State of the Nation Address (SONA) Debate: Minister Bathabile Dlamini`s input on deepening the social protection system to strengthen coordination, integration, planning, monitoring and evaluation of services and reforming the social development sector and services.

19 June 2014

Madam Speaker,
His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma,
Honourable Deputy President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa,
Honourable Members,

On Tuesday, the 17th of June 2014 in this House, President Zuma related the good story of 20 years of freedom and democracy under the ANC-led Government.

Today we stand in the shadows of those who fought to free us from colonial and apartheid regime; from the minority rule and from economic backwardness and unspeakable indignity.

We acknowledge a debt of gratitude to the forbearers of our liberation struggle-Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Adelaide Tambo, Hellen Joseph and all those who made the ultimate sacrifice in building a peaceful, democratic and non-racial South Africa.

These are men and women who began the slow and difficult work of making freedom more meaningful for the poor who are in the majority, but have nothing.

In 1994 the people of South Africa put their trust and confidence in the ANC and its leadership recognising the history of the struggle for the total liberation and emancipation of the people of South Africa and Africa.

In May this year, against the wishes of those who have been attacking and demonising this Government, the overwhelming majority of our people have again given the ANC an unquestionable mandate to rule, to make laws, to formulate and implement radical economic transformation policies and programmes that will move South Africa forward in the next five years. And yet the opposition continues to distort the achievements of the last 20 years under the ANC Government.

As the ANC, we are clear that while economic growth is necessary for the creation of jobs and reducing unemployment, growth by itself is not sufficient in reducing poverty and reducing inequality. Social transformation is also a pillar of improving the lives of our people.

We also need to focus on the weak social infrastructure which serves as an incubator for the many social ills that face our country.

There is growing evidence that crude growth based policies may in fact, serve to increase and cement inequalities as it often facilitates the retention of wealth by those sectors of society that have historically inherited wealth and opportunities. So, Honourable Speaker radical transformation needs to include deliberate policies to empower the poor economically and socially.

This will require bold policy interventions to increase the social and physical asset base and capabilities of the poor, while at the same time breaking the monopoly that a minority of people still hold on the levers of wealth and wealth creation.

The NDP obliges us to develop strategies and programmes to ensure minimum acceptable standards for all citizens. In line with this, the social sector will intensify its efforts to deliver better results for vulnerable groups such as children, orphans, older persons, and patients with chronic illnesses and people with disabilities as enshrined in the Constitution.

Honourable Speaker, all children should enjoy quality and accessible services and benefits aimed at facilitating access to nutrition, health care, education, social care and safety.

Our comprehensive poverty reduction approach is premised on a life cycle approach. This includes the 1 000 days campaign which will maximise the developmental window of children by providing maternal support for expectant mothers, nutrition and developmental support for children in their early stages of development.

Honourable Members, the ANC has declared Early Childhood Development (ECD) a public good. In the next five years, our priority will be on expanding access to ECD services to at least forty percent of children between 0 - 4 years by 2019.

To date, we have over 1 million children accessing ECD services throughout the country, half of which is directly subsidised by the state. The implementation a comprehensive ECD programme amounts to achieving a double dividend in that it provides a good foundation to the development of a child and contributes to the development of the country. Madame Speaker, where are there are no ECD facilities, we are piloting non-centre based ECD services through 6 mobile trucks targeting informal settlements.

As the President highlighted in his address, the National Development Plan (NDP) provides a conceptual guidance in this regard, as it does include as part of its core goals, the eradication of poverty, unemployment the reduction of inequality.

Honourable Speaker, the social assistance programme remains the single most important contributor to the fight against poverty and inequality in the country. In this respect more than 15.9 million South Africans, including more than 11.7 million children and 2.9 million older persons benefitted from our safety net.

This achievement was predicated on our determination to ensure that our social protection system protects individuals against all forms of vulnerability.

An impact study of the child support grant (CSG) carried out by the Department and the United Nations Children`s Fund (UNICEF) in 2011/2012 has confirmed that the CSG reduces poverty and vulnerability and improves the academic performance of the recipients. It also confirmed that adolescents who benefit from the grant are less likely to engage in risky behaviour.

The NDP identified gaps in our social protection for children particularly between the ages of 18 and 23 years. The sector will make proposals on the interventions and support for this categories of citizens. The proposed interventions will be extended include young citizens who need to complete their studies to add to skills outcomes especially amongst young people. Honourable Speaker, closing this gap in our social protection system is vital if we are to make use of the demographic dividend and lay the basis for our young people to become the key role-players in building a more socially stable society.

Honourable Speaker, the social grants form part of what we call the social wage, which, is in fact the building blocks of the suggested social protection floor as outlined in the National Development Plan.

We will work to improve the social protection floor so that we conslidate the gains we have made and meet the Millenium Development Goals.

The most recent reports on progress in relation to the MDGs indicate that we have made remarkable progress in meeting some of the poverty related MDGs and we are surpassing the targets related to primary education and the reduction of maternal mortalities

Madame speaker, in practical terms the impact of the social wage in the life a child is as follows: the child is provided a grant at birth, accesses free health and nutritional support, accesses ECD services, is able to attend school without paying, access higher education with the support of National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and their families access basic services and housing. The net effect of these services is to end the life-cycle of poverty.

In April 2012, SASSA embarked on a massive re-registration process which introduced capturing of biometric and other payment-related information of more than 20 million people comprising of social grants recipients, children and procurators. The process sought to address some of the challenges that the Agency previously experienced, which included amongst others, fragmentation of payment data, high levels of fraud and inefficiencies.

The process has accrued many benefits for SASSA, the beneficiaries and Government as a whole. The major benefit as been the significant saving of R 2 billion in grant monies.

The re-registration process yielded a 88 percent alignment with data on the Home Affairs database in terms of biometric matching. The remaining 12 percent could be an indicator of possible fraudulent grants, which once fully investigated could lead to a further saving for the state.

We will provide much needed Community Based Child and Youth Care Programmes to orphans and vulnerable children through the Isibindi Model.

Currently, we provide care and support services to ninety eight thousand vulnerable children through 60 formal safe parks and 191 informal safe parks in the country. One of the learners in this programme obtained 6 distinctions and she is studying towards a Law degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

DSD has declared the financial year 2014/15 as the year to focus on the rights of people with disabilities. A major focus for this year will be to ensure inclusion and mainstreaming of disability in the post-2015 development agenda. This we will do in partnership with government departments, private sector, civil society, disabled people and their organisations.

As the President said in his address, we should fulfil South Africa`s role as signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its optional protocols by domesticating it through the finalisation of National Disability Rights Policy. This Policy will shift the the focus and responsibility for disability mainstreaming to every programme manager in government who will be responsible to prove that their plans budgets and services are disability responsive.

As indicated by the President, we will embed the monitoring of the compliance with the obligations contained in the Convention and progress made with disability rights mainstreaming in the government-wide monitoring and evaluation system.

Honourable Speaker, given the significant scale of the devastating impact of both legal and illicit drugs in our communities, we will focus on the implementation of the National Drug Master Plan and the National Anti -Substance Abuse Programme of Action as approved by Cabinet.

The Control of Marketing of Alcohol Beverages Bill will be gazetted for public discussion by the Department of Health as will the implementation of restrictions on times and places of the sale of alcohol, by the Department of Trade and Industry.

This programme of action was based on resolutions adopted at the biennial conference held in 2011 and subsequently approved by cabinet. In 2015 we will organise a review biennial summit to take stock of achievements and challenges in implementing the programme of action. We are building four treatment centres - in the Free State, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and the North-West to increase access to treatment. This will be done to the tune of 150 Million Rand over 3 years.

To strengthen the implementation of developmental welfare services, we will complete the review of social welfare policy and regulations. This will include the revision of the White Paper on Social Welfare.

This will assist in defining a mandatory welfare services package with clear norms and standards that government is obliged to delivery in partnership with civil society organizations and private sector. We will build a more responsive social welfare delivery system, by ensuring that our social workers are placed in communities in such a manner that they are accessible and responsive to the needs of people. This may involve partnerships with departments such as health and basic education as we seek to ensure that we have at least one social worker per ward.

For this innovation to be successful, we will need to ensure the absorption of at least 100% of social work bursary holders annually after successfully completing their studies.

Honourable Members, over the past 20 years, the Social Development Sector committed significant resources to support a wide range of social interventions that were designed to improve the socio-economic conditions of the citizens of this country, in particular the most vulnerable groups.

In 2013, I introduced an integrated service delivery monitoring project "Project Mikondzo" to go back to communities and assess whether our interventions are having the desired effects in terms of positively transforming the lives of the beneficiaries.

Through this project, we have been able to visit more than 1300 poorest wards in the country. Communities were able to give us immediate feed-back on services that were working and where we are lacking.

We were also directed to families that were in dire need and required urgent support wherein we facilitate immediate relief and support whilst making arrangements for long term interventions. During this new term of government we will intensify our efforts of taking service delivery to the people through implementation of integrated social development services ranging from immediate social relief to long term interventions.

As we face this cold winter season; we still find communities, households and individuals who staying exposed situations and some, on the streets for various reasons. The NDP obliges us to ensure that we ensure that people are protected from the short term shocks. We take this obligation seriously and it is for this reason that we will be embarking on a Winter campaign for the vulnerable - providing them with the necessary support during this cold period. Part of this work includes support for seasonal and migrant workers. We have piloted an initiative on this in De Doorns in the Western Cape, which we will be rolling throughout the country.

The Integrated Community Outreach Programme will remain a key strategy to expand accessibility of our social assistance services.

Honourable Speaker, in conclusion, as the ANC together with other liberation movements, we fought colonialism, we fought apartheid racial discrimination, we won our democracy! We now have to deepen our struggle against poverty so that we can build an inclusive society and contribute to an economy that benefits all our people.

I thank you