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,
Ladies and gentlemen
Before I begin with our budget vote speech, I would like to invite us all to mourn, remember and celebrate the life of our fallen mother and struggle icon mama Ruth Segomotso Mompati. Mama Ruth went into exile in 1962 where she underwent military training and became a decorated soldier in MK. She dedicated her life to the struggle for freedom.
I dedicate this Budget Vote to her life.
Twenty one years ago, Tata Nelson Mandela walked into this House as a newly elected President of a democratic South Africa, and committed the ANC Government to the realisation of a Better Life For All. Then, as now, our quest has been, and remains to give a more humane face to our society.
I stand here today, humbled by the task of continuing to carry this mandate forward, and grateful for the trust, our people have bestowed on this Government. I would like to particularly welcome the representatives of NPOs, our development partners, social grant beneficiaries and some of the recipients of our Social Work Scholarship who are seated in the public gallery.
Budget Vote 17 remains faithful to the vision and ideals of the forebears of our struggle who are the architects of the freedom that we are enjoying today. As we mark the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom Charter, we celebrate the unity of our people and the undeniable fact that our Government continues to implement progressive policies, which have brought our founding documents – the Freedom Charter and the Constitution of our Republic to life.
Honourable Chairperson, as I present this Budget, allow me to express my deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives during the tragic incidents of attacks on international migrants of African descent in some parts of our country. The despicable acts of brutality are at variance with the values embodied in the Freedom Charter and our Constitution.
President Zuma reminded us that we must never forget the support of our brothers and sisters who came to our assistance in our darkest hour. As Government, we applaud our fellow South Africans who took a stand against the attacks on international migrants and actively took part in campaigns that reaffirmed: We Are Africans!
We welcome the move taken by President Jacob Zuma to establish the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration, of which I am part. The IMC is to consider all aspects of migration into the country and its social and economic consequences.
In response to the attacks on international migrants, we attended to the plight of children and pregnant women and the Department of Social Development is working with other departments on a reintegration programme for the displaced persons.
Our intention is to promote peaceful coexistence, mutual trust and respect between locals, continental migrants and internal migrants within the communities of South Africa.
South Africa is a country scarred by decades of oppression, exclusion and violence; and we have not, since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, worked towards fundamentally healing those scars. Let these unfortunate events spur us on to talk, heal and deal with the hurt of racism, sexism, tribalism and economic oppression.
The strengthening of families is at the centre of all our efforts to address social ills, such as teenage pregnancy, substance and drug abuse, as well as violence against women and children. We will continue to implement the family strengthening and family preservation programmes of the White Paper on Families.
Honourable Chairperson, this financial year, the Department of Social Development received a budget of One Hundred and Thirty Seven Billion Rand. Of this amount, One Hundred and Thirty Billion Rand is allocated for the payment of social assistance programme, which comprise almost 95 percent of the total budget allocation. This budget provides an opportunity to accelerate our march towards attaining Vision 2030 espoused in the NDP.
Allow me to commend the selfless and dedicated contribution of our Non Profit Organisations. These organisations continue, through their efforts to extend our footprint.
In the last financial year, as the social development sector, we spent approximately six and a half billion rand towards funding of NPOs. Through the NDA we have capacitated more than six thousand five hundred NPOs on institutional strengthening, so that they are able to conduct their work efficiently and effectively. This comprehensive capacity building programme has benefitted over eleven thousand NPO staff. Furthermore, the NDA has established advisory centres in all district municipalities as incubation hubs for the NPOs.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As part of ongoing consultation with the sector, I am hosting a two day NPO Dialogue with 200 NPOs representing all provinces. It is my hope that this will provide the Department with an opportunity to solicit inputs that will enrich the Ten Point Plan as one of the key resolutions of the historic 2012 NPO Summit. This event is taking place Kwa-Langa Sports Complex today and will end tomorrow with a clear plan to address identified interventions.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
It is common cause that our social assistance programme is South Africa’s most effective anti-poverty initiative. However, despite significant gains made in extending the coverage to more than 16 million South Africans, including 11.6 million children and 3.1 million older persons, many of our people remain trapped in poverty.
The Child Support Grant, has proven to be an effective tool in reducing child poverty. The World Bank in a report, “The State of Social Safety Nets 2014”, ranks the Child Support Grant amongst the top five programmes across the world and also the largest social safety net on the African continent. In fact, South Africa performed very well when compared with other middle-income countries. Therefore it is not a coincidence that the Government of Thailand has introduced an unconditional grant which was modelled on South Africas’ Child Support Grant.
Clearly, our good story is influencing other countries!
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is important to note that one of our commitments in this House last year was to improve the slow uptake of the Child Support Grant among children of the 0-1 year age cohort. I also outlined our plans to reach this group as part of our Government’s objective to maximise interventions to children within their first 1 000 days. I am pleased that SASSA has responded with great sense of urgency to this call. In the past year alone, more than hundred and forty thousand children aged 0 – 1 were registered as grant beneficiaries.
Research has shown that there is a link between the income of a family and a child’s ability to stay in school. To this end, we intend to increase the value of the Child Support Grant for orphans and children in Child and Youth Headed Households. The proposed increase will support children to remain with their siblings in the family home and within their communities.
The child support grant is a huge investment in human capital development, and to this extent, we need to ensure that it is not terminated when the child turns 18. To this end, we intend to work with families to save a portion of the child support grant every month to be available when the child turns 18.
Similarly, we have made notable strides in increasing the uptake of the Older Person’s grant by amongst others increasing the means test threshold to ensure that more elderly people benefit from the grant. The increase in the means test threshold brought in eighty two thousand new recipients of the Older Persons Grant in November 2014.
Our 2014 Election’s Manifesto makes it very clear that we must expand social security to those who are eligible. The welfare of our older persons is both a moral and a Constitutional obligation of our Government. I therefore take this opportunity, to reiterate our commitment to the universalisation of the Older Persons Grant, as pronounced by the former Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan in his 2013 Budget Speech and by the President of the Republic of South Africa.
In line with the objective of improving the social security system; I announced last year in my budget vote speech that we have established a Ministerial Advisory Committee on the future payment model for social assistance benefits. The Committee recommends the institutionalisation of the payment system in SASSA. This will require investment in technology that will support an end to end process. The Committee further recommended that social grants be leveraged to support local economic development.
Following the announcement by the Minister of Finance in February 2015, the Department of Social Development, the Department of Labour and the National Treasury are close to finalizing the revised discussion paper on comprehensive social security reforms. We will request Cabinet approval for the release of the paper in July this year.
In line with resolutions of the ANC’s Elective Conference in Mangaung that declared ECD as a public good, Cabinet approved the publication of the draft ECD Policy for public comments. Once finalised the policy will make it possible for us to provide a comprehensive package of services for children with special needs, children with disabilities and other developmental needs. Cabinet has also approved the establishment of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on ECD to coordinate and align Government’s work.
Universal access to ECD services by all children remains uppermost in our minds, and the Department will continue to promote the establishment of non-centre based ECD services to children in poor communities, rural areas, informal settlements, farms as well as children with disabilities. Non-centre based ECD services such as mobile ECD and toy library programmes are already being rolled out in the provinces. Similarly, efforts are being made to ensure that ECD infrastructure is adaptable to the needs of children with disabilities. No child must be left behind.
The Adopt-an-ECD campaign has supported one hundred and sixty four ECD sites to ensure compliance with the norms and standards for funding. Through the campaign, the NDA has mobilised a total of R20 million from the private sector, donors and individuals to increase resource flows to the ECD sector.
Child Protection week remains the centrepiece of our efforts to make communities aware of their responsibilities toward the protection and care for children as well as the basket of services provided to children for their emotional, cognitive and physical development. We want to call on all South Africans to joins us as we celebrate and launch Child Protection week in Kokstad, KwaZulu-Natal. Once again the theme, as in the past five years, is “working together to protect children”.
In October 2014, I appointed a Ministerial Committee for a period of 18 months, to undertake an assessment of the status of the foster care system throughout the country. The goal is to ensure that no child is excluded as a result of administrative processes. The committee will advise me on measures that need to be put in place to improve the quality of foster care services.
Our work on victim empowerment services has grown phenomenally and the Command Centre on Gender Based Violence in Pretoria has a fully-fledged call centre with a GPS mapping capability. The GPS facility enables call centre staff to geo-locate the origin of the calls made by affected individuals. The command centre has a fully functional referral mechanism linked to the South African Police Service (SAPS).
Since January 2014, the GBV Command centre attended to three thousand five hundred and seventy calls. These calls varied from rape, physical assault, emotional as well as financial abuse. The social work veterans working in the call centre provided much needed psycho-social support and counselling.
The GBV centre has since won two national awards. It has also been nominated in London, United Kingdom, in June this year to compete against similar centres in Africa, Asia and Europe as an example of technological innovation. Siyaqhuba!
Ladies and gentlemen,
We provide our services in a dynamic environment, which requires that we constantly adapt our policies to the challenges posed by the ever changing needs of the communities we serve. In this respect, the Ministerial Committee on the Review of the White Paper on Social Welfare led by Professor Vivienne Taylor has concluded its provincial consultations and will present its preliminary findings to the Department before the end of this month.
The provision of comprehensive social welfare services as envisaged by the NDP can only be realized through the efforts of a well-trained, motivated and professional cadre of social workers. It was with this in mind that the Department hosted a Social Work Indaba two months ago under the theme “Revitalizing Social Work Practice in South Africa”. The Indaba adopted a declaration that will fundamentally change the social work environment. It was resolved that we will develop and implement a resource policy aligned with the service delivery model for the provision of appropriate social infrastructure for social workers to render effective social work services and standardised package of tools of trade.
In order to further strengthen our social work theory and practice and share important policy lessons and experiences, we have entered into a partnership with Howard University in Washington DC. Howard University was among the first universities in 1994 to award on Honorary Doctorate to the late President Nelson Mandela. This university has worked with communities that face social and economic challenges that are similar to the many social ills and challenges affecting our own communities. Furthermore, it has extensive research and programmes at community-level experience in areas such as drugs and substance abuse, early childhood development, non-centre based programmes and parenting training and development.
We need to recognise and appreciate the sterling work done by our social workers under trying circumstances. It was our selfless and dedicated social workers who held the country together and restored hope during the country’s moment of despair when we lost 89 compatriots in Nigeria.
As part of our transformation agenda to accelerate service delivery and increase our footprint, we continue to implement Project Mikondzo. Since 2013 our officials have visited more than 900 wards with high incidents of poverty and unemployment.
This project has exposed many of our officials to the realities on the ground. It has shown us the difficult realities that social workers face in rural and sparsely populated areas in providing services.
We remain more determined than ever, to continue with this project which has given us first-hand experience of the hardships that our people face on a daily basis. I vividly remember the young boy I met in Bulwer, KwaZulu-Natal who refused to go to school because of lack of food and that his family could not afford school uniform. He felt ashamed that he did not look like other learners in his class and school. This story, like many others that we witnessed throughout the country, have strengthened our resolve to forge ahead with the implementation of Project Mikondzo and improving the living conditions of our people.
Food security in our country has been compromised due to unemployment and rising food costs. In response, the Department facilitated the development of the National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security which was approved by Cabinet in 2013. We have made significant progress in the implementation of this programme: eighty one Community Development Nutrition Centres have been established throughout the country, supporting about half a million households through the distribution of 3 million kilograms of food supplies to approximately eight hundred thousand individuals.
The Department is committed through the Expanded Public Works Programme, to create two hundred and fifty thousand work opportunities by 2019. For the current financial year, the department’s contribution towards this commitment is fifty thousand of which over fifty percent is targeting youth and women.
Chairperson and honourable members,
This budget vote provides an opportunity for the Social Development Sector to continue to play its critical role as an agent for social change, catalyst for social justice and the creation of a fairer society. I, therefore, invite civil society organisations, the private sector and all our development partners to join us in Moving South Africa forward!
Let me take this opportunity to pay tribute to our fallen colleagues who in the past dedicated their lives, sacrificed their time with families, in the quest to realise the commitment of the ANC led government of the provision of a Better Life For All. We remember with fond memories Ms Thulisile “Gogo” Mahlangu, Ms Mmadibukana Nthite, Mr Jethro Ngwenya, Ms Nonhlanhla Vilakazi and Mr Andrew Raphesu.
I would like to conclude by expressing my deepest gratitude to my colleague, the Deputy Minister Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, and all MECs for their enduring support and outstanding contribution. In addition, I extend my sincere appreciation to the former Director General, Mr Coceko Pakade, for the excellent contribution he made to the Department of Social Development. I also thank the Acting Director-General Mr Thokozani Magwaza as well as my Special Advisors, Mr Sipho Shezi and Mr Zane Dangor, the CEO of SASSA, Ms Virginia Petersen, CEO of the NDA, Dr Vuyelwa Nhlapo and Chairperson and members of the NDA Board and all members of the DSD family for their hard work dedicated to the service of our people.
It now gives me great pleasure to invite you to support Budget Vote 17.
Honourable Chairperson, Ngiyabonga
Cell: 083 484 8067
SOURCE: South African Official News