Budget Vote by the Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, in Parliament, Cape Town
2 May 2012
Deputy Minister of Social Development, Ms Bongi Maria Ntuli,
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, Ms Yolanda Botha,
Ladies and gentlemen.
I am greatly honoured to lead in this year’s Budget Debate on Vote 19. The matters about which this budget is concerned are essentially those of human rights. These are matters that have always occupied the centre stage of the struggle for national liberation. This budget is being debated against the backdrop of the centenary celebration of our country’s ruling party, the continent’s oldest modern liberation movement, the African National Congress (ANC).
In pursuit of its historic mission, in 1943, the ANC adopted a Bill of Rights, also known as the African Claims document, which drew upon the Atlantic Charter of August 1941, and was deeply inspired by some of the key ideals that “... there was to be advancement of social welfare”, and that “... the participants would work for a world free of want and fear”. One hundred years later, the ANC continues to be an unparalleled champion for the fulfilment of these ideals in our motherland.
Last year, the department received a budget of one hundred and five billion Rands, ninety seven billion Rands of which was for social assistance. With last year’s budget, in addition to providing social grants, we implemented measures to address the plight of children in poor households, senior citizens, people living with HIV and AIDS, people with disabilities, the youth in dire need and other vulnerable groups.
In this delivery, I will focus on our plans for children, senior citizens, social workers, policy initiatives, institutional reforms and the achievements of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). The Deputy Minister will speak to issues affecting the youth and the work of the National Development Agency (NDA). In this context she will elaborate on our interaction with civil society organisations working at community level.
Our Government remains committed to the full realisation of the rights and wellbeing of our children. Over the last few weeks there has been extensive media coverage regarding alleged incidents of rape of two siblings by a teacher, as well as the rape of a 17-year-old girl with a mental disability. These incidents have undoubtedly troubled many South Africans.
They have highlighted the depth of the challenges that we still face as we construct a new society that seeks to safe-guard the safety and well-being of all. This is a task that we are putting at the heart of our programme of action. Consequently, this task will constitute the central feature of operational collaboration among all institutions of state and civil society. We call upon our social workers, health workers and law enforcement officers to provide the victims with the support they may require.
Of the department’s total budget allocation, an amount of seventy million Rands will go towards strengthening the Victim Empowerment Programme. In our design of this programme, we intend to put more emphasis on preventative measures which will include creating awareness among families and communities.
As the recent incidents have shown, people with disabilities remain vulnerable in various ways. Our policy on disability is now aligned with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on Disability. This will enable us to ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are fully protected and promoted. Allow me to acknowledge with gratitude the donation of ten specially modified motor vehicles by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency towards government’s work on disability and home based care. Sithi ningadinwa nangomso!
Chairperson, the social ills of abuse against women and children reaffirm the need for us to build strong families to enable them to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. Cabinet last year approved the department’s Green Paper on Families, which aims to shift the focus of government services from purely targeting individuals, but rather responding to their needs as family members. The department has concluded consultation within government and will launch the Green Paper for public engagement on 15 May this year on the occasion of the International Day of Families.
Chairperson, a qualitative Early Childhood Development (ECD) policy and implementation strategy will, undoubtedly, be government’s most important policy intervention over the next 20 years in relation to the enhancement of the overall wellbeing and development of South Africa’s children. Empirical evidence attests to the fact that the first 1000 days in a child’s life offer a unique opportunity for the optimal physical and cognitive development, and the overall health of a South African child.
In March this year, the Department of Social Development hosted a successful ECD conference attended by various role players from all spheres of government, ECD Practitioners, experts, academics and development partners. The conference concluded on key issues including the need to review and harmonise existing policies to ensure universal access to ECD services, the development of a multi-sectoral and partnership based approach for the effectiveness of ECD services and the development of a policy framework to guide the resourcing of ECD services and infrastructure. These outcomes will form the basis for a Programme of Action to be concluded by June 2012, with set targets.
Over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework period (MTEF), Government has allocated one comma two billion Rands covering ECD and Child and Youth Care Services in accordance with the Isibindi model. The department will spend forty million Rands to conduct an audit of all ECD facilities in the country over the next two years. Last year, MINMEC resolved that with effect from this financial year we will pay a subsidy of R15 per child per day with a view to achieving parity in the financing of ECD services. In order to maximise the full benefits of ECD, all provinces will aim to achieve full participation by children in the ECD programme for 264 days over the MTEF, in accordance with the norms and standards.
As we continue our focus on children, we will this year, consolidate services to orphaned and vulnerable children, especially those living in child headed households, thus enabling them to access vital services and support. We will be recruiting and orientating the first contingent of child and youth care workers, as part of the 10 000 target to be trained over the MTEF. The Isibindi model strives to keep orphaned and vulnerable siblings together and targets communities with high prevalence rates of HIV and AIDS. It uses the services of trained youth as caregivers to provide direct care to children in their homes and communities through youth empowerment, child protection and safe park programmes.
Chairperson, may I take this opportunity to acknowledge our special guests in the public gallery, the children from child-headed households whose development depends on the goodwill and collective effort by all of us.
Chairperson, extreme poverty is still experienced by large numbers of people in South Africa, manifesting itself in the form of severe hunger and malnutrition. This is particularly prevalent in areas such as Umkhanyakude in KwaZulu-Natal, Ngaka Modiri Molema in the North West, OR Tambo in the Eastern Cape, Waterberg in Limpopo, Motheo in the Free State, to name but a few. This year, we will roll-out the Food for All Campaign starting in Umkhanyakude in Northern KwaZulu-Natal. Our Food for All Campaign which we launched last December serves as a build–up to our implementation towards the attainment of a South Africa without extreme poverty, based on the Brazilian Zero Hunger Model.
South Africa’s Social Assistance Programme, with an allocation of one hundred and five billion Rands in 2012/13 financial year, projected to grow up to one hundred and twenty two billion Rands in 2014/15 financial year, remains our Government’s biggest poverty alleviation intervention. The programme provides social grants to 15,8 million beneficiaries in order to reduce their levels of deprivation and enable them to participate in the economy.
For instance, Bongisiwe Ngubane, a young woman who was forced to drop out of school in Grade 5, who sits in the gallery today heads the orphaned Ngubane family in Umsinga, KwaZulu-Natal. She receives a foster care grant for her siblings and saves R600 of the two thousand three hundred and ten Rands she receives for them. In her own words: “Ngifuna babe noma yini uma baqeda isikole.”
The Child Support Grant (CSG) reaches 10,6 million children up to the age of 18. This month, we intend to launch a recently completed study examining both the quantitative and qualitative impact of the CSG. Under current legislation the CSG is linked to conditionality’s of regular school and clinic attendance, but these provisions are not always complied with. We will look at more forcefully applying the conditions starting with an extensive communication campaign to create awareness about the importance of these conditionality’s and compliance therewith. In furtherance, we have signed a protocol with the Department of Basic Education to confirm school enrolment and attendance of children in receipt of CSG and Foster Care Grant.
Chairperson, SASSA has repositioned itself to address its challenges of a lack of standardisation, incomplete information on beneficiary details and the risks of potential fraud associated therewith. From 1 June 2012 until 31 December this year, SASSA will re-register all its beneficiaries through a biometric enrolment system to ensure life verification and identity authentication of beneficiaries.
SASSA has also introduced a new payment system which will save government an amount of eight hundred million Rands per annum, accumulatively four billion Rands over five years. We also aim to upgrade an additional 400 pay-points and 300 local offices over the MTEF.
The social grant system is prone to leakages and fraudulent activities. To mitigate this, Government has allocated over the MTEF an amount of thirty million Rands for setting up an Inspectorate institution with a mandate to monitor the integrity of the grant administration system, to ensure its credibility. The Inspectorate should be fully functional by 2015.
Chairperson, last year we hosted a successful Biennial Anti-Substance Abuse Summit. Research papers presented at the summit show that drug and alcohol abuse are linked to ill health and social disorders the world over. They also indicate that alcohol intoxication is associated with morbidities arising from injuries, with increased risky sexual behaviour, and that approximately 65 percent of murders in South Africa are associated with social behaviour largely fuelled by alcohol abuse.
Pursuant to the outcomes of the summit, the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Anti-Substance Abuse will this year consolidate its legislative review initiatives focusing on banning alcohol advertising, raising the age limit for alcohol consumption from 18 to 21 years, closing down of all illegal shebeens and those located near schools and places of worship.
The IMC will heighten its public awareness efforts, working with Love Life, Soul City and other social partners, highlighting the social costs associated with the harmful use of alcohol. We welcome the initiative taken by Sifunda Languza from Strekspruit in the Eastern Cape and Bongani Khathi of Imbali Unit 13 in KwaZulu-Natal, to convert shebeens into community centres, thus making a positive contribution. The Department of Social Development, as part of this effort, will intensify the fight against substance abuse by strengthening the Ke Moja campaign to target all vulnerable groups.
Chairperson, as you may be aware, social work is a scarce skill in this country and that puts a strain on our ability to deliver much needed services. In this financial year, we have been allocated two hundred and fifty six million Rands for the Social Work Scholarship Programme. Since 2007, we have trained more than 5 000 social workers through this programme. We are fully aware that for the first time there is a significant challenge in absorbing newly qualified social workers into the employ of Government. This is a matter that we are addressing with our provincial counterparts to ensure that newly qualified social workers are deployed in the areas of need.
In addition, we have also started engaging veteran social workers to assist with mentoring the newly qualified social workers in order ensure dignified service delivery. Shortly, we will launch the Forum of Veteran Social Workers as a platform for their re-engagement in active provision of social work services. These veterans are already adding tremendous value in provinces such as the Eastern Cape.
Chairperson, may I take this opportunity to acknowledge the presence in the public gallery of the Interim Chairperson of the Veteran Social Workers Forum, Ms Ria Pheega. I also acknowledge the presence of a veteran social worker, a former Member of Parliament and a veteran of the struggle Cde Mary Turok.
On the Occasion of the celebration of the United Nations International Year of Older Persons, in 1999, Former President Nelson Mandela had this to say: “A society that does not value its older people denies its roots and endangers its future.”
It is for this reason that we endeavour to promote and protect the rights of older persons. Last October, we supported a successful Older Persons’ Forum Conference which resolved to amend its constitution and set up local and provincial Older Persons Fora in order to encourage the active participation of older persons in matters that affect them. This year, we will again support a follow up conference which will adopt a new constitution and also deliberate on the preparations for the Senior Citizens Parliament also to be held later this year in celebration of our centenarians.
Chairperson, last year MINMEC approved a policy on the financing of Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs). This new policy will be implemented on an incremental basis starting this financial year, the purpose of which is to ensure that NPOs deliver on both statutory welfare services and developmental priorities of government. It seeks to make it clear that we fund services to be rendered rather than finance the upkeep of NPOs. In order to improve communication between government and civil society on matters of mutual concern, the department will host a civil society summit in August this year.
Chairperson, as I conclude, I would like to remind this House that social development is the heartbeat of our government and that we strive to live up to this important responsibility. I therefore urge all of us to work together to make today better than yesterday and tomorrow the best day ever. I take this opportunity to thank my colleague the Deputy Minister, the Director-General, CEOs of SASSA and NDA, Special Advisors and the entire staff of the social development family.
Together we can do more. I urge the House to support Budget Vote 19.
Issued by: Department of Social Development
2 May 2012
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