30 July 2020
Honourable Speaker and Deputy Speakerof the National Assembly;
Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu;and
Fellow South Africans.
I pay tribute to all the social services’ professionals. These are our frontline troops inour national responses to the adverse social impact of the coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic that is distabilising our households, communities and society at large. Whether you are a social worker, community development practitioner, child and youth care worker, probation officer or community volunteer, I hereby commend your tirelesscommitmenttowards the South Africanwe want to inhabit the South Africa we want. I truly thank you!
Never before in recentmemory have the social service professions (SSPs) been called to contribute to the frontlines to resolve asexceedingly complex challenges as those that accompany the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike any other in the past ninety (90)years, social development servicesare called upon in the face of a public health crisis-inducedsocial and economic catastrophe. Characterising the period wherein society needs you most is an increasingly weakening global economic growth and the fast-disappearanceof previously-available public and private resources.
Against the adverse impact that the COVID-19 pandemicis having on our society,I hereby welcome the opportunity to update this House abouttheimplementation progress of the targeted measures of the Department of Social Development.This Executive Statement is made before you as part of our government’s demonstration of the extraordinary measures that we intentionally planned and are implementing to protect all South Africans against the unprecedented socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result of our extraordinary COVID-19 measures, we further secure the realisation of the objectives and targets that we set out and agreed upon in the National Development Plan 2030: Our Future —Make it Work.What do we mean by “Social” in Social DevelopmentIn this Executive Statement not only amI drawingour collective attention to the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the essence and makeupof our social fabric.I particularly call upon all of us to realistically evaluate the relevance and sufficiency of our collective COVID-19-mitigating investments and efforts. These arethe investments and efforts with which we seek to undo the impact of thegreatest misfortune that has befallen us, and particularlythemost vulnerable members of our society,since colonialism-apartheid.
In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of South Africans cannot continue being the “pariahs” that Sol Plaatjesaid wewere relegated toin the pre-democracy periodof this country. It is for this reason that when it assumed government the African National Congress (ANC)adopteda coordinated and comprehensiveapproach towardsthe development of the people of this country.
It is for this reason that sixty-five (65) years ago the Freedom Charterframed development (meaning the composite of social and economic development) as(I quote)a “birth right”(Unquote).
This is particularly true today under the conditions that the COVID-19 pandemic is imposingupon us.For this reason, and properly understood,social development is the function of multi-stakeholder and transversal partnerships that involve the ANC-led government, the privatesector, civil society, academia-research institutions and our multilateral partners. In the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, the “social”in social development represents the participation of each and everyone of us through partnershipsthat are focusedon resolving our social challenges.
Few among the partners we have been working with towards dealing with theCOVID-19 accompanying challenges since March 2020 are:the United Nations; Solidarity Fund; the Spar Group; the Church of Christ of the Latter Day Saints; Old Mutual; Unilever; Khula Milling; SA Sugar Association; South African Breweries; and Procter and Gamble.
The most vulnerable of ourcountrywomen and –menwho must benefit from these partnerships and the programmes of social development are:members of our households and communities for whom inter-generational poverty is thescaffold that continues to shape their lived experiences; those with health comorbidities; children;the unemployedand unemployable;our senior citizens; single parents; people with disabilities; youth;our country’s women; the hungry; and those who live in townships,remote and rural places of our country.
This Executive Statement serves to remind us of the known but long-denied as well as hidden vulnerabilities that our people involuntarily live with. Despite the denial of their vulnerabilities by some among us, the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic is reinforcingthevisibilityof the adversely affected among us.
The Social Development Portfolio
I herebywish to assure you that the Departmentof Social Development, its entities (the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the National Development Agency (NDA), the provincial departments of social development,the South African Council for Social Services Professions (SACSSP), our funded not-for-profit (NPOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs),cooperativesand our partnerinstitutionsare working hardto mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on each and every one of us, particularly the vulnerable.
Together, we are the Social Development Portfolio.As soon as the Sixth Administration of our democracy assumed office, I led the Social Development sector into adoptingtheportfolio approach. As the Social Development Portfoliotodaywe plan, prioritise, resource, implementand evaluatethe effectiveness, outcomes and impact of our interventionscollectively.The portfolioapproach has been particularly beneficial inthe face of the unprecedented social development challenges that accompany the COVID-19 pandemic, where we:needed to harness and improve resources’ and programmaticefficiencies;and uncover and mobilise social innovations. The COVID-19 pandemic flungopen ourdoors tolearning.
For this reason, we learn from one another as much as we learn from others. This is how we continue to improve our programmes.Owing to itsinherent advantages andconfiguration, and one hundred and thirty-seven (137)days after the state of national disaster was declared and one hundred and twenty-six (126)days into the national lockdown, the Social Development Portfolio isacting in concert inimplementing,learning,adapting andmeasuring itsCOVID-19-targeted programmesandoutcomes.
Consequently, the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic inSouth Africahas stimulatedgreater sector-wide coordination and collaborations, as much as it is inspiringour programmes’ agility and responsiveness. The portfolio approach is particularly useful where we target and deploy it through the District-centred Development Model. NCCC and the District-centred Development Model. The Social Development Portfolio contributes its responses to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) through the NatJoInts.
These structures are replicated at, and their work is coordinated through, the provincial and district and metropolitan municipalities’ spheres of government. To this end, I am pursuing processes that are targeted at deriving prime value from the recent appointment of district champions tothe fifty-two (52)district and metropolitan municipalities throughout the country.
Through these district champions, the Social Development Portfolio will improve theproximity and responsiveness of its programmes relative to the felt needs ofourcommunitiesin so far as the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is concerned.
R500 Billion Investment
The Social Development Portfolio is among government’s key implementers of the three-pronged social relief and economic support packagewhose value President Cyril Ramaphosa announced to be five hundred billion Rands(R500 Billion). This represents government investing ten percent (10%)of South Africa’sgross domestic product (GDP)into our people as well as the economy. Our government directed an unprecedented fifty billion Randsof this towards relieving the plight of the unemployed and current grant beneficiaries.As expected, the Social Development Portfolio rose to the challengeto defend South Africans against the COVID-19 pandemicthrough theadministrationof the social relief stimulus package.
Verifiably, the following are among the investments we have been makingsince the lockdown period. We have:
allocated a total of forty point five billion Rands (R40.5 Billion)to boost our sector-level responsesto the pandemic;
allocated ninety-five million Rands (R95 Million)from the Criminal Assets Recovery Account (CARA) to strengthen services forcombatingthe shadow pandemic of gender-based violence and femicide(GBVF);
distributed overone point two million(1.2 million)food parcels fromwhich six (6)millionindividuals (counted at household level)gained access to food;
employedan additional one thousand eight hundred (1800)unemployed social work graduates. While the Free State provincial department of social development has extended the contracts of these graduates by another nine (9)months, it is exploring ways of absorbing them into permanent employment(in this respect, other provincial departments areexploring similar options);
received over seventy-six thousand (76000)calls through the Gender Based Violence Command Centre(GBVCC)unto whomthemuch-needed psychosocial support services was provided;
provided physical accommodation, food, psychosocial support, blankets and personal protective equipment (PPE)to over thirteen thousand (13000)homeless persons who were accommodated in one hundred and seventy-seven (177)shelters; and
employed two thousand(2000)youth volunteers through the National Development Agency pursuant of the need to socialisethe COVID-19 pandemic behavioural changes, etiquette, etc.to community members; and
stimulatedyouth entrepreneurship in the production and rendering of services that reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in our communities.
To this end, the President’s economic stimulus packagewill be allocating one point three billion Randstowards the employment of thirty-six thousand(36000)youth as compliance monitors in Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres and partial care facilities.
Social Security GrantsThechild support grant (CSG) beneficiaries received a top-upof three hundred Rands (R300.00)in May. And, between June to October caregivers will receive an five hundred Rands (R500.00)each month. Other grant beneficiaries will receive a top-up of two hundred and fiftyRands(R250.00)per month over the six (6)months’ period that is ending in October2020.
Special COVID-19 SRD GrantThrough SASSA, the Social Development Portfolio developed new grant administrationand payment systems for the special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant for the unemployed. Qualifying applicants will be receiving three hundred and fifty Rands (R350.00)of this grant per month over the six (6)months’ period that is ending in October. Qualification criteria include, applicants: not being beneficiaries of any other form of social security grant or UIF payment; not being in receipt of income at the date of applying.
The COVID-19 social relief stimulus package that the Portfolio innovated and will be administering until October alleviates the beneficiaries’ day-to-day challenges. This social relief stimulus package has no equivalent in South Africa’s historyboth qualitatively (focused on unemployment) and in scale (the COVID-19 pandemic has grown South Africa’s unemployment figure to beyond ten point two (10.2) million). The COVID-19 SRDgrantis the best pilot fora universal social relief package.
To date, we have received seven point eight (7.8) millionCOVID-19 SRD grant applications. The specialCOVID-19 SRD grantpayments have duly been paid intothe accountsof five (5) millionof these applicants. This number represents those that were found to be eligibleandwhose information has been verified by various databases.Let me hasten to add that the information of all the applicants who were previously disqualified by the various validations databases we work with (for instance, the UIF, SARS, NSFAS, etc.) is continuously being re-run in these databases.
Therefore, all the applicants that were previously disqualified due to database errors are being reconsidered.As we do this, the number of applicants who are eligible for the special COVID-19 SRD grant is increasing. These are being notified of their payment of the special COVID-19 SRD grant.In this regard, payments for the months of June and July —totalling seven hundred Rands (R700.00)—have commenced, andapproximately one (1)millionapplicants in this category of applicants are receiving their payments. Among those who are receiving their special COVID-19 SRD grantare Ms Mokgadi Natalia Malatji, Mr Sbu Nkosi and Mr Elliot Monareng.
We have developed a dedicated appeals mechanism with whom aggrieved applicants can raise dissatisfactions with their application outcomes.While we are noting that the special COVID-19 SRD grant may be addressing the money-metric dimensions of the applicants’ lives, increasingly the beneficiaries are reporting that this grant is opening up other opportunities that they previously could not access. Inother words, the special COVID-19 SRD grant is uncovering “human capabilities”among its beneficiaries.
Thus, the special COVID-19 SRD grant is adding to the efforts of the ANC-led governmentto undo thehistorical social and economic injusticesthat made South Africa the most unequal society in living memory.For this reason,no one will beleft behind.Corruptionand Mismanagement
In his address to the nation last week on 23 July 2020,President Cyril Ramaphosa provided detailed guidance relating to (I quote)“...the management of the resources that we have dedicated towards the fight against COVID-19” (Unquote). Ihereby reiterate my unflinching commitment to this House, the President of South Africa, the taxpayer, and the nine state institutions that the President mandated to deal with the theft, abuse, misappropriation and mismanagement of the COVID-19 response funds.
I immediately offer to assist the processes that are designed to investigate related misconduct by anyone whatsoever inthe Department of Social Development and its entities. Furthermore, Iencourage the members of the public to report misconduct in the areas of, forinstance, the distribution of food parcels, social relief grants, the procurement and overpricing of personal protective equipment (PPEs) and COVID-19-related medical supplies, etc..
The BIG Discourse
As much as we are meticulously noting what works with the COVID-19 SRD grant, we are equally welcomingand encouragingdeeper public discourse that is centred at innovatingsustainable social protection coverage solutions that are targeted ataddressing poverty and inequalityby developing our society: theworld’s most unequal society!
Therefore, every South African mustcontribute towards meaningfullydefining the paths that will engineer our society into thenew normal wherein, as we envisaged in the National Development Plan(NDP), the social protection coverage is extended to personsaged 18 to 59 years in the post-October 2020period. Among the ongoing momentous public discoursesonthepossibilities,design andscaleof the extended social protection coverage isthe Basic Income Grant(BIG).
This truly draws a BIGpublic interest.GBVFAs we wage a war against this invisible enemy, we must not overlook the man-made pandemic (literally) that is afflicting women and girls. This is the pandemic of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF), and itthrives in the shadows, behind walls, where there is silenceand in darkness.In this regard, the Department participated in the recent review of the Domestic Violence Actand other pieces of legislation that are targeted at the protection ofwomen,girlsand vulnerable persons. As much as I am an integral memberof the relevant inter-ministerial committees (IMCs), thisextraordinary period requires tangible action against the GBVF.
Therefore,as Imentioned earlier, through the NDA, the Social Development Portfolio is investingninety-five million Rands (R95 Million)towards supporting civil society organisations in the GBVF sector.Equally, we have increased the capacity of the Gender Based Violence Command Centre (GBVCC) towards meaningfullymeetingtheincreasingdemand for our services. The one thousand eight hundred (1800)social work graduates that we employed are focusing ondealingwith the multifaceted societal behavioural change challenges, including anti-substance interventions.
Pursuant of the spirit of the National Drug Master Plan,we are grateful to the President and Cabinet for reinstating the ban on the sale and consumptionof alcohol as the presenceof alcohol correlates with the increases in the number of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) occurrencesas well as other social ills.As the ANCresolved during its fifty-fourth (54th) Conference in 2017, (I quote)“...societies that are unequal socially and economically are more prone to have people who engage in the harmful use of alcohol and drugs, to have high levels of violence and high levels of gender based violence”(Unquote).As it would be saidcolloquially, as we moveddeeper into the lockdownit was as if these pre-COVID-19 observations were on steroids.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought some lessons for the Social Development Portfolio. Among these, the following are noteworthy:
Whereas the size of the budget that is allocated towards a programme would instinctively be a“solution”to most social development challenges, the economic configurations have thrust the need for partnerships that are founded on the sustainability of society right inthe forefront. For instance, where the fiscus cannot afford to absorb unemployedsocial service professionals (SSPs) into permanent employability, private sector partners can absorb these as part of their corporate social investment(CSI).
Whereas government has provided a broad guide for the implementation of programmesthrough the District-centred Development Model, the Social Development Portfolio is being presented with the opportunity to fine-tune this for the sector and further develop municipal wardlevel programme planningand resource allocation.
The Social Development Portfolio can deliver some of its services by investing in technological capabilities.
The special COVID-19 SRD grant has uncovered the pitfallsof disjointedness and questionable integrity of the state’s databases. The grant has sharply pushed all stakeholders to think of government’s service provision dataas a single data ecosystem.
Therefore,the improvement of the special COVID-19 SRD grantwill mainly be premised on the integration of government’s service provision data ecosystem.
On behalf of all ofgovernment, I take this opportunity toexpress our condolences to the families, relations andfriends of those who lost their loved ones to this pandemic.
I thank you.