Social Services grind to a halt as DSD frantically seeks new offices

Thousands of people across the province are being deprived of their basic human rights to dignity, as social services grind to a halt as a result of the failing ANC government’s inability to ensure a safe working environment for their own staff.

Over five hundred staff members, the bulk of which are from the Department of Social Development, have had to seek new premises after being forced to vacate their head office in King Williams Town.

This after the Beacon Hill building was declared unfit for human habitation after several non-compliance reports from Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, NOSA and the Department of Labour.

I have written to Social Development MEC, Phumla Dyanti, requesting her to explain to me the following:

  • What Social Services will be affected?
  • For how long does she envisage the disruptions lasting?
  • What crisis management plans are in place to ensure that services are rendered in the short-term?
  • What is the long-term plan to solve the office space shortage within the Department?
  • What are the cost implications per line item for the massive move and reestablishment of functionality?
  • What consequence management will be instituted, and against who?

I have also asked for an investigation about why the lease agreement was renewed in 2016 without ensuring that all recommendations to upgrade and make the building habitable were not done.

Despite damning initial reports of significant health risks and structural flaws, the lease agreement that was signed in 2011 was renewed in 2016, without the property owners adhering to recommendations from the relevant authorities to fix shortcomings urgently.

The majority of staff affected are from Social Development, which renders various social services and management support services to district offices and local services offices all over the province.

This forced relocation means that it will take months before the Department is fully functional again. Office equipment and documentation needs to be moved, while officials will battle with lack of connectivity.

This will also have a negative effect on the fund transfers to over 3,000 NPOs across the province that render various social services on behalf of the Department.

This in turn, will have a detrimental impact on the well-being of thousands of social service users.
The question needs to be asked how is it possible that Public Works could agree to renew a lease with the property owners, if they have failed to take appropriate actions to remedy the building’s defects?

A DA-led government will ensure that basic service delivery is sped up and that money meant for the people is spent on the people.