Department of Social Development Strategic Plan & Budget 2008/09

Social Development

25 March 2008
Chairperson: Adv T Masutha (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Social Development outlined their strategy to renew their fight against child poverty, to protect children from abuse and other social ills. The Department was challenged to work effectively across the internal programme to achieve their objectives. They needed to improve synergy and accountability with provinces around service delivery. They had to strengthen non-profit organisations and public entities and improve their monitoring and evaluating aspect. The Department explained their budget processes and allocations and indicated that they did not have full discretion but were able to influence the decisions made by National Treasury. A number of graphs were tabled in relation to the financial allocations and budget. There was projected to be a net saving on social grant transfers and some programmes were projecting an under spend. There remained some challenges on improvement of synergy and accountability with provinces. The Department was rededicating itself to the fight against child poverty and to protect children from abuse and other social ills.

Members asked how the Department would assist those affected by the economic hardship, particularly the poor who were worst affected by rising food and fuel, how more could be assisted to access pay points, the means test threshold. A number of questions were asked about the raise of the child support grant to fifteen years, and the effect of not paying the grant to all those up to eighteen. Further questions related to the monitoring and evaluation methods, the budget allocated for South African Social Security Agency, the oversight role of the Department in relation to the Agency, the budget for the Social Work Scholarship, the comparative budgets for entity oversight and population research, and the work done by the research programmes and the population unit. Members also queried the disaster relief fund and the role of the provinces, reviewing of the funds, the role and funding of LoveLife, and the possible overlap with the Department’s Hip Hop programme. It was noted that the Department had produced their strategic plan, not their operational plan, and certain questions had therefore not been addressed in the briefing. Further questions were asked about the possibility of minimising some administration to assist the beneficiaries, the disability grant, Social Relief of Distress and its policy framework, the obligations cast by the Madrid Plan of Action, the operational policies, the role of the department in victim empowerment, the monitoring of NGOs, and which legislation governed each of the programmes. Some unresolved issues stood over for further discussion.

Meeting report

Department of Social Development (DSD) Budget and Strategic Plan 2008 - 2011
Mr Zane Dangor, Chief Operating Officer: Department of Social Development outlined the strategic plan. He noted that the Department had identified seven strategic themes: tackling child, adult and older persons poverty, social cohesion, youth development, civil society support and strengthening of communities, governance and institutional development and regional and international solidarity and engagement. Each strategic theme and a number of measurable objectives and strategic interventions were detailed in the presentation (See attached document for full details).
The Department was challenged to work effectively across the internal programme to achieve their objectives. They needed to improve synergy and accountability with provinces around service delivery. They had to strengthen non-profit organisations and public entities and improve their monitoring and evaluating aspects.

Mr Coceko Pakade, Chief Financial Officer, DSD, presented the financial section of the presentation. He had indicated that the DSD had started the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) process as a system jointly with provinces as discussed with National Treasury. He tabled a number of graphs showing a budget comparison for the years 2007/08 to 2010/11. The MTEF growth trends were explained and specific percentages for budget allocation were given for each of the programmes within the DSD. Additional allocations were listed, that were also part of the programmes in the Department. The changes to the baseline were illustrated and the final budget allocations were given per programme. The earmarked funds for 2007/08 to 2010/11 were listed. The budget allocation per programme, that excluded transfers and public entities for 2008/09, was explained in pie chart.

Mr Pakade then went on to discuss the projected outcomes for the financial year 2007/08. These outcomes were divided up into the estimated departmental spending and the expenditure per programme. The expenditure for social assistance transfers was also clarified. The status of the social assistance expenditure was that a preliminary net saving was projected up to the end of the 2007/08 financial year on social grant transfers. The programmes that projected underspending were Administration, Comprehensive Social Security, Policy Development, Review and Implementation Support for Welfare Services, Community Development and Strategy Development.

There were challenges such as working effectively across the internal programme structures and to improve synergy and accountability with provinces around service delivery.

Mr Pakade concluded by summarising again that the DSD was rededicating itself to the fight against child poverty and to protect children from abuse and other social ills.
 
Discussion
Ms Yolisa Nogenga, Parliamentary Researcher: Parliamentary Research Unit, addressed the economic hardship that was prevalent in the country and that emerged during the public hearings. The increase in fuel and food had a negative impact on the poor and vulnerable. The Department was questioned on how it intended to assist those affected.

Ms Nogenga noted that the Child Support Grant was limited by the fact that there was inadequate access to pay points. The large numbers of people trying to access this grant from the rural areas were forced to utilise portions of the grant for transport to obtain their payments. It was suggested that the Department of Transport become more involved. 

Mr Selwyn Jehoma, Deputy Director-General: Social Security: DSD, replied that the Social Grant budget was not a pool of funds over which the Department had full discretion on adjustments and allocation. The National Treasury allocated the budget according to the demand, affected by growth. The Department did have the benefit of influencing the value during the budget process. In the last year it had submitted a report to Treasury during the budget process, that was a study taking into account the impact of inflation over the last decade. This report argued that the quantity of the grant needed to be increased. The report also recognised that there was a need to adjust the means test threshold. The Minister had released the report and would make recommendations regarding the increase of the means test threshold. The report recommended that given the general use of the Consumer Price Index (CPIX) across the board, and since the poor and vulnerable spent most of their money on basic foodstuffs, which were now priced higher than the general CPIX, there should be investigation of a CPIX specifically for the basket of services for the poor. He contradicted the assertion made that the budget provided only for the Old Age Grant and the Child Support Grant. He pointed out that it provided for an upward adjustment for the means test threshold level. The Department had limited influence on the Treasury’s allocations. In addition, the financial crisis, coupled with the market volatility and the global economic downturn over the past months, meant that the Department and Treasury were not able to do anything now to offset that cost, other than looking at the forthcoming budget process. Because of the fast rate at which South African society had changed, there was not continuing demarcation between rural and urban areas. The agency had the most extensive structure to pay social grants and often pay points were closer to people in rural areas than they were in the urban areas.

The Chairperson replied that there were no pay points that were in a five kilometres radius of some areas. He asked if the Department was certain that these types of problems did not exist.

Mr Jehoma replied that there was a sophisticated geographical study that was done three years ago that indicated in certain areas some people did travel in excess of ten kilometres to access a pay point, but this was not the norm. The study recommended that if DSD wanted to maintain the five kilometre norm they would have to investigate over two thousand pay points.

The Chairperson thought that it should be further investigated since the DSD should strive to ensure that everyone had access to pay points for social grants.

Ms Nogenga replied that the extension of the Child Support Grant to children of fifteen years old meant that approximately two and a half million children between the ages of fifteen and eighteen would be neglected. The Department was asked how it would meet the needs of children between the ages of fifteen and eighteen.

Mr Jehoma replied that they had consistently argued for the extension of the Child Support Grant for children up to the age of eighteen. There was more work to be done on this issue, such as how to ensure the integrity of the system. The Child Support Grant had its most positive impact on children at the lower ages. Some argued that its extension would not be as positive as it would be for children sixteen and seventeen years old. Some people had expressed caution against the extension because they pointed out that children of sixteen and seventeen were legally able to leave school and enter the labour market. It was suggested within government that perhaps conditions should be attached to the further extension. The DSD would be working with institutions from Latin America, the World Bank and from the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). More work would be done during the course of the year. They would continue to provide for the social relief of distress, including for children in those aforementioned age groups where there was a need for income support.

Ms Nogenga required clarity on why there were different monitoring and evaluation methods in different programmes.

Ms Raphaahle Ramokgopa, Chief Director: Monitoring and Evaluation: DSD, replied that the Department had taken the decision to centralise the Monitoring and Evaluation (M & E) function whilst collaborating with programmes that conducted specific studies. Although it was reflected under Programme Two, (Comprehensive Social Security) the centralised M & E unit did the overall coordination and this unit had done the conceptualisation on the prioritisation within the Department and the sector. Since it was an expensive exercise they had prioritised two areas of impact that related to child poverty. They had identified the impact of the Child Support Grant and the Early Childhood Development (ECD) as the areas of priority for 2008/09. Programme Five, Strategy and Governance, had insufficient resources and therefore the responsibilities were reflected in Programme Two as the functions were related. DSD had estimated that the study would cost approximately R18 million. There was R4 million available in Programme Five for goods and services to do the overall monitoring and evaluation for the Department and for the Sector.  Under Programme Two there was only R2.2 million for goods and services. They had requested additional funds. In addition, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had planned to provide support for the implementation of the study and DSD was in negotiation with another foundation to provide support in the areas related to the Child Support Grant.

In the Monitoring and Evaluation programme the first issue looked at was institutional performance. That was specifically aimed at the Department and examined whether it was able to reach the target set for it and whether the systems enabled performance. They dealt with information coordination and reporting to ensure that there was streamlined information reporting across the Department. Service delivery and monitoring was also dealt with and it was coordinated with implementation partners such as South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), National Development Agency (NDA) and the provinces. They had identified the common indicators and reporting mechanisms that could be established to extrapolate information and would be implemented in the coming financial year. They had also established M & E within the sector. Only the Western Cape province currently had M & E functions and the Department had put in a national bid to establish these functions throughout the provinces. Seven provinces had been provided with funding, a minimum structure and the option of centralisation or decentralisation of allocation of funding amongst the provinces. 

Ms Nogenga questioned the budget allocated for South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) Management Information Systems (MIS). In 2006/07 it was R55 million, in 2007/08 it was R70 million and in 2008/09 it was R90 million. The Committee asked what justification was given for the increase of R20 million per year.

Ms Vuyelwa Nhlapo, Deputy Director-General: DSD,  replied that SASSAMIS was a specific intervention that gave the Department the capability to manage the beneficiaries’ profiles in the standardised registry and the workflow that enabled the Department to follow through the applications from the beneficiaries. There was a module on disability that enabled the Department to monitor the growth in the disability sector, and whether there were disabilities that were related to HIV/AIDS. There was also a module on appeals and enquiries. It was a four- modular process that was conceptualised within the Department but it was transferred to SASSA. At the stage of the transfer the progress was that all seven provinces, which now had regional executive offices of SASSA, had been streamlined and standardised. Free State was the pilot province and the Western Cape had just been brought into the programme. SASSA would further expand on the programme.

The Chairperson asked if it was suggested that the oversight role of the Department in relation to the administrative functions in SASSA was transferred back to SASSA or if it was just a component that directly related to SASSA.

Ms Nhlapo replied that when the intervention was conceptualised there was an integration of SASSA and the Department’s responsibilities. The contract as a whole was transferred to SASSA. In a recent review two components had been identified that were integral to the Department. It was the interface module that afforded the Department the oversight capability and the appeals module that had been renegotiated with SASSA to be transferred to the Department. This illustrated how integrated and complementary the services were.
 
Ms Nogenga also questioned the budget allocation for the Social Work Scholarship that started at R50 million in 2007/08, increased to R105 million in 2008/09, and would increase to R210million in 2009/10. The reason for the increase was given as the student scholarships and personnel to do policy and legislative work and provide oversight and leadership to provinces. The Department was asked if there was any detailed implementation plan that included specific capacity development strategies and associated costs.

Ms Nogenga referred to the Service and Standards sub programme that was allocated R69 million for 2007/08 and R117 million in 2008/09. She asked if the achievements made were the basis for an increase in their budget as well as what inputs were planned for 2008/09.

Ms Nhlapo replied that the Social Work Scholarship needed to be viewed in the context of the implementation of the Recruitment and Retention Strategy for social workers that was developed as a response to the shortage of social workers in the country. The strategy itself had three pillars. The first pillar was the review and upgrading of salaries, as well as the coming occupation specific dispensation. The next pillar was training and education, as well as capacity building that also had a provision for in-service training for social workers to improve service delivery, and a provision for bursaries for social work students. This budget assisted a number of students who were allocated bursaries from the R50 million for 2007/08. The preliminary findings had indicated that already a total of R41 million had been spent. The learnership for social auxiliary workers was another important aspect, since they were responsible for completion of some administrative functions because of the shortage of social workers. There was a drive in the provinces to increase the number of social auxiliary workers even though there were challenges. There had already been training of 1126 social auxiliary workers and eleven service providers had been accredited with the task. There were plans to implement the Recruitment and Retention Strategy and the various pillars of the strategy. Another key area was the working conditions of social workers and providing an infrastructure that enabled social workers to deliver. The allocated funds were allocated in Programme Three, specifically in the Services Standards sub programme. The reason for the tremendous increase was the allocation for scholarships.

Ms H Bogopane-Zulu (ANC) was confused by the response given on the issue of scholarships. Employees should not be part of the scholarship programme but rather part of the budget line of the Department for the employees. She asked for further clarification.

Ms Nhlapo replied that in the answer was explained in a broader picture because the scholarships were part of the Recruitment and Retention Strategy.

Mr Vusi Madonsela, Director-General: DSD, replied that the carry-through costs needed to be noted. The students who were awarded scholarships in the first year, with the R50 million, would have to be carried through to the next year and that involved additional funds. Therefore it was not such a significant increase as was indicated on paper.

Ms X Makasi (ANC) asked how would the students be informed that it was a bursary and how were people recruited for the recruitment strategy.

Ms Nhlapo replied that DSD had a partnership with the South African Broadcasting Commission (SABC), which targeted Grades 11 and 12 at careers fairs to introduce the social work profession to those students. In 2007 9000 scholars were reached across the country. They were also continuously interacting with institutions of higher learning where there were partnerships to encourage students to take social work. Bursaries were advertised and information was given at the career fairs.

Ms Nogenga referred to the budget allocation for Programme Five where the Entity Oversight had been allocated R39.2 million whereas the Population and Research sub programmes had been given R19 million. The Population and Research sub programme was considered an important programme, yet it was allocated considerably less than the Entity Oversight programme. She asked for the basis of this decision.

Ms Nhlapo replied that the funds that were being questioned were allocated for the appeals tribunal. They would be specifically utilised for the service fee of the panel that was adjudicating over the appeals. That panel would comprise of the services of the medical practitioners, lawyers as well as civil society.

Mr Dangor replied that there were certain funds earmarked for Entity Oversight and these were allocated to establishing petitions for social security. Therefore if those earmarked funds were removed from Entity Oversight that budget was much less than previously envisaged. It would be a challenge over the next two years as the projected funds for operation of the appeals board, seen against what was in the baseline, might not be sufficient. The advantage was that under the current structure of one programme, it might be possible to reprioritise some of those budgets. The DSD agreed with the suggestion that research was important and that evidence based policy should receive allocated funds. He indicated that it was being done but the capacity to work effectively needed to be reached. In the Social Policy Unit, although under a different Deputy Director-General, this fell under programme five and there was also research capacity. He made the point that the Department was not always in control of the allocations. In Programme Five there were four chief directorates; strategy, M & E, entity oversight and special projects. The integral directorates that were strategy and M & E had not received the amount of resources that the Department would have liked in order for them to do the kind of work required. There had been a substantial amount for entity oversight but, as indicated, this might not be sufficient in the coming years.

The Chairperson commented that the role of the Population Unit in data collection, data analysis and comprehensive input in policy planning was in question and that it required further discussion.
 
Ms Nogenga mentioned that the Committee was concerned that the disaster relief fund was only allocated R10 million.

Mr Thabo Rakoloti, Chief Director: Social Assistance: DSD, replied that this was merely a baseline allocation. There were reserve funds allocated, that currently amounted to R36 million. In the event of a disaster they would be able to work closely with provinces, departments and the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) as well as other partners.

Mr Jehoma added that it was important to note that according to the current inter-departmental fiscal relations systems, provinces’ fiscal capacity was such that if there were disasters provinces called on the National Department to intervene. For the past three years provinces had not asked the Department to declare a disaster, and seemed to have sufficient fiscal capacity. The Department might reconsider having the budget at a national level and rather have a legislative instrument that allowed for declaration and availability of funds.

Mr B Solo (ANC) thought that the Committee needed to be notified when the Department decided to review the fund. Their argument was that provinces had sufficient funds, but for poor people living in rural areas there always seemed to be problems when a disaster occurred. He added that if the Department decided to review the fund they should involve the Committee and present specific evidence that supported their claim that provinces were able to deal with disasters. He mentioned this in relation to the Disaster Management Act that was not adequately implemented.

The Chairperson added that the systems issue required a dedicated briefing so that the Committee could assess the legislative framework and note if there were any shortcomings.

The Chairperson noted that because of the shortage of social workers, beneficiaries who were in possession of vouchers would not be able to cash in on the vouchers before they expired.

Ms Nhlapo replied that initially the assessments were done purely by social workers, but because of the shortage of social workers there had been a drive to use social auxiliary workers to undertake those assessments.

Mr Madonsela explained that the DSD would not be sufficiently prepared to give detailed explanations on each of their programmes, as they had only come equipped with the Strategic and not Operational Plan. Usually the Department would work on the Operational Plan once the Strategic Plan had been tabled. The Department would, however, try their best to answer the questions

The Chairperson responded that he hoped that the relevant line function managers would give some details on each of the programmes.

Ms I Direko (ANC) suggested that the Department be allowed time to come back to the Committee when they were fully prepared to answer questions on the Operational Plans.

The Chairperson responded that the Committee had severe time constraints and that this was the only meeting date available for the Department on their Strategic Plan. Therefore the Committee had to do as much engagement as possible during the current meeting.

Ms H Bogopane-Zulu (ANC) required an explanation on the importance of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) LoveLife that justified an allocation of R40 million. Furthermore, she asked why would the Department launch the Hip Hop programme if LoveLife were supposed to reach the same target audience. She thought that LoveLife enjoyed several benefits from various departments.

Ms Nhlapo replied that the Department launched Hip Hop because there was a summit last year on drug and substance abuse. A resolution from that summit was that there needed to be strengthening of the governmental anti-drug campaign and an integrated strategy was developed. Hip Hop was one of the various campaigns that had to be undertaken by various departments.

Mr Pakade noted that LoveLife was not a new programme as it had been running for three years. They had a discussion on how the programme was structured. There was a close interaction between LoveLife and the Department and the programme was implemented under the broader programme of HIV/AIDS in the country. There was a clear business plan with deliverables that was monitored by the Department to ascertain what had been achieved.

The Chairperson asked if it was correct as government to structure a programme around an NGO rather than just allocating funds to HIV/AIDS awareness. He also asked why it merited a specific mention and if it was a statutory body.

Mr Pakade clarified that it was not only LoveLife that was concerned.  According to the guidelines dictated by National Treasury the Department had to indicate to which organisations there would be transfers. In the presentation all earmarked funding were highlighted, and one of those receiving transfers was LoveLife. 

Ms Bogopane-Zulu commented that she would prefer that LoveLife appeared before the Committee. She wondered whether there was value for money for the Department.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee would consider that suggestion.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu suggested that SASSA should rectify their monitoring information services because when beneficiaries’ pensions were delayed, for whatever reason, the Department had to pick up the pieces. It might not be affordable in the long term, but this service needed to work.  

Mr Jehoma replied that it should not be problematic for beneficiaries to move from one province to another since it was one institution. They would support a shorter time of transfer for beneficiaries.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu raised the issue of the Disability Grant that was racked with problems. If the system worked, as the Department said it did, why then was it necessary to have the details updated every two years. This caused unnecessary distress for the beneficiaries and administrative work for the Department. She thought that if administration was minimised more problems would be resolved.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu mentioned that Social Relief of Distress was understood strategically, but operationally was not being implemented. This was one of the grants that was not understood by those who administered the grant.

Mr Jehoma replied that there was a serious lack of communication on the Social Relief of Distress grant. The Department in the last two years improved the processes and over time the current situation where the system was clogged because of inability to process applications would resolve itself.

The Chairperson agreed that communication was paramount, but asked if the policy was finalised. When discussing the proposed legislation recently, the Committee had contested the proposal to block the programme until a new programme was put in place. The Committee was then given the assurance that pursuant to a directive from Cabinet, the Department would be working on a policy framework that would eliminate the inconsistencies of interpretation around who qualified and how the grant could be accessed. The Committee had not yet been given such a policy framework.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu hoped that the social assistance regulations could be finalised this year, when there was interaction with the officials of SASSA or the Department at a constituency level. She suggested that if programmes could be linked, many solutions would be found. If they could manage these issues then a number of vulnerable orphans could be eliminated and if there was a legislative barrier they should find a way to deal with it.

Mr Madonsela replied that the law provided for social relief of distress although it fell in a different legislative framework to that in which the qualifying criteria were stated. This would remain in place until the new policy framework had been completed. DSD would then integrate the current social relief of distress provisions with other relief programmes.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu was frustrated by the Population Unit and the Research Unit. Most of the research done for the Department was outsourced. She wanted clarification on the structure of the Research Unit.

Mr Dangor replied that the Population Unit had its own eleven researchers and Social Policy had its own researchers. The Population Unit was a chief directorate that was being transformed. Its strategic objectives were being aligned with the Department’s objectives. The unit’s staff was being challenged not only to become research managers but also to undertake research in demographic and population trends, in relation to the way it assisted the Department with evidence-based policies. There were several key research outputs that would have to be attained. Research would have to be managed because of the scale of the project. There was visible improvement because of the integration of the unit into the Department as a whole.

Mr Madonsela added that historically the location of the Population Unit had been problematic. The decision was made that because the work of the Population Unit was required in planning it should be moved to the Chief Executive’s Office, where the strategic planning took place. Their work was vital to strategic planning for various other departments, as they also performed analysis. This was one unit that had brought several products to the Committee.

The Chairperson agreed that the unit had issued a number of publications containing completed research. The problem was that it was assumed that the role of the Population Unit was to regularly provide reports on the standardised issues around demographics and population trends.

Mr Madonsela replied that as long as the Population Unit was just a unit, and not an agency, this would impact on its capacity.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu noted that there was no reference to the National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS in the Strategic Plan. She thought that the Department would be one of the primary drivers of the Plan and asked for further clarification.

Ms Nhlapo replied that DSD was implementing the National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS 2007 – 2011. There were two priority areas that were clearly indicated by the Department. Prevention was clearly a cross-cutting priority. The issue of care and support was also part of the Department’s responsibility. These two priorities were vital to the department.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu found that one of the challenges with the Madrid Plan of Action was that at an international level it could become difficult to broach domestic issues because the plan was so broad. She asked if there was a domesticated plan of action because it was not strong in rural areas, specifically with the aged. 

Ms Nhlapo replied that DSD had developed the South African plan of action, which informed their specific role to implement the Madrid Plan of Action. The South African plan of action was an inter-departmental plan of action that involved the role of NGOs and other stakeholder. It had already been approved within the Department and the DSD was interacting with various other departments on the need for a committed budget to implement the plan. 

Ms Direko asked for clarification on the extension of the Child Support Grant.

Mr Jehoma replied that the Department had consistently argued for the extension of the Child Support Grant. The law allowed for children of sixteen and seventeen years old to enter the labour market. He was heartened by the view that perverse incentives was not a valid argument. He reminded Members that it was this Committee who had insisted that such perverse incentives existed and therefore should limit the extent to which the social assistance net was expanded. He concluded that the Department would do further work to respond to the concerns on why children grant should not be extended to this age, and the Minister had gone on record to state that they would look at the gradual extension of the Child Support Grant.

Mr Madonsela added that once a child reached the age of eighteen years he ceased to be defined as a child and was no longer eligible to receive a Child Support Grant. The proposal to introduce conditions from the age of sixteen years in respect of the Child Support Grant was not intended to punish children, but rather to encourage children to remain at school. The fact that they were beyond the compulsory school going age should not give them the incentive to stay away from school. There would be various forms of assistance that would be offered to those who were not at school and were unemployed. The grant could be effectively used to positively influence children.

The Chairperson added that while drafting the regulation for the introduction of the Child Support Grant certain conditions were introduced that met with resistance from civil society. The concerns included the call for an assurance that children should receive free health care and that the parents should be able to access other forms of support, as long as parents showed a viable effort to attain further support. The NGOs insisted that a bureaucracy was created that was dependent on the official at the desk. Conditions were not a new phenomenon but there might be new conditions that the Department was considering.

Mr Madonsela replied that those conditions had been removed because they were considered to be cumbersome. The conditions applying from the age of sixteen were different and sought to achieve a possible path to the future.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu agreed with the Director-General’s views but said that was not applicable to the current situation of the country. She asked if SASSA had a desk that did referrals to the Department.

The Chairperson commented that SASSA would have an opportunity to debate matters further. The State of the Nation Address realised that it was necessary for government to properly assess the problems in poor households so that when poverty was dealt with it was not done in a generalised way, but according to a proper assessment of different circumstances and so that differing solutions were found.

Ms H Weber (DA) wanted clarification on the means test and its necessity.

Mr Jehoma replied that there was acknowledgment within the inter-departmental task team on social security and retirement reform that the means test needed to be removed. There was the unknown factor of the number of people that could come into the system. Fiscally it posed a challenge and therefore there would be a gradual phasing out of the means test, or at least reconsideration of the tax threshold level where the means test should not be applied. The removal would be initiated from the time the Minister made an announcement in the near future and then the Department would have to study the implications, and make another decision so that by 2010 people up to the stated tax threshold should not be means-tested.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu wanted the Department to send the Committee an updated list of the finalised operational policies.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu wanted clarification on the Family Programme. She asked what were the tangible programmes that needed to be instituted.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu wanted to know what was the role of the Department beyond creating shelters in the programme on Victim Empowerment.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu was concerned by the Service Provider Support and Management programme as there was a lot of outsourcing. She wanted to know if the Department monitored whether the NGOs were properly informed of the legislative practises in the country, specifically the foreign social workers. She asked what conditionality was attached to the practice of social work.
 
The Chairperson asked that the Department specifically mention which legislation regulated the various programmes and sub-programmes.

Ms Nhlapo replied that the legislation would not necessarily arise from the Department but could come from other departments where Social Development had a role to play. It was not necessarily correct that legislation would have to be developed for every area listed.

The Chairperson interjected and suggested that it would assist both the Department and the Committee if the core legislation was listed. This would improve the Committee’s ability to properly call on accountability. Not every piece of legislation would have to be specified but the relevant legislation in the priority areas such as children should be listed.

Ms Nhlapo agreed with the Chairperson. There were sub-programmes that utilised several pieces of legislation.

Mr Madonsela added that those issues would usually be placed in an operational plan. The Department had brought a strategic plan to the Committee. He asked if the Committee would prefer that the Department rewrite the document according to their specifications.

The Chairperson clarified that the Department had already tabled the Strategic Plan but that at some point the Committee would require specifics.

Ms Direko reiterated that the document should provide guidance on the accountability of the Department and that the presentation today had not achieved that. 

Ms Nhlapo clarified that objectives were listed in the document.

The Chairperson noted that legislation was very specific since priority was usually given to legislative functions when it came to allocating resources.

The Chairperson indicated that unanswered questions and unresolved issues would be dealt with at the next meeting.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

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