Minister of Social Development Budget Speech & response by DA
04 May 2016
Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini gave her Budget Vote Speech on the 04 May 2016.
Deputy Minister of Social Development, Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu,
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, Mrs Zoleka Capa,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Partners and members of the community here present,
Ladies and Gentlemen
Twenty two years have passed since South Africans from different walks of life voted for the very first time, to usher in a democratic and inclusive South Africa. Two years later, in 1996, South Africa cast in stone its intention to build a society that does not, as was the case under the apartheid regime, tolerate and normalize racism, sexism and other forms of institutionalized discrimination and systemic economic exclusion. Lest we forget, the South African constitution not only provides for important civil and political rights, but also makes provision for socio-economic rights inclusive of social security.
We therefore dedicate Budget Vote 17 to the memory of those who paid the supreme price in pursuit of our hard earned Constitutional democracy. Among them were millions of women who dedicated their lives to “Towards Advancing Peoples Power in Every Community”. This theme, is a stark reminder that our freedom was not free and should not be taken for granted.
Today, as I stand in this august house we must acknowledge the important role that was paved by our forebears of the women’s struggle that started more than 98 years ago under the leadership of gallant Charlotte Maxeke. Let me further salute the heroic women who marched to the Union Building on 9 August 1956 to protest against the unjust pass laws. This year we will be commemorating 60 years of that historic march. They demonstrated fortitude in confronting the most difficult conditions of organizing women under severe patriarchal and apartheid repression. May their spirit live on!
As was then, the struggle of women remain significant to the development of our society. It was President Nelson Mandela who then said “Freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression”.
Allow us to salute our brave daughters at Rhodes University and elsewhere, who recently stood up to assert the rights of women, and especially, to make their voices heard against institutions that serve to normalise and perpetuate rape culture in South Africa. This is the cardinal theme of our constitution, which establishes a “society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights”. Women’s rights are human rights!
The despicable acts of gender based violence, are at odds with our Constitutional values and the ideals of the ANC led government. These values and ideals are aimed at creating a society where no person is subjected to violence and discrimination.
We must act against patriarchal homophobes, who rape and kill black lesbians, those who seek to stop the building of mosques as is the case in Valhalla, Pretoria because of racism and Islamophobia. We condemn those who seek to weaken workers’ rights to advance the interest of big business.
These Constitutional values embody the historical struggle of the ANC, and are fundamental to the ANC. The ANC will never put to a referendum critical issues that derive from the Bill of Rights, such as the prohibition of the death penalty and the rights of same sex couples to marry, as was once suggested by the DA leader. We are not selective in the protection and respect for Constitutional values.
The Department of Social Development received a budget of 148 Billion Rand this financial year. Of this amount, 140 Billion Rand goes directly to poor households to support the elderly, people with disabilities and children. Budget vote 17 remains faithful to the vision and ideals as expressed in our Constitution.
The commitment of the ANC led government towards the progressive realisation of these constitutional rights is expressed through the expansion of our social assistance programme to almost 17 million South Africans. Our commitment is expressed through legislation such as the Older Persons Act, the Children’s Act and the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
During our address to this house a year ago, we reported on progress made by the Ministerial Committee appointed to review the White Paper for Social Welfare. The Committee completed its report with specific findings and proposals that we will table to Cabinet before the end of this month.
The NDP calls for 55 thousand social service professionals for the sector. We will galvanise resources to ensure that the Sector has the required capacity for personnel and programmes. We acknowledge the challenges we are facing regarding the recruitment and employment of social work graduates. These challenges arise out of the restrictive fiscal environment that South Africa is facing.
Rest assured that as the Social Development Sector we are working tirelessly towards finding a lasting solution to these challenges. To date, we have absorbed 7291 social workers.
Through creative ways we have employed an additional 248 social workers for specific programmes such as family finders for both Child Support Grant and Foster Care Grant. Through our collaboration with other partners we have been able to employ an additional 94 social workers to strengthen child protection services.
We are dedicating this Budget Vote to the struggle of women, and we are utilising the Constitution as the shield by which their protection is guaranteed. We have noted that our communities and families continue to be torn apart by the scourge of violence, abuse and discrimination.
To address these challenges, we are going to table the Victim Support Services Bill, which will strengthen the protection, care and support services for victims of crime and violence.
Our Command Centre on gender based violence is an example of utilizing technology to improve public services. The Command Centre provides valuable counseling services to address all forms of trauma. Between January 2015 and March 2016, the dedicated staff at the Command Centre attended to more than 55 thousand calls.
The Command Centre has received several international accolades including international awards in London and in Las Vegas, for being the Best Technology Innovation Small Centre in the world. Building on the success of the Command Centre we will be main-streaming services to people with disabilities so as to make these services more inclusive and accessible in line with our Constitutional mandate. Our next step is to consolidate the Command Centre through the inclusion of Child Line and SASSA.
Key to our interventions on gender based violence is the need to empower unemployed women who are trapped in violent relationships and dependent on their abusive partners.
Working with NDA, we will provide them with the necessary skills through our capacity building initiatives. In the end, every voice counts in ending gender based violence.
Current trends indicate that South Africa is a source, transit, and destination country for men and women subjected to trafficking for forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. The analysis of the trends highlight that forced commercial sexual exploitation is the most common reason for trafficking of humans.
To combat the trafficking of persons, the department will be implementing the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act with the Justice Cluster.
The implementation of the Children’s Act continues as part of giving meaning to the principles of protection, prevention and early intervention.
We must continue to put children first. The patriarchal practice of forced child marriage, ukuthwalwa, and initiation deaths which all constitute harmful cultural practices should be abolished.
Early Childhood Development forms part of our goal of investing in the development of children as one of the primary means of building human capital and reducing inter-generational poverty. In line with resolutions of the ANC’s 52nd Congress in Mangaung that declared ECD as a public good, we take pride in announcing that cabinet approved the ECD policy in December 2015.
The policy presents 15 strategic objectives to ensure universal access to ECD services by 2030. This policy will give our children the best possible start in life. To achieve this goal, 810 Million Rand has been allocated as a conditional grant. This allocation will enable us to expand ECD services in line with ECD policy over the MTSF period. We encourage parents and primary caregivers to take their children to ECD centres so that their minds are stimulated early in life. Ligotshwa lisemanzi!
We applaud the recent steps taken by the Department of Higher Education and Training to gazette the Draft Policy on minimum requirements for programmes leading to qualifications for practitioners and educators in Early Childhood Care and Education.
Allow me to salute and congratulate the finalists of the South African ECD Awards who are seated in the public gallery.
In order to provide quality services to child and youth headed households, the Department has developed a register of child and youth headed households so that we are able to design and provide developmental interventions that are informed by the needs of these children.
We continue with our psycho-social interventions for children, to implement our Isibindi programme, strengthen our child care and child protection programmes as well as our social assistance programme for vulnerable children.
We undertake all these initiatives because we care and we are committed to our obligations under Section 28 of the Constitution.
As we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the June 16 student uprising of 1976, we call upon all young people to play their part in nurturing our Constitutional democracy under the theme HASHTAG 40YearsOn, recommitting our youth to active citizenry and to building an integrated society.
The Department will bring together over 250 youth development activists and change agents through a commemoration tour which entails a walk through the historical and memorial sites in honour and remembrance of the Class of ‘76. It is incumbent on today’s generation to emulate the actions and calls of that generation. Each One Teach One. Each one must care for another. Ubuntu lobo.
All of our work in the social development sector is informed by the evidence we get from our Mikondzo programme. We interface with ordinary people and obtain deeper understanding of their plight. Mikondzo provides us with an opportunity to develop, strengthen and implement responsive social development initiatives.
We will continue to increase our physical footprint in order to remain closer to the people we serve. We will massify all our programmes by institutionalizing the Mikondzo programme in the Social Development Sector.
CBOs, FBOs and NGOs remain important partners of Government in the delivery of services. We remain committed to strengthening partnership with civil society organizations.
This year we will be amending the NPO Act to ensure that our NPOs are better placed to deliver services without any obstacles. The NPO Bill will be introduced to parliament before the end of the current financial year.
The NDA and Provincial Departments in collaboration with the private sector will be embarking on an intensive capacity building and mentoring drive for NPOs.
With this budget the Department recommits itself to the implementation of the Household Food and Nutrition Security Strategy. Together with NPOs, we have created a network of 166 Community Nutrition and Development Centres in targeted poor communities, that are affected by high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition. These centres have also created over 600 jobs. We will increase these centres to at least 200 this financial year.
In line with government’s pronouncement on preferential procurement, the Department has introduced programmes to plug the outflow of resources including social assistance out of poor communities.
Consequently, the Department working closely with SASSA and NDA, have linked over 200 cooperatives to economic opportunities through programmes such as the Social Relief of Distress and Community Nutrition Development Centres. In addition, we will facilitate the signing of MOUs between the implementing agencies and cooperatives providing food.
In our first year of implementation, we have procured over a 100 million Rand worth of goods from local cooperatives inclusive of school uniforms, nutritious food, blankets and dignity packs.
The purchase of food from these cooperatives will also motivate communities to grow their own nutritious food and assist in the mitigation of the impact of high food prices. Sixosha indlala!!
I am also pleased to announce reforms to the social assistance programme which aims to better the lives of poor South Africans, particularly children. We are all aware that the country is presently faced with an increasing number of orphans and vulnerable children, child neglect and poverty.
As such, the Department has sought an intervention that strengthens and supports the safety net of poor children, who are orphaned and living in child headed households by increasing the value of the CSG for these children.
The policy for this was approved by Cabinet in December last year, and we will be introducing legislation for this to Parliament within the current financial year.
Going forward, the Department aims to introduce proposals to amend the Social Assistance Act to remove the current internal reconsideration mechanism within SASSA. This will ensure easy accessibility for appellants to internal remedies by approaching the Tribunal directly without resorting to expensive legal costs and receiving appropriate and accessible services.
The Minister of Finance in his budget speech, committed us to releasing the discussion paper on comprehensive social security reforms by mid-year. In this regard, we have examined many international good practices, with a view to move to a new social security dispensation in our country. This will ensure that we achieve adequate social security coverage for all within reasonable cost constraints.
However, international evidence suggests that South Africa is out of sync with other developing countries due to our lack of mandatory cover for retirement and risk benefits.
Improvements have also been made over the course of last year. The Independent Tribunal for Social Assistance Appeals has also significantly improved the speed at which it adjudicates appeals. Over the last 12 months the 90-day turnaround time for the finalisation of social assistance appeals has improved from 49% to 82%. This ensures that our social grant applicants and beneficiaries have exercised their right to administrative justice.
The ANC led government has thus consistently delivered on government’s most effective anti-poverty programme. Our Social Assistance Programme now reaches almost 17 million South Africans.
More than two thirds of all social grant recipients are children who receive the Child Support Grant. Over 3 million older persons receive the Old Age Grant while a million people receive the disability grant. For this, we pay tribute to Dr Zola Skweyiya the former Minister of Social Development for laying a solid foundation for social security.
The investment that the government is making in the lives of the poor and vulnerable learners is showing positive results. Children in our Isibindi Programme and the CSG are performing well in schools. Last year, out of the four hundred and fifty five thousand nine hundred and twenty two learners (455 922) who passed their matric examinations, three hundred and four thousand nine hundred and thirteen (304 913) learners, received a social grant.
Indeed social assistance has proven to be an important tool for human capital investment and the biggest contributor to reducing poverty and inequality.
In order to ensure that the education of these learners continues without interruption, the department is in negotiation with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme to ensure that learners that had qualified for grants are not subjected to a means test to qualify for financial support to further their studies.
We face a huge challenge with deductions on social grants. These deductions are eroding the value and impact of social grants in addressing the deep levels of poverty and inequality in our society.
We have witnessed high levels of unacceptable practice of illegal, immoral and unauthorised deductions of money from all grant types for services ranging from airtime, water, loans and funeral policies.
We published revised Regulations to the Social Assistance Act for public comment in February this year, which will deal with this practice. The department has considered all the comments and made some revisions to the Regulations.
These revisions will be published this week. The Ministerial Task Team on Deductions will continue to monitor these practices and ensure that deductions are ultimately brought to an end. Phansi ngomashonisa!!!
The absence of a funeral benefit has opened our social grant beneficiaries to exploitation by private insurance companies. The lack of government action to protect them has led very loud outcry by our beneficiaries and various civil society organisations
We intend to introduce legislation into Parliament during this current financial year, for the establishment of a funeral benefits fund.
This year marks 10 years since the establishment of SASSA. The agency has earned world recognition for transforming a fragmented social assistance payment system into a single and effective grant payment system. Since its inception in April 2006, the agency has been at the forefront of our efforts to provide a safety net to the most vulnerable members of our society.
Alongside transforming the payment system, the agency has extended its footprint in each municipality. With such a footprint and high levels of efficiency, the agency has lived up to its slogan, “Paying the Right Social Grant, to the Right Person, at the Right Time and Place. Njalo!
As reaffirmed by the Ministerial Advisory Committee, SASSA is taking over the management and control of the payment process that is currently performed by a third party, from 1 April 2017. The intention is to have a single payment platform, which will facilitate the payment of Social Assistance through multiple channels.
Insourcing the payment processes will ensure that SASSA is in control of the entire operational value chain. This will further improve the delivery of our services.
The achievements of the agency in the past five years were made possible by the dedicated leadership of its energetic and tireless CEO, Dr Virginia Petersen, who after years of dedication to the public service is retiring. Her professionalism turned the agency into a stable efficient organisation which delivered on its mandate with admirable levels of efficiency.
Honourable members, I invite you to join me in wishing Dr. Petersen well in her future endeavors. “Siyabonga siyanconcoza sithi okuhle kodwa, uyibekile induku ebandla!”
In conclusion, I would like to thank my comrade and colleague, Deputy Minister Hendrieta Bogopane–Zulu, and all MECs for their support and contribution in moving forward the social development agenda.
I extend my thanks to the Acting Director General, Mr. Thokozani Magwaza, my special advisors, Mr. Sipho Shezi and Mr. Zane Dangor as well as the dedicated staff of the DSD family.
Honourable Members also allow me to extend my gratitude to the former CEO of NDA Dr Vuyelwa Nhlapo for her contribution. I also invite you to welcome the new Board members of NDA and wish them well in repositioning Agency. I also wish to thank the Acting CEO of the NDA, Ms Nelisiwe Vilakazi who has kept the NDA boat afloat.
I now table Budget Vote 17 for your consideration and support.
The Minister who lives lavishly while the poor suffer: Lindy Wilson DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Social Development
Thank you Chairperson.
The Department of Social Development has become the Department of Smallanyana Skeletons, and it has come at a cost to the poorest of the poor in South Africa.
Last year, Minister Dhlamini was in New York for an extended visit. She and other Cabinet Members of this Parliament were lodged in 5 Star hotels, and on one occasion, other members of South African delegations were forced to sit outside a hall for over an hour, while the Minister and her friends feasted on caviar and very expensive whiskey as South Africa’s poor sat home and suffered.
In fact the Ministry spent R12 million on travel last year. That equates to R1 million per month. The Minister has not responded to written questions, posed by both the DA and other Parties, for an explanation of these costs.
It is unfathomable that in the midst of an economic crisis in SA and with the rural poor unable to survive, that R1 million per month on first class travel and the luxury of living in 5 star hotels can even be considered.
Delegates were flown from Johannesburg and Cape Town to the NGO summit in November last year. Flights from Johannesburg to Durban, which can be purchased from as low as R500 to R1000, cost R8000 per ticket. Over 96 million was spent on local travel in this Ministry. This is the equivalent of R8 million a month or R270 000 per day….per day. And the poor sat home and suffered.
There are currently 8.3 million unemployed South Africans.
But the crowning insult to the unemployed was the presentation by the National Development Agency to the Portfolio Committee. The NDA mandate is to carry out projects aimed at meeting the development needs of the poor and strengthening the capacity of CSO’s involved in direct service provision to poor communities. Their job is to establish co-operatives and community projects that will create jobs and aid the poor in keeping food insecurity at bay.
They are under budgeted in their requirements by R292 million.
The R292 million shortfall will be funded via the Provincial Legislatures on a “gentlemen’s agreement” according to the CFO of the NDA. Given most of the Provinces financial records, this is laughable.
In actual fact, the NDA advised that they will have a shortfall of R922 million over the next three year period.
Chairperson, I ask this house, how can this be possible? At a time when 19 000 jobs a quarter are being lost, an opportunity for this Government to make a difference, is thrown down the drain. The Minister of Social Development cannot tell us that she gives one iota for the poor.
In fact, if you look at the budget as a whole, it is an insult, not just to the poor of the country but this portfolio. It is an insult to our intelligence.
The budget is nothing more than a cut and paste of the previous budget with minor increases for inflation.
Absolutely no consideration has been given to the current climate in South Africa, of the plight of the poor or to a realistic strategy of dealing with the crisis.
In fact I wonder if the Minister even saw this budget. Perhaps she was far too busy attacking the Public Protector and defending the broken president or making absurd comments on behalf of the Women’s League.
The new In-house Rehab Centre in Polokwane has not opened, despite being completed over a year ago. Why? Because the operational costs were not budgeted for. Suffer those who desperately need help with addictions.
NGO’s providing statutory services through their social workers, like foster care, child abuse, children in conflict with the law are closing. Their funding has been stopped or not increased in years, making them unable to stay afloat. These files are gathering dust in Provincial Offices….suffer the families needing help. Old Age homes are closing…suffer the elderly.
2800 graduate social workers are unemployed, despite contractual obligations by the Department. Why? Because they were not budgeted for. Suffer the unemployed and those needing social assistance.
Every report on oversight visits by this portfolio says, “the Minister must”, “the Minister should” – there is absolutely no oversight by the Minister of the crises in the Provinces. And the poor and desperate suffer.
The Child Protection Register is way behind. Suffer those trying to adopt and give orphans and the abused loving homes.
And when the people of the Eastern Cape come out and say “enough Minister enough”, the Minister cried. Well, the Minister has ignored the rivers of tears of the suffering poor.
It is a wonder that the Minister sleeps at night. Those many, many smallanya skeletons must make a real racket in her cupboard.
There are a lot of questions coming the way of the Minister, and believe me, if she chooses not to answer them, we will find someone who will. Her inadequacy will be exposed.
The vulnerable continue to be made more vulnerable by an uncaring government: Bridget Staff Masango DA Shadow Minister of Social Development
The Protection against vulnerability;
Creating an enabling environment;
The Provision of a comprehensive, integrated and sustainable social development service.
That is the purpose of the budget vote we are debating here today. Honourable Chairperson, the reality on the ground is the direct opposite.
The vulnerable are not protected. The bulk of the budget is allocated to the much-needed grants for the elderly, the disabled and children. At the time of writing this speech, the minister had still not responded to a written question asking how many grant recipients have, to date, fallen prey to the scourge of what has become known as illegal deductions. A brief visit by DA Members of Parliament to the Eastern Cape revealed that some recipients end up not receiving anything after hundreds of Rands are deducted for airtime, electricity, loans, etc.! This has gone on for years for some of these people. This is far from being protected against vulnerability.
The development service environment is neither comprehensive, integrated and sustainable if the situation on the ground is anything to go by:
· o The striking social workers, working from a car park in the Free State, risking losing confidential client files due to the lack of office space, tools of the trade and vehicles are just a microcosm of what the social development service environment is like in this country.
· o The increasing caseloads for social workers mean they simply cannot provide adequate services to their clients, who are then further rendered vulnerable. This situation takes place when the department, in fulfilling its indicator of “reforming and standardizing the social welfare system” goes on to say “trained social workers are crucial to a reformed and standardized system”. To this end, the department continues to train the social workers and then misses the “crucial” aspect of this process –which is to place the trained social workers. We can’t speak of a “reformed and standardized social welfare system”. Social workers are to social development what doctors are to the health department. Vulnerability is left to escalate to unprecedented levels whilst the department does a half-baked job of only training the social workers. Thousands of them are sitting at home or have gone back to work at tills in supermarkets.
· o Recent reports of illegal early childhood development centres mushrooming everywhere is an indication that this environment is also not adequately monitored.
· o Another sign that the environment is far from being integrated is the recent closure of NGO’s due to lack of subsidies by the department. As part of reforming the social welfare system, the department claims, rightly, that Non-Profit Organisations are key partners in providing social development services. One wonders then, how key these organisations are when many of them are closing down due to non-payment of subsidies.
At a time when research report after research report decries the high and escalating levels of substance abuse and gender-based violence, the department has responded by building rehabilitation centres. As we debate this budget, some of these centres have been standing as white elephants as planning for their operationalization has not been done. There is no urgency in dealing with the scourge of gender-based violence and substance abuse.
Instead, the department is running events throughout the country at high costs, at the expense of providing basic services for which the department was established.
Coming to the entities of the department Hon. Chairperson – the National Development Agency is a serial strategy reviewer with the portfolio committee having been subjected to three consecutive years of brand new strategy reviews, with concomitant capacity-building budgets running into millions. If staff has to be undergo capacity building each time a strategy is reviewed, it means there is a huge departure from the previous strategy. This is taking place when the NDA seems to be narrowing the gap between what it does and what the department is doing. This is another way of wasting the taxpayers’ monies.
SASSA is due to take over the distribution of grants to over 17 million vulnerable South Africans from April 2017. We have requested a plan for this monumental undertaking to ensure that the recipients are not subjected to further unnecessary delays come April 2017. We are eagerly awaiting the outcome of the case on illegal deductions after the interministerial task team came to present their report and had to be asked not to due to the case being before the courts. One wonders what happens to the millions of South Africans whose meagre grants continue to be deducted.
Overloaded social workers, the closing of critical NGO’s, illegal grant deductions, high levels of substance abuse and gender violence and unopened rehabilitation centres are a far cry from ensuring protection against vulnerability. My colleagues will expand on the depth of these maladies that haunt millions of South Africans on a daily basis
The minister has enough plans, frameworks, interministerial and other task teams and committees to deliver on her mandate as stated above but she is busy threatening to beat up community members whose only crime is to ask her to deliver.
As has been proven where the Democratic Alliance governs, that we deliver on time, quality and budget, we call on South Africans to ensure that they vote for change that will bring services to them and save themselves from any size of skeletons that are in the closets of some members of the executive.
Hon Chairperson, given the increase in food prices, the drought and the weak economy and a call for belt-tightening, the Democratic Alliance supports this budget, in spite of the department’s failure to deliver on its mandate in line with the purpose of this vote.
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