The United Democratic Movement Women’s Organisation (UDEMWO) is greatly concerned that the Department of Social Development has been reported to have returned R15 billion to the National Treasury. Millions of poor people who depend on these crucial social benefits are effectively having their livelihoods and general well-being undermined by this unprecedented leadership deficiency.
It is quite disappointing that Minister Lindiwe Zulu did not mention any plans to return the unused monies to the National Treasury during her response on the 12th of September 2023 at the National Assembly Plenary. The best way to address this serious dereliction of duty is through transparency and accountability, of which she dismally failed when she an opportunity to take the country into confidence.
The UDEMWO acknowledges the technical error that has been cited as the reason for this regrettable tragedy. We are adamant that this justification does not relieve the Department of Social Development of its duty to efficiently administer and distribute grant money, nevertheless. The crucial duty of making sure the social welfare system runs smoothly and effectively has been a responsibility of the department. Any excuses in this regard is unacceptable.
Grant beneficiaries have been abandoned by the Department of Social Development before. And it seems like the government has a tendency to appoint incompetent deployees under this portfolio. Former minister Bathabile Dlamini, was (in March 2022) found guilty of perjury for lying under oath during an inquiry about her role in the 2018 South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) grant payments debacle, which left millions of grant beneficiaries stranded.
Judge Betty Khumalo then handed down a four-year prison sentence or the option of a fine, which included two years suspended, or a R100,000 fine suspended.
UDEMWO further requests that Minister Zulu assume political accountability for such a catastrophe that exacerbates poverty brought on by unemployment, corruption, a social ill caused by the very same government. If she refuses to take accountability, it calls into question whether the ministry she oversees has the best interests of South Africa in mind.
UDEMWO calls on all South Africans to vote for the UDM in the upcoming 2024 national and provincial elections to save themselves from the government that is uncaring, and has caused many atrocities in our society.
Ms Thandi Nontenja
UDEMWO Secretary General