Tag: Social Development

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”.

5 July 2018

ACDP supports inadequate Social Development Budget

The ACDP is aware of the critical role the Social Development department is expected to play in developing and implementing programmes for the eradication of poverty and social protection. While the most vulnerable and marginalised in our society must be our immediate priority, we appreciate that the longer term vision and goal is to facilitate a caring and self-reliant society.

The anxiety caused by a leadership at odds with each other in our Social Security Agency has been a costly exercise but on the upside it has resulted in a vastly improved combined oversight of SASSA and positive, far reaching initiatives to ensure that the provision of social security services not only operate strictly within the constitutional and legislative framework but are more user-friendly and not as vulnerable to abuse.

The ACDP has often asked the department to ‘up their game’ in terms of communication especially important messages easily conveyed via social media and we would like to congratulate them on doing just that. The messages relating to SASSA cards have been timely and relevant and have elicited a good response. Well done on a really good job!

The problem, however, is the reality on the ground expressed in responses to these messages. For example, the person who said: “Sitting at a local Pensions office is NO fun and I was quite frustrated and angry when I went there recently. Nothing appeared to be happening. Staff were half asleep, busy chewing apples and talking – not all but quite a few. They moved me from one queue (when I was already next in line) to another and sat waiting again. When this was questioned, I was told to just sit there. Nobody tells anybody  what is happening with any of the 3/4/5 different queues. I spoke to a few Gogos in the queue. They had been there from 5am and were very tired. Same place on the bench, same queue. This was now nearly midday. I really felt for them. Tiny babes and children – there for hours. Is this REALLY necessary, please tell me? Are the staff trained?”

And in response to telling people they can call the SASSA Call Centre on 0800 60 10 11, I got responses like this one: “Unfortunately that number and another number for KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) that I was given from the recording are not answered. After waiting and waiting the phone goes dead on both numbers.”

I know the committee raised concerns over long queues at local offices and the attitude of SASSA staff and that officials have alluded to the fact that the system has been offline and is causing the problems. This may be so but surely it is unacceptable that the problem has not been solved. Urgent attention must be given to ensuring systems are online and staff are trained to serve the public in a friendly, professional manner.

In 2017, Statistics South Africa released findings showing that the prevalence of stunting (the chronic malnutrition among children under five) was 27 percent, and that there has been no change in the risk of a child being malnourished since 1993.

Professor Julian May of the UWC Institute of Social Development points out that research internationally and in South Africa has shown that being stunted as a child affects physical and cognitive development, increasing the risk of illness as a child and in later life.

The most important cause of stunting is of course poverty. Poverty here means insufficient income to purchase nutritious food. The cost of securing a basic but nutritionally complete diet for a child between the ages of 3 to 9 years is estimated to be about R540 per month, raising concerns that the Child Support Grant is insufficient for a basic but nutritionally complete diet for a child.

The ACDP is of the opinion that the department should be putting up a stronger case for not only child grants but VAT exemptions. As Professor May points out the department did not do enough to ensure a zero rating for more food items known to be nutritious and bought by poor families; for example, shelf-stable products that use sorghum and are used to make healthy foods that have long been part of our South African cuisine such as mabhele and ting.

Early Childhood Development is another concern. The ACDP would like to remind the Minister that many ECD centres find it difficult to meet norms and standards due to infrastructural, health and safety problems such as  poor sanitation facilities – not enough or unsafe toilets, leaking roofs, unfenced or partially fenced centres, ventilation and lighting problems, food preparation accessible for children, space inadequacy, no provision for a sick bay, etc. Not being able to meet these norms and standards means that centres cannot be registered.  Not being able to register means that the ECD centre is unknown to the Department and not part of the ‘system.’

The existing ECD Maintenance Grant is a great blessing but it still leaves all unregistered centres out in the cold and all too often these are the only centres in a village or area. The grant is also inadequate for the maintenance needs of conditionally registered centres.

The ACDP calls on the Minister to call on government to support Municipalities in taking up their role as per the National Integrated ECD Policy and to provide additional ring fenced MIG funding to Municipalities for ECD Centre improvements to meet norms and standards required for registration.

If we are to attain the national goal of all children from 0-5 years having access to good quality ECD services by 2030, all ECDs must be registered and benefitting from departmental oversight, training and subsidies.

The ACDP would like to wish you honourable Minister, every success in this new and challenging task ahead.  We will support this budget which must eradicate poverty and provide protection for society’s most vulnerable under difficult circumstances.

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY DEBATE: Budget Vote 17: Social Development
9 May 2018 

ACDP disappointed that National Minimum Wage was not implemented yesterday

The ACDP recognises the role that the National Minimum Wage can play in reducing poverty and inequality, and at the same time, encouraging growth in domestic demand and productivity in the economy.

It has been widely acknowledged as an important intervention to assist low paid workers, and if properly implemented, has the potential to lift the earnings of literally millions of low paid workers.

Fedusa’s Dennis George has said that it is ‘keenly aware that a R3,500 a month minimum wage is less than an ideal living wage, but will certainly lift an estimated 4.5 million workers currently earning below that amount out of abject poverty’.

It is disappointing therefore that the National Minimum Wage, which was negotiated at length between Nedlac partners, was not implemented by yesterday, 1 May.

The aim will be also to elevate the domestic worker and agricultural sectors to be on par with the National Minimum Wage, within 2 years of implementation of the Act, and after research by the Commission.

Managing productivity will be the responsibility of the employer and it will become more important to manage productivity properly as the cost of labour increases. Employers will also be able to apply for an exemption similar to the sectoral exemptions that can presently be applied for in terms of section 50 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. The Department of Labour is currently finalising an online system for employers to apply for such exemptions with an expedited turn-around time of 30 days of the consideration of such applications.

The ACDP questions how NGOs, particularly those NGOs performing state functions, will be dealt with by the Bill. The early childhood development sector is an example where NGOs receive a grant from the Department of Social Development to provide these services. In 2013 the average salary was R1,373. Without proper coordination across government and possible increases in these grants, these NGOs will be unable to pay their staff the minimum wage. Similar problems may arise for NGO healthcare workers.

The Shukumisa Coalition of NGOs working in the social care sector from supporting rape survivors to running domestic violence shelters and serving people with disabilities, similarly warned MPs during public hearings on the Bill of closures of services meant to protect the most vulnerable, including children and the youth. The ACDP trusts that concerns in this regard are being addressed.

The question also arises why the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) has been included in Schedule 1 of the Bill. Workers enrolled in this programme are entitled to a minimum remuneration of R11 per hour. The EPWP has been identified as a flagship job creation and poverty alleviation initiative. The argument was that raising the wages of the EPWP would place too much strain on the national fiscus.

The ACDP believes that if widespread fraud and corruption in the public sector is addressed, this will unlock more resources.

We trust that the Commission will consider whether the EPWP should be excluded from the R20 per hour and what it would cost to achieve R20 per hour.

While there are some challenges with this Bill, they are not insurmountable and it is incumbent upon Parliament to pass it as quickly as possible.

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY DEBATE: Celebrating 100 years of Nelson Mandela — Restoration of workers’ right to dignity through the National Minimum Wage
2 May 2018