The following speech was delivered today by DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP, during the debate on 16 Days of Activism For No Violence Against Women And Children in the National Assembly.
South Africa’s government has failed its children.
As we speak:
- There are 11.9 million beneficiaries of child social grants;
- Over 11 million children live in poverty on less than 923 per month;
- 136 children died every month of complications arising from acute severe malnutrition in the last three years;
- 8 million infants and adolescents still do not have access to the Child Support Grant;
- One in three children are victims of sexual and physical abuse before they reach the age of 18; and
- In KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, only 19% of child abuse cases were reported to police by social services.
Honourable speaker, it is quite clear that the government, through the failures of the Department of Social Development, is playing a key role in allowing the abuse of children to persist.
What the country is not aware of, is that the Department of Social Development and SASSA, led by their ‘Dodging’ Minister, are once again placing thousands of lives at risk, as our foster care system edges towards collapse.
Currently a High Court order, which dates back to a ruling in 2011 which allowed SASSA to pay foster care grants to beneficiaries when foster care placements lapse, will expire at the end of this year.
The court order, which was again extended in 2014, was meant to be a temporary arrangement that would allow SASSA enough time to fix the backlog clogging the foster care system. The Minister was meant to implement ‘comprehensive legal reform’ that would ease the process of reviewing foster care placement orders.
Yet, six years later, the backlog remains and there is still no finalised “comprehensive legal reform” as the court requested.
What there is, however, is growing uncertainty over what this may mean for the payout of the foster care grants.
The result is that more than 30 000 children under foster care are at risk of not receiving their grants come January 2018.
Once again, Honourable Speaker, it’s another day at SASSA, and it’s another grants crisis, proudly brought to you by Minister Dlamini.
This is the same Minister, who, while tasked with delivering grants to the 17 million of our poorest citizens, dodges accountability at every possible turn.
And while Dodging Dlamini escapes accountability in Parliament, she criss-crosses the country campaigning for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Instead of attending to the multiple crises her Department is facing.
It is the ANC that allows Dodging Dlamini to display her utter disdain for the 17 million South Africans who rely on social grants. The ANC government only acknowledges a crisis when it is before the Courts, or, as we have seen with Life Esidimeni, when people die.
Those patients, like children and poor households, are the most vulnerable citizens, and it is the state’s responsibility to ensure that their constitutional rights are protected.
But what we have observed as a country, is that the rights of these citizens have been relegated to the periphery, while the ANC continues to self-destruct – dragging the country along with it.
Women and children bear the brunt of the scourge of poverty and inequality, and this makes them even more susceptible to abuse. Social Development should be at the forefront of the battle against women and child abuse, but the department has been rendered ineffective because the Minister fires any competent officials, whilst retaining those who are willing to do her bidding.
If the Department is to ever function in an efficient way, one in which R1.4 billion of taxpayers’ money will not be irregularly spent, it must be rid of those who are hell-bent on serving their own narrow interests at the expense of the poor.
As the Democratic Alliance, we are working flat out to ensure that the poor and most vulnerable in our society are given the opportunities they need to achieve a better life when we take over government in 2019.