Speech notes by Celeste Barker MPL, DA response to the 2018/19 budget for Vote 1, OTP Special Programmes. 15 May 2018

Honourable Premier, Madam Speaker, MEC’s, distinguished guests in the gallery – Molweni Nonke!

The DA is grateful for the opportunity to participate in today’s budget vote.

We share the President’s concerns about our unequal society and look forward to seeing the dream of a true, rights-based culture and equality being extended to all the people of our province.

It is an indisputable fact that despite many valiant efforts to build a rights-based South Africa in which all our citizens – especially black rural women – suffer ongoing hardship as the most underemployed, marginalised and economically excluded group in South Africa.

The DA welcomes sustainable job creation projects and the amount of R18.6-million allocated to expand the Youth Development projects. We look forward to seeing the fruits of the “Youth in Agriculture” Development Programme.

We also support the Maritime Youth Development Programme and the opportunities it creates.

Nonetheless, we are worried about reduced targets because it is difficult to understand how a reduced allocation will adequately serve the needs of marginalised youth, women and children.

The DA notes that the latest Special Programmes budget increase was 40 percent. At the same time, the budget for Special Programmes Administration increased by 63.7 percent. This administration increase, which is way in excess of the overall increase, is a worry.

Changes have been made that include the SPU from Programme 1 to Programme 2. The sub-programme has also expanded to include Military Veterans and the LGBTQI communities. This too is a progressive step which the DA welcomes.

As a result, the budget allocation to “transformation” – which sounds very reminiscent of the jargon typical of the early 1990’s – has been revised from R17.1-million to R40.9 -million in 2018. This equates to a 244% increase and therefore requires vigilant oversight.

The lack of a database of military veterans has created challenges. The DA would like to know what selection criteria were used to identify “Veterans” and if training and placement opportunities were offered to all military veterans.

Challenges include a lack of reliable data, military veterans who do not qualify for subsidies because they are independent and earn salaries above the threshold, own their own homes and/or received government subsidies in the past.

As the amount allocated to military veterans amounts to two hundred thousand Rand over two years, the DA wonders whether the military veterans’ allocation is sufficient to make a difference in their circumstances.

The DA supports the selection of our province as one of the national pilot sites for the distribution of sanitary towels to schools throughout the province, and we look forward to seeing a positive correlation between the number of sanitary towels distributed in the Eastern Cape and an equal rise in the matric pass rate at the end of 2018!

As we have experienced massive service delivery failures at some Eastern Cape Mental Health Facilities, it is vital to protect the rights and dignity of our mental health patients.

We congratulate the 97 youths who have been successfully placed on Cruise Ships. We look forward to monitoring the successes of the 400 youths who have been placed with the Department Of Defence to complete an Infrastructure Maintenance Development Programme.

As the SPU also hosts the “Office of the Status of Women”, the DA is pleased to note its focus on the coordination of  Anti-Gender Based Violence Empowerment sessions and recommends that opportunities for additional sessions on gender-based violence be extended throughout the Eastern Cape.

The DA supports the report.