Speech notes: Annual report 2014/15, Social Development

“EC social development department stilling struggling with performance”

  • Annual report targets in many of the social programmes and sub-programmes are either over achieved or underachieved.
  • 137 social work interns receives eventually R 5 million rand due to them
  • Social development department overspends by R 29 million rand

All protocol observed.

Madam Speaker, I am the newly appointed Democratic Alliance shadow MEC and Spokesperson for social development.

I believe that a caring government must put its citizens well-being first and not the political party, nor individuals self-interest.

A caring government must create a conducive environment for economic growth and job opportunities for all and not just for a few politically well-connected cronies.

It must also protect the vulnerable, destitute and abused.

It must fight hunger and extreme poverty; it must also fight corruption within government and out-side government, especially within this department.

On a personal note Madam Speaker, the importance of social service has helped me personally as I lost both my biological parents at an infant stage of my life.

I was adopted, raised and grew up in a poor household which was reliant on social welfare assistance.

This support has indeed helped my family to stay alive during difficult times.

Madam Speaker, it was through social welfare opportunities as a child that I managed to acquire in my being a positive attitude to survive and to escape my negative circumstances.

My acquired positive outlook allowed me to take hold of every little opportunity that came my way to lift myself out of an ocean of hopelessness and poverty.

From the early age of ten years old, I washed peoples cars and packed groceries as a till packer at a local supermarket.

During some local sports events I rendered a responsible and well-mannered car guard service and during school holidays I assisted elderly people by doing garden work.

Madam Speaker, most people don’t think they deserve to have a life of abundance, they tend to accept the false fate of poverty; they overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade through the little opportunities that present themselves.

The point that I want to bring across is that our social programmes must equip people of our province to identify and appreciate the little opportunities close to them.

People must be developed to sustain themselves and their families through more basic self-help programmes such as food gardens, home bake kitchens, fruit tree plots and local maintenance and repair service.

These programmes must also seek to equip people with a broader understanding of entrepreneurship in order for them to take advantage of bigger opportunities later in life.

In the coming 2019 national and provincial elections I am looking forward to be presented with yet another opportunity in my life.

An opportunity to become the new MEC for social development in this legislature, not the chairperson, Madam Speaker, but the MEC!

I will campaign with all my strength from now until then in order to take advantage of this coming opportunity.

The DA supports a social protection system that combines the efficient, sustainable and affordable delivery of basic municipal services to all followed by social assistance measure to enable vulnerable South Africans to lift themselves out of poverty.

A DA government will not take peoples pensions away, we will not take away child grants, we will not take away peoples disability grants, nor will we bring back apartheid.

We will help people become successful entrepreneurs, doctors, layers, nurses and we will produce and employ the social workers that the MEC doesn’t want to employ as we believe that the department desperately requires more qualified social workers to take care of our nation’s social needs.

A DA government will continue to redress the apartheid injustices of the past, we will continue to reconcile the people of this country, we will embrace our people’s diversity and we will deliver sustainable, good quality, cost effective and affordable basic municipal services to all the people of this rainbow nation.

Madam Speaker, the DA respects, upholds and will defend the Constitution of South Africa, especially pertaining to the critical role that legislatures have to play in overseeing better performance by departments and public entities.

Annual reports are the key reporting instruments for departments to report against the performance targets and budgets outlined in their strategic plans, read together with the policy speech of the MEC.

Regarding this point Madam Speaker, I am however concerned that social service delivery in the province might be compromised as annual reporting targets are not based on qualitative and quantitative evidence.

The reason for my concern derives from the fact that many of the social programmes and sub-programmes are either over achieving or underachieving.

This is an indication that something is wrong.

I do concede that targets are just one means of managing performance.

But they are very helpful, powerful and important, but one cannot and must not blindly set a target for the sake of having a target.

The DA calls on the MEC to ensure that officials are trained in proper target setting methodology as there are a number of stages to go through in setting well researched, accurate and reliable targets.

Target setting can sound easy in theory but is difficult to do in practice and many targets do not necessarily result in improved performance.

I feel that in some instances officials look at previous performance figures and suggest a target that looks ‘a bit better’.

Some officials calculate targets as mathematical ‘steps’, making fixed increases, often with little thought as to how they will be achieved or availability of resources involved to reach the target.

Target setting should also not be viewed as a statistical or administrative process carried out by a few selected officials in isolation of broader social service planning.

It is a key management process, which should be undertaken inclusively by all those responsible for delivering social service in the province.

Coming to the departments budget, the department received a total budget of R 2, 230, 785 billion at the beginning 2015/16 financial year.

The department did indeed spend 53% (R 1, 188, 923 billion) of this budget as at the end of September 2015.

The department deviation stands at R 29 million rand understandably as this was mainly due to over expenditure in COE (R14, 4 million) and Goods and Services (R8, 3 million).

The DA welcomes the department’s payment of R 5 million rand to the much needed 137 Social Work Interns and FET Graduates within programme 1.

The DA notes the overspending of R 6, 4 million rand on much needed capital payments and we expect value for money in return.

Although the overspending of R 29 million rand falls within the 2% norm it speaks to the lack of effective monitoring of programme spending and an organization that is finding it difficult to reorganize its self in order to deliver effective and efficient social welfare services.

I also welcome the department’s planned corrective measures to curb over and under expenditure for the rest of the financial year.

In closing Madam Speaker, and in line with one of my departments most important programmes namely, fostering social cohesion, human beings need not be the prisoners of old attitudes.

Racism is destructive. It disempowers people by devaluing their identity.

It destroys community cohesion and creates divisions in society.

At the same time, we, South Africans, cannot and should not under-estimate the enormous progress we have already made in this regard.

Let’s unite and not divide. Let’s continue to build one nation with one future because there is only one race the human race!

Madam Speaker, I will continue my commitment to serve all the people of this province with pride, humility and dignity.

Finally, the DA agrees with the portfolio committee’s findings as presented by the chairperson and we also support the recommendations as contained within the annual report for 2014/15 and the half-year financial oversight report.

I thank you