Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP, during the State of the Nation (SONA) Debate in the National Assembly this afternoon.
The state of the Department of Social Development can be summed up in the latest headlines: “Beneficiaries in Disaster Countdown;” “Welfare Cliffhanger;” “D-Day for Grants;” “Seven weeks to go to prevent what could be a disaster of unprecedented proportions.”
Honourable President, you should therefore be fully aware that plans for the payment of social grants to 17 million poor and vulnerable South Africans are completely in the air.
SASSA and the Department have had years to prepare for this takeover. Yet only now are they seeking an “exploratory” meeting with CPS, the company currently tasked with distributing social grants, to discuss the transition of the SASSA contract.
In fact, the DA believes that SASSA never had any real intention of meeting the 01 April 2017 deadline for taking over of the distribution of social grants. We believe SASSA wilfully manufactured an emergency that would leave them with no choice but to extend the current invalid contract with CPS.
Yet, in your State of the Nation Address, you gave no reassurance that these social grants will be paid on 1 April, when the current contract to distribute social grants comes to an end.
It seems that you and the ANC government are quite content to leave South Africans in the dark, just like the ANC have abandoned millions of young people, the lost generation, who have no hope of finding work opportunities.
Given the history that led to the Constitutional Court declaring in 2014 that the current contract with CPS was invalid, one would think that Minister Dlamini would have taken the situation seriously and have fulfilled the deliverables and timelines they presented to the Constitutional court.
Not surprisingly, the Minister failed to do this. She is far too busy campaigning for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and attacking Thuli Madonsela to have the time to worry about the 17 million people who rely on social grants.
The DA has proposed that National Treasury take the lead role in the contractual negotiations as well as in the process of appointing a new service provider. Mr President, we urge you to issue a proclamation to this effect.
What does this all say about the ANC government and the Minister of Social Development’s attitude towards the poor and vulnerable? It tells people: “You are not a priority to us at the moment, we will see you during elections season when we need your vote and we might even give you food parcels. But then finish en klaar!”
Mongameli ohloniphekile, indlela abantu abantulayo nabadla imbuya ngothi, phakathi kwabo okukhona abadala nabantwana Kanye nabakhubazekile abanganakiwe ngayo uHulumeni kaKhongolose iyethusa. Ungqongqoshe akanandaba ukuthi kwenzakalani kulababantu. Besinethemba lokuthi uma wethula inkulumo yakho ngesimo lezizigidi zabantu ababhekene naso, uzobathembisa ukuthi uhulumeni kukhona azokwenza.
Ngeshwa elikhulu awushongo lutho. (Honourable President, the disdainful way in which the ANC government treats poor and vulnerable, including the aged and children is shocking! We hoped your address would shed some light on what government will do about the looming disaster, some promise of presidential intervention. Sadly, you said nothing.)
The truth is that the Minister of Social Development doesn’t care about the poor. This shouldn’t surprise you, President Zuma, because she is taking you and your party’s lead. You are more concerned about crony enrichment than you are with helping the lost generation succeed, because the ANC doesn’t care about the poor.
Mr President, let the Honourable Dlamini campaign for your chosen successor all she wants, but please, for the sake of our country, fire her from your cabinet and ensure that 17 million people are protected.
For the sake of the people, I beseech you to make this vital announcement tomorrow in your speech.