Media release

Social Protection and Community Development Cluster media briefing

14 February 2012

14 February 2012

Chairperson: Minister of Social Development, Minister Bathabile Dlamini, MP
Deputy Chairperson: Minister of Public Works, Minister Thulas Nxesi, MP

Deputy Ministers
Directors-General and CEOs
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen

Welcome to the Social Protection and Community Development cluster briefing.

In his State of the Nation Address (SoNA), The Honourable President Mr Jacob Zuma identified the tackling of poverty, inequality and unemployment as a central theme for the work of Government in the year ahead.

In this regard, the role of this cluster is to rally the social sector of government through its integrated and comprehensive programme interventions, to protect South Africans from the vicious cycle of these triple challenges and the tapestry of social ills that continue to afflict our society.

In responding to these challenges, as part of its outcomes approach, Government, through the Department of Social Development and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), provide income support in the form of social grants to about 15.3 million South Africans, 10.3 million of whom are children.

SASSA is developing a new payment model to be supported by effective administration and management systems, to enable it to directly pay “the right social grant to the right person, Njalo!”

Meanwhile, SASSA has awarded a tender to the Cash Paymaster Services to continue the payment of social grants for the next five years at a reduced cost. While it reaches out to ensure that all eligible persons receive their relevant social grant, this year, SASSA will continue to work hard to eliminate and detect fraud as well as corruption within the social grants system.

As part of these efforts, SASSA will re-register all its beneficiaries.

Despite the proven effectiveness of social grants in protecting the poor against abject poverty, especially at the recent peak of the global financial crisis, perceptions abound that the child support grant leads to teenage pregnancies and that young mothers abuse the grant. The Human Sciences Research Council study had debunked these myths.

To further enhance our efforts of fighting food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition, Cabinet established an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Food Security, co-led by the Ministers of Social Development and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The IMC is tasked to deliver an integrated, inter-sectoral programme, based on the Brazilian model of “Fome Zero” (Zero Hunger), which is aimed at the fulfilment of the citizen’s rights to food. The fulfilment of this right will generate demand for the supply of nutritious food and the state will use state procurement of food as a catalyst to grow and support food production and local procurement.

All these gains could easily be undermined by the growing scourge of substance abuse, in particular the abuse of alcohol. The Inter-Ministerial Committee will this year intensify the campaign to reduce the harmful effects of alcohol and substance abuse.

Government recognises the need to protect the rights of the South African child. We acknowledge the millions of children who have been robbed of their childhood and forced to assume adult responsibilities and are heading their households. The recruitment of Child and Youth Care Workers will start this year to assist in the care and nurturing of orphaned and vulnerable children.

In a quest to improve the foundation phase of education in South Africa, government will continuously raise awareness about the Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme to increase accessibility to such services. These services have the potential to expose children to an educational environment that shapes their social, cognitive and emotional skills. We currently have a total of 19 331 registered ECD centres in the country. More than 848 000 children receive ECD services at these centres and over 514 000 of them are subsidised by government. We will in March this year host a national ECD Conference which will look at the successes and challenges in the sector.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Another area where successive apartheid regimes managed to keep our people under the yoke of poverty was to deny them access to assets that will empower them to make financial decisions. The ANC-led government took a conscious decision to make the delivery of housing a cornerstone of its programmes to deal decisively with asset poverty that still characterises the South African landscape. To date our government has delivered over 3 million subsidised housing since 1994. And as a result, South Africa is benchmarked against the best in the world in providing free housing to poor citizens. Government is on track in meeting its target of having 6 250 hectares of state land released for human settlements development by 2014. The number of informal settlements has also been reduced by 250 from 2 700 in 2009 to 2 450 in 2011.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Department of Social Development has over the last five years developed extensive policy proposals on the reform of social security as a critical component of a decent work agenda. These include a focus on the domain of social security and include amongst others the removal of the means test for the old age grant so as not to punish those who have saved through a provident fund.

We further proposed the introduction of a mandatory system of retirement, the introduction of state provided contributory disability benefits and income of their survivors in the event of the death of a worker. However, for those in low income jobs we propose that government subsidises their contributions.

In its 100 years of existence, the ANC both as a liberation movement and a governing party has developed a pedigree as the champion for the poor and the unemployed. The recent downturn in the economy has resulted in job losses. To this end, the Unemployment Insurance Fund has provided a safety net that has continued to give those who have lost their jobs sustenance. In continuing to play this very significant role in alleviating the harmful effects of unemployment, the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) provided relief to 590 000 unemployed people between April 2011 to January 2012 and disbursed up to R4.7 billion.

In addition, the Minister of Labour approved various initiatives aimed at creating employment through training and re-skilling of workers in order to give them capacity to compete in the open economy. The job creation initiatives of the Department of Labour include funding provided by the UIF for the following:

  • Productivity South Africa’s social plan. Funds were committed in this financial year towards the Social Plan with the aim of saving a further 20 000 jobs.
  • Funding for the training of the Unemployed scheme. The scheme is aimed at developing skills in specific artisan trades with a view to trainees being eventually employed and possessing scarce skills. The training for the Unemployed scheme is done in partnership with the various sector education and training authorities (SETAs).

The Compensation Fund is making strides in improving policy in the rehabilitation of employees and re-integration, post occupational injury or occupational diseases. Furthermore, a policy framework is being developed to provide guidelines for all stakeholders that include employees, employers, healthcare providers and the general public for vocational rehabilitation.

In the effort to bring more vulnerable sectors within the social protection floor, efforts are underway to amend provisions of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act. This will include other sectors of our society like domestic workers who are not covered at the moment.

In response to the problem of poverty accentuated by high rate of unemployment, the government spearheaded the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) aimed at alleviating poverty through the provision of short to medium term labour intensive work opportunities to the poor and unemployed South Africans.

By the end of the second quarter of this financial year, about 549 982 job opportunities had been created against the target of 868 000. Chief amongst this is the contribution by the Community Works Programme which created more than 79 000 work opportunities in the same period benefitting women and the youth particularly from the poor rural families. In addition, the Human Settlements Programme created over 50 000 direct jobs, 4 653 indirect jobs and 21 446 induced job opportunities.

The emphasis therefore on infrastructure expansion in the SoNA creates the ideal opportunity to introduce a labour-intensive approach in the context of large capital projects.It is envisaged that many EPWP work opportunities will be created.

The EPWP Integrated Incentive Model has been reviewed with a rural bias to enable rural municipalities to access the funding upfront thus enabling those municipalities to start with new projects to create work opportunities.

In addition, through the combined programmes of business support, enterprise financing and labour intensive activities in the social sector, 1 355 new jobs were facilitated by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) in the past year. A total of 2 039 young people were enrolled on the matric rewrite project and close to 5 000 were provided with career guidance.

South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies in the world. Government has a responsibility to close this gap and the cluster has put together a number of programmes to address this.

Under the protection of vulnerable groups, the cluster will finalise consultations on theWomen Empowerment and Gender Equality Policy which will lead towards the Woman Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill. The Bill will promote compliance to gender equality within both government and the private sector.

The continued spectre of violence against women and children has led to the establishment of the National Council Against Gender-Based Violence which will be operational in the new financial year. Reduction in the incidences of gender-based violence and greater public awareness and partnerships between government and civil society are some of its expected results.

The cluster also launched a campaign to make sure that people with disabilities get better access to public amenities including educational institutions, housing, medical facilities, emergency services, public transport, information and communications.

Members of the media,

To address the inherent inequalities in the property ownership patterns, the R1 billion Mortgage Default Insurance (MDI) announced in 2010 will start operating in the new financial year. The MDI will mitigate the default risk on mortgage loan repayments to the Banks.

Through the revised Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme (FLISP), people who earn between R3 501 and R15 000 will access a subsidy from provinces of up to R83 000. This will enable them to secure housing finance of up to R300 000 from an accredited bank.

After 17 years of democracy, government is concerned that some military veterans still do not completely enjoy the fruits of freedom. To address this anomaly, theMilitary Veterans Bill seeks to improve their conditions in respect of healthcare, education, housing and welfare.

The National Traditional Affairs Bill will also be introduced following extensive national public hearings. The Bill is amongst others intended to restore the dignity of the Khoi San communities who, for centuries have experienced the worst form of oppression and injustice. The Bill will go a long way in enhancing social cohesion and deepening democracy.

The year 2013 will mark the centenary of the Native Land Act of 1913, which took away 87% of the land from African people. The constitution requires that the state must realise the restitution of land rights for those who were dispossessed by the Act. We have only redistributed 8% of the 30% target of land redistribution for 2014 that we set for ourselves. The process is slow and tedious and there is general agreement that the willing buyer – willing seller option has not been the best way to address this question. That is why we introduced a new policy framework - the Green paper on Land Reform.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Social Protection and Community Development Cluster values your support as the media. “Working together we can do more”.

I thank you.

For enquiries, kindly contact:

Ms Penny Ntuli
Chief Director: Social Cluster Communication
Cell: 076 794 9120

Statement issued by: Social Protection and Community Development Cluster

Issued by: Department of Social Development

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