Western Cape Appropriation Bill: Social Development

Social Development (WCPP)

17 March 2022
Chairperson: Mr D Plato (DA)
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Meeting Summary


Appropriation Bill

The Committee met with the Department of Social Development to deliberate and adopt Vote 7: Social Development in the schedule to the Western Cape Appropriation Bill for the 2021/22 financial year. 

The Committee wanted to know what partnerships the Department had formed in the private sector to help mitigate the budget cuts affecting the various projects of the Department in the province. The problems to be mitigated were providing sanitary pads, old age and disability shelters, gender-based violence against women; child and youth care support; and food relief for the areas most seriously affected.     

Members expressed concern that the Department seemed to be employing the same strategies to deal with the new conditions. It was suggested that the current strategies did not have the impact they were supposed to have in communities.

The main interest of the Committee was how the Department sought to stretch its limited budget this financial year. Members asked the Department to explain the differences in the programmes that had lost funding compared to those that had received an increase, despite the Department having a stringent budget. Advertising, for instance, had been allocated an increased budget, while funding for non-governmental organisations had been significantly cut.

The Committee adopted Budget Vote 7, with the ANC and Al Jama-ah expressing a minority view to withhold their support.

Meeting report

Opening remarks by the Minister

Ms Sharna Fernandez, Western Cape Provincial Minister of Social Development, said Covid-19 had affected a number of people. The province had seen a migration into the region. There had been settlements emerging during the pandemic, so service delivery had needed to expand to meet the demands of the increasing number of people in the province. She was also mindful that unemployment and poverty had been increasing, and sadly, the Department of Social Development (DSD) had had a budget cut. Cuts needed were done in the context of doing what was in the citizens' and stakeholders' best interest.

The DSD was facing severe financial constraints as it headed into the next financial year, but this was not at the making or like of the Department. She wanted to assure Members that she was trying to ensure the Department's statutory and essential services required were met. The Department was looking for ways to combat the cuts to ensure that they delivered services to the six regions. Another factor was that Covid had curtailed the DSD in its delivery of services. During the fourth wave, the Minister herself had seen saw the queues, the poverty and unemployment.

She was certain Members were aware there had been a lot of crime. The Department had seen this happening first hand, as there were staff that had been hijacked and some that had been pistol-whipped. There was a lot to worry about, as this added to the ever-increasing demands on the DSD. However, she was hopeful that the leadership of the Head of Department (HOD), Dr Robert Macdonald, would spearhead them in the right direction.              

Dr Macdonald said significant cuts in most areas characterised the budget being tabled. The Department had had to deal with the worst-case scenarios predicted in 2021. He had looked at the provincial revenue expenditure for the 2019/20 financial year and compared them to the estimates for this financial year, and the budget was about R85 million lower. The reduced budget meant the Department was facing severe financial trouble. Since Covid, there was an increase in the need for services while having a significantly lower budget. The effects of the reduced budget were going to be felt particularly in the non-governmental organisation (NGO) sector and departmental operations like filling vacancies, so the DSD would be significantly on the back foot.       

The Department had tried its best to minimise the damage. The budget that was being tabled today was a compromise between competing demands and the shrinking resource base. There had been specifically earmarked funds meant to address the specific Covid needs like food relief and the sanitary dignity project and other areas of material relief. He wanted to make that proviso upfront before heading to the discussion.


Ms N Bakubaku-Vos (ANC) said she had written to the Chairperson to ask for an urgent meeting with the HOD to ask what he knew about the [former MEC] Fritz sexual assault scandal, but the Chairperson had not replied to her or even acknowledged receipt of the letter. They needed to talk about the abuse of young women in the Department, and she would like a response before the meeting proceeded to other aspects.

Ms W Philander (DA) called a point of order, saying that the meeting was to discuss the budget, and this was not relevant to the agenda.

The Chairperson responded to Ms Bakubaku-Vos, noting communication was coming, and a meeting was scheduled to deal with that matter.

Ms Bakubaku-Vos said many people across the province were very hungry. She gave an example of Khayamnandi, where people had taken food subsidies that were intended for other beneficiaries because they were hungry.

Minister Fernandez agreed with Ms Bakubaku-Vos. She had gone to small towns and seen how people were suffering -- the long queues and the hunger. Unemployment was real, and there was no silver bullet for it. Children's safety and the number of child death cases hit the Department as they occurred, and the focus would have to be on preventative work to address this. When it came to poverty, there was an allocation from the Department to deal with some of the issues, but it was not possible to resolve them all because of budgetary constraints.

Dr Macdonald said child protection was one of the only programmes where the Department had managed to increase the budget slightly. This was encouraged by the increased need for it and the fact that the child NGO sector had been hit hard by the pandemic, meaning that there were a lot more vulnerable children at the moment. For child murders, there was a range of interventions planned for the year ahead in the DSD's annual performance plan and its larger safety plan for the province. The Department was committed to strengthening the child protective services and social worker roles as part of the area-based teams for community safety. The most significant contributor to child murders was involvement with gang activities. 

Mr Charles Jordan, Chief Director: Children, Families and Early Childhood Development (ECD), said that as part of the Department's strategic work, the first thing to be done was to strengthen NGOs. There were new positions added to the child protection sector specifically. At the moment, there were 858 social workers and auxiliary social workers that the Department was funding. More resources had been added to statutory organisations so that they could be sustainable.

Safety parents was another vital area strengthened for child safety. Children were placed with these people on an emergency basis, at any time of the day or week. The Department also implemented the foster care programme. There were various other projects. For example, the Department tracks the 56 000 children on the system. The Department also had a system for specific child clearances to place the child in the right home. The Department now had access to the child protection system to look more closely into child safety.

Other programmes included drop-in centres for children, a one-stop where children were provided for, from food to hygiene. There were also teenage pregnancy programmes and fatherhood programmes meant to help facilitate children being brought up. In cases where children were dying of unnatural causes, panels involving the DSD, the Department of Health (DoH)  and the South African Police Service (SAPS). If there was a case that signalled that it might be an unnatural death, it would be referred to the DSD for investigation because if there were siblings in the house, they could also be in danger. There was also a strengthening of early childhood development (ECD) centres to protect children during the day.


Discussion on pages 289 - 291 of the budget

Ms Bakubaku-Vos referenced the second sentence of the second paragraph on page 290 and asked the following questions:

How were rising population and rising unemployment adding pressure to the Department and how was the budget responding to that?  

How many child-headed households had been created by Covid19? How many support packages were given to them?

Other than food meals and supporting community kitchens, what other food programmes were in place to help needy people? Further, what was the possibility of increasing the number of Community Nutrition and Development Centres (CNDCs) to give groceries to families on long weekends and December holidays when they were closed.   

Lastly, she asked whether there were any shortages of social and social auxiliary workers and whether the Department would apologise for its role in establishing the Strandfontein concentration of homeless people and their families.

Ms R Windvogel (ANC) referred to the second paragraph of page 291 and said the Western Cape was home to 2.4 million youths between 18 and 34. In another meeting, the Minister said that one of the significant issues affecting youths' mental health was drugs. She asked if the Minister or her Department had had any communication with the DoH on addressing these social problems.

Mr G Brinkhuis (Al Jama-ah) referenced page 289:

Considering the situation in Ukraine, the next couple of months were going to be presented with an increase in food prices, adding to the current realities in the Western Cape, while dealing with budgetary constraints, so what was the possibility that the government could create a partnership with the private sector? It seemed that the only way for the Western Cape government to overcome the issues it already had was to partner with the private sector so that people could have a hot meal, especially now that winter was coming. It seemed like there was no better time.                                 

Ms Philander referenced page 289 in terms of the core functions and responsibilities of the Department:

Given the competing interests with budgetary constraints, had the Department employed any other measures to supplement its shortcomings?

She also referenced an education meeting earlier and said one of the main problems was children not attending school. She wanted to know the function of DSD in ensuring that children got to school as recipients of social grants.

Mr R Mackenzie (DA) wanted to know what measures were implemented to support social and social auxiliary workers on the field, as they did such important work. A year or two ago, the DSD spent around R53 million on food relief in extremely difficult circumstances, so should one expect similar relief this coming year?           

DSD's response

Minister Fernandez said one of the big questions she asked was if fuel price was expected to go upwards of R40 a litre, how that would affect government employees meant to be delivering services to the people? What would the impact be -- not just for the DSD, but for all the other government departments? How would goods be transported to people -- that was the starting point. Nothing could be more important than partnering up with the private sector at this stage. She met with an American delegation and the National Lotteries along with the Premier. She noticed the amount of lotto money going out of the province was less than the amount coming in. First National Bank (FNB) had also established a desk to deal with early childhood development.

The problem with these challenges was that they were not just DSD issues but also governmental issues. The recovery plan had four priorities -- dealing with Covid, unemployment and economic recovery, community safety, and the dignity of individuals, where the focus was on food aid. She mentioned this to show that the departments were not working in silos anymore. In fact, the education issue was being addressed by five ministers, which also applied to gender-based violence (GBV) and other matters of a similar nature.

Dr Macdonald said the Western Cape saw a population going above the gross domestic price (GDP) growth rate, meaning that the population overall was getting poorer. As the population grew, the personnel required to serve it was not increasing. This meant that the staff were less able to meet the demands, and NGOs were also getting less done as problems mounted. Therefore, the DSD had to prioritise rendering its constitutionally and legislatively mandated services, but it had less discretion on what its funds could be used for.

The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) assumed much of the responsibility for food relief and grant payments. The DSD definitely had a budget set aside for such issues, but SASSA led in that regard. However, because of the added pressures of recent times, they were also having administrative and capacity issues affecting the distribution of funds.

The increased unemployment tended to increase social pathologies such as substance abuse and domestic violence, and child safety was also affected. There was also a growing elderly population in the province, which meant an increase in the need for elderly social services. 

There was no exact number of child-headed households due to Covid-19; however, the number of child-headed households on the DSD's database in the province prior to the pandemic stood at 28. Various services were provided to these households, like psychosocial support provided by NGOs, material support, and helping with school attendance and homework.

Regarding the support given to households during weekends and holidays, food relief was provided by the DSD through NGO drop-in centres for children. The Department also provided food for homeless shelters and nursing homes, amongst others, so the Department provided quite a lot of relief. The major injection for these services was SASSA and other grants like Covid relief grants, social grants, disability grants, etc. There was no possibility of expanding CNDCs because of the already mentioned constraints, but there was an intention to sustain the already existing ones.                       

Mr Jordan responded on the issue of social workers and auxiliary social workers and said there were about 36 NGOs with one social worker at each, assisted by auxiliary social workers.

The City of Cape Town established the shelter in Strandfontein. Transgressions were being looked into, but the DSD did not have a role in its establishment.

Ms Leana Goosen, Chief Director: Social Welfare and Restorative Services, said the technical process regarding substance abuse treatment depended on the type of substance used. One hospital was used to treat withdrawal, while another was for drug-induced mental health issues. DSD and the DoH shared responsibility -- for the DSD, it was treatment, and for the DoH it was the health component. There were quarterly meetings at a senior level between the two departments to discuss relevant matters.   

Mr Jordan responded to whether the budget responded to the bulging issues of substance abuse in the province. He said the substance abuse programme had been one of the programmes that had received budgetary cuts, so there would be reduced resources for substance abuse. As it stood, there had been a decrease in the number of people seeking treatment centres -- people had been hesitant about going to them, so the demand had been low. The DSD was currently looking at ways in which people could be encouraged to make more use of these facilities.

Regarding programmes aimed at the youth, there was a transversal approach with the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, which was involved in the well-being cluster of the workers and other aspects of safety and economic development. Within the DSD, there were specific youth development programmes aimed at those at risk of being in trouble with the law. Child and youth care centres were currently very full with referrals from the courts so that they could be brought into the Department's programmes.

Mr Mzwandile Hewu, Chief Director: Community Development, DSD, said there was a youth developmental programme within the Department. There were specific interventions for what other departments were doing for young people. For example, the Sports and Culture Department would have sports and culture-related events, and the Economic Development Department would create economic opportunities for young people. The DSD, in particular, supported non-profit organisations (NPOs) to run programmes targeting young people through the provision of soft and hard skills so that they could get jobs. There were 12 skills cafes province-wide, and most of them teach the youth online information like social media, computer use and the internet, in general, to enable them to look for jobs as young people on their own. These young people were then linked with other opportunities such as bursaries or permanent employment through the sector education and training authorities (SETAS).

Dr Macdonald said he could confirm that the Department already had a number of private sector partnerships already going on within the Department. There was also a forum called the Western Cape Food Forum chaired by the Economic Development Department, and they worked as an interface between the province and the government. Two hundred organisations behind them worked in food relief and other humanitarian relief. They worked as much as government in bringing in aid to help those who were the most vulnerable. There was a very good working relationship with the private sector to provide humanitarian aid. The DSD also had its partnership development forum, where it partnered through memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with municipalities and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to further the goals of the DSD.

Many of the measures taken to deliver on core functions were related to the already mentioned partnerships. It had leveraged the benefit of working with the DSD to stakeholders at the Saldhana industrial development zone (IDZ), for example, where the DSD had been used to obtain office space services closer to workers. The Department had brought in youngsters to provide them with opportunities like internships. Another example was where the Department had just streamlined the process of dispensing funds to NGOs and the electronic foster care management system, designed to streamline the work that social workers were doing in capturing data of the children they were working with on the system. The electronic probation management system was also designed to make probation services easier. There were a number of systems to make sure the Department cut overheads to make the system more manageable. Covid had also led to new practices that had led to cost-saving measures. These would continue to save the Department money by reducing transport costs by holding meetings online with people across the province and the country. 

The function of the DSD in getting children on SASSA grants back to school was case dependant -- it would depend on the social worker working with the child. If they reported the matter to SASSA, then there could be an intervention done on that basis. The DSD had a great working relationship with SASSA and worked well together on such cases, so it was best to report them at the local DSD office or the local SASSA office. This matter was tricky because there also tended to be an under-reporting of child absenteeism because schools did not want the child to lose the grant, so this was not easy to deal with.

Ms Annemie van Reenen, Director: Operational Management Support, DSD, said there was an employee health and wellness programme where employees could enrol if they were having difficulty. There was one for the office, where it could be done as a group if needed. The Department worked with a clinical psychologist on such matters.

Referring to the safety aspect, she said the DSD had partnered with Community Safety and SAPS to provide safe passage in places like Khayelitsha, where their staff faced the most hijackings, to safely carry out their case visits.

Dr Macdonald said the previous budget for food relief had been R53 million and would be R58 million this year. These funds would enable the Department to continue the work that it was doing already. It would not have been a cash injection from National Treasury to provide further assistance -- this amount was from the provincial budget.

Ms Windvogel clarified her question and said she was not asking about the programmes, but rather about the youth development strategy in line with the national youth development strategy and the integrated youth development strategy. She also expressed the need for the Department to do things differently. It was doing the same thing over and over again, and she was not feeling the impact of the work that was being done at all.

Dr Macdonald said the Department supported the national youth strategy, but the leader/implementer of that programme was the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture. The DSD also had programmes that fed into that, but the programme in its entirety was a transversal undertaking.       

Ms Philander also clarified that her question was not so much about stopping social grants but the collaborative approach with the Education Department as to why a child was not attending school, the underlying reasons for their absence, and the effect of the Department’s intervention in such cases.      

Dr Macdonald said the Department strived to have a good balance between the school, the social worker, and sometimes the SAPS to do what was in the child's best interest. It worked quite well in rural areas, but it was not so easy in the metros. There was a lot of referral between DSD and the Education Department, and they had been working together to develop a model that could best help the children in school without alarming their parents.   

Discussion on pages 292 - 295 of the budget

Ms Windvogel referred to paragraph one on page 292 and asked what role was given to the Department under the safety plan and how much was allocated to execute that role.

Regarding paragraph two, she said it was actually sad that some victims of sexual offences were employed in this Department. Given the seriousness of sexual offence crimes in the province, does the Minister not think it was best to hand over such a case to the SAPS?

Does the Department have a GBV/sexual harassment policy? If so, how did it work, and how was it implemented? What services were provided in 11 police areas, and what work were the respective GBV shelters doing? What had the Department done to respond to the call for there to be more GBV shelters? 

Ms Bakubaku-Vos asked, given the increased needs, what was the total budget for humanitarian relief? What was the nature of the support to be given?

Was there an increased demand for psychosocial services across the province? There was a relationship between DSD and the Education Department to put graduate social workers in schools. What was the view of the DSD on this and what interventions would be employed in the mentioned 11 police areas to make sure that social workers were deployed at them?

Regarding page 294, what were the details of the GBV implementation plan? Which tasks had been given to the various departments to ensure they executed the plan well, and how much was allocated in total?

DSD's response

Minister Fernandez said she understood that the internal report on the departmental sexual abuse issue was still being processed. The complainants would need to lodge a complaint at the police station, which unfortunately required them to step forward. She remained firmly behind the GBV action plan, had started a transversal process about 16 months ago and met regularly every month with all 13 departments, with presentations from key stakeholders who head the SAPS GBV units in the province. The departments were now working on tool kits on gender mainstreaming. The Departments of Agriculture and Economic Development, amongst others, were making great strides. This was a difficult task because not everyone had a good understanding of GBV, which was why it was being handled internally to understand gender sensitivity and gender violence. In fact, this month, there was going to be a seminar led by Treasury where they would present on gender-based budgeting.

A lot was happening in government. Of course, the Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP) forum, involving SAPS, the Networking HIV/AIDS Community of South Africa (NACOSA), and others, was being rolled out across the province. So, from a GBV perspective, the transversal plan seemed to be in full swing. She added that she believed that charity begins at home and that all employees would become ambassadors for action against GBV.      

Dr Macdonald said the budget allocations made and the DSD's role had all been incorporated into the various programmes. There was no specific amount allocated for the Department, but there had been money allocated for GBV, child protection and social crime prevention, for example.  

Mr Jordan said the role of the DSD on the safety plan was in conjunction with other departments like Health and Education, SAPS and Community Safety. When there was a case in specific hotspot areas, it would be referred to the DSD as part of the process. In some of these areas, there were GBV shelters -- some of them permanent shelters -- and various programmes were presented either by the DSD or by other NGO programmes. It was ensured that the referral pathways in these areas were streamlined to function at full capacity.

Dr Macdonald said there were various programmes like probation and diversion, GBV services and children in conflict with the law. It was about making sure that services were available in those areas and that referrals were up to date. The Department had a GBV/sexual harassment policy. As the Minister had mentioned, there was a sexual harassment contact person who would assess the survivor to ensure that they got the necessary support to get the evidence. This would hopefully lead to an investigation that would result in the right outcome, which was essentially consequence management for those individuals. This policy was part of a transversal initiative, so it is currently being reviewed.              

Ms Goosen referred to the services provided in the 11 GBV hotspots and said most of the GBV centres were situated in the metros but last year, there had been a push to expand to rural areas like the Karoo and the west coast. A breakdown could be provided in writing concerning which centres were linked to which hotspots. There had not been a reduction in the budgetary allocation for this work, so there had been a drive to increase the number of beds for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning, intersex, asexual and more (LGBTQIA+) people, with the main expansion in the mid-Karoo. The other types of services, like the Khusela centres, were also going to be an expansion at the Victoria Hospital, together with the Department of Health, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the SAPS. There were holistic services at that hospital, where forensic services were also situated.

Mr Jordan said there had been a name change for the old Isibindi programme, a project in which people from the community were screened to become child and youth workers and provide more holistic care to their communities. NGOs that provided this service would look at children at school, look into the child’s family, and undertake interventions with the family where necessary. If there were issues, they would come to the DSD for referrals to get the correct form of help. The main aim was to look into the family.

Ms Windvogel, referring to page 295, asked for a breakdown of how many shelters existed and how many additional shelters had been provided by the national government.

How did young girls not at school benefit from the dignity project?

Dr Macdonald said the breakdown could be provided in writing. Six additional shelters had been made available by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure.

For young girls not at school, there had been a distribution of sanitary wear, especially during Covid, to NGOs for them to distribute. Most of these products went to schools since they were the intended targets. The reason was that there was a lot of absenteeism at schools due to the lack of sanitary products.

Discussion on pages 296 - 300 of the budget

Mr Mackenzie, referring to page 297, wanted to follow up on the sanitary dignity project. He said the Committee had visited the facility and did the project's distribution a few years back. He asked which schools had been beneficiaries for the financial year.    

Ms Bakubaku-Vos asked why the provincial Department had allowed for there to be a decrease in front line services. Did the Department still have ECD functions or were they transferred to the Education Department? What were the reasons for budget cuts in the three programmes, and which programmes would be affected?   

How many social workers were employed under the earmarked allocation, and how many social work graduates would be employed? In programme four, was that the total budget that the Department had to deal with violence against women?

DSD's response

Dr Macdonald responded to the decision to decrease the budget for frontline services and said there had been a total cut, and the issue was to try to balance the cut among the different departments. The only department that was not cut was Education, and that was just because they were severely lacking when it came to managing learner numbers. The province was a casualty of the reduced fiscus, revenue and GDP in the pandemic.

The DSD no longer had an ECD function -- it had migrated to the Education Department. However, the partial care and after-care that comes with ECD did not migrate, which meant it was still very much part of the DSD.

Mr Juan Smith, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), DSD, responded on the budget cut and the programmes affected. He said the shortfall since last year was about R85 million, and since then Treasury had provided some NPO funding of R21 million for homeless shelters. The Department had had to look within its budget to see where to cut. Unfortunately, most of the cuts were applied to compensation of employees (COE). There had been a recruitment plan of about R25 million for new staff to be appointed. The same applied to transfers to NGOs, which had to be cut by R33 million from the R1 billion budget. Another R4 million was cut from information technology (IT). The increases in the table were an attempt to get back to normal operations and restore capacity to normal figures.

Mr Mackenzie wanted to clarify whether the R33 million decrease was for the next financial year or the current year and what the direct impact on the NGOs was going to be.

Mr Smith said the R33 million was for the current financial year. The amounts were taken out of various projects of the Department. 

The Chairperson wanted to clarify if the current cuts were linked to the Covid pandemic.

Mr Smith said they were, and the prioritisation was to deal with the effects of the pandemic. Usually, the Department would take steps to ensure that it did not decrease the budget in areas where there was service delivery pressure, but because of the pandemic, there had to be a reprioritisation of resources.

Discussion on pages 301 - 330 of the budget

Ms Windvogel, referring to page 301, asked what the reasons for the budget in table 8.2 were. She understood that there would generally be cuts because of the unprecedented times, but she asked why there were cuts in this particular situation.

Mr Smith said the Department had to look at the budget to continue its support in terms of the targets that the Department had for the financial year. The Department had not cut victim empowerment and child protective services, and other areas had minimal cuts to ensure that some of the services required were still rendered. The elderly also had to be looked after as the more vulnerable people. With NGOs, it had to be remembered that it was not always a case of just budget cuts - there were some cases of non-compliance, so the budget was cut because they could not render the services they were tasked with doing. During the height of the pandemic, some ECD centres were closed, so some of those funds were used for child care through NGOs.

Dr Macdonald added that the goods and services budget in the Department had been cut to the bare minimum at the same time as the national wage increase, which meant that shifts had to be made to payments because the province still had to make good on its contracts. NGOs were one of the few areas where it was legally able to make cuts, unlike other areas like employee compensation and goods and services.

Minister Fernandez commented that it was a hard time for the Department. There were external pressures and internal funding constraints. She referred back to the earlier example about what would happen if fuel went up to R40 a litre, where the impact on operational expenses would be significant. Unfortunately, the DSD had to look at key aspects that it needed to preserve to ensure that the delivery of essential services continued. The Department was going to try to maintain funding to key areas, but where it was required to cut, it would reduce while still ensuring that services could continue. She needed to be transparent that the coming year would be tough. The Department was looking at innovation, private/public partnerships, from NGOs to the United States Aid for International Development (USAID) and other mechanisms, to attempt to absorb the shortfalls occurring. 

Ms Bakubaku-Vos, referring to page 302, asked what the social worker-population ratio was in both the urban and rural areas. How many interns were employed in the office of the MEC between 2012 and 2019? She asked that the details be forwarded in writing.

Referring to page 303, she was aware of a 50-year-old living in a facility for over two decades and was now being evicted because he was underage. How did the Department deal with such things?

Referring to page 306, what were the reasons for budget cuts for older persons and persons living with a disability?

Referring to page 309, what were the reasons for budget cuts to care for families? How often were overtime payments delayed, and what were the reasons for this?   

Referring to page 311, given the cuts in the budget, did the Department think that the amount allocated was going to be enough?

Dr Macdonald said he did not have the numbers at hand and asked that a formal written response be provided on the exact numbers per region. There was a shortfall of about 147 social workers at the moment.

Minister Fernandez said the number of interns in the MEC’s office had been a parliamentary question, and there had been a written response. During her time in office, one intern got a supervisory role a month into her internship, and the Minister had since not had an intern in her office. She would forward a copy of the response to the Committee.

She referred to support given to older persons and persons living with disabilities under 60 and said that according to the Older Persons Act (OPA), a nursing home should not have people below the age of 60, as it was exclusively for people over the age of 60. However, exceptions were made because there were not enough disability homes in the province, and because the demand was so high, there would be people under the age of 60 years in nursing homes. The eviction process was not under the DSD, and that was partly because the board of an old-age facility was not under government. Old age homes were independent organisations, so the Department would look at how a person was evicted -- whether it was in accordance with the home's management board and if a solution could be negotiated. If mediation did not work, the Department would assist in finding the person alternative accommodation.            

Ms Windvogel asked what legislation drove the implementation of youth development in the province? Was there a youth development policy, and what were the plans to increase the funding for youth development in the province?

Dr Macdonald said the legislation used for youth development depended on how youth development was defined. Aspects of the Children's Act were applicable, especially to older teenagers, but there was also legislation developed around the National Youth Development Agency. There was also the youth development policy in the province developed in the previous term but, as indicated earlier, youth development in the province was spearheaded by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS). The DSD could not expand on what was there but could only maintain the expansion, which was the prerogative of the DCAS.

Ms Windvogel referred to the need for a gender-sensitive budget and asked when the Department would have a budget that addressed women's empowerment in the Department.

Mr Mackenzie said, as far as he knew, the Department did not have distribution centres. Could it be clarified what the "food distribution" budget meant?

Dr Macdonald said the national Department of Social Development had developed the programme for youth development, but it had not come with any additional budget or new personnel, so if the Department had wanted to staff the programme it would have had to relocate staff from other programmes, or somehow split some of the existing programmes. Therefore, the work that was done in that regard was through the victim empowerment programme. The programmes were being done through the auspices of existing programmes. The sanitary dignity programme was another example of that.

Concerning food distribution, Mr Hewu said the food distribution centre and community nutrition development were a line item. This was an earmarked allocation, and the province used to call it a targeted feeding site. It was a line item that addressed what was done in the province, which targeted feeding distribution and development centres.

Mr Mackenzie said that perhaps the Department should consider rewording that item because it created an impression that there were DSD food storage facilities in the Western Cape.     

Ms Windvogel said there used to be training given to community social service workers to supplement the work done by social workers. Would this be part of the training programme for this financial year?

Dr Macdonald said the Department was not directly involved in the training of individuals in that manner, and that was work that NGOs usually did. The Department trained community child and youth care workers and auxiliary social workers.  

Mr Mackenzie said that the budget for consultants and professional services had gone from R900 000 to R2.9 million. What had been the reason for this increase? Training and development had shown an increase from R1 million to R2.6 million and there was an increase in Government Motor Transport (GMT) for fleet services, from R21 million to R25 million. He sought clarity on the reasons for these increases.   

Mr Smith said the increase in advertising was because of statutory adverts, like those for missing children and the associated costs.

He said the DSD could not afford to offer new bursaries. The Department was currently accommodating the students that already had bursaries till they finished their studies.

For consultants and professional services, this was additional funding to enhance the NPO system and the mobile connectivity project and was received from the provincial treasury.

The increase in fleet costs was an attempt to head back to normal figures again, as the pandemic was slowly ending.  

For the last three years, training had been virtual, so the increased budget was an attempt to engage people on a face-to-face level, going forward.

Mr Mackenzie wanted clarity on consultancy services.

Mr Smith said the increased budget was because of additional funding to cater for new projects starting in the new financial year.

Mr Denver Holly, Director: Finance, said consultants were used in the development of the system itself. It would go through a procurement process and be activated from there. It would be for NPO systems and mobile connectivity for social workers.

The Chairperson asked the HOD and the Minister to make concluding remarks.

Concluding remarks

Dr Macdonald said the implications of the budget cuts would unfold as the year progressed, and there would be opportunities in the future to come and account again on the matter.

Minister Fernandez thanked the Chairperson and Members of the Committee for the opportunity to present and account to the Committee. The questions asked were robust and kept her awake at night. Her door was always open and she was willing to hear any insights from Members that could assist in tackling the many issues that lay ahead.

With the budget now tabled, the Chairperson took the opportunity to thank the Minister and the rest of the DSD for the detailed answers provided in the meeting.

Committee resolutions/action

The Chairperson asked if there were any resolutions or recommendations from the Members.

Mr Brinkhuis said he would like the Committee to meet with the national Department of Social Development, with the Minister present. There were plenty of issues that needed clarity from the national department.

Ms Windvogel asked if the Department could investigate the number of child-headed households resulting from the pandemic. She was not happy with the answers given concerning the sanitary dignity project. She had recently gone to a warehouse full of sanitary pads meant for school children and wanted to know how they were going to distribute them to those not in school. She also asked for a list of NPOs that were affected by this year's budget cuts.

Ms Bakubaku-Vos requested the Department give a breakdown of the population to social worker ratio per region. Adding to the sentiments expressed by Ms Windvogel, she suggested they should also send a breakdown of the NGOs that they say distribute the sanitary pads to children. The Minister had not answered her question on the interns correctly - the Member asked for the number of interns from 2012-2019, not the current interns in her office.

Mr Mackenzie wanted the list of schools that had received sanitary pads last year and schools that would receive them this year.

Ms Philander referred to a storage facility requested for use by an old age home in Paarl. As far as she knew, the matter was not resolved, so she asked that the matter be put back on the agenda. 

Adoption of Vote 7

The Committee Report on Vote 7 in the schedule to the Western Cape Appropriation Bill [B2-2022] was adopted, with the ANC and Al Jama-ah expressing a minority view not to support the Vote.

The meeting was adjourned. 


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