The Committee Content Advisor presented the Legacy Report from the Fifth Parliament covering the five-year period from 2015 to 2019.
Overall, the Committee indicated it was happy with the report. Members asked questions about the importance of oversight visits, the choice of focus areas and priorities, the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme, the Drug Master Plan, the South African Social Security Agency, how Early Childhood Development and the Department of Basic Education would integrate, nursing colleges, and creating their Committee programme.
The Committee Researcher presented the five-year review of the Departments of Health and Social Development.
For the Department of Health, key issues for consideration included medical legal claims, target performance vs. budget expenditure, the South African Institute of Chartered Accounts programme, the National Health Insurance grant, and monitoring provincial health expenditure.
For the Department of Social Development, key issues for consideration included the Early Childhood Development grant, performance targets, Early Childhood Development centres, the Social Work Employment Grant, and substance abuse treatment centres.
The Committee commented on the imbalance between budget expenditure and the achievement of targets, and suggested quarterly meetings with the departments to monitor progress.
The Chairperson asked Members to submit proposals to the Committee’s staff about what they would like to be included in the Committee programme.
Presentation of 2015-2019 Legacy Report
Ms Thabile Ketye, Committee Content Advisor, presented the Legacy Report for 2015-2019. She went over the mandate, the method of work, departments and entities, Committee oversight priorities, oversight visits, overall key statistics, challenges and lessons from the previous Parliament, possible issues for follow-up, and recommendations made by the previous Committee.
She said that in the sixth administration, the Committee name had been changed to the “Select Committee on Health and Social Services.” It would perform oversight on the Department of Health (DoH), the Department of Social Development (DSD), and the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DoW). The DoW had been placed under the Committee this year, so the Department would not be included in the presentation.
Mr Mkhululi Molo, Committee Researcher, clarified the movement of some components of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme to the Department of Basic Education (DBE). Ages zero to four, Grade RR, and Grade R would be moved to the DBE.
Ms Ketye made sure to note that a lack of time and resources would hinder the Committee’s efforts to perform proper oversight visits to the provinces.
Mr M Nchabeleng (ANC, Limpopo) asked what the future plans for oversight visits were. He noted the importance of applying early for visits and study tours. With oversight, sometimes the Committee received petitions from provinces. All provinces needed to be visited. He commented that the Committee could conduct visits even if a province was doing well. He asked how petitions could be generated from within their own provinces.
Mr M Bara (DA, Gauteng) observed that this report empowered the Committee. It was important to test to see if legislation was making a difference and going out to ensure that departments did meet their mandate. He felt the Committee should place emphasis on this. He asked for a strategic session where the Committee could plan what they needed to do. The Committee should call in the departments to present about their progress on certain programmes. He suggested a strategic session, where the Committee could choose their focus areas and priorities.
Ms D Christians (DA, Northern Cape) said the DoH should be asked to brief the Committee on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Plan, to explain what it was about and how it would be implemented. The DSD should also brief the Committee on the Drug Master Plan (DMP). What was its current status? Had it been implemented? What were the success rates?
Ms N Ndongeni (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked about the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the mismanagement of money. She asked if the Committee could host a session with both the DSD and the SA Post Office to outline their challenges and how they planned to overcome them. If the Committee was to do oversight, it would need more information. She also asked what she could do if there was a problem now within her constituency.
The Chairperson thanked the officials, commenting that the only department the Committee had not met with was the DoW. She wanted to include that department in the future. She also felt that there needed to be more plans around oversight. The Committee needed to implement best oversight practices and go to places where people were complaining.
The Committee had to receive a plan with regard to the ECD issue involving the DSD and DBE. When was the implementation going to happen? How was it going to happen? How would ECD and the DBE integrate, and what would the rollout be?
The Chairperson asked questions regarding the DoH and the NHI. What would be the impact of this programme in the lives of ordinary South Africans? What would the impact on primary health care be?
She also asked about the roll-out of nursing colleges -- where, how, and when would the roll out happen? Was the Department ready to absorb those students?
She stressed the need for a joint SASSA and Post Office presentation
The Chairperson also asked about wheelchair friendly buildings. The Committee had to play an advocacy role when discussing the need for wheelchair friendly buildings, especially in government buildings.
She suggested it might be helpful for all the Members to send emails to the Committee staff containing inputs about what they felt is important, and what departments should present the Committee. This would help the Committee to create its programme.
Department of Health and Social Development oversight implications
Mr Mkhululi Molo, Committee Researcher, presented the Department of Health perspective and oversight Implications for 2019/20. These included the DoH policy priorities, entities reporting/funded by DoH, budget allocations and expenditure, target performance, and key issues for consideration
He said that the Department consistently spent about 97%-99% of the budget, while never completing over 67% of all the proposed performance targets.
He then presented the Social Development perspective and oversight Implications for 2019/20, covering the DSD policy priorities, entities reporting/funded by the DSD, budget allocations and expenditure, performance targets, key areas of oversight, and key issues for consideration.
He pointed out the same issue of targeted performance vs budget expenditure. The Department spent about 99% of their budget, while not completing more than 78% of their performance targets.
Mr Nchabeleng referred to the performance against target, and commented that sometimes targets were partially met, which meant the progress was not reflected in the overall target performance. With audit outcomes, he said that there could not be departments who were disqualified due to their asset register. The Committee needed to monitor matters that were flagged by the Auditor General, focusing on those matters that were recurring each and every year.
Mr Bara said that this report would have assisted in the budget debates. He referred to the imbalance between the budgets and performance, and felt there needed to be quarterly presentations by departments to monitor progress and see if they were on track to meet their targets. The budget and target performance imbalance needed to be monitored. He added that the Committee should follow the recommendations.
Ms S Luthuli (EFF, KwaZulu-Natal) agreed with her colleagues, indicting that her questions had already been asked.
The Chairperson thanked the presenters and staff. She also commented on the budget spent not matching the achievement of targets. Was the Department setting targets too high, not only for the DoH, but also the DSD?
The Chairperson said the recommendations were good ones, and the Committee should implement them. She emphasised that the Committee should follow the money. She urged Members to take the recommendations seriously, and requested that emails and suggestions be sent so that the Committee could create an oversight programme. Members should also take into account what had been suggested by the staff.
The consideration and adoption of meeting minutes would take place at the next meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.