The Committee deliberated on their First Term programme which would take them to the end of the term. It was highlighted that work still had to be done on the Quarterly and Legacy reports. The programme document would be for the new Members who will continue with the Committee.
Members asked when the document would be available and it was stated that the process should have been started; normally there should be a team of four Members from the Committee to work with the writers so that they were all part of the final product. There was agreement that the Legacy Report was about what they had done as a Portfolio Committee so that the next Committee could also use the document when making their strategic plans. Members were alerted to ensuring that recommendations were adhered to and implemented.
The Committee discussed the need for social cohesion and expressed serious concern about the lack thereof in the Western Cape. Language and race seemed to be a factor in further separating the oppressed people. Members expressed with disappointment that apartheid was still ‘alive and well’ in the Potchefstroom area. The willing ‘separateness’ of persons with disabilities was an area of concern.
Members discussed social workers and the Central Drug Authority (CDA). Members were disheartened by the decreasing number of social workers. Many of them on completion of the course sought employment as managers and CEOs. The major area of concern was that social workers were very poorly paid. Members asked whether the Social Work curriculum taught students how to understand people’s struggles. It was noted that there was a problem with the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP), as out of all the nine provinces there was only one small office in Pretoria. The waiting lines are long, there are only two toilets and there is only one Secretary. People from different provinces sleep outside and they are put in a vulnerable situation because of the high crime rate in that area. The battles in the Department were hurting the profession and young people out of frustration were leaving the country. This issue would be added to the Legacy Report. The body that represented social workers has to be uplifted so that social workers are adequately represented. Members enquired about the role of social development in terms of the relationship between social workers, child and youth care workers and provision officers.
The Committee felt that the CDA matter should be dealt with differently because they did have funds but there was no one to monitor how the funds were being spent. It was noted that previous discussions has suggested that the CDA become a state entity so that they could have a mandate and the power to implement. The CDA submitted inputs but they were unable to do anything because of constitutional limitations. Members were disappointed that the CDA had not included any of their recommendations in their plan. One of the Members aptly said ‘You cannot expect an entity with no authority to deal with a country with a serious drug problem’ It was decided that firstly the Committee needed an update on their restructuring efforts, secondly that the current crisis situation of the CDA should be placed in the Legacy Report and finally the recommendation that the CDA should become an entity so that it would be compelled to report annually.
With regard to the adoption of the new Adoption Bill, Members indicated their preparedness to engage vigorously when it came their way.
The Chairperson said that the most important issue of the day was to look into their program of action which will take them to the end of the term. She said that their working document will include additions on what they wanted to do, and areas where things that were not necessary had to be removed. She added that there is still work to be done on the Quarterly and Legacy reports and this should be part of the process of the Legacy Report instead of waiting for the final document from the Department. As they drafted the document they should be given a summary of what is in the document to facilitate making inputs. She said that it is an open talk.
First Term Committee Programme
Ms S Tsoleli (ANC) said that the document is based on what they have done as the Portfolio Committee since 2014 up to this day and what still had to be done. This document will be for the new Members who will continue with the Committee. She used an example of the South African Social Services Agency (SASSA) who had not finished moving so the Legacy Report should be able to tell the new Members how far they had come.
The Chairperson asked when they are supposed to do that.
Ms Tsoleli replied that the process should have been started; normally there should be a team of four Members from the Committee to work with the writers so that they were all part of the final product.
Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) agreed with Ms Tsoleli that the Legacy Report is about what they have done as a Portfolio Committee so that the next Committee can also use the document when making their strategic plans and can then see what has been done and what was outstanding. So even if the Bill is withdrawn because they had not finished it, the Legacy Report will show what they have covered as a Committee.
Ms B Masango (DA) agreed with her colleagues because they are the ones doing the oversight work.
The Chairperson asked if it is not progressive to work collaboratively with the Parliamentary Administrators so that they are both aware of what they have done as it is not a case of ‘us and them’. She added that she is worried about the document being done by the Administrators because they have not received a draft of the copy and time is running out with the elections coming up.
The Parliamentary Administration said that the Legacy Report draft is there and it will be given to the Committee to deliberate upon and make inputs. The draft had to incorporate all the work and activities they had done and will allow for the raising of suggestions and disagreements. There is also a template with a space for outstanding issues for addition. A copy of the draft will be sent to Members.
The Chairperson said she wished that the Legacy Report issue could be a priority of the day, as it should be clear how far they had gone when the draft is made available. She added that the report should clearly reflect what was actually done. The draft can be sent to Members so that they can apply their minds. The report is clear on where recommendations were not done and the Committee should do a follow-up on whether the recommendations were being followed to avoid being seen as ‘toothless people’ who make recommendations but never implement them.
Ms Tsoleli asked that since they did not know when it will be adopted, if they can at least use ten minutes before every meeting to discuss the matter.
The Chairperson agreed that that is the correct way of doing it and said that they should be ‘hand on’ with regard to the report. They should use their memories to remember what they had done because some things might not be in the minutes or in the report.
Commentary on the need for Social Cohesion
The Chairperson noted that Members that went to the Western Cape were frustrated by the segregation they saw based on language and race and they also could not see where the black children were. The Members had asked if the black children were alone and if it was about the language because then that it were how people were being oppressed. This issue has been widespread on social media.
She said that this reminded her that in Early Childhood Centers they are taught to be separated from others, even in the school’s SGB (School Governing Body) there is no black person supposedly because they live far away. Racism is alive and well.
Ms Mogotsi said that what is surprising is that the demographics of that area is predominately black but black people are being excluded there.
The Chairperson replied that they believe social cohesion must begin at an early childhood level so that when they are integrated in schools they grow up knowing that they are neither black nor white but South Africans.
She said that she is still struggling with what she experienced in Potchefstroom, as she never felt so bad even to the extent of not eating especially since she was a rural person and she had never been exposed to raw racism where people in a lodge refuse to sit next to you simply because you are sitting there. This is a problem in our country and if this is not dealt with it might cause problems, as black people are not doing what they are supposed to be doing because they are retaliating. She added that as Members of Parliament they should be worried about this situation. This did not have anything to do with political parties as no parties had said that they had to have black or even ‘yellow’ members.
Ms Mogotsi said that Potchefstroom is dominated by the Freedom Front Plus party and added that apartheid is still alive in that area.
The Chairperson said that this reminded her about the man that loved riding a horse, Mr Eugene Terblanche.
The Chairperson said that they can divert and did not always have to go line by line. They are social development and dealt with social cohesion, equality and empowerment of all races. All lower level children must be integrated including those with disabilities. The majority of the disabled community is resisting integration; they want a separate world from houses and offices.
Ms Tsoleli said that those that are deaf only speak for themselves and they are not a united community.
The Chairperson recommended that there should be one programme that talked to all the disabilities as they should learn to integrate themselves.
Commentary on the Social Worker and CDA (Central Drug Authority) issue
The Chairperson said that the social worker issue is related to the issues they have just discussed because the social worker is the one who knows when one is being neglected as a person, or when one’s constitutional rights are being disregarded like in the case of discrimination regarding colour, language or even disability. She questioned whether the social workers are ready for the task.
She was disheartened about the decreasing number of social workers who when they completed the course wanted to become managers, procurement managers and CEO’s (Chief Executive Officers).
She asked whether the curriculum of social work is teaching them to understand people’s struggles. This profession does not have a professional body or an association like that of doctors. Previously they were given a list of people facing disciplinary action but they never received any feedback on the issue. The Committee needed to explore ways on how the body can be supported and not simply regarded as an NGO.
Ms Mogotsi said that there is a problem with the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP), as out of all the nine provinces there is only one small office in Pretoria. The waiting lines are long, there are only two toilets and there is only one Secretary. People from different provinces sleep outside and they are put in a vulnerable situation because of the high crime rate in that area. Their struggle to register means that they cannot get access to practical work key to their qualification, and this is the reason why they opted for managerial jobs or left the country.
The Board is not being paid like other boards. The change in curriculum will disadvantage people especially since the UNISA (University of South Africa) is phasing out the current qualification.
The battle in the Department of Social Development is hurting the profession and young people are getting frustrated. As a council they must do something and this should be added in the Legacy Report.
The Chairperson asked if Members want to have an input on this important issue as it will go into the Legacy Report.
Ms Masango replied that she agreed that the issue must be added to the Legacy Report. She mentioned the case of students who are funded by the Department to undertake their studies but when they have completed these studies the Department failed to absorb them into the system. There have been media reports on social workers trained to deal with the new adoption policy. The body that represents them has to be uplifted so that social workers are also adequately represented.
The Chairperson said that the Researcher has given Members a report on the status of the profession so that they can use it back up their recommendations.
She added that young people are violent at school and do not want to study. This could mean that there was a need for social workers from the time the mother was pregnant to the classroom. People need to be healed from an early age.
Ms L van der Merwe (IPF) apologised for her late arrival. She said social workers are performing a critical role in our society, but the Department of Social Development is not employing the people that were trained with statistics. The Department of Social Development should have for example agreed with the Department of Education to have an arrangement where there are cases of bullying so that they both bear and share the charges. Minister Dlamini has explained to them that money for the employment of young workers is used for something else. There are many young people who want to become social workers but they are not getting jobs. She also said that it is time to think out of the box, and one cannot have people sitting at home when they are desperately needed in society.
The Chairperson said that there is a need for a long-term arrangement. There should be an attempt made to try and hammer out the argument that there is a relationship between social crime and the amount of available social workers.
Ms Mogotsi said that there are child and youth care workers who are now tired of the social service profession. The role of the child and youth care worker is primary and forms part of the disciplinary team which includes teachers and doctors. They work together and should be deployed as such at schools and other environments where their services are needed. She said that she worked as a youth care worker with youth and whenever there was gangster related fights and rivalry the government never assisted. They were only assisted by the NGO’s. Only after they submitted a report could they see social workers. They are there but only at the Centres.
Ms Mogotsi asked what is the role of social development in terms of social workers, child and youth care workers and provision officers.
The Chairperson replied that that it is the reason why a report is needed, because even if it will not be implemented, it will form part of the priority recommendation for the coming Committee.
Ms Tsoleli said the point goes back to the idea of sending a team of four Members to work with the Administrators. She welcomed the decision to move the DECD (Department of Early Childhood Development) away from the Department of Social Development. She said that the issues they raised will be used when going forward because some things have been misplaced. When provinces are not having the same standards; the social work portfolio should be taken away from them because they do not treat them fairly and equally. Social workers go through a lot of trauma but are not provided with assistance. They see terrifying things when they visit some homes but do not get any trauma support. She suggested that it might be better in terms of uniformity if the Department is taken over by the national government. The social worker is only given R800 for petrol, but as a field worker they are not given money to do their work. It appears as if the Department only focused on SASSA issues and forgot about the rest of their mandate. They should send Members to the summits to do a follow up.
The Chairperson suggested that what happened to the recommendations made at the social worker indaba in KwaZulu-Natal should be considered in the report. The whole process requires a review, as social work needs to be seen as a profession as essential as that of a doctor in the medical profession.
Ms P Sonti (EEF) fully agreed with the inputs of Members because as the Portfolio Committee on Social Development they could help since social workers are important to both the children and the elderly. After studying they struggled to get jobs and when they get jobs they are paid very little money. They are important because they help society in the life of all South Africans. She ended by saying that nationwide, each ward should have a social worker..
The Content Advisor said that on the 20th February there will be a presentation on the absorption of social workers by the National Treasury.
The Chairperson said that there is a need to be proactive on the issue since time is not on their side. It will be helpful if they took the social development input to the Minister after making reflections on the Legacy report. She proposed the support of the current Minister’s position which was that SASSA should be should be separated from the Department because they clouded each other. In these situations more attention is given to SASSA and issues like rural development are ignored or not given sufficient attention.
She said that there is a need for a trauma center. These inputs should be sent to the Minister. In most cases when children attend courts only NGO’s are present to provide assistance. She made an example of a young girl who was raped by the Pastor but lost the case. This Pastor attempted to sue the family of the girl until it was evident that the girl was pregnant. This case has not moved forward. She highlighted that there are not sufficient social workers or even NGO’s to help besides the law clinics.
The Chairperson said there is enough money in the budget but it was mostly centered on SASSA related matters. Rural development, agriculture, psychological and social issues should be included as areas of equal importance. She was committed to working with the Department and the Committee. She added that all these matters should be included in the Legacy Report.
The Chairperson proposed that the CDA matter should be dealt with differently because they did have funds but there was no one to monitor how the funds were being spent. The funds must be spent on a national level.
Ms Masango said that previously they had held discussions in which they suggested that the CDA be a state entity so that they can have a mandate and the power to implement. They submitted inputs but they were not able to do anything because of constitutional limitations.
The Chairperson said that she was disappointed when she attended the CDA’s presentation’s plan because none of the Committee’s recommendations were included. The CDA should be restructured so as to have offices in all provinces because there are no workers and no regional offices.
Ms van der Merwe said that it is not an entity, but if it was an entity with a board it would be able to operate more efficiently. You cannot expect an entity with no authority to deal with a serious drug problem in a country.
The Chairperson said that there is a board but it is not an entity. They do not have offices and she therefore questioned how they can get help to the communities where there are drug problems. She added that they sent junior members who are not taken seriously to assist.
Ms van der Merwe said that if there is an area with a Tik problem, then an office should be opened there.
Ms Mogotsi said that they cannot restructure because they cannot change the legislation. She felt that they should put in their Legacy Report that it should be changed into an entity. She added that previously drug abuse was associated mainly with poor families but now even the affluent children are abusing drugs.
The Chairperson said that the Committee had recommended that there were serious structural problems, but they had proceeded without looking thoroughly at all the recommendations. There is a need to receive an update on how far they have gone with the restructuring process.
The Content Advisor said that she had requested an update on the recommendations. The CDA never reports on time and the reason they gave is that they do not receive cooperation from other departments.
Ms van der Merwe said that because of the current crisis their Legacy Report should report that the authority should become an entity so that the CDA could be compelled to report annually. She said that like SASSA has offices everywhere, the CDA should have offices everywhere so that those who have drug problems can get help. In the long run the goal must be to turn it into an entity. The current concept of a “department within a department” simply does not work.
The Chairperson said that the CDA should have committees on different levels so that they can be more operational. They only have one per province and are only located in the Department of Social Development. They were getting salaries even though they were not functioning. She added that they do not take this Committee seriously because they ignored the Committee’s recommendations.
She added that there was an agreement that when health institutions were being built that the funds were only operational so these funds could be diverted to contribute to other social awareness programs in the different provinces. This was not a misappropriation of funds. Social workers should be involved in drug matters.
Commentary on the proposed Adoption Bill
Ms van der Merwe said that there are issues in the Amendment of the adoption legislation which speak about the illegality of charging a fee for adoption, and that there are many social workers in place to facilitate this process. The process will delay and disadvantage children being adopted. She said that they only charge service fees. They cannot change the legislation in a way that will be to the detriment of the welfare of children.
The Chairperson said that the Bill stated that it had to be tabled at Cabinet level and it has not been legally introduced. When it comes Members will be able to comment.
Ms Tsoleli said that in terms of the adoption policy, they should wait until it comes then they can scrutinise it fully because on one side everything had to be in the best interest of the child and on the other hand there are unemployed social workers. The Committee cannot push for something then randomly stop. The agencies for adoption will be vetted because there are issues like human trafficking that have to be considered. The Committee should welcome the legislation.
Ms Masango said that there is a need to wait until the legislation comes to them. She added that the rate of adoptions is decreasing and they cannot have legislation that will make drastic changes that will be to the detriment of the best interest of the child.
Dr Madlopha agreed with the Chairperson that they should wait for the Bill to be tabled. She said that she did not think there will be a need for the presentation from the CDA as was stated on the adoption of the program.
The Chairperson said that the date of the 13th March must stand so that they can finalise the Legacy Report.
The Parliamentary Advisor said that the Annual Report of the CDA has been referred to the Committee.
Ms Masango said that the CDA must be present for the presentation so that they can ask them about the progress with their restructuring, and why they have not implemented the Committee’s recommendations.
The Committee Advisor said that the CDA has a board and its term had expired. They were supposed to make an appointment with four Members from the Select Committee and the Portfolio Committee but Members from the Select Committee were not available. She said that they needed to come and explain the reasons for their board appointments.
The Chairperson said that once they met with the CDA they will be able to negotiate with the NCOP (National Council of Provinces) Chairperson to make time for a meeting.
The Committee Advisor said that the board’s last extension ends in March so the Committee could give a go ahead to extend.
The Chairperson replied that it is subject to meeting them at the given time.
The Western Cape visit: Observations and Recommendations
The Chairperson asked Members to look at the recommendations and said that they did not have to read those deliberations.
Dr Madlopha asked if the Administrator could read the Observations to the Committee.
After the Observations were read the Chairperson asked for comments.
Ms van der Merwe asked if there are any tracking systems in place so that they can check if their recommendations have been implemented.
The Chairperson replied that the report should say that the Committee must establish a tracking system.
Ms T Khanyile (DA) said that the South African Police Service (SAPS) was not acting on the community’s reports and asked for a meeting.
The Chairperson said that on this issue she should act on the spot. An MP can go to the head of the SAPS and they will be assisted. She said that working with the police will work well because some of them complained that when they did their jobs people complained about the use of excessive force, but when they did nothing there were also complaints.
Ms Madlopa said that the discussion covered the issues they had raised during the oversight visit. She proposed that the Committee accept the recommendations. She agreed with Members that there is a serious need for a tracking system because currently they cannot check to see if anything had been followed up.
The Chairperson deferred the minutes to next week and thanked all the Members for their contributions
The meeting was adjourned.