Hon Speaker, all protocols observed, I greet all present here today.
No-one can deny the devastating effect that the Covid pandemic has had on the people of our province. Jobs, income, stability and loved ones have been lost to this devastation.
There is a saying that says, and I quote “Actions prove who someone is; words just prove who they want to be.” Let me elaborate on this.
The MEC stated in her policy and budget speech for the 2021/22 financial year, that she does not want to be counted as one of those who have turned a blind eye to the plight and constant suffering of our people.
Madam Speaker, I want to believe the Hon MEC, I truly do, but she has been let down by the officials within her own Department, and in the same breath, she has let yourself down.
Our province has a fast-growing elderly population and has the highest proportion of elderly in the country. In sharp contrast to the needs of the elderly in this regard, the department has gradually been providing fewer and fewer services to older people each year.
The current 46 residential facilities, of which only 3 are governed by the State, provides a haven for only 1612 older persons. The 711 people who are on the waiting lists for these facilities will most certainly increase in the next few years unless more facilities are made available.
The Democratic Alliance is deeply perturbed in that the Department of Social Development is failing to meet the needs of a growing elderly population in the province.
The Democratic Alliance gets Things done, and we would have never, never ever suffocated our elderly in denying them access to properly run Care Facilities.
The people of the Eastern Cape need a caring Government that gets things done and a government that has sympathetic empathy towards those elderly that cannot care for themselves.
Madam Speaker, the MEC must act now to ensure that our province adapts to this rapid increase of older persons and that services, inclusive of residential care facilities, are available for those who have no other means to be cared for.
Madam Speaker, let me state unequivocally, that substance abuse is destroying our communities
Addiction and substance abuse are diseases and should be treated as such.
Madam Speaker, it is an uphill battle to get treatment for those addicted to drugs.
In a province of approximately 6.5 million people, there is one, the Ernest Malgas Youth Treatment Centre in Port Elizabeth that can only accommodate 38 youths under the age of 18 years old. There is no state Substance Abuse Treatment Centre for those older than 18 years.
LET ME STATE IT CATEGORICALLY, THERE IS ONLY ONE DRUG REHABILITATION AND TREATMENT CENTRE IN THE ENTIRE PROVINCE. This Madam Speaker is bad planning on the part of an uncaring Government.
Substance abuse is a social ill that is not given the attention it needs to be eradicated. A community plagued by substance abuse is a community plagued by other social ills that emerge because of the lack of action by the Government, to curb it.
Crime, Gender based violence and gangsterism are only but a few societal ills that develop along with not addressing the issue of drug and alcohol abuse.
Madam Speaker, the problem of not paying Non Profit Organizations, or not paying them on time, for services rendered on behalf of the Department of Social Development, is decades old and no MEC from previous years have been able to rectify it.
Madam Speaker, I would like to challenge our young and vibrant MEC to be the difference that is needed in putting corrective measures in place in order for non-payments to NPO’s never to surface again.
It was with a very heavy heart that the news came in that, while tens of thousands of people had their livelihoods destroyed in this province by Covid-19 and the subsequent enforced lockdown, while children were starving, this Department had been sitting on millions of rands that could have provided some relief.
In the half-year financial oversight reports of the Department for the 2020/21 financial year, it was revealed that the department had 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.
The Department has however failed to procure service providers due to delays caused by themselves in the procurement processes that resulted in the under spending and subsequently, the money that was initially appropriated, taken back by Provincial Treasury. This, Honorable Speaker, is unacceptable and unfortunate for the poor beneficiaries we are serving.
The ever-increasing constraint on the departmental budgets means that the MEC will have to run a tighter operation and focus on strengthening its monitoring in all aspects. It means that there is no space left for any form of error.
Hon Speaker, it is my hope that our MEC for Social Development is not all talk, because policies look great on paper, but it is the action that comes from that that will prove the true worth of this department.
The Democratic Alliance supports the report.