Department of Social Development fails vulnerable people of Gauteng as it continues to underspend and underperforms

Thank you Speaker,

In five years, the vulnerable people of Gauteng have been increasingly let down by this department as more of our Gauteng people needed this department, the more the department failed them by increasing underspending from R19,7 million in 2016/17 financial year to R438 million in 2020/21. This five-year under expenditure is now at a staggering collective amount of R1.38 billion.

For the year under review:

Just programme 1: Administration, underspending by R38.3 million is more than the whole under-expenditure of the department in 2016/17. This year, the department still had a vacancy rate of 752 posts. Goods and services not procured are a great concern. It is a tragedy when vulnerable people are denied access to school uniforms, dignity packs, and food parcels especially when Covid-19 has taken away so many people’s livelihoods. Failure to spend the Presidential ECD Employment Stimulus Relief Fund and ECD budget are also serious concerns. Many building projects are going on for too long. 

Overall, the main challenge facing this department is the lack of passion and commitment to serve the most vulnerable people of Gauteng. The MEC seems to have the passion but some of her crucial senior staff don’t seem to.

Speaker, it feels like the department provides disjointed information almost like they do not believe that we will read the whole annual report. From Page 71 – 175 (Institutional Programme Performance Information)

  • Department gave half explanations on failures to achieve targets (e.g. Page 72: with regards to internships, the deviation is 82 but the explanation is only given for 8 interns, no explanation for the other 74)
  • In many areas the department states “it should be noted that the actual achievements for indicators/targets do not reflect performance for the entire financial year, yet this document is an annual report. (This is mischievous actually).
  • Covid-19 is used as an explanation for failing to meet targets in many areas, yet that should have been the reason to exceed the target for this department. 
  • The department provides the same descriptors with different targets and different actuals. Disjointed information in many areas that does not make sense e.g.: Families participating in reunification programmes by the government: 411 (page 111) vs 2124 (page 113). Many felt like duplications descriptors of APPs but with different targets and actuals. 
  • All the above pages were also found wanting by the Auditor-General.

Page 316: R138,000 staff debt is written off (no effort made to recover it)

Let me re-iterate some of the findings of the Auditor-General which concerned me too:

  • Lawsuits cost R79.5 million without an outcome being determined. 
  • Irregular expenditure has more than doubled from the previous year: R336 million to R682 million and no steps taken to curb it. Taking the AGs comments further one notices that no action has been taken on these matters – which shows a lack of accountability for public funds.
  • Previously the department was failing to comply with Circular 21, now the department is failing to comply with treasury regulation 16 A6.1 (goods and services over R500,000 were procured with inviting competitive bidding) 
  • Many transfers were not made for their intended purposes as required by treasury regulation 8.4.1
  • The information reported on children and families “did not find material findings on the usefulness and reliability of the reported performance information for this programme.”
  • There are significant internal control deficiencies that led to non-compliance
  • Senior management had poor controls with NPOs

Failure to pay NGOs on time remains a serious challenge for the department. After years of complaining, finally, there is a much-needed monitoring and evaluation team yet – there are NGOs that are said to be non-compliant leading to late payments or simplyworked out of the system. I shall continue to call for an independent arbitration committee for NGOs and the department because the appeals mechanism in the department is not working properly. 

I thank you!