Department Annual Report 2004/05: briefing

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Meeting report

SOCIAL SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE

SOCIAL SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
7 March 2005
DEPARTMENT ANNUAL REPORT 2004/05: BRIEFING

Chairperson:
Ms M Masilo (ANC, North West)

Documents handed out:
Hearings on 2005 Annual Report Power Point Presentation
Department of Social Development Annual Report 2005 (please email
docs@pmg.org.za)

SUMMARY
The Department of Social Development briefed the Committee on its 2005 Annual Report. Members raised questions about the achievement of strategic objectives, unfilled posts, the Department’s audit report and oversight over NGO funding.

MINUTES
Department of Social Development (DSD) presentation
The DSD Deputy Director-General, Ms Vuyelwa Nhlapo, stated that the outlook and reworked vision for the Department had been informed by the Minister's Ten Point Plan, the ten year review discussion document and the emerging "Five Big Ideas" as well as transition from welfare to social development which demands people centered development. She stated that the vision had been a caring and integrated system of social development service facilitating human development and improving the quality of life.

The mission of the Department had been to ensure the provision of comprehensive social protection services against vulnerability and poverty within the constitutional and legislative framework, and to create an enabling environment for sustainable development. The Department further aimed to deliver integrated, sustainable and quality services in partnership with all those committed to building a caring society.

The Deputy Director-General then spoke about the values, the broad goals and the organogram of the Department. Some of the values included people being served coming first, transparency, accountability, utilising resources in the most efficient manner and innovative ways, sharing of knowledge and expertise and learning from all.

The broad goals included the provision of leadership to provide the deepening of social policy discourse and evidence-based decision-making, promotion of good governance, steering national involvement in African and international frameworks and agreements in social development, provision of a comprehensive social security system and creation of an enabling environment for social protection initiatives to build the capacity of vulnerable groups.

By the close of the financial year, over 98% of the budget had been spent and there had been an ever-increasing demand for services as a result of various social and economic challenges such as HIV and AIDS and migration. However resources have not matched demand over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period. Leakages due to fraud and corruption had been minimised below international norms, but there was room for improvement especially as it relates to budgeting and supply chain management.

The Deputy Director-General stated that the intent for Programme 1 had been to provide for policy formulation by the Ministry and senior management, and for overall management and support services of the Department. Twenty-nine facilitated and approved internal and external policies and administrative and strategic support to the social cluster whilst participating in other clusters had been provided. She mentioned that African and G77 positions to the 10-year review of the World Summit for Social Development had been chaired and consolidated. The basic employment equity targets had also been met. In the national DSD, over 62% of officials were women, over 80% of senior managers were Africans and over 2% had disabilities.

Some of the challenges had been the capacity and organisation of the Department to gear towards addressing intergovernmental relations and broad-based black economic empowerment, qualitative deepening of support services to the extent that these can direct evidence-based decision-making, complexities of oversight management and resource limitations as well as internal key financial and supply chain management systems.

The intent for Programme 2 had been to implement, develop and monitor the policies and strategies of social security and social assistance whilst assessing the social, economic and fiscal impact of social security programmes.

Key achievements included a position formulated on responding to age equalisation of the old age grant, research and proposals on deductions from social grants had been completed and the demographic and financial model for social security grants had been updated in line with Census 2001 data. The Deputy Director General mentioned that the census proved that in some instances children beneficiaries were underestimated.

The challenges facing Programme 2 had been limited staff and established work being detracted from some initiatives. Priorities for the future would be research into the needs of the disabled, linking of the three pillars in the comprehensive social security system by initially exploring the relationship between grants and private insurance, finalising the work stated on the " preserve incentives" in the Social Security System, spatial analysis of social grants especially on females and a spatial and individual panel survey of the impact of social grants.

The intent for Programme 3 had been to ensure appropriate funding of social assistance grants and effective management through social assistance transfers in collaboration with the Provinces and agencies. Key achievements included 7 grant types paid at over 9858 pension pay points, coverage of over 90% of eligible persons and over 30% of pay points meeting minimum norms and standards.

The challenges of this programme had been limited staff, identity documents and birth certificates, infrastructure to reach remote areas, the need to move from the emotive
to evidence-based decision-making, institutional reform necessary for disaster relief given the matters of accountability and the need for a total value chain-led financial and procurement management system which integrates supply chain management. The Department had advertised a senior position to cater for this matter. Priorities for the future for this programme included improving coverage of grants and ensuring all received them on time under humane conditions, improving of application, verification and approval processes, supporting the Minister's oversight over the agency and finalisation of the draft Bill on Disaster Relief.

The Deputy Director-General stated that the intent of Programme 4 had been to design strategies and operating systems to ensure that services were provided for social assistance and disaster relief beneficiaries. She mentioned that although the norms and standards blueprint had been completed, the reduction in cycle times had been delayed due to limited human resources and they could not implement the target of 1:8 000 in relation to staff ratios. The Disability Grant Review had saved the Department in excess of R200 million; however delays had been experienced because of numbers and capacity limitations in Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. Fraud and corruption had been challenging the integrity of the system.

The intent of Programme 5 had been to facilitate the transformation of development oriented social welfare services to vulnerable individuals, households and communities. The Deputy Director-General also mentioned the key achievements in the reporting period that included finalisation of the Financial Awards Policy, the development of the draft policy for people with disabilities as well as draft integrated policy for the transformation of protective workshops.

There had also been other achievements like the reviewing of salaries for social workers in public service, development of draft policy on substance abuse and the Ke Moja campaign being resuscitated. Ke Moja was a youth drug prevention programme that had been up to now mainly urban based. The challenges that Programme 5 had experienced had been increased demand for services as a result of the consequences of the socio-economic transition in the context of a shrinking allocation. Funding to the NGO sector was also said to be limited and far in between as a result of the changing donor funding agenda. There had also been increased sophistication of the drug trade and the constantly changing demand and supply factors.

The Deputy Director-General mentioned that addressing disparities would ensure that social workers remained in the profession even in the non-profit organisation (NPO) sector without going to other professions or abroad. The Drug Master Plan so far had not responded to new developments in substance abuse and had not sufficiently profiled and utilised positive community involvement and the Drug Dependency Act of 1992 had simply not kept up with the times.

The intent for Programme 6 had been to ensure the protection and empowerment of vulnerable children, youth and families. The Children's Bill had been outstanding for over 5 years due to strong lobbies in the sector and through the assistance of key stakeholders including the Committee, the Department had managed to finalise the key elements of it. The Charter would serve as a service promise to all victims of violence and crime.

Programme 7 was intended to develop, implement and monitor strategies for development, undertake community development programmes and support NPOs. The challenges experienced had been a backlog in the registration of the NPOs, capacity to do monitoring and evaluation of programmes, limited human resource capacity, and lack of service norms and standards which resulted in a lack of uniformity in the delivery of services.

Programme 8 had to develop policies, strategies and programmes aimed at mitigating the social and economic impact of HIV and AIDS. The challenges had been limited continuous monitoring and evaluation, limited human resource capacity and tracking and maintaining contact with affected children.

The intent of Programme 9 had been research, capacity building and disseminating information on population and development trends so as to facilitate policy implementation through inter-governmental programmes and enhance decision-making. Challenges had been limited capacity at a local government level to implement relevant population strategies, enhancing multi-sphere cooperative governance through decentralised population policy management, limited integration within the public sector of population policies and programmes and no regional population and development strategy.

Discussion
The Chairperson thanked Ms Nhlapo and stated that she was not happy with receiving the documents only now.

Ms Nhlapo responded that the DSD’s Annual Report had been given out to Members of Parliament last year already.

Mr B Tolo (ANC-Mpumalanga) stated that the achievements did not correlate with the strategic plan. He asked how many posts had not been filled and at what level? Mr Tolo asked if the Department could give a briefing on the Majali story and why there were complaints that salaries were not competitive. Why had non-compliance occurred? Why were figures sometimes substituted with regards to grants?

Ms F Mazibuko (ANC-Gauteng) asked what type of audit report the DSD had received. Was it qualified or unqualified? The vacant posts, were they funded or unfunded? She asked what policies were in place to help asylum seekers. Was there an emergency policy in place and could the Department give clarity on Programme 5.

Ms JN Vilakazi (IFP-Kwazulu-Natal) asked for clarity on how many pay-points had been upgraded, particularly in Kwazulu-Natal.

Ms H Lamoela (DA-Western Cape) asked for statistics on children that had been in trouble with the law. She also mentioned the question of oversight and that the Department had been equipped with technology to upgrade the pay-points.

The Chairperson asked for clarity on programme 5 and Kemoja. With the Child Protection Register, 7 out of 9 provinces had been mentioned, what about the other two? She mentioned that in Programme 8 there had been no information on rural areas and requested that the Committee be told more on frail-care centres for older persons.

Ms Nhlapo stated that there was a correlation between achievements and the strategic plan although it had not been clearly indicated on the presentation. She mentioned that quite a number of posts had been filled since the printing of the report. There had also been a problem of filled posts becoming vacant and transfers due to promotions. About 62 posts were unfunded and this had been addressed in the strategic plan. Ms Nhlapo declined to respond to the Majali question as "the case was still sub judice".

Mr Jehoma (Chief Director: Grant Systems and Administration) stated that the audit report had been unqualified and the Auditor-General had not been able to express an opinion but had nevertheless expressed concerns on five areas. Anti fraud initiatives had been launched in the provinces to mitigate damage. Pay-points showed that some of them had been moving targets and so a written response would be provided. He mentioned that some of the pay-points in Kwazulu-Natal were inhumane.

Kemoja targeted young people, giving power to them to drive the process. This was contrary to Lovelife, which told them what to do. There were now master trainers trained to train young people. It would also focus on alcohol and hotspots in the communities.

Frail-care centres were residential facilities where older persons could be treated in their communities as opposed to removing them from their communities.

Dr Mabetha mentioned that every month 2000 children were assessed by the probation officer. 30 000 were diverted and there had been a backlog due to investigation finalisation by social workers.

Dr Kgaraga stated that the Lovelife programme started during the current financial year. Rural areas and schools would be covered.

The Chairperson asked if no other NGOs were being considered.

Dr Kgaraga stated that there were other NGOs being funded by the Department.

Mr Tolo stated that R40 million had been asked from Treasury for Lovelife, why not other programmes? To whom were these organisations accountable?

Ms Maluka stated that there was oversight. There was established capacity to deal with quality assurance measures.

Ms Mazibuko stated that the report had been given only to Members of the National Assembly.

Mr Van Vuuren stated that 44 interns had been placed and this exceeded the target by 2, 4%. These interns received a stipend of R1 500 only.

Mr Tolo requested more information about the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA).

The Committee Whip, Mr Sulliman (ANC- Northern Cape) stated that the information the Department had presented would help the Committee. He mentioned that the Committee looked forward to working with the Department.

Adoption of minutes

The minutes of the 30 November and 15 December meetings were adopted with amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.




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