Durban - Speaking on Thursday ahead of tabling Social Development’s Portfolio Budget Vote 19 for the current financial year Minister Lindiwe Zulu has said that the bulk of the budget, which has increased, has been allocated to the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) for beneficiaries.
Zulu, who will be tabling the budget in Durban on Friday, says most beneficiaries are children, adding that the Foster Child Grant is the most important as it looks after children who are orphaned and in the care of relatives who themselves face challenges such as unemployment..
“Relatives who also take care of their own children and poverty, unemployment hunger is just a problem.”
Zulu says the budget has increased despite budget cuts, but it is necessary in particular because of problems arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that the announcements of the Minister of Finance are also critical as these are issues for which her department has fought.
The Social Distress Relief Grant funding has increased so that the department can cater for about 3.5 million approved grants per month, she has said. The R350 has also been extended, she says, adding that previous applications amount to between R11 million and R12 million.
She says it is critical for the nation to see beyond these grants because policies are developed using money and money also has to be allocated to the National Developed Agency as it channels this to civil society organisations.
Speaking on economic reconstruction and transformation Zulu has said that as a department it is paramount to be part of such discussions and actions.
“We believe that it’s possible for our beneficiaries to do something that can increase the money that they have – we want to work very closely with the Department of Small Business Development.
“Economic development and reconstruction can’t be for big business only. That's why supporting the informal sector is important. We will be giving vouchers in addition to what this department is doing in supporting small to medium business enterprises; supporting those that were hit from Covid, unrest and now the floods.”
While the government, private sector and NPOs were giving food parcels to flood victims, Zulu made a plea for those who lost their livelihoods to also be targeted.
It was noted by the DA, which had already seen the budget, that there were no funds allocated to KZN’s LGBTQI- related murders within the budget.
“There have been four confirmed murders in the last 14 months yet there has been little headway when it comes to educating society on this matter. The reality is that many attacks within this community are still not reported in fear of discrimination,” the party’s spokesperson for Social Development in KwaZulu-Natal, Mmabatho Tembe, said.
She said that more needed to be done in terms of education and sensitivity with more community-building when it came to safe spaces for LGBQTI to be able to report this crime.
Tembe said that departments needed to work together in this regard.
Minister Zulu echoed her sentiments.
“We allocate the money to provinces, we also monitor where provinces spend their money because when it’s all said and done we have a big problem of gender-based violence in the country in general, part of what we need to make sure is funded is the National Strategic Plan on GBV,” Zulu said.
She said that the NSP on GBV and femicide, along with the establishment of beneficial and sustainable linkages between DSD and services that need to be rendered, would help in addressing some issues of marginalisation, including people with disabilities.
“It’s important for all of us to pay attention to their plights. All departments have a responsibility to respond to all these sectors of our communities,” Zulu said.