Freedom Front Plus
Freedom Front Plus

Department of Social Development has enormous task on hand, but its priorities are wrong

(Debate in parliament: Adjustment Budget for Department of Social Development)

The Department of Social Development has an enormous task on hand and even more so during the Covid-19 pandemic. And yet its priorities are all wrong when it comes to sustainable social development and upliftment.

It is indeed part of the Department's mandate to provide social relief, but it is also part of its mandate to develop communities so that they can become self-sufficient. The latter is not happening and the needy are becoming more and more dependent on government grants.

What is particularly alarming in this regard is the deep-rooted and pervasive corruption in Sassa. Like elsewhere, only a few rotten apples spoil the entire basket.

It is encouraging, though, that there are still Sassa staff members who are committed to doing their job and employees at the Department's head office must be singled out for the trouble they went to to help people in need after the FF Plus approached them and asked for assistance.

It is, however, still unacceptable that the situation occurred in the first place. The rotten apples who do not really care about the wellbeing of the most vulnerable ones in the community must be removed.

The inequalities with regard to the allocation of the special emergency grant of R350 are shocking and sad. Many people who do qualify for it and whose livelihood depends on it were refused.

What is especially sad is the expectation that was created when the special grant was announced more than 13 weeks ago. The application process opened more than 11 weeks ago. And still there are people who qualify but who have not yet received a single cent.

What is equally alarming is the way in which vital funds for early childhood development (ECD) have been channelled elsewhere. It is short-sighted and risky.

To successfully execute the Department's mandate of ensuring sustainable development, ECD should be seen as a priority. A child who is let down by the system during his / her developmental years will fail later in life and will then add to the social burden.

The FF Plus believes that the Department's intentions are good. The pandemic has overturned the status quo and it will take quite some time to get used to the new normal.

There are just too many mistakes, too many flaws, too little willpower and way too many examples of where former and new vulnerable ones are let down. And this is mainly the result of poor decision-making regarding priorities.

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