The Department of Social Development finds itself in a double negative this financial year

By Jane Sithole MPL, DA Chief Whip:

The following speech was delivered in the Mpumalanga Legislature today by DA Chief Whip Jane Sithole MPL, during the Debate on the tabling of the Social Development 2015 Budget.

Hon. Speaker, it is now just over a year that this department has had its own MEC to give the department direction and it is important to note that it is still early days to see if this move is producing the expected results.

Hon. Speaker, children and family programs are the most successful programs in Social Development and it has received 35% of the department’s budget. Every member sitting in this house today will agree that the youth are indeed the future of our country. In the last financial year, the department of Social development exceeded its target by increasing the youth development centers from 68 to 76 and has successfully linked 400 youth to employment opportunities.

Maybe the MEC for Education should shift Mpumalanga Regional Training Trust (MRTT) budget to Social development as they seem to be more successful per financial year than MRTT in placing youth into Jobs!

However, Hon. Speaker, the department finds itself in a double negative this financial year with its debtors at R2.8 million and the R3.2 million roll overs being declined by Treasury for incomplete infrastructure projects in the previous financial year.

The department of Social Development only managed to spend just over R10 million of their R72 million infrastructure budget in the last financial year, this gross underspending on infrastructure, therefore Hon. Speaker is a clear indication that using the department of Public works as the implementing agent is causing more problems and this province is losing millions if not billions due to a weak implementing agent.

Hon. Speaker, the poor financial management in Social Welfare Services is extremely worrying as this program is aimed at assisting organisations (NGO’s) in Mpumalanga who assists government in looking after the aged, disabled, sick and destitute, but for the past two financial years Social Welfare Services has lost more money than any other program. Since the 2012/13 financial year, Social Welfare Services has declined by a staggering R67.9 million.

Compensation of Employees budget has been reduced by 44% over the same period.  Hon. Speaker, this has a direct negative financial impact on the Social Workers which this province desperately needs. The Hon MEC needs to show her commitment not only to the public but to the Social workers she employs that she is committed in ensuring they have better working conditions by absorbing more social workers into the department and not a mere 30 or 50 every now and then.

Hon. Speaker, I must state categorically that the DA welcomes the department’s Restorative Services program and allocating over R159 million to this program is a good start. This shows that the department has come to grips with the alcohol and substance abuse challenges facing our province. We hope to see more proactive initiatives from the department, and not just government giving money to individuals whose interest is only to enrich themselves and hope to sweep the problem under the carpet.

Hon. Speaker, the DA will commend, we will constructively criticize, we will make recommendations and put proposals and solutions on the table.  We will continue to represent our voters and hold this government to account and we will do so without any fear or favor.