The Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings met virtually to oversee and scrutinise the implementation of the Executive undertakings made by the Minister of Social Development.
Further, the Committee considered and adopted the Lesawell Petition and outstanding minutes of 4 November 2020.
The Minister of Social Development made opening remarks regarding the six Executive undertakings she made during the Budget Vote session of the NCOP on 22 July 2020. An account of the performance of the Department of Social Development (DSD) and its entities against the commitment and undertakings made to the NCOP during the delivery of the DSD’s budget vote was provided. Six undertakings were considered, in terms of which a progress report was provided.
The presentation by the DSD on the undertakings provided an outline on the following:
- Contextual analysis;
- Strengthening the capabilities of programmes;
- Processing of special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant;
- Processing of disability grants;
- Food voucher system; and
- Targeted procurements towards cooperatives and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
The ensuing discussion by Members included: the DSD’s role in the alleviation of poverty and provision of support; looting of state handouts; distribution of food parcels by councillors or politicians and food parcels not reaching intended beneficiaries;criteria for correcting the format and distribution of food parcels; R350 SRD grant;extension of post office hours; plan going forward when the grant provision comes to an end; incorrectly declined grant applicants as a result of being registered under another Government funding system; contract social workers and the contradictory DSD directive that provinces are to readjust their provincial budget to appoint social workers on a permanent basis;government funded training of social workers; Solidarity Fund assistance provision to social workers; SMME and CSO procurement and continued lifespan post-Covid-19; gender-based violence (GBV) Command Centre; use of technology in social development – positive discoveries and negative challenges; network access in rural areas; disability programme progress and timeframes for completion; and prioritisation of the DSD’s budget in terms provinces or programmes with the DSD.
The DSD confirmed that it would provide the Committee with a breakdown of the disaggregated data on all people who had managed to get the grant per province and further break it down into how many males and females the DSD had provided the grant to in every single province. The DSD would also share information regarding a breakdown of the contract social workers which it had employed per province.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the meeting. The meeting agenda only had four items. The Committee would first be dealing with the overview and Executive undertaking by the DSD. There were only six undertakings by the DSD and she hoped that the Committee had received all of the undertakings that it was supposed to respond to.
Ms Lindiwe Zulu, Minister of Social Development, indicated that she had a Cabinet meeting that morning but felt it was important that she attended the Committee meeting to make a few opening remarks because she knew that it was about the Executive undertakings. Even though she made the undertakings, the DSD and its entities helped her in the implementation of the undertakings. She hoped that the DSD and its entities would be able to answer some of the practical questions that would come out of the presentation.
Minister Zulu requested that she be excused so that she would be able to go back to Cabinet. If it so happened that amongst the questions that would be asked there was also questions that needed her response, if she was unable to come back, she made an undertaking that she would respond in writing to the questions that had not been answered. This was similarly the case if there were other questions that required a response from other government spheres, such as Members of Executive Councils, because a lot of the National Department’s work is implemented at provincial level. She fully believed in the process that was taking place and said that the DSD would do everything that it could to respond to the undertakings. The DSD appreciated the role and importance of the Committee and its Members because it believed that Members represented constituencies. Any questions that Members asked the DSD were asked on the basis that it served their constituencies and the responses would help them report back to their constituencies.
Policy Debate Statement by the Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, MP on the occasion of the tabling of the Budget Vote 19 to the NCOP
Minister Zulu provided an account of the performance of the DSD and its entities, against the commitment and undertakings that she made to the NCOP during the delivery of the DSD’s budget vote on 22 July 2020. The budget vote expressed several specific undertakings, six of which she provided performance accounts on through a progress report.
The undertaking given to the NCOP was that “we are strengthening the capabilities of our programmes relative to the challenges that accompany the Covid-19 pandemic.” South Africa’s immediate and quick response to Covid-19 has placed it in a global stature. Since then, the DSD’s 2020/2021 Annual Performance Plan (APP) has been reviewed and aligned with Government’s priority response to Covid-19. The collaboration and coordination with other Government Departments and entities has been strengthened e.g. The disbursement of the Special Covid-19 SRD grant. There has been an improved partnership with CSOs and the private sector, towards cushioning South Africans against hunger and GBV. The DSD is not only committed to the 16 Days of Activism but also to 365 days of fighting against GBV and Femicide. The DSD has started the process of digitising some aspects of service delivery channels with the view of utilising the data generated by the digital infrastructure towards improving the design, delivery and experience of social development services. Of the 9 million SRD grant applicants, everybody used technology to apply – including people in the deepest rural areas. Thus, service delivery can be improved by ensuring that technology is used.
In her second commitment she reported that “To date, we have received over 7.8million applications for the Special Covid-19 SRD Grant. Of this number, we have approved over four million applications unto whom just over R1.7 billion will be disbursed.” Since then, 9.3 million applications towards the SRD grant have been received. At the end of October 2020, nearly 6 million applicants had been paid which represents the disbursement of R11.5 billion. The President has since announced the Government’s extension of the grant by three months.
Thirdly, the Minister had undertaken that “The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has commenced with the payment of applications received in May to those who still qualify for both June and July. The payments are effected as a single payment of R700 to cover the two months. Payments will be effected as far as possible in batches of 500 000 qualifying applicants per day. This will be done to avoid system overload.” The need to pay the Covid-19 SRD constructively challenged SASSA to explore the inherent technological possibilities and deploy technological platforms. As a result, the widest population amongst the unemployed, poorest and otherwise hard to access South Africans were reached. The SRD grant nudged SASSA towards the future prospects of deploying grant services and products through growing technological possibilities. SASSA has managed to increase the number of applicants who received the SRD grants. This was on the backdrop of no prior usage of technological platforms in the SASSA environment.
The fourth undertaking was “I have been inundated with concerns from members of the public and organisations representing persons with disabilities, including some Honourable Members of this house, regarding the intake for disability grants. SASSA is currently exploring ways in which we can safely and progressively reintroduce these services and we will make an announcement in due course.” In view of some of the challenges that concerned disability grants, the DSD and SASSA were invoking targeted administrative processes by which child support grant beneficiaries with disabilities will be transitioned to disability grants when reaching the age of 18.
Fifth, she had said that “Our long term plan, starting in the current financial year is to introduce the food voucher system and expand it to well-established retailers for communities to buy directly from their local food suppliers who are small, medium and micro enterprises, community-owned or co-operatives.” In the immediate, the DSD has shifted its food and nutrition provision mechanism from its existing network to Community Nutrition and Development Centres (CNDCs). Largely, these approaches were adopted in compliance with the Covid-19 protocols.
Lastly, the Committee had asked for a progress report relating to the undertaking in which Minister Zulu had said that “From its original budget allocation of R7 million, the National Development Agency (NDA) targets to benefit co-operatives and CSOs, especially those involved in the production of Covid-19 related Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).” During a period where township and rural operating small businesses and co-operatives were closing their doors owing to adverse economic conditions during the lockdown, the NDA spent R5.7 million on procuring Covid-19 related PPE from negatively affected entities – especially vulnerable groups. This was an ongoing struggle that the DSD would contribute to in terms of empowering co-operatives and small businesses to circulate money amongst black-owned businesses and in rural areas. If this change is not made, many people will remain without money despite having the capacity and capabilities.
Minister Zulu confirmed that she had already signed her performance agreement with the President, which contained part of everything presented.
The Chairperson appreciated that the Minister came to address the Committee especially because it is known that Wednesdays are Cabinet days. However, she pointed out that usually when the Minister is not going to be in the meeting, the Deputy Minister should at least be delegated to answer questions. She asked that Minister Zulu allow Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, Deputy Minister of Social Development, to join the Committee in her absence.
Minister Zulu indicated that she had no problem with this as herself and Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu had worked together on the issues that had been indicated. Thus, Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu would be able to respond where needed.
Department of Social Development Presentation to the Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings
Mr Linton Mchunu, Acting Director-General, DSD, presented the DSD’s undertakings by providing the following:
- Contextual analysis;
- Strengthening the capabilities of programmes; and
- Food voucher system
Ms Busisiwe Memela-Khambula, CEO, SASSA, presented on those parts of the presentation relating to the processing of special Covid-19 SRD grants and the processing of disability grants. Ms Thamo Mzobe, CEO, NDA, concluded with the targeted procurements towards co-operatives and CSOs.
Minister Zulu made undertakings during the NCOP Budget Vote Debate Speech on 22 July 2020. Some of these undertakings were meant to assist society, especially the poor and vulnerable, as they are the most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The DSD continues to play a fundamental role during the pandemic through the provision of a massive package of social protection interventions, including the special Covid-19 R350 grant for the unemployed together with the Top-Ups, Food and Nutrition support, Psychosocial Support Services as well as Care Services to the most vulnerable.
Strengthening the capabilities of its programmes
The DSD Portfolio reviewed the 2020/2021 APP in line with budget cuts and the impact of Covid-19 to continue to respond to the demands of needed services.Partnerships have been formed with the Private Sector and Civil Society to strengthen the DSD’s capacity to deliver services during Covid-19 through its partnership with the Solidarity Fund to increase intervention on food security and renovating the GBV Command Centre. Through SASSA, services have been automated. The DSD partnered with private sector institutions to provide support to families in distress and at its facilities. Next steps include the reviewing of donor coordination mechanisms and a partnership model to leverage on social partners skills and financial muscle. Partnerships with donors will continue and will be implemented in a mutually beneficial way. Other means will be through social welfare, development reforms and greater efficiency of funding for Non-Profit Organisations (NPO); improving food and nutrition security; poverty alleviation and community development. The DSD will be looking at employing data analysts, ICT specialists, and economists to assist with modelling and business process re-engineering to enhance efficiencies and address challenges. Other interventions to strengthen human resource capacity include the appointment of 1809 contract social workers to strengthen Covid-19 response measures. Provinces are being encouraged to employ social workers. The process of strengthening capacities is ongoing with the recruitment process already underway.
With regards to the processing of the Special Covid-19 SRD grant, SASSA had to build a system from scratch to deliver this service. Over and above the 11.3 million normal client base, there is now a database of an additional 9.3 million new clients.
9.3 million valid applications were received between May and October totalling 17 million applications when including other applications. 6 million applications were approved and 3 million applications declined. The majority of declined applications are of applicants found in the South African Revenue Services (SARS), Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), and National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) databases, including those identified in the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) report i.e. beneficiaries from other Covid-19 Government support grants. The next step is that with the three month extension period SASSA will continue to process new applications and make payments for successful applicants including addressing the appeals processes. All applications are treated as new applications every month and some may fall off due to changing conditions or roll over. SASSA has continued with payments for successful applicants. Withdrawals at Post-Offices are staggered to reduce congestion. Recipients have options as to where to withdraw their grants. 68 000 applicants remain unpaid which is constituted mainly of applicants who failed the bank account and mobile number verification process or did not furnish SASSA with banking information. SASSA has embarked on locating these applicants to deliver its mandate.
When it came to the processing of disability grants, directions were amended to allow for the continued payment of temporary disability grants up until the of end December. SASSA continues to implement disability services for new applicants but a backlog persists. To assist with dealing with the backlog, recruitment of additional doctors as well as the identification of additional assessment sites continues. The next step by the Department is to implement a plan to address the numbers that will expire at the end of December.
Food voucher system
Since the start of lockdown, the DSD shifted its food provision from using the existing network of CNDCs to food parcel distribution as a short-term relief measure and through the knock and drop methodology. To deal with challenges experienced in the food parcel distribution, the DSD will be piloting a hybrid model of a combination of food parcels and food vouchers. The next step going forward is that the DSD has received an additional allocation for food security and nutrition which will be implemented by the Provinces. The DSD has embarked on a food voucher system with the Solidarity fund in the short-term. The fully fledged voucher system is envisaged to be operational within the 2021/2022 financial year.
Targeted procurement towards co-operatives and CSOs
The NDA economically uplifted co-operatives, CSOs and people from designated groups at a time when many businesses struggled to get business because of the lockdown. R5.7 million was spent on Covid-19 related PPE, which mostly benefitted designated groups of women, youth and persons with disabilities in townships and rural areas. As its next step the NDA will ensure that the remaining R1.2 million is spent on these designated groups to procure additional PPE before the end of the 2020/2021 financial year. The DSD will continue to procure from SMMEs and co-operatives, and provide them with market access opportunities, which is in line with the President’s directive.
Mr C Dodovu (ANC, North West) thanked the Ministry and her team for the update. He reinforced the fact that the Committee always appreciates it when Departments respond in the manner that the DSD had done, by respecting the Committee and ensuring that, whatever it did as a Department, it implemented its commitments – which was commendable. The DSD is very important in the lives of people and is the face of Government efforts to alleviate poverty. When talking about the alleviation of poverty, the DSD plays a pivotal and central role in realising the objective because it deals with the poorest of the poor in terms of supporting them – whether with social grants, food parcels etc.
He said that he would not accept the fact that, when the DSD was doing this wonderful work, there were people with some ulterior motives and nefarious agendas in terms of looting State handouts. It would be appreciated if the DSD could, at all material times, open its eyes in terms of looking for those who took advantage of the situation. During Covid-19, there had been a major outcry on the issue of food parcels and how they were distributed. Why was this work being given to councillors or politicians who, in communities, took a responsibility to distribute the food parcels? Mr Dodovu said that where he came from in the North West, he had heard a lot of allegations about the distribution of food parcels and that they did not often reach the intended beneficiaries. However, friends and families of the distributors were the beneficiaries of the food parcels. For him this was criminal at a time when a massive intervention was needed, which had been occasioned by Covid-19 and these allegations were being made. Why are other mechanisms not being devised to ensure that food parcels are distributed to the real people who needed them? He was not saying that councillors or municipalities should be excluded altogether. However, his view was that the system needed to be tightened in which it was ensured that the food parcels went to the rightful owners.
Regarding the social grant, especially the R350 given to the unemployed and poor, he thought that this was a good intervention on the part of Government and appreciated it. Every day, when people received these grants, he had seen thousands of people forming queues and spending the whole day waiting – especially at the Post Offices. Himself and a lot of people would not spend the whole day waiting for R350 but this signified how desperate poor people are. What he did not understand was why the Post Office had not set extended hours because sometimes the it closed even while queues were still forming. People would then have to go back home having made their way to town using their last money while others walked long distances to reach the Post Offices. Why were there no extended hours to ensure that the ground was covered as much as possible in this regard? He was proud of the DSD as it had not been enmeshed in big controversies around Covid-19. This was good and was what Government needed to do to ensure that, at all material times, it performed its services in a way that inspired confidence and benefitted the people of South Africa.
Mr I Sileku (DA, Western Cape) referred to the issue of social workers who were currently working on contract and the directive that the DSD had sent to provinces asking them to readjust their provincial budget to make sure that they appoint these social workers on a permanent basis. What impact did this have on what had been said by the Minister of Finance, in terms of cutting the state budget in relation to state employees? Provinces were being told to appoint people on a permanent basis, and then the Minister of Finance announced that cuts needed to be made because the state was employing many people. This needed to be clarified because there were two contradicting statements – on the one side provinces were being told to employ more people and on the other side national government was saying that the budget should be minimised because too many people were being appointed. He always welcomed the support of SMMEs and doing business with them so that they can appoint more people. Have the SMMEs that are being procured for PPE been in existence, or were they just established because of Covid-19 opportunities? If so, what plans has the DSD looked at to make sure that the SMMEs or designated groups that the PPE was being procured from did not die after Covid-19, but became fully established and continued with their lifespan? It was all good and well to talk about SMMEs only to find that, within a period of two to five years, out of the ten SMMEs that were procured from there is only one left.
Mr S Zandamela (EFF, Mpumalanga) was concerned about what was happening with the issue of food parcels during Covid-19. He understood that Councillors were used in municipalities. What other mechanisms were there in terms of what went wrong and what happened with regard to the way that they were distributed or format that they were using? What criteria was there to correct what had happened during Covid-19?
Ms S Shaikh (ANC, Limpopo) thought that the information that was presented was very important and appreciated the presentation. With regards to the 1 809 contract social workers, there had been social workers who were trained through funding provided by the DSD. Are the social workers who had been trained using government funding part of the contract social workers? In terms of the provinces that were being encouraged to appoint social workers, could the DSD provide the Committee with more information and break it down in terms of the provinces – given that this was the NCOP. This was so that when Members did their oversight work in provinces, they could also relate to some of these matters. With regard to the special Covid-19 SRD grant, Ms Shaikh confirmed that as Members did their oversight work they would see queues of people waiting outside the Post Office to receive these grants. Given the Covid-19 situation and the impact it has had, not only on the South African economy but the global economy, the effects would remain for quite some time. However, research has also shown that the grants assisted in ensuring that people did not fall into the poverty trap. In terms of the R350 special grant, what was the plan of the DSD going forward?
Ms B Bartlett (ANC, Northern Cape) appreciated the fact that the DSD and Ms Zulu gave the Committee a brief and informative presentation. She saw that there were still three billion people who had been declined and understood that the DSD was saying that this was because of, amongst other reasons, the UIF. How would the DSD solve this and when would it be done? She saw that it had said 2020-2021. In terms of social workers, she thought that it was really necessary for the DSD to help them– especially those who were handling the food parcels because they were at risk. Ms Bartlett said that she was aware that the DSD had said that there was no money but with the Solidarity Fund would the DSD be able to help them during 2021?
The Chairperson noted that the DSD said that it had a programme to deal with GBV. Could the DSD break this down and tell the Committee exactly what it was doing? This was so that, as people who were doing oversight, Members would be able to see where work was being done in their Provinces. Regarding the use of technology, she had heard Minister Zulu saying that it had helped a lot and that it was discovered that a lot of people were able to use it – even those who were in rural areas. Apart from the breakthrough that was identified, what challenges were picked up in this system of technology? It was known for a fact that there were people who were staying in deep rural areas where it is difficult to access network. How were these areas being dealt with? A good example was the area of Alfred Nzo. The Committee had tried to communicate with Alfred Nzo when doing the programme of reviewing the women’s’ shelter but was unable to get hold of the Mayor of the area because of network issues. How were they then surviving in terms of this service that they should get through technology? On the issue of disability, she had heard Minister Zulu saying that something was being done about this. However, she was not quite clear on what exactly was being done and what the time frame was for finishing the exercise that the DSD was embarking on to deal with the challenges faced by people living with disabilities. How is the DSD prioritising its programme to fulfil its obligation in terms of the Covid-19 relief grant, considering that it had recently received R14.6 billion? Out of this amount, how did the DSD prioritise in terms of Provinces or certain programmes within the DSD? How many applications for the SRD grant were rejected? This number was needed as Members were facing problems where they were deployed. People were getting rejected on the basis that they had claimed UIF yet such person never worked and never had any kind of UIF. What was being done with these applicants? If the DSD ended up correcting the situation, are these people going to get the money from the start of the grant? What is the DSD doing to combat GBV?
Lastly the Chairperson asked if Ms Bogopane-Zulu had joined the meeting.
Mr Mchunu responded by saying that it did not seem like Ms Bogopane-Zulu had joined the meeting as he did not see her, but would ask the Ministry to assist. He asked the Chairperson for permission to allow the DSD to respond in the meantime.
The Chairperson confirmed that the DSD could respond but asked that Ms Bogopane-Zulu be located as the Committee did not like the officials to account.
Mr Khumbula Ndaba, Deputy Director-General: Corporate Services, DSD responded to the question about the 1 809 social workers. It was true that of the 1 809 social workers it included those who were funded by the state. However, it also included those who funded themselves and was thus a combination of the two. He said that he did not have an answer to the question about the Minister of Finance’s contradiction. Provinces were asked to continue with the employment of social workers. What had been observed was that there was allocation in the provinces which was currently not spent. In this regard, the DSD insisted that these provinces make sure that they spend their allocation and that they should employ more social workers. National Treasury had been very strict in the sense that it had raised the issue of fiscal constraints, which limited the DSD’s capacity and ability to employ more social workers. However, the DSD continued to engage with National Treasury and it was a continuous process. Notwithstanding this, quite a number of social workers had been employed in spite of the challenge.
Ms Brenda Sibeko, Deputy Director-General: Comprehensive Social Security, DSD responded to the question relating to what would happen post the SRD grant that was ending at the end of January in the following year. Although there had been a lot of negative impacts, the value of the Covid-19 pandemic and one of the good things that had come out of it was to enable the DSD to be able to gather information and access the details of people who had been excluded from the social grants framework in the 19-59 age group. For many years the DSD had tried to find ways of linking grant beneficiary households to economic opportunities. Part of the biggest challenge was not knowing where to find these people and who they were. The value of the SASSA database was that it had this category of personnel. The DSD, together with SASSA, had now started to extract this information and break it down into district information so that they would now be able to work more carefully with specific people to assist them in being able to access other economic opportunities. Many of these opportunities would arise now as a result of what the President had announced in terms of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan. The DSD and other Departments would be working to provide the database and assist those people to be able to get into these economic opportunities.
It is recognised that this would not be able to cover everybody but it was thought that it would make quite a big difference by linking a lot of people to economic opportunities. This was based on the understanding that it was not possible to continue the grants, simply because of the fiscal state that Government was in. It was a very important intervention that the DSD would be able to do. The DSD could also ensure greater success now because it knew who the people were and were able to use the SASSA database to break them down and link them directly with opportunities in their own locations. With regard to how the R41 billion was prioritised, it was prioritised by being given to different types of groups. Firstly, the DSD increased the existing grant beneficiaries amount by R250, as each person was given an additional R250 per month for six months from May until the end of October. Secondly, the DSD introduced a specific R500 per month allocation for all caregivers of child support grant beneficiaries, which was an innovative introduction on its part. This was in recognition of the fact that a lot of children were not accessing food that was being provided at school during this time. It was thus important to augment the incomes of those households with children by giving the R500 directly to caregivers. In addition to this, the DSD introduced the SRD grant which went to all people who were outside of the grants framework, between the ages of 18-59, and who were unemployed.
Ms Mzobe said that the NDA kept the database of the CSO that is inclusive of CSOs, NPOs, Non-Government Organisations, and some of the SMMEs. The NDA had been working with these organisations for quite some time, out of the model that it administered on capacity building and would then grant funding for starters emerging. As the organisations developed and graduated to do the work, the NDA then linked them to economic opportunities. In the main, the NDA had been linking them to SASSA SRD, which included school uniform production and sewing and those in food production were being linked to production for food parcels in terms of SASSA and DSD. Previously it had been pronounced that government departments must apportion 30% of their budget to these emerging opportunities for CSOs and SMMEs. During the Covid-19 pandemic there was a lull and they were adversely affected by the non-production of school uniform or food. In the main, the NDA prioritised CSOs and SMMEs to benefit from the opportunities. This was not new and post the pandemic there would always be linkages in opportunities – even in the private sector – as the NDA would continue to link them. The database on the SMMEs was interfaced with that of the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD). This was so that, as the CSOs and SMMEs graduated from being emerging co-operatives to becoming independent developed SMMEs, the NDA could link them to the economic department so that they could get the opportunities. However, the NDA tracked them so that when they fell short of skills in terms of the next level of their development, it would be able to take them back to their model of development. In the example of the cloth mask production where such opportunity was given, it was discovered that some organisations had lost touch with the quality and the NDA had taken them back to its capacity-building programmes.
Ms Mamela-Khambula responded to the issue of the three billion clients who were declined because they were sitting in other databases. Unfortunately, they had been declined on the basis that they were actually already receiving other grants. SASSA continued to get new databases from other institutions, including NSFAS and UIF, and on a monthly basis SASSA validated the clients on the new database that it had. In instances where it was found that there was a change, SASSA made sure that these clients actually qualified. A number of clients had already appealed on the basis of the fact that, even though they were on the database, they were actually unemployed. SASSA was currently dealing with all of the appeals as had been indicated. This amounted to 60 000 appeals, many of whom were now cleaned up for SASSA to put on the automated system. Once a client appealed and it was found that they qualified, if they had applied in May then SASSA paid them from the month that they had applied if the situation changed in relation to the client. On the issue of the disability grant, SASSA had a huge influx because of the number of people who now needed the support. SASSA had dealt with many of the clients who existed by extending the disability grant until the end of December, which was when there would be a huge influx. The teams, both in the regions and together with the head office, were working on a key plan so that SASSA could make sure that it staggered clients so that they did not all come for assessments at the same time. SASSA was also getting more doctors to provide support because the health system could not currently help it in this regard. SASSA was doing all that it could to make sure that it could provide support to these customers. It was known that this was a challenge because the backlog was huge but the teams were out there making sure that it did the best that it could to support these clients. It was continuous work but SASSA was going to do all that it could to provide support.
Mr Mchunu responded to the issue around food parcel distribution. He confirmed that neither the DSD nor SASSA, as a matter of principle, provided any food parcels to councillors or groups. There was a well equipped running machinery through which food parcels were provided to those who were in need of food. Through 256 CNDCs throughout the country, the DSD kept databases. These were centres that were run with the provinces. He assured the Committee that the DSD did not give food parcels to anybody. It was important to highlight that during lockdown there were many players providing food to a number of people. In fact, what was happening in the country was that the DSD was indirectly and unknowingly building a social compact where everybody was coming on board to provide food to those who were vulnerable. This was a significant thing. There were those negative people and elements of coordination that were problematic and all this time people thought that it was the DSD who was responsible. He confirmed that the DSD had dealt with whatever cases had come their way through the provinces and that it did not, as a matter of principle, brand its food in any political party-related branding nor did it give councillors food parcels. The DSD encouraged recipients to apply for the food as individuals and did not give it to groups. In terms of coordination, the DSD had experienced some challenges where, in some cases, people were provided with food that had expired etc. As previously indicated, a number of people were providing food parcels and the DSD had tried to assist by providing an element of coordination. However, in some cases the DSD was unable to do so but did as much as it could in this regard. He assured the Committee that the DSD could account for all donations that it had received from the various players who had assisted it in terms of food distribution – being the private sector in the main. The DSD could also account for all food that it had distributed as the DSD and SASSA because their systems were very sound in this regard.
Regarding the issue of GBV and the specific programmes that the DSD was working on, there was a GBV Command Centre that it was very proud of. This centre had been moved from a smaller centre to a much bigger centre and was a command centre in its true sense. It provided real time information in terms of what was happening in various districts, one could tell where a number of people were calling from, and it has high-end technology and geolocation systems. Therefore, if one is a victim of GBV, the DSD encourages them to call in using the toll free numbers, WhatsApp, SMSs and other measures. It is thus a very high-tech centre that would be launching in the next few days during the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children. The DSD invited Members to visit the centre if they had the chance and it promised Members that they would be really impressed with the kind of technology that was introduced into the centre. Vodacom, the Solidarity Fund and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) were to be thanked for working with the DSD in ensuring that there was this centre. Beyond this it would be noted that the President indicated that GBV and Femicide were actually the second pandemic after Covid-19. As a response to this, the President also indicated that he would like to have Khuseleka Centres in all nine provinces. Currently the only operational Khuseleka Centres are in three provinces. A Khuseleka Centre is a centre where all services of Government are centralised in one centre. This means that if a victim needs to get assistance they do not need to go to a police station, then court, and then other places. Instead, the victim can get all of the support in one centre. The DSD is in the process of working with partners to build an additional six centres in the other provinces that currently do not have such a centre. Beyond the Khuseleka Centres there are also shelters. The DSD funded over 117 shelters across the country and would like to fund more. If the DSD had more money it would be able to extend its support to these shelters. However, through the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on GBV and Femicide the DSD is responsible for Pillar Four of the NSP, which speaks to prevention, care, healing, trauma counselling, sheltering, and reintegration services. Mr Mchunu said that the DSD was thus doing this work and there was a lot more that he could speak about which could be shared with the Committee. Minister Zulu had recently launched a programme and there were a number of other programmes that the DSD was working on with the provinces and other role players and stakeholders, particularly in civil society, to try and extend the message of GBV.
In terms of the SMMEs, the biggest challenge faced by the DSD was that it supported so many start-ups, SMMEs and co-operatives. The last time that he had checked there was a failure rate of between 80-85% amongst SMMEs in the country. If there was a failure rate of between 80-85%, it meant that in one year all of the SMMEs and co-operatives would eventually die. Over and above the funding and other related matters, the key to this is to provide market access opportunities. As Government, Mr Mchunu said that it should lead the call in this regard. The DSD would try and work with the DSBD and encouraged all three spheres of Government to ensure that it got the databases of these SMMEs that were supported by Government in their start-up phases. This was so that it would be able to provide market opportunities for the SMMEs so that they did not die. The DSD Portfolio supported co-operatives and SMMEs in local municipalities. In fact, through the CNDCs, the food and vegetables that came into some of the centres actually came from co-operatives in those particular centres.
The Chairperson asked Mr Mchunu if it was possible to get a breakdown of the disaggregated data on all of those people who had managed to get the grant per province. This was so that when Members went back to their provinces during recess, they would be able to say that they had the list of people approved by the DSD. This data did not have to be provided immediately but it was information that the Committee would have liked to have.
Mr Mchunu confirmed that such data could be shared with the Committee. In fact, the DSD would go even further and break it down into how many males and females the DSD had provided the grant to in every single province. In terms of the question regarding the breakdown of the 1 809 contract social workers, the DSD would also be able to share information in terms of which provinces it had employed social workers in.
The Chairperson said that all of the questions had been taken care of. She pointed out that Ms Bogopane-Zulu had not showed up at all. She thanked the DSD for joining the Committee, as well as Minister Zulu despite the busy schedule of the Cabinet sitting. Minister Zulu’s presence was appreciated because the Committee needed to make sure that the Ministers accounted for its undertakings. Parliamentarians needed to be able to follow the responses to their respective provinces and do oversight.
The Chairperson then excused the DSD, to proceed with the next matter on the agenda.
Consideration and adoption of the Lesawell Petition
Draft Lesawell Petition Report
The Chairperson continued onto the consideration and adoption of the Lesawell Petition. She asked if Members had any corrections or comments to make to the report. If not, she asked for the adoption thereof.
Ms Bartlett moved for the adoption of the report.
Mr G Michalakis (DA, Free State) seconded the adoption of the report and commended the support staff for their contribution.
Mr E Mthethwa (ANC, KwaZulu-Natal) also seconded the adoption of the report.
Consideration and adoption of minutes
Minutes dated 4 November 2020
The Chairperson continued onto the consideration and adoption of outstanding minutes. She asked for any corrections or for the adoption of the minutes.
Ms Shaikh moved for the adoption of the minutes.
Mr Dodovu seconded the adoption of the minutes.
Mr Mthethwa seconded the adoption of the minutes.
Ms N Nkosi (ANC, Mpumalanga) pointed out that a correction needed to be made before the minutes were to be adopted. She realised that it even though she was present in that meeting there was an apology next to her name.
The Chairperson asked the Committee Secretary, to look into that and correct it.
The meeting was adjourned.
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