The Department of Social Development told the Committee that the implementation of a portfolio approach had become a key focus area, as this would facilitate collaboration with other entities such as the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the National Development Agency (NDA). The Mikondzo project, which aims to address service delivery backlogs, was a good example of an integrated developmental approach to service delivery and the strengthening of the ward-based model that had been initiated by the President.
The peaking in violence at schools was a major concern. An interim steering committee, consisting of all departments, had been tasked to develop an emergency plan. The DSD was responsible for implementing the programmes, but it required a multi-sectoral approach as well as the assistance of civil society.
Social workers employed at the gender-based violence (GBV) command centre continued to provide a comprehensive and integrated service to victims of violence, with the aid of technology. A mechanism was in place at the command centre to locate callers. The follow up of cases was made possible through gadgets supplied by Vodacom. The command centre also had a direct interface with the 10111 help line.
The Committee was concerned that the issues of persons with disabilities were not receiving adequate attention. The Department gave an assurance that it actively participated in the processes of the United Nations (UN) to address challenges faced by people with disabilities. The Deputy Minister was targeting the plight of people with albinism, and was planning to highlight the killing and disappearance of children from schools. An announcement had been made by the President to relocate the function from the DSD to the Ministry of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities.
The inconsistency in the application of policies by provinces was of concern to the Committee. The involvement of six provinces in the Bosasa child and youth care centres exposed the differences in the implementation of the youth policy. A review of the sector funding policy had been completed to standardise funding norms for non-profit organisations (NPOs) across provinces.
Mr M Nchabeleng (ANC, Limpopo) was appointed acting Chairperson in the absence of Ms M Gillion (ANC, Western Cape). He announced that the Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, was attending a conference in Kenya.
Mr Thabani Buthelezi, Department of Social Development (DSD), said that a lot of activities were expected from officials as the sixth Parliament was ushered in and the fifth administration was closing. The Department had met with the Minister, who wanted to understand how the Department and its entities work. A decision had been made to work together in a portfolio approach with other entities in future, including the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the National Development Agency (NDA).
Plans for the sixth Parliament were based on outcomes and the impact that they had on the communities that were served by the Department. The Department was looking at working differently and took criticism and guidance from the Committee to gain relative impact.
Annual Performance Plan: DSD
Part A: Programme Performance
Mr Buthelezi said that the challenges of the country’s social ills continued to grow as the population increased to 58.78 million. The Department was expected to provide a safety net for vulnerable people. It was important to understand that the DSD had mainly a policy development function. It was hoping that the Joint District Model (JDM) would assist in addressing the issues of capacity in provinces. It was working in collaboration with other departments on gender-based violence (GBV) and substance abuse programmes.
A review of targets over the past five years, beginning with the 2014/15 financial year, had led to a limited but more focussed set of targets for the 2018/19 financial year. This had resulted in an improved performance, as there were no material findings by the Auditor-General (AG). The Department took note of the qualified opinion, and would deliver action plans for improvements.
Programme 1: Administration
The Department wanted to play a significant role in foreign policy, including with the partners in Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS). As an active member of the United Nations (UN), the Department supported the adoption of international resolutions on the rights of youth, older persons, persons with disabilities and children’s issues.
The development of the Information Technology (IT) system could not be fully implemented. The Department created an on-line case management system to track and report on social cases.
The Mikondzo project made it possible for cross-sectoral collaboration and for an integrated social delivery approach. The integrated approach would strengthen the ward-based model which was introduced by the President.
The expenditure for the year was in line with the prescripts of National Treasury.
Programme 2: Social Assistance
An increase was reported in the transfer of funds for social grants. The target for the war veterans grant was not fully met. Social relief of distress (SRD) was demand-driven, and not easy to target.
Programme 3: Social Security Policy and Administration
The Department continued to make progress on the targets to formulate policies. The discussion paper on the review of SASSA was done and would be discussed and concluded in this financial year. Policy proposals were developed for the removal of the means test on the Child Support Grant (CSG). The Department was engaging with social partners at the National Economic and Labour Council (NEDLAC) to establish a national social security fund. This was an important milestone for the Department.
Programme 4: Welfare Service Policy Development and Implementation Support
A key ambition of the Department was to reform the welfare services. The White Paper, to reposition social development, was in the process of being delivered to Cabinet for approval.
The Department had implemented the retention strategy for social services’ professionals to address inadequate conditions and to regrade salary packages.
A key target of the Older Persons programme was to host the Older Persons Parliament in the Free State in October 2018. The programme involved capacity building, the annual general meeting of the Older Persons Forum, and celebrating older persons through the choir festival.
The Early Childhood Development (ECD) national integrated plan was implemented by 24 departments. Three structures namely -- the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC), the National Interdepartmental Committee (NIDC) and the Inter-sectoral Forum (ISF) -- were assisting the DSD to implement the 13 goals of the ECD policy.
The Department was waiting for recommendations from cluster departments before the National Plan of Action for Children (NPAC) could be submitted to Cabinet for approval. The child care and protection policy required further Parliamentary processes before it would be submitted to Cabinet. The policy contained three packages of service programmes -- child care and development, early intervention and quality intervention. The target of monitoring and implementing the Children’s Act was fully met. It was submitted to Cabinet and approval was granted to submit it to Parliament.
Capacity building workshops were held in all nine provinces to target active teenage parenting. The goal was to empower teenage parents to rebuild their dreams.
The target for the social crime prevention and victim empowerment programme was met in terms of conducting awareness campaigns on the dangers of crime, bullying and gangsterism in all nine provinces. The campaigns reached 8 000 young people, and the Department undertook to take the programme on road shows.
The GBV action plans were not submitted to Cabinet. Key stakeholders were reviewing the interventions of the programme of action (POA). The GBV command centre continued to provide services to victims. The number of victims increased during the period under review.
The draft anti-substance abuse policy was submitted to National Treasury for consideration. The policy seeks to respond to the gaps in terms of abuse. The Bill was consulted with stakeholders and would be submitted to Cabinet for approval. The national drug master plan (NDMP) was completed in the current financial year.
The Department had the responsibility to develop an integrated action plan to respond to the drivers of HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The plan aimed to reduce the risk of inappropriate sexual behaviour amongst young men and women. The Department appointed 15 non-profit organisations (NPOs) to implement the “You Only Live Once” (YOLO) and other social and behaviour change programmes. In partnership with the South African National Aids Council (SANAC) and the NPOs, the Department had appointed a number of social workers. 44 traditional leaders were also appointed through the Rock Leadership Training programme.
The Department advocated for issues involving persons with disabilities by participated in activities at the UN level.
Programme 5: Social Policy and Integrated Service Delivery
The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) was a key programme for the Department. Phase 3 of the programme was concluded during this financial year. The Department achieved 82% of the five-year target, and was committed to create more than 800 000 work opportunities over the next five years during Phase 4.
The national population unit continued to monitor and build capacity for the implementation of the population policy. The Minister was currently representing the country at the population conference in Kenya.
More than 220 000 NPOs were registered on the Department’s database by the end of the 2018/19 financial year. The NPO Amendment Bill could not be submitted to Cabinet due to delays in Phase 2 of the process. A campaign had been launched to capacitate NPOs and make them financially compliant.
The community development practice policy was implemented in the 2018/19 financial year. Community development practitioners (CDPs) received training in mobilisation and empowerment guidelines. This empowered them to understand the process when communities were affected by disasters.
The target for youth mobilisation was exceeded. More than 2 600 young people, coming from different provinces, participated in the youth camps. The camps served as a platform for government, together with partners, to empower young people and expose them to preventative programmes. They received exposure to opportunities for growth and for becoming agents for change.
In the area of poverty alleviation, sustainable livelihood and food security, the Department was able to link more than 670 cooperatives to opportunities. This included sewing for the supply of school uniforms, and opportunities to produce food for supply to community nutrition and development centres. In the current financial year, cooperatives would receive training to become compliant with supply chain management (SCM) processes.
Part B: Annual Financial Statements
Mr Fanie Esterhuizen, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), DSD said that for the current financial year, the Department had reported a 0.2% deviation from the budget allocation. The slowdown in activities over the last six months of the financial year had resulted in under-spending, but targets were not compromised in the process of limiting events.
In Programme 1, the Department had signed a contract with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) in 2017. The project had run into challenges, as SITA could not address some of the infrastructure problems that the Department had with its buildings. SITA was unable to spend the full amount of the advance that was given to them in 2017. This was the reason for the R30 million saving in the prior financial year.
Spending on social grants reached 99% of the target. There would never be 100% spending, as the allocation was always based on the projection for the full financial year.
Social security spending reached 98%. The Department received funds from National Treasury for the establishment of a Social Assistance Inspectorate. The project was delayed, as the Social Assistance Amendment Bill did not pass, hence the saving.
The Department slowed down on some activities for welfare services programmes across the country. Instead of inviting a lot of people, the numbers and events were scaled down. The issue of transfer payments was related to some of the NPOs that were not financially compliant and as a result, funding had been withheld. The Department annually paid a sum of R120 million to NPOs.
In Programme 5, the small amount of R1.9 million related to operational expenses.
Economic classification of underspending
- Compensation of Employees – the vacancies translated into the R10 million in under-spending.
- Goods and Services – part of the under-spending was the R30 million for the turn key solution of the SITA contract, and part was related to the delay in the establishment of the Social Assistance Inspectorate.
- Transfers and Subsidies – the R1.5 million was mostly influenced by the exchange rate for money that was paid to other countries. The R12.5 million related to NPOs that were not fully compliant, and the household amount of R151 million related to underspending in Social Grants.
- Capital Assets – the IT equipment of the Department was refurbished two years ago. This had resulted in the saving of R3.3 million in the previous financial year.
The Chairperson declared there was a conflict of interest regarding the issue of military veterans. The information in the report was limited, and he requested for more detail to be submitted in writing, if it was not readily available. He was concerned that the Department was not complying with SCM processes and that the preparation of financial documents did not follow the required reporting format. He asked what the Department was doing about Higher Education.
Mr M Bara (DA, Gauteng) said that since the Minister took over, she had emphasised the undesirability of the silo method of working within government. He asked whether the Department was beginning to see an improvement in working together with other departments. He noted the inconsistent capacities in provinces and said that although the national Department performed well, it was dragged down by the provinces. He viewed the Older Persons activities as a good initiative. He asked what partnerships were embarked on in light of violence and substance abuse at schools. Not much was mentioned in the report about accessibility to infrastructure for people with disabilities. Was the DSD in partnership with other departments to integrate people with disabilities in societies? He said that it was fine to have a youth programme, but questioned its success, as youth unemployment rose to 50. Was it possible to measure the qualitative outcomes of the programmes to upskill the youth and not just the numbers? He expressed the view that some of the ills in society relied on policy implementation and that a delay in implementing policies defeated the purpose. He said that the social protection policy needed to be dealt with speedily to create a safe environment.
Ms D Christians (DA, Northern Cape) requested that the ECD policy be highlighted, and asked when the implementation and integration would take place. She enquired what monitoring, assistance and follow up was done for the victims of GBV who made calls to the GBV Command Centre. She was concerned about the handling by NPOs of the increase in diseases, and asked how monitoring and tracking was managed. The intention to reduce the budget for young girls was of concern, and she questioned whether sufficient money was available to fund the programmes.
Ms S Luthuli (EFF, KwaZulu Natal) expressed the view that GBV was just a talking point and that the issue required some deep digging to warn school children. She asked whether there was a partnership between the DSD and the Department of Education.
Ms N Ndongeni (ANC, Eastern Cape) enquired about the reasons for the delay in presenting the organisational structure.
Persons with Disabilities
Mr Mzolisi Toni, Acting Director General (DG), DSD, said that the Department was in the process of moving the Persons with Disabilities function to the Ministry of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities. This transfer became necessary after the President made the announcement. The Department was targeting people with albinism after reports of the killing and disappearance of children from school. The Deputy Minister was planning to mainstream activities to highlight the issue.
The DSD was in the process of developing the strategic plan for the next five years and was in partnership with Treasury to develop the organogram. An interim organogram was in place.
An official from the Department said that a number of programmes were done for military veterans, and agreed to submit a written report about the interventions. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the military veterans and SASSA, offering work opportunities for those experiencing challenges, had expired. The two DGs were in the process of entering into a formal MOU.
Supply Chain Management
An official from the Department said that the DSD complied with the prescripts of National Treasury, and that the SCM policy was being reviewed. The issued raised by the AG stemmed from non-compliance to legislation on the rules of national content.
The Chairperson said that he would follow up with the AG and report back to the Committee.
Violence in schools
Ms Connie Nxumalo, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Welfare Services, DSD, said that mechanisms were in place to ensure that the Department addressed the issue of violence and substance abuse at schools. At the national level, a draft anti-substance abuse policy had been developed in consultation with the Justice Crime Prevention & Security (JCPS) and the Social Protection, Community and Human Development (SPCHD) clusters. The national drug master plan was consulted at the provincial level. Provincial substance abuse forums would assist in developing future plans.
Violence at schools had peaked in recent times and was linked to substance abuse and HIV. A social behaviour change was required in talking to boys and absent fathers. An interim steering committee consisting of all departments was tasked to develop an emergency plan. The DSD was responsible for implementing the programmes and protecting victims. This required a multi-sectoral approach and working with civil society.
GBV command centre
Ms Nxumalo stated that 44 social workers were employed at the GBV command centre. The social workers provided counselling and had the mechanism to locate callers and refer them to the nearest police station or available social service centre. The command centre had a direct interface with the 10111 help line. The back office quality assured and monitored all calls. Vodacom supplied the district workers with gadgets to follow up on cases that were referred to them by the back office.
Early Childhood Development
She said that structures in place were indicated in the report. The national integrated implementation plan was implemented by 24 national departments and coordinated by Social Development. The first 1 000 days of the life of a child was key. She offered to deliver a presentation about the ECD programme to the Committee. This would include the contributions by the different departments, such as Home Affairs and Health, and how the funding was being used. The challenge was to increase the reach and to ensure universal access to the programmes.
Inconsistencies in policy application
Mr Peter Netshipale, DDG: Integrated Development, DSD, highlighted the foster care programme as a case where the youth policy was not consistently implemented in all provinces. The involvement of six provinces in the Bosasa child and youth care centres under Bosasa, exposed this inconsistency. The process of de-linking the Department from these centres was under way.
In addition, monitoring the funding of NPOs worked well in some provinces, but not in others. In terms of legislation, all NPOs had to register with the Department. The majority of the registered NPOs were voluntarily organisations. The Department monitored compliance, but not all NPOs were reporting back. A “Know-Your-Status” campaign would be implemented to standardise funding norms across provinces. The Act required that NPOs be deregistered if they did not comply. The Department spent R7.6 billion to fund over 21 000 NPOs for rendering social services.
Mr Netshipale said that the Department had been partnering with the Department of Defence since 2012. Youth from care centres and poor communities were taken for a ten-day leadership training programme. 12% of participants in the programme found employment, while others go to other institutions for further training.
Social Security Policy
Ms Brenda Sibeko, DDG: Comprehensive Social Security, DSD, said that the delay in passing legislation had to do with grievances. The policy had gone through a lot of consultations to address the different stakeholder interests.
Ms Dianne Dunkerley, Executive Manager: Grants Administration, SASSA, explained that the military veterans’ grants were not for veterans of the struggle, but for veterans who had participated in World War II and the Korean War. The Department of Finance paid for veterans of the struggle.
At this point, the Deputy Minister, was welcomed to the meeting. Her presence was needed at a Cabinet meeting to discuss the “16 days of Activism” issue. She would meet with the team afterwards to find out how the meeting went.
The meeting was adjourned.