State of Nation Address impact on Department of Social Development; Committee Report on CDA Annual Report 2012/13

Social Development

18 March 2015
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Social Development (DSD) briefed the Committee on the social development Issues emanating from the 2015 State of the Nation Address (SONA). It was also privately briefed on the revised draft report on the 2012/13 annual report of the Central Drug Authority (CDA).

The DSD considered issues raised from the SONA, covering youth development, the rights of the disabled, social assistance, Early Child Development (ECD), the Isibindi Model, gender-based violence, the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), social development in mining towns, the Household Food and Nutrition Strategy, the five-year plan against drug and alcohol abuse, and population matters. Associated with each of these matters, the DSD outlined strategic objectives within the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) of the Presidency.

Members raised questions about the sustainability and impact of certain campaigns to counter gender-based violence, such as the 365 Days of Activism. Additionally, there was considerable discussion about the universalisation of state pensions and the greater social security reforms looming. Issues were raised around the "soft targets", like the number of women accessing command centres, consistently set by the Department, as opposed to hard targets, like a specific percentage decrease in domestic violence cases. There was a debate on the Department’s mandate, with the Chairperson offering her understanding that the Department had migrated from a social work approach, to social development delivered to poor families so that they could lift themselves out of poverty using the DSD's help. This could include skills development, education, or any other support the Department could provide. This definition seemed satisfactory to all.

The Committee went over the draft report on the 2012/13 annual report of the Central Drug Authority (CDA), which had been revised by the CDA at the request of the Committee to include more detail and focus on substance abuse in South Africa.

The CDA served as a statutory body of 12 members from the private sector, 14 representatives of the national government departments, and three national government entities. It advised the Minister of Social Development for a period of five years, giving advice, arranging summits, overseeing anti-substance abuse activities, and giving effect to the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP). These efforts were aimed at fulfilling the mandate of reducing substance abuse in South Africa. The document highlighted targets set for 2012/13 and specific achievements for that period. Additionally, it listed general challenges it faced as a group, in addition to more specific challenges in municipalities and provinces. The CDA suggested some remedial actions, and the Committee responded with some observations, resolutions and recommendations. 

Meeting report

Department of Social Development Social Development Issues emanating from SONA 2015

Ms Nelisiwe Vilakazi, Deputy Director General: Strategy and Organisational Transformation, DSD, briefed the Committee on the social development issues emanating from SONA 2015.

She outlined DSD strategic priorities within the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) of the Presidency. These priorities included reforming the social welfare sector, improving the provision of Early Childhood Development, deepening social assistance, extending the scope for social security, strengthening community development interventions, improving household food and nutrition security, establishing social protection services, and improving the lives of people with disabilities.

On issues of youth development, SONA had raised the need for a programme ensuring youth participation in pre-existing skills development programmes. MsVilakazi reported the DSD would contribute to youth development through leadership camps, and skills development through the DSD’s social work bursary programme, citing 7 000 youths participating in skills development programmes in 2015/16.

For the rights of persons with disabilities, SONA had mandated programmes to promote the empowerment and rights of persons with disabilities through development and implementation of legislation, policies, and programmes. The Department’s MTSF priorities were to ensure relevant and accessible skills development programmes and equal opportunities for productive and gainful employment for the disabled. There would also be advocacy programmes toward a more reformed and responsive service to the disabled and a strengthened NGO sector.  The Department would provide care services for children to reduce abuse and neglect.

In the field of social assistance, Ms Vilakazi referred to the SONA urgency to finalise policy discussions on a comprehensive social protection policy, covering all needy South Africans. The MTSF priorities to this regard were to deepen social assistance by expanding the provisions to those eligible, and to institute the social security system by 2019.

The Early Child Development (ECD) policy played a critical role in the foundation of human development, and the Department was leading and facilitating this work. The DSD planned to ensure effective implementation of the ECD policy by pursuing a number of planned targets in the upcoming years, including:

  • capacity building on ECD policy in provinces;
  • monitoring implementation;
  • seeking approval for and facilitating the DSD HR Plan for ECD;
  • increasing the number of children accessing ECD programmes;
  • legislative alignment on ECD provisions;
  • a funding policy for ECD;
  • pursuing a finalised roll-out plan on ECD;
  • increasing capacity for a finalised plan in provinces; and
  • providing ECD programmes in poorest areas.

The Isibindi Model put forward in SONA was a specific ECD initiative aimed at improving the living conditions of children. The Department would continue to train community-based child and youth care workers and monitor the implementation of the model.

Ms Vilakazi said gender-based violence was being dealt with through the implementation of programmes to remove barriers to women’s empowerment. The DSD facilitated inter-departmental and inter-governmental work to mitigate violence against women and children, and encouraged coordination between departments on social work programmes. Some planned and recently released social protection initiatives were cited, like the Integrated National Programme of Action, Victim Empowerment Programme, and 365 Days of Activism. She also added details about service response. Any person in the country could dial a command centre and get an immediate response from professionals, and recent geo-tagging capabilities had enabled a much swifter response, which had been working well.

As a more general part of social development, the DSD planned to massively expand public works programmes to create six million work opportunities, many of long duration, and filled 80% by previously unemployed youth. Such a programme was expected to create at least two million work opportunities by 2019. A target of 1 038 000 work opportunities had been set for the Expanded Public Works programme (EPWP) social sector this year.

She reported a DSD effort, in conjunction with the National Development Agency (NDA) and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), to forward social development in mining communities and the surrounding areas via psychosocial support services, social relief of distress, school uniforms for destitute children, ECD services, household profiling and nutrition provisions, and income generating initiative support.

Additionally, she outlined the DSD’s critical role in the implementation of the Household Food and Nutrition Strategy. It was expected to contribute immensely to the revitalization of rural and township economies through procurement from local producers and agricultural stimulation. Similar social co-operatives and purchasing schemes were in action by SASSA and the NDA. The Small Business Committee had invited the DSD to share what work was being done in terms of social co-operatives.

New focus areas were detailed in the document for the second year of DSD’s five-year plan (POA) that had been developed in response to the 2nd Biennial Anti-Substance Abuse Summit in 2011.

Ms Vilakazi informed the Committee that the DSD had a wing responsible for population development that identified population challenges for the government.

Discussion

The Chairperson first extended a warm welcome to all the guests of the meeting and invited all Members of the Committee to introduce themselves. She then acknowledged the issues that had arisen from the President’s delegation of priorities of the country and reminded the Department that when they put the budget together, they would know what the programme was in detail. She then opened the floor for questions.

Ms B Abrahams (ANC) thanked the Department for their presentation and said it was good to hear a reaffirmed commitment to the social security issue. She asked how sustainable the 365 Days of Activism programme was and how it could be measured to make sure it was indeed 365 days, and not just one.

The Chairperson asked what communities were doing at the local level.

Ms H Malgas (ANC) brought up a question from the people. A citizen had a concern as to whether state pensions would be distributed irrespective of private pensions. If a woman married a man who received a private pension, would she be entitled to a state pension or be subject to a means test? She also asked if the Department could tell the committee when the universalisation of state pensions and child support grants would happen, because it was all part of the social security package. She asked whether the Child Support Grant (CSG) grant would be aligned to the foster grant. She added that these were likely to be new issues that would come up in the policy speech of the Minister. Lastly, she added that the Catholic Bishops of South Africa had praised the Department and Minister on social development.

Ms Vilakazi replied that the programme targeted people working in the social sector. For example, people in home community-based care programmes (HCBC), those in ECG, and those in the child and youth care programme, were all accredited for their training while participating in EPWP programmes.

Ms Siza Magangoe, Chief Director of NDSD, described the 365 Days of Activism as an integrated strategy that consisted of seven key parts, where social development contributed. Among the groups that contributed were the Department of Social Development, the Department of Justice, International Services, SAPS, Education and other national agents. She outlined the four principal ways DSD contributed. There was Everyday Heroes, which addressed gender-based violence in communities and directed its efforts towards women, children, the disabled and the aged. There was Orange Day, where on the 25th of every month, everyone was encouraged to wear orange shirts and converse about these issues. The Positive Role Model Campaign acknowledged that scheduled violence was hard to fight if men were tagged as perpetrators, and aimed to engage them in bringing about reform. Lastly, the Fatherhood programme recognised that not all men were perpetrators and there were those willing to be ambassadors for the programme, to help correct issues of gender-based violence.

Mr Thokozani Magwaza, Deputy Director General, responded that universalisation of state pensions had been in the public domain for a while, as there were people for it and people against it. The National Treasury and the DSD, in addition to both their technical teams, had found that it was imperative for universalisation to go through, though given financial constraints it was likely to be deferred and become part of the larger social security reforms. A paper outlining these details had been presented in 2012, though the Cabinet had asked for some revisions. They were readying it and planned to push it through in 2015/16.

Universalisation of the CSG had been delayed because of financial constraints. They planned to start from scratch and write a paper that would be put forward, though he would not discuss the matter any more.

On the matter of the CSG being related to the foster care grant, he reported the Department was busy in discussion. Foster care could go on until a child turned 20, though education grants could run out at 18. If the child had not completed schooling, he or she could fall through the cracks. The Department had written a paper and was in discussion with the National Treasury to try and synchronise programmes for children 20 and under, still in school. He thanked the bishops for their praise, and said he would pass this on to the Minister. 

The Chairperson hoped that a letter would be drafted, explaining the pension matter to the citizen who had expressed their concern. She then said the Committee could follow up with people who expressed written concerns and see where else the Department could offer assistance.

Ms K de Kock (DA,) thanked the Department for the presentation and said it was good to see it playing a role in the issues SONA had raised. She requested more hard targets from the Department as opposed to the typical soft targets. She offered an example: rather than targeting x amount of women reaching command centres, the Department should target an x percent reduction in domestic violence.

She then asked about the EPWP and the two million job opportunities the Department was setting out to create. What would the impact be on the quality of services from the Department as a result of the initiative? She reminded the Committee that the core mandate of the DSD was to ensure people made use of the opportunities created through economic development, rather than to directly create jobs. 

Ms S Kopane (DA) requested clarity on the 850 000 work opportunities created. How many where part time and how many permanent? Regarding the mining town revitalisation services, she asked how many children had been reached, how many uniforms had been distributed to the destitute, and how many people were actually assisted.

Mr S Mabilo (ANC) said the key government policies had clearly been applied. He reminded the Committee that it was the responsibility of every department to contribute to the creation of the six million jobs, and that it would not all come from one department.

The Chairperson then offered her understanding of the Department’s mandate. The Department had to target the number of children accessing services. The DSD had migrated from the work approach to social development delivered to poor families so that they could lift themselves out of poverty using the DSD’s help. This could include skills development or educational opportunities -- whatever it was, the Department would respond.

Mr Magwaza then added that the EPWP was not creating jobs per se, but rather giving those who participated the opportunity to gain skills and participate in a one-year programme. He offered a personal story about a graduate of the programme who had skills, but could not get placed because there were no openings. He had been offered the position of secretary in Mr Magwaza’s office and would be placed once the inspectorate came in with more positions.

He said the people running the Early Childhood Development (ECD) creches would not be discarded, but would be re-skilled to carry on in the EPWP.

He then addressed the target issues Ms De Kock had raised, saying that the Minister was tired of numbers as well, and wanted to know the effects and end results on the other side of them. Was there a reduction in crime? Were their lives better? The Department would work on reporting and target setting and on adding qualitative information, in addition to the quantitative data.

Ms Vilakazi reported that mining towns were frequently not isolated locations requiring the services offered by the DSD, but the surrounding areas and places where the workers came from, were often suffering. Profiling an area often revealed the needs of a location. More details could be delivered on request, and on the matter of targets, some DSD issues within SONA would be presented in the Annual Performance Plan.

Mr Magwaza disclosed that the same matters would be discussed with the Small Business Committee on Monday, and once a presentation with them was ready, it would be brought immediately to this Committee.

The Chairperson reminded everyone that when nothing had happened, they must be critical of the work not being done. She asked how the DSD went about choosing pilot programmes and locations, and then asked if there were any final issues. She added that they would attach the budget.

Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) concluded that it was important to take issues back to the community through service.

The Chairperson excused the Department, though the Portfolio Committee still had a second document to go through.

Draft Report on 2012/13 Annual Report of the Central Drug Authority (CDA)

Ms Lindiwe Ntsabo, Committee Secretary, presented the report to the members of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development only.

The Committee had been mandated by the Constitution and Rules of Parliament to oversee and scrutinise Government actions towards a better life for all in South Africa. As part of this role, the Committee had been briefed on the CDA’s 2013/14 Annual Report. It had not been satisfied and had requested that the CDA make another presentation, focusing on its mandate and drug abuse in South Africa, on 19 November 2014.

The document began with a description of the CDA’s origins, its composition, and its purposes and goals.

South Africa was reported to have the highest abuse rates of cannabis and ATS (“Tik”) compared to the rest of the world. Various provinces had more specific afflictions, but treatment availability was lacking, suggesting an urgent need for increased capacity.

The CDA’s targets for 2013/14 were as follows:

  • Ensure the approval of the reviewed National Drug Master Plan (NDMP) 2013-2017.
  • Improve access to information, interventions, and treatment.
  • Reduce demand for and supply of illicit substances of abuse.
  • Reduce harm associated with substance abuse.
  • Reduce social ills associated with substance abuse.
  • Conduct a national household survey on substance use/abuse.
  • Strengthen the capacity of the CDA’s support structures with regard to the implementation of the NDMP 2013-2017.

The CDA reported the following achievements:

  • It had developed, consulted, and submitted the final draft of the NDMP as from 2006-2011.
  • Maintained nine provincial substance abuse forums.
  • Established local drug action committees.
  • Contributed to the development of Regulations for the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act (No. 70 of 2008) and monitored implementation of the 2nd Biennial Anti-Substance Abuse Summit.
  • Made a resource directory available to relevant stakeholders.
  • Partnered with the United Nations Office on Drugs Crime and the University of South Africa (UNISA) to launch the World Drug Report in 2012.
  • Implemented anti-substance abuse programmes of action in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, and Free State.
  • Approved the treatment model and built capacity to enhance implementation.
  • Contributed to the national strategy for the Prevention and Management of Alcohol and Drug Use amongst learners in schools, and spread advocacy materials for parents and teachers.
  • Contributed to having Cocoa Tea declared undesirable by the Medicines and Related Substances Act, 1965.
  • Investigated and pronounced on the concoction of Nyaope.
  • Contributed to the draft bill on alcohol advertising, sponsorship and promotion.
  • Contributed to drafting of the detoxification guidelines of the Department of Health.

Significant achievements had been made on the key strategies of demand and supply reduction. Supply reduction targeted the supply, distribution, and trafficking mechanisms of the drug trade. 549 incidents of dagga had occurred in correctional facilities, and 259.25kg had been confiscated. 394 379 compliance inspections had been conducted at licensed liquor premises. 32 clandestine laboratories had been closed and R12 832 150 worth of drugs had been seized. 395 kg of cocaine, 60 768kg of cannabis, and 5 330kg of heroin had been seized at ports of entry.

On the demand reduction front, the Departments of Education, Social Development, Correctional Services, and Sport and Recreation had offered education and intervention programmes.

The CDA reportedly still faced a number of challenges within particular municipalities and provinces, such as a lack of resources, staff, funding, coordination and unreliability of reporting and monitoring. Remedial action needed to be taken, such as strengthening the CDA structure at all levels, a greater resource allocation, a comprehensive baseline study, investment in preventative measures, and an elevation of non-reporting to the inter-ministerial committee level.

Resolutions in response to the challenges included a substance abuse workshop between the CDA and the DSD, requests for Members of Parliament to endorse substance abuse awareness through the media, and the list of municipalities not complying with reporting requirements delivered to the Committee.

Discussion

No further requests were made for any amendment or revision to the CDA 2012/13 Annual Report.

The meeting was adjourned. 

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