National Development Agency: briefing on anti-poverty programme

Social Development

30 March 2003
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Discussion

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
31 March 2003
NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY: BRIEFING ON ANTI-POVERTY PROGRAMME

Chairperson:
Mr E Saloojee (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Powerpoint presentation by NDA
Outlining the NDA Disbursements and performance since Inception

SUMMARY
The National Development Agency briefed the Committee on its anti-poverty programme. In the discussion that followed, Members expressed concern over the NDA's investment in the World Summit on Sustainable Development. They questioned the NDA regarding its coordination with other agencies and government, especially regarding the duplication caused by an overlap in functions. The structure of the report was criticized and it was suggested that the NDA provide further explanations to the Committee.

MINUTES
Presentation by National Development Agency
Mr Mthembu (CEO, NDA) conducted the presentation, focussing on important areas. They noted that the total funds under the management of the Agency since its inception until 25 March 2003, amounted to R742, 823, 519, of which 92% has been allocated and committed to projects and support activities. Their challenges include the need to decentralise and export NDA infrastructure and to deliver on programs. Projects needed be streamlined to ensure consistent monitoring, impact assessment and auditing. Mainstream public sector support needs to be enlisted.

Discussion
Mr M Masutha (ANC) inquired about the R10 million invested in the World Summit on Sustainable Development. He asked how the NDA could fund an event of that nature while their function was to focus on projects.

Mr Mthembu answered that they had sponsored the Civil Society component of the Summit. He explained that Civil Society was in a desperate situation because of a lack of financial support. He revealed that their funding contributed to the exposure of their rural projects to international debate. Their personnel were also part of the planning and monitoring of the Summit. He further asserted that they made sure that they funded post summit processes.

Mr Masutha referred to the subject of co-ordination between funding agencies. He noted the fact that there were a number of agencies responsible for funding projects. He expressed concern at the element of duplication and lack of collectivity between these agencies. He questioned whether so much monetary input was having the desired impact. He expressed a desire to know whether the different agencies are engaged in dialogue in this regard.

Mr Mthembu stated that one might say that the NDA has the responsibility of engaging other agencies in dialogue, but explained that technically, in terms of the NDA Act, this is not clear instruction for them. He asserted that any dialogue that does occur happens as a consequence of sheer will. There is no framework challenging them to come together. He gave the example that they had been trying to initiate dialogue with the Lottery Fund, but as yet had not been able to contact with the CEO after numerous attempts.

Mr Saloojee, Chairperson, stated that the Members of the Committee were under the impression that most of the funds allocated by the NDA would be for anti-poverty endeavours, especially projects aimed at encouraging the population to be financially active. He was concerned by the fact that they funded areas which should be government responsibility.

Mr Mbongo (Stakeholder Representation Manager, NDA) replied that this was an important observation. As part of the induction of the NDA there were three sector-policy priorities which were identified. The first was education and training, the second was economic development, and the third was health. He explained that they were aligning their funding according to this guideline.

Mr Saloojee questioned the notion of the NDA taking over government Departments' responsibilities.

Mr Mthembu explained that they did not see this as duplication as they would not fund a project that had been funded by government or another agency.

Ms Chivhase (ANC) asked about training and management projects such as Ntsika and Khula. She questioned the effectiveness of their delivery owing to the similarity of their roles. She also questioned their accessibility to less educated and rural communities.

Mr Mthembu said that there was duplication between the NDA and Khula and Ntsika. He asserted that if there was co-ordination between the two agencies their mandates would be clearer than they were presently. They found that these agencies deal with already educated and already established projects, and are thus not beneficial to lesser educated and rural communities. This was where the NDA tried to close the gap. The NDA would help to fund the projects that would educate such communities, so that they would be able to approach agencies such as Ntsika, Khula and banks.

Ms Makhasi (ANC) stated that it would be proper if they were able to get addresses of all the projects assisted by the NDA. Some projects were exploiting people and they could use these addresses to assist the NDA in a monitoring capacity.

Mr Saloojee asked if some description could be given with regard to the funding in the report to indicate relevance for each project.

Mr Mthembu suggested that the Committee also look at the legacy from which the funding of projects stems in this country. However, they would do homework that would put the Committee in a better light.

Mr Masutha firstly noted that he understood the legacy from which the funding of projects stems in this country. He suggested that the NDA have a clear vision to reverse this legacy by capacitating communities to be able to develop and take charge of their own development. Mr Masutha further stated that he was unable to accept an excuse for agencies being unable to co-ordinate themselves.

Mr Mthembu stated that the NDA only became fully accountable to Social Development early this year. He admitted that there was a great deal they could do, but it was still early. A strategy that would enhance co-ordination was the use of the cluster system to initiate dialogue with other ministries and avoid duplication.

Mr Saloojee expressed stern conviction that the NDA be re-examined.

Mr Mthembu explained that what was presented to the Committee in the report were funds that were allocated beyond the scope of the NDA. He pointed out that in the report they did signify the fact that they were moving towards a change of strategy by funding pro-active development programmes, as opposed to reactive development programmes.

Mr Saloojee demanded that the NDA inform them of exactly what they would be doing to remedy the current situation.

Mr Masutha explained that the Committee had to exercise their oversight role. But they could not do this if the report is published in such a way that they were not able to extract sufficient information form it.

Mr Saloojee stressed that since the passing of the NDA Bill earlier in the year, many civil society organisations were angry about their lack of involvement in the drawing up of the Bill. The Committee needed to give them answers. They should conclude the meeting with the clear understanding that there should be further engagement. Within a reasonable period they would have an opportunity to gain clarity.

Mr Masutha finished off by saying that the NDA had a point by asserting that they were only one of the agencies involved in the funding of projects. Therefore not all responsibility for co-ordination should be burdened on them.

The meeting was adjourned.

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