In a virtual meeting, the Committee met to deliberate and adopt Vote 7: Social Development in the schedule to the Western Cape Third Adjustments Appropriation Bill (2020/21 financial year).
The Committee wanted to know what partnerships the Department had in place with private-public sectors, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), non-profit organisations (NPOs), the City of Cape Town, and relevant organisations in tackling major focus areas as highlighted in the Budget. These areas include topics related to shelters for homeless people; gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and violence against women; child and youth care support; food security, and food relief.
Members raised concerns on the regulation of centres for homeless people; law enforcement for the homeless on the streets; programmes for the homeless in rural areas; sources and quality of food served at shelters; budget for temporary shelters; and the dissemination of psycho-social support services in the wake of COVID-19.
The Committee was particularly interested in how the Department is adapting to the new normal, considering most services have to be performed physically. In the same light, the Department was asked to shed light on capacity building of social workers; dissemination of diversion programmes for youth and children at risk under the prevention of substance abuse; as well as HIV/AIDS prevention programmes.
The Committee adopted Budget Vote 7. The ANC declined to support the report.
The Chairperson said it was almost unbelievable the Budget has been adjusted three times in the current financial year. However, this was a sign of progress and resilience on the part of the Department, Parliament, and government at large. He welcomed all Members of the Committee; the Western Cape Provincial Minister of Social Development; officials from the Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD); and all guests present. Special appreciation was given to all social workers in the province for the contribution towards providing social welfare services to the most vulnerable. He said16 March marked World Social Work Day, and it is important for social workers to be recognised and appreciated for all the work social workers do, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The pandemic resulted in making social workers jobs harder, as social work is not a job which allows for social-distancing.
The first part of the meeting would focus on the deliberations for Vote 7: Social Development, in the Schedule to the Western Cape Third Adjustments Appropriation Bill (Bill 3 of 2020/21 financial year). After Members questions were answered by the Department, members of the public would be given an opportunity to ask any questions.
The Provincial Minister was given an opportunity to give a brief opening remark.
Provincial Minister’s Opening Remarks
Ms Sharna Fernandez, Western Cape Provincial Minister of Social Development, said a year ago, one could not have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic and the effect it has had on the nation. The past year has been an incredible and an extremely tasking one for DSD specifically. DSD’s social workers are frontline workers and were the first responders in the face of a brutal onslaught of a first and second wave of COVID-19.
Regarding the budget for the 2021/22 financial year, the Department received a budget of R2.663 billion, which is R29.237 million less than the current financial year’s revised estimates. The year in comparison reflects a decrease in the budget of the 2021/22 financial year. The expenditure received in the current financial year, specifically the Early Childhood Development’s (ECD) stimulus grant of R53 million, and food relief of R51 million received from the National Department, were once-off allocations and are not provided for in the new budget. The declaration of a state of national disaster and the phased lockdown response to the COVID-19 pandemic has precipitated shocks to an already ailing economy. It heightened the impact of many ills affecting Western Cape communities. The Department is not immune to these economic shocks. Austerity measures in the form of budget cuts intensified and necessitated the DSD reprioritising its budget to provide support to non government organisations (NGOs) facing downsizing and job losses. It also had to provide humanitarian relief to poorer communities, dealing with deteriorating safety levels fuelled by increasing gender-based violence (GBV). Using this as a backdrop and taking its lead from the Western Cape recovery plan, which focuses on four key anchors, the Department’s focus is specifically on wellbeing, and safety.
The Chairperson interrupted the Provincial Minister to ask if her remarks were still focused on the Third Adjustment Appropriation.
She said she was giving a broad overview of the Budget, and the Third Adjustments on the budget were quite minimal.
The Chairperson asked the Head of Department (HOD) of DSD to give opening remarks on the Third Adjustments.
Dr Robert Macdonald, HOD: Western Cape DSD, said the Adjustment in the Budget is an adjustment of only one amount, which is R3.205 million. It was given by the national Department and approved by Treasury, to assist the Provincial Department in the new financial year with the cost of early retirement and the penalties associated with this. This singular adjustment is set out in the Vote 7 section, and is a fairly simple adjustment which relates to compensation of employees’ funding.
Mr R Mackenzie (DA) asked for clarity on why the Department was surrendering the funds, especially since the Department said the funds were being transferred because of COVID-19.
The Chairperson said the funds were money being given back to the Provincial Treasury. It was to be added to the next Budget, and to be used for early retirement compensation for employees.
Dr Macdonald said during the financial year with the lockdown period, there was quite an extended period during which vacant posts could not be filled because all the processes required, both provincially and nationally, were offline. This led to a bit of a backlog with filling vacant posts, and ultimately resulted in some savings in the compensation budget.
One of the strategies put in place in the province to reduce the compensation bill, is to institute an offer on the part of the employer. The offer is made to employees who are interested in taking an early retirement or who are close to retirement, with the proviso the Department would pay the penalties for those early retirements. The idea is basically for the Department to pay the penalties, to allow for the number of people taking early retirements to do so. The early retirements were initiated during the current financial year, but the actual payment would only be made in the new financial year. The request is for money to be rolled over, to be paid when the retirements go through.
Mr Mackenzie recommended more detail, as was given by Mr Macdonald, should be included in the Budget books, for future reference.
Vote 7: Social Development in the Schedule to the Western Cape Third Adjustments Appropriation Bill
Minister’s opening remarks
Minister Fernandez pointed out the budget process was a difficult exercise for the Provincial Treasury and for all departments. The DSD is a seemingly a small department which renders equally valuable work. However, the budget allocation was a challenge, as the Department was competing for resources and it needed to ensure the allocation was spread sufficiently, so every department could fulfil its statutory mandate. With a stressed fiscal environment which existed before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department is experiencing a huge shock with funding. There is donor fatigue in the social development sector. Nevertheless, the Department’s focus for the 2021/22 financial year is on maintaining the delivery of statutory and court ordered interventions, which is the core work of the Department. The DSD will continue the institutionalisation of the integrated Isibindi programme, as well as its humanitarian relief support to communities which fit squarely in the wellbeing leg of the relief plan. This talks to the dignity and wellbeing of citizens of the Western Cape Province.
As for support to the homeless, the Department has seen an exponential increase in the number of homeless people. This is the case not only within the metro, but across the province, country, and even globally. This phenomenon has attracted a lot of attention. The Department is therefore looking into funding additional bed space, as well as concentrating on the very important work of reintegrating the homeless with families, as far as it possibly can.
DSD remains focused on combating GBV. As the lead Minister for GBV, DSD has established a transversal GBV work group, and work has begun. The Department is busy finalising a provincial action plan, and has received six properties from National Public Works. The media release to this effect was on 4 March 2020, and it has taken virtually a year to get the properties up and running, with all background work which needed to be done. However, one of the shelters would be opened before the end of March, while the other five will follow as quickly as the Department can get it compliant with health, safety, and security measures.
DSD will continue to focus on the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) to its NGOs, ECDs, and staff. It would also improve in leveraging and coordinating across service delivery areas, and transversely across spheres of government.
Despite the fact the budget is fiscally constrained, the Department will continue to focus on filling its priority service delivery posts, which increased as a result of resignations, deaths, and new jobs coming online.
Dr Macdonald agreed with the Minister regarding budget and strategic context. There is a focus on putting additional resources into the area of the COVID recovery plan, which has been the main focus for additional allocations. The Department has received an additional R25 million from the Provincial Treasury for food relief. It is supporting food relief because of the increase in hunger and joblessness associated with the COVID crisis. It is doing this alongside the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), civil society, and some of the municipalities. Treasury is also giving DSD an additional R10 million for some other priority areas, including the homeless shelters; and provision of additional bed spaces given the large increase in the number of homeless adults on the streets. Some additional amounts have also been received for GBV and child protection services, particularly to align the safety priority areas of the Department, with plans in place to bring in additional capacity in this area.
The above are the main areas where some additional allocations have been made. In the main, DSD’s budget has not increased significantly from the previous financial year, as already highlighted by the Provincial Minister. If one considers the allocations made to the Budget by the national sphere and Provincial Treasury were once-off allocations, it would become evident there is actually some reduction in the budget.
The biggest concern, as noted by the Provincial Minister, is the budget is flat-lining at this stage in time. The amount of money the Department can provide to the NGO sector to support NGO-rendered services is not increasing as much, or at all in most cases. Usually, DSD tries to give at least an inflation-related increase to the funding it provides to the NGO sector. This is so its services can keep pace with the increase in cost pressures. However, given the Budget has remained the same for some time, the Department is no longer in a position to do so.
This is a concern because DSD realises this will have an impact on the sustainability of the NGOs. At this time, NGOs are also battling less income from donors. The private sector is also feeling the pressure of the COVID-induced recession. This area of concern would not only affect the 2021/22 financial year, but will affect the 2022/23 financial year, and the outer year. Treasury has predicted it is only after the outer year, when revenue will begin to improve nationally, and the Department will be able to fully recover to a position of upward adjustment of budgets.
DSD is awaiting the outcome of the court matter relating to the public sector wage agreements which may also impact it. At this stage, the Budget has been tabled without any increase for the public sector wages, compensation of employees (COE) which would normally have been included if the wage agreement previously reached between the Minister of Public Service Administration (PSA) and the unions was still being applied.
Mr Mackenzie asked for details on the shelter to be opened by the Minister this month, and the other five centres to be launched from April onwards.
With regard to the homeless, he wanted to know if the Department had a partnership with the City of Cape Town to deal with some of the issues homeless people face.
He said there were no current private-public partnerships with the Department in the report, and asked if there were any such partnerships, as well as details of such partnerships if it exists. He wanted to know so the Committee can be aware of what role the Department is playing in the Province itself, and what the City of Cape Town was doing with a majority of 36.8% of the people living in the Province. He asked if the Department is working together with the City of Cape Town.
He also wanted to know if the Department is working with the City of Cape Town on services the Province provides in the GBV centres. He asked if there is a partnership to leverage some of the work DSD was doing to prevent duplication.
Mr G Brinkhuis (Al Jama-ah) wanted to know what the daily overnight charges at the shelters which would be opening soon, would be.
On the questions relating to GBV, Minister Fernandez listed the six properties allocated outside of the Metro. These include the West Coast, and one in Heidelberg. In the interest of the women’s safety, DSD cannot give an exact location, except to announce the number of properties it has received. The one which will be opening on the 26 March will be in the Central Karoo, where there is no safe-house. This is one of the many needed safe-houses which the Provincial Minister said she has been clamouring for since 2014. The Department has a service provider, and works closely with the National Women Shelter movement (NWSM) in the Western Cape to ensure standards are maintained across all shelters. At the moment, NWSM is collaborating with DSD on the on-boarding of the six new shelters to be added to the existing 19 shelters.
As for the Department’s relationship with the City on cases of homeless adults, the Provincial Minister is hosting a bilateral meeting on a monthly basis with all officials present, to talk about the burning issues of homelessness, and to create a required collaboration. DSD also maintains very close contacts with the Districts, especially because homelessness is one of the themes in the dignity and wellness work stream led by the Minister within the recovery plan. Dr Macdonald and three other Ministers are also involved in the work stream. The Department is trying to tackle homelessness with a holistic approach, while taking into consideration the fact that homelessness is not limited to the Metro. It also affects the rural district municipalities and smaller municipalities. Though challenging, DSD is hopeful it will be able to actualise plans in this regard.
On the question about the partnership with the City of Cape Town, Dr Macdonald said the City of Cape Town participates in the wellbeing and dignity work stream through engagements. The Department shares information with the City and ensures it synergises efforts, rather than duplicate it as far as possible. The Department does certain projects with the City, for example, in the Central Improvement Districts’ projects for homelessness, DSD is co-founding some of the projects for some of the shelters. At the moment, discussions are ongoing with the City about its revised homelessness policy. DSD also forms part of the Homeless Committee, chaired by the City, and also participates. Even though the Department works closely with the City in the area of homelessness, it is a tricky area of service delivery. There is no clear legislation setting out roles of different spheres of government when it comes to addressing homelessness. Instead, it is a cross-functional area which touches on basic service delivery, environmental health, bye-law enforcement, welfare services, housing, and criminal justice. It is quite a complex issue which cannot be addressed by only one department as such or even one sphere of government.
At the moment, DSD’s main aim is to increase bed spaces. Discussions are also ongoing with the shelters to understand the amount charged as nominal fee for the homeless to stay the night. It is now part of a co-production model where it expects the people in the shelter to make some kind of contribution. The Department is of the opinion this arrangement may be a barrier to some of the homeless accessing the shelter. Plans are underway to find alternatives to this arrangement. The shelters are also clamouring for additional funds to continue operations, and the Department is looking into what can be done to prevent this. Because these shelters are all NGO-run, DSD is mindful of the need to work collaboratively with NGOs, as opposed to dictating to it. It is also not a service the Department can regulate, like it does for children’s homes, for instance.
Regarding GBV, the Minister has mentioned to some extent, the partnership with the City is also driven through transversal structures which DSD set up for the COVID recovery plan, particularly in the areas of safety, wellbeing, and dignity. DSD works with the City and the other municipalities in coordinating its efforts in this respect, and so far, has a good working relationship with the officials in the City’s ECD and social development. For example, the Department works with the City in rendering family support services.
As for the shelters opening soon, it was pointed out there are no daily charges for the shelters for women and for the victims of GBV. It is a service fully funded by the Department. NGOs also fundraise to supplement the money received from the Department, as the amount is not always enough to cover all expenses, but the Department does its best to cover as much of the expenses as possible.
Mr Mackenzie said he did not expect exact addresses for the shelters; instead he wanted to know if the Department was covering all the districts, since the problem is across the Province.
He asked if the Department has considered regulating the centres for homeless people to ensure it is better supported and can ultimately look after the homeless better. He urged the Chairperson to include this issue in the Committee’s agenda.
He asked the Department to provide details of what needs to be sorted out to have better law enforcement for homeless people on the streets in the City, and the Province at large.
On the question around coverage of shelters for GBV victims, Dr Macdonald said the six shelters will be added to the existing 20 on the ground. However, this coverage is still not comprehensive, as the expansion of GBV services is quite a recent phenomenon in government generally. DSD has been expanding its budget in this regard, very rapidly in the last five years but from a lower base. However, some provinces have almost none or just one or two shelters being funded. It is a tricky situation as there is no current legislation for GBV support, and the Victims Support Services Bill was only finalised in the National Assembly recently. Once the legislation is official, it would formalise the responsibilities of various spheres of government and departments in government, regarding funding of services and frameworks for how those services will be rendered. There has always been legislation around sexual offences and other related offences, which primarily regulated and guided the criminal justice stakeholders. This is however the first time there will be a specific legislation focused on support and welfare services for GBV victims. This would strengthen the imperative for a universal coverage of GBV services. The Department still has a long way to go in providing GBV victim empowerment services, but with the legislation, it would be able to secure the funding needed to ensure more coverage of GBV victim support services in the Province.
On the regulation of homeless shelters, it is within the power of the provincial department to regulate shelters, and national legislation is potentially required to guide the process. However, the current situation is, the national Department cannot fully agree on whose role it is. The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) believes DSD should be driving it, while DSD is of the view COGTA should be in charge of regulating shelters. Legal opinions are being sought nationally on the issue.
At the provincial level, the Department sought legal advice on the issue of homelessness, particularly after COGTA and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) had raised the issue during the lockdown. The issue was raised because of the pressure on municipalities, through the requirement of setting up temporary shelters under the regulations. Many of the municipalities were of the view the municipalities should not have been tasked with this function. Legal advice was sought, and the advice received was, some aspects of the services for the homeless fell under the jurisdiction of DSD. This includes aspects relating to welfare, for example, drug treatment services; reintegration of homeless adults with families; and therapeutic services. Housing issues will be handled by the Department of Human Settlements. However, there remains an issue of by-law enforcement around sleeping on the street; erecting structures on the streets; being on the streets without sanitary services, and access to basic services; as well as other constitutional rights of homeless adults to be considered. These issues fall under the sphere of the municipalities. There is also the criminal justice aspect which covers instances where the homeless violate certain laws and the police arrest homeless persons. There is also the mental health care aspect, especially because of the percentage of homeless people on the streets who are in need of psychiatric assistance. This would of course fall within the domain of mental health care.
The issue of homelessness is complex, with some laws touching on the issues from the perspective of different departmental responsibilities. It is even more complex because there is no definition of “homelessness” in the South African laws nationally; and no specific department has been assigned to tackle it. A regulation or legislation of some sort would help with tackling the issues around homelessness, but any such regulation or legislation would have to come from the national level.
Ms R Windvogel (ANC) wanted to know if there were any programmes for homeless people in the rural areas. She assumed the same approach used in collaborating with the City is being used in rural areas or local municipalities.
Mr Brinkhuis noted concern about the sources of food served at the centres, especially if there were Muslim homeless adults. He therefore wanted to know if the halal meals were served to the Muslims at the shelters.
The Chairperson asked if a specific provincial legislation which gives provinces some say in how non profit organisations (NPOs) and NGOs are registered, governed and regulated, will help in bridging the gap between the Department and these NGOs. This is because at the moment, the national legislation which governs NPOs puts the process squarely in the hands of the national DSD, and the Province only hands out the certificate once it gets to provinces.
Dr Macdonald said there are programmes for homeless adults outside of the Metro. The Department has various funded organisations across the Province. It also has partnerships with the municipalities outside of the Metro area. The municipalities and the City of Cape Town have been participating in the Department’s COVID-19 response plan. It does this by attending programmes organised by the Department, and making input. DSD also has some bilateral agreements with specific municipalities around the support of the homeless. Many of the smaller municipalities in particular are battling with funding temporary shelters, since it never budgeted for this area of service in times past. All of this has driven a lot collaboration and engagement.
The support of DSD spreads outside of the metros. However, the number of homeless adults in the Province at the moment is way more than the available bed space in shelters. Last year, the Province funded 1 500 bed spaces across the Province. In the current financial year, an additional amount of R15 million has been allocated to tackle homelessness: R10 million came directly from Treasury, while R5 million was reprioritised internally to enable the Department to increase the number of bed spaces by a further 1 000. This made the total number of bed spaces 2 500. The additional funds will also be used to increase the number of social work posts funded by the Department at the shelters, and this will assist with the work of reintegration.
Although the above amount is a significant increase for the Department, considering the baseline, it still cannot cater for all the homeless people on the streets. There are about 8 000 people on the streets at the moment, but the Department is starting somewhere, given the scale of the challenge.
DSD is not the only one funding the shelters. Other municipalities and the City of Cape Town in particular, are also funding the shelters. This makes it a complimentary effort.
Shelters alone are not the only solution to the challenge of homelessness. Shelters only mitigate and reduce the harm associated with people being on the street without access to services and food. The long term issue is the economy and the need for job creation. The job focus area under the COVID-19 recovery plan is geared towards looking at resolving these issues. A lot of opportunities have been created through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). A lot of money from the EPWP will be going back into the economy in the new financial year to create more opportunities. The Department hopes this will address issues of unemployment and homelessness.
On the meals served at shelters and if the meals are halal, Dr Macdonald said he could not give a direct answer to the question. However, the shelters funded by the Department are large and are set up to accommodate people’s needs as far as possible. So far, there have been no complaints about the food in the shelters. The Department can follow up with the organisations in charge at a later point to confirm what the policies are around food sources, portion, religion, and dietary requirements for some people.
Regarding the question on provincial legislation regulating NGOs, he said he cannot give a specific answer. There is a general principle around legislation between spheres of government running concurrent functions. It says provincial legislation should not clash with existing national legislation. Detailed legal advice will be required to address this question sufficiently. However, he was of the view, if a provincial legislation is created for NPOs and NGOs, the national legislation will still stand as well. This might end up creating a dual process or two separate processes for the NPOs, which he doubts will be a welcome idea for the NPO sector at this point. An easier process might be welcomed, but at the moment it does not seem like the NPOs would accept a provincial legislation since it is still regulated by national legislation.
Discussion on pages 295 - 303 of the Budget
Ms N Bakubaku-Vos (ANC) referenced the first sentence on paragraph two of page 296, and asked the following questions:
-Given the population growth and high unemployment rate will have a bearing on the demand for service from the Department, she wanted to understand if consideration was given to the budget cuts in the Department.
-Given the heightened risk of food insecurity and hunger in the Province, she asked what measures there are to respond to these needs, besides the small amount earmarked for food.
-She also wanted to know if the targeted number of beneficiaries for the Department’s meal programme, and the number of feeding sites have been identified
-While referencing the last sentence in paragraph two of page 296, she asked for the number of temporary shelters available, and how much has been budgeted for it.
- She asked what the demand for psycho-social support service in the 2020/21 has been; if it is open to the public, and if the public knows about it. She also asked what work has been done to support families who lost loved ones to COVID-19, particularly those who experienced multiple deaths in families.
-With reference to the first sentence on page 297, she asked if the statistics of children murdered and victimised sexually in the last financial year were available. She wanted to know what measures have been put in place to prevent maltreatment of children and protect children from violence and murder, and what percentage of the budget has been earmarked for this purpose.
Mr Mackenzie referenced page 300 under “Programme for the year under review”, and asked for clarity regarding if all the services have been completely transferred, or if there were any outstanding services yet to be transferred.
Around this time last year, there was still a discussion around services to be in-sourced. He asked if this has been done, and if there was anything in the previous contract the Department still needs to do.
Looking at the upcoming year, especially with respect to the R25 million made available for immediate food relief, he asked for details on how, when, and where the money would be spent.
Regarding the expansion of the medical staff in the services offered by DSD for the year under review, and in the future financial year, he asked for details on the medical services being offered at the centres, and if there was any partnership with the Department of Health (DoH) and the City of Cape Town Health Services, in providing these services.
While referring to page 312 on the allocation to the Dignity Project, he asked for more details on where, how, and when the project will commence, so MPs can publicise it for people to apply, and how to go about it.
While referring to page 306 under the HIV/AIDS Prevention Programmes, he asked for more details for the purpose of having a better understanding of what services would be rendered by the Department in this regard. He also sought clarity regarding if the DSD would be partnering with the DoH and the City of Cape Town on the prevention programmes.
Minister Fernandez expanded on the work done by the Western Cape DSD. She said the Department’s four-legged recovery plan is a transversal approach to dealing with many challenges, and includes the following:
-COVID-19 response, which is now focused on vaccinations;
-Safety: Within Safety, there is a component on interpersonal violence and GBV. The Department is working with external partners, academic institutions, and safety forums. A lot of work is happening transversally within the safety plan.
-Jobs: This leg of the recovery plan is headed by Provincial Minister Maynier. The Department is aware of the significance which employment has on the dignity of people, and a lot of transfer activities are taking place to this effect.
-Wellbeing and dignity work stream: This is led by Minister Fernandez, alongside other Ministers as well.
One of the Department’s inter-ministerial committees are faith-based organisations (FBOs). DSD meets with the FBOs once a month. These FBOs have supported the Department with food relief; have also requested training for psycho-social support where some might have gaps; and have written to both the City and the Province to extend the GBV programme.
The Department moved away from a single focus, to a focus on the interconnectedness across the four key themes of its recovery plan. The challenge facing all four themes is limited resources. Because the Department understands there would never be enough homeless shelters or enough shelters for abused women, one of its key focus areas is strengthening the family; focusing on the boy-child; driving the GBV campaign; working very closely with its partners across the three spheres of government, and the civil society. The Food Relief Programme is an example of this. DSD works very closely with the Economic Development Partnership (EDP). A lot of players in the NPO sector, who do not necessarily work directly with the Department, contribute to the forum.
The Department is also engaging public-private partnerships to advance the course of ECDs, which is likely to be migrated from DSD to the Department of Education. All the Department does is done as a collective. It looks at a challenge transversely to see how all stakeholders involved can coordinate.
The above mentioned forums; the five district municipalities, the City of Cape Town, and external stakeholders take part in DSD’s deliberations, which take place on a weekly, monthly, and rotational basis. As for the City of Cape Town, Councils, and Districts, the Department has a reporting mechanism where information is provided to communities on a virtual platform on a monthly basis. An example is the psycho-social support provided by DSD, through partnership with an NPO which set up WhatsApp groups for COVID-19 survivors early in March/April 2020. Those WhatsApp groups were limited to 15 women who received content on WhatsApp and then went for COVID-19 psycho-social support appointments. This support also spreads to GBV awareness, entrepreneurship, and the model is being expanded. In many cases, DSD relies on its NPO partners who play a critical role in expanding the footprint of the Department’s small team of about 2 500 people, to reach nearly seven million people in this Province.
Minister Fernandez concluded by saying the purpose of the above submission was to set the tone for Dr Macdonald and other members of the DSD team to respond to questions posed by the Committee.
In replying to the issue of budget cuts, Dr Macdonald said the decision about the overall budget for the Department is somewhat out of the Department’s hands. Issues of unemployment and population increase the impact on other departments as well. It is left to Treasury to balance allocations between all the departments. With all the pressures facing DSD and other departments, the task of balancing allocations across departments must be a difficult one for Treasury.
The challenge is the actual equitable share amount which accrues to the Province, together with all the conditional grants is not at par with the provincial population growth and the unemployment crisis. With the unemployment and financial situation comes reduced revenue.
In the case of DSD’s budget, National Treasury attempted to make some savings by freezing public sector wages. This is one of the measures put in place to ensure availability of funds as much as possible to serve the public. A lot of money is being put into the support services for food relief and related services, but bigger amounts are directed to the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to cover the COVID-19 support grants, as well as an increase in other grants.
The COVID-19 SASSA grant is aimed at addressing the challenge of food, and security. The Department has also released R51 million worth of NGO funding to the NGO sector to help subsidise food relief across the Province. This is beside the additional R25 million added by Treasury. The money already disbursed to NGOs in the first quarter should last up to six months, while the additional R25 million will help in providing food relief beyond the six months.
The City of Cape Town is injecting quite a lot of money into food relief in the Metro as well. This alongside the Solidarity Fund, private donors, the NGO sector partnering with the Western Cape Food Forum, which is a conglomerate of NGOs which came together to coordinate food relief, and SASSA, are the major measures put in place to address heightened food insecurity in the short term. For the longer term, a ‘Nourish to Flourish’ strategy has been recently adopted in the Province, spear headed by the Department of Agriculture. This strategy focuses on long term food security and consists of various other measures to help create some self-sustainability in many of the communities, which will ultimately address the long term challenge of food security.
On the number of targeted beneficiaries and the number of feeding sites identified, Dr Macdonald said it is quite complex to describe. A part of the funding provided by the Department goes directly to the Country Nutrition and Development Centres (CNDCs). Some of its funding is used by NGOs to purchase bulk food supplies, distributed to various satellite points and community kitchens for beneficiaries at the local level. At the same time, the City of Cape Town has been providing many informal operations with cookware and equipment to help with its cooking. There is also a Food Voucher programme where community kitchens are provided with food vouchers which can be redeemed at spaza shops. There are also food parcels kept by the Department for people who are frail, unable to leave their homes, or are living in remote areas and cannot access the community kitchens. In summary, there is a multiplicity of channels whereby the food relief is being introduced into the different communities. It is a mixed modality.
On the number of feeding sites, Mr Mzwandile Hewu, Chief Director: Community and Partnership Development said the Department has 104 feeding sites. These are Country Nutrition and Development Centre (CNDC) sites run by 51 NPOs, and are spread across the Province. It ensures every municipal district or region of the Department has one CNDC. In each of the feeding sites, DSD feeds at least 68 people. The Department is supporting more than 200 000 beneficiaries, as each community kitchen supports a number of beneficiaries ranging between 50 and 250. The coverage and reach is very wide.
On the question of what, where, and how the R25 million will be spent, he said the Department will use a tried and tested format in disbursing the funds to a combination of supported community kitchens. The strategy to be used will involve funding NPOs to render needed services in partnership with the DSD. The NPOs will support, either by giving dry food or giving financial support to the kitchens to buy food for beneficiaries. This intervention is one the Department has tested, observed, found to be working, and will therefore continue with, in disbursing the R25 million.
It is projected the allocation of R51 million will run until September 2021 in some centres, while in some others it will run until January and March 2022. The Department is committed to sustaining this intervention for the rest of 2021/22. It would continue with the same feeding sites; use the same community kitchens; and maintain the same list provided to the Standing Committee.
Some community kitchens have been taken off the list because of health and safety issues, and inability to account for the beneficiaries it is feeding. The Department will therefore be adding new kitchens to replace excluded kitchens.
And as for the operations of the community kitchens, some feed from Monday to Friday, some feed four days a week, while some feed three days a week, but there is no community kitchen which feeds less than three days a week.
Dr Macdonald said these feeding schemes should be considered in the context of municipalities and districts. For instance, the City of Cape Town has put approximately R55.8 million into food relief in the Metro area. This Fund has been used for food vouchers which can be redeemed at local shops, and is quite a good supplement to what is being provided by the Province. The Department of Economic Development and Tourism is also providing about 500 vouchers per month to feed around one family per month. The City’s vouchers are valued at R300 each and 163 000 of it has been issued. The DSD also provides daily meals in the ECDs, with about 50 000 to 80 000 children benefiting from this. Summarily, about 490 000 children are being fed daily in schools. However, this number has fallen a little bit because of the alternating arrangements caused by adjustments to COVID-19. This has led to some children going to school one week and not going another week. Parcels were also distributed to families by the Department of Education, to transport it. Between the City and the Province, approximately one million people in the Western Cape Province benefit from food support. About 400 000 people also benefit from the COVID-19 grant. At the moment, 15% of the provincial population is currently receiving food relief from the different spheres of government. However, this is not the full picture as there are also EPWP programmes which provide people with income opportunities to solve situations of hunger.
The NGO sector, through the use of donor funds, is also doing an enormous amount of work to help with food relief. The Province is very fortunate to have such huge act of support from civil society, which probably exceeds government’s input.
The Department of the Premier is currently working with DSD to see if a tracking system can be set up to get a consolidated set of information on all the food relief; to see how funds are disbursed; to see areas where malnutrition exists and food relief is needed; and so on.
Once all the allocations have been finalised for the different community kitchens, the Department would be able to provide a breakdown to the Committee, on where the food relief is being disbursed. DSD would also be able to identify gaps where people are mostly in need and are not able to access any other support.
On the question around the number of temporary shelters available, and how much has been budgeted for it, Ms Leana Goosen, Chief Director: Social Welfare and Restorative Services, said the Department has 19 shelters across the Province, besides the six new shelters to be opened.
Regarding the budget, R5 million was allocated for the new shelters. Detailed information on this can be provided to the Committee in writing.
Dr Macdonald said the total allocation for victim empowerment is in the budget, but some of the allocation is for services other than shelters.
Mr Juan Smith, Chief Director: Financial Management, said the total budget for victim empowerment is about R60 million, out of which about R25 million goes to the shelters specifically.
Dr Macdonald said the R25 million would then be increased to R30 million to cater for the six additional shelters. He agreed with Ms Goosen, saying it would be best to send detailed information on the shelters containing exact numbers to the Committee, as the allocation is included in the overall budget for victim empowerment.
Mr Smith said the Budget was R20 million, and it would be increased to R25 million with the extra R5 million for the new shelters.
On the question around demand, availability, accessibility, and awareness of psycho-social support services to the public, Dr Macdonald said there has been a major spike for psycho-social support services during 2021. The Department does not have the final figures yet, as the year is still on. However, the Department presented figures on the first and second quarters of 2020 to the Committee, and the figures were extremely high regarding seeking psycho-social support services from the Department. The service is open to the general public, and DSD has publicised it on several occasions. As mentioned by the Minister, DSD has a partnership with FBOs, who also provide support to various constituencies. Again, this service is provided through joint effort between government and civil society.
A lot of the psycho-social support rendered has been around bereavement and support for people who have lost family members to COVID-19. There has also been trauma counselling for people who have been affected by the pandemic in other ways, such as the increase in certain forms of contact crimes and GBV. The trauma of being infected and put into various institutional contexts like isolation and quarantine has also had an impact on people. DSD and DoH staff need a lot of support during this time, because of what staff experienced during this period.
The statistics of children murdered in the previous year are collected by the DoH Child Death Review Panel. The statistics for the year are not ready, as the year is still on, but the panel has the figures for the previous year. It was recommended this question be directed at DoH for the purpose of getting accurate information. There have been a slightly lower number of child murders in the past year compared to previous years. DSD is of the view these low rates can be attributed to the lockdown. The main cause of high rates of child murder in the Western Cape Province is primarily gang violence. A lot of under-18 children are caught in the crossfire of gang activity, and die during shooting incidences in gang conflict. Another cause of child murders flagged a few years ago is cases of children abandoned as babies.
The Department has put in place a strategy to boost child safety, with a particular emphasis on early warning systems. DSD is increasing the reach of the “Eye on the Child” Programme, which is designed to get community volunteers trained and networked to flag when at risk children in the community.
The budget for child safety has also been increased for the year. An additional R4 million has been put into child protection to expand the “Eye on the Child” programme. There are also extra funds put into other community-based child and youth care services, in the areas where additional Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) officers are being deployed under the safety plan. This is aimed at complementing the criminal justice response with the child safety and welfare response.
On the issue of child protection, Dr Macdonald highlighted the implementation of the electronic foster care system, which the Department is going to kick start in the new year. This will create more efficiency in the way children are tracked in the child protection system, and hopefully save some time for the social workers.
However, the main step to be taken in addressing child safety and protection issues is the passing of the
Children’s Amendment Bill, to effect some changes around the way foster care is dealt with; as well as the Social Assistance Act. The amendment of these two Acts will reduce the number of children coming through the foster care process. It will also ensure a reduction in cases of children undergoing full investigation for child safety, and will reduce going to the Children’s Court for the sake of getting a foster grant when children are placed with a family member. Instead, these children can be placed and receive child support top-up grants when being placed with family members. This would also lighten the work of social workers and children’s courts, and in effect will allow it to focus on genuine child protection matters. It will then be thorough in the work it does, since it would mean a smaller case load.
Statistics show about 60% of cases are made up of children placed in foster care. These children are in need of a foster grant after being placed with a family member, as opposed to actual cases of children at risk and in need of child care and protection services, as contemplated in the Children’s Act. The Act will benefit the child protection system once implemented, as it would help the Department to focus its resources on children at risk, and prevent child murders and child abuse much more effectively than it is doing at the moment.
On the question around Child and Youth Care centres, and if all services have been transferred from SASSA, Dr Macdonald answered in the affirmative, noting all services have been fully transferred and only DSD was rendering these services. DSD has no more contractual obligation to SASSA in this regard.
Dr Macdonald said the expansion of medical staff is specifically for the children in the facilities and so, it is in-house nurses who can administer medicine to the children who are kept in the Secure Care centres, run by the Department. DSD is also in partnership with the DoH to get the vaccines rolled out in the facilities.
As for the question about the sanitary dignity project, the project is mostly targeting children in schools at this stage. The list of schools is quite long.
Mr Hewu said the Department will be focusing on the same schools it has been providing for since 2019/2020, even though most deliveries took place in 2020. The Department has placed an advert of the tender for the R10.5 million it has for the new financial year. The Department is optimistic it will still be able to cover the 221 schools. There are just a few issues to be sorted out with the DoE, particularly in respect to about 31 schools no longer willing to participate in the sanitary dignity project. DSD is waiting for the DoE to regularise the list so the Department can reach its target of 94 000 girls.
On the question relating to the HIV/AIDS prevention programme and if DSD partners with DoH and the City of Cape Town, Dr Macdonald said DSD was part of the provincial AIDS council. It also works with the DoH however, this particular HIV/AIDS prevention programme is a flagship project given by the Deputy Minister, with a focus on behaviour change and reduction of risk taking behaviour among youth. The budget for the project is an earmarked allocation received from national DSD.
The Chairperson opened the floor for questions from pages 304 to 310 of the Budget.
Ms Windvogel raised issues listed in the previous pages.
Mr Mackenzie also wanted to know if follow-up questions could be asked on the previous pages to which the Department had made some responses.
The Chairperson allowed Members to ask follow-up questions on the previous pages already addressed by the department.
Ms Windvogel referred to paragraph two of page 297, and referred to “The Western Cape is a home to 2.4 million youth between the ages of 15 and 34.” Based on this reality, she wanted to know why the Department was not increasing the budget and expanding the scope of youth development. She asked if the Department is satisfied with the amount earmarked for youth development; and asked what programmes are in place to address the youth care.
She referred to paragraph three of page 297, which deals with what the prevalence of COVID-19 at residential facilities in the Province is for elderly people with disabilities. She asked what measures have been put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in these facilities, and how much has been budgeted for it.
Regarding the lack of an increase in the budget for Youth Development, Dr Macdonald said there has been very little increase in the budget for this purpose, except for the response to the COVID-19 recovery plan. In the current year, the government is battling with a dire financial situation caused by reduced tax collection, as well as addressing the pressing issues triggered by COVID-19. There is therefore limited additional funding to be disbursed. The Youth programme is in the same position as many other programmes in the Department, which are not receiving additional money. Even though the Department is not happy about this, it is adapting as quickly as possible to be able to function during COVID-19.
The youth cafés have also had to adapt to function, despite the stringent lockdown requirement placed on gatherings and numbers of people indoors, which is quite challenging for youth cafés. However, the youth priority stretches across the Province, and is not only dealt with within DSD. There is a focus area on setting up a Youth and Service programme for the Province which has been spearheaded under the wellbeing and dignity work stream. A lot of work is being done around youth development in the Province outside of what DSD is doing. The budget therefore, does not cover all being done for the youth.
On the question around programmes to address the various pathologists mentioned in paragraph two of page 297, Dr Macdonald interpreted the question to be one which seeks to understand the impact of the economic recession on jobs. To some extent, this has been addressed in the EPWP programme. DSD has received extra money for EPWP in this financial year, with the Allocation and Incentive grant. The same is true of many of the other departments in the Province. The EPWP spending is increasing significantly in social development, but also across the rest of the Province. However, a consideration of measures taken to mitigate the impact of the economic recession on jobs in the context of programme two shows the funds are inadequate, given the scale of the challenges. An example is the budget for DSD, which is relatively small when compared to the enormous work it has to do. It is for this reason DSD partners with civil society organisations, NGOs, municipalities, and the national sphere of government to mitigate these challenges as far as possible. This is particularly so with the massive youth unemployment crisis, which the DSD believes can only be tackled in partnership with multiple agencies. There is also an entire work stream in the Province on jobs and economic growth, which focuses on increasing investment and economic activity in the wake of COVID-19.
With regard to the prevalence of COVID-19 at old age homes and disabled homes, DSD has been keeping weekly statistics on this and can share details with the Committee. Currently, the Province is experiencing the lowest number of cases since the second wave hit last year. The current statistics shows about 37 cases across the Province. Detailed information can be made available to the Committee.
The Chairperson asked Members to table any questions which relate to pages 304 to 310 of the budget.
Ms N Makamba-Botya (EFF) referred to page 309 under Programme One, under the heading: “Changes, policies, structures, services, establishments, geographic distribution of services”. The Department mentioned the expansion of local offices and its maintenance, which will be subject to the availability of suitable sites and mentioned funding of it. She asked for clarity regarding if the expansion referred to, asking if it is the expansion of local offices in space, or an increase in the number of offices. If the expansion is about an increase in the number of offices, she asked how the Department plans to expand its offices without identifying suitable sites, and if there is sufficient funding to carry out such expansion.
Ms Windvogel referred to table 8.2, page 313, and asked if there was any under-expenditure in the budget for the sanitary dignity project in the previous year. She asked if all the sanitary towels from the previous year were distributed to girls; asked how many social workers would be employed in the current year; and how much the Department is spending from the conditional grant for this purpose.
Referring to table 8.2.1, on page 314, she asked for clarity on the increase in compensation of employees, when other departments were cutting down expenditure in this area.
Ms W Philander (DA) referred to page 305 on national and provincial priorities, and said women were not included in DSD’s safety priority. Reference was only made to children and youth in the provincial strategic plan and departmental outcomes. She asked if there was another programme which catered to and prioritised the safety of women.
Mr Mackenzie referred to the capacity building of social workers and related professions, as noted on page 310. He asked how the Department is training social workers and related professions in the wake of COVID-19, considering many institutions are on lockdown.
He asked what the Department’s plan is to ensure officials are capacitated, irrespective of the fact officials may work from home or work on site; and asked how the Department ensures it is not affected by load-shedding in the performance of its functions.
He asked why 21 schools objected to participation in the sanitary dignity project, as earlier mentioned by Mr Hewu.
On the question relating to the expansion of local offices, Dr Macdonald said the expansion referred to in the context was the number of offices, but in some instances, it would also mean expansion of spaces.
The Department has had a blueprint for its expansion for some time. This was aimed at reaching local areas more effectively, and was premised on identified areas where local offices were needed. After areas have been identified, the Department begins to seek out office spaces. In the past ten years, the blueprint has been implemented and most of the local offices planned, have been set up. However, there are always sites where it becomes a challenge to find a good space, either due to insufficient funds or unsuitability of sites. Financially, the Province was in a better financial state ten years ago than it was at the moment. The Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) also had more funds available to assist with office and building maintenance, and were also in a position to assist with renting properties for departments, where required. However, this changed over time, as the DPTW no longer has adequate funds to expend on its portfolio of maintenance work beyond what it already has to deal with. Also, DTPW is no longer willing to take over new rentals for departments because of inadequate funding. The impact of the financial situation on DPTW has impacted DSD’s plans of reaching the targeted number of local offices it planned to set up. However, the Department is still moving offices to areas where needed, as there are shared offices and buildings for some departments.
There are also cases where suitable office space was identified, and subsequently landlords decided to extract a higher rental than is reasonable. Situations like this also affect the actualisation of pre-planned office spaces. On the other hand, there are instances where the office spaces become inhabitable due to infrastructure flaws.
Replying to Ms Windvogel’s question, Dr Macdonald said there was under-spending in the sanitary dignity programme during the previous financial year, and the Department surrendered some of the earmarked funding received. The reason for the under-spending was the extended school closures during the course of last year and the beginning of this year. This is because the sanitary dignity project is targeted at schools, with distribution projected to run for 12 months. The extended school closures however, meant the Department only had about eight months to distribute, and although this was unfortunate, it was completely unavoidable and unforeseeable.
On the number of social workers hired in 2020 and the plans in place for the current year, Ms Annemie van Reenen, Director: Operational Management Support, said the Department has a total of 714 social worker posts across all units. It also has an additional 142 contract posts, of which 37 are funded from the earmarked funding. Currently, there are 70 vacancies which are all in the recruitment and selection process. Plans are underway to fill those vacancies, alongside the additional 142 contract posts to be added to DSD’s structure.
Regarding the rationale for the increase in the budget for compensation of employees in DSD, she said the following: the staff component of DSD in comparison with the work to be done is on a ratio of one to 4 500. This is evident in some departmental programmes, such as child and youth care. The Department is struggling to fill some of the posts in some areas. The increase is therefore, a result of having to fund additional posts, alongside the additional 294 posts added to DSD’s staff complement.
Dr Macdonald said the additional posts were added after the takeover of the centres from SASSA, which takeover led to the creation of 390 new posts on DSD’s establishment. The Department managed to fill most of the posts in the previous year, but there were some yet to be filled because of the unsuitability of some candidates. One of the big challenges with the SASSA takeover was: DSD was not permitted to transfer the staff employed by SASSA to DSD, as DSD’s administration showed there must be a recruitment selection process, as direct transfer of SASSA staff will be allowed. Also, the public service entry requirements were different from the entry requirements SASSA had, which meant some of the staff employed by SASSA would not be able to qualify for the posts in DSD. A basic requirement, such as having matric, was a blockage to some people’s application.
On the exclusion from DSD’s safety priority list, he said women and GBV were included in the Wellbeing and Dignity Priority aspect, at the moment. Nevertheless, the safety priority will also be beneficial to address issues of GBV as it is aimed at reducing all forms of contact crimes in the areas where it has been implemented. It certainly benefits children, youth and women.
On the question of capacity building for DSD staff, Ms van Reenen said the Department struggled with capacity building for its staff in 2020. The Department looked into programmes which could be completed online, and managed to execute such programmes. Most of the programmes conducted online were transversal generic training, such as management training, meeting skills, and such. The training for social workers which the Department could manage to do online, was focused on the norms and standards of social workers; discussion of supervision frameworks; and a little bit of training around the Children’s Act. The Department struggled with conducting the Trauma Debriefing training online, as it is quite difficult to do online training on such a sensitive issue. Trainees have to engage in certain exercises to enable the facilitator to declare the trainee competent in those skills. Overall, the Department managed to train 30 additional GBV social workers on those specific trauma debriefing training skills. The training was carried out in small groups and COVID-19 regulatory frameworks were not compromised.
The Department is continuing with some online training, but there will be face-to-face training in much smaller groups where necessary, to ensure there is adequate capacity of staff.
On the plan for continuity of staff performance in the context of load-shedding, department personnel have been provided with laptops, tablets, and other devices to assist with working in the field, and remotely. The Department is currently distributing another batch of these devices, especially those with batteries, which can work during load-shedding. The Department is also equipped with 3G cards, but if load-shedding takes out a server, the provincial government, the national SITA server, or the internet service providers, and connectivity is lost, there is nothing DSD can do. Load-shedding is a major hurdle to the smooth running of administrative work in the department, but it does not necessarily affect the groundwork, as most of the social work being done involves person-to-person processes.
On the reasons for some schools’ withdrawal from participation in the sanitary dignity project, Mr Hewu said, these schools have not vehemently refused to participate. Instead, the schools are beneficiaries of sanitary products from other programmes, and have recommended its own exemption to the DoE, so other schools not benefitting from any sanitary project can begin to benefit. The school’s refusal to participate is therefore, out of goodwill.
Ms A Bans (ANC) wanted to know what criteria is being used to choose the schools to be given the sanitary towels.
She referred to page 313, table 8.2, Summary of payment estimate on social welfare, and asked about the amount spent on preventing the spread of COVID-19 in old age homes.
Dr Macdonald said the choice of the schools for the sanitary dignity project was based on absentees and data of girl-learners from the DoE. The project was envisaged nationally to try to address absenteeism in schools, because of a lack of sanitary products. The Department made arrangements to get an analysis from the DoE on where high rates of absenteeism of girl-learners have been identified. Schools with higher streaks are the ones targeted for the purpose of the project. The DSD will further track the impact of the project on levels of absenteeism. If the impact is not positive, it would have to reconsider how best to use the project, as well as research other ways to use it to achieve the outcomes intended.
On the question around the amount used in preventing the spread of COVID in old age homes, Mr Charles Jordan, Chief Director: Social Welfare, said approximately R12 million has been spent in this regard. The Department has provided various kinds of funding for old age homes, as well as support through provision of personal protective equipment (PPE); relief staff from other NGOs to assist in old age homes; nurses to monitor COVID-19 protocols developed between DSD and DoH to ensure it was observed; and training for staff in understanding the COVID-19 protocols, where necessary. The amount spent on the above excludes all prior donations received from private companies who also provided PPE to these old age homes.
The Chairperson opened the floor for questions on pages 310 to 319.
Ms Makamba-Botya referred to page 313, Programme Two, under the heading “The earmarked allocations with an amount of R54.4 million which is allocated for the persons with disabilities for the year 2021/22”. She asked if the Department was in a position to give the Committee an estimate of how many people in this province are living with disabilities. This is because the Department came up with the budget allocation for the disability grant. She wanted to know the number of people living with disability in the Province; how many of these people need assistance; and if the Department has taken into account the number of people living with disability who might be added to the existing number in the financial year.
Under (II), there is a budget allocation of R15.7 million for the Social Work Employment Grant, and in bracket there is “PS” written like a conversion. She asked for clarity on the meaning of the “PS” conversion, and asked if this means the money would be transferred to the NGOs which have social workers, and are also involved in the social services work.
Under (IV), the Department speaks about the social work additions to sustain employment of social workers, particularly in areas with high prevalence of GBV, substance abuse, and issues affecting children, with a budget allocation of R20.9 million. She asked if the Department has identified the areas highlighted here, and how many social workers would be employed under the budget allocation.
While making reference to page 316, Programme Three, under the heading “Earmarked allocation”, she expressed concerns on the allocation of only R5.8 million for HIV/AIDS prevention programmes. She asked for clarity on what the social and behavioural change programmes for the year 2021/22 entailed, and where it would be conducted. Also, with such a small budget for a very serious pandemic which continues to affect South Africans, she asked who the target market for these programmes will be. She asked if the programmes also take place in hospitals, especially because this might be a major concern for the people attending it.
She referred to page 319, under Programme Four, under the heading “Earmarked allocation of R17.8 million which is allocated for social development related violence against women for the year 2021/22”, and asked if the money would be transferred to NGOs giving these services. If so, she asked how many such NGOs exist in the Province, and how much it will receive. This question also relates to the previous question asked on the need to supply the Committee with detailed information on the number of NGOs.
On the R5 million allocated as an increase to support families because of the impact of GBV, she asked how many families the Department thinks will be assisted with such a small amount, and asked how the Department justifies this small number.
On access to all the services listed in page 318, including the output and the performance plan, Mr Mackenzie asked how people will access these services, especially since many of these are physical. He asked if the Department will be changing the previous services or changing how people can access these services, and if the changes will be applicable to all services listed.
On the question of the number of people living with disabilities within the Province, Dr Macdonald noted Stats SA has this information.
Mr Jordan said information on the number of people living with disability in South Africa and worldwide is usually estimated at 15%. A consideration of the Western Cape Province, with census data and community survey data, gives an estimate of 800 000 people. However, the issue with the census is, it also includes people who need glasses to read. For this reason, the census is usually not an accurate source for statistics on disabilities. However, based on the population DSD serves in the Western Cape, there are about 100 000 people living with disability in the Province.
The R54 million earmarked has been used specifically for subsidising the homes for the disabled. Part of the R54 million is also for specific projects, such as the disability court case which is about the right to education for children with intellectual disabilities. Quite a lot of money has been ploughed into this project specifically. This programme would involve support to these children, as well as adults with intellectual disabilities such as information technology (IT) services, health services, transport, and so on. It would also include support for these persons to access protective workshops, as well as centres where the persons are being stimulated with various kinds of programmes for mental stability.
Dr Macdonald said the disability grant is paid for by SASSA and not DSD.
On the question relating to the Social Work Employment Grant and the meaning of the conversion to “PES”, Dr Macdonald said the grant was originally a grant from national government paid directly to the province for social worker employment, and has now been converted to the “Provincial Equitable Share” (PES). In other words, it is no longer a conditional grant, but now part of the equitable share. The implication of this is, it does not require reporting to the national Department or National Treasury on a monthly basis. It has been mainstreamed into the DSD budget, and is currently part of DSD’s main compensation budget.
The Department has identified areas with high levels of GBV, and has deployed social workers accordingly.
Ms Reenen said the Department has received funding earmarked for 30 additional social workers. Some of it was distributed to two officials working at the head office to drive the programme; then Metro-East, North, and South have five each; and the West Coast region has four. Details can be provided to the Committee.
On the question of the allocated R5.8 million for HIV/AIDS prevention programme, Dr Macdonald said it was an earmarked allocation and not the full amount put into the programme. R5.8 million was a specific amount reimbursed from the national government for a particular programme addressing behavioural changes targeted at youth. However, earmarked funding should be seen in this context for all other projects and programmes. There are other projects and programmes running in the Department for HIV/AIDS.
It should be noted the main driver of the response to HIV/AIDS is the DoH, and it has assigned billions of Rands to this programme. The majority of the prevention programmes fall within the DoH. This particular project was only initiated by the National Deputy Minister of DSD, and is being driven in the Department on the grounds of support, while DoH remains the main player. The programme is driven through NGOs working in communities with young people.
On the earmarked allocations for GBV, and the consideration if the money is going to be transferred to NGOs; it was confirmed the money would be transferred. The breakdown of the NGOs and how much it will receive can be provided to the Committee. The Committee should bear in mind the earmarked amount for GBV is one amount, but there is a lot more funds to address GBV.
Mr Jordan said the R5 million is earmarked funding DSD has received from previous years. The funding has been specifically provided for subsidy of additional bed spaces. It also caters for stage-one shelters during COVID-19; security upgrades at shelters; and also specifically for funding social workers and house mothers at some of the shelters. DSD did not previously fund the house mothers, but only funded social workers. A portion of the money also goes into skills development for women at the shelters. It empowers women to gain extra skills to become independent, if necessary to return back to the community and obtain jobs. Also, some of the money goes to other organisations such as Rape Crisis, as well as for intervention projects to assist women with court cases, interdicts, and related processes.
Replying to the questions posed by Mr Mackenzie, Dr Macdonald said the services listed on page 318 are triggered by criminal justice procedures, when adults or children are arrested by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and are charged. When children are arrested, a social work professional, that is, a probation officer is brought from DSD. According to the Child Justice Act, the probation officer works with the SAPS and prosecutors to identify an appropriate way of dealing with the child. Some of the children are sentenced to secure care facilities, while some are put into diversion programmes to prevent the children from being put into custodial sentence care. Some of children’s cases are converted into Children’s Act placement; children at risk; or children with behavioural challenges. These children are also placed in secure care, but not in a sentence capacity.
The process is different for adults. DSD is not necessarily involved at the time of arrest, but if the prosecutor is of the view the adult may be eligible for a diversion programme, the services of the Department’s probation officer will then be engaged. The probation officer will work with the prosecutors and the courts to make arrangements for the adult. Being charged makes the adult a potential candidate for a diversion programme, because usually because the nature of the crime committed is not serious. If the adult completes the diversion programme, he/she would be able to avoid a custodial sentence.
The above services can only be accessed through the criminal justice process through arrests and involvement of the courts and prosecutors, but the DSD is also involved.
Ms Makamba-Botya asked where the HIV/AIDS prevention programmes will be held, particularly because the programmes are known for being held in clinics and hospitals. Due to the pandemic, most people now avoid going to clinics and hospitals as it is unsafe, which left the question of where it will be held.
Ms Bakubaku-Vos referred to table 8.4, page 318, and asked for clarity on how the increased budget for substance prevention will assist in the fight against drugs and substance abuse challenges in communities.
She also wanted to know what the total budget for GBV and prevention of violence against women was; the details of funded activities; what plans are in place to open victim empowerment so the majority of victims in the working class communities can access this service; and what progress has been made in this regard.
Mr Mackenzie asked about the issues raised in regard to page 318. He asked if the Department encountered any challenges in implementing some Diversion programmes after cases were referred to it from the courts.
Replying to Ms Makamba-Botya’s follow-up question, Mr Jordan said the funds for the HIV/AIDS prevention is predominantly for preventative and intervention work. The NGOs funded by the DSD are specifically for psycho-social support to people affected and infected with HIV/AIDS. The Department covers the whole Province, and about 25 NGOs are assisted by DSD specifically. It basically covers the whole Province, but the full list can be provided to the Committee.
Replying to Ms Bakubaku-Vos, Dr Macdonald said the substance abuse programmes were primarily the drug treatment programmes run across the Province. The Department provides a combination of in-patient or residential treatment, as well as out-patient or community-based treatment. These services are aimed at helping people recover from addiction, but early intervention services are also provided. The Department was particularly targeting younger people who have begun experimenting and getting into risky situations with substance abuse.
The Department also provides reintegration and post-intervention support. These services are designed to assist people with a continuum of services which address the level of risk encountered by victims of substance abuse. The DSD funds a number of NGOs to run these services, but also provides some of the services itself in some of the Department’s residential facilities.
DSD’s social workers in the Department’s local offices also provide early intervention, after-care, and reintegration services. The amount reflected in the budget is the amount allocated for all these services. The Department can provide the Committee with a full breakdown of how the funds allocated will be utilised. It should be noted however, the funding is a nominal increase year-on-year from what was allocated in the previous year.
The outpatient community-based programmes could operate during the lockdown, and this resulted in savings. The actual amount is only an increase of R500 000, and this increase is because the Department is back to running full services this year.
On the question around the total budget for GBV prevention and violence against women, he said the budget for GBV sits within the victim empowerment services. The total amount earmarked for GBV is R65.8 million for the financial year. However, there are other departments which also contribute to this objective; for example, work is being done in community safety around watching briefs for GBV cases; the SAPS and justice sector contribute immensely to tackling GBV.
Regarding if the Department has encountered problems in placement with the diversion programmes during lockdown, Dr Macdonald said yes it has. Some diversion programmes had to be put on hold during the lockdown period. However, the Department always has a percentage of people who do not complete the diversion programme and have to be referred back to the courts for further measures. There are cases of some people not attending the programmes consistently, and some others have valid reasons for failure to attend, such as challenges with transport getting to the programmes. Implementation of diversion programmes were somewhat disrupted the previous year because of the lockdown. Some of the courts also closed, and only opened to deal with very urgent, serious matters, while pushing aside a lot of the diversion and probation type cases.
The Chairperson asked if the funding for the diversion programmes come from the Department of Justice and Correctional services (DOJ), from the National DSD, or out of the provincial equitable share.
Dr Macdonald said funds were allocated from the Department’s equitable share. The diversion programmes implemented by DSD are either run by its own social workers from local offices or are run by the NGOs funded by the Department. The probation services can be quite confusing, as the Department has probation officers who do the pre-sentencing report; manage the people who have been put into diversion programmes; handle case management, and write reports for the courts on the completion of the diversion programme. The DOJ handles cases of people released from sentences on probation or parole. It has its own offices to deal with the issues, and DOJ covers related expenses from its budget. The DSD funds the diversion programmes preventing people from going deeper into the criminal justice system.
The Chairperson asked for clarity on how the Department allocates funds for diversion programmes, irrespective of not knowing how many cases would be sent from the court at the beginning of a financial year. He asked if all funds for diversion programmes come from the provincial allocation.
Dr Macdonald said DSD usually bases its projections on funding of diversion programmes on the year-to-year statistics. If the Department has had a certain trend of a number of cases coming to it, generally the trend stays fairly steady and the Department budgets accordingly. If there is a spike in cases where DSD needs to deal with more cases than usual, then it would have to look into allocating additional funds, but so far, there has been no situation like this.
The Chairperson noted admiration for the manner in which the DSD officials were able to handle the entire Ministry, as well as the ability to make things happen without sometimes having the required or full information.
He opened the floor for questions on the budget from pages 320 to 339.
Mr Mackenzie made reference to pages 320-321 under ‘’vulnerable persons: youth skill development programmes’’, and asked if a plan is in place to resolve cases of people who could not get into Diversion programmes for whatever reason in the coming year, particularly on the youth at risk programme.
He also asked for a list of the high level areas of youth at risk.
He asked for clarity on the fluctuating allocation under consultancy and professional services, as seen on page 327. For the main appropriation it was R944 000, then it jumped to R3 million, and in the coming year it is back to R958 000. He asked what the cause is of the massive increase in the Adjusted Appropriation, and what the increase is for. Similarly fluctuations are noticeable under the “Agency and outsource services”, with a previous allocation of R39 million adjusted to R22 million. It will be back to R26 million in the next financial year. The same goes for “consumable supplies”, with a previous budget of R7 million, which jumped to R14 million, and in the coming year would be R12 million. He asked for an explanation for the fluctuating budget.
Ms Bans referred to expenditure grants on page 321. The Department said “the decrease of R63 million in the revised budget of R154 million in 2020/21 financial year, to R91 million in 2021/22, is due to once-off COVID-19 food relief and EPWP funding in 2021”.
She asked if the Department believed there was still a serious need for continued food relief, and if so, why the Department was not engaging Treasury for more funds for this purpose.
On the ‘’earmarked allocation for food relief function shift’’ on page 322, she wanted to know if the food or the parcels will be for cooked meals; and how many food parcels will be distributed from this earmarked allocation on the food relief function shift.
Replying to the question around funding transport to diversion programmes, Dr Macdonald said the Department was currently not in the position to provide any funding for this
Ms Goosen said where possible, the Department offers services closest to where the community service providers are situate, which is usually close to the communities where the service is needed. DSD still has to update the programme and the venue for the diversion legislation.
On the questions around the fluctuation of budget for consultancy and professional services, Mr Smith said the decrease reflected was mainly due to completed projects in the programme, which explains the R3 million for the Adjustment Budget of 2021. The Budget will revert back to R38 million regarding DSD’s NPO services.
The fluctuation reflected in the agency and support outsource, from R22 million to R26 million, is mainly because the nutrition services are now at full capacity. The budget is basically for food capacity for the coming year.
Replying to Ms Bans question on fluctuating allocation for budget for food relief, Dr Macdonald said there was a decrease from R154 million to R91 million. DSD received a once-off allocation of R51 million from national Treasury. During the course of the previous year, the Department did some internal reprioritisation of funding towards food relief.
The bulk of the pressure on the Department around food relief actually happened before SASSA introduced the COVID-19 Food Relief grant. Prior to the release of the grant, the Department was under severe pressure. SASSA had also exhausted its distress funding, and a lot of people coming forward in search of social relief for distress funds turned to DSD and local municipalities for assistance. It was therefore, important for the Department to get funds as quickly as possible to assist to prevent severe hunger last year.
The reduction to R91 million is not a reduction in the real sense. In fact, the Department has received an additional R25 million this year for food relief from the provincial Treasury. This is an amount which the Department never received in previous years. The amount for food relief remains much higher than what was obtained in previous years, and the Department is still receiving a lot.
As mentioned earlier, the Department also received extra funding for EPWP. DSD received a lot of extra funds in year 2020, which will be monitored in the course of this year for the purpose of allocating extra funds where needed. The provincial Treasury also told DSD it would assist where and when extra funding is required.
It should also be borne in mind the R51 million received from National Treasury was received in January, because it came in the Adjustments. The money has only just been allocated this March, and the Department has put it into the NGO sector.
The R154 million has not been totally exhausted. It is in the system, and is rolling over into the coming year. It would probably cover as much as half of the next financial year before the Department begins to use the extra R25 million received this year. Also, given the COVID grant has been extended by SASSA. The City of Cape Town has received an additional large amount of money from German Development Bank for food relief. The Department will be able to cover the bulk of the needs at this stage.
There is also the challenge of making sure the food gets to the right places. This will require management, planning, and information.
If the COVID-19 grant is discontinued, the Department will have a serious problem. This is because the COVID-19 grant alone has reached 400 000 beneficiaries in the Western Cape alone. This is about R140 million a month injected into the economy by SASSA. If the money stops, the amount of money DSD has will not be sufficient to cater for a large number of people. It is therefore critical to the Department for SASSA to continue with the grant until the worst of the COVID impact on the economy is long gone.
On the food relief function shift, the funds were specifically shifted to the Province from national DSD. This was aimed at taking over funding of a number of CNDCs which the national DSD previously funded, but can no longer continue to fund because of a lack of capacity to manage the funding in all nine provinces. The Department has therefore received a certain amount to take over the funding of the CNDCs, and has duly implemented same. The funding is specifically for sites providing cooked meals to the public.
On the question around the decrease in the budget for consumable supplies from R14 million to R12 million, Mr Smith said the reduction is based on the work-from-home status, which has resulted in reduced photocopy paper usage.
Ms Bans wanted to know if she can safely conclude the budget left over will be directed mainly toward the CNDC’s. She also wanted to know how the additional money held by the Department and the large chunk of money with the City of Cape Town will be spread. She asked if other regions were briefed, and how much those regions got.
Mr Mackenzie asked for a report on the number of cases referred to the courts, and the cost implications of it. He thanked the Department for the recent plan on the gang killings matter, and said it was extraordinary. The officials came out and were on point.
Dr Macdonald said the funds transferred for food relief functions will go straight into CNDCs.
As for the allocation to the City of Cape Town, he said the Department is yet to give any money to the City. Instead, the City of Cape Town received its own money, partly from its own budget, but also from the German Development Bank. The City has received quite a lot of money for food relief donated by Germany. This would help the Department to focus on areas the City is not covering, particularly the non-metro areas where most are yet to benefit from the money received by the City to help with food relief.
As for the question raised by Mr Mackenzie, he said the numbers are contained in the Department’s Annual Report, which can be provided to the Committee.
The Chairperson said another meeting would be scheduled to discuss the Annual Performance Plan (APP), as the report season is coming up.
He gave officials from the Black Sash movement an opportunity to ask the Department any questions.
Ms Theresa Edlmann, National Programmes Manager, Black Sash, said it expected the Department to provide updated figures on the disability grant crisis. It prepared questions to address this, rather than questions for the specific agenda of the current meeting.
Black Sash commended the Department for the work done in the Province at this difficult time, and shared Dr Macdonald’s concern about the impact of the COVID-19 grant stopping. She told the Committee Black Sash will be launching a report on the impact of the COVID-19 grant in April. The report will highlight the concerns raised by Dr Macdonald.
Black Sash is also currently looking into the link between social assistance and nutrition, particularly for children, and is therefore looking forward to engaging with the Committee and other colleagues on its findings in the future.
The Chairperson appreciated Black Sash for its input, noting the Committee always looks forward to its reports as it is very helpful. This Committee has resolved to work closely with Black Sash because it is always at the forefront of representing SASSA recipients.
He told Black Sash that SASSA made a presentation to the Committee two weeks ago and the report of the meeting can be sent if needed.
Closing remarks by the Department
Minister Fernandez appreciated the Committee for a very robust yet dignified engagement. She noted concern about the dire economic situation the country is currently facing, which is evident in the shrinking budgets, not only in the Western Cape Province, but in other provinces and at the national level.
She urged the Committee to keep an eye on two key dates. The first is 30 April, when the social relief of 350 grants will be terminated, as national Treasury could not find money to proceed with it. It will leave another 400 000 beneficiaries in this province out of pocket. The other date is 31 January, which is the deadline for the Disability grant beneficiaries to be medically assessed and evaluated. There are 52 000 beneficiaries who were identified for this grant, and SASSA has presented a ten-point plan on it. She said she believes this is an aspiration, at best. SASSA however, said it would achieve this goal of assisting all 52 000. Unfortunately, the Department’s meeting with SASSA which was scheduled for Monday, 15 March 2021, was postponed because of the Auditor General’s visit to SASSA. SASSA has sent a note to DSD to confirm the next meeting date, which will be held on 29 March 2021. This shift of dates is already eating into the deadline which was set.
The Department is also aware that SASSA has not been able to assess all 52 000 beneficiaries, because of the limited number of doctors. No feedback has been received from the national Department saying what the way forward is, and time is rolling by. This raises a concern which could have an impact on the Province, and might require the Department to regroup on its recovery plan, especially with regard to wellbeing where food aid, food security, and all the other related components sit.
The Department has also been affected by COVID-19, through the loss of colleagues and staff during the last reporting period. She seized the opportunity to extend her condolences to all staff members who have lost a colleague, with the most recent being the Regional Manager in the Central Karoo District, who passed on two days ago.
The DSD team is small, but she noted the level of work being done by the team, despite unfavourable situations and challenges faced. The Department still has to cater for the people; and assist the wounded, injured, and traumatised individuals.
She noted appreciation to Dr Macdonald for his capable leadership, and to the entire DSD team for its dedication, commitment, and care. She noted her thanks to the NPOs, civil society, FBOs, and everyone who supports DSD in carrying out its functions. As much as the DSD would like to reach every single citizen, most of its work is embedded in various programmes. The Department has 41 officers across the Province, as well as NPO officers who act as referrals for individuals to access services.
Dr Macdonald thanked the Provincial Minister for her leadership and support to the team, and thanked his colleagues for the hard work in getting the Budget finalised and ready for the new financial year. He noted the current year will be a hard year, and further adjustments should be anticipated during the course of the year, especially because of the uncertainty in the environment caused by COVID-19.
The Chairperson thanked the team present and all members of the senior management team for the hard work in presenting the Third Adjustments to the Budget for 2021. He noted his condolences for the families of all those within the DSD, affected by death and COVID-19.
He thanked the guests who were present.
The Chairperson asked Members to write down any Committee resolutions, actions, or request more information on the Third Adjustment Appropriation and the Budget presented by DSD, and send it to the procedural officer of the Committee by the end of the day.
Adoption of the Draft Committee Report: Report of the Standing Committee on Social Development on Vote 7: Social Development; in the Schedule to the Western Cape – Third Adjustments Appropriation Bill for the 2020/21 financial year B-3 2021, dated 18 March 2021
The Standing Committee on Social Development confirmed deliberating on Vote 7.
The Chairperson confirmed Ms Makamba-Botya is a permanent Member of the Committee, and Mr Brinkhuis is an alternate Member. Ms Makamba-Botya could therefore vote on these grounds.
The procedural officer said the decision to allow Ms Botya to vote cannot be made by the Committee. If there is an agreement between Ms Makamba-Botya and Mr Brinkhuis regarding membership, then such agreement should be put under the Announcements, Tablings, and Committee Reports (ATC), and for now she received no such ATC to the effect Ms Makamba-Botya is a permanent Member and Mr Brinkhuis is an alternate Member.
As a matter of fact, the Committee officers received an ATC from the tabling staff which confirms Mr Brinkhuis as a permanent Member and Ms Makamba-Botya as an additional (alternate) Member, and the Chairperson has a copy of this ATC.
The Chairperson said the situation would be sorted out with the Chief Whip and the programming authority, but the arrangements have been changed on the website. This may be something the Western Cape Provincial Parliament (WCPP) staff responsible for tabling needs to look into, to make necessary corrections.
Ms Bakubaku-Vos asked for clarity regarding if the EFF and Mr Brinkhuis would be excluded from voting.
The Chairperson said the EFF and Mr Brinkhuis would not be excluded. However, the only minority view recognised would be the ANC’s, until the membership of the EFF and Al Jama-ah is clarified.
Ms Babaku-Vos raised an objection to the report.
The Chairperson read the report, which reflected the ANC expressing its minority view not to support the Vote.
Ms Makamba-Botya proposed the entire report should pend until the issue relating to membership is resolved.
The Chairperson said the Committee does not have the authority to decide on the deployment of Members, as this was within the competency of the programming authority, Parliament, and political parties. The report should therefore not pend until a decision is made by those competent bodies. The Committee can only make decisions within the rules guiding the Standing Committee. Ms Makamaba-Botya and Mr Brinkhuis should engage with the Chief Whip to correct the membership status and have it ATC’d correctly. He offered to get involved if and when the need arises.
While accepting the Chairperson’s proposal, Ms Makamba-Botya noted concern the Committee may not be able to reflect on the report because of this administration error.
The report was adopted with the minority ANC view.
Mr Mackenzie notified the Committee that the Health; Social; and Premier Committees will be going to visit facilities from 13 to 16 April. He said 98% of the Standing Committee will be going as well. He proposed the Committee visit a facility in Mosselbay which looks after children.
Members appreciated the invitation and expressed interest in going on the visit as well.
The Chairperson said he, alongside the procedural officers, will look into other facilities which could be visited during this trip.
He received two sets of input from Ms Makamba-Botya, and Mr Mackenzie, on items for the workshop. The proposed date for the workshop is 3-5 May 2021. It would be a joint workshop with the Standing Committee on Education. He asked Members to send in suggestions on what the workshop should cover before the end of the week.
Ms Bakubaku-Vos reminded the Committee of a pending meeting dealing with the closure of the Cape Peninsula Organisation for the Aged (CPOA) Old Age Homes.
The Chairperson said the meeting would hold until after the Committee returns from the constituency period.
The Chairperson thanked the Committee Members and the support staff.
The meeting was adjourned.
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