The IFP in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature joins the world in observing International Social Workers’ Day, under the theme: “Co-Building a New Eco-Social World: Leaving No One Behind”.
On this day, the IFP expresses its gratitude to the committed social workers who continue to work with dedication on the frontlines during the Covid-19 pandemic. We are aware that some have made the ultimate sacrifice and others have lost loved ones, but still they remain at their workplaces, serving communities across our province. The IFP is grateful and appreciates their dedication.
People become social workers because they have a strong desire to help others and make our society a better place for all.
While IFP recognises the role played by social workers, it is concerned about the violence faced by social workers. This has become an inherent risk of the profession and undeniably, one that needs to be addressed on a national scale. Social workers are frequently sent, alone and unarmed, to dangerous situations, in areas that police do not enter without a partner, or a gun. Social workers stage life-changing interventions daily, but what measures are being taken to ensure their safety?
Further, the IFP is concerned about hijacking of state vehicles used by social workers. We have stated in the past that more than 50 state-owned vehicles from the KZN Department of Social Development were hijacked between 2017 and 2020. However, we have not heard a word as to whether all these vehicles have been recovered. We urge the Department to ensure that all state vehicles are fitted with tracking devices, and are clearly branded, as these measures will hopefully serve as deterrents to would-be hijackers.
The shortage of social workers is another issue that needs the urgent attention of the Department. An ongoing shortage of finances cannot be an excuse for depriving our people of social work services, whilst social ills are growing. There are many unemployed social work graduates in the province. They received bursaries from the Department with the promise of employment once they qualify, yet they have been sitting at home without jobs for years. This can be seen as wasteful expenditure, as the Department used public funds to get these students qualified but they are not serving our citizens.
The IFP calls upon the KZN MEC for Social Development, Nonhlanhla Khoza, to present a detailed plan on how she intends addressing the hijackings of state-owned vehicles used by social workers, the murder of and violence towards social workers, as well as the issue of unemployed social work graduates.
The IFP believes that International Social Workers’ Day must not become yet another talk-shop. We need to take this opportunity to unpack and address all the challenges facing social workers while they execute their duties. Their safety, wellbeing and working conditions must be prioritised.
Hon Les Govender, MPL
IFP KZN Provincial Spokesperson for Social Development
083 974 4894