The portfolio committee discussed the budget presentations of the Department of Social Development and its entities and, as the hon Minister has already stated earlier, the aim of the Department of Social Development is to ensure the provision of comprehensive, integrated, sustainable and quality social development services, such as protection against vulnerability.
Furthermore, the budget of the department is directed at addressing poverty, unemployment, inequality and related social ills that are currently challenging our country. As the Minister also mentioned, the department aims to achieve these noble and challenging goals through the five programmes.
The Department of Social Development and its entities get their legislative mandate from several pieces of legislation, as well as the ancient White Paper for Social Welfare that dates back to 1997, and of course the Population Policy of 1998. Like many departments, they also have constitutional obligations. Linked to that is the mission statement of the department. It reads -
... to ensure the provision of comprehensive social protection services against vulnerability and poverty, within the constitutional and legislative framework and to create an enabling environment for sustainable development. The department further aims to deliver integrated, sustainable and qualitative services in partnership with all those committed to building a caring society today.
I take it that the stakeholders sitting in the gallery are those parties.
The American poet Maya Angelou, wrote a poem called Human Family. In the first verses, she writes:
I note the obvious differences in the human family. Some of us are serious, some thrive on comedy.
The variety of our skin tones can confuse, bemuse, delight, brown and pink and beige and purple, tan and blue and white.
The last verse reads as follows:
I note the obvious differences between each sort and type, but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.
When we as political parties discuss the budget of Social Development, we are alike in the fact that we want to see the vulnerable provided for, and the aims of the department becoming a living testament to service delivery.
We become unalike when we discuss the how. I want to state here today that the Portfolio Committee on Social Development has achieved cohesion in its ranks, despite our diverse political backgrounds.
Coming to the Budget Vote, the department has seven branches or units that need to implement the work allocated to them. We have examined the Budget Vote in its entirety, from the department itself and through to its entities. A budget of R112 billion is quite substantial and a huge responsibility rests on the shoulders of the accounting officer and the responsibility managers to execute their duties diligently and ensure that money allocated is spent in the interest of those who are supposed to benefit, namely the poor and vulnerable.
Coming back to the five programmes, we note that the department's budget has increased, thus responding to the priorities mentioned in the state of the nation address. We have noted the increase in the programmes, especially the R90,3 million for this current financial year, to pay social assistance grants to additional categories of refugees with official refugee status.
This is good news, since we asked the Minister and the chief executive officer of the SA Social Security Agency, Sassa, to look into the matter after I had a meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and also took the matter to the committee. Thank you to the Minister and the CEO of Sassa for responding.
Currently, the only non-South Africans who qualify for social assistance are permanent residents and documented refugees. It should be noted that the citizenship criteria is applicable only to the adults and caregivers of children. [Interjections.] In line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child - to which our country is a signatory - the citizenship of children for whom grants are paid is not considered. This means that any child for whom a grant is paid can benefit, and they can thus benefit from the child support grant, CSG, as long as their caregiver is a South African citizen, a permanent resident or a documented refugee, and meets the legislated criteria.
A number of initiatives are currently being considered by the Department of Social Development to broaden the social assistance safety net. I would like to mention one of them. Since April 2012, refugees are able to access all social grants. Prior to the 1 April, refugees only qualified for foster child, care dependency and disability grants. From 1 April 2012, refugees can also qualify for old age and child support grants.
The R6,7 million for the support of the roll-out of child and youth care services through the Isibindi model - which the Minister referred to - is good news for us, but I wish it could've been more, since the plight of child-headed households in our country is urgent and we need to take care of our children who are in need of care.
Our visit to the Eastern Cape Isibindi Project in Mthatha was heartening, since we could see children empowered to take care of themselves, especially their brothers and sisters, and still save some of the money for their education and their future.
R5,7 million was put aside for salary adjustments in the department, R30 million for Sassa - since we knew that Sassa had a huge vacancy rate - R8,6 million to build capacity in the oversight function of the department to oversee the public entities, etc, which is good news for us, and R8,4 million to strengthen the Victim Empowerment Programme.
The Victim Empowerment Programme must be operational in every province and I would like to address the members of the executive council on this matter. The spate of violence against women and children, and the alarming increase of reported rapes of boys, is also a grave concern. We need to make sure that victims are treated and cared for, their rights are not violated and the perpetrators brought to book.
The fact that some of these alleged rapists are getting bail and that their movements not restricted by our courts, is both alarming and something that the Minister must please take up with the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development. Communities must keep their children safe and report these crimes to the police.
The Minister's policy position on substance abuse is widely welcomed. As South Africans, I am sure we welcome the intensive focus the department will have on anti-substance abuse campaigns. The policy reforms with regard to government's approach to alcohol and illicit drugs are obviously also welcomed.
We have to make sure that drug and alcohol abuse is eradicated from our society because they give birth to social ills that destroy families and young lives. The glaring absence of institutions that treat drug and alcohol addiction as well as provide outreach programmes should be given urgent attention.
Let me caution the Minister and the MECs here today. When Treasury one day allocates money for the building of these centres, [Interjections.] let it not be part of the equitable share of provinces, but let it be ring-fenced, so that it does not get lost in the race and scramble for provincial priorities.
Minister, we have been waiting for months now on the Central Drug Authority, CDA, for the laboratory results of the drug, Kuber.
Laastens, 15,8 miljoen Suid-Afrikaners ontvang maandeliks maatskaplike toelae. Die Suid-Afrikaanse maatskaplike bystand of welsynstelsel speel 'n kritiese rol in die bestryding van armoede en die bevordering van maatskaplike ontwikkeling. Di bevindinge bewys dat ons welsynstelsel armoede suksesvol inkort. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[Lastly, 15, 8 million South Africans receive social welfare grants on a monthly basis. The South African welfare support or welfare system fulfills a critical role in the combat of poverty and the improvement of social development. These findings demonstrate that our welfare system successfully diminishes poverty.]
I have raised this on several occasions and I refer to research in the National Assembly.
Studies bewys dat die impak van maatskaplike toelae op Suid-Afrikaanse huishoudingsekuriteit bied. Armoede en die verwante gevolge daarvan verminder stelselmatig die geleenthede van kinders en jeugdiges vir opvoeding, wat die voortslepende siklus van behoeftigheid aanvuur.
Hierdie siklus kortwiek die huishouding se vermo om vaardighede te ontwikkel en dus die armoede kringloop van armoede te verbreek. Maatskaplike toelaes weer die negatiewe gevolge af deur die voorsiening van hulpmiddels aan huishoudings om welvaart te bevorder. In huishoudings waar kinders maatskaplike toelaes ontvang, is die kinders meer geneig om skool by te woon.
Die positiewe gevolg van maatskaplike toelaes op opvoedkunde is groter vir dogters as vir seuns. Die gevolg is dus dat geslagsongelykheid aangespreek kan word.
'n Verdere studie het bevind dat maatskaplike toelaes die honger probleem van hongerte doeltreffend aanspreek, asook ander basiese behoeftes. Alle maatskaplike toelaes word primr op voedsel as 'n huishoudelike uitgawe gespandeer.
Huishoudelike uitgawes van gesinne wat maatskaplike toelaes ontvang word primr aan kos, brandstof, huisvesting en huishoudelike toebehore bestee. Die verhoogde spandering op kos word diensooreenkomstig vereenselwig met verbeterde voedingsresultate. 'n Indiepte studie het bewys dat huishoudings wat maatskaplike toelaes kry verhoogde arbeidsmarkdeelname geniet en indiensneming groter getalle toon, teenoor huishoudings sonder maatskaplike toelaes. Werkers in huishoudings met maatskaplike toelaes het ook vinniger loonverhogings verkry. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Studies have shown the impact which social grants have on the security of South African households. Poverty and the resulting consequences gradually reduce the opportunities of children and young people to be educated, which in turn foments the ongoing cycle of poverty.
This cycle curtails the ability of the household to develop skills and thus to break out of the cycle of poverty. Social grants avert the negative results by means of the provision of resources to households in order to increase prosperity. In households in which children receive social grants the children are more inclined to attend school.
The positive effect of social grants on education is greater for girls than for boys. Consequently the result allows for the inequality regarding gender to be addressed.
A further study found that social grants effectively address the problem relating to hunger, as well as other basic needs. All social grants are primarily spent on food as a domestic expense.
Domestic expenses of families who receive social grants are primarily spent on food, fuel, accommodation and household appliances. The increase in expenditure on food is likewise associated with improved results in nutrition.
An in-depth study showed that households which receive social grants enjoy a greater share of the labour market and an increase in the numbers of employment in comparison with households which do not receive social grants. Employees in households who received social grants also received wage increases sooner.]
There are certain reasons why we should continue to expand social grants and basic services, and they are: social security supports the achievement of the universal rights of everyone to social security; the social grants, which have proved to be effective in dealing with poverty and inequality; and social security, which would be a catalyst in our efforts towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs.
I am glad that the department would build on the successes of the social grant system by addressing the effect in the second pillar of social security, namely social insurance. The department has been working in the interministerial committee exploring a range of social security reform options that will focus, among others, on gradually universalising the old age pension; introducing a mandatory pension fund that will define the benefit upfront; establishing a government-sponsored National Social Security Fund; and also providing for disability and survival benefits.
In the final analysis, we urged the department to move with more speed to consolidate the Social Security Policy Development and build on the successes of South African Social Security Agency, Sassa, and move expeditiously to consolidate the service delivery of platforms of all social security institutions. The growth in numbers reflects the commitment of this administration to the actual realisation of a socioeconomic rights, as enshrined in the Constitution.
The ANC-led national government, since 1994, was responsible for this Constitution. The DA was not born yet, so we will always defend one of our biggest gains in this democracy, our glorious Constitution. [Interjections.] Furthermore, we will monitor the institutional improvement plans of Sassa closely, to see whether it complies with the glossy plans they submitted to Parliament.
We have to commend Sassa for the institutional capacity they have developed over the years to provide grants and support services to over 15 million beneficiaries. This is a feat and a fact that cannot be ignored even by their critics. There is no doubt in my mind that South Africans are part of the human family Maya Angelou speaks about. We are more alike than unalike. We want the best for the people we represent. In the end we want the same thing.
Chairperson, I want to thank the Gwangwa Gxalaba family for inviting us to their homecoming feast during our visit to the Eastern Cape. It was quite a grant and uplifting experience for us. I would also like to thank the department and its entities for their submissions and I would like to thank the Minister for her leadership ...