The Select Committee on Basic Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture and the Select Committee on Health and Social Services met to consider and adopt various Budget Vote Reports namely the Department of Basic Education, Higher Education and Training, Sports, Arts and Culture, Science and Innovation, Women, Youth ad Persons with Disabilities, Social Development and Health.
The Committee, during the consideration, raised a number of matters which required further attention. This included that Members were denied from exercising oversight in schools in preparation for their opening, communication between the Department of Basic Education and the public, relief funding provided by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, the R350 relief grant and the work of SASSA during the lockdown.
Members also questioned the process on the National Youth Development Agency and accommodation of students during the lockdown with regard to effective social distancing.
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng opened the meeting and welcomed Members. He took Members through the agenda and noted that some of the Reports in preparation for the meeting where only received that morning and wanted the Committee to decide how to proceed.
Ms N Ndongeni (ANC, Eastern Cape) moved to adopt the agenda as is.
Mr M Bara (DA, Gauteng) seconded the adopting of the agenda.
Consideration and Adoption of Committee Report on Budget Vote 16: Department of Basic Education
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng asked the Committee Secretary if any questions or comments came through from the Members.
The Secretary confirmed that no questions or comments were received.
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng wanted to ensure all the issues and concerns raised in a previous meeting, were covered in the Report. He recalled that at the start of the Budget Vote process, there was a time when the Committee had to stop its work to get a legal opinion. Upon receiving that legal opinion and based on that legal opinion, the Committee then adopted the budget for basic education. This was done with provision that there will be a chance, in the medium term, to review the budget and enable the budget to be aligned to what is currently happening. It was noted that the budget was received before the Covid-19 crisis.
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng asked if there were issues that Members would like to raise and opened the opportunity for questions and comments on the Report.
Ms D Christians (DA, Northern Cape) asked if it was correct to say the Committee was not adopting the budget but only the Report.
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng confirmed this as correct.
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng referred to the last page of the Report and went on to read the conclusion to the Committee.
Mr Bara said he does not have a problem with the Report. However, he had other concerns. The Department of Basic Education is confronted with many challenges and the reopening of schools on 1 June 2020, was one of them. The main issue is school readiness to receive the grade 7 and 12 learners. He noted how important the oversight role of the Committee is. Some schools opened, others did not. The statement made by the Minister, that was a day late, did not help the matter. The Committee should follow up urgently on the issue as the budget needs to be reworked to accommodate Covid-19 challenges. This needs to be dealt with so that children as safe at school.
Co-Chairperson Gillion shared the sentiments of Mr Bara. She brought to the attention of the Committee the need for the Minister and Department to look at how it communicates with the public. The public is often left with many questions. It is of concern that the communication does not seem to be direct and honest. She also called to attention and put on record that, in the Western Cape, public representatives are prohibited from entering schools for inspection. That is unacceptable. It is important that public representatives be allowed to conduct oversight to assure that all regulations are being met, as the kids’ education is important.
Ms S Luthuli (EFF, KZN) mentioned that in KZN, as per a statement released, a large quantity of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) had disappeared. She put it on record that a detailed report on the matter must be requested as this will affect the budget moving forward.
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng responded that Covid-19 will be with around for some time and that access to schools are non-negotiable. As Members and parents, the public must be allowed to check on the safety of their children – it is wrong to prevent public representatives from carrying out oversight. This should be reported, and a letter must be written to the Minister as well.
Ms N Ndongeni (ANC, Eastern Cape) moved to adopt the Report.
Ms A Maleka (ANC, Mpumalanga) seconded the motion.
The Committee Report on Budget Vote 16: Department of Basic Education was adopted.
Consideration and Adoption of Committee Report on Budget Vote 37: Sports, Arts and Culture
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng asked the Secretary if the Committee has sent any comments on the Report.
The Secretary confirmed that no comments or question were received from Members.
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng asked that since there were no responses, could he conclude that the Report contains everything.
He then took the Members through the conclusion of the Report.
Mr Bara spoke to the media reports around the relief provided by the Department. The figures, although still requiring confirmation by the Department, did not look well in terms of role-players in need. He asked that the Committee support staff request some form of progress report, on the Members’ behalf, in terms of the relief provided. From what has been read, there is a lot of dissatisfaction with the relief provided so far. The progress report would help the Committee play the oversight role and deal with bottlenecks, if any.
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng responded that by the time the medium term starts, everyone should return to Cape Town as this would make administrative and technical things easier.
Co-Chairperson Gillion moved to adopt the Report.
Ms Maleka seconded the motion.
The Committee Report on Budget Vote 37: Sports, Arts and Culture was adopted
Consideration and Adoption of Committee Report on Budget Vote 18: Department of Health
Co-Chairperson Gillion asked Members to move to adopt the Report.
Mr Bara made a point of emphasis based on discussions with the Department recalling that the Department of Health is at the centre of the battle against Covid-19. The fact that the Report did not consider issues related to Covid-19 is concerning. Previous presentations from the Department of Health noted that 50% of what it was presenting would somehow be affected by Covid-19. Some form of a review of that Report needs to be made. This will provide Members with comfort in knowing that Covid-19 is now being considered. He then moved to adopt the Report.
Ms Ndongeni seconded the motion.
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng responded by stating the issues raised must be taken up with the Department.
The Committee Report on Budget Vote 18: Department of Health was adopted.
Consideration and Adoption of Committee Report on Budget Vote 19: Department of Social development
Mr Bara mentioned that the payment of grants last month raised a lot of issues. People had to sleep over to receive grants – how is this progressing now? He asked how all the problems are being addressed. Also, the number of people who received the R350 relief grant is not as expected. It is one thing to promise people grants but another thing to not have it realised.
A Committee Member said she took a drive in her community and an elderly woman was not able to receive her grant. For record purposes, the Department should make sure that the system is working and not failing people on the ground. Regarding the relief fund, many people ask if it is still happening and have applied via Whatsapp and other means but there is still no reply. People are starting to question the Department on whether there is a relief fund or not. Members could not answer because they also did not know. She asked if this can be captured for record purposes so the Department can turn with answers.
Ms Christians mentioned that the renewal of disability grants was a huge issue before lockdown. She asked that the Department should investigate this and hasten the renewal of those grants. She asked that the Department provide feedback on how many people have been paid the R350.
Co-Chairperson Gillion asked the Secretary to follow up with on the opening of the SASSA offices, if the Department can provide a breakdown on which offices are open, how many staff members are assisting and home visits since going into lockdown. There are many people who need home visits as they are pensioners and people with disabilities. An update from the Department is needed regarding people receiving relief fund payouts and the areas where the people are getting the payouts.
Ms Ndongeni moved for the adoption of the Report.
Co-Chairperson Nchabaleng seconded the motion to adopt the Report.
The Committee Report on Budget Vote 19: Department of Social Development was adopted.
Consideration and Adoption of Committee Report on Budget Vote 20: Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities
Co-Chairperson Gillion asked for an update from the Department as to where it was with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) process.
Ms Ndongeni moves for the adoption of the Report.
Mr I Ntsube (ANC, Free State) seconds the motion to adopt the Report.
The Committee Report on Budget Vote 20: Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities was adopted.
Consideration and Adoption of Committee Report on Budget Vote 17: Department of Higher education and Training (DHET)
C-Chairperson Nchabaleng asked if anyone wants to engage with the report.
Co-Chairperson Gillion noted that in the meetings with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and DHET, she mentioned TVET colleges and accommodation issues especially during Covid-19. Accommodation in the Western Cape is worrying, as more than four students sleep in one room. How would students adhere to social distancing like that?
Ms Christians agreed with Co-Chairperson Gillion as the same issues are reported in the Northern Cape TVET colleges. Accommodation issues at TVET colleges are a historical issue that has not been sorted out. The other issue is that TVET colleges are opening next week, so there is also an oversight role for the Committee to play there. The Committee should take up the issue of the R2 billion in the news regarding NSFAS that was paid out to students incorrectly.
C-Chairperson Nchabeleng responded that the Committee Secretary and support team will capture this information and figure out what is happening. It is worrying in these times that three people share a room. This matter will be addressed with the Department and NSFAS.
Co-Chairperson Gillion moved for the adoption of the Report.
Ms Ndongeni seconded the motion to adopt the Report.
The Committee Report on Budget Vote 17: Department of Higher Education and Training was adopted.
Consideration and Adoption of Committee Report on Budget Vote 35: Department of Science and Innovation
Ch-Chairperson Gillion moved for the adoption of the Report.
Ms Maleka seconded the motion to adopt the Report.
The Committee Report on Budget Vote 35: Department of Science and Innovation was adopted.
Mr Bara mentioned that COVID-19 poses a lot of challenges to Members of Parliament. Before becoming Members of Parliament, they were activists with work to do. Covid-19 has changed how things can be done now. The Select Committees must figure out how to do oversight in order to help everyone in all areas.
Co-Chairperson Gillion identified an oversight mistake in the adoption of the Committee Report on Budget Vote 20: Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities – Mr Ntsube was not a part of the meeting and therefore cannot move to adopt the Report.
Ms Maleka seconded the motion to adopt the Committee Report on Budget Vote 20: Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities. The Report was adopted.
Co-Chairperson Gillion made closing remarks regarding oversight and being denied access to visit schools reagrding Covid-19. She suggested that a letter be written to the Minister and the Department to interact with the MEC of the Western Cape. It seems as if there is something to hide if people are denied entering schools and this is unfortunate. The education of the children is important, and the readiness of schools is a priority. She concluded by wishing the Committee Members well in times of Covid-19 and that they adhere to the lockdown rules. She thanked the Committee and support staff for all the hard work.
The meeting was adjourned.
No related documents
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.