (DSD), in the presence of the Minister of Social Development,  briefed the Committee on its 4th quarter 2013/14 performance. The purpose of the presentation was to provide a summary and analysis of performance trends and challenges encountered with respect to the implementation of some of the Ministerial priorities that had been reflected in the Annual Performance Plan. The Department had identified and committed itself to addressing key priorities, including expanding the Child and Youth Care Services (Isibindi programme), increasing access to Early Childhood Development (ECD), combating Substance Abuse and Gender-Based Violence, increasing household food and nutrition security (Food for All), and the protection and promotion of the rights of older persons and people with disabilities. DSD pointed out that it worked with a number of other institutions, inside and outside government, and that areas of collaboration included important projects around children, HIV & AIDS, older persons, victim empowerment, youth and social security. Given the collaborative and inter-dependent nature of some of its work, it could only meet some targets if other institutions delivered fully on their commitments also. Overall, by the end of this quarter, the DSD had managed to achieve 69% of its targets, with 22% still in progress and only 9% cited as non achieved, and in respect of these the reasons were outlined. The DSD had spent 98.80% of its total allocation. Over R100 billion was allocated to social grants, and these included Old Age Grant, War Veterans Grant, Disability Grant, Foster Care Grant, Care Dependency Grant, Child Support Grant, Grant-in-Aid and the Social Relief Grant. Some of the challenges experienced by the DSD included insufficient budget allocations to cover its wide scope of responsibilities, increasing demand for services despite the declining resources, and the shortage of social workers which resulted in the inability of the DSD to provide statutory services as required by specific legislation.

Members commended the DSD on its presentation and on the over-achievement of some targets, but also pointed out that more work and planning was needed to ensure that all targets were met. They enquired about the reasons for specific unmet targets, how the DSD would address the problems that resulted in the shortfall, and several were worried what would be needed and done when the DSD took over the Programmes 3 and 4 of the former Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities. Members asked how DSD was addressing the shortage of social workers, but also raised questions and cited instances of social workers qualifying through the DSD, but not being able to find employment, and thus asked whether the DSD would take on those people it had helped to train, and whether it actively helped them to find work. It was noted, in the responses, that provinces did receive money through the equitable share to increase the numbers of social workers, but this money was not ringfenced, and this was something that the DSD was discussing with National Treasury. Members also wanted to know about the content of the DSD’s capacity building exercises on substance abuse, and whether the efforts were  focused on prevention, treatment or rehabilitation. They wanted more details on children adopted, and placed into foster care, the areas covered by public participation talks, how they were advertised and whether DSD reached the rural areas. Questions were also asked about the re-registration process and the remedies to deal with the decreasing social assistance grants. Members agreed that a workshop with the DSD would be arranged, at which a number of the issues would be more fully explored.
 

Meeting report

Department of Social Development (DSD) presentation on 4th quarter 2013/14 performance
Ms Bathobile Dlamini, Minister of Social Development, thanked the Chairperson for the invitation, and relayed an apology from Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, Deputy Minister, who was unable to attend the meeting.

Mr Vusi Madonsela, Director-General, Department of Social Development, explained that the structure of the presentation on the 4th quarter 2013/14 spending would include Programme 2 (Transfer Payments for Social Assistance), and for that reason the Head of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) had also been invited to attend the briefing. He noted that in this quarter, the performance of the DSD showed improvements.

Part A: Programme Performance
Mr Thobani Buthelezi, Chief Director: Monitoring and Evaluation, Department of Social Development, explained that the purpose of the presentation was to provide a summary and analysis of performance trends and challenges encountered with respect to the implementation of some of the Ministerial priorities as reflected in the Department of Social Development (DSD) Annual performance Plan (APP) for the 2013-2014 financial year.

The Department had identified and committed itself to addressing the following key priorities: 
•Expand Child and Youth Care Services (Isibindi programme)
•Increase access to Early Childhood Development (ECD)
•Combat Substance Abuse and Gender-Based Violence
•Increase household food & nutrition security (Food for all)
•The protection and promotion of the rights of older persons and people with disabilities

With regard to the performance per programme he explained that the social development sector delivered its services in an environment marked by high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality. The DSD therefore worked with other institutions within and outside government in the execution of its mandate, with critical partners including the Departments of Basic Education, Labour, Justice and Constitutional Development, Health and Rural Development and Land Reform. Areas of collaboration included important projects on issues affecting children, HIV & AIDS, older persons, victim empowerment, youth and social security. Given the collaborative and interdependent nature of some of the Department’s work, it would be able to meet some targets only if other departments delivered fully on their commitments as well.

He outlined some of the DSD’s key achievements for the period covering January to March 2014. It had rolled out over 2 million older persons’ grants, and over 11 million in child support grants. However some grants had lapsed due to the re-registration project. Over 1 million disability grants were rolled out, as well as 120 632 care dependency grants and over 500 000 foster care grants. The DSD also had a target to develop a business case for an Inspectorate for Social Security, and this framework had been completed and submitted to the Minister for consideration. The DSD had a target to audit 7 513 Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres, and this target was exceeded, with 12 987 audited. DSD had a target to register 53 adoptions, and was able to register 400 adoptions; 369 nationally and 31 inter-country. Eight of the nine provinces were monitored in respect of foster care. The DSD was also able to screen 8 909 employees, which exceeded the target of screening 5 000.

DSD had a responsibility to reduce incidences of substance abuse in communities. The target was to support and monitor the implementation of the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP) 2013-2017. Capacity building with the Department of Transport was under way. The DSD also had a responsibility to reduce incidents of social crime, particularly Gender Based Violence. A Victim Empowerment Monitoring and Evaluation System had been developed and implemented in three provinces; Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga. Training had also been conducted. With regard to people with disabilities, Draft Norms and Standards on residential facilities had been finalised. In regard to youth, the DSD had set an annual target to reach 3 000 youths for participation in youth development programmes dialogue, but exceeded the target, with 3661 participants were taking part. In regard to HIV/AIDS the DSD had a responsibility to decrease risky sexual behavior; with a target to reach 500 000 youth through social and behavior change programmes, but the DSD was only able to reach 56 141 youths.

Mr Buthelezi concluded that overall, the DSD was able to achieve 69% of its targets, with 22% still in progress and only 9% noted as non achieved. Different reasons, such as cancellation of meetings, delays in responses by stakeholders, non-availability of panel member for shortlisting and interviews, budget constraints, and lapsing of grants due to the re-registration project, amongst others, were mentioned as the reason why certain targets were not met.

Expenditure
Mr Tsakeriwa Chauke, Acting Chief Financial Officer, DSD, explained that his part of the presentation would be looking at a summary of the first, second, third and fourth quarter’s expenditure (see attached presentation for all figures).

He set out the five programmes: Programme 1:  Administration; Programme 2: Social Assistance; Programme 3: Social Security Policy and Administration; Programme 4: Welfare Services Policy Development and Implementation Support; and Programme 5: Social Policy and Integrated Service Delivery.

The DSD had spent 98.80% of its total allocation. Over R100 billion was allocated to social grants, which included the Old Age Grant, War Veterans Grant, Disability Grant, Foster Care Grant, Care Dependency Grant, Child Support Grant, Grant-in-Aid and the Social Relief Grant.  He explained that some of the challenges experienced by the DSD included insufficient budget allocations to cover the wide scope of responsibilities, increasing demand for services seen against declining resources, and the shortage of social workers, which resulted in the inability of the DSD to provide statutory services as required by specific legislation.

Discussion
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) thanked the DSD for the presentation. She noted that the DSD had set itself a target to reach 130 000 youth for the HIV/AIDS programme, but only reached 56 141, and she enquired the reason for this under achievement. She asked whether the fact sheet on gender based violence which the DSD had compiled could be made available to the Committee.

Ms van der Merwe highlighted that insufficient budget allocations were highlighted as one of the challenges to implementation of projects, and noted that with the DSD being expected to absorb the Programmes 3 and 4 from the former Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, these budget constraints would be likely to worsen. For this reason, she asked if the DSD had consulted National Treasury on the matter, and, if so, what the feedback had been.

Ms van der Merwe noted the concerns about the shortage of social workers, but said that there were many disgruntled former students who had studied through the DSD’s scholarship programme, but were now unable to find work, and wanted to know why this was so and why they were not being assisted. Whilst she  congratulated the DSD for the many targets which were overachieved, she said that overall, there needed to be better planning and targeting. Finally, she wanted to know when the amendments to the Children’s Act would come to the Committee.

Ms H Maxon (EFF) asked whether the DSD could not arrange a workshop with the Committee, because most Members were new to Parliament and the presentation by the DSD did not make much sense.

The Chairperson responded that a workshop for the Members was already part of the Committee’s programme for the term. This was a recommendation from the last Committee, and the DSD was very keen on the workshop.

Ms Maxon thanked the Chairperson for the input, and explained that she was not trying to undermine the work of the Committee but to emphasise the importance of Members getting clarity on many important issues, primarily the Old Age Grant, on which there were many outstanding complaints.

The Chairperson said Members who had received complaints could write a letter to the Chairperson, who would forward the complaints to the Minister directly. She agreed that there seemed to be a crisis situation around the grants and such complaints needed to be dealt with urgently.

Ms K De Kock (DA) thanked the DSD for the presentation. DSD indicated that it had monitored the implementation of the Substance Abuse Programme by the nine national departments, but that some of the departments have failed to provide the necessary information. She asked what exactly the DSD’s capacity building had entailed, and whether it was focused on prevention, treatment or rehabilitation. She agreed that DSD had come a long way in improving systems for monitoring and evaluation, but asked that a copy of the Multi Year Evaluation Strategy for the DSD be made available to Members, together with a copy of the Victim Empowerment System. She asked about the DSD’s community based monitoring and evaluation systems which assessed over 1 200 Community Based Organizations, and asked what this system actually entailed.

Ms B Abrahams (ANC) expressed gratitude for the Minister’s presence in the meeting. She asked about the statistics for national and international adoptions, and asked whether the figure of 400 children related to those placed at foster homes. She asked about how the programme on substance abuse was implemented and monitored. She asked about the Skills Development Programme for youth, noting that the targets had been exceeded in Gauteng, but wanted to know the position in other provinces also, what happened to the youth after the completion of the programme, and whether they would be absorbed into the DSD after acquiring skills. She also asked if employment within DSD was made available to graduates who were funded by the DSD Graduate Programme.

The Chairperson said the issue of social workers was dealt with in detail in past months, and there was a plan to ensure that the DSD would have one social worker per ward. In addition, she said it was important that the country produce leaders from empowerment initiatives, given that the DSD was committed to supporting individuals through capacity building and job creation programmes. The Committee had requested that the DSD brief the Committee on all its programmes, so that Members could engage with these thoroughly, and the Committee’s oversight programme would be guided by the Strategic Plan, to ensure that the oversight covered the DSD’s commitments.

Ms van der Merwe informed Members and the DSD that there were grievances expressed on social networks from the graduates who were struggling to get employment, although they had been trained by DSD. These complaints needed to be responded to.

The Chairperson suggested that Ms van der Merwe take the initiative and respond to that letter, informing the graduates about the work that the Committee and the DSD were doing in that regard. Members were allowed to engage with the public via social networks.

Ms E Wilson (DA) thanked the DSD for the presentation, but noted that the information presented was very detailed, but unfortunately, because Members had not received the presentations on time, it was impossible for Members to engage with this information adequately. She asked that DSD provide some clarity on the Mpondo talks and what they hoped to achieve. She wanted more information on the DSD’s communication strategy, particularly the areas in which the public participation talks took place and where the notices for these talks were advertised.

Mr S Mabilo (ANC) said DSD was on course to building a caring society. He felt that all targets needed to be highlighted, including those which had not been achieved, especially around the pre-determined programmes. He said Members should not fall into the habit of criticizing the DSD all the time because the DSD was doing good work. He asked for more details on the vacancy rate, including the national average. He wanted to know what work the DSD was doing to reach rural areas. He asked what the turnaround time was for capturing those who had applied for the re-registration of their social grants, and whether there were any early warning systems to inform DSD on registrations which were not going well.

The Chairperson said the Committee had said to the DSD that there was potential within the DSD, but it was also important to pay attention to the “moving targets”. She asked how the DSD was preparing to absorb the work which would be coming from the former Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, and wondered if there was any possibility of another department being established to share the load with DSD.

Ms S Tsoleli (ANC) reminded Members that the DSD had overall achieved 99% of its targets. However there were still areas which needed improvement. On the situational analysis, she said the DSD’s reprioritisation needed to be looked, at to improve the DSD’s performance targets. She too wanted to know if the DSD target for filling of vacancies had been met. She noted that the target for social assistance was at 1.3 million, but was not fully achieved, and asked what remedies were in place to deal with the decreasing social assistance grant. Speaking to HIV/AIDS she said that loveLife was one of the organisations that was getting transfers from the DSD, but there was still not much being achieved under this programme. She requested that each programme’s financial report be attached to the description of the performance of the programme, to give Members a better sense of the work being done.

Ms S Kopane (DA) said the presentation showed that the DSD did not manage to achieve its targets for Programme 3, and wanted to know what plans DSD had to address and remedy that situation. She asked that a copy of the audit done by the DSD in each province could be made available to the Committee, and asked also what some of the challenges faced by the DSD were in this regard, seeing that only six provinces managed to submit their progress reports. She also wanted to see progress reports on the monitoring and implementation of the Youth Care Centres. She asked what the outcome had been of the screening of employees working with children and how many people were found not suitable to work with children.

The Chairperson said the general observation was that the DSD was meeting its targets, however it was very important that the DSD provide an indication of the impact that these targets had on communities, and whether DSD was achieving the basic priorities it wanted to achieve. She also asked if the targets achieved geographically were spread to include rural areas.

Ms H Malgas (ANC) thanked the DSD for the presentation. She indicated to the DSD that the Child Support Grant and the Veteran Grant were not included in the presentation. She said it was very important that the DSD speak to the R 1.4 billion allocation for social assistance.

Minister Dlamini thanked Members for their input. She said where the DSD did not respond adequately to the questions posed by Members in the meeting, the DSD would submit written responses. She agreed that the outstanding reports from the DSD would all be submitted to the Committee by the end of the coming week. She agreed that there was a need to have a joint workshop between the DSD and the Committee; there just needed to be agreement on the date and time. However, she highlighted that in the last workshop which the DSD held with the Committee, Members from only the African National Congress (ANC) were in attendance.

The Minister responded to questions on the HIV/AIDS programme and the unmet targets, explaining that a number of people within the programme resigned and this left a vacuum within the DSD for training. I relation to the DSD’s insufficient budget and the shortage of social workers, she fully agreed that this matter had indeed had a negative effect on the work of DSD. Funding for the absorption of social workers would be part of the equitable share to the provinces, on an annual basis, but this in itself created a lot of problems because the money was not ring-fenced. The DSD had approached National Treasury on the matter.

The Minister noted that most of those people who qualified for the Old Age Grant in fact were recipients of the grant. She asked that Members should forward the names of those individuals who had complaints, and the DSD would look into them. On substance abuse, she said the DSD was moving forward  and that  various service providers were being involved in the programme, but the issue of governance was still a challenge. She explained that Kwanda Talks was a mobilisation programme and the last community where the DSD had a Talk with in Limpopo. Kwanda was about empowering communities to do work on their own.

Speaking to the re-registration for the social grants, the Minister said that before the DSD started with the process the DSD did not have its own system, but there was now work under way on this. Another problem faced by the DSD was that of illegal migrants, and many children were not being registered because there was no proper documentation. Other challenges were around legislation, and the issues of reviews were also problematic. Late registration of individuals was also another challenge. The DSD was trying to increase the footprint of SASSA by making use of all modes of communication to reach citizens in need of grants. In addition, the DSD was also looking to involve traditional leaders.

The Minister agreed that targets needed to be increased. The DSD was committed to reaching more people. She suggested that whatever other issues which Members had be dealt with at the upcoming workshop.

The Chairperson thanked Minister Dlamini for her input. She suggested, and Members agreed, that any outstanding issues Members wanted to raise be picked up during the workshop.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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