The Portfolio Committee was briefed by the Department of Social Development (DSD) in a virtual meeting on the National Plan of Action for Children 2019-2024, and on the Department’s performance report for the first quarter of the 2022/23 financial year.
The Committee thought that the Plan of Action for Children did not seem to address the real social issues children were facing. It raised various concerns, ranging from the lack of social workers in communities and protecting children at risk, to challenges like drug use in schools, teenage pregnancies, alcohol abuse, and the lack of accessibility for children with disabilities. It questioned how the DSD was going to address these issues.
Responding to the Department’s first quarter report, Members complained that the presentation was too long, so they were not able to fully engage with the content. They criticised the DSD's under-expenditure and expressed concern that funds were being sent back to National Treasury when they could have been spent on meaningful social programmes. They asked about the lack of compliance from non-profit organisations (NPOs) tasked with implementing social programmes, and also wanted to know why there were delays in transferring much-needed funds to the NPOs and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). They questioned why some of the Department’s targets were not met, and asked what it was going to do about illegal rehabilitation centres that were not registered.
The Chairperson reminded the Committee that it was Deaf Month, and people should not discriminate against people with hearing impairment. It was important to respect people and learn sign language and not only to take this month to raise awareness, but for it always be a priority for them, as citizens, to treat each other as equals.
Minister’s opening remarks
Ms Lindiwe Zulu, Minister of Social Development, said that the presentation by the Department on their quarterly report aimed to build on the lessons learned from the previous reports. They believed in consistency and were working on improving their performance where it may have lacked. They appreciated the oversight by the Portfolio Committee, which had helped the Department to improve. Today's presentation would guide the Committee through how their funds had been allocated. They had developed various programmes and interventions to help people who were affected by the natural disasters that had occurred in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and other parts of the country, and were constantly looking for ways in which they could improve their interventions to enable them to respond to issues and disasters better and faster in the future.
The National Plan of Action emphasised the issues that the children of South Africa were facing. Children in rural areas were facing high rates of multidimensional poverty. They were being exposed to violence, physical and sexual abuse, substance and alcohol abuse, and HIV/AIDS, just to name a few. She pointed out that South Africa had a progressive human rights framework, wherein children’s rights were stated to protect the young people of the country from various social ills. South Africa’s democracy was aimed at protecting the freedoms and rights of the country's children. The Department had also adopted international instruments and policies and adapted them to align with the policies of South Africa. She said all spheres of government needed to work together to look after the children of the country.
National Plan of Action for Children 2019-2024
Mr Siviwe Kakaza, Department of Social Development (DSD), took the Committee through the National Plan of Action for Children 2019-2024.
He provided the Committee with a brief overview of the contextual background of the National Plan of action for Children. South Africa officially ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1995. In line with this ratification, former President Nelson Mandela had ensured the establishment of the Inter-Ministerial Cabinet Committee on the Rights of the Child. Their steering committee included the then newly formed South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), with the primary task to develop and implement the National Plan of Action for Children (NPAC) framework.
The first NPAC was approved by Cabinet in 1996. The ratification obligated the country to submit periodic reports to the UNCRC in terms of article 44 of the Convention. Adhering to its obligations under the UNCRC, government submitted its initial country report in 1997. The report outlined measures put in place to promote and protect the rights of children, including the drafting and approval of the country’s first NPAC, as well as the establishment of the South African Human Rights Commission amongst others, to protect, promote and monitor children’s rights. These measures were welcomed by the committee. In 1998, the Office on the Rights of the Child (ORC) was established in the Presidency, and the coordination of child rights activities was moved from the Department of Health, previously designated by the Cabinet to lead the NPAC process, to this office.
He said that to date, South Africa had developed four national plans of action for children -- the first in 1996, the second in 2000, the third in 2012, and the fourth in 2019. The NPAC was aligned with the National Development Plan (NDP) Vision 2030, specifically chapter 11, which asserts that by 2030 children should be benefiting from services and benefits aimed at facilitating access to nutrition, health care, education, social care, and safety, and the elimination of problems such as hunger, malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies that affect physical growth and cognitive development, especially among children. Government departments implemented the NPAC as per existing mandates and in collaboration with civil society.
Informed by the principles adopted in shaping South Africa’s human rights-based constitutional democracy, the fourth NPAC had charted an integrated, consultative and participatory process for the continued delivery of children’s rights. It strengthened the implementation of children’s rights through the following alignment to strategic areas and commitments:
- Coordination and dissemination of information in the context of the national agenda on children’s rights;
- Facilitation of the process to develop the capacity of the national children’s rights system in the three spheres of government;
- Mainstreaming the NPAC in the framework of the country’s NDP;
- Reflection on children’s rights achievements since 1996, including child survival, protection, development, and participation performance in 2012-2017;
- Monitoring the implementation of the NPAC within government’s regulatory frameworks and alignment with the country’s regional African Union (AU) African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), and international (UNCRC) treaty obligations to ensure that both government and civil society honoured their obligations;
- Alignment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
- Alignment to the AU Agenda 63 and related child rights and welfare instruments and protocols.
He said that the fourth NPAC was intended to impact the following stakeholders: Cabinet; Parliament; officials in government; children’s rights practitioners; all formations of civil society; children; service delivery departments; Chapter 9 institutions; and the AU and UN.
He pointed out that in the strategic orientation, the fourth NPAC was based on South Africa’s Constitutional, regional and international commitments, transforming them into developmental programmes offered by government and non-governmental stakeholders. It draws these interventions into a high-level strategic plan that could be owned and monitored by all sectors.
The purpose of NPAC was to provide a mechanism through which government could facilitate and transform its national, regional, and international commitments and strategic targets into a coherent national plan of action to advance children’s rights. The vision of the NPAC was aligned with the NDP, which was generally regarded as the visionary “map” through which all South Africans were called upon to build a sustainable, equitable, and just future. This plan envisioned a South Africa where everyone felt free, yet connected to others; where everyone embraced their full potential; a country where opportunity was determined not by birth, but by ability, education and hard work. The mission was to advance the full realisation of children’s rights through promoting, implementing and monitoring the National Plan of Action for Children.
The goal was to provide a clear set of strategic priorities, directly aligned to government’s development plan and its regulatory implementation and monitoring mechanisms.
He took the Committee through the objectives.
At the policy level, the NPAC aimed to promote, protect, advance, and monitor children’s rights to survival and development, protection, non-discrimination, and participation in the period 2019-2024 in South Africa.
At the mainstreaming level, the NPAC wanted to mainstream a child-centred approach (in developmental interventions) in all sectors and spheres of government.
At the advocacy level, NPAC wanted to strengthen and heighten awareness within government departments and among the general public of the principles of children’s rights implementation, including civil rights, freedoms, and the capacities of the child; and support and embrace participation and contributions by children themselves and by the children’s rights sector towards the national transformation process, and progress towards unity and social cohesion.
At the institutional level, NPAC wanted to strengthen leadership and consolidate institutional arrangements and measures of children’s rights coordination and implementation; create an enabling environment for the implementation of the fourth NPAC; enhance the influence and authority of the apex structure and its focal points; and for resource allocation, align the plan with government’s medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) programme.
Under monitoring and evaluation, NPAC wanted to:
- Strengthen national measures for children’s rights implementation, general principles and civil rights and freedoms for the delivery of children’s rights;
- Set macro goals and indicators to enable departments, provinces, municipalities, and organs of civil society to create micro goals and indicators in line with their 2019-2024 medium term strategic framework (MTSF) and the MTEF;
- Coordinate and facilitate compliance with South Africa’s child rights treaty reporting and the dissemination of South Africa’s response to the concluding observations and recommendations received from the UN and AU committees respectively;
- Develop the NPAC comprehensive national children’s rights implementation matrix, to ensure integrated implementation and monitoring; and
- Mobilise the involvement of strategic partners in implementing the national children’s rights agenda.
He said that central to the delivery of the NPAC was the requirement for functional, effective and efficient institutional mechanisms to coordinate its goals and objectives, which involved multiple international, regional and national instruments and commitments.
The Offices on the Rights of the Child (ORC) throughout the country involved the participation of children in soliciting inputs in relation mainly to general principles, civil rights, and freedoms of the child, or to determine access by children to their survival, protection, development and participation rights. He emphasised that child participation anchored the contribution of the child rights sector to sustainable transformation and social cohesion in South Africa.
NPAC had outlined the implementation plan for the financial years 2020-2024 to include the following sub-programmes:
- Strengthening institutional support and capacity development;
- Child rights advocacy and social mobilisation;
- Monitoring child rights compliance; and
- Coordinating key child rights priority programmes.
He said that NPAC was used as a planning instrument, and was aligned to the Constitution, the SDGs, the priorities and outcomes of the NDP, and the key regional and international instruments that the country had ratified -- in particular, the UNCRC and its optional protocols as well as the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. The values and principles of these conventions were domesticated and evaluation framework for the NPAC had been developed within the context, procedures, and processes of the government’s performance management monitoring and evaluation policy framework (2007), which applied to all entities in the national, provincial and local spheres of government.
The characteristics of an effective monitoring system, as outlined by the NPAC, involved being able to:
- Incorporate and link different aspects of children’s lives in ways that could explain both positive and negative outcomes in terms of a variety of environmental factors operating at individual, family, and community levels;
- Articulate and examine the links between developmental stages in individual children, environmental conditions, and child outcomes (short and long term);
- Include measures of the physical and social environment, and of poverty, as experienced by children;
- Disaggregate data across several key lines (gender, age, population group, residential location, birth location, disability, education);
- Track the nature and scale of the impact of major epidemics, such as HIV/AIDS, and other health conditions such as under-nutrition, rising obesity, and mental illness on children’s lives, and the effectiveness of various responses to conditions brought about by these conditions;
- Produce and integrate data sets as cost-effective, accessible, and uncomplicated as possible.
He said that to ensure the effective implementation of the NPAC, the ORC mandate had been structured and aligned with its implementation plan to respond to its core functions of strengthening institutional support and capacity development, child rights advocacy and social mobilisation, and monitoring child rights compliance.
The NPAC implementation faced various challenges, such as inadequate participation by government departments, institutional arrangements not being standardised at all levels, and limited capacity to cascade the implementation of the NPAC down to the provincial, district, and local levels.
The implementation of the NPAC was the responsibility of all line function departments, in partnership with a range of stakeholders in all spheres of government. Although the focus of the NPAC was on children’s rights, the plan also called on everyone to instil in their children a strong conviction that the rights of a child were intrinsically linked to corresponding responsibilities.
He pointed out that the NPAC aimed to ensure that Parliament, families and households, communities, faith and community-based organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), traditional healers and leaders, the business sector, as well as international agencies, would continue with the implementation of their respective mandates, to support the effective implementation of the NPAC.
(See attached document for details).
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) had a few comments rather than questions for the Department. She said that the plan did not speak to the issues and the crisis that the children in South Africa faced which the Minister had raised in her opening remarks. She did not see how the plan that was already three years old had, or would have, any impact on the real challenges in the country. These challenges were the crisis of malnutrition; the issue that the Committee was not able to monitor the Child Support Grant; the weakening of the relationship between the state and NGOs; the lack of social workers; delays in adoption; the lack of accessibility for children with disabilities; and the monitoring of the abuse of children, etc.
She pointed out that the Department had indicated in the presentation that they had inadequate participation by government departments. As far as she was aware, they had given government departments two years to "get their houses in order," after which they would be named and shamed if no progress was shown. However, she wondered if that was enough -- to just name and shame the government departments that did not show any interest or progress. That was not a solution, in her opinion.
The Department had stated that they had given annual reports to Cabinet in 2020 and 2021 on monitoring this plan for implementation, and asked whether they could provide the Committee with copies.
Ms A Abrahams (DA) seconded the issue Ms van der Merwe raised. The Committee had always asked the DSD for impact and outcome indicators, and it always presented presentations that did not state what the impacts and outcomes of the plans were. She pointed out that it would only be beneficial for the Committee if it got the annual reports on how they planned to implement the plans. The Department needed to present the Committee with real indicators and targets for the Committee to be able to engage with the actions of the Department, and for them to give them real constructive feedback.
She asked whether the Department's impact plan fitted into the annual performance plan (APP), whether they could provide the Committee with some of the targets, and how they had incorporated the impact plan into the APP. She asked if the necessary targets and indicators had been put into the APP of all the departments responsible for child care.
She asked the Department about budget allocations and funding, as information about that was missing from the presentation.
She said that the DSD had spoken of two different scenarios -- whether the Office of the Rights of Children should be located in the provincial premiers' offices, or if they should continue in Social Development under the branch ‘Welfare Services’ directorate. She saw that some were located in the premiers’ offices, while others were not. When would the Department settle on one of the scenarios? Lack of uniformity would hinder the plan from being brought into effect. She asked the Department for a list indicating which were located in the premiers’ offices and under the DSD in each province. Some provinces had not bought into the idea of children's rights, and they should know who these provinces were.
She said targets were needed to measure the implementation of this plan. The Committee needed to see how the plans of the Department would be put into action, and not just how they intended to put them into action.
Ms P Marais (EFF) said there was a lack of discipline in schools, as some teachers were being killed within and outside school premises, etc. She asked the Department what they meant by ‘arts and culture’, and whether this was going to take place in the schools or in a private environment. They had mentioned nothing about sports. She raised the issue of drug and alcohol abuse among children, and said that it was a big problem in communities. Teenage pregnancies were high among young girls. How was the DSD going to address all these issues? Plans always looked good on paper, but she questioned how they were going to address the issues in real life. How far was the Department going to allow children’s rights to go, as some rights were hindering children from receiving help? She said children did not have respect for elderly people anymore. All the stakeholders and the Department of Education needed to come together with the DSD to discuss all the various challenges and issues, to come up with possible solutions.
Ms L Arries (EFF) raised the issue of children with autism, saying that it was a big issue in the country, as there were no school systems that supported children with autism. There was a lack of assistance to accommodate children with autism.
She pointed out that it was a prerequisite for children to attend an early childhood development (ECD) facility for them to be able to enter Grade 1. However, there was a shortage of ECD facilities for children with disabilities. There were not enough ECD practitioners and facilities to accommodate the children.
She had recently worked on the Children’s Amendment Bill, and it had been passed by Parliament. The biggest concern was that children at the age of 18 were still considered to be minors, but the age of consent was 16 years. For them to protect children, the rights of children needed to be in synergy with the legislation.
Mr D Stock (ANC) commended the level of commitment that the Minister always presented. She was always available to attend the Portfolio Committee, no matter the challenges she might be facing or how busy her schedule was. Her devoted leadership was appreciated.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Stock and said that it showed a level of devotion, dedication, and commitment and appreciated.
DSD first quarter 2022/23 report
Mr Thabani Buthelezi, Acting Deputy Director-General (DDG): Strategy and Organisational Transformation, DSD, took the Committee through the annual performance plan for the 2022/23 financial year.
He said the commitments in the APP reflected a continuation and fulfilment of the commitments of the Sixth Administration. Those commitments were clearly depicted in the MTSF, the five-year strategic plan, the national annual strategic plan (NASP), the executive performance agreement (EPA), sector priorities, the State of the Nation Address (SONA), the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP), and also responds to the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR).
This presentation would provide the Committee with the progress on the DSD’s first quarter performance against the objectives committed to in the 2022/23 APP. The Department's overall performance was in line with the endeavours and commitments they made to the Committee to achieve at least 80% of their targets. The 2022-23 first quarter performance showed an improved year-on-year performance compared to the performance in the same period the previous year, where only 72% of the set targets were achieved, so they had started on the right track.
Further analysis of the performance showed that almost a third of the achieved targets during the first quarter were on preparatory activities such as developing project plans, completing consultation plans, developing monitoring and evaluation tools, developing readiness assessment tools, etc. For 2022, the Department had adopted a common theme of “execution excellence,” which meant that everything they did as the DSD would be done within the spirit of excellence.
Mr Buthelezi gave the Committee an overview of the targets that were not achieved:
- Monitoring and evaluation
The quarterly target for the pilot monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system in three provinces was not achieved. Provincial departments could not provide contact details of service points, non-profit organisations (NPOs) and facilities on time, due to time and capacity constraints. This information was a minimum requirement for piloting the M&E system. The national and provincial DSD had worked together to complete the spreadsheets with the minimum required information. This exercise was complete, and the pilot would start in August 2022.
- HIV and AIDS
The quarterly target to capacitate 100 social service practitioners (SSPs) on HIV testing services guidelines was not achieved. Only 68 SSPs were capacitated on HIV testing services guidelines. The Northern Cape (NC) did not participate in the capacity building. They made late cancellations, making it impossible to find an alternative solution. Plans were made with the NC to conduct capacity building in the second quarter.
- Community mobilisation and empowerment
The quarterly targets to capacitate five districts on the community mobilisation and empowerment framework towards the implementation of the district development model (DDM) and to train 210 community development practitioners (CDPs) on CDP practices and methodologies were not achieved. Only five districts and 69 CDPs were trained. This was due to the inability to procure venues for the selected provinces because of the National Treasury circular on the suspension of procurement due to the court order on the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework.
- Population and development
The quarterly target to train 23 municipalities on integrating migration issues into the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) was not achieved due to municipalities not attending the training. The mixed approach training, targeting all provinces at the same time with a hybrid (both contact and virtual) format for larger coverage would be employed henceforth, over and above the provincial target approach.
- Legal services
- The quarterly targets to consult relevant stakeholders on the draft South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) Amendment Bill and the draft Social Development Bill were not achieved. The draft bills were only screened and assessed in preparation for a consultation with stakeholders. No reasons were provided as to why the consultation did not take place.
- The quarterly target to publish the draft Regulations on the Children’s Amendment Bill in the Government Gazette for public comments was not achieved. The Regulations had been developed and the draft was being consulted with relevant stakeholders. There could be no publication of the Regulations in the Gazette unless the Act has been passed into law. This implied that the APP target was incorrect.
- The quarterly target to consolidate public comments and make inputs into the NPO Bill was not achieved. The Bill was advertised in May 2022 for public comments, and the comments were still being received and consolidated.
- The quarterly target to consult on the concept document towards developing a draft National Development Agency (NDA) Amendment Bill was not achieved. Although the reported performance showed that consultation on the development of the NDA Bill had been conducted and was continuing, there was no evidence to support the reported performance.
- The quarterly target to finalise the Socio-Economic Impact Assessment System (SEIAS) application processes for the draft policy on the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Use Disorders was not achieved. No SEIAS certificate was obtained. Only application forms were completed. Although the same quarterly target was repeated in the second quarter, the final stage of the SEIAS process was the SEIAS certificate. Until such a certificate was obtained, the SEIAS process could not be reported as completed or finalised.
Mr Buthelezi took the Committee through the different programmes of the DSD.
Programme 1: Administration
This part of the presentation discussed the outcomes, targets and the interventions that the Department had on entity oversight; stakeholder management and donor coordination; monitoring and evaluation; finance; information management systems technology; human capital management and legal services, as well as what the impact of the various interventions was.
Programme 2: Social Assistance
In terms of social assistance, the Department wanted to reduce poverty, inequality, vulnerability, and social ills. They wanted to make R248 billion available to SASSA for administration and the payment of social grants to beneficiaries. The provision of social grants reduced poverty and contributed to the reduction of income inequality in the country. Empirical evidence showed that the child support grant (CSG) contributed to improved school attendance, educational attainment, and access to food. Social grants proved to be the most effective mechanism available to the government to cushion millions of the most vulnerable individuals and households from the dire socio-economic impact of COVID-19.
Programme 3: Policy and Administration
Several policies and legislation were at different phases of development within Social Security. They were all part of the targeted outcome to reduce poverty, inequality, vulnerability and social ills. The policies included integrating children’s grant beneficiaries with government services; a proposal on income support for 18 to 59-year-olds; maternal support for vulnerable pregnant women and children; voluntary cover for retirement and risk benefits for atypical and informal sector workers; and the Social Security Bill.
Programme 4: Welfare Services Policy Development and Implementation Support
Several interventions were being implemented within children’s legislation and families. These were part of the targeted outcome to have empowered, resilient individuals, families, and sustainable communities. He discussed the various pieces of legislation and policies that the Department had in place to support children and families. The Department also focused on HIV/AIDS, alcohol and substance abuse, and how they could prevent and assist children affected by this. They also aimed to address issues around children with disabilities.
Programme 5: Social Policy and Integrated Service Delivery
Under this Programme, 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, as well as policies and frameworks to regulate the NPO sector.
After the Committee was briefed on the different programmes, Mr Fanie Esterhuizen, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), DSD, provided the Committee with a summary of the expenditure during the first quarter of 2022/23.
(See attached document for details).
The Members commented that the presentation was too long and that they were unable to engage fully on all the matters.
Ms Abrahams pointed out on slide 24, that the Department had spoken of the monitoring tools the Department wanted to develop, such as the tool to monitor the family preservation programmes and the tool to monitor the implementation of the Sinovuyo Teen Parent Digital Programme. She understood that these programmes had already been implemented and asked the Department why they had only now developed tools to monitor them. She questioned whether these tools to monitor the implementation of these programmes should not have been developed beforehand in order to record and extract data, and for accurate measurement and tracking. Was it the norm for the Department to develop monitoring programmes only after the programmes had been implemented?
She said a lot of the transfer payment agreements (TPAs) were done within the provinces, and asked whether the NPO platform was only for the registration and tracking of financial reports, or if there was scope on the platform to track the amounts of funding that the NGOs received from the various spheres of government. This would enable the Committee to monitor whether there was mismanagement of funds, where NGOs could misuse the allocation of the funds.
She had read that the director for NPOs in Gauteng had recently made a statement that they would look more at insourcing options, rather than reaching out to NGOs for services. The comments by the Director were made due to the non-compliance of the NGOs, and she was not disputing that. NGOs needed to comply, especially after the DSD helped them become compliant. She asked the Department whether that was their stance on the matter, whether they agreed with what the director in Gauteng had said, or whether they had an independent stance on the matter. As far as she was aware, the DSD was reliant on NGOs to carry out the bulk of the services. She pointed out that the cost of the expenditure on employees was already higher than what the Committee projected.
She said that the Department was under-spent on NPOs, and many NPOs were doing great work. Funds were being returned to National Treasury because NGOs were being non-compliant. What were the plans of the Department to approach the NGOs to become compliant so that the money was not returned to National Treasury?
She asked whether the delays in the NPO transfers had to do with compliance issues. What steps was the Department putting in place to ensure they did not return any of the funds regarding welfare?
She asked the Department for clarity on the over-spending of R33 million on communications, as SASSA had been unable to pay back the money.
She noted that the Department no longer had a slide about their wasteful expenditure. Nothing about this had been mentioned in quarter three and four or in this presentation. Why was Department not providing that information to the Committee? She requested the Department to provide the Committee with the information for those quarters.
What were the reasons for the SEIAS certificate delays?
The presentation indicated the DSD had successfully handled 300 of the 306 appeals for this quarter. She asked if these appeals also included the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant, because she found that number to be very low for the quarter.
Ms van der Merwe noted the increase in the achievement of the Department's targets, and commended them for that.
She asked the Department to include one slide on the social worker crisis in their future quarterly presentations. The Committee would like to know how many social workers were being employed currently, how many had not been absorbed yet, and the progress and possible engagements with other departments.
On the under-spending and the delayed transfers to the NPOs, she asked if it was only non-compliance hindering the Department from spending the money or paying the organisations on time. She highlighted that many vulnerable South Africans urgently needed the money. If the money was not used or paid for in time, it could devastate the most vulnerable people in society. She had recently seen reports of old-age homes -- places that look after vulnerable old people -- that were on the verge of closing down. This was a problem as many of those people would end up on the streets, as they had no family to go to. It was rather worrisome if the money was not being used, as there were many NGOs and NPOs working in the interests of the most vulnerable who were not getting paid or paid on time by the Department.
She said that a group representing 350 NPOs and NGOs had complained that they were left out of the Social Sector Summit held in August. She asked the Department why those organisations had been left out, and questioned whether the summit could be called a "social sector summit" if so many organisations were overlooked. Social media reports had indicated that some of the people at the summit objected to the framework declaration, because it did not represent the discussions held at the summit.
She asked the Department for more clarity on the universal fund that would be created to channel and distribute money to civil society. There seemed to be a regression in the relationship between the Department and civil society organisations. She acknowledged that there were compliance issues, but the civil society organisations did provide vital services on behalf of the state. She suggested that they had to look into ways in which they could strengthen and rectify the relationship between the DSD and these organisations.
She raised the issue of plans vs actions. The Department had indicated that it wished to develop a project plan to implement a universal treatment curriculum (UTC) in public treatment centres and to develop a project plan in consultation with stakeholders for approval to implement the DSD anti-gang strategy in nine high-risk districts. It was worrisome if the Department was developing a plan to implement a project only now, as that meant no progress was being made on the ground. She asked the Department to provide the Committee with copies of the plans for oversight purposes.
Ms N Bilankulu (ANC) pointed out that Programme One spoke of human capital management, and she wanted to know the current status of the draft joint bid to National Treasury to provide funding for the employment of social service professionals.
She asked what the timeframe was for feedback from the Office of the State Law Adviser (OCLSA) on the Victim Support Services (VSS) Bill. What were the plans for consultations on the draft SASSA Amendment Bill and the draft Social Development Bill? What were the timeframes, and when would the NPO’s comments be consolidated? She asked what the Department’s approach was to reporting on the consultations that had been done on the draft NDA Amendment Bill.
Ms Marais referred to the integration of migration issues for the IDP, and said that as long as people were moving to cities and bigger towns looking for jobs, there would be migration issues. The IDP processes were not being implemented properly within the municipalities because of the migration problem, so there would always be a backlog regarding the IDP.
On the targets that were not achieved on HIV/AIDS, the Department had indicated that the Northern Cape had not attend the capacity building training. This was worrisome for her because she was deployed in the Northern Cape, and HIV/AIDS was a big issue in the province.
On the social ills within communities, she asked the DSD how many drug centres had been built. She mentioned that three boys had committed suicide over the last three months in the same community because of drug abuse. She emphasised the need for, and importance of, the drug centres.
Regarding teenage pregnancies, she said that there were centres for young mothers, and asked how many there were. She also asked where the baby savers were being deployed within the provinces and the regions.
She pointed out that there was a problem with the NPOs, especially where old people and vulnerable children were involved. Money was being sent back to National Treasury by the Department, but the Department had not assisted these NPOs. She asked what mechanisms they had in place to monitor which NPOs were still operating and which ones were closed down, and to ensure that they received the needed assistance and funds.
Ms Arries said a problem was not only that there was a shortage of social workers, but that they were struggling with a shortage of vehicles. She requested the Department to provide the Committee with a report on this.
The Department must provide the Committee with a report on the NPOs indicating what systems they had in place to monitor them. The NPOs were not reporting back to the DSD on the work that they had done. The Department should also provide the Committee with a list of the NPOs receiving funding from the Department, so the Committee could see how the funds had been distributed to the NPOs.
She pointed out that there was a lack of rehabilitation centres, and private rehabilitation centres were expensive, and not everyone had the necessary funds to access them. There were many unregistered rehabilitation centres, and she asked the Department what they were planning on doing to address this matter.
The Chairperson asked the Department if they could assure the Committee that no money was going to be sent back to the National Treasury by the end of this financial year. NPOs were complaining about the non-payments, and she wanted to know the root cause of the problem.
Mr Stock noted that almost 80% of the Department’s targets had been achieved, and commended the Department for that, but asked why Programme 2 and the targets mentioned in slides 6 and 7 had not been achieved.
Regarding monitoring and evaluation, he asked whether the Department had made a risk analysis on the pilot that had been due to start in August. Were there any updates on the progress they had made or any challenges they had faced since August?
On HIV/AIDS, he asked what the reasons were for the lack of participation by the Northern Cape. What steps were the DSD going to take to hold senior managers accountable, and what plans had they made to ensure that the target of capacitation of the remainder of the social service practitioners was met?
He asked the Department for clarity on what the way forward was on the shortfalls in community mobilisation and empowerment. What innovative ways could be explored to address the shortfalls? How many municipalities had been trained on integrating migration issues into the IDP?
Ms Siza Magangoe, Chief Director: Families, DSD, addressed the issue of the SEIAS certificate. She said that the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) was responsible for issuing the certificate. There had been a lot of back-and-forth communication between the Department and the DPME, which had said the certificate would be released only once the DPME was satisfied. However, they had received the final certificate and it would be taken to Cabinet to commence with the policy process.
On the issue of the plans to address the social ills, she indicated that the ‘plans’ they were talking about were seen as ‘roll-out’ plans on how they planned on delivering or addressing the social ills. She emphasised that there was a structure and a process that the Department followed when they implemented their plans.
Ms Mpho Mngxitama, Deputy Director: NPO Registrations and Monitoring, DSD, addressed the issue of the NPOs, and said the platform for registration and compliance allowed the Department to track the intake, the processing and the registration of the NPO system. In terms of tracking the funding, she said that the Department was in an advanced stage of developing a national NPO payment system that would be standardised. The Department should be able to track payments and non-payments with this system.
On the issue of outsourcing, she said that this was the stance of the Gauteng province, and the Department itself had never discussed it. They would look into it, as it may have some repercussions for NPOs.
On improving compliance, she said non-compliance was high, but they were creating awareness for NPOs. At the national level, they were looking at non-compliance across the entire board, funded by both the government and the private sector. The programmes they were implementing to increase compliance and create awareness enabled them to go into communities across provinces through the roadshow programme, where they had onsite reporting and registration. They had started to implement the Know Your NPO Status campaign, whereby the Department created awareness among NPOs of what their status was, and their status of compliance. They also had a relationship with the provinces, where they were required to provide a list of the NPOs they intended to fund to the Department so they could check their status on their database before funds were transferred to the NPOs.
There was a draft matrix for consolidating comments, as had been requested. This was at an advanced stage, but there had been a request from the sector to extend the period of consolidation of the submission of the comments. The comments were still coming in, and only when the period for comments was closed would they be able to submit a draft.
Referring to the Social Sector Summit, she said the summit had been in partnership with civil society, the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), the NDA and the Presidency. Because this summit was bigger than the NPO sector, the Department had various issues accommodating everyone. They had a streaming platform to ensure wider participation at the summit, because they had been unable to accommodate everyone.
On the letter they received, she said they were currently working with the Presidency to ensure that the views it contained were listened to, and that the requests were processed. She pointed out that all the comments were being looked at, to ensure that all the members of civil society were listened to. They were working together with Nedlac and the Presidency to ensure that their comments would be represented in the framework.
She said that the Department should be in the position to provide the Committee with a list of NPOs that received funding from the DSD.
On the issue of non-payments, she said that the provinces submitted a list of their payment schedule, as well as the progress on their payments, every quarter. The Department was tracking that, and they would have to agree on a specific time when all the provinces had to pay the NPOs. They were working with the provinces to increase compliance so that payments could be made on time.
Mr Buthelezi addressed the issue of the delay in the piloting, and said that several factors had affected this. They were working on addressing the delay.
The DSD would devise a catch-up plan to ensure that they reached the targets for the training of the municipalities before the end of the financial year.
They were still waiting for a response from National Treasury on the social service professionals, and thereafter further steps would be taken. He had taken note of the comment, and would provide a summary of the number of social workers that had been absorbed.
Ms Magangoe said that they received the SEIAS certificate on Monday, 19 September, and would be able to proceed with the process. They had engaged with the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Justice and Reconciliation, the Department of Correctional Services, the South African Police Service and the Department of Education on this, and they would get the necessary information from them on where the social workers had been absorbed, and would present it to the Committee.
On the Bills under the legal services, one Bill had been passed through Parliament and the others were still in different stages of processing.
She said the project plans to address social ills were there only to indicate how they were going to address them. The planning included identifying the social ills in the provinces, confirming the budget, as well as how they would be monitoring the activities. They were right on track with the whole process.
She said the DSD had built 13 public treatment centres countrywide, and there were over 100 public treatment centres that were being subsidised by the provinces. They had more than enough public treatment centres, and the challenges were greater in the legislation and the upskilling of the prevention programmes. They were working on this with the provinces to upskill the prevention programmes and to reduce the availability of alcohol in the communities.
Regarding unregistered treatment centres, she said that in terms of legislation, they all had to be registered before they were allowed to operate. Those not registered were not allowed to operate, and the provinces had the responsibility to close them down.
Ms Isabella Sekwana, Acting DDG: Social Welfare, DSD, addressed the issue of social workers and their work. She said they had developed a supervision framework that outlined the responsibilities of the supervisors, as well as the rules and regulations of the supervisors. Every supervisor had three social workers, and the supervisor also dealt with the work of the social workers. However, there are currently supervisors involved in operational work because of the shortage of social workers. There were no managers to oversee the work of the supervisors in rural areas. This was a challenge, as the supervisor was doing the work of the manager and the social worker, apart from their work as a supervisor. Currently, social workers have to have scheduled sessions with their supervisors to track the progress of their performance. However, because of the challenges, they were unable to do their work properly. However, there were processes in place to monitor social workers, and supervisors were being assisted in ensuring they could carry out their responsibilities. In cases where a supervisor was not carrying out their responsibility as outlined in the Social Service Professions Act 110 of 1978, they could be reported to the Council, where they would deal with the matter further.
Ms Brenda Sibeko, DDG: Comprehensive Social Security, DSD, addressed the questions about the SASSA Amendment Bill consultations. She said that the consultations had happened already. What was still outstanding -- and was currently happening -- were the consultations with the internal governance structures, such as the DPME. The process would extend into Quarter Three, and they hoped to finalise the Amendment Bill then.
She said that the appeals did not include the SRD grant. There had been a delay in the implementation of the SRD grant, as the regulations still had to be done, and then SASSA had to set out the implementation process. The appeals had arisen only after the grants were piloted. All the numbers would be reflected in the second quarter report when they returned to report to the Committee.
The under-expenditure was related to previous issues in Programme Two, as a part of the SRD grant payments had started only in June, so the grant payments for April and May were not paid out by the time the first quarter had ended. The payments would then be reflected in the second quarter, making up for the under-expenditure in the first quarter.
Mr Esterhuizen addressed the issues involving Telkom. He said it was a sensitive matter, as they had been unable to halt the contract between them and Telkom due to the toll-free hotline that was being used by all the beneficiaries to enable them to phone in on questions they might have. They had already submitted all the payments made for the toll-free hotline since April to SASSA for reimbursement. Once they had finalised the procurement process, they would sign a new contract with Telkom, but the account and all the responsibilities would be carried over to SASSA.
He apologised for the absence of information on the fruitless and wasteful expenditure within the Department, and said that it would be included in the quarters going forward. R2 million was recorded as fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the previous year, and they had recovered more than 50% of the money from the previous quarter. They had processes to ensure that the money would be recovered if employees were negligent. They were also looking at their policies to streamline some of the processes.
On the employment of the social workers, he said that instructions were clear that departments were not allowed to submit additional funding requests. However, they had submitted an additional request to National Treasury. This would take some time, as they had submitted it only by July. Hopefully, they would receive feedback from National Treasury by the end of October and then report back to the Committee.
The under-spending of the Department in the previous financial years had been due to the lack of beneficiaries for the social assistance grant. They hoped to save an amount at the end of the year, but it would be far less than in previous years.
Explaining the non-expenditure on NPOs, he said that the national councils being subsidised had financial years that were not the same as government's. They normally did two transfers in the financial year, in the second and the fourth quarters, and therefore there was no expenditure for the first and the third quarters of this year. They monitored the NGOs, and there were strict compliance rules and regulations in place. The NPOs were also required to submit a progress report before they were eligible for funding again.
Ms Neliswa Cekiso, National Director: Child Protection, DSD, addressed the question of baby savers, and said that the Department did not have baby savers. There were no baby savers that had been registered, but they did have 74 temporary safe care places across the country -- three in the Eastern Cape; 16 in the Free State; seven in Gauteng; 12 in KwaZulu-Natal; five in Limpopo; nine in Mpumalanga; five in the Northern Cape; three in the North West; and 14 in the Western Cape. Children who were abandoned, neglected and/or abused could go to safe care places while awaiting permanent placement for adoption or placement in a children’s home.
On the reasons for postponing the training, Ms Sekwana said that some emerging priorities needed to be attended to before the rest of the priorities could be attended to. Therefore, the training had to be cancelled. However, they had started the training again and would be on track in the second quarter.
Responding to why the Department had been developing tools after they had implemented the programmes, she said that they had been implementing the programmes and that piloting was a part of the family preservation programmes. They had evaluated the implementation of the programmes, and from those findings, they had identified gaps and had therefore been able to develop new tools to address the challenges.
Mr Peter Netshipale, DDG: Community Mobilization and Empowerment, said that they had been unable to complete the training process due to procurement issues. However, the National Treasury issues had been resolved.
The Department was aware of the 350 NPOs who had said they were left out of the social sector summit, and had informed them that they had been unable to accommodate them due to budget constraints. The summit had been planned to accommodate 3 000 civil society organisations, but they were able to accommodate only 600.
On the framework agreement, he said that it was not a legal document, and that they would allow comments to be made on the agreement before it was finalised.
On the question as to why there was not a single universal fund, he said that they were not planning on having such a fund at all.
Referring to the delays in funding the NPOs in different provinces, he said that the Department started the whole process with advertisements that everybody would respond to. They then signed a service level agreement before the first funds were transferred. They found that the NPOs did not comply completely due to a lack of due diligence. There was a province where there had been a late transfer of funds because the NPOs had not submitted their reports. The DSD was addressing these issues, and they were developing a system to improve the funding process.
The Chairperson thanked the Department for their answers and for clarifying some of the issues that had been raised by the Members.
The meeting was adjourned.
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