Speech notes by Kobus Botha MPL, on the budget vote for the Department of Social Development, 16 May 2017

Honourable Speaker, Honourable Premier of the Eastern Cape, Honourable Members of the Executive Council, Honourable Members of Provincial Legislature, Representatives from Traditional and Religious formations, Heads of Departments and Senior Officials, Business leaders, Our Esteemed guests, Ladies and gentlemen.

I greet you all in the name of love, peace and shared prosperity for all.

 Introduction

Honourable Speaker, worldwide governments play a key role in the protection and promotion of the social and economic well-being of its citizens.

Twenty-two years ago the ANC embarked on a bold strategy to renew a welfare system which largely privileged a minority of white people.

This was part of a larger project to transform the South African society to achieve peace and social justice and to overcome the social divisions of the past.

In this regard, various significant policy and legislative reforms were initiated.

A rights-based approach to social welfare has been promoted, and a nationally integrated single welfare system has been created for all South Africans.

Today, most of us will agree that a lot has been achieved by the ANC thought social services under presidents Mandela and Mbeki’s governance.

But many would also argue that under the Jacob Zuma’s administration, social development has not been without political and administrative scandals nationally.

In the Eastern Cape, the Department of Social Development has been accused of political “vote buying” by distributing food parcel during election campaigns.

The Department has also been described by many as a “cash cow” where some NPO’s are used as fronts to loot government resources for connected politicians and government officials.

Honourable Speaker, the people of the Eastern Cape’s struggle continues against corruption, high levels of under-development, poverty, hunger, unemployment, vulnerability to opportunistic diseases, drug, child, women and elderly abuse but to name a few.

The struggle for adequate, efficient, cost-effective, good quality government services is not just fought for during service delivery protests on the streets but is also fought for within this Legislature.

 Committee Report

Members of this portfolio committee, without fear or favour, engage in robust verbal protest, month-after-month, year-after-year, as they struggle to demand more and better services from the department’s officials on behalf of the people.

The Portfolio Committee’s report tabled here today speaks volumes to that struggle.

It serves as evidence that substantiate the daily struggle of the people of this Province to access quality government services.

Human rights should not be eroded by the government but rather pursued with a passion to uplift all.

Silence never won rights. Rights are not handed down from above; they are forced by pressure from below.

It is only by helping others rise out of poverty that we will all rise together to a better life for all.

In summarising the tabled report, the DA would like to raise the following important points:

  1. Overall, in five of the programmes, the committee found a staggering twenty-three, and mostly, reoccurring negative findings.
  2. There is a reoccurring misalignment of Service Delivery Targets between the Estimate on Provincial Revenue and Expenditure (EPRE), the budget speech, the MEC policy speech, the Department Annual Performance Plan (APP), and the Departments Operation Plan (OP).

In this regard can the MEC, please explain how it is possible that reoccurring findings are still prevalent, year-after-year, this after the committee has been furnished with departmental reports that assure us that corrective measures have been implemented?

The budget vote report tabled today by the chairperson awaits twenty-one new written progress reports to prove to the committee that recommendations will speedily be implemented to avoid reoccurrence of the same problems next year.

Budget Vote Analysis

A closer look at the Budget Vote Report before the House indicates an increase from R2.4-billion in the 2015/2016 financial year, to R2.6-billion for the 2017/2018 financial year.

This represents an increase of 9.2% or R229 million rand.

The significance of a budget vote can be defined as a plan to track and control spending.

The purpose of a budget vote is to ensure that spending follows a plan that supports the realisation of people’s social economic rights.

It also ensures that official’s stays within the pre-set limits, and does not exceed available funds.

In order to enforce the above, committee members have an oversight responsibility to ensure that compliance to the above is adhered to and that value for money is received by the end consumer.

 Programme allocations

Programme budget allocation is as follows:

Programme 1 – received R483-million or 18%

Programme 2 – receives R688-million or 26%

Programme 3 – receives R766-million or 29%

Programme 4 – receives R399-million or 15%

Programme 5 – receives R296-million or 11%

Honourable Speaker, looking at programme allocations the DA is eager to see if the majority of the department’s budget (82%) will indeed be spent on core services and very little on the administration function (18%).

The budget vote allocations indicate a general increase in the allocation across most programmes with the exception of programme 5 that deals with development and research.

This programme shouldered a massive 3% budget decrease, over and above provincial treasury’s mandatory 1% cost containment cut.

The DA is concerned that the sub-programme Institutional Capacity Building and Support decreased from R68-million to R38-million, a 44% cut.

This will have a serious effect on NPO registration and compliance and in building their capacity to perform and deliver better services.

The DA notes with great concern that since 2012 the department failed to absorb 961 social work graduates due to a lack of finances.

For the new financial year 2017/2018, the Department managed to scrape together R7-million that will allow it to absorb a mere 151 social workers for specific deployment to rural areas.

Given the increasing social ills in our province, can the MEC please explain how, and by when, the remaining 810 social work graduates will be appointed to start work now that an extra conditional grant of R41-million has been granted?

In terms of transfers and subsidies, the DA has been reliably informed that a number of non-governmental organisation (NGOs/NPOs) in the Eastern Cape have not received their monthly grant funding for the 2017/18 financial year.

The above is shocking as the social development department relies heavily on Non-Profit Organisations (NPO’s) to assist the department in delivering core social services to citizens.

Can the MEC explain what actions she will take to ensure that NGO’s/NPO’s are paid on-time as to safeguard them from late payments and financial ruin in the future?

 General comments

Honourable Speaker, it also came to light that the department’s organisation structure is counterproductive and requires urgent re-engineering.

Skills audits have not been done to ensure person-to-post matching as the organisational design unit lacks serious capacity.

Can the MEC provide this House with the latest developments as to how far she is to fix the mess in the department’s organisational structure?

Furthermore, it was widely reported that social development service offices are dilapidated and run down in this province.

Can the MEC explain why the general maintenance of service offices was unfunded for the past number of years by the department, and what plans does she have to rectify this and the department’s office space shortage?

By when does the MEC anticipate to appoint a much-needed audit committee as there is no audit improvement plan within the institution to date?

In terms of public importance, can the MEC brief the House as to the reason why the SG, Mr. Stanley Khanyile has decided to resign from the department at this very critical point in time?

 Conclusion

In closing Madam Speaker, the department is facing many challenges in regards to corruption, managerial and operational failures.

The persistence of these challenges, 22 years after the advent of democracy, calls for a comprehensive assessment of trends, dynamics, policy impact and monitoring.

The DA believes that social development should measure its success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added.

Governments everywhere that are unable to guarantee equitable growth and social welfare have suffered a fatal decay of legitimacy.

So in the words of Archbishop Emeritius Desmond Tutu; “watch out, watch out ANC, watch out”.  The voters will deal with you!

Budget vote support

The DA supports the budget vote for social development in the Eastern Cape Province.

I thank you.