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SOCIAL SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
22 May 2001
Chairperson: Ms. L. Jacobus
Documents handed out
Estimates of Expenditure for 2001 Department of Social Development, Vote 17
Department of Social Development Budget Summary
The Budget focused on programmes geared towards improving the quality, quantity and pace of service delivery especially in disadvantaged areas. The need for more effective communication structures was discussed.
The Department was commended on its efforts to establish a directorate on HIV.
The issue of sexual abuse in schools was also discussed.
Priority would be given to the enhancement of internal operations of the Department thus avoiding perennial service delivery deficiencies. To reinforce and improve on the accessibility to services, the Department is in the process of developing mechanisms to ensure better communication so that service providers did indeed reach out to those in need.
Mr Mkhaliphi (ANC) inquired about the criteria used to allocate the budget; if this was on a need basis or based on a capacity to spend.
Ms Tembi informed the Committee that budgetary allocations are based on both capacity to spend and the nature of projects presented for funding. The capacity to spend is an important consideration as it is the only way to maximise the impact of the allotted funds to the needs on the ground. The government looks at the overall picture with a view to ensure that projects do not stall due to shortage of funds.
Mr Mkhaliphi inquired about the accountability on the part of non-profit organisations.
Ms Tembi said that those NGOs that receive funding subsidies from the government are expected to and convey a report on progress and an account on the way the funds are utilised.
Dr Nel (NNP) asked about the research findings carried out in Uganda and Botswana on the management of HIV and the Aids pandemic. He commended the Department for creating a directorate to be charged with the management and monitoring of the HIV and Aids scourge. He inquired if the Department received a feedback from the provinces which benefited from foreign funding on projects for children and the youth.
Mr Theron promised to make this report available to the Committee.
Ms Tembi informed the Committee that all projects in the provinces are closely monitored.
Mr Mkhaliphi asked about the security of elderly people who are often abused by service providers.
Mr Mwakiwawe reported that the Department was closely working with other relevant Departments to improve on the security situation. Security goes beyond the Department of Social Development and therefore, he appealed to the Committee to draw in other Departments especially that of Safety and Security.
Rev. Moatshe (ANC) asked the Department to explain the structures it had put in place to reach out to and provide efficient service to the poor especially in the area of communication.
Mr. Musi stated that there had been a rollout of service improvement projects targeted in particular at the pay point area. The focus is on disadvantaged areas with large populations. Some of the features that have been given attention, he said, were the provision of water, shelter, seats, sanitation and simplified information.
He said that research had shown that radio communication reaches out to the majority of the rural people and hence this medium is being utilised as a means to reach out to the masses. The Minister had indicated that he would make impromptu visits to provinces to listen to the people.
The Chair asked the Department to notify the Committee when such visits take place so that some of the Committee members could accompany the minister.
Mr. Musi singled out three areas on communication that were receiving urgent attention. These were:
(a) Internal aspects of communication within role players in government are being refined.
(b) Interface with Parliament and the community to deliver timeous information.
(c) The Department was putting greater emphasis on the beneficiary of the services.
Communication systems had been customized to cater for various consumers. Experience had shown that the media did not report to the people what the Department said and therefore, the Department had opted to establish a direct liaison with the people. Partnership programs, he added, had been developed with stakeholders in the NGO sector and the business community to reach out to the people.
The chair inquired about the role consultancy services was playing in the Department’s task of disbursing funds.
Mr Musi replied that at present there is a policy to reduce consultancy services. Resources were directed to capacity building. No former employee, to the knowledge of the Department, was engaged as a consultant. Those services that are presently out-sourced, like auditing, are areas where the Department had not built adequate capacity to deliver on its own.
Dr Nel asked about the perennial delays in disbursement of funds and who might be responsible for this.
Ms Tembi informed the Committee that funds should be released within 14 days. There were however delays in the process due to difficulties in preparing the documentation. The Department often had to send teams out in the field to help fund recipients to compile the necessary documents. Another cause of delay was that funds for rural projects are channelled through banks and this was time consuming.
Ms Gouws (DP) inquired on underspending of funds in the Eastern Cape whilst it ranks as the poorest province.
Mr Mwakiwawe replied that the problems in the Eastern Cape were of an administrative nature. There was a lack of human resources and functional infrastructure. The Eastern Cape was the only province that had not out-sourced pay-out points and that tenders have been advertised for service providers in this respect. He informed the Committee that some improvement in this regard should be expected soon.
Dr Nel asked about the structures the Department had put in place to address the problem of sexual violence and abuse against girls in schools and if funds had been set aside for this cause.
Mr Theron explained that there are co-ordinating structures in place to monitor and address sexual violence and abuse of girls in provinces. The Department was in the process of drawing in stakeholders in other Departments to partner in this respect. The recent incident, where a teenager died at a rehabilitation centre is being thoroughly investigated. All provinces had been alerted to take note of this particular incident.
The meeting was adjourned.
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