Social Protection, Community and Human Development Cluster
Good morning. Thank you for joining us today for the media briefing of the Social Protection, Community and Human Development Cluster. We shall elaborate on the programmes that President Jacob Zuma outlined during the recent State of the Nation Address (SoNA), inspired by the 60th anniversary of the formulation and adoption of the Freedom Charter.
We will also use this opportunity to explain the progress made by this cluster in supporting government outcomes in the Medium Term Strategic Framework while demonstrating the centrality of the cluster to the spirit and letter of the Freedom Charter.
Fellow South Africans,
Last year government entered into a second generation social contract with corporate South Africa and civil society in an effort to accelerate the provision of decent human settlements to our people. This social contract will see the fast-tracking of 1,5 million housing opportunities by the end of term for this administration.
Government remains on track to improve the living conditions of seven hundred and fifty thousand (750 000) households in informal settlements in this term. In addition, government entered into a National Youth Accord with various formations representing the country’s youth and the private sector.
One hundred and forty million rand (R140 million) has been ring-fenced to target thousands of young people through much needed skills development and job opportunities in the sector as part of a broader government effort to transform the property industry. Government has committed to provide learning and employment opportunities to over ten thousand (10 000) young people who want to enter the real estate agency sector in the next three years.
We have provided planning support to 82 informal settlements through the National Upgrading Support Programme. Working together with local municipalities, we are planning to increase this number to three hundred and sixty (360) informal settlements in the next financial year.
In response to the challenges of housing in mining towns, government has set aside R2.1 billion to assist in the delivery of over two hundred thousand (200 000) houses over the next two years.
South Africans raised various concerns for the attention of the President relating to access to education, youth internship schemes and support for small businesses. All these were acknowledged in the SoNA and we are making inroads in transforming unemployed youth through education, skills development and community service programmes.
Government, through the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), successfully piloted the Entrepreneurship Grant Funding Programme and the Solomon Mahlangu Scholarship Fund. Last year, two hundred and thirty six (236) young people were supported through the twenty million rand (R20 million) Solomon Mahlangu Scholarship Fund to enroll for the first time in institutions of higher learning across the country.
The NYDA is currently implementing the ‘Youth Build’ programme in partnership with the Department of Human Settlements, municipalities and the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC). Approximately three thousand, three hundred and seventy eight (3 378) young people were supported through the Youth Build Programme, which seeks to address the critical upskilling in technical fields such as artisans that the country critically needs.
Inspired by the ideals of the Freedom Charter, that all doors of learning and culture shall be opened, education remains our key priority. We have thus far made great strides in ensuring that education and training is available to all and in addressing the injustices of the past and focusing on reversing the systemic impact of apartheid education.
Through the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative, which is part of the national infrastructure development programme, ninety two new schools were completed to date and one hundred and eight (108) are under construction. About 342 schools have received water for the first time. Further three hundred and fifty one (351) schools have received decent sanitation while two hundred and eighty eight (288) were connected to electricity.
Safe learner transport
The department of transport is in the process of providing safe transport for children to and from schools. The total number of scholars benefitting is 360 248 at a budget of R1, 97 billion.
Ladies and gentlemen,
School Governing Bodied (SGB)
SGB elections will take place from 6 to 28 March and we encourage all parents to support the elections by standing as candidates or by participating as voters in the SGB elections. Play your part in support of your children’s education and make your SGB your voice at school.
Early Childhood Development (ECD)
Besides playing a critical role in the foundation of human development, ECD centres form part of the women empowerment programmes as they afford women time to empower themselves to seize work opportunities at their disposal. It is through these centres that children attending ECDs are able to eat three meals a day.
Our efforts to protect children also extend to the provision of ECD services; hence the number of children accessing ECD services increased steadily over the years to more than 1,2 million. Insights gained from the recently completed audit of all ECD sites in the country have informed the ECD Policy, which will be soon be tabled at Cabinet for endorsement, thereafter gazetted for public comments.
Community education and training colleges
Community Education and Training colleges are being established to cater for youth and adults who did not complete schooling or never attended school. Government secured sixteen (16) sites for the construction of twelve (12) new campuses and refurbishment of two existing campuses.
Another important post-apartheid success was the establishment of the Sefako Makgatho Allied and Health Sciences University (SMU) in Gauteng, the third new university since the dawn of our democracy in 1994.
National Student Financial Aid Scheme
Through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, government disbursed over R9,2 billion for students to study at tertiary institutions. We continue to look into various ways and partnerships to assist underprivileged students to gain access to higher and further education.
In an effort to attract and retain the high calibre academics at our universities, particularly women, we have finalised the ‘Staffing South Africa’s Universities Framework’. The first phase will begin in 2015 with the recruitment of between 140 and 200 scholars through the New Generation of Academics Programme.
Decade of the Artisan
The ‘Decade of the Artisan’ advocacy programme for 2014/15 is targeting nineteen thousand (19 000) artisan candidates as directed by the National Development Plan (NDP).
Expanded Public Works Programme
The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) continues to introduce more social-sector subprogrammes in pursuit of a meaningful contribution in government’s overarching objective of eradicating poverty and unemployment. As part of the overall target of six million work opportunities for the EPWP, a target of one million and thirty eight thousand (1 038 000) work opportunities has been set for the EPWP Social Sector, by 2019. To date the social sector has delivered one hundred and thirty one thousand, three hundred and seventy one (131 371) work opportunities since the advent of Phase 3 of the programme in April 2014.
As we implement Phase 3 EPWP, the emphasis is on the impact of the programme in changing lives of South Africans for the better. Hence the most important component within the sector is training/human capital development that is a way of ensuring sustainability of the EPWP contributions is underscored.
During the SoNA Address, the President stated that the Department of Labour would ensure the enforcement of the Employment Equity Amendment Act. As part of the labour legislation amendments, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, Employment Equity Act and Labour Relations Acts were promulgated in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
To extend protection to vulnerable workers, the Department of Labour will, amongst others investigate one new sector (Abattoir Sector) for possibly setting of minimum wages and conditions of employment. The department will review the Agriculture; Forestry; Private Security and Wholesale and Retail Sectoral Determinations by March 2016.
During 2015, the President will sign into law the Employment Services Act 4 of 2014. This is a milestone piece of legislation in that it formally establishes a public employment service in South Africa on a similar basis as that which exists elsewhere in the world.
The Department of Labour will also continue the roll-out of kiosks to labour centres to radically strengthen services to the public. All opportunities will be available on the kiosk and unemployed work seekers can submit their applications electronically to the employment service practitioners.
During the SoNA, the President alluded to the amendment of the Unemployment Insurance Act 63 of 2001. The amendments to the Act intend to improve benefits to beneficiaries and include public servants in the application of the Act.
It should be noted that as part of strengthening social protection and social security, the Compensation Fund is amending its legislation to include reintegration of workers into the labour market.
Road Accident Fund
The Road Accident Fund (RAF) continues to be the social security safety net for those who are injured or killed on South Africa’s roads. Reducing the frequency, severity and impact of accidents is the Fund’s highest priority, as the estimated cost of road crashes to South Africa’s economy remains staggeringly high at three hundred and six billion rand (R306) per annum. Once enacted, the envisaged Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill will further provide benefits for medical expenses, income, family and funeral support.
In order to realise a just, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society where everybody’s potential is equitably realised, government continues to implement a number of programmes and campaigns to remove all barriers to women empowerment and development, notably gender-based violence.
To deal with the root causes of gender-based violence, the Integrated National Programme of Action, aimed at addressing violence against women and children, is being implemented. At the heart of this programme is the year-long coordinated and comprehensive strategy to transform society’s attitudes, practices and behaviours against violence.
We recently launched the 365 Days of Activism programme in partnership with civil society as a perennial campaign, inspired by the theme: COUNT ME IN: TOGETHER MOVING A NON-VIOLENT SOUTH AFRICA FORWARD. This campaign was part of a sustainable national programme that focused on increased participation and engagement of men and boys and promoting the collective responsibility of all members of society in the prevention of violence against women and children.
To support and empower survivors of violence, a 24-hour Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Command Centre was established. In 2014 alone the centre provided support and counselling to two thousand five hundred and ninety nine (2 599) distraught callers.
We continue to implement social development services to vulnerable citizens of South Africa through the creation of a caring and integrated system.
Government is working hard to improve the low uptake of the Child Support Grant (CSG) in the early age cohorts, particularly 0 – 2 years to strengthen the safety net for the poor, orphaned and vulnerable children. We are pleased to announce that during the past year, over one hundred and forty thousand (140 000) children between ages of 0 – 1 were absorbed into the Child Support Grant system.
To improve the living conditions of children, we have also introduced the Isibindi model, an initiative which deploys trained community-based Child and Youth Care Workers (CYCW) in communities. Last year, Isibindi model supported 1 700 young people from child and youth headed households through matric examinations. In the same year, 25% of these young people attained a matric pass.
The revitalisation of the social work profession remains high on our agenda. We will be hosting a Social Work Indaba from 23 to 27 March 2015, to address factors that impact on social-work practices which, in turn, affects the delivery of quality social welfare services.
To advance and improve the lives of people with disabilities, the year 2014 was declared to be a year for people with disabilities. The key milestone in this regard is the release of the draft National Disability Rights Policy by Cabinet for public comments a month ago. Efforts to ensure relevant and accessible skills development programmes for people with disabilities, coupled with equal opportunities for their productive and gainful employment, must be prioritised.
Social cohesion and nation building
In order to move South Africa forward, we need to work together as active citizens to build the society we want to live in. The increasing incidents of prejudice and stereotypes remain a stumbling block to the society we want to create. Much needs to be done for justice and equality.
As part of moving us forward towards a united and prosperous nation, we have elevated nation-building and social cohesion to a strategic priority to be a stand-alone Outcome 14. Since the 2012 National Social Cohesion Summit, thirty (30) community conversations have been hosted in 4 provinces. Other provinces should have held their own provincial summits before the National Social Cohesion Report Back Summit to be held in Port Elizabeth on 21 March this year.
Through the National Heritage Council, we will confer Ubuntu Awards to recognise individuals and organisations that have through their deeds promoted nation-building and social cohesion.
The Use of Official Languages Act 12 of 2012 requires every national department and state-owned entity to adopt a language policy to facilitate effective communications between the government and citizens, preferably in a language of the people’s choice.
A total of six million rand has been allocated to three hundred (300) bursaries for those who want to pursue studies in indigenous languages. We have built fifty four (54) new libraries to date and will upgrade a hundred and fifty (150) others in the next three years. We will install twenty thousand (20 000) flags as part of promoting national identity by end of 2015. At least sixteen thousand four hundred and sixty one (16 461) have been installed since 2007.
We have also embarked on popularising the African Union (AU) flag and anthem.
In fact we will upscale Africa Month to the celebration of the African Cultural renaissance that will climax on Africa Day.
The theme is “We are Africa: opening the doors of learning and culture from Cape to Cairo.” The purpose is to realise the seven aspirations of the AU agenda 2063 that promote strengthening of fundamental Africa identity, values and ethics.
The remains of the two struggle stalwarts (Moses Kotane and JB Marks) will be reburied on the 14th and 22nd March 2015 in Pella and Ventersdorp, Northwest province respectively.
This is part of the ongoing programme to tell our own stories and celebrate the lives of our heroes.
We remain committed to providing universal healthcare to our people and call for a partnership with all South Africans to ensure that we are all active in combating communicable and non-communicable diseases.
Alcohol and drug abuse often leads to risky behaviours such as unplanned pregnancies, teenage pregnancies and HIV and AIDS infections, which often lead to childheaded households. We urge communities to report those involved in trade of illegal substances, including unlicensed alcohol traders. The Inter-Ministerial Committee met recently to discuss the anti-substance abuse programme and are happy with the progress made. It is in this context that South Africans, especially youth, do not give in to peer pressure and say “NO!” to drugs and illegal substances.
We launched a mobile phone service called MomConnect, which assists pregnant mothers to have healthy pregnancies, safe deliveries and healthy babies. Thus far, we have connected over two hundred and fifty thousand (250 000) pregnant women to the programme.
Tuberculosis (TB) remains one of the major killers in South Africa. The Statistician-General reported last year that TB was the underlying cause of death, to forty thousand five hundred and forty two (40 542) people. In response, we have mobilised more resources both from within government and donors in order to turn the tide on new TB infections. The Minister will expand on this.
This year will also be focusing on the implementation of Operation Phakisa for Ideal Clinics which was launched on 18 November 2014. Currently 10 clinics are enrolled and by the end of the current financial year, we will have enrolled a third of the total number of three thousand five hundred (3 500) clinics in the public sector. Our people will experience first-class treatment in first-class health facilities and this process will roll out over the next three years to cover all public health clinics.
Members of the media,
Last year the Social Cluster undertook a comprehensive review to evaluate progress with the implementation of the White Paper on Population Policy for South Africa (1998) and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (1994), and to identify population policy challenges and priorities for the current term of government. This review will be tabled at an upcoming Cabinet meeting.
In conclusion, government will continue to give effect to its constitutional mandate and provide some of the most-needed services to South Africans while striving to improve the quality of life for all South Africans.
Therefore, let us all play our part in moving South Africa forward inspired by the year of going the extra mile in building a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.
To advance and improve our services, South Africans are encouraged to remain in touch with various government departments and its agencies for more details and take an advantage of opportunities at their disposal.
I thank you.
Legadima Leso, Chief Director: Cluster Communication: Social Sector and G and A
Cell: 083 378 9495
SOURCE: South Africa Official News