The ANC rises in support of Vote 19 Social Development

Honourable chairperson, Covid-19 further exposed the deep socio- economic fissures that exist globally. In our country these fissures are visibly connected to race, class and gender. They continue to be seen in the rising levels of poverty and unemployment and the deepening levels of inequality. This past week, the Statistician-General released the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for quarter one of 2021 which shows an increase in unemployment particularly amongst the youth with those between the ages of 15 to 24 at 63.3% and those aged 24 to 34 at 41.3%. The disheartening fact deep socio- economic fissures and quarterly surveys of the Statistician- General is their interconnectedness to the promotion and preservation of the dignity of our people.

The work that we collectively do with the Department and its entities has to be premised on promoting and preserving the dignity of people, deepening thought processes to deliver the department’s mandate, and progressively moving towards an outcomes based approach. All of this is important, because it will enable the collective assessment of the impact that is being made by this department.

Deepening social assistance means that we must deepen our collective efforts that continue to empower people to lift themselves out of poverty and create sustainable social safety nets for the poor and the most vulnerable. We should always be seized with the responsibility of ensuring that we always lift the centrality of our people in all of the work that we do.

Deepening of social assistance to advance the mandate of the department and the entities includes accelerating the pace of responding to the deep socio- economic fissures that the mandate of the department has to respond to. This includes assisting in creating pathways that will lead to the socio- economic pathways for socio- economic upliftment of beneficiaries.

Honourable members, we welcome the forefront responses initiated by the department and entities throughout the lockdown period. This response was in the form of food parcels, cash vouchers and the R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant (SRD) grant, which assisted in alleviating hunger. We are grateful that empirical evidence from research illustrates the impact of the grants on slowing down the levels of poverty and malnutrition. Poverty would have been at a much higher level had it not been for the R350 SRD Grant as it little as it may be, it has had a major impact on lives of people.

We are deeply disturbed about the annual decline of the budget of the National Development Agency. This worry is because of the mandate that the NDA has in contributing to income- generating projects that assist in the creation of alternative or complementary streams of income and employment for poor households.

This budget illustrates the measures that are going to be implemented in the provision of support to beneficiaries of the social protection system. This will comprise off connecting beneficiaries with employment opportunities, skills development, bursaries, internship programmes, and entrepreneurial programmes such forming co-operatives or small businesses.

We commend the measures in place that will enable an evaluation to be conducted on the existing sustainable livelihood opportunities to determine the extent of impact. This is particularly significant in the efforts to link the poor, marginalised and vulnerable to public employment opportunities. SASSA continues to link grant beneficiaries to socio- economic opportunities, one such way is through the existing relationship between the Department and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

The Expanded Public Works (EPWP), continues to create meaningful opportunities. In this current financial year 26400 EPWP work opportunities will be created through DSD Programmes. Furthermore, 20 000 social protection beneficiaries will be linked to livelihood opportunities

Honourable chairperson, we are cognisant of the challenges that come with the lack of social security coverage (including social assistance) for the majority of the population between the ages of 19 and 59 unemployed. It is in this regard, that we welcome the revived attention that is being given to the introduction of the Basic Income Grant (BIG). We urge the nation to continue engaging in consultation process on the policy for income support to 18 to 59 year olds who are unemployed.

We are also concerned about the lack of contributory social security coverage of the informal sector and atypical worker and for the majority of women during pregnancy. We welcome the work that will be done by the department in this regard, and engage in policy development processes.

We do note that the White Papers on Social Welfare and on Comprehensive Social Security will be finalised within this sixth administration. We look forward to engaging in the Green Paper on Social Security, as it will extend the social assistance coverage and introduce social insurance for all workers in the formal and informal sectors.

All of the above measures are important, as the work of the Department will increasingly shift towards the practical unlocking of human capabilities into actualities, driving sustainable livelihoods’ supporting transversal partnerships, and taking stock of our people.

The ANC supports Vote 19 Social Development