In a virtual meeting, the Committee heard the petition of Tembisa residents on the state of the South African Social Security Agency’s offices there, and was briefed by SASSA on its efforts in improving the Tembisa office challenges in managing its office space in general. It also received an update on the National Development Agency’s turnaround strategy.
The Tembisa community expressed their concerns on the state of the SASSA offices in a petition signed by over 2 000 people submitted to the petitions office. There was overcrowding in a cramped space and the buildings were due for an upgrade six years ago but to date, no upgrade had happened. The residents needed functional SASSA offices.
SASSA said procurement of SASSA offices could only be state-owned property and, if privately owned, then through the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, but the Department’s procurement processes were lengthy. SASSA had asked the Minister for the mandate to procure its own leases and property even as the DPWI was trying to procure property for them. On the Tembisa office, SASSA had started searching for alternative space when complaints had initially surfaced, but none was available then.
Members said it appeared the stumbling block was the DPWI itself, and that the Minister and the Minister of DPWI should meet and a timeframe should be set on finding suitable office space. Members suggested the use of a mobile truck to assist in the meantime. Members said that the problem was not only in Gauteng and oversight had to be done on the state of SASSA offices across the country.
Minister Zulu noted that the CEO had been striving to sort out the office space issue which had to be conducive to both the people and office workers in the buildings and that SASSA had made attempts to meet with the DPWI Minister.
Minister Zulu said the NDA was established to promote a partnership between government and civil society sector to eradicate poverty. She said that in the past 23 years, the social, economic and technological shifts globally demanded that the NDA reposition itself as the prime development finance institution. In the short term, the most immediate way to alleviate poverty was to create jobs in labour-intensive sectors and coordinate development intervention in the three spheres of government and other partners. Hence, the NDA needs to sharpen and re-orientate its development strategy and play a bigger role than ever before. She said the government could not wait for the private sector to create jobs and that it was an anomaly that so many people in jobs created by government.
The NDA said it was near the end of finalising its turnaround strategy and its business case. The NDA needed to be re-engineered towards creating activities and programs that would impact people through poverty eradication. The NDA then spoke to the progress made on testing service delivery model sites at nine district pilot sites; the review of the current IT systems and processes; the review of the organisational structure and skills audit; the testing of current funding markets for CSOs for community development projects targeting poor communities; and testing coordination mechanisms with COGTA around the implementation of the District Development Model.
Members wanted to know how the CSO model differed from the old model in addressing poverty eradication. What mechanisms for sustainability would the NDA deploy and how would it benefit the poor and enable financial sustainability? Where did the NDA fit into the district model funding? What differences would there be in NDA fundraising?
Members expressed concern that the President had said that it was the private sector that had to create jobs but here a government entity was trying to create jobs and doing what appeared to be a duplication of SEDA and other entities’ efforts. Was revenue being generated for the NDA or to plough back into the communities? Members asked how far the process was in getting a permanent CEO in place. Members said the rest of government would have to collaborate with the NDA around resources for this strategy to work. This had not worked in the past and how did the NDA hope to get it working this time around? Members requested that a workshop on the presentation be held on its implementation.
The Committee’s report on the Fundraising Amendment Bill [B-29B-2020] was adopted.
Tembisa Residents Petition
The Committee Secretary explained the procedure of processing a petition in Parliament.
Ms B Masango (DA), the petition’s sponsor, said the Tembisa community invited her to visit SASSA offices in the area. The community expressed their concerns on the state of the buildings following which a petition signed by over 2 000 people was submitted to Parliament.
Ms Nombulelo Dubulu, the petitioner and a resident of Tembisa, said Parliament was petitioned because of the condition of SASSA’s offices and the buildings were not conducive to rendering services to such large areas and could lead to the spread of the Covid-19 virus as there was overcrowding in a cramped space and no social distancing. She said the building was due for an upgrade, but six years later no upgrade had happened. When DA members raised questions regarding the buildings, it was said that these were national competencies. The residents needed functional SASSA offices.
Ms Totsie Memela, SASSA CEO, said it would highlight issues in Gauteng as a whole and report on the Gauteng office accommodation including Tembisa. She said procurement of SASSA offices was guided by the SASSA immovable properties management policy which stated that procurement of property could only be of state-owned property and, if privately owned, then through the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI).
SASSA experienced high irregular expenditure because of expired leases and lengthy DPWI procurement processes.
Gauteng had 42 properties with direct leases, of which 16 have been contracted through DPWI. DPWI did all SASSA’s property requirements. SASSA had explored strategies on how to manage expired leases and get leases on their own and SASSA had asked the Minister for that mandate. SASSA had entered into six leases which they had entered into on their own, and included Benoni, Springs and Alexandra, Lenasia, Fochville and Vereeniging.
Mr Themba Matlou, Gauteng Regional Manager, SASSA, said the Tembisa office was occupied since 2006 and was very small and therefore not adequate for Tembisa residents, especially the elderly and the disabled.
Complaints had been lodged on the service provided and SASSA had started searching for alternative space but none was available at that time. In consultation with the municipality, SASSA had built a waiting area and additional toilets, and other renovations were completed. Additional office accommodation was found within five kilometres of the Rabasotho office in 2018.
In 2014 SASSA had requested that DPWI procure new offices for Kempton Park and a tender was advertised. But this tender had lapsed and SASSA had submitted a revised project execution plan to the Department. Progress update meetings were held with DPWI in Johannesburg and Pretoria and it had received paperwork from DPWI indicating that the procurement process was now underway.
Ms Memela said that while DPWI was searching for suitable properties, SASSA itself was also searching for suitable properties in Gauteng, Rabasotho and Kempton Park in particular, and SASSA was providing feedback to the community on the progress.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) said it appeared the problem was the DPWI and that a timeframe should be put on finding a suitable office space and that the Minister and the Minister of DPW should meet. She suggested the use of a mobile truck to assist in the meantime.
Ms Masango said she had wanted to raise the issue of timelines.
Ms A Abrahams (DA) said there was the possibility that these problems could also be found elsewhere, like in Khayelitsha. She wanted to know the total rentals amount, whether there were deals with private landlords and whether SASSA renegotiated contracts.
Ms J Manganye (ANC) asked that the Minister and the Minister of DPWI, together with the SASSA CEO, should meet to resolve issues. She said most buildings were dilapidated. Was there space where offices could be built?
Ms A Hlongo (ANC) said that this was not only a problem in Gauteng. The Committee had to do active oversight over the whole country on the state of SASSA offices.
Mr D Stock (ANC) said he was confronted and petitioned on these types of issues daily. The DPWI and SASSA should prioritise interventions for the short, medium and long-term, or alternatively, look at using office space.
The Chairperson said people knew their areas best and should put forward suggestions.
Ms K Bilankulu (ANC) said there was a need for SASSA to come up with a strategy regarding its infrastructure and property.
Ms Manganye said that when SASSA identified which offices were in a bad state, they provided the Committee with that information and everyone on the Committee could contribute suggestions on buildings available in constituency areas.
Mr Matlou said SASSA was engaged with DPWI on execution plans. DPWI had committed that by November, there would be progress on the supply of office space.
On using mobile trucks as offices, Ms Memela said SASSA did that when it went to communities. It had stopped because of Covid.
On SASSA getting its own properties, she said that in rural areas, SASSA did have that opportunity and built and owned eleven properties on land given by provincial governments, and in the Northern Cape had built two properties. A challenge had been receiving buildings from DPWI that did not serve the people well.
Ms Manganye invited all Members to a meeting on Monday to show where the offices of SASSA could be.
Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, noted that the CEO had been striving to sort out the office space issue which had to be conducive to both the people and the office workers in the buildings. SASSA had made attempts to meet with the DPWI Minister. She said that in attempting to get petitioners to look for office space, one had to bear in mind that the due processes of procurement had to be followed. She said it was important that the changes be made as quick as possible because she and the Deputy Minister were very unhappy with the conditions of offices they had visited.
Ms P Marais (EFF) said Thaba ‘Nchu was a rural area and the office there had been closed for renovations so people needed to travel to Bloemfontein, 65 km away, to collect grants. Two years later, the offices were still closed. She said there was also an office in Bloemfontein that was then moved to a mall. Would SASSA remain in the mall as SASSA must be paying a high rental for the mall offices?
National Development Agency (NDA) Turnaround Strategy
Minister Zulu said the NDA was established to promote a partnership between government and the civil society sector to eradicate poverty. She said that in the past 23 years the social, economic and technological shifts globally demanded that the NDA reposition itself as the prime development finance institution. In the short term, the most immediate way to alleviate poverty was to create jobs in labour-intensive sectors and coordinate development intervention in the three spheres of government and other partners. Hence, the NDA needs to sharpen and re-orientate its development strategy and play a greater role than ever before.
Mr Bongani Magongo, Acting CEO, NDA, said that the NDA had been tasked to provide an update on the progress of the finalisation of the turnaround strategy.
The NDA was near the end of finalising it and the business case that would underpin the implementation of the strategy, but the context of the turnaround strategy was based on the realisation of the previous board that the NDA needed to be re-engineered towards creating activities and programs that would impact people through poverty eradication.
The NDA engaged a service provider to put together the turnaround strategy which would be informed by developing a comprehensive CSO model that would contribute to poverty eradication in poor communities; and develop a business model to deliver on the mandate of the NDA.
The strategy had to include mechanisms the NDA must deploy for its sustainability and address the image and trust of the NDA by all stakeholders. The NDA would use the outcome of the strategy to review the NDA Act to avoid misalignment. The situational analysis it undertook found that the NDA lacked focus, identity and employees had low morale. It also found that its real impact would lay in eradicating poverty through jobs growth mechanisms integrated with government's district development model. He also spoke to key risks facing the new turnaround strategy, including resistance within government; from employees and strategic partners.
Mr Ben Morule, Senior Manager: NDA, Eastern Cape, spoke to the transitional plans and implementation (see slide 59). He spoke to the progress made on testing service delivery model sites at the nine district pilot sites; the review of the current IT systems and processes; the review of the organisational structure and skills audit; the testing of current funding markets for CSOs for community development projects targeting poor communities; and testing coordination mechanisms with COGTA around the implementation of the District Development Model.
The nine pilot sites were in the OR Tambo, Lejweleputswa, ZF Mgcawu, Ehlanzeni, West Rand, Waterberg, Ngaka Modiri Molema, Garden Route District Municipalities and the eThekwini Metro Municipality.
See presentation for further details
Ms G Opperman (DA) wanted to know how the CSO model would better address poverty eradication, and what the differences were in the new model compared to the old. What were the mechanisms for sustainability the NDA would deploy and how would it benefit the poor and enable financial sustainability? Where did the NDA fit into the district model funding? What differences would there be in NDA fundraising?
Ms Abrahams said her concern was that the President had said that it was the private sector that had to create jobs but here another government entity was trying to create jobs and it appeared to be a duplication of SEDA’s and other entities’ efforts. She said it was unclear what revenue was being generated for, was it for the NDA or to plough back into the communities.
She asked when exactly did projects become businesses, as the NDA was talking about creating CSOs. She said the presentation did not show the NDA’s footprint over the last few years. How were municipalities that ran the pilot programs chosen? She said the NDA did not respond when community development practitioners contacted them. Could they respond to these individuals?
Ms Masango asked how far the process was in getting a permanent CEO. She said the NDA had had a number of turnaround strategies and wanted to know the extent of the successes of the previous ones before embarking on the next one. She was concerned about the NDA overreaching its mandate and welcomed the investigation into its legislative framework. She said the rest of government would have to collaborate with the NDA around resources for this strategy to work. This had not worked in the past so how did the NDA hope to get it working this time around?
Ms Marais said the presentation was a long presentation with a lot of detail and requested that a workshop on the presentation be held on its implementation.
Ms Abrahams asked what exactly the NDA’s role in the world food programme was. Were they the facilitator or the created CSOs? She said that the NDA had to give the Committee a report back on the outcomes as this programme was already operational.
Ms Manganye agreed that there was a need for a workshop on the presentation.
On the sustainability of this year’s roles, Mr Morule said the NDA was focusing on communities and determining what the needs of the communities were and the CSOs in the communities and using this to embed projects in the communities. Where there were no CSOs, the NDA had the mandate to establish them to respond to the needs of the communities.
On the question of duplication of services, he said the NDA mandate allowed them to collaborate with CSOs. The NDA focussed on CSOs only.
On how pilot sites were selected, Ms Susan Khumalo: COO, said the NDA worked with all stakeholders within the district. She said some of the pilot sites were identified by the district structures and the NDA’s role was to coordinate district development by funding the CSOs in that district.
On the role of the NDA in the World Food Programme, she said the programme was a third-party funder, providing R20 million of funding to the NDA. The NDA identified CSOs that qualified for this funding, supporting them and monitoring the delivery of their services.
On the differences between the original and the new turnaround strategies, Mr Magongo said it was the mechanism currently being used compared to what was used in the past. In the past, everything was centred around the NDA and this strategy had failed. Now it was NDA coordinating a variety of interventions from different departments within the district development model for effectiveness, efficiency and easy financing. He said the NDA was not creating jobs; it created projects run by people within communities and the projects created the jobs. Part of the NDA’s process was to assess the skills that it had and to assess the skills gap.
He said it was seeking funding to relieve National Treasury from providing it with an allocation.
He said the board was expected to be appointed shortly and the strategy should be completed so that the board could start with a completed strategy.
He said their interaction with government departments was to enable the job creation goal of the NDA to relieve the socio-economic net that government provides.
On the footprint of the NDA, he said the NDA operated in nine provinces. Municipalities had offered that the NDA work within municipalities, partnering with them on developing their communities.
On the question of the lack of impact, he said the NDA had done a number of evaluations of its impact over the years. He said what needed to be done was to focus on a community and what could be done there and let the community create its own opportunities over time. He said the NDA was not leaving NPOs because these institutions could earn an income through activities linked to the facility.
On the court case, he said the NDA was aware and working on it, but he would not go into detail on it.
He said the NDA supported the idea of having a workshop once the NDA processes were complete.
Minister Zulu emphasised that the NDA was not a stand-alone body supporting the CSO as SASSA and DSD had to also see how it could support the CBOs. Government could not wait for the private sector to create jobs. She said it was an anomaly that there were many people in jobs created by government.
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development on the Fundraising Amendment Bill [B29 – 2020] (National Assembly – sec 76)]
The Committee Secretary referred to the draft Committee report on the Fundraising Amendment Bill for the Committee’s consideration and adoption.
The report was adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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