Reply by Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe, to questions posed in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for Oral Reply

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Question 7
Ms N D Ntwanambi (ANC-WC) to ask the Deputy President:
(1) Whether the Government has a policy in place that prohibits persons earning social grants such as old age, child support, care dependency and/or social assistance from paying government levies like (a) school fees, (b) municipal levies and (c) levies relating to applying for (i) identity documents and (ii) birth certificates; if not; what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details;
(2) whether the policy has been communicated to the nation, relevant government departments, provinces, offices and schools; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;
(3) whether the Government will look at this aspect as part of the comprehensive social protection for the poor; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?

REPLY
Honourable Ntwanambi, government does not have a specific policy that prohibits people receiving social grants from paying government levies.

As the Honourable Member is aware, government is implementing a range of measures to support the poor to access services. These include the social wage which is provided in the form of free basic services, subsidised school transport, school nutrition as well as subsidised housing among others. According to the latest Budget Review, consolidated government expenditure on housing, community development, water supply, education, health services, recreation and culture will amount to about R360 billion in the financial year 2010/11.

This is in addition to billions of Rands that we spend on social assistance in the form of old age, child support and disability grants.

Mounting evidence points to a huge impact of all these social assistance measures in the lives of the poor and vulnerable members of our society.

This fact is fully appreciated by all spheres of government and non-state actors who agree that working together we can do more to ensure universal access, especially targeting poor rural communities.

Notwithstanding this understanding at the level of government, there are households whose knowledge of what they qualify for is limited. That is why government is strengthening the Community Development Worker programme, among others, since this cadre of community workers play a critical role in providing information.

If gaps are identified in the course of implementing any of our social protection policies, government will endeavour to review these with the view to improve reach and effectiveness of our programmes.

Question 8
Ms N D Ntwanambi (ANC-WC) to ask the Deputy President:
(1) Whether the Government has established any formal links, forums and/or mechanisms to enhance any relations and/or interactions with the business community in South Africa with regard to economy, government, business relations and foreign investment opportunities within and outside South Africa; if not, why not, if so, what formal links, forums and/or mechanisms;
(2) whether any structures of organised businesses have raised any concerns with regard to such formal links, forums and/or mechanisms; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what was the response from the Government in this regard?

REPLY
Honourable Member,
In the course of doing its business, government does interact formally and informally with individual and organised business formations.
In the majority of cases, these engagements occur at three (3) levels. Firstly, at the level of policy formulation at Nedlac; secondly, in the context of implementing our industrial policies; and thirdly, in pursuance of economic diplomacy.
As far as I am aware, no structure of organised business has raised any concern with regards to their interaction with government.
As a matter of fact, government enjoys good working relations with organised business and other social partners. To illustrate this point, Honourable Members may be aware of the collaborative effort of government, business and organised labour in responding to the effects of recession.
This multiple stakeholder leadership group led the process of developing and implementing the Framework Response to the Economic Crisis which was lauded by many observers as a unique initiative.
This is but one example of the cooperation I have referred to.
Therefore, government does value and cherish relations and contributions of all social partners who are rolling up their sleeves in pursuit of social and economic transformation.

Question 9
Mr M H Mokgobi (ANC-Limpopo) to ask the Deputy President:
(1) Whether the Government has undertaken any systematic review of the structure and operations of the public service since the 2009 elections; if not, why not; if so,
(2) whether the Government had any engagements with senior government officials at all spheres of government regarding concerns raised by communities on the (a) pace of service delivery in some areas and (b) ways of ensuring that the public service remains development oriented, credible and an efficient mechanism of implementing political objective of addressing the needs of the people; if not, (i) why not and (ii) to what extent will the National Planning Commission assist in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details? CO206E

REPLY
Honourable Members,
There have been several strands of work to review the workings of the civil service and the public sector in general both before and after the 2009 elections.
Since the inauguration of this administration, the Minister in The Presidency responsible for performance monitoring and evaluation was mandated by Cabinet to lead a process called the macro-organisation of the state. This built on previous reviews which necessitated the creation of new departments aimed at improving effectiveness and streamlining government programmes.
Given the importance that government has given to the transformation of the public service, we have included this project in the twelve (12) outcomes designed to improve the performance of the state. The aim is to build "an efficient, effective and development oriented public service".
Government, led by the President, has had a number of engagements with public servants including school principals, municipal managers, police station commanders and directors-general.

These engagements have focused precisely on the issues raised by Honourable Mokgobi; that of improving the capacity and performance of the state in relation to meeting the electoral mandate.
In addition, these engagements have emphasised the need to strengthen inter-governmental relations since in many instances, service delivery is slowed down due to poor coordination among the spheres of government.

Honourable Members,

The National Planning Commission has an important role to play in shaping the manner in which we do things in government. As Minister Manuel has said on countless occasions, his portfolio will help us develop a long-term plan which will impact on the organisation and capacity of the state as we seek to improve our ability to tackle the challenges of modest growth, employment, service delivery and human capital development.

Question 10
Ms M P Themba (ANC-Mpumalanga) to ask the Deputy President:
(1) Whether he or the President visited any provinces as part of the Government's War on Poverty Campaign or Anti-Poverty Programme since the new government took office in 2009; if not, why not; if so, how many provinces were visited;
(2) whether the Government (a) compiled a report of the issues raised by communities and (b) established mechanisms to (i) address and (ii) follow-up on the issues; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;
(3) whether reports of this nature are discussed at Cabinet level or sent to provinces for consideration and action; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so,
(4) whether any of the ministries and/or provinces have reported to the Presidency on their progress in addressing the issues; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what is the overall assessment of the responses of the departments and/or provinces in addressing the issues?

REPLY
Honourable Member,
Since the inauguration of this administration in May 2009, I have travelled with a delegation of Ministers and senior officials to two (2) provinces to witness progress made since the launch of the War on Poverty Campaign in 2008. Communities visited are Jacobsdal in the Free State and Lubala Village in the Eastern Cape.
On these visits, officials from national, provincial and local government departments take note of issues raised by communities and compiled reports. These reports are then processed by relevant government departments using established systems such as the National Integrated Social Information System (NISIS) of the Department of Social Development.
It is on the basis of these reporting mechanisms that verification of household needs and services rendered is conducted. This is also used for referral and follow up purposes.Individual reports are not presented to Cabinet. Instead, consolidated reports are prepared for Cabinet twice a year.

Institutionally, the National Task Team consisting of provincial war rooms and representatives from implementing departments is a forum tasked with the responsibility of processing reports and following up on service delivery issues raised by communities. The same reporting and follow up mechanism is replicated at provincial and local levels.

In addition to these institutional mechanisms, Ministers, Deputy Ministers and senior officials share their experiences through the Anti-Poverty Inter-Ministerial Committee coordinated by The Presidency. Here, consideration is also given to prioritising urgent matters raised by communities.
Our overall assessment is that the War on Poverty Campaign mechanism has helped to highlight the value of clustering services and delivering them as a package to poor communities who often miss out due to lack of information or distance between the community and the point of service.

Question 11

Prince M M Zulu (IFP-KZN) to ask the Deputy President:
Whether the Moral Regeneration Movement has made any inroads into the growing levels of social disintegration among the youth; if not, why not; if so, (a) how and (b) what are the further relevant details?

REPLY
Honourable Chairperson,
It has been reported by the Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM) that they are steadily making inroads into the social disintegration among the youth. To achieve this, the MRM engages young people in social dialogues which address various issues such as social integration and the role of families in moulding social values.
In order to gauge the true extent of the overall impact of the MRM programme, the Department of Arts and Culture has commissioned a formal evaluation. The outcome of this review will enable us to share evidence-based details of the success of MRM in this regard including areas requiring improvement.
Having said this, I wish to remind all Honourable Members that reversing the social disintegration of youth is a collective responsibility which should never be outsourced solely to teachers, government or any other non-governmental organisation. Disintegration begins at home and therefore reintegration should first happen there.
We have a responsibility to nurture our children and guide them as they enter adulthood and make life-altering decisions. It all begins with you and me!
I thank you Chairperson.

Question 12

Mr R A Lees (DA-KZN) to ask the Deputy President:
(1) Whether he has taken any action against members of the executive who fail to respond to written parliamentary questions of members of the National Council of Provinces; if not, why not; if so, (a) what are the relevant details and (b) when is it envisaged that responses to these outstanding questions will be received;
(2) whether the prompt and adequate response to written questions has been included in the performance contracts of members of the executive; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?

REPLY

Honourable Member, as I have reported in the National Assembly, I am concerned about the number of unanswered Questions in both Houses of Parliament.

Ministers had to report to me on the reason for their failure to reply to a number of Questions posed last year and indicate the steps that they were going to take to ensure that this did not re-occur. From this exercise it became apparent that in certain cases capacity could be improved.
I table a report to each Cabinet meeting on the number of unanswered Questions in both Houses. I have also written to all Ministers, at the request of the Speaker of the National Assembly with regard to Questions unanswered from the first term.

As Ministers are accountable to Parliament directly, it is also up to this House to discuss the measures it should take to ensure that Questions are answered.

The issue of responding to Parliamentary Questions was not included in the performance contracts of Members of the Executive but it is a matter that could be considered when the performance contracts are reviewed next year.

I have reason to believe that this issue is being addressed and that very soon we will have fewer instances of questions remaining unanswered beyond due dates.

Issued by:
The Presidency
Union Buildings
Pretoria

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