Former minister of social development Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: THULANI MBELE
Former minister of social development Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: THULANI MBELE

A question mark hangs over the adoption of the budget of the Department of Social Development by Parliament because it does not have an approved organisational structure.

The problem, which harks back to the tenure of former minister Bathabile Dlamini, was raised by Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu at a meeting of Parliament’s social development committee.

DA MP Bridget Masango said the lack of an approved organisational structure was another indication of "maladministration at its worst" under Dlamini.

The problems were spilling into the lap of her successor.

Masango said MPs were told that the last organisational structure approved by the Department of Public Service and Administration, as required, was in 2012.

"It is not acceptable not to have an approved organogram," Masango said.

"It would be irresponsible for the committee to approve a budget for an administration without an organogram. It is a mess," she said.

'Very concerned'

Shabangu had told MPs she was "very concerned" about the situation and hopefully would provide an update at a meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

The budget vote for the department is to be debated on May 9.

The department’s total budget for 2018-19 amounts to R173bn, of which R383m is for administration of the department and R163bn for the payment of social grants.

Of the R383m, R198m has been allocated for the payment of salaries. However, in the absence of an approved organisational structure, which indicates the staff establishment, this figure is not grounded.

According to a statement from committee chairwoman Rosemary Capa, Shabangu said the department appeared to have three different organisational structures: for 2015, 2016 and 2017.

These could not be validated with the Department of Public Service and Administration.

As a result, vacancies in the department had been frozen and 450 vacancies in the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) had also been placed on hold until its organisational structures could be verified.

Because of this lack of a defined structure, scheduled briefings by the department and its entities to the committee were cancelled.

The committee was supposed to consider the strategic plan, annual performance plan and budget of the department, the National Development Agency and Sassa.

"Without an approved annual performance plan, the department’s budget will not be approved during the upcoming budget vote debates," Capa warned. "The committee said it cannot accept an annual report and approve a budget for a department that does not have a defined … structure."

The committee also raised concern that Shabangu would have to account for a departmental annual performance plan signed off by Dlamini. It believed Shabangu should be the one to sign off the plan.