The Portfolio Committee on Social Development was presented with its revised adjustment budget vote Report for the Department of Social Development by the Committee Content Advisor, and although Members made suggestions to enhance it, no parts of the Report were contradicted. The Committee agreed to the following amendments:
- The Department of Social Development (DSD) was to ensure that targets were in line with the national strategic plan on gender-based violence (GBV). This would be added to the recommendation that the Department should set clear targets on GBV.
- Anti-fraud targets that were being reduced, especially with regard to the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), would be added to the observations.
- The Content Advisor would consider a Member’s suggestion that the list of service providers used by the Department should be added to the Report.
- Targets that were deleted by the Department would be listed in the Report.
- The filling of vacant posts had been recorded as an observation. This would be changed to a recommendation
- The social relief of distress (SRD) grant review mechanism would be added to the Report as a recommendation.
- Speeding up the process of replacing food parcels with food vouchers would be added as a recommendation.
Comments that were not added to the recommendations would be included in the minutes. The Report was adopted, with amendments.
The Chairperson tabled Committee minutes dating back to March, and all were adopted.
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development on the Revised Budget Vote 19, Revised Annual Performance Plans of the Department of Social Development and its Entities for 2020/21
Ms Yolisa Khanye, Committee Content Advisor, presented a summary of the revised budget Report.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) said that with the social relief of distress (SRD) grant, emphasis needed to be placed on the Department of Social Development (DSD) strengthening its follow-up review mechanisms and processes. She had had reports, for instance, of a young man’s application that had been returned stating that he did not qualify for the grant, as he had worked in the last 18 months, but he had actually been in prison during that time and had not worked. He had been unable to query this further with the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). Thus, not only should the backlog be noted in the Report, but the review process of applications needed to be improved as well.
The food parcels needed to be replaced by food vouchers speedily, as food parcels were laborious, not cost effective and theft occurred. The Department had to come back to the Committee with a detailed plan on how social workers would be absorbed. The Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, had stated that she had negotiated with other departments to help absorb social workers.
The DSD needed to address the Committee on gender-based violence (GBV), as it was the lead department in the fight against GBV, yet it lacked a detailed focus on it. The emergency plan announced by the President, as well as the National Strategic Plan (NSP) gave specific tasks to the DSD, and these should be included in the recommendations, as the DSD targets on GBV should be in line with them. The spending on GBV programmes should be presented to the Committee, as the DSD should have paid over R50 million to non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and it was unclear if this had happened.
Ms A Abrahams (DA) asked about adjustments to the budget on the DSD substance abuse programmes. Why had it decreased and decapacitated some of the treatment centres? A previous presentation of the Department had stated that the target of five public treatment centres being capacitated would be decreased to three. It had also stated that it had decreased the target of capacitating five provincial substance abuse forums and three clusters of national government, to capacitating only six provinces.
Six DSD targets were being deleted from the initial annual performance plan (APP). It would be beneficial for this to be outlined in the Report so that it was clearer for people who were not Members of the Portfolio Committee to understand and see the efforts made in addressing COVID19. Anti-fraud targets had been deleted, and this should be stipulated in the report. SASSA had stated that it would conduct 15 internal audit reviews as opposed to the intended 20 reviews in high risk areas, despite its historical issue with fraud.
The National Development Agency (NDA) did not list where it would reprioritise its funds. It would be beneficial for people utilising this report to see where it would be reprioritising the funds from.
Ms L Arries (EFF) said that SASSA had failed to adequately manage the SRD grant due to capacity limitations. In the budget, it did not mention if vacancies would be filled or new positions created for it to move up to speed with the SRD applications. The system was not effective, as it was not able to manage the SRD grants. There was no clear plan from the DSD to address GBV, and there were no funds either. There were only 1 809 social workers employed by the Department, and 520 volunteers from the NDA. This was the only job creation mentioned in the budget. The top-up grants were concerning, as they were valid only until October -- why could they not be permanent? If the DSD did not have sufficient money to maintain the top-up grants, how would it sustain the basic income grant (BIG)? This budget would never be sufficient, so this report could not be adopted by the EFF.
Mr D Stock (ANC) said the Committee needed an opportunity to engage with the Department regarding the SRD grant and the challenges it was facing in this regard. His constituency was faced with long queues, approved applications with no payments, or no follow-up payments. Thus, a comprehensive briefing was needed.
Work had been done in various Committees with regard to the national strategic plan (NSP) on GBV and the six pillars of GBV. Legislation had been championed by the Department of Justice and Correctional Services, such as the Cybercrimes Bill (B6-2017) and the amendment of the Children’s Bill by the DSD. A lot of work was being done, but it was not being consolidated into one approach to give a single picture on the state of GBV in the country.
The introduction of the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP) was appreciated. It was a serious matter that contributed to the issues of GBV. At a press conference on Monday, 13 July, the Minister had mentioned the possible introduction of the BIG, and he appealed to her to address the Committee on this.
Ms N Bilankulu (ANC) said that on the first day of grant payments, elderly persons spend hours at the post office. The regional offices within her constituency had stated that brunches had not been reporting to the regional offices. Did the Department have a plan on how this would be monitored? The DSD and entities needed to state their plans to fill vacant posts. Social workers had been hired on a temporary basis -- when would they be hired permanently? The NSP included economic power as a key pillar, so how would the DSD empower women, youth and people living with disabilities?
Ms M Sukers (ACDP) said that the Committee had requested that the Department to provide it with a list of its national and provincial service providers. This should be mentioned in the Report from an expenditure and accountability perspective. It was important that the Department rectify its image and rebuild trust with the people of South Africa. There had been reports in her constituency that households had not received food parcels, despite being put on the DSD database. The Department needed to have a follow-up process for food and social relief. It had not yet come back to the Committee with feedback regarding its gangsterism intervention programmes, and the GBV and social victim programme.
Ms D Ngwenya (EFF) said she was concerned about GBV, as it looked like it did not get the priority it deserved in the Department, especially considering that it was not included in the revised budget. The BIG was long overdue, as it had previously been mentioned that the DSD was discussing its feasibility. She welcomed the announcement by the Minister, and hoped that she would see it being implemented in her lifetime. The food parcels and food vouchers were not being reported on by the Department, and people in the various constituencies were reporting that they had not received anything in the last month or two.
Ms J Manganye (ANC) said that the issue with the SRD grant had not been captured well in the Report. In her constituency, the Premier had organised volunteers -- community development workers (CDWs) -- to help at SASSA offices. The CDWs had later abandoned work at SASSA when they learned that SASSA had paid NDA volunteers a stipend of R1 500, stating that the volunteers who got a stipend should do the work. Help was needed in the rural areas with the application of the SRD grant, as they did not have devices which they could use to apply for the grant via the internet.
There was an informal settlement around a mine in her constituency that had not being assisted. The informal settlement was made up of people who had left rural areas to find employment, but most had been unsuccessful. These people had not received food parcels. However, beyond COVID19, these people needed to be helped.
The Chairperson said that the Report was not being contradicted, but enhancements had been suggested. It was clear that SASSA’s challenges with systems around the SRD and food parcels needed to be discussed with the Committee, to give a picture on what was happening at present. There seemed to be support for the BIG, so its implementation needed to be investigated and the state of the economy had to be considered.
A letter had been sent to the Portfolio Committee on Communications regarding the matter of long queues at the post offices for SASSA grants. The request for a joint meeting between the Committees needed to be followed-up urgently.
There were concerns regarding the lack of prominence of GBV in the report, especially in regard to resource allocation. There were no additional resources, but an intensified programme, with a focus and coordination of other departments, would provide comfort. The food parcels and food vouchers were an issue with the Department. These were the matters about which the Committee had expressed concern.
Content Advisor’s response
Ms Khanye said that most of the inputs made by the Committee were included in the minutes of the meetings. The inputs that needed to be included in the amended Report were:
- Ensuring that targets were in line with the NSP on GBV would be added to the recommendation that the Department should set clear targets on GBV;
- Anti-fraud targets that were being reduced, especially with regard to SASSA, would be added to the observations;
- Ms Khanye would discuss Ms Sukers’s request to include the list of service providers to the Report, to get a better understanding of her request;
- Targets that had been deleted by the Department would be listed in the Report;
- The filling of vacant posts had been recorded as an observation. This would be changed to a recommendation;
- The SRD grant review mechanism would be added to the Report;
- Speeding up the process of moving from food parcels to food vouchers would be added as a recommendation.
Ms Khanye said the Department had provided a response regarding the status of food parcels, as well as another response on the status on tackling GBV. She encouraged Members to review these documents. Comments that were not added to the recommendations would be included in the minutes.
Ms Bilankulu asked if the economic empowerment of women would be included as an amendment to the Report.
Ms Khanye said that economic empowerment was included in the NSP on GBV, so it would be added to the recommendation that the Department must align GBV targets with the NSP.
Ms Abrahams asked what would be included regarding funding for substance abuse programmes, as the funding allocation for these programmes had not changed. However, if the funding had not changed, why had the targets been decreased?
The Chairperson stated that if the budget had not been cut, then it was a fact and not an opinion. The question was relevant, but should be posed to the Department for a response.
Ms Van der Merwe said that at the previous meeting, the Department had committed to providing a response to the Committee’s questions in writing, but there were some questions that had not been answered. For example, there had been no answer regarding how much money was being spent on legal cases, and it had not given a breakdown of where social workers would be deployed.
The Revised Budget Report was tabled for adoption, with amendments.
Ms Van der Merwe moved its adoption, and Ms Bilankulu seconded.
The Report was adopted with amendments.
The EFF did not support the Report.
Adoption of minutes
The Committee considered the minutes of its meeting of 11 March 2020. The attendance would be rectified as Ms Arries was marked as absent.
Ms Bilankulu moved the adoption of the minutes, and Ms Ngwenya seconded.
The minutes of 11 March 2020 were adopted, with amendments.
The Committee considered the minutes of its meeting of 17 March 2020.
Ms Bilankulu moved for its adoption, and Ms Van der Merwe seconded. The minutes were adopted.
The Committee considered the minutes of its meeting of 13 May 2020.
Ms B Masango (DA) moved their adoption, and Ms Van der Merwe seconded. The minutes were adopted.
The Committee considered the minutes of its meeting of 21 May 2020.
Ms Bilankulu moved their adoption, and Ms Manganye seconded. The minutes were adopted.
The Committee considered the minutes of its meeting of 4 June 2020.
Ms Masango moved their adoption, and Ms Bilankulu seconded. The minutes were adopted.
The Committee considered the minutes of its meeting of 11 June 2020. The attendance would be rectified, as Ms Arries was marked as absent.
Ms Bilankulu moved their adoption, and Ms Masango seconded. The minutes were adopted, with amendments.
The Committee considered the minutes of its meeting of 25 June 2020. The attendance would be rectified, as Ms Arries was marked as absent.
Ms Van der Merwe moved their adoption, and Ms Masango seconded. The minutes were adopted with amendments.
The meeting was adjourned.
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