Developmental Welfare Governance Bill: hearings

Social Development

12 February 2001
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Meeting report

THE DEVELOPMENTAL WELFARE GOVERNANCE BILL: HEARINGS

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
13 February 2001
DEVELOPMENTAL WELFARE GOVERNANCE BILL: HEARINGS

Chairperson: Mr E Saloojee

Documents handed out:
Disabled People South Africa on the Developmental Welfare Governance Bill
Child Welfare Society
South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA)

SUMMARY
The Child Welfare Society (CWS) supports the purpose of the Bill as well as the establishment of a South African Development Welfare Council. However, they have reservations about the composition, powers and function of the Council. Disabled People South Africa (DPSA) believes that the composition of the proposed Council needs to be revisited. SANCA suggested that various provisions in the Bill require more clarity.

MINUTES
Child Welfare Society (CWS)

Objects of the Council
Alan Jackson said that the words "at all levels of government" are unnecessary given the fact that the two levels of government that are targeted (provincial and local government), were already mentioned.

Powers and Functions of the Council
Some of the functions and powers that are listed are beyond the capability of the Council. These functions and powers are also fundamental responsibilities of the Department of Social Development and not the Council. If the Council is expected to perform these functions, departmental work will be duplicated. The CWS suggested that the wording be changed to: the Council "ensures" these functions are performed.

With regard to Clause 4(1)(c), CWS notes that it is not the responsibility of the state governance structures to fund themselves. This clause lends itself to the creation of a new bureaucratic structure, which seeks to compete for the limited pool of funds available to Government Departments and NGOs.

Composition of the Council
There is no direct representation of organisations involved in the service delivery of social services, despite this being the critical element in the process. The CWS suggested that two representatives from the service delivery sector be included. Also that the number of representatives - of persons who use Social Welfare Services - be expanded to two. The CWS suggested that it would not be necessary to employ full-time staff as the Council will meet only three times a year (at least).

Financial Implications of the Bill for the State
The proposed cost of entertainment, cellular phones and additional remuneration of approximately R36 000 is excessive. The R 456 000 earmarked for the Secretariat is excessive and needs to be examined. Furthermore, one Assistant Director and two Senior Administration Officers appointed on a full-time basis for the Council, is
excessive.
The Child Welfare Society representative then read out submissions from the Johannesburg Child Welfare Society and Greater Johannesburg Welfare, Social Service and Development Forum.
Johannesburg Child Welfare Society
The Society was not convinced that the Council would promote partnership with civil society due to the lack of representation. The structure thus of the Council needs to be changed. If the intention of the Bill is entirely for the purpose of advice to and consultation with the Minister then the composition of the Council is appropriate.
The powers of the Council seem to overlap with that of the Department of Social Development.
The society questioned the amount of R686 000 for the running of the Council. They suggested that essential services are facing closure or cut backs due to lack of funds. Thus the funds could be used more resourcefully and efficiently.
The society expresses concern about the reimbursement of individuals who, on their employer's time, are serving structures convened by government.
Greater Johannesburg Welfare, Social Service and Development Forum
The forum suggests that:
- the phrase "measures to address the social aspects of HIV/AIDS" be added to clause 3(1)(a) of the Bill.
- The intention of the Bill, the promotion of government's partnership with civil society, cannot be achieved by the structure in its proposed form. They suggest that there be five representatives from the service delivery structure
.
- The forum proposes that there be specific provision in section 5 for some means of input for provincial governance structures.
- Where a member is serving on the Council as an employee of any Department or organisation, provision should be made for remuneration of the relevant organisation instead of the individual.
- There should be a minimum of four meetings per year, given the scope of the responsibilities of the Council.

Discussion
An ANC member asked the CWS whether it was not necessary to have the Council mediating between the Department of Social Development and other Welfare Organisations. The CWS believes that the Council has an important role to play in terms of mediation with the Department. The Council will be more responsible for the facilitation of the functions and not the implementation of functions.

Ms Cupido (DP) asked if the CWS has taken an in-depth look into the problems that need to be addressed within the Department. The CWS replied that there was a serious lack of communication. He referred to the Funding Policy that had been promulgated within three weeks by four people without any consultation.

Mr Saloojee asked the CWS to state what they thought were the functions of the Council. He reminded them that such a Council ought to play a critical role. The CWS agreed that the Council's role is important, however, it should enable the facilitation of the functions as stated in the Bill. It has no capacity and is not appropriate to carry out the functions that are listed therein.

Mr Saloojee suggested that the Council should emanate from a broader social system and should be able to engage with government within a serious context. He was referring to clause 5(1)(c) of the Bill which deals with the consideration of developmental social welfare legislation . The CWS said that the consideration of legislation will require in-depth analysis and would be time consuming. The Council would not be in a position to carry out this function.

An ANC member requested that a department official be present at the Council meetings. The CWS agreed to this.

An ANC member stated that a statutory body performing functions was preferable. The CWS responded that the Council cannot carry out all the functions. They have identified five out of fifteen functions that the Council cannot carry out.

An ANC member asked the CWS to what extent the Council should ensure the participation of civil society, without duplicating the Departments functions. The CWS stated that it was important for the Council to facilitate dialogue between government and civil society. They should not however, do this themselves. He indicated that it was not realistic for the Council to facilitate this process when there is a Department responsible for that task.

Disabled People of South Africa
Mr A Tembani stated that the Bill provided for one representative each from the national forums in the developmental social sector plus from organisations representing persons who use social welfare services. However welfare grant recipients comprise of three diverse sectors: disabled persons, pensioners and single mothers with children. All three sectors in the national forums and the organisations representing the welfare recipients themselves, have different challenges and needs. To provide for one representative each, would be to risk compromising the interests of the different sectors. The Disabled People of South African proposed that the Bill provide for three representatives for disabled persons, pensioners and single mothers. This would increase the size of the Council from nine to thirteen.

DPSA stated that they supported the need for thorough representation and inclusion. Thus increasing the size of the Council from nine to thirteen should not undermine the work of the Council, but enhance it.

Discussion
Mr Saloojee suggested that DPSA were making a plea for greater representation and direct representation of each sector within the Council. DPSA agreed that this was an important point that they were trying to make.

Ms Southgate (African Christian Democratic Party) asked DPSA whether they see any problems with the functions and powers of the Council. DPSA responded that the functions and powers allocated to the Council were appropriate.

SANCA Alcohol and Drug Centre
Ms A Ntebe suggested various changes to the wording of the Bill. She stated that Social Development needs to feature in the name of the Bill before it becomes an Act. This would also affect the name of the Council which would read South African Social Development Council.

Ms Ntebe stated that the Act lacks a vision. It is important that the Council states why it wants to exist. The reference to the Council as a "juristic person" seems to be too personal. SANCA suggests that the Council be referred to as a "juristic structure".

SANCA is of the view that the Council should initiate participative research on evaluating and enhancing the effective implementation of social development services and programs. Thus clause 4(a) needs restructuring to indicate this.

Ms Ntebe stated that a report should be submitted twice a year, not once
to the Minister on the activities of the Council. She also indicated that it was not clear as to when the formal reports to the public would be made.

SANCA believes that the period of holding office is too long. This period should be reduced to two years and then reappointment should take place.

Ms Ntebe stated that clause 12(b) did not make sense. She asked: "Should it not be that the personnel referred to are accountable to the Chairperson of the Council who in turn reports to the Department and the whole Council?

Discussion
Ms Southgate (ACDP) asked SANCA to explain the definition of social development. Ms Ntebe replied that this was a matter of semantics. She said that there should be a definition of social development. She stated that the term links with well being of people and planned social change designed to implement socio-economic change.

An ANC member suggested that it would not be practical for the Council to report twice to the Minister in the first term of office. The member asked SANCA to comment. Ms Ntebe suggested that if there were three meetings of the Council per year, there would be a lot to report about.

The meeting was adjourned.

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