Author: ACDP

ACDP calls for public participation process on content of proposed sex education curriculum

ACDP Member of Parliament Cheryllyn Dudley today called on the Departments of Basic and Higher Education “to conduct a public participation process for all stakeholders to deliberate on the content of any proposed sex education curriculum.  As the situation stands presently, meaningful engagement with the draft policy on CSE is not possible without having insight into the exact content of CSE curricula”.

Dudley says that, “education about healthy sexuality and sexual choices has an important role in assisting learners to make choices that are in their best interest but the method, message and by whom the education is done, are important considerations.  In formulating a policy response to the issue of prevention and management of learner pregnancies the department must keep in mind that sex education is primarily the responsibility of parents and guardians.

“The ACDP is painfully aware of current realities which include an explosion of learner pregnancies and underage marriages that family and cultural beliefs and customs have significant influence over. Family finances, and widespread hardship and poverty are also motivating factors in terms of sex for sale and dowries.  For example, before a dowry is paid in arranged marriages a baby must first be produced.  Interference in family and cultural matters is not desirable and should always be an exception and not the rule making this a very sensitive issue.”

“The Commission for Gender Equality told the Portfolio Committee on Social Development in Parliament on Wednesday that almost 100,000 underage children in South Africa are married. The legal position is that marriages in which one of the partners is younger than 18, written consent is necessary to obtain a marriage certificate from the Department of Home Affairs.  The commission pointed out however that in most instances, mothers, uncles and other relatives of the 91,000 underage children had agreed on dowries for children as young as 14-years-old confirming that the marriages have family approval.

“The ACDP is calling on the Department to recognise that it is in the best interest of children to work with and through parents and families giving instruction on sex education to parents and supporting parents in their effort to guide their children.  Training parents on matters such as the sexual habits of children, the importance of teaching children about healthy sexuality and sexual choices and its consequences; and even providing parents with condoms and contraceptives to provide to their children if they require it, in the context of a discussion in the home about sexuality, sexual choices and consequences.”

“The ACDP further calls on the Departments of Education to explain the claim or assumption that CSE is desirable and beneficial, and to provide evidence of how CSE will reduce the incidence of learner pregnancies. The most recent research we have indicates that, ‘It is far more likely to see evidence of failure than success in international school-based CSE’ and that CSE ‘may be doing more harm than good’.

“The ACDP has already expressed itself in terms of its opposition to the propagating of abortion among children as a means to manage ‘unintended’ pregnancies.  Of course all concerned would like to find an easy way out of such situations but there is no easy way out – only the right thing to do which brings the greatest rewards long term for all concerned.”


ISSUED BY: CHERYLLYN DUDLEY MP
9 July 2018

SASSA: Non arrival of pensions payout puts thousands in a fix

ACDP MP and Member of Social Development Portfolio Committee, Cheryllyn Dudley, continues to receive angry messages from pensioners and disabled people who still have not received their pensions and benefits.

The South African Social Services Agency (SASSA) said they are experiencing problems with the electronic payment of social grants, caused as a result of the process of changing from the old to the new payment system. SASSA requested beneficiaries give themselves at least 3 days to withdraw their grants but pensioners are desperate.

Dudley says that, “Many who receive payouts rely on their payments to the last penny and now have no money to pay rent or buy food.  Even traveling to withdraw money is costly for them. The ACDP is very concerned with their plight and the distress caused.

“There is a detailed plan for execution, resource requirements, critical milestones and communication strategy for this crossover including a commitment to draw additional capacity from other organs of state if required. The problems should have been speedily dealt with.

“The ACDP calls on Treasury and the Inter Ministerial Team to urgently investigate why the promised additional capacity from other organs of state has either not been actioned or is just not adequate for the task at hand.  An urgent response is required to ensure people receive the money that they should have received. The situation is placing vulnerable people at increased risk as borrowing money incurs interest and very little money is then left for living expenses.”

Dudley added that, “Despite increased efforts by SASSA to communicate, most affected people have no idea what is going on. The ACDP calls on the department to communicate via SMS with individual clients as messages on Facebook and Twitter are not reaching most affected persons”.


ISSUED BY: CHERYLLYN DUDLEY MP
7 July 2018

ACDP welcomes wage agreement between Parliament and NEHAWU

ACDP Member of Parliament, Cheryllyn Dudley, today said that, “The ACDP welcomes the wage agreement between Parliament and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) and commends all involved in finding common ground and a way forward.

“The functioning of Parliament is dependent on a committed workforce and a breakdown of relations between staff and officials has a detrimental effect on the services Parliament renders.

“The passing of laws, holding the Executive to account, maximum public access to information and public access to open and democratic processes are all highly dependent on professional and dedicated staff.

“The ACDP is optimistic that the maturity shown in reaching this agreement will ensure successful on-going working relationships going forward.”

A communique from Parliament indicated that the parties had concluded negotiations for adjustments of salaries and conditions of service for the current financial year.

Dudley says that, “It is our hope and expectation that the improved salaries and conditions will improve the morale of staff at Parliament and relieve some of the tension and pressure that this important work places people under”.


ISSUED BY: CHERYLLYN DUDLEY MP
6 June 2018

 SAfm interview on Amnesty International’s position on safe and legal abortion

As delegates from around the world meet in Poland today to debate Amnesty International’s position on safe and legal abortion, ACDP Member of Parliament, Cheryllyn Dudley, who championed the ACDP’s Choice of Termination on Pregnancy Amendment Bill of 2017, was invited on air to share her thoughts on SAfm this morning.

Below is an excerpt of her comments on the subject matter.

“The ACDP believes in the sanctity of human life and looks forward to a time when the life of an unborn child will be given the reasonable protection it deserves.

The amendments in the ACDP’s private members proposal recently aimed to provide for a greater degree of consideration and protection for both women experiencing a crisis pregnancy and for the child they are carrying.  The hope is that a greater appreciation and respect for women and for life will take root in our cultural perspective without violating freedom of choice or freedom of belief.

Not only has science progressed but, in South Africa, our democracy has too. We are in a better space today to have meaningful and respectful interactions across hard and fast positions in order to improve existing legislation without imposing or trampling on peoples freedom to choose.  Creating opportunities to diffuse the divisive situation where countries feel ‘super liberal’ ideas and policies are being imposed on them and that people are being demonised for holding beliefs that differ from these liberal ideas, we need to bridge a growing divide which impacts on freedom of belief on both sides or we will continue to see a backlash of equally extreme reactions.

Section 12(2)(a) of the Constitution provides that “everyone has the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes the right to make decisions concerning reproduction”.  The ACDP amendment provided for mandatory counselling precisely to enhance this constitutional right so that women are in fact equipped to make an informed choice. In a society where people value freedom to choose they also value transparency and access to information so that those choices are informed choices.  Information not only about the foetus growing inside them but about support available would include access to relevant social grants, safe-housing and information on contraceptive measures, etc.  This would not be for the purpose of taking away choice but providing all information needed before such a life-changing decision is taken.

With over 100,000 recorded abortions a year in South Africa and many of these being repeat abortions, more information could only help women make better choices regarding contraception and safer sex.  Many estimate the actual stats to be closer to 200,000 abortions a year as a result of the department’s policy on abortion pills being dispensed and girls then returning when miscarriages occur.

To address discrimination against babies conceived by women in low income families or in challenging social and economic circumstances the original amendment proposed the deletion of the clause removing social and economic circumstances as a ground for termination after 13 weeks. However, having considered the many submissions and the potential for possible unintended consequences it was decided that by adding a social worker’s experience and opinion to that of a medical practitioner in the second trimester, access to alternative solutions would be available for consideration.

Today we know so much more than we did in 1996 and babies are recognised as viable at 18 weeks into a pregnancy.  We also know that unborn babies not only die but suffer excruciating pain during dismemberment abortion. This is motivating more countries to consider tightening abortion laws.  In Norway, for example, midwives voiced concerns about the number of healthy babies sufficiently viable to survive outside the womb that were being aborted on ‘social grounds’. Their intervention led to a change in the law and their health minister, Anne Grethe Erlandsen, in 2014 saying “Abortion should not happen in foetuses who have the possibility of being able to live”.

With this in mind, the ACDP had proposed the deletion of the reference to ‘a risk of injury to the foetus’ as a valid reason to terminate an otherwise viable baby after 20 weeks of gestation, as it is vague and an excessive response, especially since every birth could be said to pose a risk of injury to the foetus.”


ISSUED BY: CHERYLLYN DUDLEY MP
6 June 2018

SASSA says glitch affecting payouts on new cards caused by system overload

The South African Social Services Agency (SASSA) briefed the Portfolio Committee on Social Development yesterday, on reasons for non-payment of grants and long queues at pay points.

ACDP Member of Parliament, Cheryllyn Dudley, said after the briefing that “Although briefings by SASSA are a regular occurrence this was more of an urgent intervention by the committee to ensure the agency was under no illusion as to how serious the issues are and that more than assurances were expected from them.”

SASSA expressed heartfelt apologies for the inconvenience caused by the overloading of the system affecting 700,000 new card holders.  They said the money went into the accounts with no problem but when there was a run of people withdrawing at the same time, the sheer volume of withdrawals caused a glitch.  In the trial run this problem did not occur but the chairperson of the committee pointed out that there was no excuse as risk management should have factored in the possibility.

Dudley reminded the committee chairperson that “The strengthening of relevant capacity in the South African Post Office (SAPO) had been identified as a requirement when the decision was taken to run with using our own resources and not remaining vulnerable through dependency on outsourced service providers.”  The chairperson was also of the opinion that the committee should urgently look into what is being done about ensuring SAPO has the capacity as promised.  “This was a decision taken by all of us”, Dudley said. “We had considered SAPO’s potential and its constraints and were all firmly convinced that despite a lack of capacity this was the only direction that made sense.  Members of Parliament were in agreement that we could not allow the country to be at the mercy of contractors when it comes to the payment of grants on which so many rely.  We must now put pressure on treasury to provide an adequate budget and on SAPO to ensure relevant capacity is being built without delay”.

Officials assured members of parliament that the system was stabilising and that the grant money would be available by Thursday or Friday and can be withdrawn from Merchants or ATMs to avoid queues at post offices.  Dudley said, “To avoid further inconvenience, it would be wise to wait till Friday”.


ISSUED BY: CHERYLLYN DUDLEY MP
26 June 2018

ACDP encourages taxpayers to know their rights and responsibilities regarding tax

The ACDP welcomes steps taken by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to improve the service delivered to taxpayers with the release of the Service Charter which outlines taxpayers’ rights and responsibilities as well as service standards they can expect from the agency.

ACDP Member of Parliament Cheryllyn Dudley today said that, “It is important for the public to know what they can expect from SARS, and the ACDP encourages taxpayers to familiarise themselves with the charter in order to know – not only their responsibilities but also their rights”.

The charter sets out obligations such as making sure declarations are correct, that returns are filed timeously and honestly and that fictitious deductions are not claimed.

In turn SARS promises the South African public that the agency will be professional, courteous and treat taxpayers with “utmost respect.”

“The ACDP commends SARS on the efforts being made to improve services in a manner that does not take the taxpayer for granted, knowing it is the continued diligence of every taxpayer that ensures those depending on services are not disappointed”, Dudley says.

SARS is appealing to taxpayers and tax practitioners to use e-filing rather than going into physical branches. People can make use of the contact centre if they need an agent to help them with e-filing.

Dudley pointed out that, “People earning less than R350 000 per year from a single source of income with no allowances like travel are NOT required to file tax returns. It is only in your interests to do so if you have retirement annuities or excessive medical costs and therefore expect a refund”.

SARS is reminding taxpayers that refunds will only be released if the taxpayer is not facing audits from previous years but VAT refunds will be released despite having audits on previous periods.

“The SARS promise to be more specific about the documents required from taxpayers who are being audited, instead of requiring more documents than necessary is welcomed as a good starting point. At the same time the ACDP notes SARS’ warning that they will be tougher on taxpayers who file late submissions and will initiate processes to prosecute offenders.  The ACDP acknowledges that compliance is for the good of the country and a culture of compliance is encouraged when penalties are in place.  Extenuating circumstances, however, must be carefully considered.

“The ACDP calls on SARS to focus on tracking down illicit operations including tobacco, fuel, alcohol and trafficking of people.”

The tax filing season will conclude on October 31 for provisional taxpayers (those who earn an income other than a salary such as rental income) who opt to file at physical branches and non-provisional taxpayers (all other taxpayers).

Provisional taxpayers using e-filing have until January 31, 2019 to file their returns. SARS has to collect R1.345-trillion.


ISSUED BY: CHERYLLYN DUDLEY MP
3 July 2018

Steps to improve service delivery by SARS

The ACDP welcomes steps taken by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to improve the service delivered to taxpayers with the release of the Service Charter which outlines taxpayers’ rights and responsibilities as well as service standards they can expect from the agency.

ACDP MP Cheryllyn Dudley said today that “it is important for the public to know what they can expect from Sars and the ACDP encourages taxpayers to familiarise themselves with the charter in order to know – not only their responsibilities but also – their rights”.

The charter sets out obligations such as making sure declarations are correct, that returns are filed timeously and honestly and that fictitious deductions are not claimed.

WATCH: ACDP: “It is disgraceful that R50billion was lost at SARS”

In turn SARS promises the South African public that the agency will be professional, courteous and treat taxpayers with ‘utmost respect’.

“The ACDP commends SARS on the effort being made to improve services in a manner that does not take the taxpayer for granted, knowing it is the continued diligence of every taxpayer that ensures those depending on services are not disappointed”.

WATCH: ACDP: “Fraud and corruption run very deep”

SARS is appealing to taxpayers and tax practitioners to use e-filing rather than going into physical branches. People can make use of the contact centre if they need an agent to help them with e-filing.

Dudley pointed out that “People earning less than R350 000 per year from a single source of income with no allowances like travel are NOT required to file tax returns. It is only in your interests to do so if you have retirement annuities or excessive medical costs and therefore expect a refund.”

SARS is reminding taxpayers that refunds will only be released if the taxpayer is not facing audits from previous years but VAT refunds will be released despite having audits on previous periods.

“SARS promise to be more specific about the documents required from taxpayers who are being audited, instead of requiring more documents than necessary is welcomed as a good starting point. At the same time The ACDP notes SARS warning that they will be tougher on taxpayers filing late submissions and will initiate processes to prosecute offenders. The ACDP acknowledges that compliance is for the good of the country and a culture of compliance is encouraged when penalties are in place. Extenuating circumstances however must carefully considered.

The ACDP calls on SARS focus on tracking down illicit operations including tobacco, fuel, alcohol and trafficking of people.”

The tax filing season will conclude on October 31 for provisional taxpayers (those who earn an income other than a salary such as rental income) who opt to file at physical branches and non-provisional taxpayers (all other taxpayers).

Provisional taxpayers using e-filing have until January 31, 2019 to file their returns. Sars has to collect R1.345-trillion.


ISSUED BY: CHERYLLYN DUDLEY MP
3 July 2018

SASSA grant delays

 The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has assured beneficiaries that their grants will be paid.

SASSA Acting CEO, Mr Abraham Mahlangu, has noted the challenges experienced by grants beneficiaries during the current social grant payment cycle.

“We are aware that beneficiaries are experiencing problems with the electronic payment of their social grants. What is being experienced is a result of a process of changing from an old to a new payment system for social grants. SASSA is also in a process of phasing out Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) as directed by the Constitutional Court and introducing the South African Post Office (SAPO) to pay social grants”, says Mr Mahlangu.

WATCH:  Dudley: “SASSA, We have no time to lose!”

“We assure beneficiaries that their social grants will be paid in full. In fact, the funds are already in their accounts. We request beneficiaries to give themselves at least 3 days to withdraw their grants.

Should a beneficiary choose to access their funds through an ATM, the account type a beneficiaries chooses should be a savings account – in the event of the savings option being rejected, the beneficiary can then choose the cheque account option.

“SASSA wishes to apologise for the inconvenience caused to the beneficiaries. SASSA and SAPO are working tirelessly to find a solution to this problem and ensure that all beneficiary services are restored in the shortest possible time. We further undertake to keep our beneficiaries informed”, Mr Mahlangu concluded.


Source: South African Social Security Agency (SASSA)

Return of young teachers stranded in China welcomed

ACDP Member of Parliament Cheryllyn Dudley today said that, “The ACDP welcomes confirmation by International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu that most of the South African teachers who were left stranded in China, after falling victim to a visa scam, have returned home”.

49 of the 51 South Africans who were recruited by an agency to travel to China on study visas to become English teachers, in contravention of Chinese immigration laws, are back in South Africa. The two who have been detained by Chinese authorities, are believed to have acted as recruiters.

Dudley said that, “The ACDP commends Minister Sisulu, DIRCO officials and the Chinese authorities for resolving this situation which has caused great distress for both the young people who were detained and their families”.

The department will be launching a “Travel Smart” campaign next week to educate South Africans about scams. The campaign is aimed at encouraging South Africans to learn more about the laws of countries they intend to visit and to have all the necessary information before they travel to their destinations.


DOWNLOAD: Travel Smart with DIRCO



ISSUED BY: CHERYLLYN DUDLEY MP

2 July 2018

ACDP congratulates South Sudan on Peace Agreement signed by Rebels and President

ACDP Member of Parliament Cheryllyn Dudley today said that, “The ACDP congratulates South Sudan on the new Peace Agreement signed by Rebels and the President and calls on the South Sudanese people to embrace reconciliation and forgiveness in order to attain the peace and prosperity that should be theirs”.

This comes after two days of talks between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, a former vice president. The country’s civil war began in 2013, less than two years after it gained independence from Sudan.

Dudley said, “This is a time of hope and a time to remember the tens of thousands who have been killed in this civil war. We are praying for the people of South Sudan and for lasting peace and reconciliation”.

The war has uprooted a quarter of South Sudan’s population of 12 million, ruined the country’s agriculture and damaged its economy.

The parties will continue talks in Khartoum to discuss the arrangements for implementing a ceasefire. After a final settlement is agreed access to humanitarian aid should follow along with the freeing of prisoners and a transitional unity government.

“Apart from bringing an end to the war in South Sudan the signing of this agreement in Khartoum seems to indicate a willingness on the part of South Sudan and Sudan to build trust”, Dudley added.

The agreement signed with other opposition leaders provides for the new unity government to rule for three years, followed by a general election.

Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, who hosted this week’s talks, said the agreement was a “gift to the people of South Sudan.” The economy of Sudan took a serious knock with secession because the south has most of the region’s oil supplies.

The two countries have agreed on a plan to double oil production from the south and repair oil infrastructure facilities destroyed by the war.  The establishment of a joint force is envisioned to protect the oilfields from attacks by rebel forces on either side of the conflict.


ISSUED BY: CHERYLLYN DUDLEY MP
29 June 2018