The Committee was briefed by the Department of Social Development on its Annual Report. The Department had obtained a clean audit for the financial year under review. The Committee heard that the Department's footprint had increased by 176% across the province, and that the Department aims to adopt a societal approach to confront some of the social ills that confronted the province.
The Committee engaged the Department on its engagement with the most depressing and needy areas in the province like the Sanitary Dignitary Campaign; care for young children; disability; rural communities; Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and compliance. Members requested an explanation of the Uniform Referral Pathway for Child Protection; if the 2 300 NPOs were affected during the period of reporting or up to the present time; does the Department have mechanisms to ensure the compliance of the 2 300 NPOs and other partners; what is the DSD doing to support NPOs and Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) in the rural communities; what is the Department doing to ensure availability and effectiveness of social workers in such municipalities; an update on the Sanitary Dignity Pilot Project and how many girls have benefited from this project; how many people living with disabilities has the Department employed; how many people with disabilities does the DSD have in top management; and does the DSD have any programme to discourage women from excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The Committee was very disappointed to hear that Shabeen operators in the rural communities pose a serious challenge to the fight against excessive alcoholism in the province. Some operators are in possession of the grant cards of their customers, who are often encouraged to drink on credit.
Members expressed concern about the lack of enough Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres and substance abuse in children and asked ‘Does the DSD collaborate with other entities like Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres to develop programmes to curb social ills that are prevalent among children’? And ‘Does the DSD have programmes to combat substance abuse in children’? Given that the issuance of certificates to NPOs is managed by the national DSD, while the provincial DSD only delivers the certificate to the NPOs, Members asked ‘Does the provincial DSD have statistics of the NPOs that are funded by the national Department’? And ‘How much does the provincial DSD give to the NPOs it funds’
In terms of a distinction between the functions of the DSD and the Department of Health (DoH), Members heard that the DoH also handles cases that need the detoxification of alcohol and opiate abuse, whereas the DSD deals with residential drug treatment and outpatient treatment. Given Members’ concern about the lack of sufficient social workers, the Department managed to allay those fears by informing Members that ‘We hope to reduce the time our social workers spend in writing reports so that they can focus on delivering services to the people in need’. On the concerns around the lack of social workers it was explained to Members that there are about 1 500 social workers from the Department and the NGOs to about 6.5 million people in the Province and this ratio constitutes a major challenge for the Department. The Minister/MEC noted that social workers work in a highly traumatic environment as they had to deal with a broken society and try to absorb the trauma. She added that they are sometimes fatigued because of the trauma they had to deal with on an on-going basis.
The Committee initially felt that there was sexism in the Department and said that ‘there appeared to be a ‘sexist attack’ or patriarchy in the Department ‘because the number of females whose contracts got terminated were way more than the males’ and asked ‘does the DSD consider the workload and stress-related matters that might actually impact on the productivity of female staff’? It was explained to the Committee that the DSD adheres to the Employment Equity Act. The appointment and promotion of people is dependent on who applies and those who meet the minimum requirements. There are more women in the Department compared to men so; one would expect that the number of women who exit the Department will be greater than the number of men. The DSD has tried to balance the proportion of men and women and even introduced a bursary scheme about seven years ago for men to attract more males but the initiative did not work effectively. It seems the nature of social work tends to attract more women. The Committee was pleased to hear that the DSD hopes to get closer to the community through the decentralisation of local offices from the District offices.
Members were pleased with the back-to-basics approach and felt that it would be better still if communities could have an understanding of how the government works. Members felt that the DSD should modernise and improve its systems both physically and with digital access to the public. The DSD still has a long way to go in making its systems and documents - like the Annual Report - accessible to the public. Members were commended for the quality of the questions they posed to the DSD. The Committee expressed its appreciation for the work of the NGOs and NPOs who really made government work a lot easier under very difficult circumstances.
Documents from the DSD to be forwarded to the Committee: the Provincial Youth Development Strategy, the Disability Mainstreaming Strategy and the Uniform Referral Pathway for Child Protection; the list of programmes in place to curb FAS in the Province; the list of priority schools that will benefit from the Sanitary Dignity Pilot Project; an excel spreadsheet with a list of the priority schools; a copy of the advertisement for the 33 practitioners it aims to recruit; a list of the ECDs that have closed down and the reason they closed down; and a list of the NPOs it funds in various sectors and the locations of such NPOs.
The Chairperson welcomed the Department of Social Development (DSD), Committee Members and every other person to the meeting. The meeting was convened to start discussions on the DSD 2018/ 2019 Annual Report.
The MEC for Social Development in the Western Cape, Ms Sharna Fernandez, said that the DSD is a very complex Department. 23 October 2019 marked her fifth month in the office and it has been a steep learning curve. The Department engages with many organisations and stakeholders with a view to listen and to understand so that it can be better equipped to deal with the challenges of the community, especially the vulnerable. The financial report represented the performance in the 2018/ 2019 financial year under the leadership of the former MEC for the DSD. However, MEC Fernandez took responsibility for the Report. Other Officials from the Department are in better position to discuss the Financial Report.
The HOD for the DSD, Dr Robert MacDonald, said that the Department has briefed the Standing Committee on the actions the Department had implemented in response to some of the findings of the Auditor-General and the external auditors. The DSD has seen improvements in terms of targets and outcomes. The internal audit team is doing an excellent job of working together with the Department to identify service delivery issues and areas that need improvement. The internal audit team has helped the Department in various ways including with control measures, financial accountability, and service delivery among others.
Mr R MacKenzie (DA) asked the Department to explain the 176% increase in its footprint since 2009. ‘What was the specialised services that the Department rendered to the over 88 000 beneficiaries specified on page 8 of the annual report’? The Department should submit the documents on the Provincial Youth Development Strategy, the Disability Mainstreaming Strategy and the Uniform Referral Pathway for Child Protection to the Committee. The HOD was asked to explain the Uniform Referral Pathway for Child Protection.
Ms W Philander (DA) sought to know if the 2 300 NPOs were affected during the period of reporting or up to the present time.
Ms N BakuBaku-Vos (ANC) cautioned that the Department could not refer to 2009 while discussing the Annual Report of the 2018/ 2019 financial year. ‘Did the Provincial Department receive any support from the National Department’? ‘Does the Department have mechanisms to ensure the compliance of the 2 300 NPOs and other partners’? ‘What is the DSD doing to support NPOs and Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) in the rural communities’? Certain municipalities like Lainsberg for example do not have social workers. ‘What is the Department doing to ensure availability and effectiveness of social workers in such municipalities’?
The 176% increase in the provincial footprint since 2009 was due to the modernisation process that the DSD put in place. The Department went from having 16 District offices and a Head Office to having six regional offices, a Head Office and 14 Local Offices. Therefore, the DSD has a wider spread in the Province and in the communities where services are needed. In addition, the DSD also has service points. The Department also increased its staff establishment to cope with the demands of the increasing population. The Department increased the capacity of the program office and Head Office to effectively manage the funding that goes to the NGOs that render various services. The number of social workers has increased by approximately 100% since 2009 and the Department aims to balance the number of social workers in the Department to the number of social workers provided by the NGOs.
Mr Denzil Cowley, Director: Special Programmes, Western Cape DSD, said that the Department increased the budget for people with disabilities from R50 million in 2009 to R152 million in 2018/ 19 Financial Year, which is a drastic increase. The Department disburses the majority of the fund to 62 NGOs within the disability space. The NGOs render various services including residential care to adult and children with disabilities, protective workshops and community-based health care facilities for adults and children.
Dr Macdonald promised to submit the documents on the Phakama Youth Development Projects (PYDS), Uniform Referral Pathway and Disability Strategy to the Committee. The Department ensures that all the NPOs it funds comply with specified rules and regulations. The Department usually intervenes to ensure struggling organisations are assisted in whatever possible ways. However, the DSD stopped funding certain NGOs due to the incessant failure to comply. The number of the NPOs is usually kept between 2 100 to 2 300. The National Department supports the provincial department by providing bursaries for social workers and sometimes facilitates the employment of some of the social workers that went through the bursary programme. The provincial department also gets conditional grants for certain areas of service. The bulk of the Department's fund comes from the equitable share. The conditional grants are just a minute part of the Department's fund. The DSD underwent a restructuring process during the last five-year term to boost its capacity. This empowers the DSD to better respond to the challenges of substance abuse, ECD, victim empowerment and child protection services. The Department's offices got additional staff to monitor and evaluate the NGOs funded by the Department. The staff also conducts site visits to check if services are being rendered and to ensure that the terms of the funding agreements are adhered to. The AG also monitors the NGOs by checking the reported information and this will ensure that the NGOs are not giving false information. The Department also supports serving NGOs that are not funded. The type of support will depend on the type of NGOs. For example, the Department may assist with the registration of an ECD centre that is not funded. The same applies to other areas of service that require registration from the Department. The DSD also assists NGOs with financial management and administration. The DSD is training people who are interested in becoming childcare and social workers.
The Department already resolved the lack of social workers in Lainsberg. A social worker from Beaufort West was initially assigned to Lainsberg on a part-time basis. However, it became clear that this was not a sustainable solution due to the distance challenge. There is a full-time social worker in Lainsberg at the moment. In addition, there is a Child Welfare Organisation in the area that renders social services.
MEC Fernandez said that the Department is aware of the challenges with social services in the Central Karoo, Lainsberg and other parts of the Province. The DSD is taking measures to address the challenges. Social services will commence in the Central Karoo shortly. The DSD faces a challenge when a social worker goes on maternity leave because the turnaround time to get another staff member into the system could be significant. The DSD is mindful of the touch-points and the progress in addressing the various challenges is commendable.
Ms A Bans (ANC) asked the DSD to give an update on the Sanitary Dignity Pilot Project. ‘How many girls have benefited from the project’? She sought an explanation on why the position of the Chief Director Service Delivery Management and Coordination is vacant. ‘Why are Ms L Bam and Ms E Lewis in acting positions’? ‘What is the Department's plan to get more Africans into senior management positions’?
Ms N Makamba-Botya (EFF) noted that one of the key services of the Department is to support people living with disabilities. ‘How many people living with disabilities has the Department employed’? ‘How many people with disabilities does the DSD have in top management’? Family strengthening is among the services the Department claims to render. Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is a major challenge in the Province because certain pregnant women consume excessive amounts of alcohol during gestation because they work on wine farms. ‘Does the DSD have any programme to discourage women from excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy’? ‘If yes, how successful are the programmes?
Ms R Windvogel (ANC) noted that there are 11 youth cafes in the Province. ‘What organisations does the DSD partner with to run the youth cafes’? ‘What is the plan of the DSD to establish more youth cafes in the province’? ‘How many children has the DSD assisted through the Child Play Room programme’?
Dr Macdonald said that the DSD received the funding for the Sanitary Dignity Pilot Project at the beginning of the financial year. The DSD developed a plan for the project but the plan was changed because of the impending budgets. The DSD is in the process of selecting the successful provider for the products. The DSD expects delivery in the last quarter of the 2019/ 20 financial year so that it can start to distribute the products. The DSD is on track to implement the project and the projects will start in priority schools. The products will be delivered in conjunction with the Department of Education. The DSD is in consultation with the national Department of Women to finalise the framework of the project. The DSD might not get additional funding for the project due to the impending budget cuts. Nevertheless, the DSD should have enough stock for the next one to two years. The position for the Chief Director has been vacant for the past six years. The post was left vacant because the DSD wants the regional directors to directly report to the HOD in order to monitor and evaluate the improvement of systems and controls in the regions. The Department has gotten to a point where it needs to fill the post. The DSD will advertise the post once the job evaluation is finalised. In response to Ms Ban’s question on the employment of Africans in top management level, the HOD said the recruitment process of the Department is based on employment equity. The breakdown of people living with disabilities that are in the employment of the DSD can be found on page 136 of the annual report.
An official of the Department said that there is a person with disability in the senior management level and two other people with disabilities are in middle management. The DSD faces a serious challenge when mentally challenged persons do not disclose their disability. The law does not compel them to disclose their disabilities.
Mr Cowley said that the DSD partners with three organisations to mitigate FAS in the province. One of the organisations is based in the West Coast. The organisation has professional who helps in the diagnosis of FAS in affected children and offer advice and services that could help ameliorate the challenge. The DSD also partners with an organisation in the Cape Winelands to create awareness about FAS among youths and women up to the age of 35. The Department also partners with an organisation in the Metro to train staff and personnel of ECDs and Crèches on how to help children with FAS and how to refer their parents to the appropriate services.
Dr Macdonald said that women are more susceptible to FAS in the first trimester because some of them drink without realising they are pregnant. The DSD usually advocates low alcohol consumption in general. The weight and nutrition of the mother is another important factor. Slim women are generally more susceptible to FAS during pregnancy. The DSD has succeeded in reducing general alcohol consumption. Alcohol abuse results mainly from recreational drinking on weekends. That seems to be the biggest risk factor and the DSD will find a way to tackle it.
The DSD could furnish the Committee with the locations of the youth cafes. The Department hopes to build two more youth cafes this year and may not be able to expand beyond this number due to the approaching budget cuts. The DSD expects a budget cut of about R130 million in the next financial year. The DSD can only expand the number of the cafes beyond 13 when it receives additional funding.
The DSD cannot give exact statistics of the children that are assisted through the Child Play Room initiative because the project usually takes place in the local offices.
Mr MacKenzie said that the DSD should have active programmes with SAB (South African Breweries) and other manufacturers and distributors of alcoholic products in the Western Cape in order to create socially conscious programmes that discourage people from excessive alcohol consumption. This will reduce the social burden on individuals, the DSD and the government in general. In response to the 88 000 people that benefit from specialised programmes, Mr MacKenzie asked if the Western Cape Government has a database for people living with disabilities. ‘Does the DSD rely on the statistics provided by the NPOs’?
An official from the DSD said that the Western Cape Government engages with alcohol manufacturers and distributors. However, there is no formal relationship between the two parties as this may compromise governance. Such relationships can also lead to a marketing advantage for the liquor industry. The liquor industry has tried to create its NPO like the Foundation for Responsible Drinking. They have programmes that are aimed at reducing harm caused by alcohol. However, the investment in the NPOs is insignificant compared to the profits from alcohol sales. There is a province-wide approach adopted by the Western Cape Liquor Authority, which is the liquor licensing fee. The fee can be used to offset some of the social harms caused by alcohol. Alcoholism is one of the biggest challenges in South Africa. The cost of production and distribution of alcohol in South Africa is about the cheapest in the world. Therefore, alcohol is easily affordable. The DSD plays important role in alcohol reduction because it gives fund to NGOs that offer services in that space. However, the Department does not have any formal relationship with the liquor industry in accordance to the PFMA. The Department has a database of the beneficiaries of specialised services. The statistics are received from the funded NGOs and are audited by the Auditor-General.
MEC Fernandez said Shabeen operators in the rural communities pose a serious challenge to the fight against excessive alcoholism in the province. Some operators are in possession of the grant cards of their customers, who are often encouraged to drink on credit in anticipation that the debt will be paid when they receive their grants. This is a serious societal issue and cannot be left to government alone. The DSD will continue to engage with Mayors and relevant role-players to find an effective solution to this problem.
Ms Makamba-Botya expressed concern with the DSD's approach to curb FAS in the province. The Western Cape Province has the highest prevalence of FAS in the country. This matter should be taken seriously. The DSD should supply the Committee with the list of programmes in place to curb FAS in the Province.
Ms Bans asked the DSD to supply the list of priority schools that will benefit from the Sanitary Dignity Pilot Project. It is concerning that the organisational structure of the DSD does not reflect the equity plan. The Department should ensure its organisation reflects the equity plan going forward.
Ms BakuBaku-Vos expressed concern about the appointment of a social worker in Lainsberg as reported by the DSD. The Social Development of Lainsberg, an NGO, recruited a number of social workers and childcare workers. ‘Why did the DSD appoint another social worker’?
Dr Macdonald said that the DSD had to appoint a social worker on a full-time basis to work in Lainsberg because it was not convenient for the social worker coming from Beaufort West. The social services in Lainsberg were adversely affected because the workers left almost at the same time. The DSD acknowledged that it is doing less than anticipated as far as curbing FAS is concerned because of insufficient fund. The DSD will adopt a more comprehensive approach if it receives additional funding. The DSD will provide the Committee with a list of programmes it developed to curb FAS especially in the targeted areas. In response to the priority schools that will benefit from the Sanitary Dignity Pilot project; the HOD said that over 200 schools across the province will participate in the pilot. The DSD targeted schools with high absenteeism of female pupils and most of the schools are in the rural areas. The DSD will forward an excel spreadsheet of the priority schools to the Committee.
The Department prioritises its equity plan during recruitment processes and the Department is very close to its anticipated equity target.
Ms Makamba-Botya noted that there are over 2 million children between the ages of 0-17 years in the Western Cape according to research. ‘Does the DSD collaborate with other entities like Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres to develop programmes to curb social ills that are prevalent among children’? ‘Does the DSD have programmes to combat substance abuse in children’?
Ms BakuBaku-Vos sought to know the number of non-compliant NPOs. ‘How does the Department help NPOs in poor communities who are doing excellent jobs but are struggling due to lack of funding’? The DSD reported underspending of R2.419 million on the Compensation of Employees (CoE). ‘Why did the DSD fail to get suitable candidates to fill the posts’? ‘Why did the DSD make reference to 2017/ 18 when it discussed underspending on the CoE’? ‘Why does the Department underspend on CoE in every financial year’? ‘Why did the DSD underperform in terms of the number of children's court enquiries opened’?
Ms Makamba-Botya sought to know how the DSD monitors and evaluates how funded NPOs utilise their funds. ‘Why did the DSD refuse to fund black-owned NPOs in poor communities’? This appears to be a plot by the ruling party in the Province to sink the poor community into abject poverty. The DSD should furnish the Committee with the list of NPOs funded during the year under review. The total value of assets the DSD disposed of in the 2018/ 19 financial year was R14.654 million. The assets disposed of included 80 government vehicles, and 460 capital assets such as computers, furniture and equipment. The items were disposed of in the ordinary course of business. ‘How were the items disposed of’? ‘Who were the beneficiaries’?
The Chairperson asked the DSD to explain the funding of NPOs based on the National NPO Act. The issuance of certificates to NPOs is managed by the national DSD, while the provincial DSD only delivers the certificate to the NPOs. ‘Does the provincial DSD have statistics of the NPOs that are funded by the national Department’? ‘How much does the provincial DSD give to the NPOs it funds’? ‘Who determines asset allocation in the provincial DSD’?
Dr Macdonald said that vehicle allocation is determined by senior managers together with supervisors and staff. Fleet management is done in partnership with Government Motor & Transport, the supply chain team under the CFO and the regional managers. The various staff liaises with the Head Office, which ensures that staff gets the required vehicles to perform their functions. The Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) has fixed assets in various regions. The DTPW provides spaces in the regional and local offices as well as the modification of properties.
The DSD has a database for all its assets. The holder of a particular asset is fully responsible for that asset. Assets are bar-coded and they are appropriately scanned. The DSD has an excellent mechanism for tracking its assets. The DSD ensures that people do not misuse its vehicles because there is usually a shortage of vehicles when people convert official vehicles for private use. This often leaves social workers with no vehicles. The DSD has special-use vehicles for rural areas due to the nature of the roads. The DSD does not know the number of NPOs funded by the National Department. The National Department does not have significant engagements with NGOs due to a lack of capacity. The national departments handed some of the NGOs it funded to provincial DSDs for effective management.
NGOs take diverse forms including NPOs and Trusts, among others. All NPOs are required to register with the NPO Directorate in Pretoria. The provincial DSD have the function to register all the facilities for which it administers legislations. For example, it registers facilities for the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse, drug rehabilitation centres and other early intervention programmes. The Department also registers ECDs, dropping centres and other facilities under its jurisdiction.
The NPOs in the poorer communities faces enormous difficult due to the red-tape barrier. They need to get several authorisations to operate.
The Department attached a CD to the annual report containing a list of all NPOs it funds and their locations. The Department has programme officers for each type of service the Department funds. The programme officers have staff that monitor and evaluate the activities of the funded NPOs. The AG also conducts an audit of the NPOs to ensure that their reports truly reflect what happens on the ground. The DSD manages its assets through a combination of various processes. Some of the DSD's vehicles were disposed of because they were not usable by the Department or they were written off.
The CFO said that the Department has a policy that governs the disposal of its assets. The CFO chairs the Asset Management Committee. The Department uses its vehicles up to a 120 000 or five years and then it gets replaced by the GMT. Usually, the Department uses its computers for three to four years after which they are replaced. The tight financial situation has increased the time to five to six years. Furniture is disposed of if they become redundant or obsolete. The DSD donates some of the assets to funded NPOs in line with the MoU or moves the assets to other areas of its operations.
Dr Macdonald said that the DSD has partnership with an NGO that refurbishes used laptops and in turn gives the laptops to other NPOs that are funded by the Department. This enhances the IT capacity of the funded NPOs. The list of noncompliant NPOs can be found in the CD attached to the annual report. The Department has an NPO support Desk and Support Team that can assist NPOs in poor communities that are struggling to get funds. The Department also helps such NPOs with administration and pairing with potential donors. The DSD has a funding policy. The Department calls for proposals from the NGO sector every three years. The criteria are similar but less stringent to those of procurement processes. The DSD evaluates the proposal and gives funding to those NPOs that meet the requirements in line with the funding policy and available budget. The Department usually underspends on CoE every year because people will always leave the Department either through retirement or resignation. The notice of retirement or resignation could be as short as one month, which usually leaves the Department in a tight corner as the turnaround time to get a replacement could be as long as six months. The DSD could promote staff internally to fill the vacant position. This leaves the position of the promoted staff vacant. The Department currently has 15 graduate social workers. They are given a four-year contract after the completion of the bursary programme as part of their obligation to the bursary scheme. Most of them seek permanent employment within the space of the four years. This is why there is usually underspending on social worker graduates. The Department usually allocates a sufficient budget to the CoE because allocation of a minimal budget could place the Department in a position to overspend, which carries a more serious consequence.
The fact that the DSD did not have the targeted number of children that went through the children's court inquiry does not mean that the Department underperformed. The targeted number is just a projection and it helps the Department to track the number of children that went through the child's protection system. It depends on the number of children that get reported as being abused or neglected and that have to be taken through the children's court process.
The DSD has active engagement with the Provincial Department of Health (DoH). The DoH plays an important role in diagnosing and treating patients with psychiatric problems arising from substance abuse disorders. They attend to clients who need to have intensive psychiatric interventions and treatment. The DoH also handles cases that need the detoxification of alcohol and opiate abuse, whereas the DSD deals with residential drug treatment and outpatient treatment. The DSD also provides opium replacement therapeutic programmes on an outpatient basis. The DSD also collaborates with the Department of Education (DoE). The schools provide spaces for psychologists and social workers on their premises. Treatment services are also provided on school premises. The DSD also collaborates with the DoE on curriculum materials on substance abuse, which are given to teachers. The DSD also works with various municipalities and NPOs. Therefore, the Department has active cross collaboration with various role-players to achieve its targets.
Mr Mackenzie expressed concern with the DSD's attitude towards filling of vacant posts. This problem occurs every year due to the existence of red tape in the recruitment space. This also occurs in other Departments in the province. ‘Do the HODs of various Departments seek measures to reduce the red tape at the HODs forums’? ‘How many times has the DSD's top management visited various regions to have a good understanding of the working conditions of its staff’?
Ms Windvogel noted that there has been an increase of 122% in drug-related crime detected in the Western Cape over a 10-year period. ‘Why is the number of people seeking substance abuse treatment increasing in the Province’? The DSD should furnish the Committee with the list of those it registered and funded for the private residential programmes. ‘Why did the Department under-performed in this programme’?
Ms Bans sought to know why the DSD stopped funding Badisa Ladysmith. The DSD stopped the funding before it asked the NPOs to submit corrective actions.
‘Why did the DSD not achieve the target it set for the number of children in the province who access ECD and after-school care services? ‘What are the challenges with requirements for registration and renewal of registration and how are the challenges addressed’? ‘What work has the DSD done in preparation for the migration of ECD services to the Department of Basic Education (DBE)’?
Ms BakuBaku-Vos sought to know why the number of victims of crime and violence accessing services from funded Victim Empowerment Programme service centres decreased in the 2018/ 19 financial years compared to the previous years. ‘Why is the DSD not funding KayamandiTrauma Centre, which is doing an excellent job but struggling due to lack of funds’?
MEC Fernandez acknowledged that the red-tape poses a significant challenge to the registration and operation of most NPOs in the Province. She has already visited all 43 sites operated by the DSD within five months of her administration to understand the working conditions of the staff. The DSD needs to align its operations to the current realities and reduction of red-tape is a key priority for the current administration. It is concerning that it takes an incredibly long time to replace a staff that retires, resigns or goes on a maternity leave. The DSD is engaging the municipalities and private partnerships around all the challenges of ECD registration and how to bring technology to the table to solve the challenges. The DSD will continue to comply with the directive of the AG but will prioritise service delivery to the people over paper work going forward. ‘We hope to reduce the time our social workers spend in writing reports so that they can focus on delivering services to the people in need’. The DSD hopes to adopt smart technologies like smart pens to facilitate the effectiveness of the social workers.
The HOD said that MEC Fernandez already wrote to the national Minister about the need to review certain aspects of the Children's Act. Some aspects of the Act are not appropriate for the context most of the organisations found themselves in. For example, the building plan, which forms part of the requirements for ECD registration is way beyond what most NPOs can afford. A typical building plan could cost R50 000 to R100 000. Some regulations discriminate against the poor and informal settlement areas and serve as barriers to register NPOs in those areas. Regulations on zoning do not favour areas that do not have zoning schemes. Most of the regulations do not work in the context of developing countries and the government does not have the capacity to implement the regulations timeously. The DSD assist NPOs to get registered. The Department tries to unify the by-laws across various municipalities to facilitate the registration and operation of NPOs. The unification of by-laws is done in conjunction with SALGA and other relevant stakeholders. The DSD is doing everything possible to reduce the negative effect of red-tape. However, the Public Service Act (PSA) is becoming more stringent, which enables the Department to employ most suitable candidates. Unfortunately, this takes considerable amount of time to achieve. The DSD aims to achieve a healthy balance between the provisions of the PSA and the need to get people to work in the Department within reasonable length of time.
The DSD has senior managers in each region who ensure smooth operations in the region. The senior managers, especially those in the rural communities travel thousands of kilometres every month to monitor the operations on the ground. The budget and available of other resources play vital roles in the mobility of DSD's staff. For example, staff need computes to function optimally. However, the computers are sometimes not available. In addition, connectivity is a huge challenge in rural areas.
An official of the DSD said that the number of people that accessed treatment centres for substance abuse was less than targeted because the Department developed alternative programmes that attended to some of the affected persons. Then the beneficiaries might not need to visit conventional treatment centres if the alternative interventions are effective.
The HOD said the number of people attending treatment centres could have reduced because the DSD converted some of the centres to child care facilities. There was an increasing demand for child care centres to ensure that children are raised in secure environments. Therefore, the DSD had to prioritise child care facilities in terms of funding.
Mr Cowley said that a number of factors contributed to the decrease in the number of those that accessed treatment. Not all those who abuse drugs are drug addicts and not all drug addicts need specialised treatment. Some of those who abuse drugs can be assisted through early intervention programmes and relevant initiatives. Availability of bed space also plays a role in the ability of the Department to meet its target. Some patients leave treatment centres before the completion of treatment either because they feel it is suitable for them or because they need to seize a job opportunity. The DSD hopes to improve its early intervention programmes and community-based initiatives in order to achieve its target.
The DSD has a database of the beneficiaries of the private residential facilities and can make it available to the Committee on a CD. Badisa LadySmith closed down because they could not continue to afford the cost of running the facility and they were not interested in running the facility again. The Department deployed its staff to fill the void Badisa LadySmith left behind. The Department has a partnership with the municipality to create some space for the social workers to operate. Some NPOs also closed in Wynberg and Grassy Park areas. The DSD deployed 12 social workers to take over the functions of the NPOs. Most NPOs are experiencing financial difficulty and they are closing down as a result. This places enormous pressure on the DSD because the Department has to step in to fill the void.
An official from the DSD said that the ECD facilities are required to register every four years and conditional registration occurs every two years. These processes are cumbersome and some ECDs do not meet the requirements, which lead to non-registration. The DSD is assisting ECD facilities with the Municipal Clearance Certificate which is a major challenge for most ECDs. The DSD also tries to unify the by-laws in municipalities across the Province and this reduces the red-tape experienced during registration process.
In response to Ms Bans' question on the migration of the ECD function to the DBE, Dr Macdonald said there is no clear decision at the moment regarding the proposal. The migration will require significant resources and cannot take place unless the DSD receives additional funding. The DSD has engaged with various stakeholders on the matter including the provincial and national Departments of Education. It is difficult for the DSD to prepare because the Department does not really have clarity on the proposal.
Mr Mzukizi Gaba, Director of Social Crime Prevention, DSD, Western Cape, said that there is reduction in the number of people that accessed treatment because the Department developed other interventions, especially psycho-social support to victims of crime and violence. The DSD ensures the presence of at least a social worker in each facilities to give psycho-social support to women and children, who are victims of crime and violence and the Department has exceeded its target by 580 in this regard. The social workers also support victims of crime and violence after court cases. The DSD aims to achieve more if it gets additional funding.
Dr Macdonald said that the DSD takes follow up services seriously. It is important to monitor victims after court cases. The Department needs to go deeper with the services it renders. The DSD appears not to reach its target at the moment. The lack of adequate funding is a serious impediment. The DSD needs more resources to reach more victims of violence. The Department currently received additional funding but the funding is still not enough to cope with the scale of the challenge. The Department needs more money and more people working in that space. The DSD's budget tripled from R15 million to R46 million over the past five years but the increases is not sufficient to meet the needs in the communities. For example, there is no shelter for women and other vulnerable groups in the Central Karoo.
The DSD does not enter into partnership with the Kayamandi Trauma Centre because the Department already exhausted the fund it has for NPOs. The DSD might commit to other NPOs if it receives additional funding in the future.
Ms Bans noted that there are certain facilities in Maritzburg that do not have social workers. She urged the Department to adopt the same intervention as it did with Badisa LadiSmith to the facilities in Maritzburg.
Dr Macdonald said it is important that the DSD ensures the same interventions in all the regions. The Department needs to have social workers in all the areas. There is a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the closure of facilities and takeover of facilities by the DSD. He welcomed any information that might assist the Department to have a good grasp of the situation in Maritzburg.
Mr Mackenzie said that the DSD needs to reduce the time spent in filling vacant positions. The DSD should also stop the practice of placing staff in acting capacities. This places significant pressure on such staff and negatively affects service delivery. ‘What is the status of the Bosasa's contract’? ‘What is the plan of the Department to continue the service rendered by Bosasa after the company's contract ends in May 2020’? ‘Will the Department in-source the services or appoint another service provider’? ‘Given the current controversies surrounding the company, can the Department assure the Committee that it was not compromised by Bosasa in terms of tenders and services’?
Ms BakuBaku-Vos expressed dissatisfaction with the response of the Department in relation to the funding of the Kayamandi Trauma Centre (KTC). The HOD and the MEC appeared to be saying different things.
The Chairperson noted that the KTC was funded by the national DSD and a number of donor organisations. The Committee should give the Department ample time to respond to the question on the funding of KTC.
Ms Bans and Ms BakuBaku-Vos expressed concern with the manner in which the Chairperson handled the matter. The Chairperson, according to them, appeared to be protecting the DSD.
Dr Macdonald said that the DSD is in the last year of the 3-year funding cycle. The Department funded all applicants with successful proposals in 2017 and new calls will be out in the next financial year. The KTC did not apply for funding in 2017. Applications are welcome from interested applicants in the next funding cycle. The DSD will adjudicate the applications and successful applicants will be funded by the DSD. The Department has finite funding and could only fund certain number of NPOs based on the merit of their applications.
The AG spends a considerable length of time investigating the contracts awarded to Bosasa. The Provincial Forensic Service (PFS) is also evaluating the contract and has not found any case of malfeasance. The PFS has been directed to investigate the cases of two officials of the Department, whose name were mentioned at the Zondo Commission. The staff allegedly got funding from Bosasa.
An official from the DSD said that the Department already took over the function of Bosasa. The function is already in-sourced. The HOD appreciated the hard work the management of the DSD put in to recruit staff to take over the function of Bosasa. The Department had to spend about R60 million to in-source the services. The DSD has the financial capacity for the in-sourcing for the current financial year but may require additional funding from the Provincial Treasury in subsequent financial years.
The DSD felt in-sourcing the services was the best option despite the associated challenges. It would be risky to out-source such services because most providers do not have the required capacity to deliver quality services.
The CFO said that the Department does assessment or verification of assets once a year. The local and regional offices conduct such assessment on a quarterly basis. Assets found not to be viable for Department's use can only be disposed of after such assessments and verification.
The Chairperson said that Part C of the Annual Report was covered in the meeting with the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
Discussion on Part D (Human Resource Management)
Ms Makamba-Botya expressed concern about the promotion policy of the Department. The promotion does not reflect the population dynamics of the Western Cape Province. The promotion appeared to be biased towards a particular race.
What is the succession plan of the Department, especially for the top management positions? The succession plan must be handled in a way that will correct the imbalances of the past. The organisational structure of the Department is not a true reflection of the demographics of the Province. The top management, comprising 26 officials, has only three Africans.
There appeared to be a ‘sexist attack’ or patriarchy in the Department because the number of females whose contracts got terminated were way more than the males. ‘Does the DSD consider the workload and stress-related matters that might actually impact on the productivity of female staff’?
Mr Mackenzie noted that six employees died during the year under review. ‘What was the cause of their deaths’? ‘Does the death have anything to do with their duties’? It is concerning that the percentage of temporary disablement was as high as 43. ‘What was the nature of the injury’? ‘What is the Department doing to mitigate the risks going forward’?
Ms Windvogel expressed concern about the enormous amount spent on overtime (R5 673 000) as reported on page 127 of the Annual Report. ‘Are there any reasons why no staff was upgraded by the Department’?
In response to the question of racial profile in promotions, the Dr Macdonald said that the DSD adheres to the Employment Equity Act. The appointment and promotion of people is dependent on who applies and those who meet the minimum requirements. The DSD is busy with the development process for its middle management. There is no mechanism for succession planning in the Public Service Act. Everyone has to apply for a post and that will include both external and internal candidates. Succession planning is about developing a pool of individuals that can have the opportunity to apply for those posts. The appointment of people into various posts is based on merit in the different recruitment selection processes.
The other alternative is to hold on and leave posts vacant until a suitable candidate is found. This is a risky option because it can lead to prolonged vacancies which are not good for the business of the Department. The DSD is heavily skewed towards women in terms of recruitment. There are more women in the Department compared to men. So, one would expect that the number of women who exit the Department will be greater than the number of men. The DSD has tried to balance the proportion of men and women. The Department introduced a bursary scheme about seven years ago for men to attract more males but the initiative did not work effectively. It seems the nature of social work tend to attract more women.
Ms Annemie Van Reenen, Director of Operational Management Support, DSD Western Cape, said that a staff member of the Department died of cancer, two staff members died due to work-related injuries and one staff member died in a motor vehicle accident on the way to work. Most of the injuries on duty were due to slippery floors. The staff members of the DSD always have extensive engagements with children. Some injuries were sustained during sport activities. Sometimes, staff members get hurt while trying to constrain the children. Some staff members also sustained injuries in motor vehicle accidents.
The DSD will always pay over-time cost to its workers. Sometimes, the workers work hours due to weekend functions. The DSD has child protection programmes and certain programmes that the parent cannot attend during the week. As such, such programmes are held over the weekend and the DSD needs to pay staff for the extra hours. The DSD is not like SAPS or the Fire Service that operates on a 24/ 7 basis. So legislation requires payment of over-time cost to staff that work extra hours.
Job evaluation occurs every 16 months according to the Public Service Act. The job analyst sits with the staff member and management to evaluate the functions of a particular staff. The detail is fed to the Equate system to determine the job level. The Equate is a national benchmark that provides consistency in job evaluation and weightings across the various Provinces in the country.
Ms Philander expressed concern with the readiness of the DSD's staff to combat some of the social ills in the communities. The social workers, in the past, used to be close to the communities and had good grasp of what happened, even down to the household level. This helped to address numerous matters before they got out of hand but the DSD does not appear to do that anymore. ‘Does the Department have any programme similar to what was obtained in the past’? ‘Is there anything like a back-to-basics approach to approach some of the societal challenges’? Recently, there appears to be so many gaps in the DSD's approach. Sometimes, the intervention comes rather late or only half-way down the road. ‘Is there any way the DSD plans to instil a more personal approach to the social ills in the communities’.
Ms Bans expressed concern about the failure of the DSD to fill critical vacant positions. ‘Why did the DSD fail to employ enough social workers’?
Ms Windvogel sought to know what the Department is doing to address the high turnover rate.
Ms Makamba-Botya sought the reason behind the high number of the total grievances (238). ‘What was the cause of the grievances’?
The HOD said that the Department prioritises its visits to people in the Province. There are about 1 500 social workers from the Department and the NGOs to about 6.5 million people in the Province and this ratio constitutes a challenge for the DSD. The social workers attend to cases in the same way the police attend to reports. The DSD aims to improve its reporting and referral processes so that the social workers can respond more swiftly. The Department plans to reach the people more effectively through partnership with funded NGOs. The DSD will have people who serve as its ears and eyes in various communities. The Department also tries to facilitate direct working relationships between the social workers and the schools they serve. This will allow early detection of problems, which prompts timeous intervention. The DSD will make better use of its networks through the funded NGOs, schools and clinics so that children that have challenges can be referred to the DSD. The DSD hopes to get closer to the community through decentralisation of local offices from the District offices.
The DSD's footprint has improved significantly across the Province. However, the rapid population growth poses a formidable challenge. The ratio of social workers to population is falling behind just like teachers to learners in schools.
Ms Van Reenen said that the vacancy rate of 1.9% is lower than that of the previous years. The turnover rate is high at 7.7% due to a combination of factors. The DSD recently employed 15 of its graduate social workers on a permanent basis. This usually creates some vacancies within the Department. Most of the grievances are related to untimely payment for overtime and performance management. In addition, the health risk manager does not approve the leave of staff if the sick leave is depleted without submitting enough evidence to back up the leave. Some staff lodged grievances about the conditions of service, benefits, relocation or suspension. Staff sometimes lodged collective grievance and each person in the pack is treated as a single entity. The current grievance system permits staff to lodge complaints on frivolous cases. The grievance system should be modified to accommodate only genuine grievances. This will significantly reduce the number of grievances. Another reason for the high turnover in the DSD is the rate of resignation of staff responsible for child and youth care. The staff works in quite difficult environments because some of the children are violent. On the other hand, some staff are dismissed due to misconduct.
MEC Fernandez noted that the social workers work in a highly traumatic environment. They deal with a broken society and try to absorb the trauma. They are sometimes fatigued because of the trauma they had to deal with on an on-going basis. Research also shows that the population of the Province will increase by 700 000 in the next five years mainly due to immigration. This is a serious challenge for the DSD. This will also impact other Departments including the Department of Health (DoH), the Department of Education (DoE), and others.
People surprisingly resign from their posts due to fatigue even when they do not have other jobs. The Department aims to devise measures to lessen the burden on its staff in order to maintain the strength of staff of the Department. There are 10 red zones in the Province. The social workers, who are predominantly women, are sometimes burdened by the demands of overtime. The extra job responsibilities, coupled with domestic responsibilities, appear to be herculean tasks. The Department is developing measures to better deal with the trauma staff encounter.
The Chairperson sought to know the support the DSD offers to its social workers. Sometimes, the social workers are involved in prolonged court cases because a lot of children need to wait in line. In certain cases, the social workers buy food for their clients from their personal pockets. ‘Does the DSD have mechanisms to refund such money’?
The DSD has a mechanism to reimburse social workers who incur costs on duty if they submit a claim. The challenge of waiting for a long time at court is a serious one. Unfortunately, the National Department of Justice has decided to freeze the filling of all posts. Only posts that became vacant since April 2019 are allowed to get filled. Therefore, the Magistrate Courts are severely understaffed by Magistrates, support personnel and family Advocates. The Magistrates Courts are operating at about 40% capacity. The freeze appears to affect only the Department of Justice and it has serious impact on the work of the DSD which struggles with a backlog in foster care. The social workers also struggle with the Department of Home Affairs. They need to get birth certificates for the children. They sometimes have to wait ages to get assistance from the Department of Home Affairs which also has challenges in term of its capacity. This forces the staff to do over time and places an additional financial burden on the Department. The Department obviously needs more social workers because it has grown significantly and the emphasis has been on the appointment of frontline staff, but this comes at the expense of the administrative and corporate Department.
Ms BakuBaku-Vos sought to know the nature of disputes and grievances that staff had in the Department.
Ms Windvodel sought to know if the staff that had disputes were still in the employment of the Department.
The disputes resulted from various circumstances namely the recognition of improved qualification, transfer and dismissal, amongst others. Most of the Officials are still in the employment of the Department, while one of them has retired. Some of the grievances were unresolved because the DSD successfully the cases. One particular instance that came to mind related to a staff member who claimed to work over-time without any substantial evidence. The DSD rejected the claim because there was no proof. Other matters that led to unresolved grievances are performance-related.
Discussion with the public
Mr Mbiko, representing the Nyanga Development Forum (NDF), urged the Department to extend its interventions to various ECDs in the Nyanga region. There are only four legally compliant ECDs in Nyanga, whereas there are numerous ECDs that are non-compliant. He expressed appreciation at MacDonald's disposition to the organisation. However, the HOD has not fulfilled the promise he made to the organisation to address the proposal. The Department is about to send 33 Community Development Interns to Nyanga. ‘Who are these interns? Are people from Nyanga among the interns’? 40% of the youth in Nyanga are unemployed and this programme might absorb some of Nyanga's youth. There are no community development offices in Nyanga and residents are sometimes forced to go to Gugulethu. There are about 2.2 million youth in the Province and 10 high-crime areas. ‘What interventions does the government have to curb crime in the Province’? ‘What is the constitution and structure of the Joint Committee Forum led by the Department of Community Safety’? ‘Who are the stakeholders of the committee and the Community Police Forum and members of the Neighbourhood Watch’?
A member of the public sought to know if the Provincial Strategic Goal 3 is linked to the Sustainable Development Goal 3. If yes, what measures does the Department have to ensure the alignment of goals? ‘How does the Department assist families that have autistic children’? ‘Are social workers in charge of victim empowerment employed specifically to deal with Gender-Based Violence (GBV)’? ‘If they are, where are they located’? There is only one memory clinic in the province run by the Department of Health. The facility appears to be over-burdened. ‘How does the Department assist elderly people with Alzheimer's and dementia’? ‘Does the Department have ECD centres across the Province’? ‘If it does, does it have an indication of the number of children who are supposed to be in the ECDs but do not attend’? ‘Does the Department fund the ECDs across the province’?
Dr Macdonald said that the DSD funds a number of ECDs in Nyanga. He urged Mr Mbiko to forward the names of new ECDs to the DSD so that the Department can assist in any way it can.
The DSD will ensure that the proposal of the NDF is treated by the official responsible.
Mr M Hewu, Chief Director : Community and Partnership Development, DSD Western Cape, said that the advert for the Community Development internship was in the public domain for a reasonable length of time. However, the Department did not receive applications as anticipated possibly because people did not meet the requirements. The DSD had to pool 40 candidates from its regional offices. The number decreased to 33 because some of the candidates explored other opportunities like government bursaries for further studies or permanent employment.
Dr Macdonald said Nyanga is one of the high-crime areas in the province. There are a number of interventions for the past two years. The first intervention is an anti-gang strategy developed by the national government. The national government requires the provincial government to develop appropriate structures of partnership. The provincial government has developed a province-wide anti-gang approach and it is now in the public domain. The collaboration between the provincial and national governments resulted in the deployment of the army to certain high-crime areas in the province. The Joint Committee is chaired by the SAPS and the Department of Social Development sits on the Committee. Other stakeholders include the army, the Department of Community Safety and so on. The Premier of the Province, Mr Alan Winde, prioritises safety. The plan is to specifically focus on the 10 high-crime areas, where the murder rate is at the highest and Nyanga is one of those places. The Department and other role-players are deploying more resources to curb crimes in the hotspots. The social workers and NGOs are having difficulty working in areas where there are shootings and they have no means to defend themselves.
The paramedics also have the same challenge. The Department now sits with a problem in its office in Khayelitsha due to robbery attacks. The staff of the DSD, NPOs and security guards are sometimes held at gunpoint. Some DSD's workers do not want to work in Nyanga again. The DSD hopes to collaborate with other Departments and stakeholders to get services into challenging areas once stability is restored. The partnerships between the DSD and other role-players resulted in the stabilisation in Delft and Bontehewel. The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) office also closed down due to criminal activities.
SASSA also closed down some of its satellite offices in Khayelitsha. Some of SASSA's staff now share offices with the DSD. This causes overcrowding of the DSD's offices. The DSD now has an issue to sort out with Occupational Health and Safety due to overcrowding.
The Provincial Joint Committee is a body chaired by the SAPS. The stakeholders in this body include the SAPS, other governments departments, the DSD and the National Prosecution Authority (NPA). The Department of Community Safety might be in a better position to give information about the constitution and structure of the provincial joint bodies.
In response to the member of the public’s question on the alignment of the PSGs to SDGs, the HOD said that the provincial policy and legislation are aligned to human rights obligations. The work that the Province does speaks directly to the agreements and conventions that the country signed up for or ratified. Therefore, there is a significant linkage between PSGs and SDGs.
Mr Cowley said that the Department funds day-care facilities and protective workshops that accommodate children with autism. The DSD also funds organisations in the Western Cape that are involved in outreach and awareness programmes and render support to the affected families. The Department is aware of the increasing cases of dementia in the province. The Department works with owners of residential facilities for the elderly and other service providers. The Department constituted a task team that creates awareness and gives support to the families in need.
An official of the DSD said that certain aspects of DSD’s work are linked to the SDG 5, which deals with the elimination of hunger by 2030. The programme has six pillars and all the Departments in the province participate in the programme. The programme focuses on Food and Nutrition Security. The programme aims to feed people and encourage such people to cultivate gardens with vegetables. This will facilitate the sustainability of the programme. The Department also extends the feeding scheme to the schools and other relevant entities. The schools can then buy the vegetables from individuals and households that are part of the initiative. The government can stop the support given to an individual once the person has become self-reliant.
Dr Macdonald said that the SDG 3 relates to health targets. The DSD aims to reduce the mortality of children under five. The DSD participates in the Child Death Review Panel and developed a plan of action to reduce child murders. The ECD programme and the various feeding schemes in the ECD programme are also another component of healthy living. The DSD also prioritises the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse which is actually PSG 3. The PSGs 3, 4 and 5 are aligned with SDG 3.
Mr Gaba said that the programme of victim empowerment transcends Gender Based Violence. Of course, GBV is a big component of the programme. The programme aims to protect women and children who are mostly victims of violent crimes. The GBV Command Centre operates on a 24/7 basis and social workers from the DSD coordinate activities at the centres. The DSD collaborates with SAPS in order to ensure adequate and timeous response to cases. There are 16 long-term shelters in the metros and can help accommodate victims of crime for as long as three months. In addition, there are four emergency shelters across the province (in Metro South, Cape Winelands, Central Karoo and Caledon) that can accommodate people in need for about seven days. The Department also has a Victim Empowerment Forum where it collaborates with other Departments and other entities that are not necessarily funded by the DSD.
Ms Tughfa Hamdulay, Director: ECD and Partial Care, DSD Western Cape, said that 40% of the children have access to ECD provisions. Although this figure is low, it is better than the 22% ten years ago.
The Chairperson said individuals and the community as a whole should exercise the duty of care. There should always be immediate intervention to rescue children that are in danger. The responsibility should not always be on the State and the social workers alone.
The member from the public urged the Department to have more active interactions with civil society organisations. The DSD does not have robust engagements with civil society organisations when designing the Annual Performance Plan.
The Chairperson said that all meetings of the Standing Committee are opened to the public. The public can check the programme of Parliament and notify the Committee if she is interested in attending. The Committee can also facilitate the attendance of other interested civil society organisations.
Closing remarks by MEC Fernandez
MEC Fernandez said that she appreciated the work of the Committee. Oversight is the cornerstone of the nation's democracy. It is important to consider both positive and negative recommendations. As much as the Department is trying, the Department does not have enough resources to deal with the children who are not in school every day. The re-introduction of truancy officers will go a long way to reduce the number of children who do not go to school. The social workers can help children with behavioural challenges at school. It requires both societal and governmental approaches and all Departments in the province should work transversely to ensure children’s attendance in school.
The 10 high-crime areas will get attention in the Sixth Parliament. The 95 schools in Nyanga will also receive attention. The DSD will get a referral from the Principal or teachers and the DSD will deploy a social worker to deal with a child that displays risky behaviour. The DSD will prioritise strengthening of families to provide a lasting solution to some of the social ills in the province.
MEC Fernandez expressed extreme satisfaction with the work the Department is doing, but added that it was not without its challenges. The biggest challenge for the Sixth Parliament is that the Department, for the first time, decided to give back to the Provincial Treasury instead of soliciting funds. In addition, the requested cuts of 5, 6 and 7% in the outer years would place an enormous financial strain on the DSD. The inward migration into the Province and new births will also place the DSD under extreme pressure to perform its statutory work. The Children's Act, Child Justice Act and the Older Persons' Act might not leave enough room for the Department to accommodate any other programmes. Donor funding is drying up and big NGOs are approaching the Department to chart the way forward from the current harsh realities. The NGOs act as the ears and eyes of the Department on the ground. They represent the Department. There are only 2 200 officials across the Province and this number obviously cannot cover the 6.8 million population. So, a societal approach was needed to solve the ills in the communities. One must start to focus on values, principles and discipline because the police cannot be put in people’s homes. It is important to depoliticise the Department because one deals with people across the spectrum irrespective of their geographical locations. The Department is cognisant of all the recommendations and has embarked on quite a few engagements with large groupings, but Gender-Based Violence is very important to the operations of the Department. Prevention and treatment of substance abuse is also important but society needs to focus on strengthening the family unit. More than 60% of the households are headed by a single parent. There needs to be a focus on parenting skills. Otherwise, we will end up with a lost generation. We need to evaluate the system we have adopted in the past 25 years since democracy started in the country. ‘Is the system effective’? 20 years ago, a social worker could go into a home and have a cup of coffee but that is not the case today. Social workers cannot even access certain homes. The country needs moral regeneration and all stakeholders must work together across party lines in order to ensure progress and success.
MEC Fernandez thanked the former MEC for the DSD Advocate Albert Fritz (now MEC for the Department of Community Safety) for leading and guiding the Department over the past five years. She also thanked the HOD and his team for their capabilities. The DSD and the Western Cape Provincial Parliament achieved a clean Audit in the last financial year. However, a clean audit cannot feed a hungry child. The DSD will take a social justice approach and hopes to get the support of the Committee.
The Chairperson appreciated the DSD for honouring the Committee's invitation and providing a comprehensive report. It is important to adopt the back-to-basics approach. Better still; communities should have an understanding of how the government works. The DSD should modernise and improve its systems. The DSD should improve both physical and digital access to the public. The DSD still has a long way to go in making its systems and documents (like the Annual Report) accessible to the public.
The Chairperson commended Members for the quality of the questions they posed to the DSD. The MPLs know the problems the communities face because they work on the ground. The Committee appreciated the works of the NGOs and NPOs who really make government work a lot easier sometime under very difficult circumstances. The Committee will consider the minutes and the resolutions of the current meetings at its next meeting which is to be held on 12 November 2019.
Recommendations and resolutions
Ms BakuBaku-Vos said that the Committee must ensure that the DSD is held accountable. The DSD should not concentrate on the urban areas. The problems are localised in townships and on farms. So the DSD needs to fund organisations in those areas. The DSD should fund organisations in Khayelitsha, Moorreesburg in the West Coast and Nyanga amongst others.
The Chairperson said that the DSD should be able to furnish the Committee with its Standard Operating Procedures for assisting NGOs that have financial difficulty. ‘Where do the clients go after the closure of an NGO’? ‘What do the DSD's interventions entail’? ‘How does the Department assist NGOs that have governance challenges’? ‘How does the DSD ensure the sustainability of funded NGOs, especially those that receive large amounts of funds from the Department’?
Ms Makamba-Botya said that the Committee should request the DSD to give an account of its intervention programmes aimed at reducing drug abuse in school children. ‘If there are programmes, how effective are the programmes’? ‘Are there any success stories’?
Ms Philander said the DSD should give a presentation on the collaborative work it does with other Departments to reduce drug abuse in school children and the corresponding success stories. ‘Where are the Departments doing these programmes’?
Ms Bans expressed concern about the lack of funding of ECDs in the rural areas. There are so many ‘loose’ children in rural areas and they are getting raped because they are not effectively engaged. The DSD should prioritise the funding of ECDs in rural areas. She urged the Committee to ensure that the DSD submits a copy of the advertisement for the 33 practitioners it aims to recruit. The DSD should provide the Committee with a list of the ECDs that have closed down and the reason they closed down. ‘What is the DSD doing to capacitate ECDs in order to elongate their lifespan’?
Ms Philander said that the DSD should provide the Committee with the scope of the Provincial Substance Abuse Forum. ‘What exactly does the forum entail’?
Ms BakuBaku-Vos said the Committee should request the DSD to submit a list of the NPOs it funds in various sectors and the locations of such NPOs. The Department collaborates with the NDA and Child Welfare. The DSD funds Child Welfare, which in turn funds some ECDs. There are cries from certain ECDs that they do not get funds to child welfare. Sometimes, payment is delayed for up to three months. Some of the ECDs are closing down because the municipalities are taking over their buildings.
The Chairperson thanked MPLs for their inputs and promised to convey the Committee's concerns to the DSD.
The meeting was adjourned.
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