Department Annual Report 2006/07: briefing & Auditor General Input

Social Development

13 November 2007
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Meeting report

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
14 November 2007
DEPARTMENT ANNUAL REPORT 2006/07: BRIEFING & AUDITOR GENERAL INPUT

Chairperson
: Adv M Masutha (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department of Social Development (DSD) Annual Report 2006\07 [available shortly at
www.dsd.gov.za]
Department of Social Development (DSD) presentation

Audio recording of meeting

SUMMARY
Prior to the Department's presentation on its performance over the past financial year, the Chairperson invited the Office of the Auditor General to a briefing session on its audit findings for the Department. The session on the audit findings was closed to the public but the Chair described these afterwards as "favourable". 

In response to its presentation, the Committee asked the Department questions about:
- its interaction with Home Affairs to prevent non-authentic IDs that gave access to social grants.

- the difference between a community development worker and development practitioner.

- its strategies to avoid the slow filling of vacant posts.
- its strategies to ensure proper controls are in place for its asset management.
- its monitoring of funds released to non-government organisations (NGOs).
- its services to people involved in disasters.
- Comprehensive Social Security and Retirement Reform Legislation.
- its costs for social grant litigation.
- its strategies for the increase in the number of orphans.
- the costing and implementation of the Children’s Act.

MINUTES
The Committee had a meeting with the Auditor General for an hour to discuss his audit findings for the Department but this was closed to the public. The Chairperson informed the Department of Social Development that the Auditor General’s comments on their performance were favourable.


After the closed meeting, the Committee was briefed by the Department of Social Development on their 2006\07 Annual Report. The DSD Director General, Mr Vusi Madonsela, provided an overview and Mr Zane Dangor, DSD Chief Operations Officer, looked at the performance of each of DSD’s programmes: Comprehensive Social Protection; Social Security Transfer and Administration; Social Welfare Service; Development and Research; Strategy, Regulatory and Oversight. Mr Coceko Pakade, DSD Chief Financial Officer, outlined the financial report.

Discussion
Ms H Weber (DA) asked the Department to fill her in on what DSD was doing about foreigners’ access to IDs from Home Affairs that allowed them access to grants in the country.

The Director General responded that the Department could not refuse to give grants even to non South Africans once the beneficiary presented an authentic ID from Home Affairs. He explained that the only way this issue of non-authentic IDs would be resolved was when Home Affairs systems were able to detect such errors.

The Chair asked if the Department of Home Affairs had informed them that their systems were not foolproof. He also asked if the DSD could not assist Home Affairs in resolving the problem.

Mr Madonsela responded that the Department had interacted with Home Affairs in the past. The problem was not only the system itself but the people who understood the system and exploited it. He assured the Committee that the Department would not stop interacting with Home Affairs to ensure that only those entitled to grants, get them.

Ms Weber asked what was the difference between a Community Development Worker and a Community Development Practitioner. She asked if the Department also trains Community Development Workers.

Ms Vuyelwa Nhlapo, DSD Deputy Director General: Integrated Development, responded that a Community Development Worker is a community liaison officer who makes sure that the community is aware of the services that government can provide them and that they access the services. A Community Development Practitioner on the other hand was a professional who analyses information about communities with the aim of addressing gaps in communities. She said that the Department of Provincial and Local Government and the Department of Public Services and Administration trained the Community Development Workers.

Mr K Morwamoche (ANC) asked the Department of Social Development what it was doing to avoid the slow filling of vacant posts.

Mr Madonsela responded that the problem would remain unsolved until there were changes in the procedures to be followed before employment could happen. He explained that it presently took between three to four months to fill a vacant post.

Mr Morwamoche asked the Department what it was doing about increasing its capacity to administer its asset management and to ensure that proper controls are in place.

Mr Coceko Pakade, DSD Chief Financial Officer, responded that the Department was currently evaluating its systems and workers because some of its workers did not possess the skills required by Treasury. The Department was currently recruiting new staff and assured the Committee that it would do all in its power to improve the situation.

Ms M Gumede (ANC) asked if the executives of the Department of Social Development could explain what they are doing to tighten their management of funds released to non-government organisations (NGOs).

Mr Pakade responded that the Department had monitoring mechanisms in place when they give monies to NGOs. He said they first do ground assessment, sign agreements and evaluation reports to confirm that the NGOs do what they say they do.

Mr M Mkongi (ANC) asked what was the difference between Comprehensive Social Security and Retirement Reform Legislation.

Mr Madonsela responded that Comprehensive Social Security was the overall platform in that it said that all aspects of social security must be brought together. Retirement Reform Legislation on the other hand, was an aspect of Comprehensive Social Security to which the Department was giving primary attention. The Retirement Reform Legislation would provide a scheme which allowed workers to contribute to their pension so that when they retire they would benefit from the funds.

Ms Gumede asked what DSD had done about compensating the people involved in disasters since 2003.

Ms Nhlapo replied that the issue was a departmental responsibility and that DSD acknowledged the fact that victims needed to access its various services. All the same, she agreed government had not been able to do all it should to enable victims to access services.

The Chairperson noted that due to time constraints, the rest of the members’ questions would not be able to be answered. He consulted with the Department and decided that the discussion session would continue the following week.

The following questions were asked by members of the Committee but were not answered due to time constraints:

Mr Mkongi asked what the total cost was of all the litigation brought against the Department and who budgeted for it, the Department or the South African Social Security Agency?

Ms Gumede asked what the government was doing about the increase in the number of orphans in the country.

Ms W Direko (ANC) asked what DSD was doing about the costing of the Children’s Act which was a concern to everyone. She requested an update on any new developments in its implementation.

Mr Morwamoche asked the Department what its input into poverty alleviation strategies had been especially in relation to the recommendations put forward by Treasury.

The meeting was adjourned.

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