Meeting SummaryThe Committee met to adopt outstanding Reports of the Committee. The report on the Visit to Brazil, as amended, was adopted.
The Chairperson noted that the Chair of Committees had informed him that the Committee was required to formally consider and report on the Annual Financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report, both of which were included in the Annual Report 2007/08 of the Department of Social Development. The Committee decided to indicate in its Report that it had considered these matters, but, because it was satisfied with the improvements in the management of funds by the Department, it had not considered it necessary to hold a separate meeting with the Auditor General on the statements and report. Members discussed and inserted specific wording into the report relating to the high numbers of children in foster care and the difficulties around placements.
Owing to time constraints the Committee was unable to adopt the reports on the South African Social Security Agency Annual Report and the National Development Agency Annual Report, nor was it able to adopt the Minutes of previous meetings.
Committee’s Annual Report of 2008
The Chairperson noted that the Committee had not voted on its Annual Report the previous week, pending the Management Section being satisfied that the necessary editing had been done.
Ms Zola Vice (Committee Secretary) confirmed that the amendments suggested by the Committee had been effected in the previous week.
Committee Report on Visit to Brazil
The Chairperson asked the Committee Secretary for an update on the Visit to Brazil Report.
The Committee Secretary said that the Visit to Brazil Report had been given to the Committee during the previous week, without input from the Parliamentary Researcher, Ms Yolise Nogenga. The input was now included, and the new report had been placed in the pigeonholes of all Members, so that it could be adopted today, ready for the ATC process the following day.
The Chairperson said that this report would therefore need to be considered today. He requested Ms Nogenga to read the report so that Committee Members could question and comment during the process.
Ms Nogenga read out the Report.
Ms J Semple (DA) suggested that wording reading ‘overview … the Brazil’ should be changed to ‘an overview of the Brazil experience’.
Ms Semple also requested that the number format be used as opposed to figures written as words.
The Committee assented to both suggestions.
Ms Semple asked that 'dependant on substance abuse' should be used instead of ‘depended on substance abuse’
Ms Lana Peterson, Parliamentary Liaison Officer, Office of the Minister of Social Development, said that there were two matters out of the Brazil trip that she had taken note of; the first was the statement during a briefing by the Deputy Commissioner that South Africa was becoming a dumping ground for 2010, which would have an impact in terms of preparing for the World Cup; the second was that Brazil had just introduced a zero tolerance approach to driving under the influence of alcohol, which had already been shown to have a positive impact upon the economy.
The Chairperson asked Ms Peterson to formulate a paragraph on these issue for insertion into the Committee document. He added that the contribution by funders should be acknowledged in the introduction section of the Report, and perhaps mention should also be made of the delegates who visited Brazil, including Mr Paul Davids and Dr Chang.
Ms I Mars (IFP) stated that she recalled that on a previous visit to Brazil, the delegation was very impressed with the food voucher system, and asked if this system was still in place.
The Chairperson said that it was not necessary to put that into the current report.
The Chairperson corrected the wording of the statement in the report around the disability statistics, to read ‘people with disabilities make up 14.5% of the population in Brazil’
Ms Semple corrected the spelling of the word ‘Braille’ in the report.
Ms H Bogopane-Zulu (ANC) corrected ‘corporal social investment’ to read ‘corporate social investment'.
Ms Semple said that there had been other activities on this trip that had not been mentioned in the report, which were excellent programmes from which South Africa could draw interesting lessons. These activities were Sport at Midnight, the Art project, Centres underneath the highways, and other activities in Sao Paulo like boxing.
The Chairperson and Ms Semple therefore crafted an additional paragraph for insertion into the Report, reading : ‘The Committee also visited a number of projects aimed at engaging young people, such as Sport at Midnight, Hip Hop, boxing, the library, the Gym and the Graffiti Arts project, to engage young people to focus their attention away from negative social behaviour’.
The Researcher was asked to write a paragraph acknowledging the funder, and to include a section on the background to the Substance Abuse Bill, which had informed this trip.
The Committee then unanimously adopted the Report on the Visit to Brazil, which would be tabled in Parliament on the following day.
Committee’s Report on the 2007/08 Annual Report of the Department of Social Development (DSD)
Before dealing with the Annual Report, the Chairperson asked the Committee Secretary to read out a letter dated 13 February, received this morning, stating that the Committee should formally report on the Annual Financial statements of the Department of Social Development and the Auditor-General’s Report for 2007/08.
The Chairperson said that he had, on the previous day, discussed this matter with Mr Nell, the Chair of Committees, and had indicated that the Committee, during its consideration of the Annual Report of the Department, had also taken account of the Auditor-General’s Report and the Annual Financial Statements of the Department. It was unclear whether there was a need to submit a separate report on the financials but he thought that it could be mentioned in the Annual Report. He did not think that there had been any need for a separate meeting with the Auditor-General, as there were no negative comments on the financial statements.
The Committee agreed to insert a paragraph to this effect in its Report.
The Committee Secretary read out the Committee’s report, and the Chairperson asked Members to comment and submit any questions during the reading.
Mr Sean White, Parliamentary Law Advisor, Office of the Deputy Minister of Social Development, commented that wording needed to be changed on page 3. In paragraph one, in the subsection on further information, the words ‘increment changes’ should be changed to ‘incremental changes to the value of the grant value’.
Ms Petersen said that the section on Programme 4: Integrated Community Development, as mentioned on page one of the Report, was presented by, and should include the name of Dr Connie Kaganaka, Acting Director for Integrated Development.
The Chairperson corrected page 7, paragraph 2, under ‘Matters arising from the presentation’ to read: ‘ The Committee expressed disappointment that provinces were not implementing social relief of distress in a uniform manner..’
Ms Peterson further commented, in relation to this paragraph, that the establishment of the Inspectorate was done under the Social Assistance Act 2004, and not by recommendation of the Portfolio Committee.
The Chairperson stated that ‘Recommendations’ should be corrected to ‘Concerns and Recommendations’ and that it was a sub-heading.
Ms Peterson suggested that paragraph 5 should be captured in a more positive way. The concern was not the high number of children in foster care, but the numbers who were awaiting foster care placement through the magistrate or through the justice system. Ms Peterson reminded the Committee that the amendments made to the Children’s Act, promoted Kinship Care, which would make more children eligible for foster care, so the higher numbers of children in foster care was actually a positive step.
The Chairperson agreed that paragraph 5 should read: ‘The committee noted the high number of children placed under foster care in South Africa’.
Ms Bogopane-Zulu said that she thought this phraseology was problematic; not all African countries had foster care. The concern was indeed the length of time to have children placed under foster care. She asked that the Committee discuss the issue further.
The Chairperson stated that this was related to the fact that there were no financial incentives for adoption, with the result that instead of children being permanently adopted, they ended up under temporary foster placements, despite the fact that the original idea of fostering was to re-integrate children into a family situation. The Chairperson said that, instead of expressing this as a concern, the Committee could simply note the point in paragraph 5, but explain the context around the need to promote permanent placement. He proposed wording that included a reference to the lack of financial incentives.
Ms Bogopane-Zulu felt that the emphasis should be not so much on the financial incentives, but on the process and the procedures for adoption, which the Department had acknowledged were highly problematic. It was not so much that a financial incentive was needed, but that a way had to be found around the difficult procedures and the amount people had to pay in order to adopt.
The Chairperson then suggested a rewording of paragraph 5 as: ‘The Committee noted the high number of children placed under foster care in South Africa, which could be ascribed to the many stumbling blacks encountered in the permanent placement of children, particularly in adoption’.
The Chairperson then proposed that a separate heading be specifically inserted into the Report on the Department’s Annual Report to indicate that the Committee had considered Annual Financial statements and the Auditor-General’s Report for the 2007/2008 financial year. Under this heading, he proposed that the Committee report: ‘The Committee considered the above and is satisfied with the improvement achieved in the management of the funds of the Department and agencies, as reflected in the Auditor- General's report, and decided therefore not to hold separate hearings in that regard’.
Members agreed unanimously to adopt the Committee Report, with the necessary amendments as discussed.
Committee reports on Annual Reports of South African Social Security Agency and National Development Agency
The Chairperson asked whether the Reports reflecting the Committee’s hearings on the Annual Reports of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the National Development Agency (NDA) had been edited by the Committee Section.
The Committee Secretary responded that the Committee Section had finished editing them, and they had been circulated that morning.
The Chairperson, however, noted that there was no time remaining to deal with these reports.
The Chairperson also noted that there was insufficient time to deal with adoption of the Minutes.
The meeting was adjourned.
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