Madam Chair, during our Budget Vote's debate earlier this year, I quoted the department, and reminded them of what they said was their core mandate, and I would like to quote that partially again:
We endeavour to create a better for the poor, vulnerable and excluded in our society. Our task is to develop and monitor the implementation of social policy that -
... and this is very important -
... both creates an enabling environment for and leads to the reduction in poverty.
I fear that this is not what we are necessarily seeing from the department, and this is a matter of grave concern. There are a number of studies that were done on Sassa grants specifically and how the new system works. The new system is challenging, to say the least. The studies found that the most pressing concern to grant beneficiaries was the lack of dignity for the elderly who now wait in long queues without seating, toilets, water or shelter. It was also found that it is more expensive to collect grants through the new system, especially via ATMs and retail outlets.
Furthermore, if there was a problem with a grant, recourse was difficult, as grant beneficiaries would then have to travel additionally to Sassa regional offices.
The Auditor-General found that the Social Development portfolio had regressed in its attempts to improve its
key controls and address its risk areas. Noncompliance with applicable legislation, policies and directives was identified as the root cause.
It was also found that NDA officials who deliberately ignored their duties and contravened legislation were not held accountable for their actions.
What is even more alarming than consequence management not being done and having zero assurance in management, is the fact that the department is not serious about the way it spends money and investigates irregular expenditure that amounts to R1,8 billion.
It is welcoming to see that previous years' recommendations are being looked at and are being progressed. We will keep holding the department accountable and we will ensure that it follows this important mandate. Thank you.