18 June 2012
Statement by Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini
Ministers and Deputy Ministers present,
Members of the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to the Social Protection and Community Development component of the Social Cluster briefing. The purpose of this briefing is to give an update to the nation on progress made since our last briefing post the State of the Nation Address in February. We are reporting on the implementation of our plans set out in the delivery agreements. The cluster will also cover additional key programmes of government that contribute to the priorities of government to be reported on by other clusters. We are happy to say that we have made good progress towards the attainment of the outcomes as well as commitments and pronouncements made.
This briefing is taking place two days after the 36th anniversary of the Soweto and related uprisings of 16 June 1976. During this month, we pay tribute and celebrate the role and efforts of the youth of South Africa who waged the struggle for liberation and a better life for all. This year, we commemorate this Youth Month under the theme “Together We Can Do More to Build Infrastructure and Fight Youth Unemployment, Poverty and Inequality”. As we celebrate the sacrifices of the youth of 1976, we also encourage present day youth to put their shoulder to the wheel and make their own contribution to the unfolding democratic transition in our country.
In 2010 we committed ourselves to achieve quality basic education for our children. In order to achieve this outcome, our cluster focused on the expansion of access to early childhood development services to create a firm foundation for positive developmental, health and learning outcomes. As part of this effort, we held a successful Early Childhood Development (ECD) conference in the Eastern Cape in March this year in order to consolidate a shared understanding of the importance of ECD among various role players within government, as well as our partners in civil society, academia, UN agencies and the ECD caregivers and practitioners themselves.
The conference reaffirmed the importance of the first thousand days in the child’s life from conception, which provide a child with a unique opportunity for cognitive development, sensory motor coordination and the overall wellbeing. The conference agreed that all efforts must be made to expand access to ECD services to all children, especially those in the rural areas as well as children with special needs, to ensure that they are given a good start during the early stages of their lives.
As a contribution towards the achievement of Outcome 1, a total of 870 834 children now have access to ECD programmes, which means an increase of 22 834 children from birth to 5 years of age having access to ECD programmes since February 2012. We have also ensured that 412 ECD programmes comply with the norms and standards. We further have 407 Partial Care facilities which are registered. The Human Development Cluster will give a comprehensive statement on progress made in respect of these issues inclusive of details related to school readiness and the quality of teaching and learning.
Access to early childhood development services has a multiplier effect. This includes providing work opportunities for women as caregivers and early childhood development practitioners, while freeing mothers of working age to go to work and young parents to continue with their education. The job creation potential of ECD has rendered this programme as one of the key contributors of the Social Sector plan of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). The social sector plan constitutes 15% of the overall programme.
Working towards the target of 4, 9 million job opportunities over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework 2009-2014, the Social Sector plan is responsible for the creation of 750 000 work opportunities. To date we have created 500 000 work opportunities. On a straight line analysis we are at 50 000 work opportunities ahead of the scheduled target (450 000). For the 2011/12 financial year, which ended 31 March, we created 164 662 work opportunities against a target of 132 000, thereby exceeding the target by 32 662.
Initially the sector implemented two main programmes namely the Early Childhood Development (ECD) and Home Community Based Care Programmes. The Social Sector plan has since been expanded to include the Mass Sports Programmes, Kha Ri Gude Mass Adult Literacy Campaign and School Nutrition Programme. Government is also exploring the inclusion of community safety and security programmes as part of EPWP. Through the current and newly integrated social sector programmes, we were able to create 96 000 work opportunities and 23 348 work opportunities were created during the third and the fourth quarter. This number includes 10 000 social grant beneficiaries that were linked to employment and work opportunities.
Through National Rural Youth Services Corps (NARYSEC), 2 500 youth were granted workplace training and 70 are enrolled at the Agricultural college to study animal production. Approximately, 1 000 learners are placed on discipline training with the Department of Defence, while others are completing theoretical training at Further Education and Training (FET) colleges. Individuals, particularly the youth involved in NARYSEC have indicated that their lives and those of their families have improved since the introduction of this programme. These interventions contributed to access to land for production, food security, access to markets and increased income.
In addition, government has now adopted a Child and Youth Care Programme, using the Isibindi Model (courage), which focuses on orphaned and vulnerable children living in child headed households. This programme affords an opportunity for young people to be trained as child and youth care workers to provide overall life skills orientation and support, including school work at home to children living in child headed households. Effective April 2013, we will train an additional ten thousand child and youth care workers to extend their services to more orphaned and vulnerable children.
The cluster is committed to prevent all forms of abuse against women and children. To achieve this goal, we are working together with civil society to develop a coordinated response to address this scourge. We call upon communities to oppose all forms of violence against women and children and to get actively involved in initiatives to combat violence against women and children. As part of our mobilisation campaign, we held a successful Child Protection Week from 27 May to 3 June 2012 throughout the country, launched by The President in Kimberley.
During the Child Protection Week, I was impressed by members of our communities who have taken it upon themselves to assist government in providing care and support to orphaned and vulnerable children. It was also disheartening to learn about the lack of support from social workers in the provision of much needed services.
Ladies and gentlemen, our efforts at building vibrant communities continue to be undermined by persistent social ills such as alcohol and substance abuse. In our efforts to continue strengthen our campaign against this scourge, on Saturday this week, we will be commemorating the International Day against Drug Abuse and illicit trafficking in Mpumalanga, Bushbuckridge.
We acknowledge that substance and alcohol abuse are amongst the ever-increasing challenges facing the youth globally and in South Africa. The transition from adolescence to young adulthood is a crucial period in which experiment with Alcohol and Illicit drugs usage usually takes place. Drugs may have a strong appeal to young people, especially at that stage when they are most susceptible to peer pressure and are trying to find their own identity.
However, alcohol remains the most common primary drug of choice across the country and it results into a burden of risks including accidents, injuries, teenage pregnancies as well as unprotected sexual behaviour which leads to HIV transmission.
Substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking is a global phenomenon, and South Africa is no exception. This has serious implications for the millions of citizens because substance abuse contributes to crime, domestic violence, family dysfunction and other forms of social problems. The South African government recognizes that the drug problem is complex and requires decisive and collective national action.
The Inter-Ministerial Committee on anti- alcohol and substance abuse has considered the draft bill on restricting alcohol advertising and marketing. The draft bill will be submitted to cabinet before the end of this year for consideration. Draft bills dealing with matters such as raising the purchasing age of alcohol from 18 to 21 years, zero tolerance to drunk driving, management of geographic spread and licensing of shebeens will also be tabled before Cabinet before the end of the year.
Ladies and gentlemen, the fight against poverty as a multi-dimensional phenomenon remains firmly on our agenda. Social grants, with a budget of R105 billion, remains government’s biggest poverty alleviation measure. The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) provides social grants to over 15 million beneficiaries, and therefore bears the responsibility to ensure that only legitimate beneficiaries are on the system. To this end, SASSA has intensified mechanisms to reduce fraud and corruption within the social security system. We have already started with the re-registration process of grant beneficiaries. Between April and end of May 2012 SASSA has managed to get all its cash beneficiaries on a limited biometric card swop. From 1 June 2012 SASSA is undertaking full reregistration of all social grant beneficiaries, including babies, on a comprehensive biometric identification system.
In responding to the economic downturn which affects both South Africa and the world, government resolved to undertake and implement several measures to curb and minimise the impact of this challenge. The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has always provided a safety net to alleviate hardships to those affected by economic down turn. The fund has provided relief to seven hundred and five thousand, eight hundred and fifty six unemployed people (705 856) from April last year until March 2012. A total amount of R5.6 billion was spent for this purpose.
Several initiatives including amongst others, the training of workers to ensure their competence and empowerment in the labour market were also initiated. Some of the job creation initiatives included the Productivity South Africa Social Plan aimed at saving jobs. Funding was also made available for the training of artisans.
The training for the unemployed scheme is done jointly with the SETAS. In implementing the scheme, the Minister of Labour has approved two training initiatives during the previous financial year. These will be carried out during the 2012/13 financial year where 1850 Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) beneficiaries will be trained in various ICT programmes.
Through the joint collaboration between the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), over 16 000 jobs were created and more than 18 000 work opportunities were saved. The Compensation Fund has also increased pension benefits from R277 860 – R292 032. The percentage increase which is 5.1% translates into R900.00 per month for an average person. Maximum Compensation funeral benefits increased from R13 050– R13, 716.
The Road Accident Fund (Transitional Provisions) Bill was recently tabled in Parliament and was referred to the Portfolio Committee on Transport and the Select Committee on Public Services.
The Road Accident Fund (Transitional) Bill, 2012 (Bill) seeks to provide for transitional measures in respect of certain categories of third parties whose claims were limited to R25 000 under the Road Accident Fund Act prior to 1 August 2008 (“Old Act”). If the Bill is promulgated, a victim who wishes to be subject to the Road Accident Fund Act post 1 August 2008 (new Act) will be entitled to all the benefits of the new Act. These benefits include entitlement to claim up to R25 000 in general damages, even if they are not seriously injured. This is in addition to claims for medical expenses, loss of income and support and, if the claimant is seriously injured, general damages. The Bill will make it clear that a victim obtaining the benefits of the new Act cannot claim double compensation from the Fund in respect of a motor vehicle accident.
Ladies and gentlemen, our government is committed to providing sustainable human settlements in order to improve the quality of household life for the poor. Such provision entails access to quality accommodation, basic services, secure tenure and affordable mortgage finance.
By the end of March this year, the Informal Settlements Upgrading Programme (ISUP) delivered a total of 114 062 serviced sites. This figure represents 29,5% of the total target of 400 000 for 2014. Of the total number of 45 prioritised cities and towns, 19 of them have established upgrading programmes of informal settlements.
By 31 March 2012 over 22 000 rental units were delivered through the Social Housing Programme. This figure includes the Institutional Subsidy, Community Residential Unit and private rental programmes. It also represents 27.6% of the 2014 target. A total of 72 out of the 130 restructuring zones have been gazetted as provisional restructuring zones.
To accelerate human settlements, the Housing Development Agency assessed more than 35 219 hectares of state land for suitability. The Housing Development Agency is in the process of acquiring 1 329 hectares of urban land while an additional 500 hectares of privately owned properties are being considered. A total of 111,792 hectares of provincially held land were released for human settlements.
The National Housing Finance Cooperation (NHFC) has interacted with all Provinces to identify pilot projects with regard to the Finance-linked Individual Housing Subsidy, to re-prioritise funding allocations and to conclude implementation protocols. A total number of more than 115,177 loans have been issued since 1 April 2010 up to 31 March 2012 by the National Housing Finance Cooperation, Nurcha and the Rural Housing Loan Fund.
Government is committed to improving its efforts at ensuring food security for all in the country, starting with vulnerable households and communities. To this end, households have established 4 776 food gardens to produce their own food. This poverty alleviation model ensures that communities participate in their own development.
The Food Banks Programme which is part of the Zero Hunger Strategy is an important channel through which vulnerable people access food. Government is funding the Food Banks Programme as it extends the reach of government programmes to ensure food security in the country. Between January and March 2012, the Food Banks distributed approximately 3.8 million meals. They reached approximately 320 000 beneficiaries a month working through 1600 agencies composed of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Community Based Organisations (CBOs).
During this quarter, a total of 21 226 rural households had access to safe running water and 2 235 water tanks were distributed between January and March 2012. According to the report from the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) the average percentage of rural households with access to water is now estimated at 89.38% (4.38% increase from December 2011). However there are challenges which include poor quality of water and lack of water sources in some of the municipal areas. As an intervention, the DWA has identified hot spot municipal areas where poor performance could result in health or environmental risks. These areas are being communicated with provincial sector partners for intervention.
To ensure that South Africans have access to quality water, an estimated 149,694 people were served with water during the first quarter. The total estimated number people served during 2011/12 financial year (April 2011 – March 2012) are 598,776.
Ladies and gentlemen, as we conclude, we would like to highlight the fact that government, through the Department of Social Development is currently engaging the Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) sector in dialogue across all provinces. Many social sector departments depend on NPOs to render services. The purpose of the provincial dialogues is to engage NPOs on matters of mutual concern such as funding and service delivery. Government is keen to ensure that NPOs operate in a more efficient and sustainable manner thus fulfilling the needs of the rural based communities. We are concerned about the lack of transformation in the NPO sector especially at community centres and that most of the funds transferred by government are spent on administration rather than the delivery of actual services for our communities.
We encourage NPOs to participate in the provincial dialogues that will culminate into the national summit which will take place in August this year. The outcomes of this summit will result in the formation of a forum which will assist in strengthening the relations between government and the NPO sector.
Chief Director: Social Cluster Communication
Cell: 076 794 9120
Issued by: GCIS on behalf of the Social Protection and Community Development Cluster