Debate on the Social Assistance Amendment Bill

DEBATE ON THE SOCIAL ASSISTANCE AMENDMENT BILL [B8B-2018]
PRESENTED AT THE VIRTUAL SITTING ON TUESDAY, 13 OCTOBER 2020

By: Hon. P Govender, MPL, on behalf of the Inkatha Freedom Party

Hon. Speaker, the Inkatha Freedom Party supports the intent of the Bill, as it seeks to implement the extended Child Support Grant (CSG), regularise the additional payment on the Older Persons Grant for people over 75 years of age, and to facilitate the establishment of an Inspectorate for Social Assistance.

The IFP is of the view that the establishment of an Inspectorate for Social Assistance will go a long way in rooting out fraud and corrupt activities within the social welfare system. Recently there have been a number of complaints of Grants not being received by the registered beneficiary, and even increased fraudulent activity within the Department, SASSA, and even in the South African Post Office. When the new SASSA cards came into being a few years ago, we were assured that these cards and the new system could not be hacked by fraudsters. But we are seeing an increase of fraud cases and even people being caught with stacks of SASSA cards, as was the recent case of a police officer who was arrested with a number of SASSA cards. The establishment of the Inspectorate for Social Assistance will, if properly implemented, certainly assist in curbing fraud and corruption.

Noting that the Foster Care Grant (FCG) and the Foster Care System were originally designed for children in need of “care and support”, this Bill seeks to, in effect, bypass the social worker and court processes, due to the high numbers of orphans in the country, which are clogging up the system for processing foster child benefits, which has administrative challenges.

As the IFP, we are concerned that without a report from a social worker and a legal placement of a child with a family, both the child and the family will not be protected in the event of any legal matters that might arise.

I have concerns with regards to a child being placed with families without going through the court process and having a legal placement document, which would give protection to the child and give legal rights to the ‘parents’.

What would prevent the ‘parent’ from abandoning the child after collecting the increased CSG after a few years?

Will there be any legal protection for the ‘parent’ should the child commit a crime?

In the absence of a legal court order, what will prevent a social worker from colluding with a potential family to place children with them and collect a kick-back every month?

The CSG should not become a cash cow for either potential placement families or social workers.

By increasing the CSG and doing away with the court processes, we will be throwing money at the problem of congested courts, and sacrificing the best interests of our children.

The IFP proposes that since we have the Children’s Courts, one day in a week, or fortnight, or month (depending on the number of cases coming before a particular court), be set aside to hear foster care cases only. This will not require additional funding or resources but will need to be discussed by the Departments of Justice and Social Development.

Hon. Speaker, I must record the concern of the IFP because after the Social Development Portfolio Committee did all that was necessary in conducting two public hearings and taking submissions from interested organisations and individuals, the KZN Negotiating Mandate was simply noted by the Select Committee on Health and Social Services. We should have been given an opportunity to motivate or explain the submissions we were making in the Negotiating Mandate, since time and resources were invested in preparing it. The public at large will not take us seriously in the future if their inputs are not valued. As a province, we must not be seen to be just rubber stamping what comes from National.

The Inkatha Freedom Party supports the Social Assistance Amendment Bill [B8B-2018].

I thank you.