Department of Social Development Q3 2022/23

Social Development

15 March 2023
Chairperson: Ms N Mvana (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


After the DSD 2022/23 Quarter 3 performance report, Committee members asked DSD what it was doing about the other part of the Children's Bill as this was part of the Committee's legacy. They asked about the round table discussion with business on the placement of social workers in schools; quantifying the impact of programmes; why the DSD website gives little information on the programmes it offers, particularly for young people; status of the Director General and Deputy Director General: Social Welfare permanent appointments; cost-of-living hikes; who had funded the GBV Contact Centre. They commented on the stagnant growth of social assistance due to a high number of rejected grant applications; the Child and Family Capacity Building programme; high rate of juvenile violence and drug use; lack of visibility of NGOs and their funding cuts; province needs to appoint community development practitioners; and that programmes exist "on paper" but that nothing actually occurs.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed Minister Lindiwe Zulu. She noted that March is Human Rights Month and emphasized how important and delicate this subject is which is related to the Chapter 2 Bill of Rights of the Constitution and is observed on 21 March. She asked that everyone let the Constitution take precedence in all cases involving human rights. The Committee must exercise caution and ensure that they serve South Africans in the manner in which they are expected to, despite any challenges that may still exist.

Considering that they only have one year left of the Sixth Parliament, the Committee must leave a legacy of excellent service delivery and be confident that they have taken all necessary steps. She expressed concern that responses to questions are frequently postponed to the following meeting and that this should not be allowed as it delays the Committee schedule, which is not desirable. In order to ensure that each Member has an equal opportunity to pose questions and DSD has the chance to answer, she urged Members to keep their speaking time to a minimum and to avoid providing preamble before questioning the speaker. She asked that none of the topics covered during the discussion be postponed.

Minister's remarks
Minister Lindiwe Zulu thanked the Chairperson for reminding everyone about human rights month. She gave a succinct report on the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) session that she and DSD attended. The presentation on Quarter 3 from October to December 2022 would highlight the development of some programmes and the decline of others, along with the justifications and background for each. DSD had a strong start in the first quarter, hitting almost 80% of its goals, but that by the second quarter, it had fallen to 74%. But, by the third quarter, DSD had experienced growth. She thanked the Committee for their help, handed over to the Acting Director General asked to be excused since she had a Cabinet meeting to attend.

Third Quarter Performance October - December 2022
DSD Acting Director General, Mr Linton Mchunu, noted DSD's Annual Performance Plan with 80% targets achieved in Quarter 1, dipping to 74% in Quarter 2 and then improved in Quarter 3.

The DSD presentation reported on the performance of each of the five programmes:
Programme 1: Administration
Programme 2: Social Assistance
Programme 3: Social Security Policy and Administration
Programme 4: Welfare Policy Development and Implementation Support
Programme 5: Social Policy and Integrated Service Delivery.

A summary was provided on Third Quarter Expenditure (see document)

DSD was recognized by Mr D. Stock (ANC) for winning the International Social Security Association (ISSA) Good Practice Award for Africa in 2023. DSD should be honoured to avoid the impression that responsibility-related hard work is underappreciated by the Committee.

Mr Stock asked for clarity on Programme 1 underspending for the management of communications and toll-free lines. He was worried since the Auditor General had also brought attention to the problem. He recommended a plan be put in place to ensure that this will not recur. He asked for the plan of action for resolving the problem. He noticed that spending on Programs 2, 3, and 4 is 74%, and he thought it was crucial for DSD to explain the underspending. What did DSD plan to do to prevent such problem in the next financial quarter?

Ms A Abrahams (DA) asked what DSD was doing with the Children's Bill in light of its mandate and goals it was working toward. She posed this question in response to the chairperson's statement regarding the Committee's legacy. She asked DSD to clarify slide 11 which contained information about the round table discussion with business on the placement of social workers in schools. She asked when Social Welfare will include monitoring and evaluation as the Committee has always talked about being able to quantify impact. This should be something that is resolved before the Committee's five-year term expires even though it is still in development four years later. She noted that the DSD website gives little information on the programmes it offers, particularly for young people. She expressed concern about programmes that looked good on paper but did not get the attention they deserved.

Ms Abrahams inquired about the status of the Director General and Deputy Director General for Social Welfare permanent posts. She requested that the DSD National and Provincial Offices' organograms be sent to the Committee. The presentation's most troubling slide for her was the one with the unclear breakdown of cost-of-living hikes.

Ms Abrahams asked the CFO to break down the Telkom line cost. She also enquired how much and from whom was the new funding for the GBV Contact Centre. She also noted that DSD APP targets differ from those displayed. She asked the reasons for the funds transfer delay to SANAC.

According to Ms J Manganye (ANC), it was possible that the high number of appeals for rejected grant applications was to blame for the stagnant growth of social assistance under Programme 3. DSD had informed them that the Child and Family Capacity Building programme had started in some areas. She asked if the programme had some effect on the community, if so, which district. She brought up this issue since social concerns are becoming more common, despite DSD's claim that the programme was specifically designed for this purpose. She urged DSD to provide a report on which districts are executing this programme and how, given the high rate of juvenile violence and drug use. She asked what holds up programmes that have been submitted for approval. Ms Manganye stated the urgency with which delays must be resolved since it will burden the administration. She also noted that NPOs are not well known or visible in many communities. DSD should work to change this in all districts and provinces. Each province needs to appoint community development practitioners. This will indicate that DSD is operating effectively.

Ms P Marais (EFF) raised the prevalence of substance addiction in communities. She was worried about the funding of non profit organisations (NPOs) being cut because they assisted with problems like drug abuse and caring for the elderly. She asked about who is eligible for a social grant and how to apply because she had noticed that individuals who should be eligible were frequently turned down in favour of those who were in good health. She expressed concern that programmes just exist "on paper" and that nothing actually occurs.

Ms B Masango (DA) proposed encouraging the community to visit SASSA offices rather than contacting DSD by phone or email because those methods seldom receive a response. They should make the offices more accessible to the general public.

Ms L Arries (EFF) suggested that the presentation graphs and figures were modified, saying she did not find them comprehensible and that DSD concealed information. She expressed her opinion that DSD does not support NPOs. Further, DSD was not including people with disabilities enough. DSD needs an exit strategy for those who rely on the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant because the country's unemployment rates are rising and millions of young people receive SRD. She suggested that DSD work with other departments to develop intervention strategies so there is an exit strategy for those who rely on SRD.

DSD response
DSD acknowledged that NPOs were an extension of itself and told the Committee that significant efforts had been made to keep things cordial. The late payment of subsidies was one of the factors contributing to the NPOs' difficulties. Some NPOs fail to submit their reports on time, or worse yet, some may not even understand what is expected of them. NPOs have also been impacted by the change in bylaws, which has an impact on their operation and accreditation. To prevent service delivery being affected, DSD has asked Treasury to refrain from cutting funding for NPOs. It encourages communities to register NPOs in areas where they are not visible and ensure that NPOs are present in areas where social evils are on the rise.

DSD has made an effort to stop talking about accomplishments and instead focus on the impact they have had on communities. To do this, they will need a tool like the Social Welfare Index. It would take some time because other departments would need to be involved in the data correlation, but they would use all available resources to complete this.

On altered figures and graph, DSD assured the Committee that there is a strategic plan framework for and the information supplied is audited by Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA). Therefore there is no opportunity or room to fabricate reports.

On the concerns about payments made to Telkom, the CFO explained that the R74 million in slide 54 includes the R60 million already paid to Telkom. The R84 million was the cost to Telkom over a two-year period because they already had an obligation with Telkom. SANAC will receive R50 million by 31 March 2023 as it did not use the entire grant given to it.

DSD came to the realization that they needed to prioritize and elevate initiatives and programmes to address drug misuse and other social evils. It acknowledged that as not all communities have these services, it is challenging to win the war. Other measures are also used to influence societal behaviour, with the assistance of some political leaders who are in charge of various programmes.

DSD procured in November 2022 a 24-hour response service to the GBV Command Centre and integrated it with the police. It is still a work in progress and will provide services for 36 months with the expectation that it will meet the milestones established within those 36 months.

A new procurement strategy has been developed to improve the website and make it usable for the general public.

DSD has hired 1.7% of persons with disabilities, there is nevertheless a difference of perspective in terms of required figure with DPSA setting it at 2% and DPME at 6%. There needs to be an alignment between these two.

DSD replied that all grants have particular eligibility requirements and the means test was primarily used to ensure that the minimum requirements were met to receive the SRD R350 grantt. The means test was modified when the food poverty line rose from R350 to R624, and an uptake was seen. The fact that there are now 7 million beneficiaries is good news for DSD.

DSD explained that a complementary skills development intervention for the individuals in the database is required in order to establish an exit strategy for SRD beneficiaries with matric and tertiary qualifications. Also it is necessary to connect the recipients with employment prospects, but this can only be done when all departments work together. It drew attention to the fact that the SRD is used, according to studies, to meet the basic needs of beneficiaries, and this is its intended purpose.

DSD has been working on the Basic Income Support. The main component is to enable beneficiaries to engage with the labour market. DSD plans to continue taking the policy to other departments that will help DSD link Social Relief of Distress (SRD) beneficiaries to employment. As the majority of the beneficiaries are young, DSD believes it is crucial to connect them to job opportunities.

DSD noted that the round table discussions were the first round of meetings held with corporates, pleading with them to play a critical role in adopting schools as part of their Corporate Social Investment (CSI). The majority of corporates appeared enthusiastic. This is consistent with DSD's efforts to engage corporate partners in CSI initiatives in an effort to leverage money and include them as they are also impacted by social issues.

The process for appointing the Director General and Deputy Director General is at an advanced stage. DSD explained that they heard new names not because there were new DSD employees but because people were given an opportunity to explain their work to the Committee.

DSD highlighted their worry with communities who do not have substance abuse programmes, however DSD has raised awareness about this with all provinces and underlined the necessity and need for action.

DSD has acknowledged their difficulty in monitoring every district or province and their reliance on reports from these provinces when it comes to community access to SASSA offices, but it has pledged to take urgent action with all provinces to address this and ask them to ensure that communities have access to SASSA.

DSD addressed bills taking a long time to be processed or authorized; they informed the Committee that the approval process is complex and beyond their control.

The Chairperson expressed concern that DSD was not complying with government's requirement to employ a certain percentage of people with disabilities.

The Chairperson proposed that DSD visit districts and provinces to assess the impact of substance abuse programmes in communities and report back to the Committee.

Ms Mvana congratulated DSD on winning the ISSA Award and thanked them for their presentation.

The Committee minutes dated 15, 22 February; 1 March 2023 were adopted and the meeting adjourned.

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