Department of Social Development on its July 2015 - March 2016 performance, in presence of Deputy Minister

Social Development

14 September 2016
Chairperson: Ms R Capa (ANC)

Meeting Summary

The Department of Social Development (DSD), in the presence of the Deputy Minister,  briefed the Committee on the Department's performance against targets, in each of the programmes, and its financial situation, in the 3rd  and 4th quarters of the 2015/16 financial year. The performance on the 2nd quarter had been presented earlier, but the Department answered questions that had been posed at a previous meeting. It was further explained that during the 2nd quarter reporting period, 67% of the planned targets were achieved, as compared to only 65% in Quarter 1. It was explained that some of the targets could change because of the way that the recording was done, whereby if documentation was not immediately available, the target would be shown as not achieved but could be amended later. Targets which were partially achieved decreased by 1%. from 14%, in Quarter 2, and targets not met at all also decreased by 1%. The reasons for non achievement included re-scheduling of meetings, lack of capacity, non-availability of stakeholders, faulty electronic systems, and delays in approvals of terms of reference by different committees .

The performance for the 3rd and 4th quarters was then outlined. Overall, there was a slight improvement in the overall achievement of targets as compared to the first two quarters. There was 5% increase in the achievement of targets. 67% of the planned targets were fully met, 18% were in progress and 15% were not achieved at all. Reasons for this again included re-scheduling of meetings, lack of capacity, unavailability of stakeholders, faulty electronic systems, delays in approvals of terms of reference by different committees.

In the 4th Quarter a total of 66% of the planned targets were fully met, which represented a decline of 1% when compared to the 3rd Quarter performance. Only 12% of the set targets were in-progress (partially met) at the end of the reporting period, an increase of 6% from third quarter. The percentage of targets that were completely not achieved was 22% in the reporting period. Different reasons such as financial constraints, cancellations of meetings, delays in response by stakeholders, awaiting information from provincial stakeholders, lack of capacity and other various reasons for non-achievement of set targets were again mentioned.

The financial expenditure was explained, and the main reason for the underspending in most programmes related to households, and was linked to slower spending on foster care, disability and war veterans, as fewer had come forward to claim. Some NPOs did not receive payments because they had not been compliant. Under expenditure on legal services related to litigation cases and there had not been research or payment to foreign governments in this year.

The DSD then presented a summary of the performance from July to September 2016, reporting that targets were met in the first three programmes but Programme 4 showed slow spending, in the Active Ageing Programme, where expenditure was only expected in the following quarter. There had also been delays in making transfer payments under the Substance Abuse Conditional Grant and first quarter payments were withheld because there had not been compliance with the Division of Revenue Act requirements. There were also some delays in the HIV and Aids tranches, and many activities were only scheduled and therefore would only spend later in the year. Targets for 150 000 accessing food were not met in either the last quarters or this. There had been high spending on a Parent Association conference, but there was under spending because of delays in making transfers for the Food Relief Programme.

Members asked if the “integration” referred to in the briefing meant internal integration or across other departments, and particularly wanted to know what was being done with the Department of Health, and in particular on mental health, which remained of concern. Members were pleased to see that targets were exceeded in Victim Empowerment and Gender Based Violence programmes, and were pleased also to see that the Command Centre had been set up, but asked what monitoring and evaluation was being done on the information received, to ensure that the Centre was delivering results. Members also questioned why, if the Centre was run by Vodacom, employees were being paid but received an assurance that it was staffed by social workers. Members asked about the establishment of the three remaining White Door Centres of Hope, and asked if the reasons for not achieving targets were actually being addressed to ensure that they were improved. They urged the Department to pay more attention to protecting children, even if short term measures were introduced. They asked about construction and renovation projects. They questioned the figures on war veteran grants and asked that the report on foster care must be sent to the Committee, and also asked what minimum qualifications for Early Childhood Development practitioners were set out in the draft policy. They questioned the link between spending and implementation and asked whether there was not disjuncture where offices had been completed but were not occupied. Members were concerned with whether the Department's communication and use of social media channels was effective, and how the impact of work was measured. The Chairperson spoke to the problem of achieving integration across all provinces and said the Committee would be urging provincial departments to comply fully as they would be held to account in this Committee. The Active Ageing Programme was explained but numbers were to be presented at the next meeting. Members finally asked how many NPOs had been approved or rejected, and whether the backlogs on the Child Register had been cleared. 

Meeting report

Department of Social Development quarterly performance reports 2015/16 financial year
The Chairperson acknowledged the presence of the Deputy Minister of Social Development.

Mr Thokozani Magwaza, Director–General, Department of Social Development, said that the delegation would firstly provide responses to questions asked during a previous analysis of the Quarter 2 report. The delegation would then speak to Quarter 3 and 4 performance, particularly the implementation of the ministerial priorities.

Mr Mzolisi ka Toni, Deputy Director General, Department of Social Development, noted that in this financial year, the main strategic priorities of the Department of Social Development (DSD or the Department) were to expand child and youth care services, deepen social assistance, increase access to Early Childhood Development (ECD), combat substance abuse and gender-based violence and the protection and promotion of the rights of older persons and people with disabilities.

Responses to analysis of Second quarter 2015/16 report
Mr Toni said that the Department received feedback on the analysis of the Quarter 2 report presented during August 2016. The differences in the reports for achievement of targets in Quarter 1, where the initial percentage figure given had later been raised, was due to the ratings of performance. Supporting evidence will be called for and when it cannot be produced, the performance will be rated as “not achieved” although the work may well have been done – but it can then be updated later.

He confirmed that targets for training 750 non-profit organisations (NPOs) was stated as a quarterly target, so that the annual target is 3 000. The set target is non-cumulative. Therefore, in each quarter, the Department planned to train 750 NPOs.

He noted, in regard to comments around the need for specifics of performance per sub-programme, particularly on targets which are partially achieved, that the Department was of the view that since the Portfolio Committee is a high level structure, and because of the time constraints, the Department should be presenting the information in a summarised format.

It was further explained that during the 2nd quarter reporting period, 67% of the planned targets were achieved, as compared to only 65% in Quarter 1. It was explained that some of the targets could change because of the way that the recording was done, whereby if documentation was not immediately available, the target would be shown as not achieved but could be amended later. Targets which were partially achieved decreased by 1%. from 14%, in Quarter 2, and targets not met at all also decreased by 1%. The reasons for non achievement included re-scheduling of meetings, lack of capacity, non-availability of stakeholders, faulty electronic systems, and delays in approvals of terms of reference by different committees .

3rd quarter performance 2015/16
Mr Toni summarised the performance by programme as follows:

Programme 1: Administration

Out of the set target of responding to 90% application for appeals, letters of demand and practice directives, 87 were received and 87 were communicated within 3 days of receipt, therefore reaching a 100% figure.

Out of the set target of communicating 90% of outcome letters within 3 days to the attorneys, 100% achievement of the target was met.

The set target of uploading contracts into the contract management system was fully achieved.

Programme 2: Social Assistance

The set targets for the quarter were fully met.

Programme 3: Social Security policy and Administration

The set targets for the quarter were fully met

Programme 4: Welfare Services Policy Development and Administration

A set target of consulting in all provinces (National Workshop) for the development of an integrated HR plan for ECD was not fully met. The draft HR plan was presented to the provinces at the NCCPF meeting held on 20 August 2015, but a National Workshop was not held.

Programme 5: Social Policy and Integrated Service Delivery

Out of the set target of creating 21 768 work opportunities, 6 566 work opportunities were created in this third quarter. The new Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) reporting system affected work opportunities created.

Out of a set target of making sure that 150 000 people accessed food through DSD programmes, only 106  317 people accessed food through DSD programmes.

4th quarter performance January to March 2016

Programme 1: Administration

Set targets were fully met.

Programme 2:  Social Assistance

Set targets were met.

Programme 3: Social Security policy and Administration

Set Targets were fully met.

Programme 4: Welfare Services Policy Development and Administration

Set targets were met.

Programme 5: Social Policy and Integrated Service Delivery

Out of a set target of making sure that 150 000 people accessed food through DSD programmes, only 106  317 people accessed food through DSD programmes.

Financial matters
Mr Clifford Appel, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Social Development, took the Committee through the expenditure for the third and fourth quarters.

The main reason for the underspending in most programmes related to households, and was linked to slow spending on foster care, disability and war veterans, as a result of there being lesser than anticipated beneficiaries coming forward to claim. Some non profit organisations (NPOs) had not received their usual payments due to non-compliance.

He added that there was under- expenditure on legal services, and this related to the litigation cases reported in the financial year. There was also no payment to foreign governments and international governments for research, since it was not conducted in the financial year.

Second quarter 2016 performance report July to September 2016: DSD briefing

Mr Thabani Buthlezi,  Chief Director: Monitoring and Evaluation, DSD,  took the Committee through the presentation, describing the achievement of the targets as follows:

Programme 1: Administration

Set targets were achieved.

Programme 2: Social Assistance

Set targets were achieved

Programme 3: Social Security policy and Administration

Set target was achieved

Programme 4: Welfare services policy development and administration

The low spending in this programme related to funding allocated to the ‘Active Ageing Programme’. Mr Buthelezi pointed out that expenditure will only be incurred in the third quarter of the financial year. Slow spending was also linked to the delays in making the transfer payments under the Substance Abuse Conditional Grant, due to non-compliance with the Division of Revenue Act and framework, which resulted in the first quarter payments being withheld. There also had been delays in the first tranche of the HIV and AIDS organisation payments, due to the amendments of the allocation to allow DSD to partner with a broader variety of  key social partners in the field of HIV and AIDS prevention. A number of planned activities were only scheduled for the third quarter of the financial year – such as the annual youth camps and youth mobilisation programmes. In addition, amounts had been budgeted for procurement of office furniture and equipment scheduled in the latter half of the 2015/16 financial year but these would only be delivered later.

Programme 5: Social Policy and Integrated Service Delivery

The set target of 150 000 people accessing food was not fully met, as only 97 239 people accessed food. The high spending related to the Parent Association of South Africa Conference, which was held in the first quarter of the financial year. Under- spending was seen because of delays in making the transfer payments for the Food Relief Programme.

Discussion
The Chairperson  asked if the “integration” spoken about in the briefing referred to integration of various divisions within the DSD, or if it meant integration with other programmes outside of the DSD. If it did refer to integration in the broader sense, she asked if there was any significant integration or work being done together with the Department of Health, particularly around mental health. One mental health unit of the Department of Health dealt with the prevention and promotion activities, which stemmed from the belief that children should not be allowed to grow up in an environment that can cause harm, and they should not have to internalise issues that may later prove detrimental to their health. Mental health patients required expertise and care. She asked also, if such partnerships were not already in place, what the DSD was doing about the issue.

Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) commended the Department for exceeding its targets for the 3rd and 4th Quarter programmes, particularly the Victim Empowerment programme, Gender Based Violence programme and command centre. She saw it as positive that the DSD was now receiving calls, but asked whether the DSD was now also doing monitoring and evaluation to ensure that this information did not remain as something reported; it had to be acted on and she asked what the DSD was doing to ensure that the command centre was actually  delivering results, especially for those cases reported to the police and the justice system.

Ms van der Merwe wanted to know the  reason for not establishing the remaining three White Door Centres of Hope, out of the four targeted and what was the plan of the Department in this regard. She wanted to know if the targets for adoption were being met. She noted that the DSD had mentioned lack of capacity and faulty electronic systems as reasons for not achieving the target but she wanted to know whether the Department was addressing these issues, whether it had appointed anyone to deal with them, and if not, when it was planning to do so.

Ms Conny Nxumalo, Deputy Director General: Welfare Services, DSD, answered that the Department plays a minimal role in mental health,acting more as a referrer than a player. The DSD did provide psychosocial support but it relied on the Department of Health. During the ministerial review on the White Paper, mental health was identified as a particular area weakness and it needs to be strengthened. To this end, a meeting was held between the Departments of Health and Social Development , in order to determine the role that the Department of Social Development can play in strengthening mental health, mostly on community based interventions, and the White Paper review would allow DSD to play a greater role.

Ms Nxumalo then spoke to the Gender Based Violence command centre, and said that the Department did perform an analysis of cases received through calls. There are social workers in each district who are following up the cases reported through the command centre. The Department had an analysis of what happened to the cases, because these are allocated to a social worker in each district. The Department worked within the clusters, with the Departments of Police, Justice, Health and others, to make sure that the referral mechanism is strong so that victims do not suffer secondary victimisation.

Ms Nxumalo said that in respect of the White Door Centres, the main challenge was the availability of land in provinces that will enable the Department to then buy resources that are required. There had been an improvement in identifying sites. Sometimes disputes arose on such land issues but the Deputy Minister was working with traditional leaders to help.

Ms Nxumalo said that the DSD was meeting its targets for adoption. At national level, the Department would want to register all processed adoption cases. The Department had found that there are sometimes inadequate court records and that hinders the Department from registering the adoptions. The courts are continuously producing faulty documents and the Department had met with them to try to enlighten them on the types of documents required, to try to ease the problems at the Department of Home Affairs, so it was a work in progress.

The Chairperson said that the Department should work on its role of protecting the children, as some children went to court without having seen a single social worker. The Department should discuss short term measures to address this issue.

She commented that in respect of the White Door Centre targets, there would come a time when communities will be identified based on the programmes they need. Not all communities needed this kind of infrastructure.

Ms H Malgas (ANC) asked if the DSD had an agreement with the Department of Public Works (DPW) around the construction and renovation, and whether the DSD was satisfied with the progress of any work being done.

She questioned how there could be under-expenditure recorded on war veterans when the numbers here seemed to remain the same.

She asked that the report on the foster care grant should be sent to the Committee.

Ms Malgas also asked when the replication of the Gender Based Violence Command Centre would take place and be implemented in other provinces/ areas.

Ms Malgas asked, in respect of the draft implementation plan, what were the minimum qualifications set out in the Draft Policy from the Department of Higher Education and Training in respect of the Early Childhood Development (ECD). The Committee had previously received a report on the qualifications and she wanted to know if that had changed.

Ms B Masango (DA) pointed out that the report mentioned that performance was sitting at 100% and expenditure against budget was also on track at 100%, but wanted to know if the links between these target achievements and impact on the ground had been established.

Ms Masango asked whether, in the situation where the DSD had fulfilled the target to complete the building of front-line offices, but the offices were not occupied, that did not create a disjuncture.

Ms Masango said that despite the successful implementation of programmes on communication like Facebook, Twitter and others, there were still people who knew nothing about the channels and what they could access and she asked firstly how they could access those, and whether the Department had the impression that it was in fact getting to the people whom it had targeted to reach.

Ms E Wilson (DA) also expressed concerns about mental health patients, pointing out that some of the 35 mental patients who were moved from the Lifecare Centre to NGOs in Guateng have died. She asked that the DSD should look into the facilities and why the NGOs were used if they were not qualified to handle this issue.

Ms Wilson cited some discrepancies in the Quarter 2 report in the Administration Programme, where there seemed to have been a leap and adjustment and she sought more clarity on this.

She asked that the Department should be careful of quantitative and qualitative information. Some of the social media channels are not exactly appropriate to do what the DSD wanted, and she wondered if social media had been contracted out, as well as asking whether the Call Centre was also contracted out. If so, they she enquired where the funding was sourced.

Ms P Sonti (EFF) asked her questions in her vernacular language, without an interpreter

Mr Brenton Van Vrede, Acting Deputy Director General, South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) said the Department struggled to get authors to write articles for the reviews, but six out of the eight planned had already been finalised and would be published in this year.

Ms Diane Dunkerley, Executive Manager: Grant Administration, DSD,  said that the people who qualified for the War Veterans grants were citizens who had fought in specific wars. Their numbers did not increase, but actually were dropping, but this was therefore not a target that the Department actively wanted to pursue.

Mr Appel said that there was an increase in Programme 1 costs, but he pointed out that this was largely because the Minister was involved with so many international engagements.

He confirmed that the social media communication  is not outsourced. In respect of the Call Centre, there were contractors in place, like Vodacom.

The Chairperson asked if the Department consulted National Treasury in regard to any virement applications.

Mr Magwaza said the Department had a budget committee that did meet regularly to help prioritise urgent issues at the Call Centre. The DSD would also go to National Treasury when there was a need to shift money around.

Mr Appel said that according to Section 43 of the Public Finance Management Act PFMA , any virements must be put to the National Treasury for approval.

The Chairperson asked that the Department assure the Committee that there would not be too many virements. She recommended that the Department should look at what is critical before budgeting.

Mr Thabani said that there were various instruments that helped to measure the impact of work, like the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), which would also check performance against the real impact.

Ms Nxumalo said that children are not supposed to go to court unaccompanied nor to be imprisoned in terms of the current regulations under the Child Justice Act. She urged the Members to alert the Department immediately if Members became aware of any issues.

She noted that the audit of foster care in six provinces would be made available to the Committee in the next meeting, once it has been finalised by the internal Committee on Foster Care, as this report would give the Committee a comprehensive overview and chance to analyse. She noted that there would not be actual physical replication but what would happen instead was that the DSD would link all provinces to the line, because services are taking place at the provincial level. The Department had to ensure that all social workers in the district were able to follow up on cases so that services required will be rendered.

She confirmed that there were no changes in the levels of qualification for the ECD, apart from the training programme for people who are not able to access a Level 4 qualification. The Department had social workers who supervised social workers at the Command Centre.

The Chairperson interjected to say that the Call Centre is apparently working but sometimes people do not have the money to call.

Mr Peter Netshipale, Deputy Director-General: Community Development, DSD spoke to the access to food and said that the DSD was currently working on a strategy that would determine  where and how people do access food.

Mr Magwaza said that there is a new Twitter account. The Department will look into whatever is happening with the other social media channels and whether people are misusing the resources.

Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, Deputy Minister of Social Development, added her comments on the question about the increase of expenditure in Programme 1.  Some of the visits and travelling are not anticipated, which meant that the budget could not be strictly met – for example, the Minister had been invited to the UN meeting for Sustainable Development Goals, and the Deputy Minister had been nominated to chair the African Union Committee on Health.

The Deputy Minister confirmed that issues around mental health were being looked into. Sometimes the Department was not able to avoid virements.

She also noted that in relation to drugs and rehabilitation centres, there were different types of intervention. The DSD is working very hard to strengthen the Central Drug Authority (CDA) and also reach out and participate in cross-cutting issues. For example, the CDA is working with the South African National Aids Council around cases of needle exchange. The DSD was also helping provinces in constructing rehabilitation centres.

Mr Thabani spoke to the questions around the low numbers for the EPWP, and said that the Department coordinates the Social Centre for EPWP. Expansion, monitoring and evaluation still lies with the Department of Public Works.

The Chairperson said there is a problem with integrating with provinces, and some of them are happy not to be integrated because they feel they can get away from supervision. She understood that the DSD might be reluctant to exercise oversight because the funding may have been allocated through the provinces and not the national Department, for most of the NPOs and NGOs. However, the DSD is the custodian of the national policy, and provinces will not be allowed not to be held to account. The Heads of the provincial departments would be invited to present to this Committee, and it would be stressed at those meetings that territorial issues and sensitivities would not be allowed, and that national integration must happen.

She noted that the issue of Active Ageing did not appear to have been looked into.

The Chairperson also made the point that the DSD must not simply assume that one strategy of reaching out to people was the best or only option and all avenues and options must be explored.

Ms Wilson commended Ms Dunkerley for doing her work well and suggested that her efforts must be recognised. Ms Wilson requested that a breakdown of what was spent on communication in the Corporate Services budget should be sent to the Committee, and the Committee should also be told what percentage of the resources or funding was being put to the Call Centre. She wondered why employees were being compensated when the work is apparently contracted out to Vodacom. She also wanted to know why the NGOs were not complying, and wanted a breakdown of how many had complied and how many had been approved. She pointed out that this Committee had never been provided with the ECD Policy, and therefore asked that it be sent to the Committee. She asked if there was budget for the Abuse Centre for the following year.

Mr Magwaza answered  that the Department used Vodacom as a platform but the Department‘s own social workers were in place at the Call Centre.

Ms Nxumalo added that 48 social workers had been appointed to deal with online counselling and receiving calls, and seven supervisors, who are veteran social workers, had also been appointed to make sure the work was being done. The NPOs had not been funded because they had not been complying, but now they had been asked to improve and they had asked to be provided with a turnaround strategy, setting out how they must change things in order to be funded in the future. National NGOs had been trying to comply and they were for the most part funded.

She noted that the DSD would be ready to present its ECD policy when the Committee invited the DSD to do so.

Ms Nxumalo noted that the construction of the Abuse Centre was in the pipeline. National Treasury had covered the costs of construction and also the operational costs; this was unusual as this was often a gap in funding.

The Chairperson said that it was not correct for a policy to be put into operation without the knowledge of the Committee. The drug issue was a “thorn in the flesh of the country” and should be looked into.

Ms Nxumalo said that the Active Ageing Programme is meant to encourage older persons. It was not compulsory but they were being encouraged to participate; previously a compensation scheme was used but it was found that this was not helping. In Gauteng, gyms had been built in some of the service centres so that those who were unable to engage in outside sporting activities could still make use of the gym.

The Chairperson suggested that indigenous knowledge should be encouraged, because there were goods that could easily be produced in a household garden.

The Chairperson asked that the breakdown of numbers be presented during the next meeting with the Department.

Ms Wilson asked how many NPOs were approved or rejected. She also wanted to know the current state of the backlog on the Child Register.

Ms Nxumalo said that in this year the Unit had been capacitated, and so there was no current backlog on the Child Register. Officials and other staff had been appointed to help with the Child Protection Register at the national level. The Department attended to 1 500 enquiries per official per week. The Department finalised all screening and postage within 21 days. The challenges remained with returned mail.

The Chairperson advised that all applicants must be told in advance exactly what documents will be needed for any application.

The meeting was adjourned.