Department of Social Development Quarterly performance, with Deputy Minister

Social Development

21 August 2019
Chairperson: Mr M Gungubele (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed by the Department on their Quarterly 2018/2019 performance in the period 1 January - 31 March 2019. The Deputy Minister said that this period was chosen to avoid duplicity and the DSD was scheduled to present its Annual Report to the Committee in two weeks' time.

The Committee heard that the Department's performance against predetermined objectives had declined since the second Quarter of the 2018/ 19 financial year. 79% of the targets were achieved in the first quarter of the financial year. Performance had decreased by 65% in the second quarter and by 63% in the third quarter. However, performance was enhanced in the fourth quarter and 75% of the target was achieved. Most of the targets that were not achieved in 2018/2019 were carried over for implementation in the current financial year.

Members were concerned about the reporting format of the Department as the report did not correspond to the realities prevalent in communities. The Department did not get most of the documents approved in the financial year and most of the programmes recorded underspending. Members heard that the working conditions of social workers in local communities were not pleasant at all and there appeared to be a lack of effective communications between officials of the South African Police Service and people with disabilities. Members expressed doubts about the ability of the Department to cascade programmes down to local communities. Of further concern to Members was the non-achievement of targets and the delay in the operationalisation of the Inspectorate.

Members asked what the impacts were of the unachieved targets on intended beneficiaries; what measures the DSD had put in place to mitigate risks to various action plans; when the SEIAS Certification would occur; how does the DSD assure quality in the absence of an Inspectorate; if vacant posts has been filled; what were the Departments plans to assist people with multiple disabilities; and why NPOs were not getting the funds allocated to them.

Of disappointment was the fact that the NPO could not submit the Bill to Cabinet and the Socio Economic Impact Assessment System (SEIAS) Certification had not been concluded. Members cautioned the Department about sending the wrong signal regarding the Gender-Based Violence action plan by failing to finalise said plan. Members appealed to the Department that underspending in all its forms should be discouraged and added that it was disappointing that the R314 million had not been returned to the National Treasury. Members asked why there were still grievances about ineffective services to people with AIDS.

The Committee urged the DSD to take Members' concerns seriously and improve on performance and reporting in the following Quarter. The Department also needed to change its approach to programme implementation, and to ensure timely signing of the National Drug Plan. Members appealed to the DSD to see the Committee's interventions as measures to take the Department forward and not an attempt to discredit the Department. Officials who do not have anything to present should stay in their offices to perform their duties. This saves cost to the Department.

The Committee’s Programme was adopted.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks

The Chairperson welcomed Members, the delegation from the Department of Social Development (DSD) and everyone to the meeting. He said that it is pleasurable to witness the "Women's Month" and women need to be celebrated. There will not be life and economic growth without women.

The agenda of the meeting was to consider the Quarterly Performance and Expenditure Report of the DSD. The Committee will also consider its programme for the rest of the year. The Deputy Minister of the Department of Social Development, Ms Henrietta Bogopane-Zulu, apologised on behalf of the Minister, Ms Lindiwe Zulu who had a Cabinet commitment. An MP apologised on behalf of Ms D Ngwenya (EFF), whose absence was due to a surgical procedure performed on her in the previous week.

Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, Deputy Minister of Social Development, informed the Committee that the DSD will only present the Quarterly Report for the period 1 January to 31 March 2019 in order to avoid duplicity. The DSD is scheduled to present its Annual Report to the Committee in two weeks' time. A colour coding/ rating system was used to rate progress towards meeting the pre-determined objectives. Projects and programmes indicated as "On Course” and colour-coded green required major action. Projects and programmes indicated as "Moderately Risk”, colour-coded yellow have some problems which affects the achievement of the target within the specified time-frames. The Department develops remedial actions to avoid the risks. Projects and programmes indicated as "Certainty” and colour-coded red require major remedial action and urgent interventions. This approach was adopted to help ascertain whether targets will or will not be achieved within projected time-frames. She told Mr Thabani Buthelezi, a Chief Director at the DSD, to present the report to the Committee.

Briefing by the DSD on its Quarterly Performance for 1 January to 31 March 2019
Mr Buthelezi spoke about the total number of targets achieved and non-achieved; and the remedial actions taken.

The DSD's programmes include Administration; Social Assistance; Social Security Policy and Administration; Welfare Services Policy Development and Implementation Support; and Social Policy and Integrated Service Delivery.

The DSD's performance has been declining against its Predetermined Objectives (PDO) since the second quarter of the financial year. 79% of the targets were achieved in the first quarter of the financial year. Performance decreased by 65% in second quarter and by 63% in the third quarter. However, performance was enhanced in the fourth quarter and 75% of the target was achieved. Most of the targets that were not achieved in 2018/2019 were carried over for implementation in the current financial year. The Department will report on progress of these performance targets in the first quarter of the 2019/ 20 financial year.

The underspending in Welfare Services Policy Development and Implementation Support was due to delays in payments to various national bodies as a result of reclassification of expenditure in line with Circular 21 and reduced participants for the annual welfare service events hosted during the financial year. The underspending in Social Policy and Integrated Service Delivery was due to implementation of operational efficiencies.

Under programme 1 (Administration), analysis of integrated quarterly reports for entities and associated institutions could not be achieved. The Entity Management Forum could not be coordinated and draft entity governance and capacity building guidelines could not be developed. The DSD resuscitated and strengthened its oversight capacity and responsibilities over the two entities. The Department will implement its 2015 organisational structure, which has an Entity Oversight Unit and will be prioritised in 2019/ 20.

All targets under Programme 2 (Social Assistance) were achieved. These include various grants like Child Support Grant, War Veterans Grant, Foster Child Grant, among others.

The Department could not submit the White Paper on Social Welfare to Cabinet for approval due to recommendations for further consultations with key stakeholders.

The DSD did not get approval for the National Plan of Action for Children Welfare due to recommendations for consultation with the Social Cluster scheduled for April 2019. The Department conducted capacity building in two Provinces (Western Cape and Eastern Cape) instead of three Provinces to implement the Teenage Parenting Programme. The Department could not complete the submission of the reviewed South African Integrated Programme of Action (PoA) addressing Gender-Based Violence (GBV) to Cabinet for Approval due to the intention to link the PoA with the outcomes of the GBV and Femicide Presidential National Summit held in 2018. Submission of the draft Policy on Social Development Services to Persons with Disabilities to Social Protection, Community and Human Development (SPCHD) cluster and Forum of South African Directors-General (FOSAD) was not realised due to a recommendation for refinement before submission to the Minister and the Members of Executive Council (MINMEC).

The Department could not submit NPO Bill to the Cabinet and Socio Economic Impact Assessment System (SEIAS) Certification was not concluded. The DSD linked only 117 out of 200 Cooperatives to economic opportunities in the fourth quarter. This was mainly due to the issuance of by the National Treasury (NT). The DSD will submit the NPO Bill to the Cabinet in the current Financial Year. The DSD will provide capacity building to Cooperatives on Supply Chain Management processes and compliance.

Discussion
Ms B Masango (DA) expressed concern about the targets that were not achieved. There should be specific time-frames within which the targets are achieved. What are the impacts of unachieved targets on intended beneficiaries? What measures does the DSD put in place to mitigate risks to various action plans? The DSD should solve the various challenges between itself, Social Relief of Distress (SRD) and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). SRD appears to be an intermediary between the Department and SASSA. However, the roles of each entity are not clearly defined. This might affect service delivery and accountability. The DSD should inform the Committee when SEIAS Certification will occur.

The Chairperson expressed concern about the operationalisation of the Inspectorate. How does the DSD assure quality in the absence of an Inspectorate? The DSD sends the wrong signal by failing to finalise the action plan on Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

Response
The Deputy Minister said that the DSD has resolved all matters related to NPOs. Certain Bills could not be finalised because they were processed towards the end of the Fifth Parliament. The DSD has submitted a list of legislation to Parliament and the Committee should assist with the facilitation and the approval of the Bills. The DSD will ensure that the Children’s Bill is re-introduced to Parliament.

The SRD and SASSA have separate budgets. The SRD deals with the identification and verification of recipients who qualify for social assistance and SASSA deals with the administration of grants. Both SASSA and SRD focus on relief to victims of disasters, whereas the DSD provides assistance to families. The DSD's intervention is long-term, while SRD is short-term. The DSD ensures effective coordination of programmes to avoid duplication.

A Steering Committee was established, after the Presidential Summit, to evaluate measures to curb GBV. The Steering Committee also constitutes a Council to consider GBV-related matters and the DSD will update the Committee on developments going forward. Having reviewed the plan of action on GBV, the Department was required to provide inputs. The Department has concluded its part of the agreement and the rest lies with other role-players. The plan of action on GBV transcends the DSD. It includes the Department of Justice and Community Safety, among others. The Presidency demonstrates keen interest in the programme and the new Department of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities will champion the initiative. The DSD has a Command Centre, which helps to deal with GBV-related matters. There are various interventions to ensure women and victim empowerment. The plan of action on children is being finalised. All stakeholders must work effectively to ensure effective service delivery to recipients. The DSD has consultations with children as required by law. The Department will convene the National Children Parliament, the Nelson Mandela Children Parliament, on 27 September. The non-finalisation of the Inspectorate arises from technical challenges. The Inspectorate was initially conceptualised as a standalone entity. However, there is a debate about whether the Inspectorate should be a Schedule 2 or Schedule 3 entity. The Inspectorate is functional but not operating at full capacity at the moment. It has oversight of SASSA and investigates corruption and fraud-related matters, among others. The duties of the Inspectorate will be closely monitored to ensure accountability.

Discussion
The Chairperson sought clarity on underspending on the Compensation of Employees (CoE). Are vacant posts not filled? He complained about the moratorium imposed by the Minister and format of DSD report.

Response
The Deputy Minister said people were already appointed into the Inspectorate before the Minister imposed moratorium on both SASSA and the Department. There are plans for SASSA to fill vacant posts.

Discussion
Ms A Abrahams (DA) urged the DSD to send documents to the Committee ahead of future meetings. This helps Members to familiarise themselves with the contents of the documents. Underspending, no matter how little, is unacceptable and those responsible should be held accountable. There should not be any justification for under-performance. Remedial actions should have definite time-frames to prevent procrastination.

The Chairperson told Ms Abrahams that the DSD sent the documents on 16 August 2019.

Ms T Mpambo-Sibhukwana (DA) sought to know the DSD's plans to assist people with multiple disabilities (the deaf and the blind). Sign language should be incorporated into the communication strategies of police to facilitate easy communication between this group and the police. Underspending, in all its forms, should be discouraged. The R314 million returned to the NT is totally unacceptable.

Ms Masango expressed concern about challenges associated with Circular 21. There are lots of grievances about ineffective services to people with AIDS. Why are NPOs not getting funds allocated to them? DSD should intervene so that funds get to people that provide services.

Ms N Bilankulu (ANC) commended the presentation but expressed concern about the working conditions of workers in the Department, especially at District level. Some offices do not have air-conditioners and workers, in some cases, use broken vehicles. Certain police stations are dysfunctional. The DSD should try to improve working conditions in its facilities. The presentation was not a true reflection of what goes on in communities.

The Chairperson said the report should be practical. This eases the work of MPs when they engage with constituencies. Oversight is not a tool of convenience but a tool of accountability and responsibility. There should be adequate coordination of programmes in order to achieve targets. SASSA and SAPO should be integrated to enhance service delivery to recipients. The National Development Agency should be well-resourced. The intervention should be developmental, especially with respect to women’s empowerment. Women experience less abuse in societies that prioritise women empowerment.

Ms Abrahams noted that Provinces still used the 2013 and 2017 versions of the National Drug Plan. She urged the DSD to ensure timely signing of the National Drug Plan, which currently sits with Cabinet.

Ms M Sukers (ACDP) sought to know if there are measures to cascade the various strategies to concerned Departments. All role-players must demonstrate commitments in order to achieve set targets. The Departments needs to change its approach to programme implementation. She said, in support of Ms Bilankulu, that Department's presentation does not correspond to what happens in communities. The DSD and the Committee must work together in unity to achieve targets.

The Chairperson urged the DSD to take Members' concerns seriously and improve on performance and reporting in the following Quarter.

Response
The Deputy Minister noted the concerns of Members. She said that the format for reporting is determined by the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation, the Office of the Auditor-General and the Office of the Accountant-General. The DSD will, however, incorporate the Committee's inputs when it presents in subsequent reports. The DSD has various interventions to empower women and to reduce teenage pregnancies. Measures at the moment include that victims are required to provide evidence before they can pursue their case. This poses serious challenge to blind women who suffer abuse. The DSD, in collaboration with other role-players, has started interventions to help deaf-blind people. Deaf people get counseling through SMS and video calling. The Department also employs deaf and blind social workers and lip readers. The Department urged the Committee to visit Command Centres, which win various International Awards, to have an appreciation of what transpires. SAPS currently trains about 300 officers in Sign Language and have interventions to help people living with disabilities. This is still work in progress and the DSD hopes to get better, going forward. The NT's decision on Circular 21 adversely affected the DSD's ability to implement some of its programmes. The Department had engagements with relevant authorities to address the challenge. The DSD must receive necessary the support to perform its statutory functions. Inter-governmental entities decide how the DSD related with Provinces. There are active engagements between the DSD and Provincial authorities.

Discussion
The Chairperson reiterated that the DSD's report does not reflect reality. The Department should communicate outcomes in a clear manner. The Delegation from the Department should comprise technical experts who will account for their roles. He urged the DSD to accept Members' concerns and inputs as constructive criticism so that the Department and the Committee achieved set targets throughout the Sixth Administration. Reports must clearly state pre-determined objectives, targets, the extent of implementation and results.

Ms N Mvana (ANC) commended the passion of the Deputy Manager to clarify Members' concerns but urged her to have a friendly disposition towards the Committee.

Mr D Stock (ANC) urged the DSD to see the Committee's interventions as measures to take the Department forward and not an attempt to discredit the Department. The Deputy Manager must be polite to the Committee. It is not acceptable that only the Deputy Manager responded to Members' concerns. Every delegate from the Department has to discourage men and boys from harassing females. The DSD supports effective parenting as it helps to reduce teenage pregnancy. Teenage pregnancy contributes to societal ills and should be discouraged. The DSD still has a lot to achieve on GBV-related matters. The DSD has to takes steps to reduce underspending. Most of the targets not achieved in the previous financial year are currently being implemented in the current financial year. The DSD is re-evaluating some of the programmes and the moratorium. Programmes are coordinated more effectively and programme administrators are trained to improve service delivery. The DSD will ensure consequence management and discipline culpable individuals responsible for underspending. The Department is in process of finalising official South African Sign Language. The report on sign language was submitted to the National Assembly and Parliament should intervene in order to facilitate Presidential assent of the Bill. Once the Bill is approved, children will have the right to choose sign language in schools. This is vital to achieve the DSD's target in this regard. The Dictionary for South African Sign Language has been developed and the DSD is training front-line staff on sign language. The Department of Justice should facilitate the amendment of the Justice Act to further empower blind women.

Response
The Deputy Minister said that the Drug Master Plan is ready and it is in Cabinet but needed updating to meet the requirements of the African Union. The Department apologised for the report format and promised to consider Members' concerns in future presentations. The Department will have active engagements with Provinces and local authorities to ensure effective service delivery to recipients. For future presentations, the DSD will have a consolidated report for itself and its entities (SASSA and National Development Agency (NDA)). The Department will monitor how Provinces handle staff welfare. Provinces recruit social workers but the National Department sets standards. General reports reveal that the working conditions are pleasant. The Department would try to integrate the services of SAPO and SASSA in order to alleviate the plight of recipients.

Discussion
The Chairperson commended the commitment and articulation of the Deputy Minister. The DSD and all spheres of government should act in unity in the interest of all South Africans. Public officials must prioritise the indivisibility of South Africa. This should be reflected through comprehensive and smart reporting. The DSD's presentation did not align with the standards of the Auditor-General. NDA must be monitored quarterly to achieve developmental progress. The Department should demonstrate the will to improve in subsequent Quarters. The Department needs to improve Internal Audit functions to enhance financial and performance audits. He appreciated the various interventions of the Department including sign language, dictionary and Command Centre, among others. The Committee will plan to visit the Command Centre to understand how it operates.

Ms Bilankulu urged the Chairperson to hold a session with both the Minister and the Deputy Minister of the DSD to familiarise the Department with the expectations of the Committee. The Deputy Minister's response and behaviour towards the Committee is uncalled for. The Department should only send the Minister, Deputy Minister and Heads of Programmes to the meetings. Officials who do not have anything to present should stay in their offices to perform their duties. This saves cost to the Department. Committee meetings should be taken seriously.

Ms Sukers expressed concern that the Deputy Minister misunderstood the intentions of the Committee. This indicates that the DSD might lack the ability to take ownership of its programmes, which might affect effective service delivery to recipients. The Committee and the DSD must demonstrate goodwill and unity in order to take the nation forward. The Department needs to adopt an effective approach and take Committee meetings seriously. It is important for top management of the DSD to understand intentions of the Committee to facilitate the much-needed change in the way the Department implements its programmes.

Consideration of the Programme
Ms Masango proposed that the Committee meeting on 28 September 2019 to engage the DSD on the backlog in Foster Care, should be held earlier because the scheduled date is close to the end of term and the November deadline.

An MP suggested that the Committee shift the meeting to Wednesday 4 September 2019.

The Chairperson agreed to the date as long as the DSD is able to accommodate it within its schedule.

Ms Bilankulu urged the Committee to fine-tune its schedule in relation to the meeting to be held either on 29 or 30 August 2019. Some MPs have other meetings on 29 August and would not want the meetings to clash.

The Chairperson agreed to have the meeting on 30 August since it would a Friday.

The Committee adopted the Programme. Ms A Motaung (ANC) moved for the adoption. Ms Sukers seconded the move.

Consideration of Minutes of the Previous Meeting.
Ms Bilankulu moved for the adoption of the minutes. Ms Mppambo-Sibhukwana seconded the move.

An MP said the Committee has the responsibility to facilitate the appointment of a new Chief Justice in the last week of August. In the same week, the Committee will facilitate the process to shortlist, interview and recommend MPs who will serve on the Board to the Minister. This derives from the requirement of the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act. The DSD recommends that the Panel to conduct the interview should not exceed eight members; four members from the Select Committee and National Council of Provinces as well as four members from the National Assembly, which comprises two Members from ANC, one Member from the DA and one Member from the EFF. The Joint Committee would shortlist the CV of candidates to serve on the Board.

Ms Abrahams asked to know if the Committee and observers would be privy to the interview and shortlisting process.

An MP said the Panel Members, appointed by the Committee, will be privy to the process.

Ms Sukers asked to know if the Department will present shortlisted candidates to the Committee.

An MP said the DSD will explain the responsibilities of each role-player in the last week of August. The Department will also explain the processes involved and address Members' concerns. Interested candidates can apply through the Department. The Joint Committee would then shortlist the candidates.

The Chairperson thanked the Members for their dignified conduct during the meeting and wished them success in their pursuits.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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