SASSA weekly report; Social Development Quarter 3 performance; East Rand underfunded child welfare organisations petition

Social Development

15 March 2017
Chairperson: Ms R Capa (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

A petition from the residents of East Rand arising from the huge under-funding of child welfare organisations in the area was presented to the Committee by Mr M Waters (DA) as a result of his findings during a constituency visit. The consequence of this under-funding was that children were not receiving the services they were entitled to by the constitution and the Children’s Act. The Committee asked the Department of Social Development (DSD) to forward its funding model to it, so that it could gain a better understanding of how its funds were being disbursed.

The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) presented a progress report. So far, a Ministerial task team had been established to guide the process and ensure social grant payments in April 2017, as well as the transition plan going forward. It would also set up a team to negotiate with Cash Payment Services (CPS) to ensure business continuity once the constitutional court had provided its directive and once the National Treasury had approved the deviation from normal procurement processes. A new request to National Treasury had been submitted on Monday, 13 March.

The Department presented its financial and performance report for the third quarter. During this period, there had been a 16% decline in the achievement of targets, compared to the second quarter. Members said there was a need to revisit some of the programmes, since in some of them, where there was over-achievement, were a repetition of a programme. The way poverty was handled should be revisited. The achievement must be cost effective. So much money had been spent on food, yet people were still hungry. Too much money was spent on something that was not sustainable for the people. The issue of standardisation and norms, according to provinces, should also be looked at. For example, a province would say it knew nothing about what the national government was doing. How could a cooperative government principle be implemented? What were the reasons for the delay experienced in the construction of the substance abuse centres in the Northern Cape and Free State provinces?

The Chairperson said there was a strong need for a workshop which would entail reflecting on targets and programmes, to establish whether they were still relevant or not. The matter of food security must be reviewed. The Committee must stick to its oversight role. There should be a reflection on service delivery. 

Meeting report

East Rand under-funded child welfare organisations’ petition
Mr M Waters (DA) thanked the Committee for the opportunity to present the petition, which had arisen from the constituency visit to child welfare organisations on the East Rand, where the issue of under-funding had been consistently raised.

Section 28 (1) and (2) of the constitution spoke specifically on the rights of child. The Children’s Act also stipulated the statutory services that the government was compelled to provide to children.

There was 70% under-funding by government. It expected the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to provide statutory services without necessary funding, thus breaking its promise to the children of the country. NGOs could not render these services without funding.

The problems faced by NGOs included:

  • An inability to raise additional funds since the introduction of Lotto.
  • The lack of frequency with regards to the call for applications.
  • The length of time it took to finalise applications.

The consequences of the funding crisis were that children were not receiving the services they were entitled to by the constitution and the Children’s Act, the government was reneging on its obligations to children, and was violating the constitution and the Children’s Act

The average number of cases a social worker was supposed to carry was 60. Kempton Park child welfare took 60 cases per social worker, which included auxiliary social workers. The Tembisa child welfare social worker carried 104 cases, including auxiliary social workers. The Edenvale child welfare social worker carried 71 cases, while Boksburg carried 155 cases per social worker.

Mr Waters outlined the steps to be taken by the Committee, saying that it should invite the Department of Social Development (DSD) to explain its funding model, and why it did not fund statutory services 100%. The Committee should also invite the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to account for the slow processing and infrequent calls for applications. The Committee should also meet with NGOs with regard to finding a solution to the crisis.

Discussion
The Chairperson thanked Mr Waters for the presentation. In some areas, there were no NGOs. Some NGOs received little, while others did not receive at all. There should be a meeting with the NGOs to explain why an NGO did not have a footprint in some areas.
Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) asked the Department to get its funding model to the Committee. Despite the under-funding, there was also the issue of non-compliance by the NGOs.
Ms S Tsoleli (ANC) also asked for the funding model to be presented to the Committee. There were ways other provinces funded and dealt with this problem, and this should be considered.
Ms H Malgas (ANC) said that all NGOs should be invited. It seemed the advantaged NGOs received more than the disadvantaged. The funding model should also be presented to the Committee.
The Chairperson asked that the reviewed funding model should be presented.
Mr Waters said that new funding model that was supposed to have been rolled out from 2013/14 had never been done. In many areas, there were no NGOs, and that was because of the lack of funding from the Department. There was also the issue of political will, as each Committee had had the power to change the budget. If not enough money was going to child welfare, then the Committee could change this.
The Chairperson said the secretary should do the administrative work. She thanked Mr Waters for the presentation.

Progress on institutionalisation of social grant payments: Briefing by SASSA
Ms Dianne Dunkerley, Executive Manager: Grants, South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) made the presentation in the absence of the chief executive officer (CEO), who was at the constitutional court on that day.

A Ministerial task team had been established after a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, 8 March 2017. The task team would guide the process and ensure social grant payments were made in April 2017, as well as the transition plan going forward. The Ministers involved were the Minister in the Presidency (Chairperson), and the Ministers of Home Affairs, Telecommunications and Postal Services, Finance, Social Development, State Security and Science and Technology. The task team had met on Thursday, 9 March, Sunday, 12 March and Monday, 13 March.

Negotiations with Cash Payment Services (CPS) had been declared null and void. The Ministerial task team would identify a new team to negotiate with CPS to ensure business continuity, once the constitutional court had provided its directive and once the National Treasury had approved the deviation from normal procurement processes in terms of Paragraph 8.5, National Treasury.

The new negotiation team would be set up under the guidance of the Ministerial task team. The procurement of CPS services was expected to be limited to the time it took to procure services by following an open procurement process. A new request to National Treasury, in line with Treasury practice note 3 of 2016/17, had been submitted on Monday, 13 March.

An application to be admitted as amicus curiae had been lodged by Corruption Watch and the South African Post Office Soc Ltd. The matter would be heard today, 15 March.

A stakeholder engagement led by the Minister of Social Development had taken place in Cape Town on 6 March with a significant number of stakeholders, to reassure them about the payment of grants on 1 April and beyond. A further stakeholder engagement was planned for Friday, 17 March, in Gauteng. The target audience was the national stakeholders. The specific information that would be disseminated to the public would depend on the outcome of the court’s decision today. Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) assistance had been enlisted to develop a comprehensive government-wide communication plan. This plan was ready for roll out.

Discussion

The Chairperson said the Committee had agreed formally that the SASSA report should be a standing item. It was better to engage with the executives on this issue, because of the level at which the issue stood. The presenter did not have the authority to give out certain information.

Mr Waters asked that since the new negotiation team had not yet been set up, and with only 16 days to go, did SASSA envisage that the new contract would be finalised before 1 April? Sixteen days was a short term to negotiate such a technical contract. What would happen if the National Treasury (NT) did not approve the deviation? Why had SASSA not met the constitutional court’s deadline of submitting papers at 4:00 on Tuesday?

Ms Dumisile Ndlovu, Head: Corporate Services, SASSA, said that the Agency would take its cue from the guidance and decision of the Ministerial task team. On the deviation, the Agency could not pre-empt the response of the NT. The Agency could not be specific as to when the task team would be formed.

Ms Dunkerley said the Agency would not be able to talk to about the issue of filing papers in court, because the matter was already going on in court today.

Ms K Jooste (DA) asked for clarity on the statement made by CPS that if the contract was not finalised today, it would not be able to render the services again. If this was true, what should be done?

The Chairperson said that issue of what CPS had said could not be discussed by the Committee, since CPS was not at the Committee meeting.

Ms Tsoleli said the ‘man was an uncontrollable fellow who says what he wants to say at any given time’. The man should not be listened to.

The Chairperson said the Committee dealt with Parliamentary business. The CPS chief executive was representing his organisation. The Committee could not be responsible for what CPS said.

Ms C Dudley (ACDP) directed her question to the Chairperson, since the officials present were not able to give answers because they did not have the authority. What were the other options if all failed today?

The Chairperson said that this question had been answered, and the Committee had given its advice. The Committee had advised the Department to present its options to the court. The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) was also dealing with the issue. The Reserve Bank had been invited and it had presented its position. There was now a Ministerial task team, of which the Minister of Social Development was part.

Mr Waters asked what the final date was when SASSA was expected to enter into a contract with whatever service provider.

The Chairperson responded that the money voted for the social grants was still there, and had not been declared missing. The beneficiaries would be paid their grants. When it would be paid should not be a problem. The Department would report to the Committee on any developments.

Mr Waters repeated his question regarding the final date by which the Agency was expected to enter into a new contract.
 
The Chairperson said the executives of SASSA had the authority to speak on the matter, but not the officials present. The matter was at a high level, and should be left to people with the authority

Ms Tsoleli also said that none of the officials had the authority to answer the question, since none of the executives was present.

The Chairperson added that none of the officials had been mandated to speak on behalf of the executives.


DSD’s quarterly report for 1 July 2016 – 30 September 2016: Briefing

Ms Vilakazi Nelisiwe, Director General, DSD, thanked the Committee for the opportunity to present its quarterly report, and handed over to Mr Clifford Appel, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to deliver the financial report. He said the Department had spent 74.4% of its budget for the reporting period.

Mr Thabani Buthelezi, Chief Director: Monitoring and Evaluation, DSD presented the performance report. During the third quarter period, there had been a 16% decline in the achievement of targets compared to the second quarter. Targets which had been partially achieved had increased by 16% -- from 7% in the second quarter, to 23% in the third quarter. Similarly, targets which had not been met had decreased by 2% -- from 15% in the first quarter, to 13% in both the second and third quarters.

Programme 1: Administration

79,8% of the budget allocated to this programme had been spent. The high expenditure on the Ministry related to the Minister and staff, with the involvement of outreach programmes for the social sector. Over-spending on goods and services related to mandatory costs for the DSD for information technology (IT) licences (Microsoft) and State Information Technology Agency (SITA) services for the financial year, Departmental government garage (GG) fleet services, Auditor-General fees for the audit, cleaning and security services, and leasing agreements for office accommodation to Public Works.

Programme 2: Social Assistance

74,5% of the allocated budget had been spent.

Programme 3: Social Security Policy and Administration

72,2% of the allocated budget had been spent. Low spending on goods and services related to projects being finalised in the fourth quarter of the financial year. Very few litigation cases had been reported in the first and second quarters of the financial year.

Programme 4: Welfare services policy development and administration

69,9% of the allocated budget for this programme had been spent. The low spending was related to delays being experienced in the construction of the substance abuse centres in the Northern Cape and Free State provinces, in terms of the conditional grant allocation of R85 million for the 2016/17 financial year. The low spending on HIV/Aids was due to the transfer payments for HIV and Aids organisations, which were scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of the financial year.

Programme 5: Social Policy and Integrated Service Delivery

94,9% of the allocated budget for this programme had been spent. High spending on community development was related to the funding to food relief agents in provinces for the food relief programme.

Discussion

Ms B Abrahams (ANC) asked the financial implications of over-achievement.

The Chairperson said there was a need to revisit some of the programmes, since in some of them, where there was over-achievement, it was a repetition of a programme. The way poverty was handled should be revisited. The achievement must be cost effective.

There was no pattern to trace the food parcels that were being shared. Even poor people liked to maintain their dignity. Was it necessary to queue up in an Imbizo when their names were called out, and then be photographed while collecting the food? People’s dignity was being undermined when food was handed out. Furthermore, so much money had been spent on food, yet people were still hungry. Too much money was spent on something that was not sustainable for the people. The issue of standardisation and norms, according to provinces, should also be looked at. For example, a province would say it knew nothing about what the national government was doing. How could a cooperative government principle be implemented? The high spending in programme one because of outreach was a problem, and should be reconsidered.

Ms Malgas asked about the impact of the targets on the people. What were the reasons for the delay experienced in the construction of the substance abuse centres in the Northern Cape and Free State province? Did the Department give money for substance abuse during the last quarter on HIV/Aids? There was gross over-spending in the office of the DDG -- what was happening in that office? Did the Department have a proper baseline to avoid a virement, because over-achievement meant there was no proper baseline? Transfers to higher education were very low -- when had they been done? What had taken place in the non-profit organisations (NPOs)? What had prevented money being sent to the NPOs?

The Chairperson said there was a strong need for a workshop which would entail reflecting on targets and programmes, to establish whether they were still relevant or not. The matter of food security must be reviewed. Had the Department budgeted for a deviation, because there was an allowance to do that? The issue of the Acting DDG should be considered. The Committee must stick to its oversight role. There should be a reflection on service delivery. The Committee would make a request for performance contracts to find out how people were being assessed. The accounting officer must be present to account to the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

 

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