Category: Press Statements

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

ACDP encouraged by renewed focus on escalating statistics of rape and kidnapping of children

ACDP MP and member of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, Cheryllyn Dudley, at briefings yesterday on the interventions taken to deal with the escalating statistics of rape and kidnapping of children asked the Department of Social Development, the South African Human Rights Commission, and the Commission for Gender Equality and the Committee to “investigate what part legislation is playing in causing statutory rape to be condoned by all who should be exposing it and protecting our young people.  We have a situation where an abuser can take a 12-year-old for an abortion and no questions are asked”.

Dudley said, “the interactions were less like a briefing and more like an interrogation of efforts to date which revealed unanimous agreement that a combined all-out effort – to move from expressing horror at the attacks taking place on children to actually providing help and protection – must be our urgent and all-consuming priority.  We cannot continue as normal while so many children’s lives are a living hell”.

Dudley also called for “an adequate budget to employ increased numbers of social workers – and create a system that is proactive and preventative – to be found in budgets across departments including Social Development, Health, Justice, Safety and Security, Water & Sanitation, Housing, and Home Affairs”.

On three occasions last year Dudley addressed the National Assembly on the harms of pornography for society, especially vulnerable groups like women and children. “The impact on society is in fact no secret and violence against women also impacts tragically on their children”, she said. “Pornography use is rife in South Africa. While we are in the top 20 of all countries in the world, we are number 1 in the world for accessing pornography via smart phones.  Much credible research confirms the link between adult pornography and violence against women and children and that allowing potential rapists to access pornography, significantly increases the likelihood of them going out and raping.”

The ACDP has called, and continues to call for a full-scale investigation into the public health costs and social consequences of adults’ use of and exposure to pornography across South Africa.  “We believe this would reveal the immeasurable harm it is causing both women and children.”

The Constitutional Court in De Reuck v Director of Public Prosecutions 2004 (1) SA 406 (CC) held that the limitation of pornography “does not implicate the core values of the right [to freedom of expression]” and that pornography is, “for the most part, expression of little value which is found on the periphery of the right”.


ISSUED BY: CHERYLLYN DUDLEY MP
5 July 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

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

The handling of public finances in North West province a great shame

The Ad Hoc Committee of Parliament inquiring into the intervention in the North West Provincial Government in terms of section 100 of the Constitution was briefed by National Treasury, Auditor-General, Premier of the North West province and the MECs of the six departments under administration on the fiscal position and governance and financial management of the province.

ACDP Member of Parliament Cheryllyn Dudley today said that, “The handling of public finances in the North West province is a great shame and sadly the people of the North West are the ones who suffer the consequences. The ACDP shares concerns that the Office of the Premier was able to centralise services that should be performed by provincial departments without being called on it, instead of doing its job of monitoring and evaluating what it was implementing.

The ACDP acknowledges the committee’s observation that “a lack of consequence management for irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure, particularly in the five departments that are currently under section 100 (1) (b) intervention, through-out the years which has led to the escalation of incidents of irregular expenditure and fruitless and wasteful expenditure.”

The ACDP calls on portfolio committees in all provincial legislatures, councillors in the municipal councils, and the portfolio and select committees of Parliament to strengthen their oversight in line with lessons learned from this unacceptable situation.

As the committee has said, “there should be focused political will and commitment in monitoring and oversight and the provincial leadership should take responsibility and create a culture in which accountability can be restored and strengthened in the province.”

The ACDP appreciates the positive approach of the new Premier in the province which was also detected in the presentations. This we expect, will assist the committee in its task of monitoring the intervention on a regular basis.”


ISSUED BY: CHERYLLYN DUDLEY MP
28 June 2018

ACDP notes extension of deadline for public comments on draft Learner Pregnancy Policy

ACDP Member of Parliament Cheryllyn Dudley appealed to the public to respond to the draft policy on learner pregnancy, the deadline of which has now been extended.

“The ACDP is appealingly to the public and stakeholders to take advantage of the extended deadline and to respond by submitting their comments”, Dudley said.

The policy seeks to ensure the accessible provision of information on prevention; choice of termination of pregnancy (CToP); care, counselling and support.

The department justifies the policy saying: “the rate of learner pregnancy in South Africa has become a major social, systemic and fiscal challenge not only for the basic education sector but, crucially, for the national development in general. It impacts the lives of many young people often limiting their personal growth, the pursuit of rewarding careers and their ambitions with incalculable impact on the country’s socio-economic systems.”

Dudley said that “The ACDP is extremely concerned that the social sector’s collective response to the challenge of stabilising and reducing the incidence of learner pregnancy and its adverse effects on education will cause unthinkable emotional damage and fuel the intense anger already in the hearts of broken and abused young people”.

The policy also commits the basic education system and other role players to providing Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) that they believe is crucial to sexual and reproductive health.

“The ACDP is opposed to CSE which includes counselling on the choice of termination of pregnancy in schools.  We strongly object to this short sighted and counterproductive approach to the challenges young people are facing.”

The policy also confirms that pregnant learners must be allowed to remain in school during their pregnancies and return as soon after giving birth as is appropriate for both the learner and her child. Schools will be required to accommodate the reasonable needs of the learner to ensure that her right to education is not disrupted or ended by pregnancy or birth.

All interested parties are invited to comment on the policy in writing via email to pregnancypolicy@dbe.gov.za or fax to 012-3288401.

Kindly provide a name, address, telephone number, and an email address of the persons/organisation submitting the comment.

Closing date for comment is 30 July 2018.


For more information on the draft policy on learner pregnancy in schools, click here.


ISSUED BY: CHERYLLYN DUDLEY MP
28 June 2018