The Committee was briefed by the Central Drug Authority’s (CDA) on its Annual Report for the years 2016/17. Members expressed great dissatisfaction at the Report’s lack of relevance and usefulness and took a decision to write to the Minister of Social Development and other relevant parties expressing their dissatisfaction with the report. The Committee heard that the challenges experienced were the uncooperative behaviour of the Department of Public Works; the Provincial Department of the Free State in relation to the construction of a (Free State) designated drug addiction treatment Centre; and the reallocation of funds from the Department of Social Development to the Department of Health.
Members heard that the Department wished to have a meeting with the National Treasury and the Department of Public Works to get more clarity on why the construction of a building that has been allocated as a drug treatment centre in the Free State Province has been under construction for three years without any progress even though the funds that have been allocated are made available to the province annually as a conditional grant. This delay impacts negatively on the agreement of having at least one drug treatment centre in every province. Of great concern to Members was the shocking report from the CDA detailing an exponential increase in drug use which served as a precursor to comparable increases in crime and violence in communities. This has increased the Committee’s belief in the fact that these drug treatment facilities in all provinces should be prioritised in order to deal with this scourge. Members encouraged the Department to engage the National Treasury on the shortage of social workers, which has led to an inability to manage drug abuse and its adverse effects on society.
The Committee expressed dissatisfaction at the lack of communication regarding the delays and proposed legislative amendments by the current CDA board. Also the lack of timeous communication had stifled the intervention of the Committee. Members asked what has been happening during the intervening period, between 2017 and the present moment, as work should have continued; what the progress has been in relation to the National Drug Master Plan in the intervening period; what has been done in order to assist the average person in the street who might have a drug problem and what progress had been made in relation to the structure of the CDA.
The Committee was concerned about the lack of Social Workers as many departments required social services the lack of which exacerbated the social ills in communities and more of them could have helped in alleviating the social problems that are increasing in communities. The Committee has observed that departments like the Department of Correctional Services do not have designated posts for social workers.
The Committee was briefed on the Department of Social Development’s Quarterly Performance and Expenditure Report 01 July 2018-31 December 2018. The briefing covered the Department’s strategic priorities; the purposes of its various programmes and their contextual analysis; the performance rating of the various programmes; as well as the expenditure per programme.
Members asked whether the compiled report complies with the recommendations of the Auditor General (AG); whether the Department’s service providers are compliant with the regulations; whether the Department can affirm if awareness campaigns yielded positive results especially regarding gender based violence; whether the various youth programmes yielded positive results; why the number of youth delegates had decreased; what the acronym SITA stood for; and whether the network cabling was delivered or if it was installed. Members felt that some explanations as to why certain targets had not been achieved were void of detail and asked if this meant that the entire target had not been achieved or if it was only partially achieved. Members asked further how the submitted documents are tracked; how the item ‘Budget-over-spending’ impacted on the overall budget; whether access to documents relating to unachieved targets may be facilitated for the benefit of the Committee; and clarity on the location of funds allocated to the building of the drug-addiction treatment Centre in the Free State Province.
The Committee expressed the desire to meet with the National Treasury to discuss the funds that were allocated to the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) for the cabling of the Department of Social Development offices and the contract between the SITA and the Department.
The Chairperson commenced the meeting by welcoming all in attendance, especially the delegation from the Department of Social Development and the Board Members of the CDA (Central Drug Authority). She went on to express an opinion on the importance of this presentation, given the surge in abuse and addiction to drugs and the adverse effects it has on society.
Briefing by the Central Drug Authority on the National Drug Master Plan 2013-2017 and the 2016/17 Annual Report
Mr David Bayever, Deputy Chairperson: Central Drug Authority started the presentation by referring to the composition of the CDA, which is made up of 13 experts, 21 departments and 9 Provincial Substance Abuse Forums linked to 294 Local Drug Action Committees.
He then went on to discuss the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP) 2013-2017. This discussion was divided into, as the NDMP is, three distinctive strategies: Supply Reduction; Demand Reduction; and Harm Reduction. These distinctive strategic goals are linked to the overall goal of the CDA, which was to reach a measurable reduction in substance abuse. This reduction influences and impacts on a corresponding improvement of related social ills, such as poverty, HIV/AIDS, sex work and crime generally. These efforts correlate with an improved quality of life, through the implantation of integrated departmental and Provincial Drug Master Plans and Reports.
Mr Bayever went on to discuss the trends in substance abuse, referring to data derived from the South African Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (SACENDU). This information was relevant to the period of January – June 2016. He went on to state that the data represented the collection of information from 14 Specialist Treatment Centres, within which a total of 3989 drug users received treatment. It must be borne in mind that the data only refers to persons who are actually part of one of these specialised treatment centres.
Speaking to the achievements of the CDA; National Departments and Provincial Substance Abuse Forums during the 2016/17 period, Mr Bayever, referred to the tables found on pages 5 – 15 of the Annual Report. This was discussed in relation to the overall control of technical, financial and human resources exercised by the Department of Social Development, with an allocated budget of R 5 731 000.
Mr Bayever’s penultimate point of discussion of the CDA’s challenges encountered, which includes the fact that the NDMP is not aligned to the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF); was the inadequate representation of provincial departments at Substance Abuse Forums; the delays experienced by the late submission of reports by provincial representatives; the unaffordability of treatment to vast segments of society; and, the unnecessary duplication of services and waste of resources.
Finally, key recommendations were proposed to the Committee in an attempt to overcome these challenges. These include a need for legislative intervention, to ensure the CDA has the legitimate mandate of delivering on its goals and objectives; the creation of a cost-effective data warehouse system where reports from relevant departments may be deposited and stored; as well as, strengthening the capacity of the Local Drug Action Committees.
The Chairperson thanked the CDA for their presentation but expressed reservations about the relevance and usefulness of the Annual Report. She went on to express dissatisfaction at the lack of cooperation from other governmental departments which effectively hampered the important work of the CDA and the consequential impact on society as a whole.
Ms Q Madlopha (ANC) thanked the CDA for their presentation but said her initial question does not refer to the content of the presentation. She went on to ask, referring to page 4 of the Annual Report (background) what the reasons were for delivery of the report, as it dealt with the 2016/17 financial year and not the period 2017/18. Also thee challenges identified, and recommendations forwarded related to a financial year that passed. She went on to ask what the progress was in terms of those identified challenges and recommendations.
The Chairperson intervened, requesting Members’ permission to allow the CDA to answer the questions posed by Ms Madlopha.
Ms Conny Mxumalo, Board Member, CDA responded by stating that there were two aspects to the delivery of the report. The first being a delay in the submission of reports from the relevant stakeholders; the second being a delay in the tabling of the report. This report was tabled late last year. The Ministerial change, however, had resulted in further delays, despite the report being ready. The CDA’s response as a Department was to request that the Minister of Social Development write to the relevant provincial governmental departments, prompting submission of their reports. This was, however, not effective, as the reports were not signed-off/ validated, which is essential for the release of the Annual Report. Those outstanding reports had to be signed-off by the relevant Minister and the Director- General (DG), so that it may be tabled as a Final Report. She felt this problem will continue in relation to the periods 2017/18 as well as 2018/19.
Ms Madlopha, in a follow up question, asked whether the inadequate and delayed cooperation from participants were identified as challenges, as this is not clear from the report. She went on to ask whether, as a result of the delays, no work had been done in the interim after the compilation of the report.
Ms B Masango (DA) asked what has been happening during the intervening period, between 2017 and the present moment, as work should have continued. She went on to ask what the progress has been in relation to the National Drug Master Plan in the intervening period. Expressing concern at the lack of progress, she went on to ask what has been done in order to assist the average person.
Ms Mxumalo responded by referring Members of the Committee to slides 31 and 32, found on page 16 of the Annual Report. She said that in terms of the challenges, and in terms of the (new) NDMP, dealing with the periods 2018 – 2022, there was no plan and response in place, but, that it is awaiting approval by Cabinet.
The Chairperson, intervening and addressing the meeting went on to say that it seems there are answers to the challenges facing the CDA, but that there are other challenges which stifle the timeous release of reports, which in turn hampers the progress of the CDA. She went on to say that these challenges have been discussed before. From previous discussion on this point, a recommendation had been made. It is clear, she continued, that your authority is not enforceable, which in turn impacts on the efficacy of your operations.
Consensus had been reached regarding the importance of the CDA; however, its structure is problematic. She went on to ask what progress had been made in relation to the structure. The Chairperson expressed dissatisfaction at the progress made by the CDA. There seemed to be a disconnect between the various departmental representatives and the objectives of those departments. She requested a response from the Department of Social Development’s delegation.
Ms Mxumalo responded and affirmed that a recommendation had been made but clarified that the CDA was established according to an Act of Parliament (the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act 70 of 2008). She went on to say that a change in the structure of the CDA required amendment of the Act. What the CDA has done was to change the policy which is in line with the Act in its current form, which is awaiting approval by Cabinet. Secondly a proposed amendment to the Act has been drafted, which too, is awaiting approval by Cabinet. Further, she stated, in other instances where the Department had to report to Parliament, it would be fitting if this Committee were to request attendance of those other governmental departments, so that there may be a consolidated discussion. It should be born in mind that the term of the current CDA had ended. Should the draft policy and the proposed legislative amendments be approved by Cabinet, the new Board could be appointed in accordance with the revised structure. Unfortunately, however, this would require an additional extension of the CDA’s current term.
The Chairperson agreed with Ms Mxumalo that the term of the CDA had been extended but disagreed that she should raise the point of a possible extension. The Chairperson went on to say that this should have formed part of the CDA’s report. The Chairperson expressed dissatisfaction at the lack of communication regarding the delays and proposed legislative amendments by the current CDA board. She went on to say that the lack of timeous communication had stifled the intervention of the Committee.
Ms H Malgas (ANC), agreeing with the Chairperson, said that the recommendation that is awaiting Cabinet approval would have resolved the structural and legislative challenges facing the CDA. She went on to say that the recommendations ought to have been brought to the attention of the Committee.
Ms Masango, in agreeing with the Chairperson, stated that even the Minister of Social Development had made reference to the challenges facing the CDA. The work of the Committee is being frustrated and the lives affected by the surge in drug addiction seem to be of secondary importance. Referring to the Minister’s input into her report, t all the social ills listed are directly related to the work of the CDA and the Committee, which justifies the seriousness of the lack of intervention.
Ms S Tsoleli (ANC) said it was problematic that the Committee must wait for Parliament’s approval of the proposed amendments and changes. The delays are stifling the work of the CDA and the oversight role of the Committee, which results in dire consequences for society as a whole.
The Chairperson again responded by relaying her disdain at the state of affairs in which the CDA finds itself, and the lack of cooperation from the Provincial Department of Social Services in the Free State.
The Chairperson adjourned this part of the meeting and asked that the Committee’s dissatisfaction be communicated to the Minister of Social Development.
Briefing on the Department of Social development’s Second and Third Quarter Financial and non-financial performance Report for 2018/19 year (July-Sept and Oct-Dec 2018)
Ms Nelisiwe Vicakou, Deputy Director General (DDG) of the Department of Social Development, started the meeting by introducing the members that made up her delegation, which included Mr Thabani Buthelezi, the Chief Financial Officer, who would be presenting the report together with Mr Appel.
Mr Buthelezi started the presentation by setting out the financial period applicable to the report. He said that the report is delivered in the context of the Department repositioning itself in the new financial year. He went on to say that the Department had to reconsider a number of targets in its previously approved 2018/19 APP (Annual Performance Plan), in line with its reconfigured mandate. Some of these targets had been submitted for removal, while others had been amended. To be covered, he went on, are initiatives of the legislative review, particularly those that establish SASSA (South African Social Security Agency), the NDA; as well as, the CDA. On the other hand, he continued, Amendment Bills would be submitted to Cabinet, targeting Operation Phakisa; Programme Mikondzo; as well as the Development of Community Based Workers Programme.
Speaking to the graphs found on 14, Mr Buthelezi stated that specific focus would be on those areas and programmes where predetermined targets had not been met. He went on to state that the non-achievement of certain targets during consecutive quarters would most likely result in their continued non-achievement in following quarters. He continued to speak to targets unlikely to be met found on slide 16 of the Report.
Mr Buthelezi, paying particular attention to the individual programmes, which includes Administration (1); Social Assistance (2); Social Security Policy and Administration (3); Welfare Services Policy Development and Implementation Support (4); and, Social Policy and Integrated Service Delivery (5). Tabulated details on these programmes can be found on slides 18 – 85.
Mr C Appel, CFO, Department of Social Development, delivering the Expenditure Report said the Department had spent about 74.5% of its budget thus far. Providing some detail, which may be found on slide 88, he went on to say that in terms of Programme: 1, 67.6% had been spent; Programme: 2, 74.5% had been spent; Programme: 3, 73.5% had been spent; Programme: 4, 68.27% had been spent; and, Programme: 5, 91% had been spent.
Explaining the expenditure in relation to Programme 5, Mr Apple said that 100% of the R264 Million had been transferred to the NDA, and that they had deviated from past practice where the funds were transferred gradually. This was to assist in the NDA’s managing its cash-flow, and so it may earn interest on the amount, he said.
Continuing with Expenditure per Programme, Mr Apple went on to speak to the Department’s expenses, which included amounts spent on items such as: Compensation of Employees; Goods and Services; as well as transfers and subsides granted to provinces and municipalities. Detail on these amounts may be found on slide 90.
Looking at the reasons for proportional spending either being low or high, focus was on the low spending for Goods and Services, which stood at 53%. Mr Apple said this may be explained in relation to the “Turn Key Solution” project, which seeks to overhaul and upgrade the Department’s IT infrastructure. This project had been outsourced to the State Information Technology Agency (SITA). Mr Appel proceeded to refer to all other low-spending items per Programme. Detail on these may be found on slides 94 – 120.
The Chairperson thanked the delegation for their presentation and detailed report and opened the floor for questioning.
A Member asked whether the compiled report complies with the recommendations of the Auditor General (AG), and whether the Department’s service providers are compliant with the regulations. Regarding the awareness campaign against gender-based violence, the member asked whether the Department can affirm that campaigns of this nature yielded positive results, as instances of gender-based violence are escalating across the country. She went on to ask whether the various youth programmes yielded results, and why the number of youth delegates were reduced. Referring to an issue which was reported on during the week, where the NDP in the province of Mpumalanga donated household furniture to an occupant of an RDP house, she asked whether this was in line with the Department’s policy.
Ms B Abrahams (ANC), referring to slide 91, asked what the acronym SITA (State Information Technology Agency) means; who they are; as well as, whether its services were approved through a tender-process. She went on to ask how the SITA would go about appointing other auxiliary service providers, and what this process would be. Regarding the network-cabling system, Ms Abrahams asked whether this was delivered or was it installed.
Mr Appel responded by saying that at the end of their lease agreement they could not install the cables. An additional difficulty is the delay in appointing auxiliary service providers, which is exacerbated by a large proportion of staff turnover within SITA. Mr Appel essentially said the appointment and HR difficulties within the SITA contributed to the delay.
With regard to the Department’s lease agreement with the Department of Public Works, the lease is coming to an end. The Department of Public Works has refused permission to install the network-cabling as the lease agreement had lapsed. There is a lease agreement under consideration, but it awaits finalisation and approval.
He went on to say that on the other hand, the Department has set out to purchase its own land and property. The Department is also facing pressure from the SITA, as the warranties on the products, including the cable are reaching expiration.
The Chairperson intervened and said that there are clear challenges facing the Department and unfortunately the Committee does not have the knowledge or access to the agreements in question. The Chairperson said that the delays in construction are seriously hampering the Departments operations. She conceded that these are issues beyond the Department.
Ms Abrahams, intervening said that the danger of not utilising the equipment bought, is that in a short amount of time it may be rendered absolute and irrelevant and this would be a waste of funds.
Ms Masango said that despite being given some explanation as to why certain targets had not been achieved, the explanation is void of detail. Does this mean the entire target had not been achieved, or in part only? She went on to ask whether any money had been allocated to the point of non-achievement.
Referring to what was termed as “achievement” by the CDA, Ms Masango said that there was a difference between “targets” and “achievements” and asked what impact these achievements had for the ordinary person. Referring to the Mr Buthelezi, she asked how the item ‘Budget-over-spending’ impacted on the overall budget; and that it appears that the underspending of non-achieved targets related directly to the over-spending in other areas. On the usage of international agencies, Ms Masango asked how the submitted documents are tracked so Members may have access to them. She went on to ask, in particular, whether access to documents relating to unachieved targets may be facilitated for the benefit of the Committee.
Ms Malgas agreed with the opinion of the Chairperson but asked for some clarity in relation to payments done for Goods and Services and Corporate Services respectively.
Essentially, Ms Malgas asked for clarity as to why the reasoning for low/high expenditure is the same for different items, referring to slides 91 and 96, respectively.
Mr Appel responded by saying that slide 91 refers to the impact on the Department in its entirety; whereas the slide 96 refers to the impact on the relevant Programme.
The Chairperson acknowledged the explanation given still requested clarity as to why the reasoning is exactly the same in respect of both the impact on the Department as a whole, and the Programme respectively.
Mr Appel responded by referring Members to slide 88, which outlines expenditure per Programme. Isolating the expenditure in respect of “Administration”, standing at 68%, he explained that the reason for the low expenditure is as a result of issues with the SITA, and that this relates to the entire Department. Turning to slide 96, he continued, this relates to Programme: 1 and “Corporate Services” in particular. He explained that the SITA forms part of “Corporate Services”, which would explain the seeming duplication.
The Chairperson went on to express her dissatisfaction at the pace of progress. She, in particular referred to funds allocated to drug-addiction treatment, which may not be used until construction of the Centre is complete.
Mr Appel, in response, asked that the Committee invite the other role-players, so a detailed and comprehensive report may be given. Referring to the employment of social workers, he said the Department had funded the training of about 5000 graduates. Unfortunately the Department’s request for budgetary adjustments to employ these graduates had not been responded to for the last five years.
Ms Madlopha, agreeing with the Chairperson, asked that the Committee be given a written undertaking because it seemed that the Department of Public Works is an obstacle to the progress of the Committee.
Ms Tsoleli agreed with Ms Madlopha.
The Chairperson said it would be helpful to write to the Minister of Public Works on the issues raised by Mr Buthelezi and Mr Appel.
Ms Masango said the report presented by the delegation of the Department of Social Development should not be accepted. A message expressing dissatisfaction should be sent.
The Chairperson asked for clarity on the location of funds allocated to the building of the drug-addiction treatment Centre in the Free State Province. Who makes the decision to utilise the money?
Mr Appel said the funds are held by the province, and their role is oversight of its utilisation by the province.
Ms Masango said decisive action is required to overcome these challenges.
The Chairperson, in response said that the issues raised are interrelated. The employment of social work graduates and the availability of services within the treatment centres are related. She suggested that the HOD of Social Development in the Free State province, the DG of Public Works and the Treasury be invited to attend the next meeting. This would allow the Committee to solve these challenges.
Ms Madlopha agreed with the Chairperson. She continued to say that each of the role-players should be informed in writing on what they were expected to respond to.
The Chairperson requested that the Secretary of the Committee liaise with the legal advisors of Parliament in drafting the correspondence.
Ms N Sonti (EFF) asked why a request for funds was declined in respect of persons living with disabilities.
Mr Appel said the requests were not declined, rather that the funding was delayed as a result of issues regarding reporting and accounting compliance.
The Chairperson said the issue of social work graduates required urgent intervention. She went on to describe the service as essential in relation to schooling, the healthcare system and the prison system and the rehabilitation of prisoners.
Ms Mxumalo said that social workers are not regarded as essential by all departments and focused intervention is required.
The Chairperson asked Ms Mxumalo why these issues were not brought as urgent matters to the attention of the Speaker and or the Chairpersons’ Meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.