The Portfolio Committee on Social Development considered the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) for the Department of Social Development (DSD) and its entities for the 2014/15 financial year.
Some recommendations made by Members were: the DSD should make all international agreements signed available to the Committee; the Committee needed to be involved in the appointment of Board members; municipalities needed to undergo an audit to assess the levels of disabled people employed in their municipalities; a proper framework needed to be drafted specifically for the funding of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to ensure accountability; the DSD needed to strengthen its oversight role over its entities; and the DSD needed to transfer funds to NGOs in a manner which disproportionally benefit one NGO over another. Other issues raised included the issue of substance abuse among the youth, the killings of the elderly and the fact that there were not enough social workers, especially in rural areas where they were needed the most. Social workers working in the NGO sector earned less money than those in government and this needed to be addressed.
The BRRR was adopted with amendments.
The Chairperson welcomed a new Member to the Committee, Ms B Masango (DA).
Ms Masango thanked the Chairperson for the introduction, and indicated that she was previously in the National Council of Provinces as a permanent delegate representing Gauteng.
Ms B Abrahams (ANC) suggested that the Committee first adopt the 4th Term Committee Programme and deal with the report afterwards.
4th Term Committee Programme
Ms C Dudley (ACDP) suggested that the Committee go through the report page by page.
Ms E Wilson (DA) said a lot of things needed to be addressed in the reports.
The programme was adopted.
Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR)
Ms Yolisa Nogenga, Committee Content Advisor, indicated that as part of exercising its oversight work, the Committee considered the 2014/15 annual reports of the Department of Social Development (DSD) and its entities; and the BRRR reports on the financial and non-financial performance of the department and its entities.
Ms Wilson said the Committee needed to be involved in the processes of facilitating the appointment of candidates to entities and the election of Boards. She had also asked for copies of all international agreements signed by the DSD and its entities, and these were yet to be sent through. It was very important that the Committee had copies of these international agreements.
Ms H Malgas (ANC) agreed with Ms Wilson on the issue of the international agreements. According to the Constitution the Committee had a mandate to look into such matters.
The Chairperson said another problem was that there was not a lot of continuity within Committees, therefore limiting the updating of record keeping. The Committee needed to be updated on all information.
Ms Wilson said the priorities of the DSD were very alarming, because it was in those priorities that the DSD failed to meet its targets. The DSD did not take its priorities seriously.
The Chairperson said the expenditure needed to highlight how much was spent on the priorities. The Minister of DSD confirmed that the department still had the highest number of employees with disabilities across all departments.
Ms Dudley said there needed to be a recommendation specifically on children. The Committee could also recommend that municipalities undergo an audit to assess the levels of disabled people employed in their municipalities.
Ms K De Kock (DA) said the report should rather reflect “failed to meet targets” rather than the DSD “deviated from the targets.”
Ms Nogenga said “deviated” was sometimes used when they met the bulk of their targets and few targets were not achieved. However the context was different because the DSD did not meet any of its targets.
The Chairperson said deviation occurred when a department used funds for a target other than the one the funds were allocated for. The Committee should therefore be careful to indicate that the DSD deviated from its targets.
Mr S Mabilo (ANC) indicated that the Minister had already clarified the matter of duplication of programmes between the DSD and the National Development Agency (NDA), such as the Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme and the Community Development Programme. Why was the Committee including the information again in its report?
Ms Nogenga suggested that after the Minister clarified this, the Committee invite the DSD to come and provide the Committee with a more in-depth briefing.
The Chairperson said with regard to financial and non-financial support to Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), the Committee had advised the department in the Northern Cape to develop a business plan to capacitate NGOs who lacked capacity to develop their own business plans. Delays that came about as a result of non-compliance with these requirements were a serious challenge. This also affected funding and therefore needed serious attention. The Minister said that those who were found to be involved in unauthorised deductions from social grants would face criminal charges.
Mr Mabilo said the Committee needed to provide context on the R1 billion debt reported by the Auditor General to avoid the information being misconstrued. A footnote with an explanation needed to be inserted.
The Chairperson agreed with the suggestion. She read out the recommendations that Members had drafted for the DSD and asked that Members add any other recommendations they had.
Mr Mabilo said a provision should be added that the recommendations made by Members would not necessarily be automatically accepted, they would just be added to the draft report. Unrealistic recommendations would not be accepted.
The Chairperson agreed that the new recommendations raised would be up for debate and discussion
Ms De Kock said the first recommendation she wanted to add was on observations made by the Committee on NGOs and their registration; she suggested that while it was important to process applications for NGO registration, this should happen within an appropriate regulatory framework to ensure accountability towards beneficiaries, donors and funding departments. During registration, the DSD needed to ensure that there was a proper framework in place to ensure accountability.
Ms Dudley said the Committee could play a role in strengthening oversight of NGOs and their funding.
Ms Malgas agreed with Ms Dudley that the Committee needed to strengthen the DSD’s oversight role on NGOs.
The Chairperson asked whether Members agreed with the recommendation.
Mr Mabilo said Members agreed to the amendment. He agreed with the strengthening of the DSDs oversight role.
Ms De Kock’s second recommendation was around the funding of NGOs and the issue of Love Life. The DSD needed to transfer funds to NGOs in a manner that did not disproportionally benefit one NGO over another. The DSD gave more than half of its money to one NGO and this was very discriminatory.
Ms Dudley said Members should try and move away from dictating to the Department, Members should rather ask for a review of the DSDs funding mechanism so that the Committee could give advice on that at a later date.
Mr Mabilo said the issue was a contentious issue; the DSDs funding to NGOs was based on a business plan, there can therefore not be a “once size fits all” approach. There were challenges within NGOs themselves.
The Chairperson responded to the issue of Love Life and said the NGO was not allowed to continue with normality, their budget was cut and the DSD was assisting them to develop proper relationships and programmes before they were funded again. The Committee had invited Love Life to come brief the Committee on their broad mandate.
Ms De Kock said the suggestion could fall away as long as the matter of funding of NGOs was something the Committee would look at on an ongoing basis.
Ms Malgas indicated that currently the DSD was reviewing NGOs and the report would be made available to the Committee. Funding issues fell under this review.
Ms De Kock’s third recommendation was that payments between state social workers and those employed by the NGO sector should be standardised. This should be prioritised.
The Chairperson said the matter was already reflected in the report.
Ms Dudley spoke to the social care grant and said it came under SASSA that there was some investigation underway. Did the Committee want to ask the Minister to prioritise the investigation?
The Chairperson said her understanding was that there was an advisory committee looking into such.
Ms Dudley said there was reference to an Annual Survey Report on Social Assistance; where was the process?
Mr Mabilo said the Report fell under the DSDs action plan.
The Chairperson said the Auditor General’s report contained all the Minister’s commitments. The Committee’s role was to conduct oversight on the Minister’s commitments to the Auditor General.
Ms Dudley agreed. The Committee should look at a review and report on the need for the Bill on Social Development Services to assess whether the Bill was necessary.
The Chairperson said the Deputy Minister was very committed to the Bill and as soon as the Bill was finalised it would be presented to the Committee.
Ms Mabilo said suggesting the DSD look into the employment of people with disabilities was not necessary. The Department of Monitoring and Evaluation dealt with keeping track of how departments were performing in the employment of women, youth and people with disabilities. The Minister of DSD responded to that question the previous week.
Ms Malgas said the Committee needed to mainstream disability within the DSD.
Ms Dudley agreed with Ms Malgas and said it looked as though the Committee was not prioritising people with disabilities.
Ms Abrahams agreed with the Members; and the DSD needed to prioritise people with disabilities.
The Chairperson said the Bill would be part of the Committee’s oversight.
Ms Wilson said in terms of the DSDs strategic priorities, one being the facilitation of the appointment of candidates to entities; she recommended that the Committee be involved in the interviewing of candidates and their appointments, both within the DSD and its entities. Another strategic priority was considering international agreements; she recommended that the Committee receive access to all information on the agreements and what they entailed. She asked that the Committee receive a schedule of all the events held by the department and its entities so that Members could attend these as part of their oversight responsibility.
The Chairperson said the Committee had already agreed to request the international agreements from the DSD.
Ms Nogenga said the recommendations from Ms Wilson would be included as resolutions. On international agreements, the Committee Secretary had written a letter to the DSD requesting copies of the international agreements; however the DSD was yet to respond.
The Chairperson responded to the suggestion that the Committee needed to be involved in interview; the Committee would need to get a legal opinion on the matter.
A member from Parliament’s legal unit said various acts stipulated how boards should be appointed. In terms of the National Development Act (NDA) the DSD advertised for candidates to apply to be part of the Board, thereafter candidates were short-listed. After the short-listing the DSD would hand over that list of candidates to the Committee. The Committee would then recommend to the Minister the preferred candidates after interviews. The Minister made the appointments.
The Chairperson said when Members joined the Committee in 2012 Boards were already in place. However when their terms expired, Members would then be able to follow the procedure of appointing Board members. There was no need to include this as a recommendation.
Ms Wilson understood the process of appointing Board members; however the Committee could make a recommendation that the Minister give the Committee an annual review of the international agreements.
Ms Malgas said according to the report, providing the Committee with international agreements was part of the DSD’s mandate. This point should be made a resolution and not a recommendation.
Ms N Sonti (EFF) said the Minister should insist on facilitating door-to-door campaigns that looked for orphaned children who were not receiving the social care grant. The Minister should work with the Minister of Justice to make sure that applications for the social care grant were dealt with speedily. On social policy and integrated service delivery, NGOs who needed funding were growing by the day; direction should be provided to where people should go for assistance. She raised concern around the shortage of social workers; their salaries also need to be increased. Social workers in the NGO sector received lower salaries than those in government. Each ward needed to have a social worker, especially in the rural areas. With regard to gender-based violence she said more intervention was needed, especially in the murders of the elderly by young people. The root of the problem was that the majority of these young people took drugs and alcohol.
Ms Malgas said the Committee still had the Northern Cape report and the Eastern Cape report to look at, especially their recommendations around the killing of the elderly.
The Chairperson agreed with Ms Malgas on the reports.
Mr Mabilo said as part of the recommendations the Committee should commend the DSD for receiving an unqualified report. That was not an easy task.
The Chairperson said it was a good thing for Members to acknowledge their own good work. Departments performed well when they had a strong Committee in Parliament.
Ms Dudley suggested that the DSD be commended for the work that they have done. Other departments had not been able to get good reviews from the Auditor General.
Ms Wilson said she had no problem with the recommendation, provided that the Committee understood that the Audit Findings were merely an indication that the auditor could track finances. However the Committee should not get confused; there was a difference between an audit and a performance by the department in terms of their mandate. The audit findings were great, but the findings on the DSD were not so great.
The Chairperson said there was no confusion.
Ms Malgas said audit findings were indeed the tracking of finances, however it also indicated that administratively, the department was strong.
Mr Mabilo said the Auditor General indicated that there were no material findings within the DSD; the audit was clean and Members should not play politics.
Ms Content Advisor said the recommendation from Mr Mabilo should go under observations.
The Chairperson said in the whole country only three departments received such a good audit. The DSD had done good work.
Ms Abrahams said the DSD needed to prioritise Northern Cape on the matter of substance abuse.
The Chairperson said substance abuse was a huge problem throughout the whole country.
Ms Wilson said the Rehabilitation Centre in Limpopo was completed six months ago and it had still not been opened. Limpopo was the second highest province in the country with regard to addictions and substance abuse. This was something the Committee needed to prioritise.
The Chairperson agreed. The Member of the Executive Council in Limpopo had indicated that they want to sit with the Committee to discuss the issue of substance abuse so that the Committee and the province could plan together. She asked that the report be put to adoption.
The report was adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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