ECD’s demand accountability for stimulus funds
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Early Childhood Development Centres across the country have vowed to continue their three-day-long protest in efforts to get national government to account for funds missing from the Presidential ECD Stimulus Relief Fund initiative.
According to the organisers of the protest, the Department of Social Development has to account for the missing R800.3 million that they could not secure from the National Treasury due to their lack of organisation as a department on behalf of ECD’s across the country.
The Centre for Early childhood Development’s director, Professor Eric Atmore, said the address by the Western Cape DSD were blatant lies and misleading in the department’s attempt to blame the poor for not managing to fulfil the government’s complex requirements for the grant.
Atmore said: “The DSD is telling us half-truths. They have now resorted to victim-blaming, instead of accounting for why they failed to stand up on behalf of vulnerable ECD institutions. They are blaming poor people for not qualifying when they know they didn't do nearly enough to secure the complete R1.3 billion stimulus.
“We want to know what happened to the money National Treasury did not release to the DSD, and we want them to release the funds without delay. Our protest will continue undeterred. On Wednesday, we had over 1000 people protesting in solidarity and we are expecting many more over the next two days,” he said.
Meanwhile, the provincial Department of Social Development said that out of the R496 million the National DSD had received from treasury, the Western Cape had received only R53 million and was working with an intermediary organisation, to assist with the processing of payments and verification of the ECD Stimulus in the Province.
MEC Sharna Fernandez said: “As of the official closing date, February 26, 2021, 3159 applications were received. However, we have received only 794 applications from the national.
“These are the ECD applicants that have fulfilled the eligibility criteria. We are still waiting on the National DSD to send us the rest of the ECD applicants once they have been verified and approved. The national DSD has informed us that the DG Murray Trust will try to obtain this information that will hopefully result in a delayed payment being made by the province,” said Fernandez.