Annual Reports 2015/16
The Department of Human Settlements (DHS) told the Committee that during the year under review, it had achieved 54 of its 74 annual targets, in the course of which it had provided an additional 232 583 adequate housing units, and 170 288 households had been upgraded. Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) had issued 126 278 loans, three municipalities had been pre-assessed for accreditation, and 463 feasibility studies in informal settlements had been completed in various municipalities.
The Department had exhausted its budget on all its programmes except for the programme, Delivery Support, where it had under-spent by R38.2 million. This had been noted by the Auditor General (AG) in its audit outcomes as a material misstatement. The AG had also found that the financial statements had not conformed to the prescribed reporting framework and in addition, contractual obligations and money owed by the Department had not been settled within the stipulated 30 days. The Department had committed itself to effect the required corrections and would review and conduct an internal verification process prior to submission of financial statements for auditing.
Members expressed concern at what they considered the wasteful expenditure on renting vehicles for the Minister’s use, instead of making use of official vehicles. With its Consumer Education Programme, was enough being done to advise people against selling property illegally? Councillors in a Member’s own township were selling houses illegally, and she asked the Department to assist in dealing with that issue. How many women had been trained and benefited from the youth training programme, and did the trainees proceed to better positions afterwards? What were the Department’s plans for Randfontein and making changes in the informal settlements in mining towns? What was it doing about the under-expenditure in the Department?
The Department of Social Development refreshed the Committee on key issues of the Children’s Amendment Bill [B13B-2015], highlighting that it sought to align with the provisions of the Sexual Offences Act because of the current anomalies. The bill aimed at creating a deeming provision that persons convicted of certain offences against children were unsuitable to work with children. It was also intended to align section 120(4) to section 50 of Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007, by providing for a special procedure to deal with child offenders that had been convicted of certain offences against fellow children. It would create a deeming provision against any person who had been convicted of an offence contemplated in subsection (4)(a), whether committed in or outside the Republic during the ﬁve years preceding the commencement of this Chapter; and create an exception to the deeming provision in favour of persons who were children when such offences were committed against children. Other aspects of the bill dealt with categories of adopted children, and correction of the unintended consequences of a divorce order. Members asked for clarification on various issues, particularly those involving children given up for adoption.
Finalisation of the Children’s Amendment Bill
Eastern Cape Legislature
Ms P Samka (ANC, Eastern Cape) said that the province supported the Bill with all the proposed amendments, and the mandate had been signed by the Speaker of the Provincial Legislature, Ms Noxolo Kiviet.
Free State Legislature
Ms M Moshodi (ANC, Free State) said that the province had deliberated on 25 November 2016, and had voted in support of the Bill. The Speaker of the Provincial Legislature, Mr Mxolisi Dukwana, had signed the mandate.
The Member said that the province’s legislature had deliberated on the Bill on 24 November 2016, and it had been signed by Ms Ntombi Mekgwe, Speaker of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.
Ms L Zwane (ANC, KZN) said that the final mandate had been conferred by the Chairperson of the provincial legislature, and on 24 November the delegation had met to vote and support the Amendment Bill. It had then been signed by the Speaker of the provincial legislature, Ms Lydia Johnson.
Ms T Mampuru (ANC,Limpopo) said that the Limpopo legislature had supported and voted in favour of the Bill, and the final mandate had been signed by the Provincial Speaker of the Legislature, Ms Merriam Ramadwa (ANC).
Ms Zwane, on behalf of the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature, said that the final mandate had been deliberated on 24 November 2016. The legislature had voted in favour of the Bill, which had been signed by the Speaker of Legislature, Ms Blessing Shongwa.
Northern Cape Legislature
Ms Mampuru, on behalf of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature, said that the province had supported and voted in favour of the Bill. It had been signed by the Speaker of the Provincial Legislature, Mr Kenny Mmoiemang.
North West Legislature
Mr C Hattingh (DA) said the legislature had voted in favour of the Bill, and signed by the Speaker of the Provincial Legislature, Ms Suzanne Dantjie.
Western Cape Legislature
Ms T Mpambo-Sibhukwana (DA) said that the legislature voted in favour of the Bill on 25 November, and the final mandate was signed on 28 November 2016.
Committee’s Report on Amendment Bill
The Chairperson thanked the Members and provinces for their input, and proceeded to read the Committee’s report on the Amendment Bill 14 of 2015, 14B of 2015 [s76 Bill]. The Bill had been referred to the Committee on 13 August 2015, and having deliberated on the Bill after it was referred by National Assembly, s76, and classified by the Joint Tagging Mechanism (JTM) as such (s76), it was reported to have been agreed to as a Bill.
The Chairperson said this was the report that the Committee would sign, and if there was anything that the Committee would like to raise before that happened, the time was now.
Members did not raise any concerns or questions.
The Chairperson thanked the Members, and said that it had been a hectic Bill to get through. She advised the Committee to proceed to the s75 Children’s Amendment Bill.
Finalisation of the Children’s Amendment Bill [B13B-2015]
The Chairperson asked the Department to give the Committee an overview, to refresh it about what was contained in the Bill, and to raise any issues that may be of importance.
Mr Siyabonga Shozi, Director: Legal Services, DSD, said that the bill sought to align the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 with the Sexual Offences Act, since the definition in the Act did not cover all sexual offences contained in the Sexual Offences Act. The bill also sought to create a deeming provision with section 120 (4), to deem persons convicted of certain offences against children unsuitable to work with children. It also aimed to align section 120(4) to section 50 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007 by providing for a special procedure to deal with child offenders who were convicted of certain offences against fellow children. Furthermore, it would create a deeming provision against any person who had been convicted of an offence contemplated in subsection (4)(a), whether committed in or outside the Republic during the ﬁve years preceding the commencement of this Chapter; and create an exception to the deeming provision in favour of persons who were children when such offences were committed against children.
The Bill also sought to place an obligation on the Commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS) to forward to the Director-General particulars of persons convicted of offences contemplated in section 120; to give persons whose particulars were part of the register and who were under the age of 18 years when the offence was committed, in respect of which a finding of unsuitability was made, an opportunity to apply for the removal from the register; to guide presiding officers on different orders which may be issued when reviewing an order to remove a child; add additional categories of adoptable children; and correct an unintended consequence of a divorce order. He explained the implications of the unintended consequence of a divorce -- that if one was married to someone who was not a biological parent to the child, and that person for convenience reasons wanted to adopt the child, the effect of the adoption order was that the biological parent would cease to have parental rights and responsibilities. However, it was an unfortunate situation because one was in contact with the child and one was parenting together with one’s spouse. So the amendment seeks to create an exception in this case, so that the parental rights and responsibilities would not be terminated.
In conclusion, Mr Shozi said that it was recommended that the Select Committee take note of the presentation and votes in favour of the Bill.
The Chairperson handed over to the Committee for questions and comments. She highlighted that there were no public hearing submissions or comments on this Bill, so the Committee had nothing consider. Unless if there was something that Members wanted to say, the Committee would have to go straight to voting.
Consideration of outstanding Committee minutes
Members went through the minutes dated 16 August, 20 September, 8 November and 26 November 2016 page by page, and there were no amendments proposed or submitted. They adopted the minutes without any proposed amendments.
Department of Human Settlements: Annual Report briefing
Mr Mbulelo Tshangana, Director General, DHS, said that 54 of the Department’s 74 annual targets had been achieved, 14 were partially achieved, and only four targets were not achieved. With regard to the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) output as at 31 March, the Department had provided an additional 232 583 units of adequate housing for households, and 170 288 households had been upgraded. The Department had been able to complete and recommend for due diligence and implementation, 101 catalytic projects after due assessment and analysis. The Human Settlements’ development finance institutions (DFIs) had issued 126 278 loans, three municipalities had been pre-assessed for accreditation and 463 feasibility studies in informal settlements had been completed in various municipalities. Furthermore, 12 097 additional affordable rental opportunities had been delivered, comprised of 3 480 social housing, 2 152 Community Residential Units (CRUs), and 6 565 through National Housing Finance Corporation (NHFC) loans provided, while various provincial Peoples Housing Process (PHP) initiatives had yielded 8 498 PHP units.
The Department had targeted 149 000 households living in adequate housing in the year under review, 150 000 households in informal settlements upgraded, and 112 600 individual units for subsidy housing sub-market. However, the progress reflected that 112 256 households living in adequate housing through the subsidy and affordable housing segments had been achieved, 96 271 households in informal settlements had been upgraded, and 100 339 individual units had been provided for the subsidy market. The Department had issued 19 529 title deeds to new home owners against a target for the year of 112 600. The Department had targeted for 2 000 hectares of well-located land being rezoned and released for new development in this financial year, and had been able to achieve 4 622 hectares of land released for new developments.
The DG commented on the partially achieved targets for the year, highlighting that the DFI consolidation was a multi-year process, hence completion of a target overlapped over reporting periods. The in-year target for the issuing of title deeds had performed poorly, and measures were being put in place to allow for recovery. There had been drafting of a policy for a coherent and inclusive approach to land and regulations for land use management. The evaluation of the access to the city had been cancelled due to non-performance by the service provider. With regard to the upgrading of households in informal settlements, the annual target had not been met and required intervention. Measures were being considered and were in place, including the ring-fencing of grants.
Ms Funani Matlatsi, Chief Financial Officer, DHS, presented on the Department’s expenditure report for the year under review. She started off with the expenditure on the Department’s programmes, and advised that both overall expenditure and operational expenditure for programme three (Programme Delivery Support) was significantly underspent by 72%, while all the other programmes had exhausted their budgets.
The Director-General highlighted that the Auditor General (AG) had picked up the material under-spending on Programme 3: Programme Delivery Support by an amount of R38 196 000, and some of the material misstatements in the annual performance report had subsequently been corrected. The AG had also raised an issue that the financial statements had not been prepared in accordance with the prescribed reporting framework, as required by section 40 (1) (b) of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), and in addition, contractual obligations and money owed by the Department had not been settled within the PFMA’s stipulated 30 days.
In response to the AG’s audit outcomes, management had effected the required corrections and would review and conduct an internal verification process prior to submission for auditing. The Department was reviewing its processes and procedures to improve quality and content control in the preparation and submission of financial statements. Corrective and oversight measures had been put in place to address the stipulated 30-day turnaround of processing and payment of invoices – this included the activation of receipt of invoice registers. The material under-spending in the National Upgrading Support Programme (NUSP) had been attended to by improving supply chain management (SCM) for programme and project planning.
Lastly, the Department had put in place initiatives to improve audit and strategic outcomes by improving the technical and operational capacity for programme and project planning to ensure that the organisational structure was aligned to the strategic focus areas and availability of funding. Through a strategic alignment process, it was removing duplications of capacity and funding within the Department, provinces, municipalities and entities, to allow for improved and increased capacity to meet key targets and outputs. There were initiatives to improve monitoring and oversight of the sector delivery supply chain, ensuring improved efficiencies and value for money, and an overall improvement of monitoring, evaluation and enforcement of policy and programme compliance, focusing on norms and standards.
Children’s Amendment Bill [B13B-2015] sec 75
Ms Zwane said that the last part -- about correcting an unintended consequence of a divorce order -- was not yet very clear. One would have thought that before one gave a child up for adoption, one did not want to assume any parental rights or responsibilities to the child. So for clarity, did the bill make it incumbent on the person to parent that child, even though they had given the child up for adoption?
The Chairperson said that the other question might be, who was giving up the child for adoption, and could one adopt even if the parent had not put the child up for adoption?
Ms Conny Nxumalo, DDG: Welfare Services, said that the in practical terms, the DSD was trying to say that if the other party (spouse) wanted to adopt the child (child that was previously given up for adoption by the natural parent who was now married to the spouse who was keen to adopt the child) for convenience, the proposal was to allow these parents to have equal rights, including the spouse (natural parent) who initially gave up the child for adoption, who would have forfeited their parental rights and responsibilities. It was true that when one gave up for adoption one ceased to have rights to the child, but with the amendment, the DSD was basically making an exception in these circumstances.
Mr Shozi said that one thing that had to be considered was that from a divorce standpoint, the step parent would normally want a formal arrangement of being recognised as a legal parent by the law. With regard to the natural parents, that parent – spouse, in this case -- would have consented for the adoption for proceed, otherwise the adoption would not have taken place to begin with, unless that parent was no more. So the natural parent would not be prejudiced in any way without their consent.
The Chairperson said that the law must be clear on this, as well as the role of the biological father or mother, who were no longer in the child’s life as far as his parenting rights were concerned.
Ms D Ngwenya (EFF) said that there was a party in this situation that would be forced to parent, especially the parent who gave up the child for adoption. There was a possibility that the child would be subject to abuse from the parent who gave the child up for adoption.
Mr Shozi in response said that in order to understand the amendment properly one should not move from the premise that the child was an unwanted child. There was a recent judgment that had been handed down by the North Gauteng High Court-- a matter in which the Department was also involved -- where it was ruled that in some circumstances the adoptive parent may be absolved from the adoption arrangement and terminate the parental responsibilities of an adoptive parent. There was a precedent in this, as the adoptive parent could still walk away from the arrangement.
The Chairperson said that this meant it was an adoption of convenience.
Ms Zwane said her personal observation was that the emotional aspect of the child may not have been carefully considered in this case. One could not move from the premise that the child was an unwanted child, but what if the child was, and the mother did not want anything to do with the child?
The Chairperson said what the Members were expressing basically was that the other aspect of this situation had not been considered, because the reason why the natural parent may not want the child could be that maybe the parent got the child as a result of rape. This seemed to create a situation in which the parent who had given up the child would be a parent again.
Mr Shozi said that this would have been picked up in the investigation phase that preceded an adoption process, which would reveal why the child was put up for adoption (maybe abuse), and if this were the case, the stepfather would be excluded from being a prospective adoptive parent.
Ms Nxumalo said that within the principal Act, the court would not finalise the adoption without the consent of both parents or the parent, and so no parent would be forced to take a child that they were not emotionally, physically or financially prepared to take on. This amendment was merely just for convenience, in a case where the natural parent who gave the child up for adoption agrees to share the parental rights and responsibilities of the child with the step-parent.
The Chairperson submitted that to put the matter to rest, the principal Act, as already said by the delegation, did actually cover the aspect raised by Members. If there were no more issues, questions or comments, she proposed that the Members vote for the Bill.
All Members voted in favour of the Bill.
The Chairperson read out the report of the Committee for the s75 Bill dated 29 November 2016. The Committee, having considered the subject of the Bill, reports that it had agreed to adopt the Bill taking into consideration the Members’ votes, and the considerations made by the Department. The Bills would be presented to the House on 8 December 2016.
Department of Human Settlements
The Chairperson congratulated the Department for a successful awards event for the provinces that had performed well. She then expressed her disappointment at the performance of the Eastern Cape, which had exhausted its budget without meeting its targets.
Ms Samke said she was concerned at the absence of the Minister and the Deputy Minister, and said that they were supposed to have attended because this was an important presentation.
Mr Tshangana responded that there was a clash of meetings, so the DG had suggested that he and the CFO come to present to the Committee while the Minister carried on with the presentation in the other committee. The Deputy Minister had been supposed to come with the DG and the CFO, but he would find out whether she was still coming or not and would communicate that to the Committee.
The DG said that the at the awards ceremony, the reason KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) had received the award for best provincial department was because it had exhausted its budget and was still able to meet its targets.. He said that the Eastern Cape used to perform very well in previous years, but it had started falling behind last year when its accruals kept on increasing, which had diminished the value of its budget and made it difficult to pay contractors. KZN had been over-performing and over-exceeding its targets, and it had only one invoice that it had not paid. That invoice for R300 000 had been disputed, and it would be sorted it out in due course.
Mr Hattingh asked if the Committee would get written responses, because there was not enough time to get oral answers right now from the Department, and if the Department could deliver the written responses in time, it would be greatly appreciated. The Committee already had a lot of outstanding written responses from other departments. He asked about the total consolidated under-expenditure in the Department and other entities. It was the duty of the Department to showcase its successes, not the entire picture of its failures, to the Committee. The AG had concerns about material misstatements in the annual performance plan (APP) submitted for auditing, and he asked if the Committee had received the entire truth, or a misstatement. It was a concern that the fruitless and wasteful expenditure involving the Minister had been for vehicles rented out, whereas there were official vehicles that the Minister could utilise. He asked why this had been the case and the Minister had not made use of the official vehicles.
Ms Ngwenya referred to the Consumer Education Programme, expressing her concern about whether enough was being done to advise people against selling property illegally. Was there a policy structure where people were actually taught about this, and if so was there any improvement? She said councillors in her own township were selling houses illegally, and asked the Department to assist in dealing with that issue. There had been reference to about 200 youths being involved training. She asked how many women had been trained and gained from this programme, and whether the department was aware if the trainees proceeded to better positions after the training programme, or just collected a certificate and moved on without any tracking by the Department.
On the housing subsidy structure, she asked about the 100% achievement, as in the period under review there were people who still had not got their houses and subsidies approved, and were still holding pink slips from 1996. It seemed like there was nothing happening in the mining towns -- what were the Department’s plans for Randfontein and making changes in those informal settlements?
The Chairperson advised that Members should take note that the questions should be based on the current financial year, and perhaps they could keep some of the questions for next year.
Mr Khawula commended the DG for how the Department had performed, and commented that most of the under-spending was within the Metros. With many programmes, Metros failed at the expense of the smaller municipalities and this was something that had been raised with the Minister several times before. The illegal selling of houses needed to be controlled, as people were benefiting illegally because it was just a scheme to make money. The Committee would not be able to eradicate the issue of informal areas, because people left the rural areas to go to the cities and then still claimed houses in the cities, although they had already benefited in the rural areas from where they had come. This was something that needed to be closely monitored and maybe the Department needed to work together with the local municipalities to stop this problem. Lastly, he commented on the hostels and how they continued to be built, but were standing empty because there were no beneficiaries to allocate them to. This was something that was happening in Umlazi, in Durban, and in Gauteng in a couple of areas. The Department had to know beforehand who it was building houses for.
The Chairperson said that the DG needed to make a commitment to the Committee that the Department would have the written responses submitted to the Committee in due time.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Children’s Amendment Bill [B13B – 2015]
- Children’s Second Amendment Bill [B14B – 2015]
- Department of Human Settlements Annual Report briefing
- Children’s Amendment Bill briefing
- Free State Final mandates
- Gauteng Final mandates
- KwaZulu Natal Final mandates
- Mpumalanga Final mandates
- Western Cape Final mandates
- Northern Cape Final mandates
- Eastern Cape Final mandates
- North West Final mandates
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