Budget Debate On Social Development- Vote 13

BY
HON N.J NKWANYANA, MPL

Honourable Speaker

The IFP welcomes the budget of R3.52 billion allocated to the Department of Social Development.

The IFP regards Social Development as one of the key government departments, for it takes care of the well-being of the most vulnerable people in society. The social grants support 17.5 million of the nation’s poor of the poorest. In KZN alone, social grants look after 3.9 million vulnerable citizens which includes 2.9 million children.

During the election campaign, the IFP engaged with all South Africans, with the aim of understanding their needs and the challenges that have been addressed, as well as those challenges which have not been addressed by the ruling party. It came clear that the ruling party policies has failed to address economic challenges facing people on a daily basis.

This is why it is important, that now more than ever, our government do a deep introspection on how it can use these social grants to empower our people to be self-reliant and self-help. It cannot be right that the number of people dependant on social grants exceeds the number of social grant beneficiaries by a considerable margin in our country.

We, in the IFP, strongly believe that self-help, self-reliance and economic independence will be the foundation of true freedom for our people. Government should consider saving portion of the children grants, to use upon completion of their schooling. These savings could be used to support when searching for jobs or to start small businesses. We believe that this will encourage and empower the coming generations to not remain dependent on state grants alone to support entire households. We need a robust economy in which everyone is able to easily participate to earn a living and enjoy meaningful lives.

Many people of KwaZulu-Natal, have waited curiously for this moment: for the Hon MEC to pronounce the budget amounts that continue to enable them to survive under very difficult conditions on a daily basis.

DEPARTMENT PERFORMANCE

Therefore, I believe that we must confront the hard truth about the poor performance of the department and its entities if we want to ensure that all South Africans enjoy their constitutional rights as per the Bill of Rights on social grants.

This department under-spent its 2015/16 budget by R102.89 million mainly attributed to the non-filling of posts delays in infrastructure projects. Again, the department under-spent in 2016/17 by R28.22 million, again here claiming the delays in filling vacant posts and delays in infrastructure projects. Again, in 2017/2018 the department under-spent by a whooping R70.15 million, still blaming delays in filling vacant posts. As the IFP we urge the Hon MEC to address this elephant in the room in this department which is underspending claiming unfilled vacancies. Why are these vacancies not being filled? What are these delays preventing it to advertise posts?

We call upon the MEC to ensure the posts are filled by competent and experienced candidates, who in no way may have been involved in any corrupt activities. An independent body should be appointed to be in charge of shortlisting, interviewing and making recommendations as to which candidates are most suitable, so as to avoid the appointment of any politically favoured yet incompetent individuals.

Today, I find myself with more questions than answers. Once again, we revisit the same issues and make plans for the period of 2019/2020 onwards. Why it is that plans that were tabled five years ago to deal with underspending were never implemented? With all the challenges that we face as a nation – unemployment, poverty and inequality – one would have expected the department to fully utilise the budget and execute projects and programmes with far more urgency to make sure of the department spends its entire budget.

PEOPLE LIVING WITH ALBINISM

People with albinism are still leaving under a lot of fear. There are still attacks and killings directed at people with albinism. They still go missing without a trace. They are brutally killed and buried in pieces. They have told us that when they report these cases to the police, the normal answer they get is: ‘They can’t open a case because no one was injured.’

We urge the Department of Social Development to work closely with Department of Health and Community Safety and Liaison to provide efforts of supporting and protecting people living with Albinism. We call for the development of an integrated plan to protect, promote and uphold the rights of persons with albinism in this province and the country as a whole.

NEW HIV INFECTIONS

We commend the departments’ efforts to fight new HIV infections among youth and children in this province through the Social & Behaviour Change Programme. However, we feel that more still needs to be done as more than 77 000 new people have tested HIV positive since January this year alone.

SOCIAL WELFARE SERVICES AND PROTECTION OF OLD PEOPLE

In 2018/19 the department has not increased the target for the number of residential facilities for older persons complying with the norms and standards. The number of reported incidents of crime targeting older residents of this province is alarming. This Department needs to work closely with the Department of Community Safety and Liaison. More needs to be done by this Department beyond just raising awareness about the rights of older persons and the pride of having them in our communities.

EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT

The IFP is pleased to see the department’s focus on early childhood development, ECD. There is no doubt that early childhood development plays an important role in developing the basic cognitive skills for the future successful learning of the child. What is to be done to take the ECD sector forward? Firstly, it requires government to address the co-ordination weaknesses and institutional framework of ECD, and it requires government to clarify the roles and responsibilities between national, provincial and local government, as well as NGOs and the private sector. Secondly, we need to encourage innovation in the way early childhood development services are delivered. How can home-, community- and centre-based programmes be expanded? Thirdly, state funding for early childhood development should be improved. Funding the programmes and services at an appropriate level is key.

SOCIAL WORKERS

We are thankful that the bulk of the department’s budget allocation for Social Worker Employment grant relates to Social Worker graduate employment. We expect that this will reduce the backlog in the huge number of Social Worker graduates who remain unemployed. We are concerned that the department under-spent this grant in 2017/18 due to the late appointment of 166 Social Workers. The employment of social workers must be always accelerated.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROGRAMME

Substance abuse and drug abuse in South Africa has assumed alarming proportions and it is time the vice was nipped in the bud. We note that the department will focus on strengthening prevention and awareness programmes on substance abuse, prioritising strategic and hotspot areas. It will also intensify prevention programmes, including launching the Ke Moja anti-substance abuse programme, which is a programme targeting youth at institutions of higher learning. We urge communities to help by saying ‘No to drugs and drug abuse’ and not to frown upon those who are taken for rehabilitation or to stigmatise them but rather help them in every way and show them love as this will help them recover. The fight against drug abuse is for all because each one of us is affected in one way or another.

WOMEN AND CHILD ABUSE

Women and children in South Africa live in a society with a Constitution that has the highest regard for their rights and for the equality and dignity of everyone. Protecting women and children from violence, exploitation and abuse is not only a basic value but also an obligation. The protection of women and children must be a 365 days project. 16 Days is not enough to eradicate this scourge. Government should improve the guidelines and procedures used in handling reported cases to promote the best interest of victims.

The IFP also notes that the department will host the Provincial Gender-based Violence and Femicide Summit. The IFP believes that there is no need to hold such events if they yield no positive results and necessary change. There must be a full implementation of resolutions taken in such events.

YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

The IFP notes that the department will host a graduation ceremony for 485 youth that were enrolled in a Services SETA learnership programme. These young graduates must be employed on permanent basis. We are sick and tired of government training our youth then fails to create a conducive economy that will employ them. Government must move from rhetoric on youth development to action. Again, such initiatives must not only benefit ANC members all young people must be prioritised.

ERADICATION OF HUNGER PROGRAMS

We further note that the department has prioritised to end of hunger through the establishment of the food distribution centres, the community food depots and the community food and development centres. However, this department has not been clear on the developmental aspect of this initiative. Where will they receive their supplies? Who will their suppliers be? And how will this initiative boost black farmers and create employment? The IFP demands a food economy that empowers communities to produce food for themselves. The community must be able to produce for themselves. Once again, we stress that government promotes should the economic independency for our people.

I thank you