29 July 2020
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
The great Kenyan writer, Ngugi wa Thiong’o writes in one of his famous quotes that:“Our lives are a battlefield on which is fought a continuous war between the forces that arepledged to confirm our humanity and those that are determined to dismantle it; those who seekto mould it and those committed to breaking it up.”
The African National Congress supports the adoption of the Adjustments Appropriation Bill,mainly because it confirms the humanity of millions of South Africans. In other words, it is abudget that confirms our values of Ubuntu/Botho.Some among us have no clue what these values represent.As South Africans we must at all times keep a clear perspective of the tremendous work beingdone by outstanding leaders and officials in our government, working together with socialpartners in organized labour, business, traditional leaders, faith communities and broad civilsociety during the COVID-19 crisis.
Honorable membersLet me at this point to highlight some of the incredible achievements by the Departments ofSocial Development, Health, Basic Education, and Police; as well as challenges that need to beaddressed as a matter of urgency.Department of Social DevelopmentThe Department of Social Development has been allocated an additional R41billion in thebudget.We applaud the Department and SASSA for rapidly repurposing their systems to execute themandate to roll out government’s social assistance that has enabled over 11 million social grantbeneficiaries to weather the storm of hunger and depravation.
These include:R250 emergency top-up for all social security grant types,Once-off top-up of R350 for the Child Support Grant (CSG);R500 to primary caregivers of eligible children; andSpecial COVID-19 Grant of R350 for unemployed South Africans.These grants have become the lifeline to many families that would otherwise go hungry.They have provided food for millions of children who have been at home during the lockdown;protected the most vulnerable members of society, the aged, people with disabilities,unemployed and people lacking basic shelter.
We call on the Department and SASSA to expedite the processing of outstanding applicationsand the disbursement of the COVID relief grants for the unemployed and to ensure that togetherwith the Post Office there is sufficient capacity to serve the needs of our people who qualify forthe grants.It will be a disgrace to end up with unspent funds because of capacity challenges in these twogovernment agencies.The African National Congress welcomes the recruitment of additional 1 809 Social Workers ona 6-month contract to assist with the provision of psycho-social care and support to vulnerablegroups, families and communities during the pandemic.The services of qualified social workers will be essential to support the families that are dealingwith loss of income ,loss of family members and other mental challenges created by thepandemic.HealthThe Health budget has increased by over 5 percent.
This includes R5.5 billion earmarked for thefight against COVID-19.The budget will also fund massive infrastructure projects as well as the National HealthInsurance.The adjustments are intended to fund the screening and testing programme, isolation facilities,field hospitals and PPE.The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our country’s healthcare system has shown theurgency for the NHI.
The virus has exposed the shortcomings in the current health system, where the rich receiveprivate healthcare and the millions of the working class and the poor are packed in overcrowdedpublic facilities.Medical experts tell us that if we had one system, it would have been much easier to deal withthe virus. As we have learned from Cuba and other countries with far fewer resources,healthcare is not only about treatment. It should primarily be about preventing people fromreaching the point where they need treatment.But once people need treatment, the hospital must be a place of hope and recovery.
Not a placeof despair as allegedly experienced by some patients who use Public Hospitals.The reports of neglect of patients in some institutions such as Tembisa Hospital and others aredisturbing. The principles of Batho Pele and the adherence to the Patient’s Rights Charter mustbe emphasised as part of the ongoing improvement of the health system.
The ANC applauds the thousands of health workers who put their lives on the line every day tocare for our people. We appeal for the strengthening of government’s Supply ChainManagement to ensure that PPE and other equipment that is procured meet the higheststandards in order to protect frontline workers from exposure to the virus in the workplace.
Basic EducationIn Basic Education, an amount of R11 billion has been reprioritised from the EducationInfrastructure Grant (EIG) and R600 million from the School Infrastructure Backlogs Grant(SIBG) to cover the cost of Covid-19 provisioning.The ANC is concerned about the movement of money from the infrastructure grant as webelieve that investments in school infrastructure are needed for COVID-19 adaptation, as wellas the long-term sanitation needs of our school children.We are also shocked about reports of hijacking of school infrastructure projects in some of ourcommunities by mafia-style gangs. As the ANC, we call on the law enforcement agencies to actdecisively against individuals involved in these criminal acts.
PoliceHon MembersThe police have become the first and last line of defence in the fight against the spread ofcoronavirus, hence the National Treasury has adjusted the police budget up by R3.7 billion forthe 2020/21 financial year.This will enable the police to execute their obligations of enforcing various lockdown regulations.
The focus of the police in the medium term must also be to curb the scourge of Gender-basedViolence and Femicide.To date we have lost almost 100 officers to the virus. The ANC calls on the Department toensure that police officers have sufficient PPE to ensure that they are safe because, asessential services, they must be out in the streets protecting South Africans, regardless of thelevel of the lockdown.
The ANC conveys words of gratitude to all frontline workers, who dedicate their lives to theservice of humanity. We appreciate the hard work done by public service workers, and millionsof other workers who ensure that food, water and other essential supplies are delivered.
Wewish those who are ill a speedy recovery and pass our condolences to all those grieving for theloss of their loved ones.
May God Bless them all.