This is very interesting. So, it is automatic that we are brought up so that we ... Yes, I think so. There is something I wanted to say but I won't say it here. [Laughter.] I won't take issue from the other House to this House. Hon Deputy Chair; hon members; members of the Select Committee on Social Services and Health; my Deputy Minister, Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu; MECs for Social Development present here - and I must say it was a pleasure for me to meet with MECs before we came to
this House and we had very constructive discussions around social development with the MECs who are going to speak today; chief executive officers of our agencies; Sassa and the NDA and their representatives on my right; representatives from civil society organisations and private sector, good afternoon to you all.
I must indicate from the onset that I am dressed in the manner that I am dressed not because I am undermining this House, but because I am also representing part of what belongs to the Department of Social Development - We, small business, no, social development - and that is the National Development Agency. I will refer in my speech to what the National Development Agency is, but I think many of the members who are here know exactly what it is.
Hon Chairperson, it is my honour and privilege to present Budget Vote 17 of the Department of Social Development for the fiscal year 2019-20, for your consideration and support. The budget we are presenting today is guided by the goal of the ANC's social transformation agenda which seeks to empower people to lift themselves out of poverty while creating adequate social safety nets to protect the most vulnerable in our society who, in the main, are women and children.
The department's allocation for the current financial year is R184 billion. Of this amount, R175 billion is a direct transfer to social grant beneficiaries. The department will transfer R212 million to the National Development Agency and R7,6 billion to the SA Social Security Agency, Sassa for the administration of social assistance programmes.
In addition, the provincial Departments of Social Development's main appropriation budget allocation amounts to R22,406 billion for the 2019-20 financial year. The provincial budget includes R518 million Early Childhood Development, ECD conditional grant from the National Department of Social Development for maintenance and upgrading of 600 ECD centres for violence against women and children programmes, and our flagship Isibindi programme which is aimed at building resilient and caring communities that look after our children.
Hon Chairperson, this budget is presented under the theme: Working Together to Empower Communities for Sustainable Livelihoods. Sustainable livelihoods are about creating an environment conducive for individuals, families and communities to enhance their capabilities and sustain themselves now and in the future. This will be fully achieved when every South African is able to reach their
full potential. Social development is about every South African reaching their full potential.
The theme is also central to the core mandate of the social development sector, whose responsibility is to enable South Africans, particularly the poor and vulnerable, to become capable and self-reliant participants in their own development and, to secure a better life for themselves. I would love to see a situation where our citizens, especially our young people, graduate from the social grant system and become self-sufficient through entrepreneurship or other empowerment programmes so as not to overburden the fiscus. This does not in any way suggest that we do not want to provide social assistance, but that we would prefer to rather have our beneficiaries graduating out of the system over time. In particular, we want to speak to the fact that the bulk of the money goes to children and young women. The question we need to answer is: Where are the men and fathers of these children?
Guided by the decisions of the sixth administration, the national Department of Social Development, together with provincial Departments of Social Development, and our agencies, Sassa and the NDA adopted a portfolio approach which is aimed at enhancing our delivery model that will result in greater impact on the communities
we serve. This approach will also include district and local municipalities because this is where the challenge is. Most of our people expect to be served right at local government and municipalities. Therefore, it is important for us to work closely with them.
Our approach is premised on the understanding that the provision of social grants alone is not sufficient to lift beneficiaries out of poverty on a sustained basis. We firmly believe that the portfolio approach will enhance the developmental role of the department and its public entities as a catalyst and game-changer in sustainable livelihoods initiatives in line with the National Development Plan. This will empower our communities to become active citizens - and in the words of our Chairperson of the NCOP, Hon Amos Masondo, who said: "We should not only become masters of doing, but also masters of doing things right."
Two weeks ago, I convened a special MinMec meeting with all MECs for Social Development to better sharpen our approach at transforming the social sector. I will, from next week, embark upon provincial visits to meet with MECs, municipalities and conduct site visits at Sassa offices and paypoints, to get a better understanding of the
challenges faced by our people and how we can better improve our service delivery model.
Consistent with this commitment, allow me now to outline some of the measures contained in this budget. The National Social Assistance programme remains one of our government's most successful poverty- reduction interventions. Chairperson, we talk about poverty reduction but ultimately we must speak about poverty not being anywhere in our space. Studies found that social grants plays a crucial role in keeping children, the girl-child in particular, to remain in and complete school. Last year alone, child support grants beneficiaries obtained a pass rate of 78,2% in the National Senior Certificate, an increase of 3,1% from 2017 academic year, and we must applaud this.
One of the realities we need to face as a country is the increasing number of young women of working age who are recipients of the Child Support Grant. Our goal is to design and implement developmental interventions that impact and empower young women to escape poverty through sustainable livelihood initiatives.
As a start, we will spend R123 million of the R410 million allocation for the Social Relief of Distress programme to procure
directly from women and youth-owned cooperatives and small enterprises, especially those that have been supported by government and indeed through our own National Development Agency. Just this morning, I visited Moya Wekhaya Peace Garden Cooperative in Khayelitsha and their members are in the gallery. They are producing fresh vegetables and herbs and recently started producing oyster mushrooms. I must say I was happy to see that but I was disturbed to see that, because of lack of adequate water, some of the work they are trying to do to help themselves is dying. Some of their clients include the Mount Nelson Hotel, Ilitha Labantu and Harvest of Hope amongst others. Our NDA supported them with over a quarter of a million rand.
Hon Chairperson, I have directed Sassa to work close with the NDA and the Department of Social Development to provide capacity building, mentorship and incubation support programmes to civil society organisations and aspirant entrepreneurs, including cooperatives. This is intended to champion the sustainable livelihood initiatives over the MTEF period, and we will again work with all three spheres of government in this regard.
We have noticed an increase in fraud and corruption activities especially with Sassa. We remain committed to fighting this
regressive behaviour across all our programmes. To this end, we have allocated R60 million to social grants fraud and investigation in the current financial year. As I informed the National Assembly two weeks ago, we have already suspended 2 800 potential fraudulent accounts, the majority of which are in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu- Natal. The issue here is that, that amount of money is money that we should be putting aside to support men and women in their small medium enterprises and co- operatives. But we know human behaviour is one of our challenges in South Africa and we have to deal with it.
In my Budget Vote speech in the National Assembly, I also pledged to create certainty in the department and its public entities, and especially finalising the structure of the department and that of Sassa. We have started taking decisive steps to do exactly that, starting with the stabilisation of Sassa. We have now appointed a permanent CEO, Ms Busisiwe Memela-Khambula who is with us here and we'll prioritise the filling of critical posts across the country.
We will also review the SA Social Security Agency Act to address governance matters within the agency. This is an important step forward that seeks to strengthen accountability and operational efficiency within the entity. Other key initiatives include: The finalisation of the definition of a basket of social security
benefits; addressing social grant exclusion errors; and finalising the draft regulations on the Social Assistance Amendment Act.
We have considered the recommendations of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development to strengthen the developmental role of the NDA. I have discussed this and other related matters, including the NDA's limited and skewed budget allocation with the board. Going forward, we will need the support of this House to extend our provincial reach especially to rural and township areas, as some of the agency's challenges are systemic by nature.
Hon Chair, a responsive developmental welfare approach lies at the heart of an inclusive and responsive social protection system that leaves no one behind. With this in mind, we intend to table a suite of legislative and policy initiatives to Cabinet. These include: the White Paper for Social Development; the Victim Support Services Bill; the Social Services Practitioners Bill; and the National Drug Master Plan.
One of the most urgent and critical areas of focus is to step up our efforts to tackle the scourge of alcohol and substance abuse which has reached epidemic proportions, particularly the increasing levels of addiction to designer drugs such as Nyaope, Tik and Whoonga. I
urge all South Africans, including members of this august House, to help us to fight this scourge by, among others: supporting provincial substance abuse fora and Local Drug Action Committees and most importantly, by encouraging those family members and friends who are affected by encouraging and believing in them, that they have the ability to overcome these additions. We also should condemn the selling of drugs and work with law enforcement agencies to root out these evils from our communities as they are destroying our young people. We all need to play our part.
We too, condemn with the strongest possible terms, the recent spate of drug-related gang violence terrorising townships and neighbourhoods across the Western Cape and other parts of the country. We are participating broadly from government in helping to deal with this.
We have committed to explore mechanisms to strengthen the Central Drug Authority, CDA as per the recommendations of the impact evaluation conducted by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. We have also committed to increase the cadres of social service professionals in the sector, particularly in light of social ills confronting our communities. I am pleased to inform this House that we have since 2017, converted the Social Work Scholarship Fund
to a conditional grant focusing on absorbing Social Work Scholarship graduates. We absorbed 746 social work graduates through the conditional grant in all provinces.
In addition, 595 social work graduates were appointed on contract for the implementation of HIV and AIDS social behaviour change intervention. I know that this is one of the biggest challenges in the provinces in relation to ensuring that social workers are occupied. But we also want to partner with other organisations especially the private sector.
Whilst this is encouraging, a large number of graduates, over 5 000 who received the scholarship remain unemployed. We have noted and welcomed the report of the Commission on Gender Equality regarding the support to organisations that render services including those of the Presidential Summit on Gender-based Violence and Femicide
Fifty million rand has been allocated from the Criminal Assets Recovery Account to support shelters and address the identified shortcomings. The Gender-Based Violence Command Centre continues to render the much-needed support to victims of gender-based violence.
We have made significant investment in ECD to 60 000 vulnerable children through the ECD Conditional Grant. This is in addition to over 600 000 children subsidised through the equitable share funding.
Hon Chairperson, in response to President Ramaphosa's call to collaborate and partner with civil society to build a social compact for a South Africa we want and the South African who must inhabit it, we conducted dialogues with the civil society sector organisations in all provinces in preparation for the upcoming presidential summit.
I would like to thank you, Chairperson as well as my Acting DG and the staff, and everyone who is here, and who assisted me in making sure that I make this presentation. Thank you. [Applause.]