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Newsletter: From Evidence to Action

Budget Vote Statement by the Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, MP to the National Assembly, Cape Town

 16 Jul 2014

 Honourable Chairperson,

Deputy Minister of Social Development, Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu

Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, Mrs Zoleka Capa

Honourable Members of Parliament,

MECs for Social Development,

Representatives of the Disability Sector

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

It is with great honour that I rise before this august house to present Budget Vote 19 of the Department of Social Development for the financial year 2014/15.

I owe this opportunity to our people who supported our functioning democracy and gave the ANC a fresh mandate to move South Africa forward.

Twenty years ago, under the leadership of the first democratic President of the Republic of South Africa, Tata Nelson Mandela, South Africans from all walks of life took the first courageous steps on a journey towards a long walk to freedom. These steps were about a journey to bring an end to the legacy of apartheid and to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.

As our President has called all South Africans to clean South Africa on the 18th of July, we will join the rest of the world in celebrating the Nelson Mandela International Day.

We have a good story to tell!

Last year I presented a budget vote of 117 billion rand. This year our vote is 128 billion rand and it increases to 148 billion rand by 2016/17. This budget is constituted mainly by transfers to social grants beneficiaries and it covers Welfare Services, Comprehensive Social Security, Integrated Development Programme, National Development Agency (NDA) and South African Social Security Agency (SASSA).

The Budget Vote takes its cue from the President’s State of the Nation Address, the ANC’s 2014 Election Manifesto, the National Development Plan (Vision 2030) and the resolutions of the ANC’s 53rd National Conference.

President Jacob Zuma, in his State of the Nation Address, committed this administration to “continue to advance and improve the lives of people with disabilities over the next five years”. In line with this commitment and to further consolidate the national disability agenda, we have declared 2014/15 as the year of people with disabilities under the theme: “Protecting and Promoting the human rights of people with disabilities”: Towards full participation and inclusion”.

Guided by the slogan: “Nothing about us without us”, we are convening a national dialogue with the disability sector over the next two days. The purpose of the dialogue is to engage with the disability sector with the intention to identify challenges and opportunities towards building a consensus on national priority areas for action going forward.

Representatives of the disability sector are here with us.

The Deputy Minister will be elaborating on issues of disability.  I have allocated the following responsibilities to the Deputy Minister:

Disability;

HIV and Aids;

Central Drug Authority; and

Gender  

The Deputy Minister will also be representing me in the SANAC and the Council on Gender Based Violence.

 

Honourable Chairperson,

We have embarked on radical socio-economic transformation. Our agenda remains the fight against triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality. We are determined to create opportunities for our people to prosper and realise their full potential.

For the Social Development Sector, this has called for the review of the 1997 White Paper on Social Welfare. The key issues that are emerging from this review include improving accessibility and quality of social development services, transformation and financing of welfare services, strengthening the workforce and funding of non-governmental organisation (NGOs) in the sector. These contribute to community based social enterprises and employment creation in the country. This work takes place under the leadership of Professor Vivian Taylor.

 Government has identified 14 outcomes towards the realisation of Vision 2030. The department has been given the responsibility to lead Outcome 13. This outcome is about creating an inclusive and responsive social protection system.

 As part of medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) deliverables, we have committed ourselves to increase the number of social service professionals; specifically social workers, social auxiliary workers, community development practitioners, and child and youth care workers.

 Our social work scholarship programme continues to bring benefits to the sector. As we speak, over 5 200 students registered for the social work degree have been awarded scholarships.

 Under the Social Work programme, 7 794 students have graduated with a Social Work Degree. 2 921 of these graduates have not been employed.  We are committed to ensure that all qualified graduates are employed as part of the priorities of this term of government.

 Later this year, we will convene a national social work indaba in order to align the development mandate of the profession to support government’s radical socio-economic transformation. This will go a long way in reclaiming the profession’s progressive position to respond better to the country’s social welfare needs. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that we employ one social worker per ward throughout the country, starting with the 1 300 poorest wards prioritised by Cabinet.

 Over the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), the ANC - led government committed to make Early Childhood Development (ECD) a public good. With this in mind, we will accelerate the implementation of a Comprehensive ECD programme, covering the period from conception to formal school going age.

 We have conducted the national audit of 19 900 ECD facilities throughout the country. The audit revealed the following: lack of proper infrastructure, overcrowding, the need for training of ECD practitioners and accessibility for children with disabilities, to mention a few. We found that 44 percent of the ECDs were unregistered.

 I therefore would like to take this opportunity to appeal to the corporate sector to join hands with the National Development Agency (NDA) for the successful implementation of the Adopt-an-ECD campaign. The purpose of the campaign is to facilitate, advocate and lobby for expanded access to provision of ECD in poor communities.

 We will over the MTEF roll out non-centre based and mobile ECD facilities in rural and informal settlements to ensure that all children are given an early start for a better future.

 The NDA has taken over the responsibility for the overall organisation of the annual South African ECD Awards. These awards are aimed at promoting and recognising excellence, hard work, dedication and investment in the future of our children by individual practitioners, community centres and organisations involved in ECD.

 Ladies and gentlemen, as part of our response to violence against women and children, we have established a national Gender-Based Violence Command Centre. Seventy five qualified social workers have been employed to serve on this 24-hour command centre, dedicated to provide psychosocial support and referral services.  This work we do in collaboration with the Department of Health, the South African Police Service and NGOs.

 Honourable Members, last year I made a commitment to this house on anti-substance abuse interventions. Over the MTEF, we have R150 million for the establishment of treatment centres in Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, North West and the Free State.

 Honourable Members, child and vulnerable youth headed households will remain our central focus during this MTEF period. This past financial year, we made great strides in the implementation of the Isibindi Model. The central aspect of this model is the provision of intensive child- and youth care centred services to children within their own families and communities.

 We will finalise the child and youth headed households register this financial year. We can only succeed in our pursuit to build a caring society if we know where our children live and what their needs are.

 Honourable Members, our social assistance programme has grown substantially over the years. In 1994, there were 2.9 million recipients.

 Today, over 16 million grants are paid monthly. This represents more than five times the number of recipients in 1994, thus contributing to South Africa’s progressive realisation of the right to social security, as enshrined in article 27 of the Constitution.

 Our analysis shows that the take up rate for Child Support Grant for infants from birth to 2 years is low. This is a serious concern for us because early intervention yields better outcomes for children. To address this challenge, we plan to increase the take up rate in this group by 70 percent through the implementation of various initiatives.

 With regard to Foster Care, I am going to announce the appointment of a Ministerial Committee to undertake an assessment of the status of foster care system throughout the country. The target is to assess 500 000 foster care cases. Our ultimate aim is to ensure that no child falls through the cracks as a result of administrative processes.

 Honourable Chairperson, the results of our initiatives to modernise and to improve the SASSA’s organisational efficiency and to improve the integrity of our social security system are encouraging. Government and social grants recipients continue to derive important benefits from the current social grants payment system which we introduced in 2012. Equally the fiscus has also benefited from our drive to transform our grant system. We cancelled 850 000 grants and we saved 2 billion rand that was returned to the fiscus in September 2013, plus an additional saving of 1 billion rand (unspent funds) as at the end of the financial year

 With the new system, all social grant beneficiaries can now receive their grants from the first day of the month, through various convenient payment channels. Chairperson, the provision of social grants on the first day of the month is neither a privilege nor a luxury; but a human right issue. Currently over 80 percent of the beneficiaries draw their grants within the first seven days of the month.

 A key feature of the current payment model is the institutionalisation of the biometric system, which offers many important benefits, both as a measure to combat fraud and corruption and as a more accurate and reliable means of beneficiary authentication.

 Whilst we applaud these positive changes, we equally recognise the challenges that came with the new system; and we are working hard to address those challenges.

 During my visit to many poor rural and urban communities, I received many complaints from beneficiaries about various types of deductions, including loans, deductions from multiple funeral schemes, electricity and airtime from social grants payments, often without their knowledge or consent.

 According to the National Credit Regulator, illegal money lending is a huge and profitable business in South Africa. These lending businesses are for the most part “illegal”, predatory, immoral and exploitative in nature.

 I have established a Ministerial Task Team comprising of representatives from Black Sash, Social Development and SASSA to investigate this matter and to make recommendations on a possible course of action within the current payment environment.

 Honourable Chairperson, it has come to our attention that the SASSA brand is being exploited for commercial purposes. We will take action to protect SASSA’s intellectual property rights. We will also criminalise illegal possession of a SASSA branded card by credit providers and loan sharks.

 Work is underway to introduce amendments to the Social Assistance Regulations to prohibit credit providers and other persons from conducting and marketing their products within defined perimeters of SASSA offices and pay-points. Penalties for those who contravene these regulations will be introduced.

 I have also received numerous complaints regarding the implementation of the voice biometric solution. The complaints mainly relate to the long toll free number, which makes it difficult for most people to memorise; some beneficiaries particularly the older persons cannot remember their identity numbers. I have since instructed SASSA to review the implementation of the system with a view to remove the burden from the beneficiaries.

 As promised last year, I have appointed a Ministerial Committee to advise on future payment model for social assistance benefits in South Africa. The Committee has been working in earnest and I expect to receive their preliminary report before the end of this month.

 Honourable members last year, I mentioned that we will embark on a nationwide service delivery initiative to assess the sector’s footprint and impact of the sector’s programmes and services. We have done it – through project Mikondzo. Between September 2013 and March 2014 we reached 730 wards in the 23 poorest districts. The initial findings of this exercise vindicate our plans for the radical transformation of the sector.

 Through project Mikondzo we came face to face with the plight of thousands of seasonal farmworkers who remain vulnerable to seasonal risk to food insecurity and malnourished children. This led us to introduce the pilot programme in De Doorns to provide support to seasonal workers.

 The lessons learned and experience gained from Project Mikondzo will enable the Social Development Sector to develop a Service Improvement Plan. We are working in collaboration with the University of the Kwa-Zulu Natal on this project.

 

Chairperson

We will respond to President Zuma’s call for the creation of decent job opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme and Community Works Programme. Under this programme decent jobs, particularly in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) and HCBC areas, have been realised. Complementing these achievements is the Community Work Programme that provides guaranteed employment and income to communities.

 In pursuit of sustainable economic development, we seek to link households with social grant recipients to economic activities.

We will use social mobilisation to promote social cooperatives and social entrepreneurship.

We will be linking products from our communities to markets.

We will build strong social cooperatives that will supply their products such as fresh vegetables and fruits to the Department for nutrition and social relief of distress. Our Community Nutrition Development Centres (CNDC) are integral to this initiative.

In ECD, SRD and CNDC, the Department and SASSA will be in full control of the entire procurement process.

We will work with communities to formulate clear strategies on how social grants can circulate in communities and be used by collectives in communities to buy local products and boost local economic development.

For example, In Port St Johns, SASSA injects an amount of 30 million rand every month into the hands of the locals through social grants. Yet this money instantly leaves the community and does not benefit the local economy.

Chairperson and Honourable members, this budget vote provides an opportunity for the Social Development Sector to contribute towards radical socio-economic transformation. We call upon NGOs, Civil societies, faith based organisation, the private sector and all other partners to work with us to move South Africa forward.

In conclusion, I would like to express my special gratitude to my comrade and former colleague, Mama Bongi Maria Ntuli who served this portfolio with dedication in the last term of government. I also welcome my new colleague, Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu.

Finally, I want to express my gratitude to the Director General, Mr Coceko Pakade, the CEO of SASSA, Ms Virginia Petersen, the CEO of the NDA, Dr Vuyelwa Nhlapo, Special Advisors and all members of the Department of Social Development (DSD) family for their selfless work in serving our people.

I now invite you to support Budget Vote 19.

I thank you.

ssued by: Department of Social Development

Budget Vote Statement by the Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, MP to the National Assembly, Cape Town