The Democratic Alliance (DA) is alarmed by the revelations in the Portfolio Committee of Social Development today of R2 billion in irregular and fruitless expenditure by the Department of Social Development (DSD). In a briefing to the Committee, the Auditor-General (A-G) confirmed that the majority of this irregular expenditure was incurred by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa).
Sassa has a significant obligation of meeting human and social needs of the poor and vulnerable communities. However, in recent years, it has been failing to effectively carry out this functions‚ because of poor management, rampant corruption, irregular expenditure and fruitless spending.
The Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), requires the accounting officers of government departments to take effective and appropriate steps to prevent irregular expenditure, as well to take disciplinary steps against officials who are found guilty of irregular expenditure. This means that it is now up to the department to strengthen its financial control systems and to hold all those at SASSA and the DSD to account – we cannot have a repeat of this blatant squandering of the people’s money.
Social spending that should be focused on the 17 million disadvantaged recipients and has been misappropriated and diverted by corrupt officials and politicians. It is quite astonishing how a department with the second biggest national budget is failing to provide proper services to the poor and most vulnerable.
It is clear that social services in South Africa is in disarray. Even the newly introduced functions of the South African Post Office (SAPO) are falling prey to fraudulent and opportunistic activities that have plagued the grant system for years.
The Department has for the past 2 years completely disregarded compliance with regulations. This points to a lack of consequence management for officials who neglect their duties and contravene legislation.
If the status quo continues, millions of social grant recipients and their dependents will be put at risk. For many South Africans their social grants are the difference between food on the table or going hungry.
The DA believes that South Africans, especially the poor deserve a lot better than what is being provided by the ANC government that has continuously neglected its duties to the people.