Budget Vote Debate: A desperate need to change our approach to social welfare

David van Vuuren MPL

DA Chief Whip in the Free State Provincial Legislature

Note: This is an extract of a speech delivered by the Chief Whip of the Opposition, David van Vuuren, during the Budget Votes debate in the Free State Provincial Legislature today.

We are in dire need of transforming our approach social development, and more importantly, the way we extend social assistance to the most needy in society.

The eradication of poverty remains one of our biggest challenges in the Free State.

Honourable Speaker,

What we need is the political will to take bold decisions that would see the economy grow to create jobs, so that the people across the Free State can live productive and successful lives.

Government has a responsibility to create an environment that would be conducive to economic growth.

This is the only way that opportunities can be created that would enable every person in our beautiful province to prosper and live the life of his or her dreams.

The DA unconditionally supports the principle of a social safety net that seeks, in part, through the extension of social grants, to those in desperate need.

But accompanying social grants should be a programme that would develop skills and ensure that social grants are tied to certain requirements, similar to the Brazilian Bolsa Famillia model.

What would like to see is that individuals and their families that are dependent on social grants are capacitated towards economic empowerment, independent from the State, to live dignified lives and pursue their dreams and aspirations.

The honourable MEC for Finance in her budget speech referred to the 2013 General Household Survey which indicated that more than 855 000 of people in the Free State rely on social grants. A large number of these beneficiaries are unemployed, contributing to the province’s shocking unemployment rate of 39.9%.

Sustainable jobs can only be created through stimulating the economy and encouraging entrepreneurship. With economic growth more companies and individuals will invest in the Free State and generate job opportunities.

Ons het ook ‘n verantwoordelikheid om seker te maak dat die mense wat die toegewings die nodigste het dit ontvang en nie mense wat polities verbind is tot die ANC nie.

Ons doen ‘n beroep op die ANC om nie sosiale toegewings te misbruik om politieke guns te wen nie. Om met ‘n verkiesing staatsgeld te gebruik om kospakkies uit te deel en dan aan mense te sê dat hulle niks sal ontvang as hulle nie vir die ANC stem nie, is krimineel.

Daar is mense wat hulp broodnodig het en die department moet daardie mense identifiseer en bystaan ongeag vir watter party hulle stem.

Madam Speaker,

Measures must be implemented that would prevent fraud and corruption.

Programmes should be put in place to get children of the street and encourage them to finish school. Education and skills development are usefull tools to eradicate poverty.

We should enhance sex education in schools in a bid to prevent teenage pregnancies and to warn people of the dangers of HIV and AIDS.

There still remains a challenge on irregular expenditure and attention can also be given to improve areas of concern cited by the Auditor General on the financial statements of the department. These problems or areas might have been addressed, but it can’t hurt to look at them so as to prevent these problems from occurring in future again.