NGO’s tariff increase is also a DA victory

By Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Social Development:

THE DA welcomes the end of the ‘blame game’ between KZN Social Development and Finance MEC’s, Weziwe Thusi and Belinda Scott, culminating in last week’s announcement that an additional R44million has been specifically allocated to the province’s NGO sector.

Extra funding was first promised to NGO’s by MEC Scott during her KZN Budget Debate in February in the form of a 6% tariff increase.  NGO’s relief was short-lived though after MEC Thusi announced that her department did not have the money to give fund any increases.

Since then, the DA in KZN has driven the matter on behalf of NGO’s.

Earlier this year we called for the matter to be placed on the portfolio committee agenda as a priority item so that the department could explain themselves. We also engaged with several leading KZN NGO’s.  Meanwhile, internal cabinet fights and miscommunications between MECs Scott and Thusi continued.

KZN’s NGO sector has suffered from lack of proper financial support with no tariff increases for the past three years.  As a result, many NGOs are now in a dire financial situation.

While the announcement of ring-fenced funding for NGO’s is first and foremost a victory for NGO’s, it is also a victory for the DA.

The DA will continue its oversight of KZN’s Social Development department to ensure that this additional funding is spent correctly.

We will also monitor the department’s recently announced NGO Rationalisation Plan, which could see some NGOs closing.  We are aware that the planning process is ongoing and have already called for this plan to be interrogated by the portfolio committee before implementation.

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DA debates 2014/15 Social Development Annual Report

The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature on 01 December 2015 by the DA’s Refiloe Nt’sekhe MPL and Ashor Sarupen MPL during a debate on the 2014/15 Annual Report for the Department of Social Development.

Speech by
Refiloe Nt’sekhe MPL

“Social Development Department continues to fail the most vulnerable”

  • It seems that the department has done away with trying to empower companies of people with disabilities as this does not even feature any more.
  • It is encouraging that all the children in foster care receive social work services. The Western Cape has taken this a step further by providing training for care-givers and parents, with 5,721 beneficiaries this year.
  • If the youth account for 70% unemployment in South Africa, then I can only ask that the department should do much more, so please expand the soft targets looking at the real despair of youth with regards to unemployment.

The full speech can be obtained here.

 

Speech by

Ashor Sarupen MPL

“Poor policy undermines social stability”

  • If one takes the narrow view of just looking at audited financial statements, one would say that the department is performing very well – with an unqualified audit opinion. However, when one actually looks at the spending patterns and performance of the department against plans and targets, a very troubling picture about the state of our society emerges.
  • I hope that every ANC member takes a long, hard look at the social development annual report and sees the social needs out there and forces the party to change its economic track to a high growth, job creating economy.
  • If we do not take steps to turn this situation around soon, we will reach a point where no amount of social welfare and development programmes will be sufficient to address our problems.

The full speech can be obtained here

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Gauteng govt. fails to empower young people and women

By Ashor Sarupen MPL, DA Gauteng Spokesperson Social Development:

According to the Department of Social Development’s second quarter report for the 2014/15 financial year, the department failed to deliver on two key deliverables – the most vulnerable youth and women in the province.

This report was presented before the Portfolio Committee on Social Development in the Legislature, yesterday.

Income generating programmes to empower young people and women through work placement and skills improvement programmes have failed significantly.

The women empowerment programme targeted 8109 beneficiaries, however thus far only 31% (2528) of women were assisted with this programme, this despite the budget being spent.

The department fared dismally in its Welfare to Work Programme, which aims at assisting young people. The targeted participants stood at 3600 yet a measly 1405 (39%) of young people participated.

The reasons in both cases for not meeting targets, were due to “conceptualising” issues. Officials in the department have put the cart before the horse in running and budgeting for programmes that it has no idea if it will work.

It baffles me how the department, thus far have spent R1.9 billion, this despite not meeting key targets.

I urge the new MEC for Social Development, Molebatsi Bopape, to urgently intervene and get these derailed programmes on track.

It is unfair that young people and women in the province are cheated out of opportunities to uplift themselves within their respective communities.

The MEC must crack the whip and ensure targets are met before the end of the financial year.

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ANC must immediately suspend racist MEC Sihlwayi

By Veliswa Mvenya (MPL), Eastern Cape Provincial Chairperson:

In response to the article “‘No whites, please’ – MEC” published on the front page of the Saturday Dispatch on 7 November 2015, please see my statement below.  For a link to the article, click here.

The ANC must immediately suspend its Eastern Cape MEC for Social Development, Nancy Sihlwayi, for her racism and human right’s violations in segregating youth on the basis of race.

Sihlwayi’s instruction to exclude white children from a government youth event is nothing but pure racism, which the ANC must immediately take action against.

If the ANC does not act against Sihlwayi, it will clearly expose itself as a home of racists.

Suspension of Sihlwayi must be immediate to mitigate the affront her racism causes to our constitution and our democracy.

The ANC has a clear choice in this matter: It can keep Sihlwayi, and be seen to abandon the Freedom Charter and the Constitution, or it can act against Sihlwayi and do what is right.

Sihlwayi’s suspension cannot be delayed, and her racist attitude cannot be allowed to affect the work of her Department any longer.

Anything less than immediate suspension by the ANC will amount to ANC protection of racism.

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Gauteng needs a Water Crisis War Room

By Refiloe Nt’sekhe MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Social Development:

The current water crisis in Gauteng warrants a National, Provincial and Local government Water War Room, to ensure crisis management is improved and that water infrastructure failure can be centrally remedied in the short term.

Areas of Gauteng enter their fifth day of dry taps today, with Minister Gordhan announcing earlier today that thousands of households are currently affected by water outage in Johannesburg and other Metros.

Minister Mokonyane’s Water and Sanitation department underspent R1.6 billion on infrastructure during the 2014/15 financial year and National Treasury has denied a rollover of these funds, meaning that in the past 12 months South Africa has been denied water infrastructure upgrades by Minister Mokonyane.

In Gauteng, the cities of Tshwane and Johannesburg lose almost half of their drinking water each year, and as infrastructure upgrades stall this will only get worse.

Under the leadership of Minister Mokonyane, the department has been spiralling out of control.

According to the Minister herself the estimated cost of upgrading water infrastructure across the country is R805billion over the next 10 years.

The National Department of Water and Sanitation should send experts to a Gauteng Water War Room with local municipalities that can control and monitor water demand systems. It is at the local government level that mostly the poor and vulnerable members of our society are affected.

The War Room should allocate scare water resources as an immediate priority to avoid water outages, and should urgently address the enormous water losses in Gauteng.

Each and every South African has the right to access water. South Africans have for far too long suffered due to the ineptitude of the political management in national, provincial and local government departments.

South Africa has both the money and skills to end this problem, but political will needs to be forthcoming now.

The time to take action is now, Minister Mokonyane.

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Four hungry children’s death will not be in vain – DA will honour their memory by continuing to assist others

By Dr. Tutu Faleni (MPL), DA North West Spokesperson on Social Development:

The Democratic Alliance in North West is commemorating the lives of four children who died in the period between 27 October 2011 and 8 November 2011.

The four Mmupele children form Verdwaal, outside Lichtenburg – Onkarabile (2), Nkune (6), Sebengu(9) and Mapule (7) their sister died and their post-mortem reports revealed they had suffered from starvation and dehydration after they walked approximately 10km – 14km searching for their mother who had walked earlier to go and collect food for her hungry family.

On 27 October 2011, the bodies of the two younger children were found and the other children’s bodies were found 11 days later, next to a field where a farmer was ploughing.

The DA will make sure nobody forget the Mmupele children who represent the plight of many other vulnerable children in our country.

Therefore, the party’s provincial leadership last week undertook the last route taken by the children and paid a visit to their family.

The journey did not only commemorate their lives but also honoured their memory and the thousands who are still suffering.

These deaths is an indictment for our collective failure as a nation to take care of our children.

The tragedy of the four children received extensive media coverage nationally and internationally and it was revealed that almost the entire community of 4 000 people in Verdwaal were undocumented, leaving them unable to access services such as social grants.

The Democratic Alliance contends that the need to develop sustainable interventions to issues of hunger, poverty and social deprivation in Verdwaal remain urgent.

We will support all agencies who work towards finding sustainable solutions towards socio economic challenges faced by the Verdwaal community.

In order to assess the impact of government interventions in Verdwaal, the DA will ask Social Development MEC, Fenny Gaolaolwe, questions on the number of people who access social grants and also the number of families who receive food parcels from the department to ensure that every deserving family is taken care of.

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Social Development department can’t account for assets including vehicles and laptops

By Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Social Development:

DURING a Scopa hearing last week into KZN’s Department of Social Development (DSD) it emerged that the department does not have a proper asset management system in place, with senior officials unable to properly account for assets including vehicles, desks and laptops.

The DA is extremely concerned by the effect that this will have on service delivery.

These items form a vital part of any social worker’s arsenal in fighting the social deprivation issues which plague our vulnerable communities. The finding also raises serious questions around whether the social workers and other officials on the ground have the proper equipment allocated to them.

The asset predicament is the latest in a series of crises to hit KZN’s Social Development department.  These include;

–          The Auditor-General’s recent decision to downgrade the department to a qualified audit outcome

–          The closure of four KZN DSD offices earlier this year after they were condemned by the Department of Labour due to their appalling state

–          The ongoing matter of 1 700 Social Worker graduate bursary holders who remain unemployed despite the sector facing a desperate shortage.

Yet another embarrassment for the department was the withdrawal of a 6% NGO tariff increase allegedly due to financial constraints.  As a result, the department announced that it would institute a NGO rationalisation plan – a move that is set to see a number of NGOs close.

KZN’s Social Development department is stumbling from one crisis to another with the lack of leadership and accountability by MEC Weziwe Thusi and senior officials increasingly apparent.

The DA will hold MEC Thusi and senior officials to account on the regression of the audit outcome at the next portfolio committee.

We will also write to the Chairperson of the DSD portfolio committee requesting that the department provide a detailed report of its asset management system, the impact on service delivery and the consequences for those responsible for this regression.

During this time of increased social deprivation and poverty levels, KZN needs a government which cares properly for its most vulnerable citizens by providing a social development programme that uplifts our communities.

Only a social development system built on Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity can do this.

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A political decision to blame for the late payment of subsidies to FS NGOs

By David van Vuuren, DA Chief Whip in the Free State Provincial Legislature:

It has come to light during a meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts and Finance today, dealing with the Free State Provincial Department of Social Development 2014/15 Annual Report, that a political decision at EXCO was to blame for the late payment of subsidies to NGOs in the province.

EXCO resolved that the department should sign a memorandum of agreement (MoAs) with each NGO in December of each year in order for the payments of subsidies to be timeously distributed from 01 April at the start of the following financial year. This process was not implemented successfully by the department.

The delay in payments came as a result due to the delay by the department to facilitate and complete the MoA process.

MEC Ntombela committed to the improved monitoring of funding to NGOs and to ensure compliance with the legal requirements and the effective application of state funding. She failed to meet her commitment during the review period. This failure leaves the department unable to effectively monitor its NGO affiliated programmes and to facilitate the payment of subsidies.

The department obtained an unqualified audit outcome with findings for the 2014/15 financial year. The Auditor-general identified several areas of concern. There was no improvement in the improvement of the effectiveness in leadership and HR management whilst the department failed to maintain proper financial records and monitor compliance with the PFMA.

Both Social Development MEC Sisi Ntombela and the Head of Department and accounting officer, Mr Maditse Seoke, was absent at today’s portfolio meeting. Instead, they chose to attend another EXCO meeting.

The Free State has a huge social assistance need due to slow economic growth, massive unemployment and the legacy of Apartheid. The Department of Social Development plays a crucial role in assisting the most vulnerable in our society. It is imperative that the proper and effective monitoring of social assistance programmes are done.

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NCOP Debate – Rural Women deserve equal opportunities

By Veliswa Mvenya (MPL), Shadow MEC for Social Development:

This speech was delivered by Veliswa Mvenya MPL, in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in Cape Town today during the debate on International Day of Rural Women:

Honourable Chairperson, Honourable Members, Honourable Ministers present and members of the public. It gives me great pleasure to be given an opportunity to speak on behalf of my women from my home. I was born and bred in the deep rural area of Ngqamakhwe in the Eastern Cape. I was a rural girl and now I am a rural woman.

I still spend my weekends with my family in Ngqamakhwe, so I know exactly what is going on there. As a rural girl, I used to fetch water from the river to cook and bath. Today, I see other rural women fetching water from the river and I can see many of them suffering on hot and rainy days.

I am one of the fortunate women in South Africa who does not have to do this anymore because I can afford to buy water tanks.

In King Williams Town, there is a project that is only four kilometres away from our provincial legislature; it is called Sophakama Sonke Women Coop. It is funded by Social Development. Eight years ago, it applied for an irrigation scheme as they are involved in crop farming. The money was misused by the officials of the department and a subsequent investigation was conducted with no consequences for those implicated.

Women walk uphill for about two kilometres to fetch water from a river in order to fill tanks to irrigate their crops. The Department including ANC MEC [Nancy Sihlwayi] are aware but as long as it is not affecting them or their kids who live in urban areas they are not concerned. Like many in the ANC in the Eastern Cape and the rest of the country, they simply do not care. Yet the ANC states that they develop and care for rural women. Organising women’s events and feeding rural women to win votes does not mean anything as far as making a difference by developing them and giving them an opportunity to get out of poverty.

I used to take food to the fields for my mother when working there with her bare hands for our household food security. Those fields are no longer producing food because the ANC through government promised to provide tractors for rural people but only a few people benefit and those are councillors and chiefs. When tractors are off-loaded, we celebrate in front of TV cameras but when the cameras leave so do the tractors. This contributes to the high level of poverty because we depend on agriculture for food security in rural areas. The people who suffer most are our women.

A rural woman takes care of her husband, the kids, the in-laws and the community at large. With the high rate of unemployment, she is the one who suffers the most because she is the one who is removed by the municipality as a street vendor who has not been informed about upholding by-laws.

She does not even understand the word ‘by-law’, but is removed and the fruit that supports the above mentioned people is scattered in the streets by those who were raised and educated with the same hard-earned money. There is no fairness in our society.

It is even worse when that same woman educates her child [in mud schools] and there are no job opportunities for them, they have to suffer like their parents. In rural areas, a child is born and raised with social grants, bears their own kids, who in turn depend on social grants. This has become their cycle of life and the ANC in government has done little to bring about the change that is desperately needed by our rural women.

We need a country where social grants will be used as a safety net, where a child born in any rural area can get opportunities to take their families out of poverty so as to relieve the street vendor mother who will be able to see the rewards of sending her kids to school under those difficult circumstances. If that cannot happen, then this freedom is freedom that they cannot use.

When government formulated a policy on rural development and even changed the Agriculture Department to the Rural Development Department, I celebrated hoping that our rural lives would be transformed. Seemingly, the concept is not understood, if there are farmers in the Eastern Cape who two weeks ago took the Eastern Cape Department of Roads to court because of how bad the roads are – which has made farming impossible.

Honourable Chair.

Why in 2015, do we still find our rural people in queues at 1 am outside the banks to withdraw their SASSA grants?

Banks are inaccessible during social grant payment days. Why is government not developing rural shops so that there are more ATMs? Why is government not creating a system for more affordable groceries with no delivery costs to make it easier for women with enormous responsibilities to do other things that can benefit their families? The ANC government has proven they cannot help our rural people by doing what was bestowed upon them to do. I strongly suggest, you allow the DA to show you that we are a caring government with the solutions to create jobs, provide a better life for all and to get our most vulnerable out of poverty.

Rural development does not only involve projects or coops but it involves equalising the lifestyle of rural women with that of urban women.

Working taps with clean water, tractors for crop farming, more shops in rural areas, adequate health care, education of a higher standard and access to more job opportunities should have been a priority when we became a democracy.

Sadly, under the ANC all we have seen is a select few benefitting whilst the rest of our people remain poor.

The ANC has proven that they have only given a better life for some and not for all.

There is no fairness, no freedom and no opportunity in rural areas.

Honourable Chairperson.

Rural women are only recognised when the ANC have to campaign for votes.

But what they do not realise is when you strike a rural women, you strike the heartbeat of the nation. Your time is running out and if you continue to desperately cling on to power, through your corruption, cadre deployment and bad management, you continue to fail our rural communities.

I hope this debate is not just to heckle competition/opponents but that we take the plight of rural women seriously in order to improve their lives.

Rural women like all South African women have the potential to contribute to the growth of our country’s economy.

They collect water for drinking and bathing. They farm chickens to sell and they sell the milk from cows.

With the little money they make, they clothe and feed our children. This is all to make sure that the next generation survives.

Women and especially rural women are the backbone of our nation.

The Democratic Alliance supports the efforts that are made to develop rural women and when we are in government in provinces like the Eastern Cape and soon in South Africa we will prioritise this.
I thank you

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Pension deductions unlawful and must be investigated

By Dr Tutu Faleni (MPL), DA North West Spokesperson Social Development:

The Democratic Alliance is concerned that illegal and unauthorised deductions are being made off of pensioners’ monthly pension payments, directly from their SASSA accounts.

These claims came to the attention of the DA at the Senior Citizens Sectoral Parliament which was held in the North West Legislature chambers on Friday 9 October 2015.

According to the information provided by the pensioners from various districts in the province, these unauthorised deductions are allegedly for the payment of electricity or airtime and collectively amount to hundreds of rands in deductions.

The pensioners allege that these deductions are made in the name of big companies and are in fact unlawful and fraudulent.

Deductions from pension payments are not permitted without the pensioner’s written and informed consent.

Pensioners are vulnerable and struggle to get by with the current pension pay-outs as is. They cannot afford to be exploited and left with even less money per month for deductions that they have not approved or authorized.

The DA’s Social Protection Policy includes welfare payments for the most vulnerable in society, like the aged, with a trustworthy and transparent system to distribute pensions that is not subject to illicit deductions.

The Democratic Alliance will today write to the North West MEC for Social Development, Ms. Fenny Gaolaolwe, requesting an immediate investigation into these unauthorized deductions from pension payments to the elderly.

The DA will also approach the chairperson of the Elderly Persons Forum in     the North West Province, Professor Legotlho, requesting the names of the affected pensioners.

If any criminality emerges, the DA will not hesitate to lay charges against those responsible for the deductions.

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