Department of Social Development on its 4 Quarter 2015/16 performance, in presence of Deputy Minister

Social Development

31 August 2016
Chairperson: Ms R Capa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Social Development (DSD) presented part of its second quarter (July to September) 2015 performance report, in the presence of the Deputy Minister.

Prior to the report being presented, a Member asked the Acting Director General, Mr Magwaza, to specify his exact role with the DSD because he had recently been referred to as the Chief Executive Officer of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). Several Members complained that his appointment was not communicated with the Portfolio Committee, and this put the Committee in an awkward position. They also were worried about the lines of accountability, wondered how this dual role stood in terms of the Public Finance Management Act accountability, and commented that the DSD had been staffed with a string of Acting Directors General which did not augur well for continuity, accountability or stability. They felt that the Minister should come to brief the Committee on the position. The Acting Director General answered that he had been asked to continue in this Acting post until the new appointment of the permanent Director General had been finalised. He himself had been appointed to head SASSA, but his appointment had not been officially confirmed with letters of appointment, and he had never held himself out in that post, and would only move to it once the new Director General took over at the DSD. SASSA was presently under the stewardship of an Acting CEO. When the matter was fully finalised, the Committee would be informed by the Minister.

The Committee noted the explanation.

The Department then started to take the Committee through a detailed and comprehensive briefing on the DSD Performance for the period, 01 July 2015 – 30 September 2015. Each of the programmes was explained and the figures for spending and achievement were presented in each of the five programmes.

The Chairperson interjected to ask that the Department should return to present the rest of the document in a full-day meeting, since the information was dense, detailed, and sufficient time was needed for the Committee firstly to go through the full presentation and secondly to formulate questions. It was decided that the meeting would be adjourned and the remainder of the information would be presented within the next couple of weeks. 

Meeting report

Opening remarks
Mr Thokozani Magwaza, Acting Director-General, Department of Social Development, introduced himself and said that he would make the presentation on the 2nd quarter 2015 performance of the Department of Social Development (DSD or the Department)

Ms S Tsoleli (ANC) interjected to ask whether Mr Magwaza is the Acting Director-General of the DSD or the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). Media reports noted that he had just moved across to SASSA but the Committee had not been informed.

Mr Magwaza said that currently he is the Acting Director General of the DSD. The interviews for the permanent Director General appointment had not been finalised. The Minister asked Mr Magwaza to continue in the Acting DG post until a new Director General is appointed, whereafter he would move to SASSA. Cabinet had confirmed that he was to be the CEO of SASSA, although he had not yet received the official letter of appointment.

Ms Tsoleli said that she was not entirely happy with the answer, and she was worried that without the Minister being present in the meeting, the right answers might not be forthcoming. The media reports and the different positions had only served to confuse the Committee. The Minister should come and explain this issue.

The Chairperson said that the DSD was now in the position of having a third Acting Director General in a very short space of time. Mr Pakade had been acting and left, and Mr Magwaza had then taken up an acting post and left, but was now back again as Acting DG. Mr Magwaza would be asked to explain what the arrangements were and why the DSD seemed to be “recycling” people as one acting position was simply followed by another. This was undermining the Committee's oversight role.

Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) asked what the recruitment policies are of the Department, and pointed out that this was not good for governance and accountability when the Committee did not know who was accountable.

Ms Mogotsi pointed out that Mr Magwaza had just stated that as yet he had not received a letter of confirmation of his position as CEO of SASSA, yet he was referred to as the CEO in the media, which raised other governance concerns. If the DSD did not understand its own HR policy this was problematic. She asked who would be taking responsibility as she was quite sure that this discussion would be sparking media interest already.

The Chairperson said that Mr Magwaza had told the Committee that he was currently the Acting Director General of DSD. However, it should be raised with the DSD that Mr Magwaza  was doing work for SASSA, and the Committee would want to know how there would be a smooth transition from being an Acting DG in one department to being a CEO of another entity.

Ms H Malgas (ANC) said that section 67 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) is very clear on the responsibilities of Head of the Department (HOD). If someone became the CEO of SASSA whilst still in an Acting position in the DSD this would create enormous confusion around responsibilities and accountability. The Minister must be asked to inform the Committee about the changes within the Department, by confirming in a letter who will be the head of the department to lead the delegation to the Committee.

The Chairperson said that it is critical and unfortunate that while so many millions of rands were allocated to SASSA, the existing policy allowed the appointment of boards by the Minister, with those boards reporting to the Minister and Cabinet, although Parliament had to exercise the oversight and was not told of appointments. Recruitment issues were vitally important. The role of the Portfolio Committee would include actually initiating change in a policy if the Committee feels it failed the oversight role of the Committee. She did not feel that the existing policies around oversight allowed sufficient oversight when accountability was actually directed elsewhere and that made the Committee vulnerable to the media criticism.

Mr Magwaza responded that although his photograph might have appeared on television he himself had never reported that he is the CEO of SSSA. He had appeared on television once, on the Ministerial Deductions case that was opened by the DSD, which is the policy writer for SASSA. He was present in his role as Acting DG of the DSD, and the person responsible for opening up the case was Brenton Van Vrede.

The Chairperson asked whether there has ever been an announcement that Mr Magwaza had moved to SASSA.

Ms Tsoleli emphasised that the same point had been raised in the Western Cape legislature, when Mr Magwaza was introduced as CEO of SASSA. The Department should immediately have corrected the mistake, if indeed it was a mistake.

At this point the Chairperson welcomed the Deputy Minister of Social Development to the meeting.

Mr Magwaza suggested that now that the Deputy Minister had arrived at the meeting it might be better for her to answer the questions. There was no dual work contemplated and he was not presently at SASSA. The Acting CEO of SASSA at the moment was Ms Raphaahle Ramokgopa, who assumed signing powers. He said that it was unfortunate that the media had picked up statements from the Minister and Presidency that his appointment was to be confirmed, and immediately associated him with the entity. He suggested that the reason that the Committee had not been officially informed was that he had not actually moved across formally, or received his letter of appointment, and when that happened the Minister would officially confirm this to the Committee.

The Chairperson said that anything that is misleading and misrepresenting the Committee should be immediately corrected, but even more than that, MPs were angry that they were receiving wrong information which might then act to their detriment and raise questions about their integrity. She cited issues that were not discussed in the Committee because they were said to be sub judice but were apparently discussed elsewhere.  Another matter that became clear in the Western Cape legislature discussions was to do with the communication strategy. The Portfolio Committee was supposed to be given a straightforward and specific communication on the issue of deductions, but that did not happen.

The Chairperson said that the Committee should be given sight of the recruitment policy of the Department. The DSD needed to have the right drivers to lead the Department in the right direction.

Ms P Sonti (EFF) appreciated the presence of the Deputy Minister and her delegates in the meeting, and agreed that the issue of Acting posts was frustrating for the Committee. Furthermore, so many Acting posts were taking the economy of the country down because there is no stability. The Committee had been told how administration and good employment were supposed to work but in reality there seemed to be nothing happening and nobody was seemingly taking a final responsibility.

The Chairperson said that that issue should be answered in the presentation when DSD covered Programme 1: Administration, and in the explanation on the funding of the organogram. Now that they know who the driver of the Department is, she asked that the presentation proceed.

Department of Social Development (DSD) Second quarter 2015 performance: July to September 2015
Mr Thabane Buthelezi, Chief Director: Monitoring and Evaluation, DSD, took over and said that the briefing would provide a  summary and analysis of performance in the implementation of the Ministerial priorities ,as reflected in the Department’s Annual Performance Plan (APP) for the 2015-2016 financial year.

In the second quarter reporting period, July to September 2015, 67% of the planned targets were achieved, an improvement on the 65% in quarter 1. Targets only partially achieved, decreased by 1%, from 14% in the first quarter to 13% in the second quarter. Similarly, targets which were not met at all, decreased by 1%, and amounted to 20% in the second quarter. The reasons for not meeting targets ranged through re-scheduling of meetings, lack of capacity, non-availability of stakeholders, faulty electronic systems, delays in approvals of terms of reference by different committees were mentioned as reasons for non-achievement of some targets. The performance has overall improved, and the improved trend is hoped to increase in subsequent reporting periods building up to the end of the financial year. 

Mr Buthelezi outlined the purpose of the programmes. Programme 1: Administration is to provide leadership, management and support services to the Department and the social development sector. Programme 2: Social Assistance is to provide income support to vulnerable groups. Programme 3: Social Security Policy and Administration is to provide for social policy development and the fair administration of social assistance. Programme 4: Welfare Services Policy Development and Implementation is to create an enabling environment for the delivery of equitable developmental welfare services through the formulation of policies, norms and standards and best practices and the provision of support to the implementation agencies. Programme 5: Social Policy and Integrated Service Delivery is to support community development and promote evidence-based policy making in the Department and the Social Development Sector.

He set out the context, saying that the social development sector delivers its services in an environment marked by high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Some recent policy developments were described as follows:
- The social assistance programme remains government’s single most significant poverty alleviation programme.
- Commitments to Universalise the Old Age Grant by 2016 were made by Ministers of both Social Development and Finance.
- The Consolidated Comprehensive Social Security Reform proposals had been completed, and these begin to give expression to the right to social security entrenched in the Constitution
- Internationally, the grant has been recognised by the World Bank to be amongst the best unconditional transfers in the world. In their recent report, The State of Social Safety Nets 2014, the World Bank ranks the Child Support Grant (CSG) as amongst the top five programmes across the world in terms of absolute number coverage as well as percentage of the population coverage. The CSG was ranked the largest social safety net in the Continent

Mr Buthelezi then described Project Mikondzo, which is a collective sector-wide service delivery improvement initiative that is targeting the most deprived and rural poor municipalities, reaching out to 23 deprived municipalities and 1300 wards in the country. Through this project DSD has been able to: - - Identify service delivery gaps at local level as well as gaps between policy formulation and implementation
- Achieve an increased DSD foot print and visibility in communities
- Increase its own understanding of the service delivery challenges and backlogs through direct interaction with local stakeholders such as ward councillors, ward committees, Civil Society Organisations, women’s groups, traditional leaders, faith based organisations (FBOs). They had assisted DSD to draft a citizen oriented Service Delivery Improvement Plan.

Although the Department is largely responsible for policy formulation, it also renders some of its services directly to the public, such as registration of NPOs. The Department works with other institutions within and outside government in the execution of its mandate: Critical partners include, amongst others, the Departments of Basic Education, Labour, Justice, Health and Rural development. Areas of collaboration include vital projects on issues affecting children, HIV & AIDS, older persons, victim empowerment, youth, and social security. Given the collaborative and interdependent nature of some of the Department’s work, it can only meet some of its targets if the other institutions deliver on their commitments as well. This is a government-wide integration challenge.

Mr Buthelezi said that Programme 1, Administration had a high spending level in the sub programmes. In the programme for the Ministry, the high spending relates to travelling, accommodation expenditure for both the Minister and Deputy Minister, which is part of the Departmental outreach programme in support of the core business operations. Breaking down the spending patterns by economic classification, he reported that in Capital Assets, the high spending relates to the overhaul of the Department's IT equipment due to it being out of warranty and support.

Mr Buthelezi said that on Programme 2: Social Assistance, the annual target for Quarter 2 on Old Age Grant beneficiaries was 795 489. Quarter 2 achievement was that 3 138 940 older persons benefitted from Old Age Grants. The Quarter 2 target for War Veteran Grant beneficiaries was 56, but in fact 277 beneficiaries in this category benefitted from the War Veteran's Grant. The target for the Child Support Grant beneficiaries was 3 010 743, and the achievement was 11 907 798 children benefited from Child Support Grants (CSG). For Disability Grants the target was 278 191, and the achievement was 1 102 354.

Mr Buthelezi said that in Programme 3: Social Security Policy and Administration, there was low spending on sub programmes. In the Social Security Policy Development subprogramme, spending of 17.05% was mainly due to the delay in the establishment of the Inspectorate Unit. In Appeals Adjudication, low spending of 14.13% mainly relates to the fact that although provision was made for legal fees, no litigation had in fact been brought against the DSD and therefore no expenditure had been incurred.

Programme 4: Welfare Services Policy Development and Administration showed high spending in particular in the subprogramme for Service Standards, at 70% spending. This mainly relates to the late payment for the Social Work Indaba that was held during the last week of March 2015. Although the event was held in the 2014/15 financial year, the invoices were received and paid only in the 2015/16 financial year. In Programme Management, there had been spending of 150%, and this was related to the travelling costs in support of the Departmental activities such as Child Protection Week, Social Work Indaba and community outreach programmes.

However, some of the programmes under Programme 4 also showed low spending. In the Older Persons subprogramme there was low spending of only 16%, which related to funding allocated to the Active Ageing Programme, since the expenditure here would only be incurred in the third quarter of the financial year. The Department was already planning the “Built-up” activities towards the Golden Games events in October 2015, such as Awareness on Older Persons abuse. On Substance Abuse there had been 16% spending, mainly because of delays with the transfer payment of the Substance Abuse Conditional Grant due to non-compliance with the Division of Revenue Act and framework. First quarter payments were withheld as a result of non-compliance. People with Disabilities spent 20%, with this low spending mainly relating to the planned activities being scheduled in the third quarter of the financial year.
In the Youth subprogramme, low spending of 29% was due to activities being scheduled in the 3rd quarter of the financial year, such as Annual Youth Camps and the Youth Mobilisation programmes. On HIV & AIDS there was 18% spending, mainly because of the delays with the first tranche of the HIV & Aids organisation, due to the amendment of the allocation to allow DSD to partner with broad key social partners in the field of HIV&AIDS prevention. In Transfers and Subsidies, the low spending mainly relates to the delays with the transfer payment for the Substance Abuse Conditional Grant due to non-compliance with the Division of Revenue Act and framework. Other reasons were the amendment of the allocation of HIV&AIDS organisations to allow DSD to partner with broad key social partners in the field of HIV&AIDS prevention, and late receipt of the compliance documents for the Social Worker Scholarship programme. In Payments of Capital, the low spending relates to the procurement of office furniture and equipment scheduled in the latter part of the 2015/16 financial year.

Mr Buthelezi said that on Programme 5: Social Policy and Integrated Service Delivery, there was high spending in some sub programmes. In Population Policy Promotion, the high spending of  57% mainly relates to the “Parent Association of South Africa Conference” held in the first quarter of the financial year. The training was conducted on “United African Population Studies” to the International Organising Committee. On Community Development however there was low 9.22% spending, mainly because of the delays with the transfer payments for the  Food Relief Programme, and operational activities such as Community Outreach Programmes and Dialogues, the consultative workshop on the community development norms & standards, training of Community Development Practitioners (CDP) and the Community Based Organisations (CBOs).

The Chairperson interjected at this point. There was a very large quantity of information in the presentation, and the Committee would have to be careful and ensure that it was able to deal with each of the programmes effectively before moving on to the next. She proposed that at this point the meeting should be adjourned, to allow Members sufficient time to read through the presentation. A great deal of information had been presented in a short space of time and it would be unfair to expect the Committee or the DSD to do full justice to that information now.

Ms Malgas agreed with the Chairperson that it would be appropriate to adjourn the meeting because there were so many programmes to go through, and she would like time to do some research on some topics.

Ms E Wilson (DA) said that she had a string of questions on the report. She was not opposed to adjourning, but she would like the Committee and the DSD to meet again very soon – within the next couple of weeks, not the next term - to get clarity on the issues arising from the report.

The Chairperson noted Members' agreement on an adjournment and said that the DSD would have to return to the Committee for a full day meeting. She thanked the delegation.

The meeting was adjourned.

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