The Department of Social Development (DSD) and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) briefed the Committee on their strategic and annual performance plans.
The Department highlighted a number of key priorities that needed to be addressed. These included reforming the social welfare sector to deliver better results to the community; improving the provision of Early Childhood Development (ECD) by providing food, schooling, healthcare and safety facilities for children, including disabled children; and deepening social assistance in terms of grants for children, the elderly and disabled people. Other priorities focused on ensuring that social security reached a large number of beneficiaries, and strengthening community development interventions through non-profit organisations and various other entities that helped to build the community and its economy. It was of critical importance for the Department to establish social protection systems in order to strengthen coordination, integration, planning, monitoring and evaluation of services. Grants for eligible individuals and social relief had to reach affected individuals timeously. In 2015/16, the DSD planned to give old age grants to 3 181 959 beneficiaries, child support to 12 042 973 beneficiaries, and grants to 223 war veterans, 1 112 767 people with disabilities, 142 180 requiring care dependency, 490 538 in foster care and 104 232 grant-in-aid individuals. The Department also intended to process 160 000 applications.
The Department was planning to capacitate youth for skills development and partake in mobilisation programmes. There would be 1 300 scholarships awarded, and four public centres were being constructed. Members emphasised that the youth needed to be capacitated on how to be productive in various communities, so as to avoid being involved in criminal activities.
Members wanted to know the extent to which the implemented budget cuts would affect the programmes of the Department, especially in addressing major challenges like poverty, marginalisation and hunger. They expressed disappointment that the Department had not consulted the Committee prior to the implementation of the reprioritisation of its programmes based on the budget cuts. They were not pleased with the budget cuts and the fact that programmes were not carried out properly, especially the food programme, where they could have given guidance and advice on how the Department should run the programme in the rural areas. It was suggested that there should be a workshop between the Department and the Committee in order to address some of the issues that had not been discussed in the presentation. The Department was asked to invite the Committee when it embarked on its outreach programmes.
SASSA’s priorities included a reduction of income poverty by providing social assistance to eligible individuals, improving service delivery and organisational efficiency, the automation of business systems and institutionalising the social grants payment system within SASSA. Although KZN had the largest number of people receiving social grants, Limpopo raised concern as 45 % of their population was dependent on social grants, followed by the Eastern Cape.
There had been 12 519 cases of fraud and corruption between the period 2012 to 2015. Of these, 5 052 had been closed and 8 769 had been finalised, meaning they had either been solved by SASSA or would be heard in court. R145 million had been stolen, and only R2.3 million had been recovered.
A priority was to provide social assistance to qualifying beneficiaries. The planned activities were to ease access to social grants by new entrants, increase the number of grants in payment from 16 052 000 beneficiaries to 17 007 169 by the end of the financial year, increase child support grants for children aged under one year by 10%, or 50 000. 400 000 social relief of distress benefits would be processed and provided to families in distress.
Members suggested that there should be drastic changes in the DSD, as it seemed to be seeking funding for new programmes, whereas the Committee had not yet been given an update on the current programmes that were still in progress.
Briefing by Department of Social Development (DSD)
Mr Thokozani Magwaza, Acting Director-General (DG) indicated that there had been apology from the National Development Agency (NDA), as they would not be able to make it to the meeting.
Ms Nelisiwe Vilakazi, Deputy Director-General (DDG), said that the strategic plan and the annual performance plan (APP) had been based on a review and consultation with major entities such as the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), provincial departments of the DSD and the National Development Agency (NDA), considering their work in the last cycle of government. The Department had ensured it would work within the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF,) which had a chapter on social protection and was also linked to the National Development Plan (NDP) vision of 2030.The NDP called for the Department to coordinate efforts towards an inclusive and responsive social protection system. The vision and mission of the Department was to have a caring and self-reliant society and to transform society by building capable citizens through the provision of comprehensive, integrated and sustainable social development services.
The key strategic priorities of the Department were to reform the social welfare sector and service to deliver better results; improve the provision of Early Childhood Development (EDC); deepen social assistance and extend the scope for social security; strengthen integrated community development interventions, like improving household food and nutrition; and lastly, to establish social protection systems to strengthen coordination, integration, planning, monitoring, and evaluation of services. All these priorities were aligned with the MTSF.
The first MTSF priority of the Department was reforming the social welfare sector and services to deliver better results. The strategic objective was to strengthen social welfare service delivery through legislative and policy reforms by 2019. The expected outcomes of these objectives would be the reviewed Social Welfare White Paper and Social Development Act; developing a social welfare financing model; institutionalising oversight capacity for monitoring quality standards to be established 2018/19; and absorbing 100% of bursars annually into the sector after completion of studies by 2019. There was also a need for a reviewed dispensation for state-civil society partnerships in social welfare; a resourcing strategy for social development; a demand and supply model for social service professionals; strengthening of older persons services; and amendments to the Older Persons Act 2006.
Ms Vilakazi said that another strategic objective was social crime prevention and victim empowerment in order to reduce the incidence of crime and substance abuse, and to facilitate the provision of support services to target groups by 2019. The high level outputs included having legislation on victim empowerment support services, the implementation of the South African Integrated Programme of action, implementing the Victim Empowerment Inter-Sectoral Strategy in 2014-2018, strengthening support and care services to families, and implementing the Integrated Social Crime Prevention Strategy action plan and the Child Justice Act. The Department targeted to push for the implementation of the National Anti-Substance Abuse Programme of Action, the Substance Abuse Act No. 70 of 2008 and the National Drug Master Plan.
For the rights of people with disabilities, the strategic objective was to promote the empowerment and rights of persons with disabilities through the development and implementation of legislation and programmes. The expected outcomes were having a legislative framework to protect and promote the rights of those with disabilities, to develop a national disability rights policy, and the development and implementation of social welfare services to cater for those with disabilities. It was important for the Department to develop, implement and track the Disability Inequality Index.
The second MTSF priority for the Department was to improve the provision of Early Childhood Development (ECD) services. The strategic objective was to strengthen child protection services and improve the quality of ECD services by 2019. The expected outputs of the Department strategy were to have a policy on ECD and a regulatory framework aligned to the ECD policy developed, having an ECD infrastructure plan and ensuring that 90% of the registered ECD facilities were complying with the norms and standards, and developing an integrated human resources plan. It was important to have a comprehensive package of services for children in ECD, which include nutrition, immunisation, literacy and stimulation, and to have a legislative alignment on ECD provision like municipal by-laws and provincial legislation, increasing access to child care and protection through adoption services. The Department aimed to push for the implementation of the foster care project plan, the transformation plan for clinic and youth care centres (CYCCs), and guidelines for the registration of Drop in Centres in terms of the Children’s Act. The strengthening of child protection services and a review of the Children’s Act was important.
Ms Vilakazi said that the deepening of social assistance and extending the scope for social security was the third MTSF priority. The objective was to ensure there was an extension of social assistance to eligible individuals by 2019 and the creation of efficient social security systems that protected poor people against income poverty by 2019. The Department planned to give social grants for eligible individuals and increase the Child Support Grant (CSG) by 50% by 2019. It was important to ensure that social and disaster relief was reaching affected individuals in distress timeously. The Department was aiming to increase the value of CSG to orphans and vulnerable children, and to have a policy on chronic conditions to expand social assistance coverage for people with disabilities. Outputs included policies on income support for working age individuals, a guaranteed employment scheme, mandatory cover for retirement, disability and survivor benefits, the inclusion of informal sector workers and military veterans in social security.
The fourth MTSF priority was to strengthen community development interventions. The objective of this would be to facilitate and coordinate community development by 2019, contribute to poverty eradication and the elimination of hunger through community programmes, and the provision of food and nutrition security services by 2019.
Ms Vilakazi indicated that the enhancement of skills and competencies of Community Development Practitioners (CDPs) and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) were meant to facilitate effective community development. The facilitation and mobilisation of community-based plans was essential for social transformation, establishing and supporting community income-generating initiatives. The Department would ensure that vulnerable households and individuals were able to access nutritious food through food security programmes.
The fifth MTSF priority was establishing social protection systems in order to strengthen coordination, integration, planning, monitoring and evaluation of services. The objective was to improve the social development sector performance through monitoring and evaluation (M&E) by 2019. The high level outputs expected would be conducting evaluation studies in line with sector priorities for social development, effective M&E systems for the social development sector, including the development of a results-based framework, and development of the National Integrated Social Protection System (NISPIS).
The Chairperson stressed that the Department needed to ensure that the priorities in the strategic plan were aligned with the upcoming Budget Vote. It would be useless for the Department if the strategic priorities were not aligned to the budget allocation, as the priorities would not be implemented if the budget did not include them.
Presentation of Annual Performance Plan (APP)
Ms Vilakazi said that in order to improve the social infrastructure portfolio, it would be important to construct four public in-patient substance abuse treatment centres. The Department aimed to develop an automated complaints management system (CMS,) and pilot it from within the DSD helpdesk. Gender mainstreaming would be incorporated into DSD laws, policies, strategies and programmes, and 150 officials would be capacitated in gender mainstreaming. The NISPIS and monitoring tools would be linked to sector priorities. A results-based framework for social protection would be developed. In the 2015-2020 period, they would develop a five-year human resources plan.
For social assistance, the high level outputs required social grants for eligible individuals and social relief to reach affected individuals timeously. In 2015/16, the DSD planned to give old age grants to 3 181 959 beneficiaries, child support to 12 042 973 beneficiaries, and grants to 223 war veterans, 1 112 767 people with disabilities, 142 180 requiring care dependency, 490 538 in foster care and 104 232 grant-in-aid individuals. The Department was also planning to process 160 000 applications.
The Department’s high level outputs for social security policy and administration would see the universalisation of the older persons grant and the completion of a discussion paper on it. There would be an increase the value of the child support grant (CSG) to orphans and vulnerable children and in the next two years the DSD planned to have completed consultation and the costing of a policy proposal. Consultation would take place this year on a policy for mandatory cover for retirement, disability and survivor benefits. The Department would develop policy options for the guaranteed employment scheme. A functional inspectorate for social assistance would be incubated within comprehensive security as a transitional arrangement, independent of the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the DSD.
The Social Welfare White Paper would be reviewed in the 2015/16 period. There would be development of a demand and supply model for social service professionals. The Department was planning to implement a supervision framework for social work. It was essential to develop recruitment and retention strategies for social service practitioners, and the draft of these strategies would be the first target of the Department. It was planning to develop skills enhancement programmes and the implementation of a scholarship programme which would see the award of 1 300 new scholarships. There would be legislation on the professionalisation and regulation of social service practitioners, which would be submitted to Cabinet. The Department was planning to obtain approval for the policy on financial awards (PFA) in the current financial year. It was important to review the dispensation for state-civil society partnerships in the delivery of social welfare and community development services and having it approved this year. The Department would also push for the finalization of the amendment to the Older Persons Act and development of a policy for the social work veteran’s programme.
The Department was planning to increase the number of children accessing ECD programmes by 10%, and also to gain approval for the comprehensive ECD programme.
Ms Vilakazi stressed that the Department was planning to strengthen child protection services this year. It would have 30 000 persons who worked with children screened against the Child Protection Register (CPR). It would monitor the implementation of the Isibindi Model in the provinces. The Department was targeting to have eight national advocacy and capacity development workshops on children's rights and responsibilities, and an audit on the current foster care placements. It aimed to have the Children's Act second Amendment Bill approved by Cabinet. The Department would have nine provincial workshops on strengthening child rights, governance and compliance systems. The Ulwazi Ngabantwana data system would be strengthened by having 100 users capacitated in the current financial year.
The medium-term targets for social crime prevention and victim empowerment were implementing the Child Justice Act, which would monitor several service providers providing diversion programmes in nine provinces. The Department would facilitate the implementation of prevention and early intervention programmes in the provinces, increase the number of people accessing command centre services by 10%, and obtain approval of the DSD academy concept. The Department intended to facilitate mobilisation for the establishment of 52 youth structures, involving 1 400 youths attending leadership camps and 8 000 youths participating in mobilization programmes. The Department would ensure that there was a youth development strategy review, and would facilitate 7 000 youths participating in skills development programmes.
The Department planned to strengthen psychosocial support and services to orphans and vulnerable children. During this financial year it aimed to reach 100 000 children who had parents that had been infected by HIV/AIDS. There was a plan to train 500 implementers on social behaviour change so that the implementation of the programmes could begin. The Department would prioritise on developing HIV/ AIDS competent communities through capacity enhancement programmes, which would train 300 facilitators on CCE, 1 900 caregivers on psycho-social programmes, and also draft policy guidelines for utilisation of community-based workers within the social development sector. The Department would develop a national disability rights policy and implementations tools, develop the transformation plan for protective workshops, and finalise the Disability Inequality Index.
The Department was planning to create 46 768 work opportunities, create 2 271 full-time equivalent jobs (FTEs) for the coordination of social cluster public employment programmes and integrate social services provided to communities by facilitating the provision of integrated DSD services to 42 Community Works Programme (CWP) sites, and seven DSD services to military veterans. The implementation of the national Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ASRHR) framework strategy on population policy work would be critically important, including the coordination and monitoring of the policy. The Department was planning to award five international scholarships for population policy analysis training, and maintaining 26 undergraduate bursaries. In terms of an effective and efficient national Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) registration, monitoring and information system, the Department wants to process 98% of applications within two months of receipt, and conduct NPO road shows in 70 local municipalities. It would also draft an NPO Amendment Bill this financial year, and have a capacity building and support framework which would train 3 000 NPOs and 400 DSD provincial officials. The Department was planning to train about 1 200 Community Development Practitioners(CDP) to enhance their skills and competencies, to facilitate effective community development.
The Chairperson raised a concern that the mandate of the Department was broad and that there was a large number of people that needed to be trained. It was important to ascertain whether the Department had been informed by a particular study on the matter. The APP must be able talk about sustainable improvement in society, and what impact would be made by various social services and NPOs.
Mr Clifford Apel, Chief Financial Officer (CFO): DSD, said that the budget had been reduced in the current financial year by R130 million. SASSA had the biggest reduction, which was R117 million, while the Department had a reduction of R12.9 million. The Department had reduced SASSA’s budget by R55 million in the current financial year, and had added it to the budget of the Department. The Department had made a financial request to the National Treasury (NT) regarding the child protection register, the programme office for ECD, victim empowerment programmes, the programme office for food relief, and monitoring and evaluation. The Department's overall financial request was for R62.3 million, but the Treasury had recommended R55 million and so the Department had ended up getting that amount, although it had been deducted from SASSA. The ECD expansion and registration programmes had requested R2.2 billion, but the NT had recommended only R460 million. The Department had made a budget request to the NT for the universalisation of the older person grant in 2016/17, but the discussion had been postponed until the 2017/18 financial year.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) wanted to know whether the Department had received the money from the NT for the social worker bursary that needed to be absorbed by the Department last year, or had this been totally declined by Treasury.
Mr Apel responded that the Department had not received funding from the NT for the social worker bursary, and had consulted their heads of departments and provincial structures to absorb funding, but with funding there was only so much they could do. The Department had requested additional funding from the Treasury, but this had not been approved. There had been consultation with the CEO of SASSA, together with the Treasury, to get R55 million from SASSA.
Ms H Malgas (ANC) asked about the number of social workers who had gone to various universities, and where they had been absorbed. It was important to why the scholarships that had been offered to 3 000 students in the first year had been declined in the following year as the Department was supposed to offer the scholarships till the third or fourth year, when students had completed their studies. She also asked how the implemented budget cuts would impact on the programmes of the Department, as it was concerning that the budget for the absorption of the social workers had not been approved.
Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) asked whether the youth clubs mentioned in the youth programme would be state-owned or not. She wondered whether the Department was able to capacitate and professionalise the young care centres, like Isibindi Youth Care, as they were often run by unqualified people.
The Chairperson asked about the impact of the youth clubs like LoveLife in various communities and the number of people that had been trained and allocated to work in these clubs. It was disappointing to observe that despite the funding from the Department, the majority of these youth clubs had been ineffective in addressing the problems that were facing young people. What was the exact role of LoveLife? How many people t had been trained by LoveLife, considering that there was a lot of duplication in various similar programmes? She expressed concern about the reduction of the SASSA budget, considering the mandate of the Agency.
Ms E Wilson (DA) asked about the position and responsibility of the NDA, as the entity had been allocated R184 million for funding, but its mandate had been consistently changing. The Committee had expressed concern about the main responsibility of NDA, especially in addressing the challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment. It would be important to get the breakdown of the R184 million that had been allocated to NDA so as to know the programmes to be prioritised.
Mr Apel responded that the funding for the social worker bursary would be allocated to the beneficiaries until the fourth year, and the budget had not been included in the presentation. The Department would need to reprioritise some of the targets. The Department was aware that SASSA had big projects lined up and therefore could not deduct a huge amount of budget to be allocated.
The Chairperson stressed that the Department had reprioritised some of the targets and programmes without the consultation of the Committee, and emphasised that in future the Department should alert the Committee prior to the implementation of reprioritisation so as to advise on the programmes where funding could be reallocated.
Mr Apel responded that LoveLife was no longer part of the strategy of the Department. There was a CFO for the NDA who was capable of dealing with the R184 million that had been allocated to the entity.
Mr Peter Netshipale, Deputy Director-General, NDA, clarified that the role of the NDA was to reduce poverty as part of poverty alleviation strategy. It looked at civil society organisations that were funded as part of reducing poverty and marginalization. LoveLife was one of the organisations that aimed at fighting HIV/AIDS, and the R54 million would be divided among all the organisations that were under the Department. The NDA planned to vigorously engage youth, as young people were the future of the country. It would engage young people in all 52 districts through youth mobilisation and communication. The youth would be given an opportunity to highlight skills that were critical important for them. In essence, the NDA was a subset of the National Youth Development Agency, which was aimed at assisting the youth.
The Chairperson asked about the role to be played by youth clubs, given the number of people the Department was planning to capacitate within youth clubs and other initiatives. The Department needed to ensure that the youth programmes were able to divert young people away from criminal activities. She suggested that the youth programmes should be configured differently from the community development programmes so that the Department could measure the output of the programmes.
Ms Wilson asked whether there was any particular reason that the Department had allocated a budget for payment or leasing, but there had been people on the ground who were still complaining that they had not been paid
The Chairperson suggested that such a question needed to be directed to the Minister, as it was complex for the officials.
Ms Wilson rephrased he question by asked for the time-frame for the completion of the construction on patients’ substance abuse treatment centres, as there had been delays on the project despite the fact that the budget for the project had already been allocated.
Ms Van der Merwe asked whether the Department had interventions and plans in place to assist children to access ECD centres, especially children with disabilities who were excluded from the mainstream schooling system, when considering the implemented budget cuts.
The Chairperson asked when the budget for the four mental health institutions would be available and what had happened to the budget of the Department of Women and Children. She asked whether the Department would be able to carry out all the programmes that needed to be completed in the APP.
Ms Malgas asked about the relationship of the Department with the Youth Development Agency in the Office of the President.
MrMagwaza requested MrApel to clarify the matters of the 4 institutional centres and also address the R55 million that would be deducted from SASSA as he felt that the Committee had been uneasy about that issue.
Mr Apel responded that the substance abuse transfer would go to the four centres that would be constructed. The Department was busy finalising the construction of the Eastern Cape centre, Northern Cape and Free State would start construction in July/August, and North-West had also started with construction, so the completion and finalization of all centres would be by next year. In terms of the budget, he referred Members to page 31 of the presentation, stating that the funds from the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD) had been carried through to the Department -- R39 million in this financial year alone. In respect of the budget shift, he said the transfer for SASSA was part of the budget of the Department. The only thing that had been requested from Treasury was to reduce SASSA’s budget because they had savings, and the reduction would not heavily impact on them.
The Chairperson did not accept the response that had been provided, as the budget of the Department needed to be clearer. SASSA should have its own independent budget and not rely on the budget that had been allocated to the Department.
Mr Wiseman Magasela, DDG, DSD, said that a lack of funding had been an issue in the Department and they had come under severe pressure with the community outreach projects which needed to be undertaken. The most notable one was Mikondzo which was a project that monitored and looked at how the Department and SASSA were performing at grassroots level and how they could change for the better, and therefore the project needed to be implemented. The issue had then come up that they did not have the budget to even implement the Mikondzo project. The Minister of DSD had written to the Minister of Finance, motivating for the amount the CFO had referred to (R55 million), so the allocation by the Treasury had been done after consultation with the Minister. There was even a meeting between the Minister and Treasury at which the Department had explained what they needed the funds for, and pointing out that the Department had had financial constraints for a long time.
The Chairperson replied that the Committee had dealt with the issues that the DDG had raised and felt the debate had been lost by the Department. She requested that the matter be dropped, because they were not addressing the question that had been posed.
Ms Malgas said that when a budget was cut there were reasons, and the Department should provide answers for this. It was concerning that there had not been a workshop between the Committee and the Department to oversee their work and see where the money went to. She felt the NDA needed to account for the budget they had received, and how they planned to use it.
The Chairperson stressed that the Department needed to address everything they did to the Committee when they came to do a report. The budget cuts which had not been addressed and the foster care issues of last year were examples of the matters the Department had not reported on. The Acting DG should report on these matters at the next meeting. The Department needed to clarify some issues that had not been addressed.
Briefing by South African Social Security Agency (SASSA)
Ms Virginia Petersen, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), SASSA, said the organisation was a Schedule 3A Public Entity that was established in April 2006, and their objective was to act as the sole agent that would ensure the efficient payment of social assistance, eventually serving as an institution to manage broader social security benefits. The entity was fully funded by government.
The alignment of SASSA to the NDP was on outcome 13, which was to provide an inclusive and responsive social protection system. Under the social protection sub-outcomes, it planned to deepen social assistance and extend the scope of social security. The strategic objectives were to increase access of old age grant Child Support Grant (CSG) coverage, to improve the grant administration system – with a successful registration on to the biometric system -- a new social grant payment, and automation of the social grant administration information system. The strategic outcome orientated goal was to expand access to social assistance and creating a platform for future payment of social security benefits. The key priorities for this financial year were to reduce income poverty by providing social assistance to eligible individuals, improve service delivery, improve organisational efficiency, automation of business systems and institutionalising the social grants payment system with SASSA.
Ms Petersen said that KZN had the most number of people on grants, yet the population in Limpopo was increasingly dependent on grants, with 42% of the population receiving grants, followed by the Eastern Cape with 40%. Although KZN had the highest number of grants, only 37% of their population was on grants. Gauteng, being the economic hub, had only 18% of their population receiving grants. There had been 12 519 cases of fraud and corruption between the period 2012 to 2015. Of these, 5 052 had been closed and 8 769 had been finalized, meaning they had either been solved by SASSA or would be heard in court. R145 million had been stolen and only R2.3 million had been recovered.
The key priority for the MTEF, in terms of the implementation of the social assistance programme, was to provide social assistance to qualifying beneficiaries. The planned activities were to ease access to social grants by new entrants, increase the number of grants in payment from 16 052 000 beneficiaries to 17 007 169 by the end of the financial year, increase child support grants for children aged under one year by 10%, or 50 000. 400 000 social relief of distress (SRD) benefits would be processed and provided to families in distress. Another objective was to manage backlog reviews of foster care grants, and this would be done by conducting reviews in collaboration with the DSD. In terms of the improved internal efficiency priority, the objective was to have reduced inclusion errors, eliminating beneficiaries who had entered the system wrongly. This would be done by conducting a clean-up of beneficiary biometric data, focusing on the elimination of duplicate fingerprints for adults and children, and intensifying fraud prevention and investigation measures.
Ms Petersen indicated that another objective was to improve management of Regulation 26A by obtaining mandates from beneficiaries to ensure that only the regulated 10% funeral deductions were affected. The strategic objective for the improvement of service delivery included taking services and information to communities in order to improve public participation. This would be done by intensifying community outreach programmes through 420 integrated community registration programmes, 36 Mikondzo service delivery interventions, conducting door-to-door campaigns and 200 public and beneficiary education awareness programmes.
There was now a concerted effort to improve the conditions at SASSA offices, with the acquisition and maintenance of suitable infrastructure in areas that were strategically located to serve the beneficiaries better. SASSA was planning to conduct audits of all improved local offices to confirm improvements and establish whether there were outstanding offices that required further improvements. The elimination of open space pay-points would be done through building structures and in some cases, moving the pay-points to alternative community structures.
Ms Petersen said a priority was to improve human resource management by revising the SASSA human resource plan to align it and the structure to new organisational needs, to ensure that 95% of all funded posts were filled, to establish an in-house vetting unit in order to fast track the vetting of all SASSA staff, and to strengthen communication and engagements with staff, particularly in local offices and service points. The last priority was to automate systems and processes. SASSA planned to implement biometric access to the system for staff, targeting 5 000 users, migrating from the Novell system to Microsoft.
A key project for SASSA in 2015 was the payment tender, which was still an item of the Constitutional Court. However, the entity would receive an answer by Friday and by 15 October 2015, they would award the tender to the successful bidder. SASSA was planning to ensure that there was an in-sourcing of on-going enrolments, elimination of open space pay-points, management of Regulation 26A and planning toward a new social grant payment system.
Mr Tsakeriwa Chauke, Acting CFO, SASSA, said that budget that had been allocated to SASSA was R6.8 billion, but with the R55 million reduction for the DSD and the baseline reduction of R117 million, they had been left with a budget of R6.6 billion. SASSA would be able to manage all the programmes, as they had retained a surplus budget which would keep the Agency going till the medium term. In terms of the long term goals, the baseline amount would have to increase, as there would be a requirement to buy equipment and rental of office space as SASSA had increased responsibility. The bulk of the allocated budget for SASSA would be going to goods and services, with 57%, and 43% for employees. The reduction of budget allocation for SASSA meant it would be forced to do more work with limited funding, so a special emphasis would be on avoiding frills and ensuring that the APP and budget were synergetic, to provide efficiency, economy and effectiveness.
Ms Petersen said that there were challenges surrounding the payment tender due to the ongoing court challenges which needed to be addressed, the decreasing financial resources, fraud, theft and corruption, and unintended consequences of the payment process.
The Chairperson asked whether there was a linkage between the DSD and SASSA in the provision of food to distressed families. It was important to get more information on Project Mikondzo, especially on the role of providing food to distressed families
Ms B Abrahams (ANC) asked about the procedure in terms of the scanning of 30 million records in the nine provinces. It was also important to ascertain whether those who would do the work would be given temporary or permanent employment.
Ms Wilson asked for clarification on the closed and finalised cases the CFO had referred to, and whether these were fraudulent people from within the entity, or people who had committed fraud with their social grants.
Mr Netshipale responded that the Department did provide food programmes. There were over 80 of them scattered around the country, and they addressed the children and families who did not have anything to eat. This was an initiative where SASSA, DSD and the NDA had to implement together because it was required that these soup kitchens be provided to the community on a daily basis, and the DSD needed organisations to assist with these and monitor their outcomes. Other departments like Health ensured that the meals that were provided to these communities were nutritional and were the right food to keep these families healthy. Agriculture played a role as well in this programme, and although it was relatively new there were challenges that needed to be addressed.
The Chairperson stressed that the food programme was a huge problem in the rural areas and advised that the Department should consult with the Committee so that they could guide them on the implementation of the programme, because these soup kitchens were sent to the main towns, away from the people who did not have access to resources already. She was not pleased with the developments of the Department in terms of the food programme.
Mr S Mabilo (ANC) asked whether there was quality assurance and monitoring and evaluation taking place within the food programme, and if it made an impact on the community.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would continue to call for drastic change in the operation of the Department. She said that people must not be spoon-fed, and the Department should come up with ways to ensure that communities were able to live independently, rather than be dependent on grants for a living wage.
Ms Wilson agreed with the Chairperson, and added that there was a lack of integration in all spheres of government. The Committee needed to have a meeting with the Department and the entities. There had been no discussion from the Department on the projects that were to be completed. The interest seemed to be on acquiring funds for new and different projects, while the Committee could assist with advice and guidance on their current projects.
Mr Magwaza agreed that there should be a workshop between the Department and the Committee, because it would take time to address the matters raised by the Committee. There was integration between the DSD, SASSA, the NDA, and local and provincial governments.
The Chairperson interrupted by saying the information had not been presented to the Committee and that the answer was not accordance with the question. She said that the food programme was a new matter for the Committee, and the DG must not be offended.
Mr Magwaza responded that indeed a call for a workshop would be a great opportunity for the Department to engage with the Committee.
The Chairperson responded that a workshop had been proposed a long time ago, but it had never taken place.
Ms Mogotsi said that the Committee needed to have a workshop with the Department, and added that most of the programmes the Department was addressing had been reported on last year. She advised the Department to invite the Committee when undertaking community outreach programmes.
Ms Tsoleli said that the researchers needed to do research on the work of the Department, as they were “all over” at the moment.
Ms Petersen stated that there was integration between iCorp and Mikondzo.
Mr Caesar Vundule, Acting Chief Information Officer (CIO): SASSA, said that there were three approaches to the scanning of the 30 million files. The first was to back scan, meaning all the files that had been scanned already would be checked again. The second was to scan all urgent files that would be requested by the Auditor-General and other entities, which was called scanning on demand. The third was to scan the documents as they came to prevent fraud, and so in the long term they would know the files had been checked.
Ms Petersen stated that in regard to fraud, the closed cases were the ones that were not deemed fraudulent, while the finalised cases were the ones where the investigation had been completed and would go to a disciplinary hearing. SASSA could not add more people now, due to the implemented budget cuts, and when they took over the whole operation it would be possible to employ and increase the workforce to 16 000 people.
Ms Mogotsi stressed that the Agency had changed its organisational structure because there were a number of posts that had been filled, although they had been budgeted for.
Ms Thandi Sibanyoni, Executive Manager: SASSA, said that they had 634 posts available. These posts had already been advertised in order to be filled.
Ms Dianne Dunkerley, Executive Manager: SASSA, said in terms of the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) per province, the amount they had received last year was R500 million. This year it would be R249 million, which was not enough for all the provinces. SASSA had targeted to support 400 000 individuals with the social relief programme this year alone.
The Chairperson raised the issue that there was a programme between the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), Cooperative Development and SASSA that was going to take place, and wanted clarity on that.
Mr Netshipale responded that he had attended the Small Business Development Portfolio Committee which looked at sustainability and dealing with poverty. Women would be developed to join SMME structures, as well as to help out at schools in the Department of Basic Education (DBE). Agriculture would be able to train them to help provide poor families with the agricultural skills that would assist them to farm. The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) also helped, so there were a number of departments in the making of this programme. The Committee would be given an updated report once the programme had been finalised.
Mr Brenton van Vrede, Acting DDG, added that the linkage of social grant beneficiaries to socio-economic opportunities was limited, and the Department was trying to help people with economic issues to ensure money moved around the community to boost the economy.
The Chairperson thanked the Department and SASSA for their presentations and indicated that it was clear that the meeting needed more time as there were many issues that were still to be discussed and responded to by the Department.
The meeting was adjourned.