Minister Fernandez SOPA Debate Speech
Honourable Premier and Cabinet Colleagues,
Honourable Leader of the Opposition,
Honourable Members, guest in the gallery, fellow South Africans
Honourable Speaker, it is indeed a privilege for me to present my first Speech as the Minister of Social Development in this 6th Provincial Parliament today.
Since it is Mandela month, I would like to start with a quote by Nelson Mandela which resonates with me “ There is nothing I fear more than waking up without a programme that will help me bring a little happiness to those with no resources, those who are poor, illiterate and riddled with terminal disease”
The Provincial Department of Social Development is empowered by statutory obligations, policy mandates and the Provincial Strategic Goals two and three amongst others. Goal 2 calls on us to improve education outcomes and opportunities for youth development, while Strategic Goal 3 calls on us to increase wellness, safety and tackle social ills.
At present honourable speaker, we are feeling the effects of an economy in distress, an economy plagued by fraud, corruption and maladministration which has a direct impact on government funding.
It is not only the Department of Social Development that is feeling the pinch but the average man in the street, who has to struggle to pay for public transport to get work, the mother at home, who finds herself paying double the amount she did for her children’s school lunches 5 ago… the business owner who struggles to keep his doors open, due to blackouts and protest action.
Our NGO partners and all other stakeholders, who play a pivotal role in reaching all residents across this Province, remain a key partner in our efforts, however the current economic climate, and the reduction of the overall fiscal base, may have negative consequences for the Department’s support to NGOs.
Honourable Speaker, these are indeed challenging times…
I wish to reiterate, that although we may not all represent the same political-party in this house, we all do, in fact represent the people of this Province. So before I continue, I would like to use this opportunity to call on all public reps here present, to work together during these difficult times to ensure that we can in fact leave a better South Africa for future generations to come.
The Department of Social Development remains dedicated to providing adequate and quality Early childhood development and partial care services.
It has become increasingly understood that early childhood development is an important aspect of human development as it serves as a driver of economic welfare and poverty reduction, particularly later in life.
At the end of the 2017/18 financial year, 85 262 children had access to ECD and After School Care Services. This figure is projected to increase to 88 000 by the end of 2019/20 financial year, as compared to 50 000 in 2009.
Priority number 3, highlighted by Premier Winde last week spells out what we will be doing “to make sure that no matter where you live, and where you work, your life is made easier.” This is very much in line with the Department’s, Strategic Goal 3, which calls on us to increase wellness, safety and tackle social ills.
I personally believe that with collaborative efforts between government, the SAPS, the criminal justice system, civil society and members of the community, we can win the fight the scourge of alcohol and drug abuse.
To help address the escalating substance abuse problem in this Province, social work staff will continue to be capacitated to deal with both preventative as well as treatment options for substance abuse via the Department’s funded studies at university.
We continuously witness the fear and terror imposed on our communities as a consequence of substance abuse. In 2007/2008, there were 45 936 cases of drug-related crime in the Western Cape.
A serious cause for concern is that this number has risen to 117 157 according to the latest crime statistics.
Only a whole of society approach through the efforts of all spheres of society can put a stop to demonic acts of violence being witnessed by our communities.
It takes a community to raise a child. Lets unite to protect our children from the scourge of addiction and abuse!
Let’s go back to saying #YourChildIsMyChild
A key component to making this possible is ensuring that our programmes and initiatives include creating spaces where people and communities can live and prosper. This indeed includes those “People living with disabilities”
Notable achievements thus far include, the subsidy for the 24 hour-care facilities for children with disabilities was increased substantially from R 2, 589 to R 5, 510 per child per month and, in compliance with November 2010 court judgement directing the Department to provide reasonable measures for the educational needs of severely and profoundly disabled children, provision has been made for the payment of the salaries of carers and programme implementers of intellectually disabled children in day care centers and, the purchasing of safe, suitably adapted transportation for the children to and from the day care centers has commenced.
Our province has geared itself towards the age of technological advancement, commonly referred to as the 4th Industrial revolution by introducing an electronic pay slip system for visually impaired and partially sighted provincial government employees. Finally, between 2014 and 2018, the Department increased the access of ‘Persons with disabilities’ to specialized support services from 55 323 to 88 089.
I wish to thank Honourable Fritz for leading the charge in this regard.
The Department has committed to providing Social Welfare services to ‘Person with Disabilities’ to 89 698 people around our Province by the end of 2019/20 financial year.
Honourable Speaker, the Department has invested heavily in ensuring it is able to respond timeously to cases of children at risk, by improving our preventative services and early intervention services.
In this regard, that I welcome the DRAFT: PROVINCIAL PLAN OF ACTION: INTERVENING TO REDUCE CHILD MURDERS which was started in 2017.
This achievement is very much in line Premier Winde’s 4th priority, that is, “to ensure that no matter where you call home, you live free from fear.”
Honourable Speaker, as the DA-led Western Cape government we will continue to work tirelessly to improve the services we deliver to the people of our Province. However, government cannot achieve this alone.
More importantly, at a provincial level, we will strive to maintain and strengthen our relationship with entities such as SASSA and the NDA to ensure that they fulfill their mandate.
Honourable members, lets agree to unite and work together to address the issues that affect the poor, the vulnerable and the most marginalized in our communities.
I wish to thank Honourable Member Baku Baku Vos for alerting me to a situation in her constituency which we will resolve together. This is a clear indication
That we can be ‘better together’
I thank you