The Economic Policy of the ANC has produced jobless growth. This has led to thousands of retrenchments, especially among the unskilled. These people were often the sole breadwinners in their households. ANC policy has thus increased the bulk of people who depend on government welfare assistance to survive.
The Social Development system was not designed to accommodate this huge increase in people who require assistance, because it only provides limited coverage to the aged, small children and individuals with disabilities. The need for assistance to unemployed people was never foreseen. As a result, those who have become unemployed due to Government policy have not received assistance from Government.
Because of ANC Economic Policy the number of jobless has increased, but every year school-leavers also enter a job-market with little to offer. ANC “transformation” has been characterised by “downsizing, rightsizing, packages and retrenchments”. It is thus fair to expect that demands for Social Development will increase until the economy starts creating enough jobs to absorb the unemployed masses.
Recognising the work of the Taylor Commission and its proposals, the UDM is committed to explore the costs of implementing such proposals. In this light, it is also necessary to question the morality of ANC Government spending on weapons of war.
The majority of people living in poverty are in the rural areas. Poverty is also widespread in urban areas. If Government is subsidising the poor in cities with housing subsidies, then the rural poor should also be subsidised. These subsidies may be aimed at such things as seed, fertiliser, tractors and training, which will assist the rural poor to become self-reliant. The UDM will encourage the poor to empower and organise themselves, individually or collectively, in mutual aid or self-help initiatives such as cooperatives and develop their capacity to participate effectively in social, economic and political processes.
The UDM believes that in the short-term a Basic Service Subsidy (in line with UDM Economic Policy), coupled with a Food Parcel System and a Basic Income Grant will assist the desperately poor to survive. In the long-term Government will have to ensure that the economy creates jobs on a massive scale. The only way to achieve this in a sustainable manner is for Government to intervene responsibly in the economy through large-scale infrastructure development projects.
2. Mission statement
To create a welfare system that is responsive, sustainable and developmental, geared at closing the gap between the haves and the have not’s and thereby creating a culture of hard work and self-reliance.
A UDM Government will seek to achieve the following Social Development objectives:
3.1. Creating a culture of social services provided by Government to the needy, including the distribution of grants, foster care, provision of old-age homes, social work, nutrition, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and providing assistance to victims of child and domestic abuse. Recognising that many people, due to desperate circumstances, have become trapped in drug addiction, prostitution and other forms of neglect and exploitation, including street children, a UDM Government will provide programmes to reintegrate these people into the economic and social mainstream.
3.2. Creating a developmental social welfare system as opposed to dependency and entitlement. This means that a UDM Government will develop a culture of self-reliance, in order to assist poor people to rise above their poverty and become full participants in the economy and society.
3.3. Sufficient and efficient distribution of welfare grants will be a priority, recognising that currently many beneficiaries continue to suffer because the system ignores them, or forces them to stand in long queues.
4. UDM solutions
4.1. Role of civil society
The UDM recognises the great social importance of unremunerated work such as caring for children and older persons, producing and preparing food for the family, protecting the environment and providing voluntary assistance to the vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals and groups.
Efforts are needed to acknowledge the social economic importance and the value of unremunerated work, to facilitate labour force participation. A combination of such work through flexible working arrangement, encouraging voluntary social activities as well as broadening the very same concept of productive work, and accord social recognition of such work, including developing methods for reflecting its value in quantitative terms.
In reviewing Social Development policy the role of religious groupings will be recognised. Religious groupings are often the first line of defence against poverty and social suffering. The UDM will actively seek partnerships with religious groupings as agents in Social Development work.
Whilst recognising the value of volunteers and civil society, a UDM Government will not neglect its duties in terms of Social Development. The appointment and remuneration of social workers will receive immediate attention.
4.2. Quality of welfare services
The UDM rejects the deplorable services rendered by the Social Development Department, especially at pay-point centres. Senior citizens and disabled persons still have to queue for long hours to receive their grants. This problem is exacerbated when these services are outsourced, not on merit but party loyalty.
The UDM undertakes to institute urgent and decisive steps to rectify this problem. Institutions such as the Post Office and other commercial Banks will be used to address the issue. Only in areas where such facilities do not exist will alternative methods be used. The UDM is committed to improving the quality of welfare services in the country and to reduce welfare grants recipients’ risk of exposure to fraud, corruption, criminality and death.
4.3. Social grants
South Africa has numerous Social Welfare grants such as old age, disability, child support and other grants.
In terms of the current grants the UDM will seek to improve certain aspects, such as to extend the child support grant up to 18 years. In addition, a UDM Government will expand assistance or child-headed households.
The party recognises the plight of thousands of the unemployed people in the country and that most of them were actually sole breadwinners of their families. The UDM believes that every family has the right to a minimum income to survive.
In the long-term Government will have to ensure that the economy creates jobs on a massive scale. The only way to achieve this in a sustainable manner is for government to intervene responsibly in the economy through large-scale infrastructure development projects. Government investment in the economy and skills development will ensure that the long-term burden of this assistance and grants on taxpayer money is reduced.
4.4. Corruption and fraud
Corruption and fraud is still prevalent in the Social Development system. Studies have shown that these pensions and child support grants support entire families where the rate of unemployment is high. Corruption and fraud is costing the taxpayer millions of Rands per year and denying needy people vital assistance. There is a tendency among some welfare officials to enrich themselves with the public resources meant for the development of the vulnerable. Under a UDM Government grants and social development assistance will be provided irrespective of race, gender or party political affiliation.
Poor people, especially the elderly and people with disability, often go through trauma and frustration when they are supposed to get their social grants. A UDM Government will immediately address this situation. The UDM undertakes to eradicate corruption and fraud in the welfare system by implementing strict policy measures in the distribution of social grants and improving the delivery capacity of the Department. The role of private partnership in the distribution of these social grants will also be reviewed.
4.5. The empowerment of women
In line with the Mission Statement of reducing dependency and increasing self-reliance, gender equality and the full participation of women in all economic, social and political activities are essential. The UDM notes further that the majority of people living in poverty are women. The UDM recognises that women are a key in reducing poverty, promoting family welfare and contributing to the overall economic development and that there is a need to enhance participation and leadership roles of women in political, civil, social and cultural life.
To ensure participation of women in the development process, there is a need for sustained investment in human capacity through education, health and nutrition programmes.
In line with the UDM proposal of a Presidential Council on Planned Sustainable Development (UDM Economic Policy) the UDM undertakes to eliminate all obstacles that still limit the access of women to decision-making, education, health care services and productive employment. There is a need to establish an equitable partnership between men and women, and change the prevailing social paradigm of gender to usher in a new generation of women and men working together to create a humane world order. Furthermore women will be empowered in order that they may expand their economic and social participation through community based projects and other schemes that give them greater control over their own destinies.
Informal sector activities are often the leading source of employment opportunities for people with limited access to formal-sector wage employment; in particular, women. The UDM undertakes to remove obstacles to the operations of such enterprises and to provide support for their operation and expansion. This will be accompanied by protection of basic rights, health and safety of workers and the progressive improvement of overall working conditions.
4.6. Youth empowerment
In line with the Mission Statement of reducing dependency and increasing self-reliance, the UDM will seek to empower the Youth. Millions of young men and women are actively but unsuccessfully looking for employment. Youth unemployment is expected to continue to rise in the coming five years underlying the urgency of a forward-looking strategy to create employment for young people. A successful response to the challenge of youth employment means constructing a foundation for inter-generational solidarity today and for the social and economic development of the future generations. The challenge of youth employment should therefore be embraced by the national community as a whole and will be addressed in the proposed Presidential Council on Planned Sustainable Development (UDM Economic Policy).
The UDM government will take pro-active and deliberate steps to ensure that our youth are employed by:
• Encouraging their voluntary involvement in civil society with state support.
• Introducing voluntary national service in the army and other state institutions.
• Intensifying skills development and empowerment programmes.