Committee Report on Social Development Budget: preliminary meeting

Social Development

21 April 2016
Chairperson: Ms R Capa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The biggest concern the Committee had about the Department of Social Development Budget Vote – and why the Committee Report was not passed - revolved around the Central Drug Authority (CDA). The CDA is not an entity – but a sub directorate under the Minister of Social Development. The Committee had not had the CDA present and account for its funding since the 2013/14 Annual Report. In the previous year, the Committee recommended that the CDA become an entity. This will enable the Committee to be in the loop about the CDA and it will also give the CDA more responsibilities and hold them accountable for its funds. The Committee would make that recommendation again.

Other recommendations were for more achievable targets that still lead to a definite impact by the Department and that plans should be made for improved communication between the Committee and the National Development Agency (NDA).

The Committee also will not go to the National Assembly for the 4 May DSD budget debate without knowing the progress on all four provincial substance treatment centres that had to be completed by the end of March 2016. The Committee hoped to meet with the CDA on 26 April and then adopt its Committee Report on the DSD Annual Performance Plan.
 

Meeting report

Committee Report on Department of Social Development Annual Performance Plan
The Chairperson noted that Members had, since yesterday, time to look at the Committee Report on Department of Social Development Annual Performance Plan and she hoped Members had done so.

She pointed out that the programme relating to the Central Drug Authority (CDA), a very topical issue in South Africa, had not been presented to the Committee. Therefore her suggestion and request was two-fold: That they do not pass the budget vote and adopt the Committee Report until they have summoned the CDA, together with its line-function manager, to present their year plan. A date would have to be found in the next week for the Committee to meet again which was problematic because of the many meetings happening currently.

The Chairperson said their recommendations to the Minister, through the budget debate on 4 May 2016, must include CDA because of the weight of the issue.

Ms H Malgas (ANC) said the Committee knew that drugs are rife in South Africa. She noted the CDA is to have a big increase in its budget and she was happy for that. The CDA falls under a sub programme of Social Development and she recalled that during the Annual Report presentations last year, she proposed that the CDA become an entity. It should be proposed again to the Department that CDA becomes a separate entity.

Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) said that if the Department gives the CDA funds, it must come and report in order to account for the money. She said that CDA had pleaded with them the previous year for clarity on its involvement. Substance abuse and the ensuing crime cannot be left as it is. She asked why the CDA cannot be an entity. She repeated that, if they receive money, they must come and say what they will do with it.

Ms E Wilson (DA) agreed, saying the CDA should have become an entity long ago. They could then be given more responsibility. She was concerned about the time they had available to meet with the CDA for the budget vote was in a few days’ time.

The Chairperson proposed that they go through the Committee Report for now. She suggested that the secretary take them through the report page-by-page.

Ms S Tsoleli (ANC) said that as far as she knows the Committee is meeting in Parliament on Tuesday only.

The Chairperson asked again that the Committee now deal with the report. She said that the Committee is always able to find each other and that they have a culture of “working-together and doing their best”

The Committee Secretary, Ms Lindiwe Ntsabo, said that her understanding was that the CDA was a sub directorate under the Ministry. Normally it tables its reports to Parliament and their money resides under the Minister. They did not table a Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan (APP). She did not see how it will be possible for CDA to come the following week if they had not tabled an APP. Since she has been Committee secretary, the Committee has never met with the CDA on its APP.

Ms Tsoleli thanked the Chairperson for giving the secretary an opportunity to clarify. She said that, because of time constraints she could not check what the Act said on authorities (such as the CDA) as opposed to entities. As she understands it, there is not a direct appropriation of money to the CDA. It appears CDA is a programme within a programme. Such authorities report to the department who then report to the parliamentary committee. She asked if the CDA has ever presented an APP or Strategic Plan to the Speaker. If they had missed asking the Department about CDA being an authority, it is their fault as a Committee.

The Chairperson said it was indeed huge mistake on the Committee’s part, but they are now dealing with the DSD budget and that they are required to put recommendations about it in their Committee Report. She mentioned Early Childhood Development being a Programme which gets interrogated about what is allocated to it. The reason they are scrutinising the report is to identify gaps and close them. However, it would be strange if they do not try to find answers about how each of these Programmes will work this year and how much the Department has for them. They must look into each Programme and see if the priorities are being addressed.

She noted that there had been a motion approved in Parliament for the CDA to be an entity. But, there has been no follow up to see if the process has started and if not, a further recommendation can be made.

The Committee Secretary said there was nothing wrong in the Committee repeating a recommendation made in the previous financial year. She said there were avenues for them to take to check on progress. The critical issue regarding the CDA is that it has not presented an annual report to the Committee since 2013/14 and that the Committee’s focus should now be to get them to come and present. This was important because of the CDA being a sub directorate under the Minister, in the plan to fight drug abuse. It seemed that, at one stage the CDA had agreed to come and present, but that has not happened yet.

After a short break, the Chairperson said that what MsTsoleli had said earlier has been confirmed.

The Committee Secretary said as indicated the CDA did not table an APP and Strategic Plan. They do coordinate the departmental and provincial drug master plans which complicates their APP as those departments do not comply. She noted that the 2014/15 CDA Annual Report had been tabled in Parliament for the Committee to consider.

The Chairperson said that the Committee should not be confused by “flyers” and other e-mails sent to them and that they now are fully informed about the situation.

She pleaded once more for the Committee to now focus on the Committee Report and their recommendations. She said they will “shoot in the dark” regarding recommendations for the CDA for now and when they get the 2014/15 CDA Annual Report, the Committee will add value to make one clear recommendation.

The Committee went through the Committee Report page by page.

The Chairperson referred to Programmes on page four, saying this was still broadly framed but it will be made more specific. She was happy about the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) R11.5 billion increase.

Ms K de Kock (DA) said under “Committee Deliberations” she would like to add items which were discussed but are not found in the Committee Report:
- Even though grants are being increased, people are still struggling with the high cost of food. She reminded the Committee that the Chairperson said they should look at “creative measures” to deal with this.
- The bursary funding increase for social work students without there being a 100% absorption rate for graduates, or the necessary budget for that. She felt it was important to put targets there that are achievable but also leads to definite impact.

The Chairperson said Ms de Kok was making a good point but she thinks this point is better served under “Recommendations”. As an example, she suggested that the Committee could put there that they would like to see mitigation against the rising food prices. If it is adopted by Parliament, DSD can react by stating the ways they are mitigating this. The Chairperson said she remembered the Department saying that they have reduced the Social Work bursary amount in order to use it to absorb and employ more Social Work graduates. She said it will make no harm to emphasise this point.

Ms de Kock said that was good as long as it had been discussed.

Ms Malgas said that it was discussed and that DSD put the date to 2019. She remembered the DA said they wanted a more realistic date nearer than 2019.

Ms B Masango (DA) confirmed that they thought the timeline was too long because the graduates have been sitting out of work since 2013.

It was decided that the Committee would include that under “Targets and Timeframes”.

Ms Malgas raised the substance treatment centres constructed by the CDA. She was under the impression that the centre in the Eastern Cape was finished and that the centres in the Northern Cape, North West and Free State had to be completed in this financial year. She wanted the Committee to look into that – because the centres were to open in March 2016, but the Committee had not had a chance to see them.

The Chairperson asked if she could come to the point of stating an inability to adopt the report. There were various items they must still look into. She remembers the March 2016 date for the centres. It was important to know how far all the centres were and if they will still make the completion date. They must now look for a date to adopt the report.

The Committee Secretary said she would assume that the CDA issue is now clear and that the CDA will only present the Annual Report they have tabled. She said the recommendation for them to become an entity would also be effected in this report. That will show that the Committee meant what they recommended in the previous report. Further, she noted what was said about the targets not being achievable and the challenging timeframe as another possible recommendation. Further recommendations could be that the communication between the National Development Agency and the Committee should improve, especially around the appointment of board members, as well as the business model of the CDA. She also said a follow-up will be made about substance treatment centre in the Eastern Cape.

Ms Malgas asked for the follow-up to be made in all four provinces about substance treatment centres. She said one of the issues that transpired about the NDA is the duplication of services.

The Chairperson said the Department of Social Development said they will address the issue of duplication. They now have a monitoring unit to check that the provinces are in line and to check that duplications of funding as well as grant applications, do not happen again. It was therefore not a good recommendation to make.
 
Ms C Dudley (ACDP) asked if the recommendations mentioned by the Committee Secretary plus the recommendation about creative measures regarding rising food prices, can be proposed. She asked that they follow up on the substance treatment centres but that the CDA presentation should be added onto the agenda so that they then only have to meet for an hour to work on the final wording of the recommendations.

The Chairperson gave five minutes for Members to confer with each other about the report and agree to the 26 April for the next meeting.

The meeting was adjourned. 

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