James Masango MPL
Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition
Note: The following address was made by James Masango to the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature during the Snap Debate on International Children’s Day.
Honourable Speaker, when I was informed that we would debate International Children’s Day in this house today, I was immediately reminded of the words of former president Nelson Mandela, who said, “Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation.”
I wish I could say that in South African society today, we hold those words close to our hearts, but sadly, that is not the case. Had it been so, our country could actually start to celebrate Children’s Day.
The children of South Africa have many obstacles to overcome before reaching adulthood – and are daily falling victim to kidnapping, human trafficking, muthi murders, neglect, physical and emotional abuse and sexual crimes, and one can only pray that one’s children reach adulthood unscathed.
As this debate takes place the Mpumalanga government itself plays a role in harming thousands of vulnerable children in Mpumalanga. Many NGOs in this province have once again not received their grant from the Department of Social Development, and are in a constant struggle to source money and food from the private sector to feed these children.
It is a reality that many NGOs in Mpumalanga do not have the ability or the means to source funding or food from their local communities, and tonight, like many other nights, hundreds of children will be going to bed hungry.
Honourable Speaker, such negligence is tantamount to child abuse. To purposely withhold funding that is used to feed thousands of children due to an inept bureaucracy, is unacceptable and must stop.
As Members of this August House we should all stand together and hold this department accountable, and if we don’t, we should hang our heads in shame that we allowed the children of Mpumalanga to go hungry.
We as members have the means and the ability to prevent this, if only we had the political will to make the right decisions.