The Portfolio Committee met virtually with the Department of Social Development to receive a report on the Department's performance for the fourth quarter of the 2021/22 financial year, and to consider the A-list of the Fund Raising Amendment Bill.
The presentation covered the performance for quarter 4, and an overview of the Department's five programmes—Administration; Social Assistance; Social Security Policy and Administration; Welfare Services Policy Development and Implementation Support; and Social Policy and Integrated Service Delivery—and issues such as entity oversight, social security policy development, an update on the Policy on Social Development Services to Persons with Disabilities, and a summary of expenditure over the fourth quarter period. The Department achieved 70% of its set targets, which showed a decline of 6% in comparison to the third quarter.
The ensuing discussion by Members included the Department's failure to achieve targets and the impact of not achieving goals; the effect of budget cuts; the content of the draft sector strategy for the employment of social workers; the outcomes of awareness programmes against gender-based violence at institutions of higher learning, as well as capacity building at certain hotspots; the issue of children with disabilities being out of the school system, and who did not have assistive devices; and details of irregular, fruitless, and wasteful expenditure cases.
Further discussion included whether the child support top-up grant had an age limit of 18; what the grant appeals were on in terms of which grants, and what the appeals were about; underspending on Community Nutrition and Development Centres; whether such centres were creating dependencies in the communities they operated in; issues with finding information on the Department's website, and the monthly R3 million bill for the Telkom toll-free line for Social Relief of Distress grant applications;
There was also a suggestion from a Member that the Department and the Committee have a workshop to empower Members with knowledge of certain issues, so that they would be able to speak to their constituents from an informed position.
The Committee also considered the A-list of the Fundraising Amendment Bill. It was proposed to change the number of board members from 14 to ten, which meant that the document had to be changed by the legal advisors, and then go back to the printers. The Committee agreed to have an additional meeting to adopt the A-list once the changes had been made.
The Chairperson accepted an apology from Deputy Minister of Social Development Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu and invited the Minister to give opening remarks.
Minister's opening remarks
Ms Lindiwe Zulu, Minister Social Development, explained that Covid-19 disturbed a lot of the Department of Social Development's (DSD's) work. So it found itself behind on presenting quarterly reports not because it wanted to be, but because of its challenges. It was also beginning to look at the plans for the next financial year which was 2022/2023, and therefore the pressure was on all of the Department's staff. She knew that pressure was on the Committee and the people she worked with in the ministry and the Department itself, but all were up to the task. The Department had achieved 70% of its planned targets for the period under review. That represented a 6% decline compared with the third quarter of 2021/2022.
Notwithstanding the decline against the planned quarterly targets, she was confident that the Department was continuously factoring implementation improvement lessons into each new quarter and financial year. The Department had spent 99.2% of its budget allocation of R235 billion for the 2021/2022 financial year. The presentation would contextualise the factors and areas where the underspending had occurred.
Most importantly, the Department, The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the National Development Agency (NDA) were increasingly pulling their planning and resources together through the portfolio approach when addressing people's needs. For those reasons overall, as much as the portfolio's collective investment contribution towards improving human-level outcomes introduced inefficiencies, the effectiveness of those interventions was starting to be evident in the change of people's lives. She continuously insisted to the Department, SASSA and the NDA alike that the ultimate measure of performance success was the state of the people. What the Department does must be seen and felt, and people must see the change. The Department was not the only one that contributed to that change. Therefore, the Department needed to tap into other departments so that the creation of a conducive environment for South Africa's people was interconnected with the rest of government, so it was seen and shown that government had one purpose, and that was serving its people. Therefore, the portfolio's continuous investment in addressing the state of the people was the most potent response to poverty, inequality, vulnerabilities, underdevelopment, shocks and disasters. While the Department was attending to the ordinary programmes to improve outcomes relative to the quality of people's lives, it was challenged to be responsive to the people's needs for reconstruction and recovery following the devastation and vulnerabilities that were introduced into their lives by the economic, health, climate and civil shocks that South African society had witnessed in recent months and years. The Department's intervention in that regard was a work in progress. For instance, it continued to implement the special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant to respond to the victims of the April 2022 floods in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the Eastern Cape.
Briefing by the Department of Social Development on the fourth term quarterly report on the financial and non-financial performance for the 2021/22 financial year (January – March 2022)
Mr Linton Mchunu, Director-General(DG), DSD, confirmed that the Department had achieved 70% (45 out of 64) of its planned targets, which showed a decline of 6% in comparison to the third quarter. However, six of these targets had been exceeded in earlier quarters, so the related annual targets had been achieved. If one added those six targets to the fourth quarter total, achievement would have been about 81%. The targets not achieved included targets within business units such as Families, Social Crime Prevention and Anti-Substance Abuse, HIV and AIDS, Children's Services, Services to Persons with Disabilities, and Non-Profit Organisations. In the main, the non-achievements were due to dependencies on other organisations such as the State Law Advisor and stringent procurement conditions. The Department had created a risk and mitigation strategy to look at non-achievement. Part of what the Department looked at was its dependencies outside of the Department itself, particularly those related to legislation. The DSD has maintained its practice of regularly conducting performance review sessions, which are starting to yield results. These performance review sessions provided controls and early warning systems to detect possible risks of non-achievements of targets. This helped identify the root causes of non-achievement. The Department had implemented measures to address those targets in the forthcoming quarter. With the annual review, the Department would show the Committee that it had migrated some targets into the 2022/2023 financial year planning.
Mr Mchunu added that the way in which the Department crafted its targets had improved over time. It currently applies SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound) principles to its targets. The planning overall within the Department had improved. The Minister had introduced a very important aspect: to look specifically at operational plans. That helped it to strengthen the way in which it planned for the implementation of its targets. The operational plans dealt with the "how" of what it had put in its APP.
The Department continued to implement its intervention in a Portfolio Approach to consolidate and strengthen its efforts to improve the quality of life of South Africa's people. Some of its targets had dependencies, even in the provinces. Because of concurrent functions in some areas, the Department had dependencies in the provinces.
Summary of Expenditure
Mr Fanie Esterhuizen, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), DSD, reported that the Department had spent 99.21% of its annual budget for the 2021/2022 financial year. Regarding quarterly spending, it significantly increased its spending in Quarters 3 and 4. It was concerned about its "slow spending" in Quarters 1 and 2, but in Quarters 3 and 4, it picked up its projects and programmes and ensured that it spent its allocation. He presented a summary of expenditure per programme, showing that the bulk of underspending had occurred in the social assistance programme (R1.8bn). This underspending related to old age and child support grants, for which fewer than expected beneficiaries had applied. With goods and services, there was close to 100% spending of the budget, but underspending of the operational budget was higher, especially in programmes 4 and 5, mainly due to Covid-19 restrictions. There had been no unauthorised expenditure in the year.
[See the document for details.]
Mr Thabani Buthelezi, Acting Deputy Director-General (DDG), DSD, reported that while significant progress was made, targets within the following sub-programmes were not fully achieved at the end of the fourth quarter:
- Finance: The annual target to establish and utilise a database of women-owned businesses was not achieved. National Treasury (NT) advised the Department that establishing a database of women-owned businesses would be seen as a set-aside policy and would therefore be irregular, and had advised the Department instead to promote women-owned businesses through sub-contracting as per the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework (PPPF).
- Information Management Systems and Technology (IMST): The training and roll-out of the Substance Abuse systems and the Alternative Care Management system into SDICMS were not achieved.
- entity oversight: shareholder compacts were developed but not implemented due to a lack of capacity and expertise. The development of the shareholder compacts would continue during the first quarter of 2022/23.
- social security policy development: public consultations on the Green Paper on Comprehensive Social Security had not been held. However, refinements to the green paper commenced and a Cabinet memo was submitted. The Green Paper had been gazetted for public consultations on 18 August 2021 and subsequently withdrawn on 31 August 2021 to allow the Department to provide better clarity on some of the technical aspects of the proposals. Draft regulations on the amended fundraising legislation could not be completed because the processing of the Bill by Parliament has not been concluded. The third edition of the Social Budget Bulletin had not been published due to delays in obtaining some Covid-19-related data.
- services to persons with disabilities: The Policy on Social Development Services to Persons with Disabilities had not been submitted to Cabinet for approval. The methodologies for Respite Care Services to Families and Persons with disabilities were not developed in two provinces as planned. It was essential to undertake a baseline survey to build a foundation and the data that would be useful in understanding the status of the services to families and children with disabilities in the two provinces before developing methodologies.
- professional social services: The Social Service Practitioners Draft Bill had not been submitted to Cabinet due to the dependency on Office of the Chief State Law Adviser (OCSLA) for final certification of the Bill.
• Victim Empowerment Programme: The Victim Support Services Bill had not been tabled in Cabinet for approval due to delays in responding to OCSLA comments and recommendations because of lack of capacity within the Legal Services Unit.
• social policy: Although one Policy Brief was developed, it was disseminated in April 2022, outside of the fourth quarter reporting period.
• population and development: The annual target to train 92 municipalities on the Integrating of Migration issues into the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) was not achieved. This was due to the unavailability of municipalities in the fourth quarter, as they were finalising the Integrated Development Plans.
Programme 1: Administration
Mr Buthelezi then covered the performance for Quarter 4 in Programme 1: Administration. This section included the annual target, the Quarter 4 target, achievements in Quarter 4, and the impact of the Department's intervention concerning each target.
[See the document for details.]
Programme 2: Social Assistance
Mr Buthelezi then covered the performance for Quarter 4 in Programme 2: Social Assistance. This section included the annual target, the Quarter 4 target, achievements in Quarter 4, and the impact of the Department's intervention concerning each target.
[See the document for details.]
Programme 3: Social Security Policy and Administration
Mr Anthony Makwiramiti, Acting DDG: Social Security, DSD, detailed Programme 3 fourth-quarter performance in terms of the annual target, the Quarter 4 target, achievements in Quarter 4, and the impact of the Department's intervention concerning each target. He summarised a number of policies and pieces of legislation at different phases of development within Programme 3, including:
- The Green Paper on Comprehensive Social Security, the Policy on Linking Children Grants Beneficiaries to Government Services;
- The Policy on Maternal Support;
- A Policy Proposal on Income Support to 18-59-year-olds;
- Consultations on the discussion document on the draft SASSA Amendment Bill; and
- A Policy on Voluntary Cover for Retirement and Risk Benefits for Atypical and Informal Sector Workers
[See the document for details.]
Programme 4: Welfare Services Policy Development and Implementation Support
Mr Buthelezi presented details of the Department's achievements in Early Childhood Development (ECD), Children's Legislation and Families. These included:
- The national consultative workshop with children on the draft Regulations on the Children's Amendment Bill;
- The development of the draft ECD Quality Assurance and Support System;
- The development of monitoring reports on ECD compliance with standard operating procedures for COVID-19;
- Quarterly monitoring reports determining the increase in the number of children accessing ECD services from provinces;
- Quarterly monitoring reports on the implementation of plans for registration of ECD services from provinces; and
- Consultations on the Revised White Paper on Families in North-West, Gauteng and the Western Cape.
Mr Buthelezi also covered the impact of the ECD interventions, as well as the impact of the HIV/AIDs programme, and children's services. Policies and legislation were also being developed concerning professional social services for older persons, as well as social crime prevention and anti-substance abuse (e.g. education and awareness campaigns were conducted in 17 institutions of higher learning).
[See the document for details.]
Programme 5: Social Policy and Integrated Service Delivery
Mr Peter Netshipale, DDG: Community Development, DSD, presented this section, which included the annual target, the Quarter 4 target, achievements in Quarter 4, and the impact of the Department's intervention concerning each target. He reported that the Department was developing policies and frameworks to ensure coherence and harmonisation of the practice of community development across government, NGOs and the private sector, including:
- The draft National Community Development Policy;
- The training of 169 Community Development Practitioners (CDPs); and
- The Community Mobilisation and Empowerment Framework.
Mr Netshipale presented the Department's work on policies and frameworks to regulate the NPO sector.
- Consultations on the NPO Policy Framework;
- The development of and consultations on the second set of Sector Funding Policy Guidelines and Administrative tools for managing agreements;
- The development of and consultations on a draft NPO Mentorship Model; and
- Registration and compliance monitoring of NPOs in line with the NPO Act.
[See the document for details.]
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) congratulated the Department on finally getting the monitoring and evaluation tool up and running. It looked like the Department was doing good work in keeping the fruitless and wasteful expenditure low. She was hoping those numbers would remain like that, and not increase in subsequent reports. Slide 14 spoke to the fact that the Department had submitted a draft sector strategy for the employment of social workers to the Minister and Members of Executive Council (MINMEC), which was tabled in February/March 2022. That was earlier in 2022. Just last week or the week before, there was a very significant development: many of South Africa's unemployed social workers marched to the Union Buildings. The social workers did so because they were highlighting the plight of 9 000 social workers that remain unemployed. The social workers were speaking about a Department that was not assisting them, and that was not hearing their pleas and the plight of social workers. Thus, she asked what the content of the strategy the Department alluded to was. How was it different from the other plans and strategies that the Department had tabled to the Portfolio Committee before? How would the strategy ensure the employment of the 9 000 unemployed social workers?
Ms van der Merwe drew attention to slide 20, where the Department spoke of a policy linking children's grants to a basket of other services. It spoke about a maternal support policy that would integrate systems and give pregnant women access to a comprehensive social protection package. What were the timeframes for finalising these policies? She felt like the Committee mentioned those policies each time it met with the Department, but there seemed to be no movement on those. What were the challenges in finalising those policies?
Ms van der Merwe asked why the model on entity oversight had been developed but not implemented. This was something that the Auditor-General (AG) kept on talking about.
Ms van der Merwe asked why the Department was unable to get reimbursed by SASSA for the Covid-19 hotline and call centre, which she understood was costing R3m per month.
Ms van der Merwe noted that the acting DG had mentioned SMART principles. Subsequent slides spoke about issues around substance abuse prevention programmes, children's services, a finalised pilot report regarding early intervention services to vulnerable children, conducting awareness programmes against gender-based violence (GBV) at institutions of higher learning, as well as capacity building at certain GBV hotspots. These targets looked good on paper but the outcomes were not measurable. Additionally, it did not translate into action on the ground. South Africa was again faced with a rise in GBV. Reports suggested that substance abuse was on the increase even among children. Police reports indicated that about 2 000 children were victims of physical assault last year alone. Did the Department think that those interventions it was putting on paper would have the necessary impact on the ground? Were the interventions bringing about the change that South Africa really needed? Were the Department's plans that the Department or not successful enough? Was there a need for the Committee to review some of those plans? The progress looked good, but on the ground, there was a rise in all of those social ills, and it seemed that government was somewhat reactive in addressing them.
Ms van der Merwe observed that the Department spent a large proportion of its budget on the SRD grant. Recently, there was a report to the Select Committee regarding delayed payments in August. Could the Department give an update on that matter?
Ms B Masango (DA) drew attention to slide eight, on services to persons with disabilities. How long had those targets been outstanding? What effect had that had on the intended beneficiaries of the services? For her, the slide was also an indication of what the Committee experienced in processing the Children's Amendment Bill, where it had to reset meetings because there was no capacity to assist it. On a general note, was that something that the Committee needed to be appraised on or was that something that needed to be taken up in Parliament to avail capacity of such functions as the OCSLA? She understood that the OCSLA was not available because it was busy with other things, but the Committee could not in good conscience sit there and say that things were not done because there was no capacity. What about the beneficiaries that the department and the Committee were servicing on the ground?
Ms Masango commended the acting DG for his honesty in admitting that some of the Department's failures were due to its own inefficiencies but asked what was being done to deal with those inefficiencies.
Ms Masango commended the Department for initiatives to develop Departmental officials because there were huge issues that beneficiaries faced when they went to the offices of the Department. There seemed to be people that were so helpful that the Department got a commendation from a member of the public to say, "I walked into this office, and I was received so well, and I was assisted from start to finish, this is how much time I spent in the office". But then the very next one says, "When I asked about my social grant, I was told that 'you should be lucky that you are actually getting a grant in the first place'" and the person at the office was rude and very combative. One was comforted by the fact that those development and empowerment initiatives were being run to assist officials working under extreme circumstances with the social ills that South Africa was facing at the moment.
Ms Masango observed that the social assistance appeals target had almost been met; it was at about 97%. She asked whether the Department knew which grants had been appealed to and what the appeals were about. Then that would take the Committee straight back to how the Department implemented the work on the ground. The Committee was happy that there had been an expedited process, but the Committee needed to know what seemed to be the problem, and then deal with it.
Ms Masango asked about the impact of ECD interventions (slide 25) and social crime prevention (slides 29 and 30). Was there any indication on whether the Department was managing to link the beneficiaries of development programmes in schools with programmes on psychosocial crime prevention?
Ms Masango noted that a recent study had been done on orphans of Covid-19. She wondered whether the Department could have access to it.
Ms A Abrahams (DA) had a question on Programme 1. With the savings that the Department had there, how much of those savings related to the unfilled critical vacancies in the Department? She was talking about the vacancy of the DG and the DDG for social welfare, etc. How did those savings relate to those critical vacancies? How much of the savings in Programme 2 related to old age and child support grants that had not been applied for? There were vulnerable seniors and children not receiving the desperately needed grant. She also asked for a list in writing of the 22 cases of fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
Ms Abrahams recalled that the Department mentioned the 235 Community Nutrition and Development Centres (CNDCs). She was sure that everyone had been reading the headlines of families skipping meals and not being able to put food on the table. In Programme 5, with the community development for CNDCs, what was the underspending in that programme? If there were people who were struggling to eat, there really should not be any underspending in that programme in particular.
Ms Abrahams also raised an issue related to the Department's website. She had tried to type in "youth programme" or "youth project", and nothing came up. The website was a point of information for so many people trying to find out what the Department was really doing, the projects and programmes on offer, but when one typed things into the search function, one just could not find anything. She had been unable to find information about child support grant top-ups on the website. Did the new child support top-up grant apply if the child was still in school but over 18, even though the foster care grant applied until age 21?
Ms P Marais (EFF) agreed that the Department's progress looked impressive on paper, but in practice, it was not like that. For example, drug abuse was a very big problem because it could create a situation where children stole money to buy drugs. She asked how many drug abuse shelters there were in South Africa in the different provinces, and how many shelters for GBV victims there were. GBV was happening every second of the day.
Ms Marais observed that there were insufficient schools to provide for all children with disabilities. What discussion was the DSD having with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) about those children that did not have schools to attend? A lot of times, parents were struggling because children did not even have a wheelchair where they were staying in an informal settlement. Funding was not spent on people with disabilities. According to the presentation, the Free State was not one of the provinces that got oversight with the NPOs. When one went to the NPO offices in Mangaung, the NPO would be told that it was a new NPO, and so it would not get funding. Even though people wanted to start something, they could not. She knew of some cases because she was working with old-age homes where people did not get any funding. When the social workers went there to come and see if the home complied with funding requirements, officials were very rude. She had been to an old-age home when social workers were coming to review the place, and the lady had done everything they had asked of her, but they were still rude to her. The social workers were telling the lady that they were going to make sure she was not going to get funding, and that they would close that place.
Ms Marais asked how the Department was going to implement things like the food security plan and the sustainable livelihood toolkit. As Ms Masango had said, there was a need to have a workshop, because there was such a lot of information in one go. She was also concerned about the apparent politicisation of Expanded Public Works Programmes (EPWPs), which were meant to be for the poorest of the poor.
Mr D Stock (ANC) appreciated the significant improvements in funding and monitoring and evaluation (M&E). In particular, he observed that there was some progress when it came to the issue of the R8.2 billion budget for NPO funding. This was an issue that the Committee continued to raise—a huge amount of money went to the NPOs, but it was not clear that the Department was getting value for this money. Had the Department done any cost-benefit analysis on this spending? He also asked for an update on the Department's digital M&E system.
Ms L Arries (EFF) observed that recently, approximately 150 000 children were left as orphans due to the death of their parents or caregivers. These children would become reliant on the child foster care grant. Recently, there had been a shortage of social workers, and social workers' strike action at the Union Buildings. How would the Department accommodate these children? Did the Department have an exit plan so that beneficiaries of CNDCs did not become reliant on them? She agreed that the Committee needed a list of the NPOs that were getting funding from the Department. The Committee also needed to know how funding was distributed, and if there was a programme in place to monitor the spending of NPOs.
Dr Maureen Mogotsi, Senior Manager: Children and Family Benefits, DSD, explained that consultation on the children's grant and maternal support policies took so long because it involved four other departments, from which DSD needed to obtain buy-in before it approached Parliament. It intended to complete the consultation process of the two policies by the end of the current financial year and present them to Parliament the following year. She confirmed that the child support grant top-up ended at age 18.
Adv Antoinette Brink, Head: Appeals Tribunal, DSD, said that even though everyone wanted to see fewer appeals, the appeals process was still a constitutionally-guaranteed right for people who disagreed with SASSA's decisions. The Department's statistics indicated that in 90% of all appeals, SASSA's original decision was upheld. However, a person had a right to lodge an appeal. 95% of all the appeals that the Department received currently were medical-related appeals, related to disability grants, care dependency grants and grants in aid. In the majority of cases, the issue was not necessarily a disability per se, but people with chronic conditions that kept applying for a grant because they had diabetes, or diabetes with high blood pressure, with HIV, for instance. That then meant that people were, in their own perception, unable to work, so they continued to apply for that grant. From a policy perspective, the Department and the Department of Health (DoH) needed to re-look at how it dealt with chronic conditions. In the majority of instances, those applicants would not qualify, simply because their chronic conditions did not mean they would be disabled per se.
Mr Buthelezi reminded the Committee that the digital M&E system was a three-year project. It included developing the system, and before development could begin, the Department had to do substantial work relating to understanding what was available in existing systems within the sector. He was pleased to report that in the current financial year, the Department was on course with the development of the system. It would be piloting the system in three provinces this year. However, there were still some challenges with the readiness of some of the provinces, and with the assumptions, it might have made because of the system's complexity. The data was connected not just at a provincial level, but also at a district level. The Department was working with the current service provider to develop an implementation plan. It was understood that the costs associated with implementing the system would be huge, but it was important that the system was developed and implemented. That required consideration of the tools of the trade in how data would be collected and the capacity of the data capturers themselves at both district and service point levels. It also needed to consider potential dependencies in the system.
Mr Khumbula Ndaba, Acting DDG, DSD, recalled that in 2018 Cabinet had decided that all government departments must employ social service professionals. However, the employment of social service professionals was seen as a project for the DSD. The strategy reinforces that important principle. The DSD had engaged with a number of sector departments, such as the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), the justice sector, the police, the DBE, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and local government, to establish how those departments and sectors would use social service professionals. That engagement culminated in a submission by all of those departments indicating their needs and where they would be using social service professionals. The second element was that whereas before, the focus had largely been on social workers, the draft strategy for the employment of social service professionals was broadening the scope to look at the entire cohort of social service professionals. The Department was not limiting itself to social workers only. The third element was that the Department had taken it upon itself to mobilise funding for the employment of social service professionals, even for the other departments. It had taken that approach because its experience in the past had been that where money was given to the sector departments, they tended to prioritise their core services to the exclusion of what they considered non-core services such as social service professionals. The Department had therefore decided it would submit a R9bn joint bid, and that money would be ring-fenced specifically to employ social service professionals. Once the money was given to the sector departments, the Department would monitor those departments to ensure that the money was being used for the purpose for which it was procured. Importantly, the Department was also looking at the increase of social ills across the country, and the nature of those social ills, and how to target them. Local government, especially district municipalities, would be one of the Department's major beneficiaries in the recruitment and employment of social service professionals. The reception of the Department's joint bid by NT had been positive and the Department was expecting a response within days. Treasury appreciated that South Africa had challenges, and unless those were tackled, it would be forced to react and deploy police. This would be reacting to a problem that had already taken place instead of dealing with a problem before it germinated into something very serious. He acknowledged that the website was not what it was supposed to be. The bid adjudication committee was currently considering the problem.
Ms Manthipi Molamu, Director, DSD, said that the disability policy had taken some time to develop and was now on its way to the social cluster. She described it as a legacy project because at the time the policy was presented before the social cluster, the Department was sent back to wait for the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to first be approved in the Cabinet, after which it could start the process. In reviewing the policy, the Department found that it needed to look at broadening the scope and filling gaps per the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She reminded the Committee that disability services had not stopped, and that the new policy was a review of the existing policy that the Department was using. Based on the existing policy, it then developed the micro-policies and implementation guidelines. The Department was working tirelessly to make sure that the new policy could be approved by the Cabinet, and be legislated. This would ensure that the Department's services could be standardised, could be uniform, and were able to be adequately resourced, so that services could respond to the needs of persons with disabilities in rural areas, informal settlements, and those who were experiencing compounded marginalisation. She said that DBE and DoH had the mandate to provide wheelchairs and special schooling for children who needed it, but DSD worked with these departments, providing protection services to children with disabilities through the provinces using policies, micro policies, and implementation guidelines. These would ensure that services reach children with disabilities.
Ms Siza Magangoe, Chief Director: Families, DSD, acknowledged that the issue of GBV was an intersectoral matter, led by the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disability (DWYPD), and that while it had a responsibility to contribute to dealing with this issue, but it was not a matter that could be solved by DSD alone. Those key departments mandated to deal with that issue needed to implement those deliverables according to the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF). The Department was implementing that strategy, which consisted of six pillars. Out of the six pillars, three key pillars were focused on. The first pillar was prevention and social cohesion. The DBE was leading that pillar but the DSD did have programmes that addressed social behaviour change. For example, it was engaging students, because a significant number of universities were experiencing high levels of GBV. The DSD had prevention and early intervention programmes and trauma counselling in such institutions. It also provided shelter services, depending on people's needs. The DSD had targeted 14 institutions, but it had more than that because of the demand. Other institutions were already aware of the services that the DSD was rendering, and they did, from time to time, come and call it for services. The DSD was also engaging with men and boys in order to break the cycle of violence.
Ms Magangoe said that issue of substance abuse was also multi-sectoral. According to the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP), more than ten departments were mandated to address alcohol and drug abuse in the country. The DSD was there to coordinate, but each and every department that was listed on the NDMP was expected to deliver on issues of substance abuse so that, as a country, South Africa was able to curb the abuse of alcohol. As a Department, together with the sector, the DSD has been working with the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) to ensure that its interventions are evidence-based. SAMRC's research indicated that South Africa had a serious problem with underage drinking. Based on the recent challenges with taverns that South Africa had experienced, the DSD had developed a programme of action. That programme of action was on its way to Cabinet, where the DSD wanted all key issues to be addressed. One of those issues was the poor regulation of alcohol, which needed to be addressed immediately. The issue of taverns, both legal and illegal, also needed to be addressed immediately so that lives could be saved. The DSD hoped that the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) would immediately table its Liquor Amendment Bill to address the challenges of alcohol abuse. The DSD was also upscaling its prevention and treatment programmes. It was important to increase access to services because many people wanted to access treatment centres. Working with the treatment centres and ensuring that the programmes the centres were implementing were of quality and could guarantee success, the centres could increase access. That would, in turn, make sure that those who had gone through the programme did not relapse, and were further integrated into communities. The Department realised that both GBV and substance abuse interventions had long-term returns. Results may not be visible right away, but it would begin to see the impacts of prevention programmes through the immediate intervention programmes that the DSD was doing. There was a demand for the DSD's services because of the prevention work that it had started.
Mr Netshipale said that food security was a moving target. In 2019, approximately 11.8% and 13.8% of individuals were vulnerable to hunger. Due to Covid-19, that had increased to approximately 25% of individuals. While the DSD had as many as 235 CNDCs, this was still insufficient. The DSD had looked at increasing the number of CNDCs, especially in areas affected by hunger, such as new informal settlement areas. He noted that the DSD had only one instance of underspending on food security, which was in the Eastern Cape. The entity in question could not transfer the little money it had, which was meant to feed the poor and vulnerable people in that area. He emphasised that the CNDCs were not creating dependencies, as they had a development component. In 2019, the DSD developed a framework to up-skill the people eating at the CNDCs in a particular area. For example, the DSD had a good CNDC with a development arm in Limpopo. Youth would come there to do baking, and then sell their goods. The DSD had succeeded in ensuring that not everyone who came to a CNDC simply came to eat and then left. People were being capacitated, and assisted in doing agricultural activities next door to the centre. The DSD also created a market for people's agricultural goods.
Mr Netshipale said that several studies on NPO funding had been done, showing that the sector was underfunded. A 2018 study, for example, indicated that the DSD was underfunded by R9.2 billion. The Department's funding policy prescribed that funding had to be done objectively, and that there should be a call for applications. The applications were then be reviewed. The DSD had proposed multi-year funding, because the work was intense. All the programmes described by Ms Magangoe and others were programmes run by NPOs on the ground. The NPOs were doing a good job. The DSD visited the Free State for substance abuse issues and was very impressed. The DSD was satisfied that it had value for the monies it gave the NPOs. He said the Minister had requested the DSD to conduct a cost-benefit analysis. So far, the terms of reference and the model have been finalised.
How the policies and frameworks were implemented: Firstly, Mr Netshipale explained that the implementation of policies and frameworks was a concurrent function of national and provincial governments. One of the Department's roles was capacitating the provinces and monitoring their implementation. In 2019, the University of South Africa (UNISA) conducted a study in Mpumalanga on the development interventions taking place, which indicated that the little bit used to develop communities had a major impact. It had found very promising results. It might not be enough, because of the amount of money that the DSD had in the provinces, but any development that the DSD did in collaboration with other government departments would bear fruit in terms of the DSD ensuring that South African citizens were catered for in all nine provinces. Challenges would be there, but the benefits outweighed the challenges.
A representative from the Department admitted that the DSD did not yet fully understand how many children had been orphaned by Covid-19, except for those children who came through the system via applying for foster care. She pointed out that the study Ms Masango had referred to was based on how HIV/AIDS had created huge numbers of orphans. The DSD was embarking on an audit which would assist it in finding those orphaned children. A thorough assessment would be done so the DSD could understand if such children needed care and protection, as it had been revealed that orphans did not necessarily become children that needed care and protection. Such children would be channelled into the child support top-up grant. As part of that audit, it wanted to work closely with the traditional leaders, churches and community members to help identify Covid-19 orphans who had not come to DSD offices to seek help.
Mr Esterhuizen admitted that the Department was battling with SASSA to get it to pay the Telkom account related to the hotline. The issue that SASSA had was that it had to follow a procurement process. The DSD had ended up paying the bill in the prior financial year. The estimated costs for that account were in the region of R60 million to R70 million. The DSD had since engaged again with SASSA and started the procurement process for the number to be taken over by SASSA itself. The DSD had an agreement to claim back from SASSA whatever it had paid since April 2022. He explained that 50% of the savings on compensation of employees (COE) related to the delayed establishment of the inspectorate. The other saving related to something that the DSD was still battling with, specifically that the Treasury had reduced its budget for COE by R225 million over three years. That significantly impacted what the DSD had available within its COE ceiling. The DSD had to reprioritise all the posts because it affected almost 75% of its vacancies. If it overspent on COE, it was unauthorised expenditure. Some of the savings on COE also related to normal staff turnover. Some people retired, and people were promoted to other departments and other institutions. The DSD was looking at balancing the available budget versus what its priority posts were going forward, because it had a three-year allocation. Its allocations for the next two years were decreasing. Whatever posts were filled now would impact the other two years, and it needed to ensure that it stayed within the COE ceiling.
Mr Esterhuizen explained that the irregular expenditure that the Department had incurred related to noncompliance with certain procurement processes. The DSD had not obtained three quotations, and some of its service providers were not tax-compliant. But none of the irregular expenditure resulted in a loss to the state. The DSD had made a case to Treasury to condone that expenditure, because it provided evidence that there was no loss to the state, and it was waiting on Treasury for the outcome of its case.
Mr Mchunu explained that, on the issue of entity oversight, shareholder compacts had not been concluded at the time of reporting but had since been concluded. The guidance from the legal team was that the DSD needed to tread carefully on how it approached and engaged with the compacts, particularly as it related to the Central Drug Authority (CDA), and also the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP). The DSD had a framework within which it operated, and that framework had been completely operational. The development of the shareholder compacts was part and parcel of the entire framework. The Department had had very successful interactions and engagements with the entities, and it had managed to hold them accountable within the reporting period. It continued to do that, even outside of statutory meetings.
Mr Mchunu reported that he had had a conversation with the DG of Treasury the day before about the strategy for addressing the problem of unemployed social workers. The matter had started to receive a favourable response from Treasury, at least in the short term. The Department had had a "deep-dive session", where he himself had asked the team to re-look at the strategy on a number of aspects, and the Department had already shared the draft strategy with Treasury. DSD would report back when Treasury's comments had been received. He emphasised that it was not social workers only, but social service professionals in general, including auxiliary social child care workers and others.
Mr Mchunu said that the DSD used a multi-pronged approach to address inefficiencies. Some were process-related, and some were systems-related. Some were governance-related, and some were administration-related. When it came to administrative matters, he had paid special attention to holding management accountable during his tenure as acting DG, particularly when it came to meeting the DSD's targets. Part of what the DSD had been doing was working toward shared values, and a strong organisational culture. When it had that, it would be able to ensure it was able to deliver services as a collective. An enterprise project management system had been introduced as part of the DSD's business process engineering journey. It would help the DSD to keep track of all its projects.
Another thing that the DSD had done was to make its procurement plans a standing agenda item at its governance meetings. It had strengthened its governance meetings more broadly, including a requirement that procurement plans be expanded so that the DSD could monitor the spending patterns and progress on the targets. It also introduced review sessions quarterly as part of its governance structures. Branches did this firstly within their branch units, and thereafter review was done corporately. As part of the planning configuration, the Minister had added looking at the corporation plans of each unit. The organisation as a whole needed to do that as well, since the DSD was trying to build shared values and a corporate culture. With support services, the DSD had developed standard operating procedures, particularly in Programme 1, to give staff a better idea of how long certain things took to do. They could work that into realising their specific targets. The Department would welcome a workshop with Members of the Committee and invite Members to some of the Department's important engagements.
Consideration of A-list (clause-by-clause) of the Fundraising Amendment Bill [B29 – 2020]
Mr Sisa Makabeni, Senior State Law Advisor, OCSLA, took the Committee through the A-list of Changes to the Bill.
On page 2, in line 23, omit "nine" and to substitute "fourteen".
Mr Makabeni that the number "fourteen" referred to the number of board members.
On page 3, in line 21, after "identify" to insert "the prescribed".
On page 3, in line 52, after "done", to insert "within a reasonable time"; to omit "accordance with any written directions of" and to substitute "consultation with"; and to omit "and with due adherence to ethical principles" and to substitute "in line with section 50 of the Public Finance Management Act (Act No. 1 of 1999)".
On page 5, in line 29, after "Amendment Act,", to omit "2020" and to substitute "2022".
Mr Makabeni added that strictly speaking, the Committee did not have to deal with technical changes such as the one to clause 9 because those would be dealt with administratively by the Bills Office at the end of the process. The OCSLA had changed the year to 2022 hoping that the Bill would be completed by the end of the term. But the year could still be changed if the Bill was not finalised by the end of the year.
Ms Abrahams drew attention to the Memorandum on the Objects of the Bill, according to which clause 2 was intended to reduce the maximum number of members of a board established under the principal Act to administer a fund from 15 to nine." She wondered therefore why the number in the A-list was 14. She understood that the Committee wanted to reduce the number of board members to save costs. There would be a fund that was supposed to give out money, but now there were 14 board members.
Mr Makabeni replied that that number emanated from the previous meeting of the Committee, where the Department had proposed, following public submissions, that the membership of the board should be 14.
Adv Luyanda Mtshotshisa, Specialist: Legislative Drafting and Review, DSD, said the need to reduce the size of the board had been recognised but the actual essence of the comment was also around the fact that nine was an odd number, while the Bill referred throughout to half the members doing something, and half the members doing something else. That was where the number 14, an even number, had come from. The Department was not very far from the idea that the Committee might advise that the number 14 was too high, and wanted to reduce it to any number they deemed suitable.
Ms Abrahams pointed out that there were even numbers closer to nine than 14. She suggested that, regardless of whether it was an odd or even number, it should be closer to nine rather than 15.
The Chairperson proposed ten members.
Adv Mtshotshisa said that the Department would accept this proposal.
Ms Arries asked if the board members would be full-time board members, and what the financial implication was. She reminded the Committee that one of the intentions of the Bill was specifically to consolidate various dormant funds into one fund. That meant that it would be one fund administered by 14 people. Why could the board not be smaller?
Ms Marais observed that there would be the Refugee Relief Fund, the State President's Fund, the Social Relief Fund, the Disaster Relief Fund, and the National Relief Development Fund. Would the Department be able to run all of those funds as one fund? The Department already had a broad portfolio. This was a large amount of money that had been dormant for a very long time. Why was that money coming to the Department? There were multiple funds, and suddenly they were going to be made into one fund. What was the reason for that, and why was it thought that the Department would be able to handle those funds?
The Chairperson asked if the Committee could start afresh with discussing the issues related to the amendments. She asked if the Department had looked at the finances, and if it was able to tell the Committee about that.
Dr Mogotsi explained that the consolidation of the funds was to promote effective and efficient management. Some of those funds were dormant, and the Department had not been able to use them. Some of those funds were not large as such, so it would be easier for the Department to manage them if they were under one umbrella.
Mr Makabeni said that the procedure had become a bit muddled. In the last Committee meeting, the understanding was that the Members agreed with the A-list. If the Committee was still going to change the number from 14 to ten, then the OCSLA would need time to interact with the printers to effect the change. Changing the number from 14 to ten was the proposal before the Committee. The Committee would not be able to go through the Bill clause by clause to adopt the clauses until that process was finalised.
Ms Lindiwe Ntsabo, Committee Secretary, said that if there was a consensus that the number of board members be reduced to ten, then that was a process that would require the printers and the legal advisors to go and craft those changes in the A-list and the B-version. Those changes could be effected, then brought back to the Committee for adoption.
The Chairperson asked Ms Ntsabo what the Committee had agreed on previously regarding the numbers.
Ms Ntsabo explained that decision to reduce the size of the board to ten needed to be incorporated into the A-list, unless the Committee was going to adopt the Bill in principle, after which it would need to ensure that the number was reduced to ten. To do that was procedurally uncomfortable. In the next meeting, if the Committee agreed to reduce the number to ten, the A-list and the B-Bill could then be forwarded to Members, and then clause-by-clause could begin. The Committee would go through that process with the knowledge that all the clauses it was adopting were what it agreed on.
The Chairperson said that the reality of the matter was that the printers had to redo the A-list and the B-version to correct that number that the Committee was discussing. She asked if Members wanted to adopt the Bill in principle, with the proviso that the number ten would be inserted in the Bill. She also asked if the Committee needed another meeting on Friday, while being aware that the Committee did not know if it would be able to get the legal advisors to present in the meeting.
Ms Abrahams proposed meeting on Friday morning for about an hour to adopt the amended A-list.
The Chairperson reminded the Committee that Members would be travelling on Friday. She thought it was not wise to apologise for being in a car, bus, etc. She suggested having the next meeting for 30 minutes, just to look at the number that was proposed.
Mr Stock agreed to have a meeting on Friday.
The Chairperson said that the Committee agreed to have a short Friday meeting. She asked the Committee Secretary to facilitate that meeting to look at that clause, and then forward the Bill to Members. Even if the meeting was from 09:30 to 10:00, it would be fine. If the meeting was at 09:00, it would end at 09:30, to allow Members to travel.
The meeting was adjourned.
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