Minister Lindiwe Zulu is at the helm of a Department responsible for the welfare of the country’s most vulnerable citizens and she has shown herself to be one of the worst performing Ministers in Cabinet.
The following are some of the reasons the DA believes that Social Development Minister Zulu must be fired.
1. Continuous payment failures of SASSA grants
Hardly a month passes without social grant payment failures of some sort. South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) beneficiaries are never guaranteed that their funds would have been deposited on time and in full. People already living in poverty are forced to waste vital funds on transport to pay points, only to return home empty handed. Last month the payment chaos was due to a “technical glitch” at the Postbank which left hundreds of thousands of people without access to their funds for weeks despite assurances by both the bank and DSD that the issue had been resolved.
2. Attempts to deploy her cadre, Linton Mchunu
It seems Minister Zulu is trying to deploy her cadre, acting director-general (DG) Linton Mchunu, into the position of DG at the Department of Social Development (DSD). Mchunu and Minister Zulu have had a long partnership, with him following her from Department to Department and the Minister allegedly smoothing his way and tailoring the qualifications and criteria for the DG position to benefit Mchunu. The Public Protector has launched an investigation into the allegations, which were substantiated by Deputy Social Development Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu.
3. The Minister’s dodgy USADF deal
The Minister and her long-time ally, acting DG Mchunu, allegedly breached a number of internal and governmental protocols when they signed a dodgy deal with the US African Development Foundation (USADF) in which each party will deposit $1 million annually into a bank account from which only the USADF may withdraw funds.
The motion of understanding (MOU) with the USADF is ostensibly meant to benefit the development of small and medium-sized businesses, yet DSD has no small business development mandate.
It seems clear that this MOU is an attempt at defrauding a Department that is meant to serve the poorest and most vulnerable.
4. Failure to appoint enough social workers
Despite nearly 9 000 social workers being out of work and more than 1 200 vacancies in provinces – some for more than 8 years – the Minister has failed to ensure that these posts are filled. This is despite the fact that the government needs at least 5 000 social workers to implement substance abuse legislation, 3 000 for the Older Person’s Act, and the National Development Plan’s aim to employ 55 000 social workers by 2030.
5. Failure to intervene in brewing NGO crisis in Gauteng
The Minister has failed to intervene in the brewing humanitarian crisis in Gauteng. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) specialising in work with children and people with disabilities were defunded by the Gauteng Department of Social Development on orders of Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi, and despite promises that their funding would be returned, this has not happened. Thousands of vulnerable individuals assisted through these NGOs are still being impacted by the Premier’s foolish, ill-considered decision.
What is most shocking about Minister Zulu’s management of her Department is the fact that she seems to have no empathy in her behaviour towards the people she is meant to serve. She unashamedly lets the elderly, persons with disabilities, children, and other vulnerable individuals suffer while seemingly bending every rule in the book to ensure prosperity for those close to her. Minister Zulu has failed to realise that she is a steward of public money and serves at the behest of South African citizens – something she is clearly terrible at and not interested in improving. It is time President Cyril Ramaphosa showed some backbone and fired her. South Africa needs competent, caring Ministers.
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