Deputy Speaker, the Department of Social Development continues to ignore recommendations made by the Auditor-General to correct gross, unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. All South Africans, particularly the 40% living below the poverty line, can only ask, does this ANC-led government even care, burning billions of rands together with our youth and country's future.
Ironically, it is because of this government's blatant disregard for the poor that they will never realise their own National Development Plan, NDP, goal to eradicate poverty by 2030. There is neither accountability nor assurance provided by senior management, the accounting officer or the executive authorities of the Department of Social Development, Sassa, and of the National Development Agency, NDA.
Perhaps there should be less performance bonuses to senior management, more dismissals and more immediate corrective action. The message to be received loud and clear must be that our vulnerable citizens deserve more than officials not showing up to hotel bookings.
Children go to bed hungry. Pensioners scrape by to survive, all while this department continues in a state of denial, blatantly ignoring the remedies spoon-fed to them by the Auditor-General.
The DA welcomes the Auditor-General's Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report.
As a caring party, the DA will continue to support the fight against poverty. [Applause.]
Chairperson, firstly, the functions of this department are directly linked to the work of the Department of Health. So, essentially, instead of having two separate Ministers doing work that overlap, we should have one department of social development and health.
Secondly, with the scourge of gender-based violence on the rise, the department should provide a clear programme that addresses gender-based violence, homicide and the abuse of children, with a clear budget allocation. Thuthuzela Care Centres should be capacitated with both well-trained human resources and tools of trade. We must also build enough rehabilitation centres for the young people whose socioeconomic conditions force them into drug addiction. Nyaope, tik and flakka are killing our young people and this department isn't doing enough to help rehabilitate them back to normality.
In term of the audit report provided by the Auditor- General, senior management within the department and its entities lack accountability. This means that recommendations by the Auditor-General have not been adhered to.
The department can easily resolve these issues if they prioritise the following: accountability formula should be developed and defined for monitoring and consequence management; vacant key positions impacting on audit outcomes and accountability must be filled urgently;
accounting officers or senior management must be held accountable for noncompliance.
This department is at an advanced state of degeneration. Something must be done to clean up the mess left by the previous Minister. The deadline on the foster care system backlog of 28 November 2019 given by the North Gauteng High Court will never be met. This is due to the fact that ...
The EFF rejects this Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report. [Time expired.]
House Chairperson, we are often told that there is simply no money for more social workers, no money to increase the social grants, no money for shelters for abused women and children, and not enough money to fight gender-based violence and other social ills such as drug abuse.
It is therefore simply unforgiveable that the Department of Social Development squandered R2 billion in irregular and fruitless expenditure over the past financial year,
mainly due to Sassa's habit of paying contractors for services that were never rendered. To make matters worse, the Auditor-General was unable to find sufficient evidence of disciplinary action taken against relevant officials.
It is the IFP's view that the days of zero accountability for rogue Social Development officials must come to an end. Every mismanaged cent must be recovered and implicated officials must be held to account and even sent to jail for misusing monies meant for the most vulnerable in our society.
Allow me also to highlight some other areas of concern for the IFP. This department remains in a perpetual crisis mode. Not long after it recovered from its self- made Sassa crisis, it now faces a self-made foster care crisis. This means the department's inaction to comply with yet another court order has again placed at risk many vulnerable children of not receiving their grants at the end of this year.
In addition to this crisis, more than 5 000 social workers trained by the state remain unemployed, while their skills are critically needed, Fraud continues to plague the grant system, with syndicates unlawfully making money from pensioners and other grant recipients, while gender-based violence remains a crisis.
Despite these concerns, the IFP believes Minister Zulu, the new chairperson of our committee and the committee as a whole have shown passion and commitment to deal with the above-mentioned challenges decisively. The IFP will therefore support this Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report. Thank you.
Madam Chair, during our Budget Vote's debate earlier this year, I quoted the department, and reminded them of what they said was their core mandate, and I would like to quote that partially again:
We endeavour to create a better for the poor, vulnerable and excluded in our society. Our task is to develop and monitor the implementation of social policy that -
... and this is very important -
... both creates an enabling environment for and leads to the reduction in poverty.
I fear that this is not what we are necessarily seeing from the department, and this is a matter of grave concern. There are a number of studies that were done on Sassa grants specifically and how the new system works. The new system is challenging, to say the least. The studies found that the most pressing concern to grant beneficiaries was the lack of dignity for the elderly who now wait in long queues without seating, toilets, water or shelter. It was also found that it is more expensive to collect grants through the new system, especially via ATMs and retail outlets.
Furthermore, if there was a problem with a grant, recourse was difficult, as grant beneficiaries would then have to travel additionally to Sassa regional offices.
The Auditor-General found that the Social Development portfolio had regressed in its attempts to improve its
key controls and address its risk areas. Noncompliance with applicable legislation, policies and directives was identified as the root cause.
It was also found that NDA officials who deliberately ignored their duties and contravened legislation were not held accountable for their actions.
What is even more alarming than consequence management not being done and having zero assurance in management, is the fact that the department is not serious about the way it spends money and investigates irregular expenditure that amounts to R1,8 billion.
It is welcoming to see that previous years' recommendations are being looked at and are being progressed. We will keep holding the department accountable and we will ensure that it follows this important mandate. Thank you.
Chair, the committee asked the department to focus on projects that will build on its commitment to be successful so that there can be a success story.
We are living in a time that demands that we do things differently and with speed to address high levels of poverty and inequality. To this end, we can think of the NDA as a Cinderella that was not invited to the ball and whose beauty is not fully realised. The NDA is perfectly positioned to be a partner with government departments as far as community development projects are concerned through local Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, co- operatives and small, medium and micro-sized enterprises, SMMEs.
In this regard, it should be an implementing agency of government departments, much like the Department of Basic Education, particularly with regard to the current Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative, Asidi, programme. The programme is experiencing implementation challenges in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal because communities do not feel that the programme contributes to their development.
The NDA as a community development implementing agent should be involved in the Asidi programme to identify relevant CSOs, SMMEs or co-operatives, capacitate them
and link them to the programme. This will expand the footprint of the NDA and achieve government's objective of integrated service delivery between government departments. This will also eliminate delays in the construction of schools, something which has resulted in irregular expenditure.
The linkage between services and programmes is critical in an environment of economic decline.
We support this department's Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report. [Time expired.]
Declarations of vote (Cont...)
Hon Chair, the ANC rises to support the Budgetary Review and Recommendation report. I do want to acknowledge on behalf of the committee that there is an attempt to find the healthy balance between nonpartisanship and partisanship in the interest of the country. And there is an attempt to ensure that there is a constructive relationship between the department and the committee, a commitment to use oversight not as a tool of conflict, but as a tool of effective
accountability. That is the spirit that is governing the committee.
I do want to say though that the Auditor-General, AG, didn't have good stories to say about the department, especially regarding the R2 billion irregular expenditure which was not properly processed over time. I am happy to say that we have been able to ask the department to put together a plan of action to make sure that it is not business as usual. Based on that the committee is committed and we will be meeting tomorrow to ensure that there is an action plan on the recommendations of the committee.
With all these challenges and the constructive relationship that is there between the committee, the Minister and the department, we have no doubt that this will be turned around. As a result, our eyes are stronger on the windscreen rather than on the rear mirror. In that point the ANC supports the budget. Thank you very much.
Motion agreed to (Economic Freedom Fighters dissenting).
Report accordingly adopted.
Chairperson, I move on behalf of the ANC that in its next sitting the House debates the establishment of a fully resourced youth development directorate at various spheres of government. I thank you
That was a notice of a motion