Children’s Amendment Bill: DSD response to issues raised during public hearings (postponed)

Social Development

23 February 2022
Chairperson: Ms N Mvana (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary


DSD response to to issues raised during public hearings (document not made public)

In this virtual meeting, the Department was supposed to brief the Committee on its response to issues raised during the public hearings.

However, Members voiced concerns that many of the issues raised in the public hearings were excluded from the presentation, most notably information from the national hearings and felt that it would not be doing justice to the process to engage with the presentation in its unfinished format.

The Department acknowledged the concerns from Members and agreed that stakeholders concern on key amendments should be detailed in the presentation. The DSD explained to Members that a lack of capacity in the legal department contributed to why the Department was unable to present all necessary information to the Committee.

It was resolved that the DSD must go back and return once the additional information was included in the briefing on the responses to issues raised during the national and provincial hearings on the Children’s Amendment Bill. The Department was afforded extra time to prepare for the briefing that was rescheduled to 16 March 2022. 

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed Members. She noted some dissatisfaction expressed about the Department’s report. The report lacked answers to questions raised from communities. While she acknowledged that in certain circumstances this will not be possible, she asked the Department of Social Development (DSD) to respond to the issues raised during the public hearings.

Ms B Masango (DA) felt the report did not reflect the national and provincial hearings with organisations as well as the responses given. This was important to have at the time as the purpose of the presentation was critical in preparing the Committee for the clause-by-clause analysis of the bill. The presentation did not supply the details expected from the Department.

Ms Masango asked if the DSD was aware that it was important to include information from the national hearings. If so, she asked why it was not included in the response. The presentation only included one slide referencing the foster care system, overlooking the North Gauteng High Court judgement that provides a comprehensive solution to the foster care crisis. The presentation also failed to mention the organisations that responded to sections of the bill directly related to foster care.

She said felt that the presentation was not at a stage to be presented to the Committee. The presentation failed to thoroughly engage in many of the amendments that will make major changes in the country.

Mr D Stock (ANC) shared the concerns of being presented an incomplete response. He felt that the acting Director General (DG) should be allowed to present the response and appropriate measures could be taken afterwards. He agreed that the Departmental presentation fell short on several key amendments.

Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) agreed that many concerns raised in the public hearings were excluded from the presentation, most notably information from the national hearings. She felt that it would not be doing justice to the process to engage with the presentation in its unfinished format.

The Committee made great efforts during the lengthy process of having public engagements in provinces with affected individuals. In her view, there was a flippant tone to certain issues raised and answered. Issues relating to adoption, baby-savers, social workers were not elaborated on in detail.

The Department was asked where the responses were to the national hearings. Previously, the Committee had received more comprehensive documents that responded specifically to each of the concerns raised by the various organisations.

Ms M Sukers (ACDP) said that the presentation, in its current form, did not reflect the depth and intensity of matters heard on the ground. It would merely be a tick-box exercise if the Committee allowed the Department to not reflect on the myriad of issues raised. This would be ineffective for the process. Issues from the national and provincial hearings, at the very least, should be addressed in supplementary documents to ensure an effective public participation process.

Ms K Bilankulu (ANC) asked that the Department be given the opportunity to present the response it had prepared. Once the Committee has provided amendments, the Department would have to add that to the supporting legislation with the responses to the public hearings.

The Chairperson agreed with Mr Stock that the Department should be given an opportunity to present what was prepared.

Ms J Mangyane (ANC) echoed the view that the Department should present their response. She suggested that if the Committee is still dissatisfied, then another meeting should be held to not further delay the process.

The Chairperson said that the Committee was in consensus to allow the Department to present. Though, it was clear that there was much more to discuss beyond the meeting due to the dissatisfaction experienced by the Committee.

Director General’s Response

Mr Linton Mchunu, Acting Director General, DSD, acknowledged the challenges in terms of process and preparation experienced by the Department. There had been a meeting with the content advisor the day before to prepare. The presentation was not prepared in the required manner. It lacked a legal perspective and responses to oral and written technical proposals from public hearings in provinces.

The DSD mistakenly thought that it was meant to present a summary of the key issues presented by the content advisor, as opposed to preparing a comprehensive response to all matters raised in each of the public hearings.

Prior to the meeting with the content advisor, the DSD had compiled a thorough report of 122 slides responding to specific issues raised by stakeholders in provinces. The Department had missed the mark in terms of understanding the content of the meeting at the time.

The DG mentioned that the Department had suffered a great loss in terms of the legal unit. Some staff who were working on the report had recently left which created a gap in institutional knowledge in certain areas.

He suggested that the Department could make the presentation and touch on aspects that speak to specific issues raised by stakeholders. Then the Committee would be able to respond to those specific concerns. Alternatively, he suggested that the Committee reconvene in a week and a half and be provided with the presentation detailing the inputs from stakeholders.

The DG apologised for the shortcomings of the Department and noted that they were required to present the specifics as requested by the Committee. He appreciated the assistance from the content advisor.

The Chairperson said that the Department would be allowed to present, though it must also provide the Committee with a written version of the presentation.

Ms Bilankulu expressed disappointment pointing out that the previous week the Committee had shared issues that were to be included in the report. The Department did not work on the report until meeting with the content advisor the day before the presentation. The Department had adequate knowledge on processing bills and could have presented something more comprehensive.

She stated that the Department shouldn’t be the ones to prescribe for extra time when they were the ones to not complete the work. She suggested that the DSD provide a report the coming Monday or Tuesday, though it should still present their prepared response in the current meeting.

Ms van der Merwe supported Ms Bilankulu’s sentiment that there would be no point in engaging with an incomplete presentation. She appreciated the honesty from the DG regarding the status of the report. She recognised that the Department did have a more comprehensive response and hoped that it included the findings from the closed and national hearings held.

She added that it would be an injustice to the process to have a meeting surrounding an ill prepared presentation. The process ahead required the Committee to have a full matrix and responses to all organisations to engage with. The Department should be afforded the time it requested to provide the Committee with a comprehensive written report.

Mr Stock supported the views of the Committee regarding the report falling short on concerns raised by the public. Regarding the lack of legal advisors, he said that the Department should go back to complete the work thoroughly. Based on the Committee programme, there was space for the Department to reconvene with the Committee during the week of 16 March there is.

Ms Masango highlighted that the loss in the legal department had affected the process greatly due to the complexity of the bill. She felt the time should be afforded to find a person to create a proper report.

The Committee agreed that the Department go back and properly execute the report that reflected the concerns from public hearings before presenting it to the Committee.

The Chairperson said that the meeting with the DSD would be held on 16 March.

The DG appreciated the guidance of the Committee. He felt it was important that the Department be upfront with the Committee of the challenges experienced. The DSD ensured that they would not let the Committee down by presenting a report with insufficient information.

Committee Minutes

Ms Lindiwe Nstabo, Committee Secretary, said that deliberations on the bill would be postponed affording the Committee time to reconvene with the Department.

The Committee adopted the minutes from 18 August 2021.

The Committee adopted the minutes from 25 August 2021.

The Committee adopted the minutes from 31 August 2021.

The Committee adopted the minutes from 1 September 2021.

The Committee adopted the minutes from 10 November 2021 with amendments.

The Committee adopted the minutes from 24 November 2021.

The meeting was adjourned.


Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: