Ms Cynthia Majeke, UDM Member of Parliament

Subject for Discussion: Budget Vote 17: Social Development

Honourable Speaker and members

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) supports the report. However, the UDM feels that there are major obstacles in the way that the department must overcome, namely within social work graduates and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA).

Chairperson, drugs and alcohol abuse is one of the struggles that the country is facing. Parallel to this struggle is that thousands of social work graduates are trained at huge cost to state and are languishing at home and on the street corners of our villages and townships without work.

In 2018, it is projected that the number of unemployed social workers will jump to 8 600 from 3 800. This increase is from the 4 840 social work students with government bursaries mainly from this very department.

The UDM agrees with the chairperson of the portfolio committee that discontinuing the funding is not the solution and will create further crisis. South Africa has not enough social workers to drive the departmental community development agenda towards a caring and inclusive society as envisaged in the National Development Plan (NDP).

We therefore propose that:

• The department engages with other departments like correctional service to assess the need for this skill and channel the unemployed graduates accordingly.
• Train the unemployed graduates in community development and ensure that the department drives this important programme with the requisite capacity.
• Extend the community development programme to non-profit organisations and non-governmental organisation so that the proper utilisation of social workers is spread and that our communities are assisted to development consistent with the 2030 vision.

The UDM is also angered by fact that SASSA officials deliberately misled beneficiaries and forced them to migrate from a cash payment system to an online system which create many complications for beneficiaries who are not familiar with online cash systems.

Furthermore, the lack of understanding by some beneficiaries of online systems, leave them oblivious to unlawful deductions and corruption as seen in the past.

SASSA must address the problems caused by those officials have deliberately misled the beneficiaries and must take the appropriate actions:
1. They must receive a suspension without pay for a period of no less than three months.
2. They must commit to do community service in that time to give back to a community they deliberately misled.
3. SASSA must make every effort to communicate the situation to those who are affected and revert the migration for those who wish to make use of the cash payment points.

The UDM also recommends that government quickly creates a reliable, safe and fast system to pay out SASSA beneficiaries. Long queues and offline systems slow productivity of the country and need to be mended with the utmost urgency.

The Chief Executive Officer of SASSA must fill the vacancies. The high vacancy rate places stress on the current employees and need to pick up the additional responsibilities and furthermore the vacancy rate will definitely hamper the performance of the office.

Thank you