The Eastern Cape Social Development MEC, Nancy Sihlwayi, must explain to the people of this province what her plans are to ensure that the Department of Social Development delivers quality social services for the next financial year. We expect a well-articulated turnaround strategy to be presented in the next Social Development Portfolio Committee meeting.
In a reply to a parliamentary question that I posed to the MEC, she admitted that a high vacancy rate in senior management posts particularly in dealing with social welfare services, children and family and restorative services was affected. A lack of social work supervisors, community development supervisors at district level, office space, office equipment and lack of vehicles were blamed.
I have discovered that since the financial year 2014/15, the department’s ability to deliver quality social services has declined until now. Given the recent media reports of wide-scale corruption within the department and by senior Hawk’s officials, I am not hopeful that quality social services will increase during the next financial year.
The department only managed to achieve 82 performance targets out of 115 planned targets which represent 71.3% across all five programs for the financial year 2016/17, compared to 78.6% of targets reached for the year 2014/15.
Most social service programs have only met half of their targets resulting in an under expenditure of R44.3 million for the financial year 2016/17, up from R7.8 million or 1.8% in 2015/16. The department also incurred irregular expenditure to the tune of R94 million for the financial year under review.
I am of the view that the MEC as the political head must take responsibility for the department’s regress as there are serious systemic failures and deficiencies within the department’s operations.
The results of the aforementioned issues indicate that there are serious maladministration and corruption issues within a department that’s supposed to render much-needed services to millions of poor and vulnerable people.
Corruption investigations within the department must be completed soonest and consequence management and criminal cases must be instituted against guilty individuals.
The people of the Eastern Cape deserve a caring government and Social Development Department that works to put them first and delivers services, especially to the most vulnerable in our society. The people of the Eastern Cape deserve a new beginning.
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