30 August 2011
Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini
Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media
Thank you and welcome to the Social Protection and Community Development Cluster media briefing session.
The purpose of this briefing is to provide the Cluster‘s progress in relation to government’s five priories and also elaborate on future plans to achieve the priorities indentified by the recent Cabinet Lekgotla. The briefing will also focus broadly on progress with respect to some of the 12 government outcomes as well as on a range of service delivery areas that form part of the Cluster’s mandate.
We continue to make impressive progress with regard to the implementation of the second phase of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). To date more than 308 000 work opportunities have been created since the beginning of the current fiscal year, with the most of the work opportunities created in the infrastructure sector. The measures outlined in phase 2 will refocus our resources to ensure expansion of further job opportunities in other programmes such as Community Safety, Mass Participation in Sport, Khari Gude Mass Literacy, School Nutrition Programmes and Cemetery Management Programme. Other initiatives include Waste Management Programme.
The Department of Public Works in partnership with the Independent Development Trust (IDT) has initiated and is implementing the Food for Waste Programme. The Programme is aimed at assisting municipalities to provide the Waste Collection Services specifically where municipalities are unable to provide such service. The Programme is currently being rolled out in the nine provinces in 30 municipalities. The programme has so far managed to create over 3 000 job opportunities for the poor and vulnerable communities.
The objectives of the programme are to create job opportunities, fighting hunger and poverty, promoting clean environment and promoting recycling, waste reduction and reuse.
The recent Cabinet Lekgotla identified the Community Works Programme, as one of the key job creation and service delivery improvement programmes. Between April 2010 and March this year, the programme created 89 689 job across 45 municipalities covering 417 wards throughout the country. These measures are indicative of the proactive strategic approach the cluster has taken by investing in labour intensive programmes to boost job creation.
One of the first steps to protect children against poverty is to guarantee access to education at an early age, which lays a solid foundation for economic and social development. With this in mind, the Department of Social Development launched the national Early Childhood Development awareness campaign in June this year, focusing on registration of ECD facilities in rural areas and provision of subsidy to eligible children.
As part of the campaign, 297 new ECD centres were registered in the first quarter alone, with 6 300 eligible children receiving subsidy. One of the key elements of this campaign is to ensure equalization of subsidy for all eligible children in ECD centres; irrespective of the where they live in the country. We have also completed the National Integrated Plan for ECD, which includes a new approach to the funding of Grade R.
As we have been emphasizing over the past several months, procurement reforms especially for textbooks is a key element of our commitment to improve education. These reforms include the setting up of a national agency to handle all textbook procurement related matters. Provincial departments will mainly deal with the distribution of textbooks. We hope that with the new approach we will eliminate current challenges, ensure more competitive and transparent bidding process as well as ensure timely delivery of the exact quantities and at the scheduled time.
The School Nutrition Programme has been extended to all secondary school learners in Quintile 3 in eight provinces. To date, 8.6 million learners benefit from the programme.
This government has committed itself to substantially improving the quality of life of our people because high overall level of health of the population is vital for economic growth and development. One relevant aspect, in this context, is the ability to have access to quality and reliable data on South Africa’s key health outcome indicators such as maternal mortality ratio; infant mortality rate and child mortality.
The recent report by the Health Advisory and Coordination Committee indicates that the current baseline life expectancy of South Africans is 56.6 years (54 years for males and 59 years for females). Our target is to increase the life expectancy to 58.5 years by 2014/2015. With regard to maternal and child health, the baseline under-5 mortality rate is 56 per 1, 000 live birth. This is simply not acceptable. Our aim is to reduce the number of under-5 mortality by 10% by 2015 as part of Goal 5 of Millennium Development Goals.
The Department of Health will champion a major initiative to improve the health of women and children. A key element of this initiative is the significant reduction of mother-to-child transmission rates of HIV which contributed to reduction in maternal and child mortality rates. Empirical evidence suggests that the transmission rates have significantly declined from 8% to 3, 5% nationally.
By the end of June this year, the HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign, had reached over 14, 7 million South Africans. Of this number, 13 million people were tested in the public health facilities. The significant achievement this campaign has attained in one year is indicative that we are slowly restoring public confidence in public health. We have the chance for the first time in this country, to create a unified, coherent and effective public awareness on HIV and AIDS, and our aim is to build on the success of this campaign.
We are concerned about the recent spate of traffic accidents involving public transport, including the recent bus accident in which 14 school children lost their lives. This month alone, an estimated 60 people died in separate accidents, mainly in the Western Cape, Mpumalanga, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.
In line with the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety, Minister of Transport, Ndebele has called on all MECs to ensure that all provinces intensify the implementation of road safety programmes. This will include improving visibility and clamping down on traffic law violations.
In a related development, the Department of Social Development will continue to roll out the anti-substance abuse programme in all provinces. A draft integrated programme of action has been submitted to Cabinet for approval.
The Department has finalised the regulations that will bring the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse Act into operation. In addition, the Department has reviewed the National Drug Master Plan and the structure of the Central Drug Authority (CDA) with the view to strengthen government’s determination to tackle alcohol and substance abuse.
Comprehensive Rural Development
Improving the quality of life for rural communities continues to be a priority for the cluster. As part of the zero-hunger programme, more than one million beneficiaries are accessing food through the existing food distribution programmes.
As part of the War on Poverty campaign, we have conducted 26 935 households and 594 community profiles. These profiles are necessary to ensure proper and targeted interventions in areas where there is a need for services.
To date a total of 7956 young people from rural communities are participating in the National Rural Youth Service Corp (NARYSEC). Training programmes include disaster management, construction and information management. This will contribute to skills development as well as service delivery improvement in rural areas.
The recapitalization and development programme, which is aimed at making land reform projects more productive is currently implemented in 171 farms across the country, creating at least 1 316 permanent jobs and 2724 short-term employment. Within a short period of time, this programme has greatly improved the productivity of land reform projects. The success of this programme will go a long way in providing food security for all.
Ladies and gentlemen, the recent Cabinet Lekgotla has committed to an integrated project plan by September 2011 to accelerate the provision of basic services in rural areas as well as addressing service delivery backlogs in 21 identified rural districts.
Crime and Corruption
Conscious of the devastating impact of crime on the social fabric of our society, the Social Crime Prevention Strategy has been approved by all the relevant clusters. The strategy is aimed at breaking the cycle of crime at its most critical point, particularly among young people.
The focus of this strategy is on crime prevention, with particular emphasis on the underlying causes of crime and the development of partnerships and practical approaches that will be effective at community level. The strategy will be presented to the Inter-Ministerial Committee and Cabinet before the end of this year.
The programme to construct police stations and other police facilities continue at a brisk pace with infrastructure erected and delivered nationally. Projects at Botokwa and Jane Furse (Limpopo), Tsakane (Gauteng), Joubertina (North West), Chatsworth (KwaZulu-Natal) and Cradock (Eastern Cape) were recently completed and are now operational.
Skills development and other human capital initiatives
As reported in previous briefings, one of the this sector‘s priorities is to improve the quality of life in informal settlement by providing access to quality accommodation, basic services and secure tenure. We are pleased to report that to date the Informal Settlements Upgrading Programme has exceeded the target by providing services in 52 383 sites against a target of 27 054 sites.
In addition a total 8 655 rental housing units were delivered through the Social Housing Programme (2 918 units), the Institutional Subsidy Programme (569 units) and the Community Residential Programme (5 169 units).
The Housing Development Agency (HDA) is now fully operational. To date the Agency has acquired 309 land properties and the provincial departments have acquired an additional 4 944,5 hectares of land in support of our government’s initiatives to provide sustainable human settlements.
In a related development, approval for the new Mortgage Default Insurance Guarantee Scheme has been obtained from the National Housing Finance Corporation and shareholders. All commercial banks have expressed their interest in support of this initiative. By providing default insurance to financial institutions, our government’s aim is to ensure that we put home ownership within the reach of the majority of our people.
For the period under review, the Department of Water Affairs received 1 148 water use licence applications. Of this number, 156 licenses were issued as follows: 49 for agricultural use, 30 for industry; 30 for mining; 36 for municipalities and 11 for afforestation.
Of the 21 mines monitored to date, only thirty percent are compliant. Concerted attempts through regular monitoring are made to ensure that the mining sector complies with the water use licences. This will include consensus on setting targets for the sector.
In the same period, the Blue and Green Drop reports were produced. For the Blue Drop Report, a total of 162 municipalities and 914 water supply systems were assessed. This number is up from the 153 municipalities and 787 in the previous year. This assessment act as positive stimulus and contributes to creating awareness for gradual and sustainable improvement across the country, thus an improvement in the results of the Blue Drop report related to water quality.
Of the 821 waste water treatment works assessed for the Green Drop Report, thirty one percent were found to be compliant. While we note this positive progress, a lot more still needs to be done to reach an acceptable level of compliance.
Social Security Reform
We continue to make progress on many other fronts, particularly on our endeavour to build an inclusive society. At the end of the first quarter 5 820 households and 23 733 social grant beneficiaries were linked to economic opportunities.
With regard to social security reform, the policy on mandatory retirement provisions is awaiting approval by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Social Security Reform before presentation to Cabinet. Other initiatives include the assessment tool for children with disabilities as well as work on Social Relief Policy and Social Relief Bill.
The Social Relief Policy and Social Relief Bill seek to create a new institutional and legal framework and delegation of responsibilities to provinces to ensure a timely humanitarian relief in the event of sudden contingencies.
As we come to the end of the successful Women’s Month, the cluster has and continues to build up momentum towards the achievement of our government’s priorities, with particular focus on the economic empowerment of women. In this regard the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities is currently working on the Gender Equality Bill, which seeks to address gender parity issues as well as compliance and accountability in both the public and private sectors.
In partnership with the World Bank, the Department is also looking at measures to ensure that the New Growth Path and Jobs Fund address issues of women economic empowerment in job creation programmes. This will include the development of gender barometer to gauge progress.
More than ever before, we are determined to accelerate the pace of delivery on key priorities of the cluster and to act with even greater determination and focus on meeting the needs of the people of our country. We will continue working collectively to ensure that this progress is not only sustained, but elevated to a higher level during the course of the current financial year and many years to come.
I thank you.
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Issued by Government Communications (GCIS)