Deputy Minister Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu today abruptly walked out of a meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, following a disagreement about her attendance at committee meetings.
The Deputy Minister insisted that her absenteeism be addressed, but committee members said that this was not on the agenda for the day. They said the issue has been raised with the institutional authorities and thus the Deputy Minister was not allowed to address the meeting.
Meanwhile, a briefing from the South African Social Security Agency’s (Sassa’s) Internal Audit Committee on its role and Sassa finances highlighted various risks found during auditing processes.
The committee said that it is unacceptable that the department has no control over lease management, after hearing that Sassa has no system in place to manage regional leases. This could result in under or over statement of annual financial statements. Sassa is to consult with the Department of Public Works to ensure that negotiations on leases are managed efficiently.
The risk relating to the payment of social grants, which is linked to the Constitutional Court judgement still to be made, was strongly criticised by the committee. Since the South African Post Office (Sapo) is not yet in a position to facilitate the full payment of social grants, the committee was told that Sassa is in the process of devising an alternative plan should the court not allow Cash Paymaster Systems to continue with the requested phase-in, phase-out process for six months.
Funds currently spent on disciplinary action against staff was also criticised by the committee, since this amounts to fruitless and wasteful expenditure. The committee is of the opinion that the department must find alternative mechanisms for mitigating risks with high financial costs.
Following deliberations on the risks presented by officials from the auditing committee, portfolio committee Chairperson Ms Rosemary Capa said that all stakeholders must be involved in finding solutions to these challenges.
The committee concluded by inviting the department and its officials from the regions to brief the committee on challenges and risks, as well as solutions on how to deal with them.
ISSUED BY PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, MS ROSEMARY CAPA