NATIONAL ASSEMBLY WEDNESDAY, 19 MAY MINI PLENARIES (VIRTUAL) 14:00 – 16:15 Budget Vote 20: Women, Youth & Persons with Disabilities

Hon. MD Hlengwa

 

Honourable Speaker,

Living in South Africa, we are reminded daily of the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) faced by children, women and members of the LGBTQI+ community. We are only in the second quarter of 2021 and far too many families have buried their loved ones due to GBVF. This Department has been tasked with a monumental mission – to initiate and lead the “socioeconomic transformation and implementation of the empowerment and participation of women, youth and persons with disabilities through mainstreaming, advocacy, monitoring and evaluation.” It is an important and critical task, which demands all the support that government can offer, financial and otherwise. 

The IFP is mindful of the economic climate and the immense strain that has been placed on the public purse, especially by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, we need to ensure that every precaution is taken to limit waste and that accountability is enforced. Once again, the IFP wishes to note how this Department mismanages its finances, even during a financial crisis, in a way that is detrimental to those it is tasked with supporting. 

The Department has been, on numerous occasions, urged by the Portfolio Committee to avoid, or completely stop using consultants, due to its limited budget. Consultants invariably cost more and stretch already limited finances. Yet recommendations on how to remedy this problem seem to have fallen on deaf ears.  The IFP wishes to reiterate the importance of fiscal prudence, especially when such an important mandate is at risk. 

The IFP is concerned that the website of the Department has not been working for months. How can we expect members of the public, and possibly those desperate for information and help, to be assisted when the website is down? This a miscarriage of justice and another example of misplaced financial focus.  

The IFP continues to support the work of this Department and the agencies that execute its mandate. In this regard, the IFP calls for better accountability and smarter personnel decisions that will not compromise the integrity of the Department. A constitutional imperative so critical as the rights of young people, women, children and persons with disabilities, who form part of our most vulnerable, must be taken seriously. 

Finally, the IFP recognises that budget cuts have taken place across the board. However, in a time where the safety and security of women, children and members of the LGBTQI+ community is making front page news daily, a financial commitment from government is a step in the right direction to show that we are taking this issue seriously. 

The IFP supports the Budget.

I thank you.