Committee Report on Department of Social Development Annual Performance Plan

Social Development

04 May 2018
Chairperson: Ms R Capa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Following previous briefings from the Department of Social Development (DSD) and its entities on the 2018/19 Annual Performance Plan (APP), the Committee met to consider and officially adopt its document on the DSD’s ensuing Budget Vote 17.

The Committee suggested a few additions and amendments. Regarding the challenge of managing long queues at pay-point centres/stations for social grants, it directed the Committee Content Advisor to add that:

  • shelters should be provided to protect beneficiaries from the elements;
  • better security should be made available to protect them from criminals; and
  • the sick and the disabled should be prioritised in the queues.

Members were told that Grindrod was still charging beneficiaries R10 on bank card transactions, and National Treasury and the Minister were challenging the issue. It was suggested the report should include a strong statement of support for the Minister.

Other issues discussed included the poor state of some South African Social Security Agency (SASSA’s) office buildings, beneficiaries who had applied for loans being duped into also signing for funeral and insurance policies they had not agreed to, or were not aware of, and reports of ill treatment of beneficiaries by SASSA officials, in clear violation of the principles of Batho Pele – People First.

The Committee unanimously endorsed and adopted the document. Members across the political spectrum expressed relief that the recent political storm caused by issues around SASSA seemed to have abated. Although systemic challenges still remained regarding changes in the payment of social grants, they felt the worst was over and more attention could now be directed to other pressing matters.

Meeting report

Committee Report on DSD’s 2018/19 Annual Performance Plan

The Chairperson reflected on the series of engagements between the DSD and the Committee on the Department’s annual performance plans (APPs) and the results thereof, and expressed her satisfaction with the way things had gone. She felt the Committee had managed to push the Department to raise the bar significantly higher. As an example, she said the agreement that senior managers should sign performance contracts would effectively narrow the gap between planning and actual implementation at the DSD.

Ms C Dudley (ACDP) proposed a slight change to a paragraph dealing with the Community Nutrition and Development Centres (CNDCs), to make it more specific. This was noted by the Chairperson.

Ms B Masango (DA) asked that the paragraph on the poor state of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) office buildings be slightly altered to reflect that not all buildings were in such a condition. On concerns that the DSD was using an interim organogram, she suggested that the report also capture that the Minister had made specific reference to the challenge, and measures were being taken to address the situation.

Regarding the challenge of managing long queues at pay-point centres/stations for social grants, the Chairperson, in concert with Members, directed the Committee Content Advisor to add that:

  • shelters should be provided to protect beneficiaries from the elements;
  • better security should be made available to protect them from criminals; and
  • the sick and the disabled should be prioritised in the queues.

Ms B Abrahams (ANC) there was still confusion regarding the procedure to be followed when beneficiaries switched from the old Grindrod/SASSA card to the new South African Post Office (SAPO)/SASSA one.

The Chairperson said her understanding was that SAPO would be “piggybacking” on Cash Paymaster

Services (CPS)/SASSA until September this year, when the old cards expired. However, in the meantime, SAPO was not waiting for September but actively working on the process of migration, and some beneficiaries were in fact already on the new card.

Ms S Tsoleli (ANC) confirmed this was indeed the case in the Free State Province. She urged that the Committee should pay visits to the areas and see for themselves what the situation was.

Ms Masango said Grindrod was still charging beneficiaries R10 on bank card transactions and this should be strongly noted by the Committee. She said the Minister was also challenging the issue.

The Chairperson agreed, adding that the National Treasury was aware of this matter and would be taking it further, as it believed that Grindrod was in breach of its agreement with the government.

Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) also supported the idea of the Committee including in the report a strong statement of support for the Minister on the matter. She also spoke about reports that beneficiaries had applied for loans, but had been duped into also signing for funeral and insurance policies they had not agreed to, or were not aware of. To cancel these policies had become impossible for these beneficiaries, and she wanted to know if SASSA could address their plight, and if so how.

The Chairperson said the matter would have to be taken up with SASSA for an investigation, as it appeared that certain SASSA employees were in cahoots with CPS or Grindrod on the scam. She directed that the matter should be part of the agenda for the next Committee meeting.

Ms H Malgas (ANC) referred to reports of ill treatment of beneficiaries by SASSA officials, in clear violation of the principles of Batho Pele – People First.

The Chairperson said she was aware of such reports, citing instances of officials flouting professional ethical practice by divulging in public the personal, private data of beneficiaries or applicants. Since large numbers of SASSA officials were not trained in social work, it was imperative that SASSA gave these officials some form of basic orientation around the sensitivities of this kind of work. The treatment of beneficiaries by SASSA employees could be often abusive and offensive.

The Chairperson commented that a change of attitude toward the Portfolio Committee had occurred at the leadership level of the National Development Agency (NDA), one of the DSD’s entities. The NDA seemed to be more willing to listen and be guided than before.

Ms Masango agreed with her, and cited as evidence the steps taken by the NDA to address the matter of vacant posts highlighted earlier by the  Committee. She urged that this be noted in the Committee’s final report.

At this stage no more substantive issues remained, and the Chairperson asked for final comments from Members before official adoption of the document. She thanked all who had been part of the process, and expressed the hope that the days of interminable court litigation regarding the SASSA débâcle were over. Now the Committee could move forward with other important parts of its mandate.

All parties echoed the Chairperson’s sentiments and congratulated the Committee for holding up so well under tremendous strain during the last period.

Ms Malgas moved the adoption of the report, and Ms Masango seconded her. The report was adopted unanimously, with the noted amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.

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