Department of Social Development on White Paper on Families; Adoption of outstanding minutes

Social Development

17 September 2014
Chairperson: Ms R Capa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department made a presentation to the fifth Parliament Committee on the White Paper on Families as introduced to the fourth Parliament. Though they processes with the Paper were exhausted and it was adopted, there were inputs from the Committee to which the Deputy Minister of Social Development assured the Committee that the White Paper was a living document that could give meaning to issues that arose during implementations.

The presentation gave a background on the need for the White Paper, what it stood to do and achieve. The White Paper stood to bring back the sense of community that went beyond what had become the typical family definition of a father, mother, their two kids and a dog. The Paper highlighted the evolving family dynamic and had a broad definition of a family that included grandparents and extended families.

Members emphasised the need to go back to the core family principles and sighted common sayings like “a family that prays together, stays together” and “it takes a village to raise a child”. The white Paper spoke directly to these principles. Implementation, the right kind of implementation and coordination was important the Committee wondered if implementation would be done in phases or have pilot projects. This would ensure that the Department knew what obstacles they would be facing and how they dealt with them before a roll out to the entire country.

Programmes of social development often failed due to reliance to other departments. The departments in the White Paper needed to do separate reports to the Committee in order to clear establish roles and responsibility and to ensure the onus was not solely on the Department of Social Development.

The Committee raised concerns with working with other departments as to how committed they were in implementing the policy and if they were willing to budget for. They asked for costing of implementing the policy as they wanted to see if the costs were split between departments and they were willing to take responsibility for the implementation of the White Paper.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks by Chairperson

The Chairperson said the meeting was going to focus on a presentation by the Department on the White Paper developed and approved by the fourth Parliament. The presentation aimed to introduce the White Paper to the new Committee so that they would be informed of the implementations of the Paper and not also to have a background on the programmes of the Department that stem from the White Paper.

Remarks by the Deputy Minister of Social Development

Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, Deputy Minister of Social Development, said when talking about families in South Africa it was written with “IES” as it reflected and acknowledged different kinds of families that existed. Also, it was the 20 years of the family as celebrated by the African Union and every member state had been asked to reflect the programmes they had created to bring support structures for the family. The role of the family in creating social cohesion was an important aspect; the programme of the White Paper would strength non-governmental organizations (NGO) and interdepartmental structures.

White Paper on Families   2013

The Department of Social Development briefed the Portfolio Committee on the White Paper on Families as well as the proposed strategies and programmes that strengthen families and promote family life.

Ms Connie Nxumalo, DDG: Social Services at the Department of Social Services gave a brief background on the Paper. The development of a family policy in South Africa was initiated in 2004 after the research that was commissioned by the Department of Social Development on the structure and needs of families. The research resulted in   the development of draft national family policy which was presented to cabinet.

Cabinet recommended that a White paper on families be developed to address the plight of families. The process was kicked off with the development of the green paper and there were consultations nationally. Public hearings were conducted in rural and urban areas; also experts were consulted as well as government clusters (governance and administration, JCPS, and Social protection and Community development). The White Paper on families was presented to cabinet and approval was granted on the 26th of June 2013.

Situational Analysis

The family was under threat and unable to play its critical roles of socialisation, nurturing, care and protection of family members effectively. This was attributed to a number of factors. Social ills that families had to contend with included: poverty, high rate of unemployment, domestic violence, crime, high level of unwanted pregnancies, absent fathers, general decay in moral values

These challenges contributed to family disintegration and vulnerability, hence the development of the White Paper on Families. It is envisaged that the implementation of the White Paper would result in well functioning and resilient families that were able to nurture and promote care to their family members.

Vision and Mission

The vision of the White Paper was to have well-functioning families which were loving, peaceful, safe, stable, and economically self-sustaining, that also provide care and physical, emotional, psychological, financial, spiritual, and intellectual support for their members. 

The mission of the Paper was to undertake activities, programmes, projects and plans to promote, support and nourish well-functioning families that are loving, peaceful, safe, stable, and economically self-sustaining that also provide care and physical, emotional, psychological, financial, spiritual, and intellectual support for their members.


Enhance the socializing, caring, nurturing and supporting capabilities of families so that their members are able to contribute effectively to the overall development of the country. To empower families and their members by enabling them to identify, negotiate around, and maximize economic, labour market, and other opportunities available in the country; and to improve the capacities of families and their members to establish social interactions which make a meaningful contribution towards a sense of community, social cohesion and national solidarity.

Types of Families in South Africa 

Taking into consideration the legislative framework presented in Section 3, as well as the consensus reached during the consultative process the family would, for the purposes of this White Paper, be defined as:

”A societal group that is related by blood (kinship), adoption, foster care or the ties of marriage (civil, customary or religious), civil union or cohabitation with connections that extend beyond a particular physical residence.”

The Types of families include cohabitation; Single parent Families, Female Headed Household, skip-generation household; Child/youth Headed house hold, Same-sex relationships and marriages, Polygamous marriages; Migrants families, etc.

Strategic Priorities

The following strategic priorities were listed:

Strategic priority 1: Promotion of healthy family life

- Affirm importance of family

- Respect diverse family types and values

- Foster stable marital unions

- Promote intergenerational solidarity

- Promote positive values and moral regeneration

- Promote gender equality

- Encourage father’s involvement in children’s upbringing

- Encourage responsible parenting

Strategic priority 2: Family strengthening

- Commission and fund studies

- Establish family focused approach in - development and poverty reduction policies and programmes

- Enhance family resilience by improving -  economic capacities of families

- Ensure income and social security

- Support family in its care giving functions

- Promote family solidarity

- Provide adequate health care

- Develop more family focused HIV and Aids - interventions

- Strengthen community support

- Develop regional and international  - collaborations and partnerships

Strategic priority 3: Family preservation

- Prevention

- Early intervention

- Statutory intervention

- Reunification and aftercare

Section 5: Coordination, implementation and monitoring structure

In terms of Coordination, the successful implementation of the White Paper on families would dependent on sound intersectoral and interdepartmental system. The intersectoral coordination mechanism consisted of government, civil society, private sector, traditional leaders, religious organizations and institution of higher learning. The policy would be implemented at different levels of government National, Provincial and Municipality level. At national level the structure for services to families would be established under the lead of the Department of Social Development.

Responsibility of the Department would be to facilitate coordination, collaboration and synergy in the implementation of the White Paper. Give guidance and direction the process of ensuring that services get to the designated groups, their families and communities.

At provincial level, the core functions of the provincial structure would be to integrate operational plans for the implementation of the White Paper in the province. The core functions of municipalities would be to develop an integrated local plan of action for the implementation of the White Paper on services to families and to also dedicate resources to the implementation activities of the White Paper. 

Monitoring and Evaluation

The monitoring system would be based on the indicators developed specifically for the White Paper, data capturing tools. The Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and the Department were developing a monitoring mechanism for both the national and provincial departments to assess progress.

Departments and civil society organizations would be expected to submit quarterly reports on the White Paper to the Department for consolidation. A national report would be compiled and be tabled in Parliament on an annual basis when the policy was fully implemented.

Current Status

-       The Department had developed program such as mediation, family reunification services, integrated parenting framework, fatherhood strategy, active parenting of teenagers.

-       Marriage enrichment and preparation and family preservation.

-       Integrated plan developed to implement the policy. Integrated national Forum was in place, including provincial for a’s to facilitate implementation



There was limited funding for services to families in provinces. The use of family as a focal point for service delivery was still a challenge. Also, the commitment of departments on board presented a challenge.


The Department was looking forward to full implementation of the White Paper in all nine provinces. The White Paper would give us an opportunity to strengthen the programme. The White Paper would position the Department to advocate for more resources to meet the demand of the service.


Ms L Mjobo (ANC) said nowadays children were having children at young ages. There was also the issue of increased HIVAIDs infection rates in underage children; one would find a 16 year old child who was HIV positive. The policy would help in this regard as it promoted family solidarity. She said in the African culture people did not leave a family member to struggle, but these days’ people just focused on their families.

Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) said the White Paper was a good piece of legislation and the Department needed to be applauded. However the Department needed to bring a presentation to the Committee addressing challenges that they were facing. She said she hoped that the Paper would be integrated into a system where there was a machinery implementing it and it was the role of the Committee to carry on where the fourth Parliament left off.

Ms B Abraham (ANC) said South Africa needed to bring back the values that used to be instilled in families. The White Paper was a very good programme. She asked if there would be a pilot programme and how it would be rolled out.

Ms Nxumalo said certain key programmes had been piloted in order to assess if they worked or did not, but what was important was to pilot an integrated approach. There was an integrated implementation plan that was costed with three scenarios – low, medium and high. The implementation plan was flexible which meant it could be relooked and revisited.

Ms H Maxon (EFF) said she was looking at the general household survey of 2012, there were critical issues that were raised and the Department should have a look at those, what was raised in the survey could help inform policies of the Department.

Ms s Kopane (DA) said the implementation of the White Paper depended on intersectoral and interdepartmental mechanisms; it was worrying that the Department would rely on reports from other departments for information to understand how the implementation of the White Paper was going. She asked if there would be other mechanisms for the Department to review the impact and implementation of the Paper other that solely relying on the quarterly report. She asked if there were challenges in receiving reports from other departments.

Also, the presentation was silent on the cost of implementation especially since implementation involved other departments as well; it needed to be clear if other departments would set aside a budget.

Ms Nxumalo said the DPME was assisting the Department to come up with a framework that would talked to the proposed indicators, but there were quarterly reports to be compiled. She added that the Department had struggled to come up with a national forum with various government departments to have expos and present the importance of coming on board and implementing the White Paper.

Ms K De Kock (DA) also emphasised the need for pilot studies. It was problematic to roll the implementation of programme or policy throughout the entire country without testing it on a smaller scale to see if the desired outcome was attainable and if there were sufficient resources. The implementation and coordination plan; when there was an objective, there needed to be action and people responsible for implementing it then there would be outputs that would be hopefully used to measure them. She asked if she was correct in saying the implementation and coordination plan was being developed.

Ms S Tsoledi (ANC) said she was finally happy with the definition of “the family” based on how a family had been previously described by Marx, Lenin and Engel. Usually in policy development the “African way” was overlooked, the new definition in the White Paper encompassed the other dynamics of what forms a family.

Though the Paper was already developed and no changes could be really made, the paper focus on women and made no mention that single parent homes are also headed by fathers. Dynamics have changes.

Ms Nxumalo said fathers were included in the White Paper but understood that the emphasis was on the “mother” as the single parent.

Ms E Wilson (DA) said the White Paper, its management and implementation were critical. An issue that had come up and was again highlighted in the presentation was to prioritise the employment and placement of social workers. The success of this strategy was the deployment of those social workers and it had to be the priority of the Department.

Ms H Malgas (ANC) made an input regarding the intersectoral approach and said it would be necessary for the Committee to call the other departments as listed in the White Paper to account on their role.  Cost implications were important and whether or not the White Paper would be rolled out using a phase in approach.

Ms Nxumalo said in implementing a policy there would be gaps that would be identified, these would influence the policy review and certain things could be integrated.

Ms Nxumalo said under Section 5 there were listed roles, responsibility and contributions for each department. These were done and compiled by the departments themselves and not Social Development. The current problem was that they did not have delegated people to drive family related services. The Department had proposed to other departments to appoint a focal person per department that would be a link for each department to Social Development in the national forum.

The Chairperson said not every programme that was developed would be armed with a budget; it was upon the Department to review its own implementation and accommodate a newly found programme. This programme was a priority to ensure social cohesion. There were programmes that spoke to the “family” that were implemented by the Department; there were also programmes that Rural Development implemented that spoke about change agents which also spoke to families.

The was a poverty eradication strategy that the Department had brought from Brazil and pilots were set, it would be good if the Deputy Minister could check if there could be something used from that strategy. Also there were 23 district municipalities that were the poorest in the country as identified by the first and second Parliament. The current president had gone back to Rural Development to focus on those municipalities. The Chairperson said the proposal of pilot programmes was good, so that at the end there would be a geographical area where programmes were implemented and there could be direct study of the outcomes. She painted a situation where there was an identified family that would give a family a house, have social development and have an integrated approach where assisting one person spills over to the rest of the community.

The Chairperson said she was frustrated that what happened with the ISIRDP was never a lesson to government; integration and ensuring that programmes integrated were talking to each other and not operate as completely separate entities that did not have the same purpose.

Mr S Mabilo (ANC) said the Department needed to predicate whatever they were doing with “effective” from the get to effective monitoring. Also since government from national to local government was involved, there needed to be integrated coordination which would be key in the implementation. The holistic approach was commendable, the Committee and government under their watch could not allow the disintegration of the family. The success of the White Paper would contribute towards sustainable development and decent livelihoods.

Mr Mabilo said in the 1984 Presidential election in America one of the candidates lost because the debate was about the family. “The Family” was the core social fabric; there should be no cracks in implementation as this was cross cut through all issues.

Ms Maxon said family values to go back to African values; the Department was doing well with the introduction of the White Paper. Regarding coordination, implementation and monitoring structures - nationally it would be the national Department of Social Development but in provinces and municipalities there was no mention of a leading structure.

Closing Remarks

Mr Coceko Pakade, Director General of the Department of Social Services, said South Africa was one of the few countries that had developed a family policy, there were controversies around the topic and especially issues of definition and the types of families. It was easier for South Africa, in a way, because of the Constitution.

Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu thanked the Members of the Committee for their inputs. One of the reasons that this remained a White Paper was to keep it a living document. Once it became legislation there would be back and forth on processes when it had to be amended. The inputs of Members would be noted and integrated in the White Paper. Some elements of the White Paper had already been implemented, what had to be strengthened was the coordination in implementation. Having a Customary Marriages Act was to acknowledge the establishment of a family through a customary marriage and to ensure that they were recognised as such. In an ad-hoc manner the country had already started to implement what the White Paper created, but gave an opportunity to consolidate all the policies and programmes of government.

The Chairperson said when it came to eradicating poverty and elevating the lives of South African. When it came to bread and butter issues it did not matter what political party anyone belonged to. Every Member’s opinion was equally important because there was no debate that Members wanted to improve the lives of South Africans.

Adoption of minutes

Minutes 20 August 2014

The Chairperson asked for Members to go through the minutes to check if they were correct.

Mr Mabilo proposed the adoption of the minutes. Ms Malgas seconded the motion for adoption of the minutes.

The minutes were adopted without amendments.

Minutes dated 27 August 2014

Ms Wilson proposed the adoption of minutes. Ms Mogotsi seconded the proposal.

The minutes were adopted without amendments.

Strategic Workshop Programme

The Committee went through the programme of their strategic programme which would be held on 25 and 26 September 2014.

Members had no objections or new proposals for the programme.

The meeting was adjourned.

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