Department of Social Development unable to spend its budget on those in despair

Issued by Edmund van Vuuren, MPL
Shadow MEC for Social Development

Ten months into the current financial year and the Eastern Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) has spent less than 14% of the funds meant to assist those people in distress in the province.

While tens of thousands of people have had their livelihoods destroyed in this province by Covid-19 and the subsequently enforced lockdown, while children have been starving, this incompetent Department has been sitting on millions of rand that could provide some relief.

In the half-year financial oversight reports of the department for the 2020/21 financial year, it was revealed that the DSD has only spent R22,754 million out of an allocated budget of R164,758 million budgeted for Social Relief of Distress. This is the funding used to provide items such as food parcels for the vulnerable and needy.

Considering the crisis that we are currently experiencing, it is unthinkable that there are still funds available, and beyond comprehension that more than 86% of the allocated funds have not been spent!

A capable state would be working tirelessly to assist its residents in their time of need and would be making sure that every available cent is spent on providing relief during these trying times.

The excuse given by the Department, whose sole mandate is to care for those who cannot care for themselves, is that their efforts were hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic. It is this pandemic, and Government’s subsequent enforced lockdowns, that have ruined the lives of individuals and created the need in the first place!

Last year we saw the abuse of funds made available for food parcels, with price gouging by suppliers, skimming millions off the top for themselves, and at times providing rotten food to the starving and destitute, or diverting food parcels to the politically connected.

This Department continues to fail the people of the Eastern Cape.

I will continue to monitor the spending of this funding, and should the Department fail to spend these funds by the end of the financial year, I will be calling for the heads of the officials who have failed our people in their time of need.