Social Development Strategic Plan and Budget: Department briefing

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


7 April 2005

Chairperson: Ms J Masilo (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Budget Vote 18
Department PowerPoint presentation
Department Strategic plan 2005/06 - 2009/10

The Department of Social Development presented its Strategic Plan and budget, and outlined many key priorities and projects. These included the establishment of the SA Social Security Agency, reviews of various grant expenditures, funding of NGOs, and a campaign to reduce fraud and corruption.

Members asked for more details on the recent campaign to address grant fraud, difficulties at pay-points, the extent of the Child Protection Register, priority legislation, detail on provincial budget allocations and the food relief projects’ tender allocations.


Department briefing
Mr V Madonsela (Department Director-General) provided some introductory remarks, before handing over to Mr Pakade (Chief Financial Officer). Mr Pakade provided an overview of the strategic plans and recent developments. The SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) would be established to co-ordinate the distribution of social grants and other forms of assistance at a national level. A campaign was underway to address fraud and corruption throughout the social system. The sustainability of certain grants such as disability and foster care grants were under review. A new definition of disability would be created to assist in the campaign against fraud. The intention was to reduce leakage within the system as a whole. The financing of NGOs would be reconsidered and increased in order to assist civil society in delivering public services. The rights of children and the elderly would be reinforced and various related bills would be finalised during the year. The conditional grants for HIV/AIDS had been doubled and the Public Works Programme would continue to assist in job creation. Policy around families would be consolidated and integrated strategies to address poverty and community development implemented. The agencies delivering social assistance would be monitored on a regular basis to ensure compliance with regulations.

Quality checks would be conducted on the transfer of grants to the provinces and time frames elaborated. Studies had been conducted to ascertain the success of recent programmes with the child support grant receiving positive feedback. Approximately 9.3 million people received social assistance last year, with 50% of this being for child support. Dealing with the cost implications of additional staff was a priority. The Minister had held discussions with various law enforcement agencies to tackle the widespread levels of fraud that had been detected. Grant administration systems and payment procedures were being improved.

Mr B Tolo (ANC) asked whether the recent fraud eradication strategy involving indemnity had been successful and what numbers of civil servants were involved. He asked what plans the Department had to alleviate long queues at pay points and to institute the Mzanzi account system.

Ms H Lamoela (DA) acknowledged the commitment to monitoring declared by the Department. She asked why the Child Protection Register had been compiled in only seven provinces and whether the recent outputs considered all provinces with regard to orphans and vulnerable children.

Ms N Madlala-Magubane (ANC) asked which two provinces had been excluded from the Child Protection Register. She asked for feedback on the recently implemented local population and development integration project and detail on the national drug master plan.

Ms J Vilakazi (IFP) referred to the problems experienced at rural paypoints and asked for clarity on plans to alleviate the hardships suffered by the elderly.

The Chairperson asked whether the Department would implement the Older Person’s Bill during the year as a priority. A list of NGO beneficiaries receiving financial assistance from the Department was requested. She asked what control mechanisms were in place regarding the distribution of food parcels and whether the new information technology system would be implemented in the short term.

Mr Madonsela responded that 29 000 individuals had applied for indemnity as of 31 March 2005 for the misappropriation of social grants. Approximately R120 million would be saved as a direct result. Some provinces had asked for extensions of the indemnity that would be considered. The Department regarded such crimes as crimes of need rather than crimes of greed. Investigations regarding fraud were continuing and some arrests would be made in the near future. Public servants and politicians could receive foster care grants in certain circumstances that should be borne in mind. Significant problems regarding fraud were identified in the former homeland regions. The Department regarded the anti-corruption campaign as a success.

Long queues at pay-points had been a problem for some time and individuals had been encouraged to open accounts at the Post-bank to facilitate easier access to payment. Competition existed between the CPS and various private financial institutions that could cause conflict at certain pay-points due to the desire for customers. The Child Protection Register was not operational in certain provinces due to a lack of finances. Funding would be made available to expand the rollout throughout all districts. The passing of the Children’s Bill would provide impetus for the implementation of the Register. The Central Drug Authority was considering the master plan that would pass through the normal structures of government such as the Justice and Crime Prevention cluster. The plan would be made available to the Committee at the completion of the process.

The government was responsible to protect all elderly persons receiving grants at pay-points against various threats including crime and the elements. The HSRC had recently completed a study focused on current conditions at pay-points and certain provinces had begun to upgrade facilities where required. Prevailing conditions would comply with a framework of norms and standards imposed by the Department.

The Older Person’s Bill and the Children’s Bill, once finalised, would be implemented dependant on available resources at each location. Budgetary requirements would be re-evaluated once the Bills became law. The Minister had made a request that the Bills in question be completed as a matter of urgency. A list of NGOs receiving financial assistance from the Department was available and would be circulated to Members. Poverty relief funds were used to support viable and worthy entities at both a national and provincial level. Communication between national and provincial departments would be improved to ensure co-ordination of civil society initiatives.

Food parcels would not be rolled out in the current financial year as in the past two years. Lessons had been learnt from the previous system including negative consequences for local businesses within previously disadvantaged areas. Tenders would now insist that consortiums contained representatives from small business interests. Civil society groups within KZN and the Eastern Cape would also be included. Rollovers of funds within certain provinces would take place to allow the continuation of food parcels in needy regions in the interim. A new conditional grant would be provided to provinces where discretion could be applied in how relief would be made available. The value of the food parcel was pegged at R300 and people who spent less than R200 would qualify. Identified poverty pockets would be focused on.

The Chairperson inquired about a recent tribal authorities’ workshop involving the spouses of traditional leaders on poverty alleviation.

Mr Masondela replied that the workshop intended to consolidate existing activities involving women in leadership positions within the rural areas. Social development projects were discussed and new initiatives proposed involving the national department.

Ms Mahlapo (Deputy Director-General) stated that the report for AIDS assistance would be completed once the details on the last quarter were received. A list of NGOs receiving funds would be submitted to Members.

Ms Lamoela stated that uncertainty prevailed regarding government pensions and clarity was needed.

The Chairperson asked for further detail on the policy on child-headed households and social relief for distress.

Mr Jehoma (Deputy Director General) stated that the thresh-hold for the old age pension was R960. An individual receiving a civil pension of the same amount would not qualify. The ceiling would increase when the grant value was increased. The Department would supply a set of booklets to Members explaining the different requirements of each grant.

Mr Pakade provided an account of the departmental budget detailing the spread of allocation. Detail on conditional grants and programmes assisted was provided. Child Support Grants were experiencing pressure in certain regions due to urban migration and targets were being revised based on recent census findings. Food emergency relief would be conducted in partnership with civil society. The capacity of social assistance transfers would be increased and monitoring of provinces would be enhanced.

Ms Mazibuko requested further detail on the proposed allocation of budget to the provinces indicating the priorities for particular projects. She asked for detail on the percentage increase for the Medium-term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) process. She asked for clarity on the payments for capital assets as indicated in the economic classification. The purpose of childcare forums had to be explained and the proposed allocation to Gauteng appeared low considering the pressures due to migration.

Reverend E Adolph (ID) asked why the food relief grant had experienced shortcomings in certain provinces. The tender approach pertaining to food relief provision remained problematic as established companies continued to benefit.

Ms Mazibuko asked whether other countries would also benefit from special allocations in crisis situations. A gender breakdown on tenders awarded was requested as women-headed companies should be advantaged.

The Chairperson noted that the National Development Agency continued to receive a high budgetary allocation and asked whether NGOs continued to receive assistance from this organisation. The allocation to NGOs in the North West province was questioned as much assistance needed to be directed at civil society groupings which were being neglected. The envisaged lack of surplus for the Northern Cape for the Child Support Grant was questioned.

Mr Pakade replied that a breakdown of programmes receiving budgetary support would be provided in the form of a ‘piechart’ and forwarded to Members. The increases in amounts would be shown as percentages. The Capital Budget referred to purchases of items such as furniture, computers, vehicles etc. The budget for food emergency relief was dependent on the amount allocated by Treasury. The applied formula was based on census figures. The current approach was being reconsidered by Treasury in accordance with demographic shifts. Certain provinces were left out of the major variance analysis due to lack of available information. The NDA received the majority of its budget from the European Commission and allocated 65% to project assistance, 20% to project management and 15% to administration. Projects assisted would include local economic development and special development projects.

The Department intended to strengthen civil society bodies and engage in policy dialogue around poverty alleviation and co-ordinated strategy by means of conferences and workshops. Disaster Relief would not receive an increase and would remain at R10 million. Cabinet could be approached on an ad-hoc basis in the event of a major disaster. The North West province recently spent R2 million on aid relief to NGOs. The surplus of the Northern Cape was based on projections and no actual surplus was expected. No policy was in place to assist other countries in the event of an emergency but Cabinet could demarcate funds where necessary. Partnerships would be fostered with established organisations such as the Red Cross to facilitate effective assistance. The Department was encouraging the awarding of tenders to women and other groups such as the disabled.

The Chairperson noted the numerous programmes that the Department had in place and the significant achievements thus far. A special request was put to the Department to consider the situation in the North West province where places of safety were being closed down and the disabled endured harsh conditions.

The meeting was adjourned.


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