Addressing the Social Development Indaba
Honourable members of the standing committee, Social Development Department officials and employees, NGOs and members of the media, welcome to our Social Development Indaba.
This is the first Indaba of its kind and we are hoping that it will set a precedent by encouraging an exchange of ideas that can result in better services for our people on the ground.
I want to make it very clear that throughout the duration of this two-day programme it is imperative that we do not take our eyes off what drives us.
Besides our compassion for the poor and vulnerable in our province we must also never lose sight of the fact that we are duty bound by, amongst others, the Children's Act, Child Justice Act and the Constitution of our country.
During Social Development month we have covered numerous parts of our province, visiting communities that are plagued by violence against children, substance abuse and poverty.
In the face of the huge challenges faced by our society, the Department and our partners in the NGO sector must roll up our sleeves to ensure that those that bear the brunt of the breakdown of the social fabric of our society receive the services they need.
The goal of this Indaba is to create a more efficient, effective and unified social development sector.
I am a firm believer in people-centred development and I therefore believe that social development is the responsibility of each and every South African.
Our closest partner after the public is the NGO sector and I believe this is the start of a process in which our goal must be to improve our relations.
I also want to assure all stakeholders that over the next two days we are going to find solutions.
After that we are going to implement those solutions.
Three of the intended outcomes of the Indaba are:
- To improve delivery of services in relation to the Children's Act and Child Justice Act
- To obtain the NGO sector's input on the Department's funding policy
- To improve the Department and NGO sector's response to the priority challenges of poverty, substance abuse and children
I want to commit my term of office to improving the Department's relationship with the NGO sector.
We need a relationship that is mutually beneficial.
I commit myself personally to this partnership, but in exchange you need to commit yourselves to accountability, efficiency and effectiveness.
We want to see value for money.
For our part, the Department will review its current funding policy and practices with regards to the NGO sector, especially in relation to the allocation process.
I am sure that the sector will know best that during the period 1 April 2009 to 30 September 2010 the Department's funding relationships as well as levels of funding to non- governmental organisations were in some cases stopped, while in others they were decreased, increased, or suspended.
The main reasons for suspensions, decreases and increases are non- alignment to service delivery priorities, and/or the application of financial benchmarks.
Contracts between the Department and non- governmental organisations detail specific terms and conditions to which organisations must comply with, for example the submission of progress reports, provision of non- financial data, and submission of financial statements.
Last week on Friday the standing committee for the social cluster and Scopa took the Department to task for failure to provide non-financial data.
As a Department we must also become proactive to identify capacity problems in NGOs, before we take the drastic step of suspending their funding.
Delegates to this Indaba will also be presented with a very rough draft of a funding policy.
It is a rough draft precisely because without input from the NGO sector it is not complete.
After the Department has listened to you the funding policy should look quite different.
We are therefore asking for your expert advice.
I also want to make a commitment that I will consult with experts from within the Department and the NGO sector, as well as academics, on the modernisation process.
In addition, I will set up the necessary auditing and monitoring and evaluation processes to ensure that any problem experienced by the smaller NGOs is picked up by monthly monitoring.
As a Department that relies heavily on the NGO sector to fulfil our legal obligations in terms of the Children's Act and the Child Justice Act, I have full faith that we can move forward together.
I would like to leave you with a quote from the book by Jeffrey Sachs, called 'The End of Poverty: How we can make it happen in our lifetime.'
And I quote:
'Am I an optimist? Optimism and pessimism are beside the point. The key is not to predict what will happen, but to help shape the future. This task is a collective one - for you as well as for me.'
Cell: 084 233 3811