National Drug Master Plan: DSD briefing; CDA challenges & recruitment process; with Minister and Deputy Minister

Social Development

18 August 2020
Chairperson: Mr M Gungubele (ANC) and Ms M Gillion (ANC, Western Cape)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Social Development briefed the joint Committees in a virtual meeting on the National Drug Master Plan for 2019-2024, and the filling of the Central Drug Authority’s board vacancies.

The briefing on the National Drug Master Plan centred mainly on the formulation of the plan, and the methods that would be used to achieve its goals and objectives. The Department hoped that through this plan, the move to a substance abuse-free South Africa would commence. The plan was informed by three international conventions of the United Nations, which dealt with harm, demand and supply. The government’s response to substance abuse was based on these three conventions.

Unlike previous drug master plans, this plan had classified addiction as a behavioural disease that affected the brain, and the Department believed that new and more effective solutions could be found to deal with substance abuse in the country. This plan took on a rights-based approach when dealing with substance abusers and contrary to previous plans, there were no punitive measures applied to substance abusers. Instead, they were encouraged to seek assistance from drug rehabilitation centres to recover from their addictions. Two new rehabilitation centres had been built in the country -- one in the Northern Cape, and the other in the Free State.

Members of the Committee raised concern that there were not enough government-run drug rehabilitation centres, which had made it difficult for substance abusers to seek assistance. Most of the drug rehabilitation centres were privately-owned, and this inevitably excluded people from poorer communities. The Department was asked to provide a list of the number of government-run rehabilitation centres, and where each was located, so that Members could visit them. Members also asked the Department how it intended to deal with substance abuse, particularly in the Western Cape. The situation on the Cape Flats was very challenging, as the drug turf wars were affecting the communities in the area.

During the briefing, the Department had indicated that the Central Drug Authority had an independent function, but Members asked how this was so, as it received a R3 million budget from the Department to carry out its functions. The Department responded that this was one of its challenges, and it was the reason why it had recommended that the Authority be moved into the Presidency, and for the National Treasury to fund its activities.

An issue of contestation was that the document did not include details of what issues the Department had identified, and how it intended to implement solutions to deal with them. The Department admitted that the some of the details of the document were contradictory, and it would work on making these clearer.

In the second briefing, the Department informed the Committee on the status of the vacancies on the Central Drug Authority’s board. Members were informed that 64 curricula vitae (CVs) had been received to date, but due to the lockdown, the appointment process had been delayed. However, the process was on track and the Department hoped that it would be completed soon, as the previous board’s mandate had ended. 

Meeting report

Deputy Minister’s Overview

Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, Deputy Minister of Social Development, said the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP) was the blueprint the Department had used to create strategies that dealt with issues related to drug abuse. It was an evolving document that was informed by three international conventions of the United Nations (UN), which were harm, demand and supply. As South Africa was a member state, it had to respond to each of the three conventions. SA was also guided by the African Union’s (AU’s) Drug Master Plan, so its plan must not oppose that of the AU.

Previous NDMPs were punitive in nature and were focused on incarceration and health. There had been a shift from the criminalisation of drug users and to separate the demand-reduction, which included supply and demand. For the first time, this document acknowledged that addiction was a disease. The Department of Social Development (DSD) was the leading Department in the management of matters relating to drug abuse. The rights of drug users had been affirmed in the document, and there had been an introduction of innovative, evidence-based, harm reduction strategies.

The NPDM was supported by mini drug master plans, which were developed by each department in their area of expertise. The DSD, with the assistance of the Central Drug Authority (CDA), were required to consolidate and monitor the implementation of these plans.

She said drug addiction was a serious problem in the country, and dealing with it was made harder as users also abused designer-drugs. This made rehabilitation and the provision of care even more difficult for the Department. With the high prevalence of HIV and AIDS, as well as the growth of drug-sharing communities, there had been a growth of hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases.

One of the challenges in creating a blueprint was that it was a consensus document. Due to this, the draft master plan was contradictory. However, this NDPM was the best consensus document that could be developed to guide the interventions.

National Drug Master Plan 2019-2024

Mr Linton Mchunu, Acting Director-General: DSD, briefed the Committee on the National Drug Master Plan 2019-2024. This was the fourth edition of the NDMP, and it had been launched on 26 June. Each NDMP cycle lasted for at least five years. The document covered all national concerns regarding drug control. All national policies, priorities and responsibilities for drug control efforts were also included. The Department had engaged with several stakeholders, such as the private sector and current drug users, to develop this plan.

The government had adopted a new approach to drug control efforts, one of which was its classification of addiction as a disease that affected the brain and behaviour. It was believed that this would assist in understanding drug abuse and how to apply the correct solutions for the problem. With the assistance of other stakeholders, the Department, through the NDMP, envisaged a South Africa that was free from substance abuse. To achieve this, the Department had embraced a balanced, integrated and evidence-based approach. It was also investing in creating safe communities, by dealing with the supply and demand of drugs. Investment in therapeutic methods to combat substance abuse would also be made, and the Department had allocated R3 million to the CDA to assist it with its work.

The Department intended to increase its data collection capacity, and also its monitoring and evaluation capabilities. With the assistance of the rest of the departments, this would stimulate economic growth, curbing the high levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality. It also intended to improve the capacity of the CDA to provide guidance on the monitoring of the implementation of the NDMP. To give the CDA more independence, the Department wanted it moved to the Presidency and for it be financed by the Treasury.

Discussion

Ms D Christians (DA, Northern Cape) said that it was reported to the Committee that it had been a challenge to obtain departmental reports. Only two of 21 departmental reports had been submitted and signed off, while others had reported that only 10 of 21 departmental reports had been submitted. She asked how the DSD intends to hold departments to account if it did not take reporting seriously. If provinces were unable to report on their drug and master plans, how would the Department be able to monitor their progress?

It was clear that there was a lack of compliance, and the departments were not implementing their NDMP. This was probably because the minimum norms and standards relating to substance abuse had not been formulated. She asked when this would be developed and implemented.

She also asked when the Department would complete the construction of the drug and mental health rehabilitation centre in the Northern Cape (NC). As there was no oversight accountability in the provincial Departments on the running of the centres, reports would not be submitted.

Mr D Stock (ANC) asked what underpinned the community-based approach and what the indicators were that would ensure that through the monitoring and evaluation tools, the CDA and the Department would be able to track the outputs and the inputs made in the communities. If there was no change in the outputs, what measures would be put in place to ensure that the outputs had an impact and that there was change in the communities where this was applied?

The NDMP outlined the roles of each department and their entities, and the contributions of the departments to combating substance abuse. He asked if this NDMP was also applicable to the private sector as well, or if there was a mechanism to ensure that it applied the principles mentioned in the plan.

Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu asked Mr Stock to clarify whether he was referring to the private sector, or to privately-run treatment centres.

Mr Stock clarified that he was referring to the privately-run treatment centres.

Ms A Maleka (ANC, Mpumalanga) said the CDA was supposed to function independently, yet it received a R3 million budget from the Department. She asked if the budget was adequate for it to achieve its mandate.

Ms B Masango (DA) appreciated that the presentation was informative, but it had shown a lack of inter-departmental collaboration on this issue, and governance problems. As this work was multi-sectoral, for the CDA to succeed in its work she suggested that all stakeholders must work efficiently together.

As there were many experienced individuals within this sector, she asked if the local structures had benefited from this experience. The role and function of the CDA should be highlighted publicly to assist with its work on the ground in the fight against drug abuse.

Ms S Luthuli (EFF, KZN) said that in her area (iLembe, KZN) there were no rehabilitation centres to assist young drug abusers. She asked if the Department was looking to provide rehabilitation centres in the rural areas to assist with the drug-abuse problem.

Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) seconded Ms Christians’ point on the issue of provinces not providing their reports. This showed that the departments were not doing their work. She said there had been an increase in the number of drug-abusers who lived under a bridge she frequents in Durban. There was a concern that what the Committee had been briefed on, was not the reality of what the impact on the ground was.

She asked how the DSD and the Ministry of Police hoped to deal with the issue of police officers selling drugs back to drug sellers, or accepting bribes.

Were there enough treatment centres available, as well as beds? How many people were successfully rehabilitated per year?

It had been mentioned earlier that the plans to reform the CDA were with Cabinet. She asked what changes would be made to the CDA. She recommended that the government should consider a toll-free call centre -- like the gender-based violence (GBV) call centre -- to ensure that citizens had access to social workers when they did not have help for treatment.

Ms M Sukers (ACDP) said that in Kalkfontein, many women and children had been killed as a result of the drug wars. The poor communities were caught in the middle of the illicit drug scene, as gangsters protected their drug houses. The Committee needed timelines on when it would deal with all drug-related issues. She asked how the Department weighed the rights of the drug abuser against the right of safety for those in the community.

She asked for a list of community rehabilitation centres in each province, as the drug trade in this country was currently thriving and was a serious problem which correlated with the challenges that the communities continued to face. The Department should provide the details of exactly what was happening on the ground.

Ms A Motaung (ANC) said there was a need to modernise and amend legislation for the reviewed NDMP, to better deal with drug abuse in the country. There were a few behavioural and biological interventions for drug users, and there needed to be a review of the current interventions.

Ms N Bilankulu (ANC) said that several parts of the listed strategies contradicted the success of the NDMP, due to their not being part of the listed strategies. She asked how the national GBV and femicide strategic plan was applicable to the success of the NDMP.
 
What measures did the Department want to put in place to ensure that there was coordination between the criminal justice system and the health sector in the reduction of drug supply.

Ms D Ngwenya (EFF) appreciated the fact that addiction was now acknowledged as a disease. Not much attention was given to substance abuse in the country, which was troubling, since it contributed to the breaking up of families, GBV and femicide, as well as the increasing levels of crime.

She asked how the supply reduction and crime reduction strategies would be implemented.

Since there were limited rehabilitation treatment centres in the country, it would be beneficial if the CDA was involved in the running of the centres. Each centre must be fully equipped to assist abusers to recover.

The Substance Abuse Act of 2008 needed to be revised, as it lacked detail on the measures needed to deal with substance abuse in the country.

She asked if the CDA had provided its progress report to the AU, and when it had been submitted. She also asked what the recommendations were, and which of the recommendations had been implemented.

There was an issue with both collecting and centralising data in South Africa. This also related to data collected on substance abuse. It would assist if a centralised data collection system was developed in each department, to assist with drug-related issues.

Ms A Abrahams (DA) highlighted that the Gauteng High Court judgment handed down on 31 July on the decriminalisation of the possession and use of cannabis by children should be welcomed.

She asked how and to what extent municipalities would be funded to roll out the NDMP, and how this would be enforced by the CDA.

The indicators needed to be changed at the national level, as this would allow for them to be changed and included at the provincial level. Yet the DSD was the only department that had a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) indicator. She asked what the Department was doing to change the indicators in other departments, to allow for it to filter down to other provinces in their annual performance plans (APPs).

The Department needed to take serious disciplinary action against public officials who were not submitting their reports to the national Department.

She asked if the Deputy Chairperson of the CDA could comment on whether the recommendations they made in the previous NDMP had been included in the current NDMP.

With the massive budget cuts across Departments due to Covid-19, she asked how the budget cuts would affect the CDA.

The Committee was currently working with an unsigned NDMP copy that was not complete. She asked when the final signed document would be shared. The rest of her questions would be submitted in writing.

Ms L Arries (EFF) said that the biggest challenge to the implementation of the NDMP was the lack of rehabilitation centres. The Department should provide the number of rehabilitation centres in each province. Most of the centres available were privately owned, and thus excluded poor families. The DSD, with the help of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), should look at using existing infrastructure to create more centres.

Rehabilitated patients should receive help after they had left the rehabilitation centres, as they usually relapsed. There also needed to be greater education within the communities on drug abuse.

She asked for clarification on the remuneration structure of the CDA board.

Ms J Manganye (ANC) said that when there were no reports provided by municipalities and the provinces, it seemed that currently the NDMP was not working. She asked what support measures could be introduced to ensure that the strategies in the NDMP were supported by capacity building, and whether there could be an increase in both officials and laboratories for the testing of drugs.

The drug pandemic was not an issue for only the DSD to tackle -- other departments such as the Department of Home Affairs should assist with, for instance, the tackling of drug trafficking. She asked if the NDMP would focus on these loopholes.

What measures were in place to ensure that the NDMP effectively dealt with substance use in the country? She asked if the Department could provide a list of the number of drug rehabilitation facilities and where each was based so that the Committee could visit them.

Chairperson Gungubele said that he was uncertain which features within the plan indicated that it was an actual plan, with clear objectives. There was no sense of what the state of either supply or demand was, and how the DSD planned to deal with each problem. The Department needed to have a clear idea of the extent of each issue it planned to deal with, and how exactly it would deal with them. To ensure that Committee could judge the progress of the targets set by the Department, there must be better articulation of its targets within the plan.

Mr M Bara (DA, Gauteng) said that the issues of poverty and unemployment needed to be addressed in order for drug abuse to be better dealt with. He asked how the Department was planning to address the issues of drug abusers using their social assistance grants to purchase drugs, and wanted to know how discharged patients were assisted.

Ms S Lehihi (EFF, North West) asked if the Department had provided assistance for girls in rural areas who prostituted themselves to purchase drugs.

The Chairperson said that daily in the Western Cape, substance abuse was killing the youth, especially on the Cape Flats, and this had now spread to the rural areas. She asked how the NDMP would assist with the drug turf fights and the killing of the youth.

Referring to Goal 2 in the NDMP 2019-2024, she asked if the Department had entered into memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with the relevant departments in order to increase capacity building, to create awareness to prevent drug related crimes, and to mitigate the supply of drugs and liquor.

One of the deliverables of Goal 6 of the NDMP had asked that the then Department of Economic Development (now incorporated into the Department of Trade and Industry) to coordinate relevant projects and programmes that would provide alternative development to the youth, and create employment. Were there any MOUs that had been agreed to, to achieve the above-mentioned deliverables?

The key findings of the NDMP 2013-2017 had provided the following implementation evaluations:

  • The NDMP did not provide policy clarity on broad strategies on supply, demand and harm reduction;
  • Insufficiently informed policy and strategic choices had been taken by the Department;
  • The NDMP lacked an implementation plan;
  • It had not been translated to the Department’s strategies and annual plans;
  • It lacked a balanced approach.

The recommendations had been as follows:

  • The NDMP needed to be reviewed and its approaches harmonised;
  • The CDA needed to be restored to enable it to respond to complex problems of drugs.
  • The provincial and local committees needed to be strengthened.
  • The country needed evidence-based interventions that worked to prevent and treat substance abuse.

She asked if the Department or CDA could provide clarity on these intervention evaluations, and whether each was prioritised in the current plan. Was it sufficient, or were there areas that needed to be improved in the new plan?

She agreed with other Members that the Department needed to provide a list of the rehabilitation centres in the country. The Committee had received complaints from rehabilitation centres that some young patients were mistreated. She asked how the monitoring system of the CDA and the Department ensured that the centres available adhered to the principles required of them.

Department’s response

Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu said that the questions had been informative for the Department going forward. It would respond to the written questions submitted.

On the minimum norms and standards, she said that the NDMP had been signed and declassified. It was concerning that the Members had received the top secret document sent to Cabinet, but the Department would ensure that Members received the correct version.

The NDMP was a policy statement, and the sentiments expressed by both Chairperson Gungubele and Mr Stock were correct. The approach taken over the years was that the NDMP acted as the broader policy statement of intent, and the mini drug master plans that each department had to submit then formed the implementation plan. She asked that the Department be provided with an opportunity to present its mini drug master plan so it could indicate how it was responding to the issues that dealt with social development.

There were no MOUs that have been entered to, as each department was obligated to develop its own mini drug master plans, which became the implementing instrument for their different sectors. At the moment, the sectors were clustered in the same way that Cabinet was clustered. With the DSD on the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) and crime intervention cluster, it had to assist with the creation of strategies that dealt with supply and demand. It had been raised within the cluster that some police did resell drugs back to drug sellers. This was part of the reason why former President Zuma had reopened the specialised unit in the NPA and the police. This unit would focus on the reduction of supply and demand. This same unit was looking into the growth of illicit drug trafficking, particularly in the Western Cape.

She recommended that the Committee allow for the clusters to present their mini drug master plans. This would assist both the CDA and the Department to receive the reports from other departments. The DSD had raised the issue of the lack of reports submitted to the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation and to the Presidency. All reports were signed by the Ministers and the DGs to allow for the Department to compile them in the annual report and the mini drug master plan.

There were 14 government-owned facilities, and these would be presented to the Committee soon. The Department was subsidising 40 facilities run by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to increase bed capacity. 241 facilities were privately owned, and the Department had purchased bed space in some of them. Drug rehabilitation centres were scarce and were not found in areas where the people lived, due to security concerns.

South Africa had an issue with designer drugs, and rehabilitation did not seem to work most of the time. For the first time the government, through the COLOMBO plan, had trained public servants who were experts on addiction and were based in the treatment facilities. There had been an improvement in adherence and aftercare support, but the shortage of social workers had remained a problem for the aftercare of addicts.

Responding to the question on the submission of the reports, she said that the reports had been submitted to the United Nations (UN) and the AU. The last report had been submitted in 2018, and would be provided to the Committee.

The privately-owned treatment facilities had to adhere to the Substance Abuse Act. There were three levels of accreditation. The DSD first registered the facility and then registered the programme. Once those processes were completed, it then accredited the employees. The Department was strengthening its monitoring and evaluation capacity.

The largest budgets were found in the provincial equitable share (PES) and also the conditional grants, especially those for infrastructure. Most of the R17.8 billion allocated to non-profit organisation (NPO) funding was spent on facilities, beds and community-based programmes. The R3 million budget set aside for the CDA was to assist its functioning as a coordinating body. The Department acknowledged that this was not adequate, hence the provincial forums were better funded. Board members that worked for the public service were not being remunerated, and the majority were found in the substance abuse directorate.

An epidemiological network had been established to better understand what the contents of the designer drugs were, in order to improve treatment protocols. Treatment protocols were updated depending on the feedback from epidemiologists, but SA’s geography made this difficult.

In the past, drug addicts had been mandated to go to drug rehabilitation facilities. With the human rights-based approach, addicts were now admitted voluntarily or involuntarily at the facilities. However, many drug addicts still did not seek assistance.

The State Security Agency (SSA) had vetted the members of the Local Drug Action Committee, which was not included in previous NDMP.

For the first time, the DSD had found a balance between the harm and the demand. It was difficult to balance the rights of the community and the rights of an abuser. If an addict was a problem for the community, residents could approach the nearest social workers for the individual to obtain assistance.

Section 5 of the NDMP, Pillar 6 of the GBV and femicide strategic plan, and Goal 4 of the national strategic plan for HIV had been aligned.

The amendments to the CDA were under way, and the Department had set a date of March 2021 for the Act to be brought to the Committee. Within the amendment was the restructured CDA, which would be provided more authority – unlike now, where they were an advisory body.

The Department would not cut the budget that had been allocated to the CDA. The Department had sourced funding from the global fund for the CDA. These additional resources were with the South African AIDS Council.

On the question of drug abusers using their social assistance for the purchase of drugs, she said that once the money was in the hands of the beneficiary, the Department had no legal standing to interfere. With the assistance of the Committee, the Department was amending the Social Assistance Act, to enable it to state the provisions and limitations on what the beneficiaries could use their social assistance for.

Mr Mchunu said that the Department was almost complete with the rehabilitation centre in Free State, and it should be handed over to the DSD in the next few weeks.

Post-rehab, the Department was trying to link the rehabilitated individuals with several support groups, including Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and a number of faith-based organisations. The Department was also trying to link the rehabilitated individuals with entrepreneurship programmes to provide them with skills. Behavioural change remained an issue for the Department. Linking of the various programmes, family-based programmes and faith-based programmes had been done to encourage people to change their behaviour, and, to instil critical values within them. The ‘War on Drugs’ was a collective responsibility.

An official added that the NDMP was a broad guide that addressed the strategies of demand, harm and supply. When looking at the monitoring log frame, details on the measurable objectives of the plan could be found.

Chairperson Gungubele commented that the Committee was aware that it was not overseeing legislation, but rather the plan of the Department.

Mr Mchunu acknowledged that point, and indicated that the Committee had assisted with the work that the Department was doing.

He added that there were two government-run rehabilitation facilities in KZN, and the Department would provide details of each to the Committee.

Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu said that the Department would make additions to the NDMP, to ensure that the objectives were made clear.

Referring to what happened to drug-abusers in prisons, she said that each individual was attended to. The Department of Correctional Services’ mini drug master plan was the most accurate of them all, and was clear on how to assist drug-abusers in prisons. The Department would ensure that the mini drug master plans were submitted to the Committee.

On the collection of data, she said that the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluations (DPME) had also highlighted these challenges when evaluating the previous NDMP. The Department was building its capacity at a district level, which was in line with the district development model. Data capturers of social and structural drivers of districts had been added to municipalities.

The NC facility had been officially handed over by the Deputy Minister. It was up and running, and was currently the only government-run treatment centre in the Northern Cape. The children’s section was not yet operational because the province had not built the capacity to deal with children who abused drugs, which was a major problem. These children were sent to other facilities for the time being.

On the toll-free numbers, she said that with the tight budget constraints, the Department would centralise all the numbers to the Command Centre. This Centre would be moving to a bigger space so that a wider range of workers could be housed. Social workers of different specialities would be present to deal with all social problems.

The Chairperson thanked the Department and the CDA for their input.

Briefing: Candidates to fill CDA board vacancies

Ms Siza Magangoe, Chief Director: Families, DSD, and Ms Yolisa Khanye, Committee Content Advisor, briefed the Committee on the filling of vacancies of the CDA board and the candidates.

The current board members were appointed by the Minister in 2013. Their term had lapsed in 2017, but had been extended until the finalisation of a new board. At the national level, the CDA was subdivided into four committees. At the provincial level, there were nine provincial substance abuse forums. At the local level, there were 257 local drug action committees which were tasked with implementing the DSD’s programmes. This number could change, based on the several scenarios.

At a meeting on 27 August 2019, the Department had decided to re-advertise the applications for CDA board members. It had also been agreed at that meeting that the candidates nominated in the first advertisement would be permitted to re-apply. 51 curricula vitae (CVs) were received from the initial phase, and an additional 13 in February 2020, but due to the lockdown, the Committee could not continue with the appointment process.

The ages of the candidates ranged from 30 to 70 years old. 13 were from civil society, and 20 from the Department. Six candidates had served at the CDA previously, and one candidate was previously a ministerial appointment. 44 of the candidates were Africans, nine white, eight coloured and one Indian. 34 of the candidates were male, and 30 were female. Included were candidates with various experience, such as doctors and social workers. 36 candidates were from Gauteng, eight each from KZN and the Western Cape, four each from the NC and North West (NW), two from Mpumalanga and one from the Free State. There was no candidate from the Eastern Cape (EC).

Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu added that the names of the recommended candidates had to be approved by both Houses, prior to the Portfolio and Select Committees’ submission to the Minister. The criteria must take into account the geographic spread and provincial representation. Other criteria also included gender, race, age and disabilities.

Discussion

The Chairperson asked if the Committee could be updated on the status of the nomination process.

Ms Khanye said that the Department had submitted to the Members a summary of the CVs and an appendix of the 64 candidates who had met the requirements.

The Chairperson asked how the Department determined who qualified.

Ms Khanye responded that the Department did this through the criteria outlined in the advert.

Ms Christians said that the Committee should check if there were candidates from each department, and that it should go through each candidate one by one. She thanked the Department for the summary of the candidates -- it had been well done.

Co-Chairperson Gillion agreed with Ms Christians, and said that she was looking forward to working with the Department on the appointment process.

Ms Masango asked if any of the candidates had disabilities. She also wanted to know how long the term of individuals on the drug action committees were, and what was being done with the dysfunctional ones.

Ms Ngwenya asked if the CDA board would still brief the Committee on the challenges that it was facing. She also asked for clarity on the four committees, and whether they were part of the board or were external to the CDA. She asked how old the candidate over 70 years old was.

Ms Khanye clarified that there were four candidates over the age of 70. Since it was not a requirement that one should disclose one’s disability, the candidates had not disclosed this information.

Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu responded that the four committees were sub-committees of the board for operational process. The sub-committees were in line with the NDMP pillars, as well as the Chapters of the Prevention and Treatment Acts. They included governance, communication, research and advocacy. All government officials who had applied should not be considered by the Committee. The public call was for the 13 experts listed. Government officials who had applied would be chosen by the Minister. Usually the Department did not disclose the details of a candidate’s disabilities.

The term of office was between three and five years, and was renewable only once. The Act was not prescriptive on how to handle members of the committee who did not perform their duties, but since they were remunerated for the work they did, they were bound by a code of ethics.

Ms Khanye said the Committee’s legal adviser had indicated it was not a requirement for all provinces to be represented on the board. She asked the Department if it had experienced this situation – that not all provinces had been represented – before.

The Chairperson added that this was not important, as the board members ultimately worked for the country, and the Committee should not tamper with the requirements listed in the advert.

Ms Masango agreed with the Chairperson, and added that perhaps individuals from all the provinces had applied, but were not shortlisted. The Committee should not look at removing another candidate who met the requirements, simply because it was looking for representation.

Mr Mchunu said that ordinarily a director who applied to the Board would not be considered because they were in government. However, he/she may have applied on the basis that they intended to retire. He suggested that the Secretary establish whether this was the case.

The Chairperson said that this issue would be finalised at a later stage. He asked that the secretary-coordinator of the Committee present the action plan.

The Deputy Minister asked that she be excused from the meeting.

Note: The final 15 minutes of the meeting were not recorded due to load-shedding.

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