SA Council of Social Service Professionals, National Development Agency, SA Social Security Agency & Department: Annual Report

Social Development

18 October 2005
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Meeting report

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
19 October 2005
SA COUNCIL OF SOCIAL SERVICE PROFESSIONALS, NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY, SA SOCIAL SECURITY AGENCY AND DEPARTMENT: ANNUAL REPORT BRIEFINGS

Chairperson:
Ms T Tshivane (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department Hearings on Annual Report: PowerPoint presentation
SA Council for Social Service Professionals: General and Annual Report
SA Council for Social Service Professionals PowerPoint presentation
SA Social Security Agency: PowerPoint presentation
National Development Agency: PowerPoint presentation

SUMMARY
The Department of Social Development, the SA Council for Social Service Professionals, the National Development Agency and the SA Social Security Agency briefed the Committee on their activities over the past year, as well as their planned activities for the coming year. Members raised a number of concerns relating to the representation and provision of services for the disabled, the need to retain social service professionals (specifically social workers) and ways in which to improve grant payouts and service delivery.

MINUTES

Department briefing
Mr V Madonsela (Director-General), Mr S Jehoma (Chief Director: Grant Systems and Administration), Ms V Nhlapo (Deputy Director-General: Integrated Development) and Mr C Pakade (Chief Financial Officer) presented different parts of the Department’s Annual Report.

Although the Department still faced many challenges, it had tried to respond to those relating to fraud, corruption, support for Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs), the retention of social service professionals, and measures to address the needs of the poor and the unemployed. Improved grant administration, payment systems, service delivery infrastructure and disaster relief should improve the delivery of social security, as would the establishment of SASSA.

The Department’s integrated developments achievements included the ‘Ke Moja Project’, a drug abuse prevention programme that targeted the youth, and the review of HIV/AIDS training programmes for government policy makers and planners. Their ongoing challenges including limited human resource capacity and the lack of service norms and standards.

The Department had spent 98% of its budget in 2004/05, with its major underspending having been in the area of grant administration. The Auditor-General had again given the Department an unqualified audit report. The Department’s failure to comply with the Division of Revenue (DoRA) Act and the Non-profit Organisations (NPO) Act, as well as its underspending on conditional grants, were two of the major areas of concern raised by the Auditor-General. Management had come up with a plan of action that would address those concerns.

National Development Agency briefing
Mr G Mokate (Chief Executive Officer) and Mr M Mofokeng (Chief Financial Officer) briefed the Committee on their objectives, achievements and finances. Mr Mokate said that the NDA aimed to contribute to the eradication of poverty by granting funds to civil society organisations. Furthermore it would promote consultation, dialogue and debate on development policy between Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the relevant organs of the state. The NDA would also undertake research and publish on development policy. In 2004/2005, the NDA had spent approximately R69 800 000 on grant commitments across the provinces. Mpumalanga and Limpopo had received the largest grants. The NDA was currently in talks with the European Union for further funding which would be used for projects in identified ‘poverty pockets’.

Mr Mofokeng reported that the NDA budget had been submitted on time and they had implemented new processes of reviewing and signing off all reconciliations.

SA Council for Social Service Professionals briefing
Ms Marilyn Setlalentoa (SACSSP President) said that the SACSSP had embarked on a rigorous registration campaign that had resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of social workers registered between 2003 and 2005. The presenters briefed the Committee on, among others, the Council and Board’s roles and objectives, as well as the establishment of the first social services boards. Much emphasis was placed on the need for a salary review and retention strategy that would address the needs of all social workers. If interventions were not made, the country would keep losing its social work professionals to better salaried positions abroad.

SA Social Security Agency briefing
Mr Fezile Makihave (SASSA CEO) briefed the Committee on SASSA’s background, governance framework and key strategic priorities. SASSA aimed to provide social assistance grants as a key government poverty alleviation programme. Its progress could be divided into three phases: the signing and introduction of conditional grants, the preparation phase (to be completed in April 2006) and lastly the operationalisation and implementation phase. SASSA would be a high performance institution focussing on the improvement of service delivery. It would employ good governance tactics, build human capital and have sound financial management. In November it would present a status report to the Cabinet and the Portfolio Committee. The Agency should be functioning fully by 1 April 2006.

Discussion
Mr Konke (ANC) asked why the Department did not have any accountability relationship with SASSA. Mr Madonsela said that the Agency had not yet been created by March 2005. He assured the Committee that the Agency would be held accountable. By next year, the required accountability arrangement should be in place.

Mr Konke asked whether the Youth Volunteer Week was in any way related to the 16 Days of Activism. What was its relationship with the National Youth Committee?

Dr Mabetoa (Department Chief Director: Children Youth and Families) responded that the Volunteer Week was not linked to the 16 Days of Activism, but to the National Youth Service programme. Young people would be urged to register as volunteers. The Department was in constant contact with the Youth Commission. From the following week young people would be trained as volunteer probation officers.

Mr Konke asked how the Department was marketing the Ke Moja Project. He had last heard about this project at its launch. Mr M Waters (DA) was curious about what the Department would do to ensure that the Central Drug Authority (CDA) budget would be increased to ensure that they had the funds to promote this project.

Ms Nhlapo responded that the Department had trained six master trainers who had been tasked with teaching 30 people in each province. They would then come up with plan to popularise this project.

Mr Pakade said that the funding of the CDA had been discussed with the Treasury during the last budget allocation process. The Finance Department had given strict guidelines on how money should be spent, and this had left the Director-General with very little room to manoeuvre. The Department had made a point of asking that this policy be changed. The Department would need to prioritise grant increases, as it had ‘lost the battle’ regarding the CDA budget.

Mr Konke and Ms H Bogopane-Zulu (ANC) raised concerns regarding the LoveLife campaign. Mr Konke said that millions was being spent on this campaign, yet here were a number of other youth organisations that were doing equally good work but had no access to funding. Ms Bogopane-Zulu added that she was concerned about the fact that LoveLife’s scope did not extend to youth in rural areas.

Dr Kganakga responded that the Members’ concerns were valid. These concerns had also been raised by the provinces. The Departments of Health and Education would be meeting since they were also trying to reach all youth across the country. The Department of Social Development’s executive committee was looking into how to deal with LoveLife, and a monitoring and evaluation method had been put in place. If LoveLife were organising any projects in the provinces, the provinces had to monitor them. For social development, they were meant to focus on farm and rural areas. Conditional grants indicated targets for each category (women, youth, etc). The Department applied strict measures regarding these stipulations. This was may be why some other projects had failed to qualify for funding.

Mr Godi (PAC) asked in which provinces substance abuse helpers were trained. How long did the training take? Ms Nhlapo responded that service providers had only been trained in the Northern and Eastern Cape due to budgetary constraints. The rest would be trained in the coming year.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu asked about the timeframe for the finalisation of the Victim Empowerment programme (VEP), the Orphan’s Programme, and the Child Abuse Framework. Dr Mabetoa assured her that the Child Abuse Framework was complete but that it still needed to be costed. This would be a mammoth task since it involved almost ten departments.

Regarding he Child Protection registers, Mr M Waters (DA) asked whether it was only Register B, or whether both Sections A and B as envisaged in the Children’s Bill, were being implemented.

Dr Mabetoa responded that currently only Register A was being implemented. Register B would only be implemented once the Bill had been finalised. Legislation had however been completed. The Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal now had their own, while Eastern Cape had a system which was not necessarily compatible with the national one.

Mr L Nzimande (ANC) asked whether the Victim Empowerment Programme would focus on all types of violence. What was the impact of the work that was being done? He requested the Department to provide more information in future.

Dr Mabetoa responded that initially the programme had been directed towards women and children. Now it was providing support to all victims of violence.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu requested a copy of the Directory of Victims of Violence in order for her constituents to access it. Dr Mabetoa assured her that a copy would be made available. Members could also access the information on the website.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu asked whether the Department had strategies in place to address the problems experienced with its IT systems maintenance.

Mr Jehoma said that many departments had moved away from serving their own IT requirements. The Department however felt that due to the sensitive nature of its work, it wanted to limit outsourcing. It had thus come up with an IT governance plan. The whole process was supported by an Enterprise Content Management System that would maintain the integrity of the entire system.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu commented that the research on South African families had been completed in December 2004. When would the document be ready? What was the background that informed this research? Were families with disabled children included? In future, the Department should take care not to refer to persons with disabilities as ‘the disabled’.

Mr Jehoma said that he had to take responsibility for the use of the term ‘disabled’. He had done so in the interest of saving space, and would in future take care not to use offensive language. Dr Mabetoa assured the Committee that the policy on families included all target groups, especially vulnerable ones. The Department would respond in writing at a later stage.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu was concerned that there appeared to be a number of programmes that excluded people with disabilities. What would the Department do to ensure that these persons would also benefit from programmes?

Mr Waters and Mr Konke were interested in what would happen to the 41 000 civil servants suspected of corruption. When would they be prosecuted? Mr Godi requested more information regarding the 86 000 respondents in the indemnity period. Mr Jehoma responded that the 41 000 officials had been included in this number. 65-70% of the 86 000 were requests for indemnity.

Mr Jehoma responded that removing 41 000 public servants from the service would cause problems. The arrest and prosecution of the 41 000 was being left to the National Prosecuting Authority. Their crimes had to be ‘categorised’ for sentencing. Some had defrauded the Department out of greed, others out of need or because they were unemployed. The Department would provide the Committee with a detailed description of these categories. The Special Investigations Unit had in February 2005 had gathered evidence against 300 people; and plea bargains had been made with 247 who had acknowledged their guilt.

Mr Godi requested more detail around what the Department was doing to retain the services of social service professionals. Mr Madonsela said that many social workers found that it was more profitable to work in other areas. The Department’s retention strategy would include the revision of salaries, as well as establishing social work as a profession of choice among students. Salaries had been upgraded on 1 April 2005 and social workers had been delighted. The matter was continually being addressed. Universities would also need to tailor their curricula to the needs of South Africa today. The Department was considering other ways of increasing capacity, such as the training of auxiliary social workers.

Mr Godi asked how many probation officers had been trained thus far. Dr Mabetoa said that 571 probation officers would be fully trained. Some would also possibly be trained as social workers and would have the choice to specialise at a later stage. Currently the Department was busy with in-service training. Some 383 people would be trained in future to assist in magistrate’s courts and police stations.

Mr Waters asked why the Department was not compliant with the NPO Act. Why was the Department under capacitated? Should this not have been foreseen? Ms Nhlapo said that studies had been done to determine the way forward, and the Department was analysing the findings of the study. They would consider whether the NPO Act should be reviewed.

Mr Waters said that DoRA set strict deadlines as far as finances were concerned. The provinces were aware of these deadlines. Why had they not completed all the necessary documentation on time? Mr Pakade responded that the Chief Financial Officers had raised the issue with the Auditor-General as well as with the Treasury. Enforcing the provisions of DoRA had consequences. Provincial meetings were held at least twice a year. After some time however, implementation waned. Provinces had raised a number of challenges, among which were overspending and the denial of funds.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu asked whether deaf people would had access to the multi-purpose centres the report talks of. Dr Kganakga said that he community would had access. She said that a monitoring tool would be in place to ensure ton ensure that service delivery took place according top the targets that had been set. Reports stating accessibility were available.

Ms Bogopane followed up saying her question was related to disability issues. Would disabled persons had the opportunity to participate in the activities of multi-purpose centres?

Ms Nhlapo said that she was not quite sure about capacity development programmes for disabled persons. She was aware though of a programme that aimed to sensitise managers with regard to issues relating to disabilities. A draft master plan had been finalised. Mr Madonsela added that disabled persons seeking employment were protected by the Employment Equity Act. They would have access to buildings etcetera. There were no public campaigns directed against those employers who were not giving access to disabled persons. This would need to be done in conjunction with other Department.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu responded that although she appreciated the attempt, her question was not being answered. The Department should start considering issues around disabilities more carefully. She requested the Department to provide her with answers at the next meeting.

She pleaded with the Department to forward the copies of finalised documents to the Committee and to keep it informed of its activities.

Mr Godi (PAC) asked what the Department meant by the statement that support to NGOs was ‘fragmented and unpredictable’. What would it do about it? Mr Madonsela said that the Department did not finance NGOs but the services they rendered. The Department sought to develop a new relationship with NGOs and Community-based Organisations (CBOs) whereby it would be procure services and direct them to where services should be rendered. It wanted to shift from the traditional subsidy response.

Mr Godi commented that in the North West province offices were understaffed. Could understaffing be contributing to long cycles? What was the desired turnaround time? What was being done about the large number of unfilled vacancies?

Mr Madonsela responded that the Courts had ruled that a 90-day turnaround time was sufficient. The norms and standards established by the Department indicated that the desired turnaround time should be two days and 45 minutes. The Department was working towards reaching this goal. KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape had come the closest to achieving his goal with a turn around tine of 30 days. More human resources, streamlined systems, an integrated and upgraded IT system and more labour intensive activities would be critical in achieving the desired turnaround times. The establishment of SASSA would assist in ensuring that goals would be achieved. Mr Jehoma added that ideally there should be one staff member for every 800 applications. Currently the ratio was 1: 1 800

Mr Godi asked how the shift to the greater use of institutions would be managed by the Department. In the North West, some farmers and shop owners were forcing the beneficiaries of grants to purchase at local shops. How would the Department ensure that this kind of ‘bonding’ did not take place? The report indicated that 70% of pay points were below standard. The paypoints that were not up to standard often served the poorest communities.

Mr Jehoma responded that the move to financial institutions would be unconditional. The Department might even request government to subsidise part of the transaction. Even with these subsidies, the Department would save a considerable amount of money. Currently paypoints were not properly managed by provinces. Exploitation was common in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. There were currently 12 000 pay points nationwide. This number would be reduced to 8 600. The Department would give clear indications on where the paypoints should be situated. In the proposed model, paypoints in the Eastern Cape would be increased, while in some other provinces, they would be decreased.

Mr Godi wanted to know how the Department assessed the impact of grants on beneficiaries. Were they limiting it to money, or did they also consider efficiency of service? Quality of service should also extend towards whether government officials generated customer satisfaction.

Mr Nzimande commented that those agents who dealt with disabilities and who had traditionally received funding, were decreasing in number. Ms Nhlapo said that she would submit a response in writing.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu hoped the Department would include those people with disabilities in their funding plan. The Department should also carefully consider the relevance of the services it was delivering.

Mr Madonsela noted the point. The Department did however believe that it had taken all factors into consideration. It would include additional information in their next report and would appreciate feedback.

Mr Waters asked whether the write back in the ADA’s Annual Report had been paid. Would all of it be recouped? Payroll reconciliation stood at R97 000. Had this money been recouped?

Mr Mofokeng said that the R12.7 million was still in the bank. It would be distributed among various projects. Regarding the payroll reconciliation, there had been no over-payment. Mr Waters reminded him that the Auditor-General had not been satisfied with that response. Mr Mofokeng responded that the incident had taken place in May. At the end of the financial year, it had still not been resolved. The Auditor-General did not accept the ADA’s response because the reconciliation period had been too long. The file in question had been destroyed in the June fire.

Mr Godi noted that the total grants for projects did not appear to be distributed according to poverty levels. Mr Madonsela responded that the ADA would be using the new map when distributing funds, because it had found that distribution was quiet skewed when done according to the old map.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu asked how the NDA would ensure that Community-based Organisations (CBOs) and Faith-based Organisations (FBOs) received funds. While gender and race were considerations, disability had not been mentioned. This was not in compliance with employment equity. The NDA had been in existence for more than three years. Had it done an impact study to see whether the levels of poverty were changing?

Mr Madonsela that the need for an impact study was one of the key things the NDA had agreed on, and a commissioned study was currently in progress. The report would be made available to the Committee. He admitted that issues surrounding disabilities were still a big challenge for the organisation. They were in discussion with Disabled People of South Africa (DPSA) to come up with projects in which the NDA would be much more involved. The NDA would be appointing more disabled persons. By the time of the next report, there would be some progress.

Mr Nzimande asked what had informed the macro-economic approach used when mapping poverty. Would it consider the diversification of targets? Would all interests be met?

Mr Madonsela responded that macro-mapping would still run parallel with normal mapping. The NDA had access to many indicators from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), but was still working on developing more.

Mr Godi was curious about w the NDA’s financial goals for 2005/2006. Did they have any plans for improved service delivery? What was the NDA’s reach? Did they have offices beyond Johannesburg?

Mr Madonsela informed the Committee that the NDA had offices in all nine provinces. Its functionality was divided into five regions. It also worked via existing NGOs and CBOs.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu said that the Committee did not have much to say to SASSA. It just wanted to remind them of the issues raised three weeks ago, which had still not been addressed. As much as she supported uniform progress, the Council of Social Workers should take institutional diversity into account. Would too much uniformity lead to an ‘overcrowded’ profession?

Ms Setlalentoa answered that while universities would still design their own programmes, outcomes would have to be the same. This would not impact on university fees, since universities functioned on a system of credits. Ms Smith added that 50% of the modules should be social work related. NGOs should get students who were fully prepared for the reality of the professions into which they were entering.

The Chairperson asked whether how much students paid for registration and membership of the Council. Ms Smith said that the registration fee was R98. This gave students the right to interact with the community from the second year of their studies. This contributed to their preparation for the profession.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu asked whether the Council was trying to reduce the gap in social workers’ salaries. Was this based on the current social stratum the social worker was occupying? Ms Smith pointed out that there were discrepancies between the salaries earned by social workers within different departments, as well as those who work for NGOs. NGOs based their salaries on the subsidies they received, and government departments on the budgets at their disposal. Social workers who worked for NGOs would receive much lower salaries than those working for government departments. Due to departmental budget constraints, the social workers working for the SA Police Services (SAPS) would not receive the announced increase in salary. Ms Setlalentoa confirmed that the movement of social workers from NGOs to government departments impacted upon service delivery.

Ms Smith commented that if 1 000 social workers registered with the Council as students, only 500 entered into the field on completion of their studies. In December and January every year, the Council was inundated with requests for the status reports that make it possible for social workers to work abroad. A survey done on 100 students from all backgrounds at the University of Pretoria, indicated that the working conditions for social workers in South Africa forced them to leave the profession or to seek employment abroad.

The meeting was adjourned.

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