SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: WORKING TOGETHER TO INTENSIFY THE WAR ON POVERTY, HUNGER AND SOCIOECONOMIC MARGINALISATION
(Subject for Discussion)
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Hon House Chair, hon colleagues and guests in the gallery, it is indeed an honour and privilege for me to address this august House on such a critical, topical theme: “Working together to intensify the war on poverty, hunger and socioeconomic marginalisation”.
Similar to all other years since the existence of this democratic government, in 2007 at the 52nd national conference of the ANC, the ruling party resolved that the central and most pressing challenges that we face in our country are unemployment, poverty and inequality. In this regard, we reiterate our determination to halve unemployment and poverty from the levels where they were, back in 2004 and today, and very substantially reduce social and economic inequality as well.
Helping our people to escape poverty is one of the key priorities of the ANC government. It is something that we are passionate about, and we should ensure that we achieve it. Similar to other countries, our government also faces the challenge of limited resources. We are determined that, irrespective of a lack of adequate resources, we will not act in a way that will leave anybody behind, not even some of the most poor and vulnerable people in our society.
This government has also taken a firm stance against poverty and social exclusion. This is well reflected in our government’s legislative and nonlegislative work, including several major policy resolutions which we have adopted in the past few years of our existence. I sincerely believe that our people voted for this government because they wanted us to adhere most closely to the principles of the Freedom Charter and our beautiful Constitution.
To translate this political obligation into concrete actions and results, our government has undertaken a number of key actions to date. One such policy that our government has successfully implemented over the past 16 years is the increased provision of social transfers. The gradual expansion of the social assistance programme has helped us suppress the increase in income inequality, particularly for people living in rural areas.
Numerous studies have confirmed that our social assistance programme is well targeted and contributes considerably to poverty reduction. Without social security grants as a source of income, many households within the distribution curve would have experienced abject poverty.
This government is also undertaking a process of comprehensive social security and retirement reforms in order to ensure that we include all people who otherwise would have very little, if any, income support for themselves and their dependants.
I would like to ask hon members to really study the comprehensive social security submission, because it has several pillars – four or so. It is not just a social assistance programme.
As government, it is our responsibility to ensure that South Africans from all walks of life have the resources necessary to live a better and a decent life. Given the impact of social grants on the poor, it goes without saying that no meaningful and sustained economic growth can be achieved in the absence of social protection.
I need to point out that providing adequate social protection is not just about giving handouts, as some of our hon members in here, in the other House and throughout society always and repeatedly suggest. The provision of social protection is one of the four pillars of the International Labour Organisation’s definition of decent work. Social protection is as important as an industrial policy, a skills policy, investment incentives, trade and fiscal policies in our government’s continued efforts to promote decent jobs.
Our social protection framework includes the provision of shelter to those denied decent human settlements for many decades in this country. The three million houses that we built for poor people in South Africa shielded them from the threat of homelessness and destitution that other poor and middle classes across the world experience, particularly now recently in the wake of the recent global economic and financial crisis.
At the same time, as this government, we transferred over R86 billion to eligible households, enabling them to participate in the economy and meet some of their basic needs in one of the worst economic crises the modern world has experienced. People then had money to travel to cities and sometimes even do a little bit of business here and there, in order to sustain their livelihoods.
Recently, President Lula da Silva of Brazil, one of the world’s emerging economic powerhouses, as we know it to be, stated that the social transfers that the Brazilian government gave to its poorest citizens allowed them to continue to stimulate demand in a very difficult economic climate and, in the process, helped to stabilise the economy. Like all of us, Brazil has close to a quarter of its population on some form of social assistance programme and, like them, we see this as an investment in people and the economy for the long-term good of our society.
Esteemed ladies and gentlemen, our nation was built on the foundations of a deep and abiding commitment to the values of social solidarity, the principle of equity, the principle of social justice and the rule of law. If there is any yardstick by which our country should be defined and measured, then it is that of being a caring, democratic and inclusive society. Therefore, we have an obligation to history and mankind to show that democracy can, and does work. As elected representatives of our people, we must show that democracy can deliver development and also empower the marginalised.
At no time, no matter what the situation was or is, must we allow people to doubt the ability of our democratic institutions to improve the lives of our people. Approaches to tackling poverty are highly subjective and often form part of deeply embedded ideological frameworks. We know that.
In a recent publication, the Centre for Development and Enterprise, CDE, suggested that the South African government should not spend resources on a redistributive policy that seeks to address inequalities. They suggested that we should develop policies that would allow an unfettered market to maximise economic growth and thereby create jobs.
This kind of thinking – which is known as the trickle-down effect – goes against most of the recent research and literature that indicates that, if countries do not deal with inequalities, their abilities to increase economic growth and create a better society are severely limited.
In a recent publication entitled The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone, Wilkinson and Pickett postulate that countries with high levels of inequality tend to have higher levels of social unrest, poor educational outcomes despite high levels of investment, and a range of other social ills which threaten the social fabric.
Their assertion is based on extensive studies in the developed countries. Indeed, cumulative research suggests that high levels of social and economic inequalities reverberate through societies on many levels, correlating with, if not causing, more social disruptions. Therefore, it is not surprising that these social ills are amplified in a country such as ours with its high levels of social and economic inequalities due to development and economic frameworks such as those espoused by the CDE report.
The conclusions of Wilkinson and Pickett are that –
... equality matters for all in our society, and that all of us benefit with increased levels of equality.
We know that is not true. We need to ensure that there is sustainable development in our country. Sustainable development does not necessarily mean that everyone else will benefit as Wilkinson and Pickett and that report said.
The excluded and the vulnerable have as much stake in the development of an equal and sustainable economic system as the rich and the better-off. We are supposed to have all these people, including those whom we sometimes think are vulnerable and tend to think that those policies will help. This is the essence of partnership and solidarity. We need both to deal with economic growth and reduce inequality. We cannot afford to pursue one at the expense of the other. We need to work together on this. We need partnerships between business, civil society and government for this to be a very successful project.
It is in this spirit that I welcome the recent declaration on poverty and inequality made by a South African civil society organisation that we know and which included the community-based organisation Proudly Manenberg, the South African Council of Churches and academics.
Their declaration, which is known as the Birchwood Declaration on Inequality and Poverty in South Africa, noted that inequality has a range of psychosocial consequences that complicate South Africa’s ability to build social cohesion and deal with the structural nature of the country’s poverty. They further noted that growing levels of inequality within and amongst nations has been one of the primary drivers of the current global crisis.
Most of the organisations that signed this declaration work with communities at grass-roots level. I think we should listen to their analyses and engage with their proposed solutions which, among others, include the strengthening and implementation of redistribution instruments and programmes that bridge the inequality divide, including social security and the community works programme. This government should also work together with these institutions if we are to be successful in our endeavour to eradicate poverty. We will definitely do so.
The opportunity is now at hand for each of us in this House to join together and ensure that our actions are guided by the vision of a better and greater South Africa. Helen Keller wrote that –
Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.
Unless we address the problems of poverty, hunger and the socio-economic marginalisation of the poor now – and I say now – none of the great goals that our government has set – peace, stability, human rights for all, the preservation of the environment – are achievable in a world where one half of our people finds themselves shut out of the opportunities and benefits of the global society. We have seen it happening in other countries and it shouldn’t happen here.
Therefore, it is our conviction that everyone, regardless of their social status, should be able to live his or her life with dignity. As Jeffrey Sachs correctly pointed our in his book, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, we are the first generation that can end poverty in our lifetime. History has repeatedly taught us that social and economic development are not mutually exclusive, but rather complementary.
José Antonio Ocampo once stated that:
Ignoring inequality in the pursuit of development is perilous. Focusing exclusively on economic growth and income generation as a development strategy is ineffective as it leads to the accumulation of wealth by a few and deepens the poverty of the many.
It is for this reason that the ANC has persistently pursued social programmes that give the poor the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty.
Former President Nelson Mandela also cautioned that massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times, and that they have to rank alongside slavery and apartheid as social evils. With Mandela’s spirit as our guide and inspiration, our government is helping to forge a partnership geared towards eradicating poverty completely and replacing it with equity and social inclusion. We have set our goals to provide sustainable livelihoods and to advance the wellbeing of all South Africans. That is why the ANC, together with its social partners, has made the fight against poverty its central and overriding priority.
As I conclude, I would like to say that we have committed the full force of all our energies to the gravest human challenge of our time ― an effort which will also galvanise the energies and the various efforts of our society around a great and just cause. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mrs R N RASMENI: Hon Chairperson and hon members, the ANC, in keeping with its general commitment to an egalitarian society, rejects the dictum that the poor will always be with us. It believes that poverty is created by society and can, therefore, be eliminated by society. People are the fundamental resource of the country since they have the capacity to develop personally and are central to the development of the economy, and the nation as a whole.
Eradicating poverty includes ensuring that the basic rights to shelter, food, health, employment, education and all those aspects that promote the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of all in our society, are met. Eradicating poverty means providing a social safety net for those who are unable to care for themselves: the disabled, women, children, youth, families in need of care, the aged and those in chronic emotional distress.
In eradicating poverty, the ANC pursues this programme within the context of economic and social reconstruction, as well as the building of a national democratic society. The encouragement of economic growth and the development of economic policies that ensure equitable redistribution through social services that are not only seen as forms of consumption, but also as a means of social investment, are critical.
The developmental state plays a major role in meeting the legitimate and realistic expectations of all, especially the poor, the disadvantaged and the other vulnerable persons, in the light of the need to eradicate poverty. As we move away from a welfare state towards a developmental state trajectory that addresses the root causes of social problems as part of an integrated strategy of development on the one hand, and ensuring a safety net on the other hand, we believe in the importance of the family as it is understood within the social and cultural norms, and promote the reconstruction of family life.
Our strategic approach in eradicating poverty and enhancing service delivery hinges on seven critical principles. These are equity, accessibility, democracy, community participation, accountability, equality and social services as a right. All those who require services should feel free to apply for such services without fear or favour.
The ANC, in government, has made unprecedented progress over the past five years, and also since Polokwane, to address the legacies of apartheid which reproduce patterns of development and underdevelopment in our society.
This notwithstanding, South Africa is faced with severe social problems stemming from systemic developmental deficiencies. In large part, development is hampered by the interaction of complex factors which will take time to resolve. This includes rapid and ongoing urbanisation – the intensifying movement of people from rural to urban areas, which has fundamentally transformed the organisation of society and reconfigured the economy.
The relative decline in the primary economic sector coupled with reduced labour intensity has resulted in an employment bias unfavourable to a generally unskilled workforce. Pre-existing levels of abject poverty and the levels of deprivation have severe intergenerational impacts on affected individuals and families, with long-term social and economic consequences. In large part, this poverty stems from systemic factors limiting the natural expansion of formal employment. Both the causes and the consequences of poverty are challenges which need to be met.
The provision of public goods and services, as well as related interventions, form the cornerstone of responses to the nation’s unbalanced development, with education, health, social security, basic services, social cohesion, youth and women development as key interventions.
Government’s resilience in its efforts to develop social safety nets like improved health care, access to education, etc, continues to protect the most vulnerable South Africans from the adverse effects of the economic downturn since late 2008 and throughout 2009. The effective implementation of Polokwane resolutions also required appropriate allocation of responsibilities to relevant departments or Ministries, some of which have only come into existence in the current administration.
Overall, the ANC has focused on overseeing effective implementation of government’s mandate which underscores the need to create a democratic, nonracial, nonsexist and prosperous society under the theme, “Now is the time together to do more, better”.
The ANC’s programme for social transformation must therefore ensure that it builds a better life by providing land and houses; comprehensive health and social security; basic services which include water and sanitation; human resource and capacity-building; clean and safe environments; food security; an improvement in the nation’s health profile, including dealing with communicable and noncommunicable disease causes; mortality; and sport and recreation.
At our recently held national general council in September 2010, we recommended, amongst many other matters, the following: improving the alignment between plans and promises of all spheres of government and the abilities of local governments to fund and implement such plans and promises; ensuring that funding allocations from national and provincial governments address social infrastructure backlogs; undertaking a comprehensive assessment of the extent to which people fall through the cracks of public and private service delivery as a result of the application of income thresholds and ceilings that are aimed at targeting service provision, but are exclusionary and create poverty gaps.
For us, as southern Africans, the fight against poverty and unemployment; bridging the gap between the rich and the poor; and generally the need to improve the living conditions of our people, remain uppermost on our list of priorities. Our people want action on jobs, growth and poverty. We must build a new common purpose so that we can use all our talents, skills and resources to tackle our economic and social challenges. Ndiyabulela. [Thank you.] [Applause.]
Mr M J R DE VILLIERS: Hon Chairperson, Minister, members and guests in this august House today, to understand the topic of this debate, one must take cognisance of the very important issues of poverty, hunger and education, as well as the socioeconomic position and health of the population. Poverty, hunger and unemployment are worrying matters for us, as South Africans.
For the purpose of analysis, poverty is defined as an income below R4 560 per person per year. That is R308 per month. Taken from The South African Child Gauge 2008, 3,3 million children ― that is ― 18% living in households, were reported as hungry. According to 2008 statistics, the provinces reporting the highest rates of child hunger are the North West, with 18% in 2007 and 25% in 2008; and KwaZulu-Natal, with 15% in 2007 and 25% in 2008. The province with the highest unemployment rate is the Eastern Cape. By race categorisation, 20% of the children reported as hungry are African, followed by coloured children on 10%, white children on 2%, and Asian children on 1%.
According to the EU-funded Municipal Outreach Project, poverty is mostly found to be very severe amongst children, at 65,5%, with adults at 45,2%. The total number of poor children is 11,8 million. A breakdown of the child population reported as hungry is as follows: aged 0 to 4 years, 66%; aged 5 to 14 years, 65,7%; and aged 15 to 17 years, 63,8%. Although the child support grant is provided to children up to the age of 18, it is surprising that poverty rates are higher amongst children. It is most likely that the child support grant does not move the child above the poverty line. In short, it brings alleviation, but it is not the ultimate solution unless it is raised.
This situation is neither affordable nor sustainable for the South African government. On 17 February 2010, Minister Pravin Gordhan said that R89 million will be spent on social grants in 2010-11, in the face of increasing unemployment and the impact of the previous year’s recession. He also said that nearly 14 million South Africans benefit from the social assistance programme. Notwithstanding these grants, government is also supporting municipalities in other ways, for example through the municipal infrastructure grant, MIG, the provincial infrastructure grant, PIG, and also funds to support the indigent to pay their municipal taxes.
This cycle of payment and support by state revenue is unaffordable, bearing in mind that not even a quarter of our population are tax-paying employees. Poverty is a dangerous threat to the wellness of any population and its future.
Armoede het ’n negatiewe aanslag en impak op die sielkundige karakter van mense. Armoede breek die menswees en welstand van mense se gesondheid en hul waardesisteem af. Werkloosheid is dus ’n baie groot bedreiging vir ons land. As ons na werkloosheid kyk, is die Oos-Kaap en Mpumalanga die provinsies met die hoogste werkloosheidsyfer, naamlik 29,8% en 29,3%.
As ons ook kyk na die verskillende toelaes wat ons mense ontvang, word hierdie mense ook baie meer verarm deur middel van die sosio-ekonomiese probleme wat ons in ons gemeenskap het. Dit sluit hierdie geldskieters in wat ons mense se geld vat en hulle nog verder verarm. Die regering doen wel baie om armoede in die verskillende gemeenskappe te verlig, maar binne die gemeenskap self doen die gemeenskappe niks om hulself uit hierdie armoedesituasie te lig nie. Derhalwe sal ons ernstige, manhaftige stappe moet neem om hierdie geldskieters en ander dwelm- en smokkelbedrywighede vas te vat om sodoende ons gemeenskappe te help om uit hierdie greep van armoede los te kom. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Poverty has a negative bearing and impact on the psychological character of people. Poverty breaks down people’s humanity and the wellbeing of their health and value systems. Unemployment is therefore a big threat to our country. When we consider unemployment, the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga are the provinces with the highest unemployment rates, with 29,8% and 29,3% respectively.
When we look at the various grants our people receive, these people also become more impoverished due to the socioeconomic problems that exist within our communities. These include money lenders who take our people’s money and cause further impoverishment. The government does indeed do a lot to alleviate poverty in the various communities, but within the community itself members of the community are not doing anything themselves to rise above this impoverished situation. For this reason we need to take serious and brave steps to clamp down on these money lenders and other drug and smuggling activities in order to help our communities free themselves from the grip of poverty.]
Chairperson, to meet the Millennium Development Goals, we as South Africans must work together to find solutions to poverty and unemployment. We must put more emphasis on an open opportunity society for all in all spheres of our country, and open up the economy for different role-players to let the economy grow more to create jobs and employment. Then we can lessen the impact of grants on the government, and people can then take more responsibility for their own lives and state of wellness.
We must reduce people’s dependency on the state. The only way to do this is by giving people the chance to learn how to catch a fish, teaching people how to support themselves, and giving them the opportunity and the environment to do so.
There is a very interesting situation in South Africa. Foreigners like the Somalis, the Zimbabweans, the Ugandans, the Sudanese, and others have come into our country with virtually nothing to show for themselves, and have started to make a living. They show us that they can do it through the fellowship they enjoy amongst themselves and by extending a hand and supporting each other to help create a better life in our country. So, why can’t we, as South Africans, do this for our people so that we can lift ourselves out of poverty? I thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mr J J GUNDA: Hon Chair, hon Minister and hon members of this House, it is always easier to debate and discuss resolutions that seem so simple on paper. However, in reality, it is a severe task not only to get under way but to follow through on. South Africa’s growing poverty rate is alarming in that it is severely egged on by the unemployment rate.
An extensive range of work over the past decade, whether in the form of projects and/or programmes, has revealed the important links between poverty and the environment. Therefore, to ensure that the war on poverty, hunger and socioeconomic marginalisation will be overcome, it is crucial that interlinked circumstances and carefully monitored and reflected policy-making processes, at all levels, are adhered to.
New estimates of poverty show that the proportion of people living in poverty in South Africa has not changed significantly between 1996 and 2001, up until 2008. A study by the Human Sciences Research Council, HSRC, shows that the poverty gap has grown from R56 billion in 1996 to R81 billion, indicating that poor households have sunk deeper into poverty over this period. The fact that poorer households have not shared in the proceeds of economic growth is reflected in the rise in inequality between rich and poor.
Agb Minister, die regulasies van die staat se finansiële instellings moet hersien word om dit sodoende meer toeganklik te maak vir die nie-regeringsorganisasies, NRO’s, om hierdie groot uitdaging te kan oorwin. Hoe kan ons verwag dat histories-benadeelde mense geouditeerde finansiële verslae van twee jaar moet indien om fondse te kan bekom, terwyl ons nie die mense tot ons beskikking het nie? (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[Hon Minister, the regulations of the state’s financial institutions should be reviewed and in doing so make it more accessible for nongovernmental organisations, NGOs, to overcome this big challenge. How can we expect people who have been historically disadvantaged to submit audited financial reports for two years while we do not have the people at our disposal?]
In a country like South Africa where the standard of living conditions in informal settlements and townships is a serious cause for concern, it is crucial that immediate measures be put in place to evaluate this growing concern. Sadly, the war on poverty, hunger and socioeconomic marginalisation will be a lost cause if key role-players remain immobile and state departments do not pull their weight by supporting and following up on programmes and projects set out to target precisely this topic we are discussing today. Since local municipalities are at the heartbeat of service delivery and the development of our people, it is of utmost importance to build capacity in those very poor municipalities to confront the gap between the rich and the poor.
Hon Minister and hon members, the ID would like to commend all efforts that have been and are being made to catapult the South African economy and reduce the current status of poverty in this country. Let me just state it one way in Afrikaans.
Ons sal nooit armoede uitwis as ons dit nie persoonlik ernstig opneem nie. Sodoende, kan ons mense ’n beter lewe kry. [We will never eliminate poverty if we personally do not regard it in a serious light. In doing so, our people will be able to attain a better life.]
I thank you. Ke a leboga. [Applause.]
Ksz M G BOROTO: Sihlalo, ngilotjhise kumma uNgqongqotjhe u-Edna Molewa, kumalunga nabavakatjhi abakhona. Sihlalo, phezu kwekulomo yethu namhlanje yokulwa nendlala nomthlago, ngibawa ukuqalisa ikulumo yami ebantwini abadala - abezimu abasadla umratha - abezimu abaqalane nomthlago, ababuzi bona umthlago yini. Labo babantu abasifundisako. Njalo-ke ngikhuluma ngabantu abadala.
Nangiragela phambili ngithi: (Translation of isiNdebele paragraphs follows.)
[Ms M G BOROTO: Chairperson, greetings to Minister Edna Molewa, members and guests present here today. Chairperson, in our debate today, which is about fighting hunger and poverty, I would like to direct my speech to the elders – the ancestors who are still alive, who are faced with poverty and who have a very clear understanding of what poverty is. These are the people who taught us. By saying this I am referring to older persons.
I would like to continue by saying the following.]
On 1 October 2010, South Africa, with the rest of the world, celebrated the 20th anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons, which was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on 14 December 1990. It is a significant anniversary because, during those two decades, the world’s demographic profile changed more dramatically than at any previous time.
The rapid growth in old persons aged 60 and above in South Africa reflects the need for the synchronisation of economic and social policies for inclusive development. They were estimated at 50,5 million in 2007 and that number is expected to reach 65,5 million globally in 2015, and 2015 would be the year for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Siyabona bonyana abantu abadala bazabe bangangani ... [We see how many older persons the will be...]
... and what is expected of us as the government, specifically in South Africa.
They will exceed 103 million in 2030 and 205 million in 2050. As these rapidly increasing numbers show, the number of older persons in Africa will grow at an annual rate of 3,1% between 2007 and 2015, and 3,3% between 2015 and 2050.
It is clear that elderly people represent an ever-growing proportion of the population, causing new social, demographic and economic situations. More people live longer lives and they require age-friendly environments, health care and services of all kinds. Therefore, it is logical that the phenomenon of poverty in old age is increasingly catching the attention of the government and policy-makers. This is evident from what we see in the policies and the legislation proposed by the ruling party in this government.
Considering the vulnerability of older persons, appropriate measures must and are being taken to establish a social security scheme to provide benefits to older persons without discrimination of any kind and ensure equal rights for men and women. It also follows that the increase in older components of the population is presenting challenges. We are talking about challenges with regard to our obligations stemming from our African culture and tradition of taking care of the elderly and respecting them.
Sazi kuhle bona ngendlela yepilo yethu, akusilula ukuthatha ugogo batjho uyombeka ezindlini zabantu abalupheleko, lokho kuba yinto embi khulu ebantwini bekhethu. Manjesi kufanele siqinisekise bonyana abantu laba nanyana bahlezi emizini yabo ebonisa umtlhago, kube khona okwenziwako begodu kwenzeke kulorhulumende okhona namhlanje.
(Translation of isiNdebele paragraph follows.)
[We know very well that according to our culture it is not easy to take your grandmother and place her in an old age home. Such actions are not acceptable to our people. Therefore, we need to ensure as the present government that we do something about this situation ― about these people wherever they are, especially those who are in homes that are engulfed by poverty.]
The other thing is the increasing demand for health care.
Into enye engizayitjho namhlanje, Ngqongqotjhe, kukobana kwezamaPhilo senza koke okusemandleni ethu. [Again, what I would like to mention today, Minister, is that when it comes to health care we are doing all we can.]
We are doing all we can.
Kodwana akhe ukhambe uye emrholweni lapho abogogo barholela khona, uzakuthola abogogo bahlezi elangeni batjhiswa lilanga banganazo neentulo kungekho neentende. Ngibawa bona umNyango wethu lo ungenelele ukusiza abantu abadala ukuze isimo sabo sepilo sikghone ukuba ncono. Sizokuba ncono nangabe bayatlhogomeleka. Kutjho bona kufanele kube nokusebenzisana phakathi kwemiNyango yezokuThuthukiswa komPhakathi nowezamaPhilo. Sitlhogomele abogogo bethu bona basiphilele, basifundise siye phambili. (Translation of isiNdebele paragraph follows.)
[But go to pension paypoints where grandmothers get their pensions, and you will find them sitting under the burning sun without chairs and tents. I would like this department to intervene in order to assist these older persons so as to make their living conditions better. Their living conditions will be better if they are well taken care of. This means that there must be a good working relationship between the Department of Social Development and the Department of Health. We should take good care of our grandmothers so that they live longer, and teach us going forward.]
The ANC, at its 50th national conference in Mafikeng, directed that redressing poverty and inequalities had to be its central focus so as to ensure that government and other sectors of society met the basic needs of the underprivileged, especially the aged of our country. The conference supported the development of a comprehensive social security system including contributory and noncontributory social security measures.
In pursuance of that resolution, the ANC-led government appointed the Taylor commission to investigate the development of a comprehensive social security policy and to propose ways in which all existing means to provide a social wage, are strengthened. The Taylor report provided the basis for the development of such a social security policy and affirmed the need to strengthen the implementation to expand the reach of existing policies, while finding new ways to close existing gaps which still leave certain people vulnerable.
A worrying problem that I must again talk about, as far as caring for older persons is concerned, is the abuse which comes in many different forms. When elder abuse is mentioned, the first thought is often of a person showing signs of physical abuse. However, far more difficult to see are the scars of psychological and emotional abuse, as the symptoms are more subtle.
Financial abuse manifests itself in a number of ways, the most obvious being a shortage of money, food or basic necessities. Some elderly persons are even denied care, and sometimes find themselves homeless.
The other problem that we must look at today is that we have our girls leaving their children with their mothers. Something must be done about that. Steps must be taken to ensure that our young people do not abuse the elderly by always leaving their children with them, going everywhere and not even caring about what is happening at home.
Iyababulala abogogo bethu, begodu ugogo njengoba umazi angekhe alale umntwana angakadli uzokuqinisekisa bona umntwana ulala adlile. Lokho kutjengisa bonyana sibone bona abogogo bahlukunyezwa babantu abatjha banamhlanje ababatjhiya nabentwana. Mhlambe abantu abatjha laba esele basebenza, abatjhiya abentwana nabogogo, nabo fanele babhadeliswe imali yokutlhogomela abantwana, ukuze abogogo bathole imali leyo yokuhlala nabentwana. (Translation of isiNdebele paragraph follows.)
[These things are killing our grandmothers, as you know that a grandmother will never go to bed without ensuring that the child has eaten. She will make sure that the child eats food before going to bed. That indicates to us that there are a number of girls today who abuse their grandmothers by leaving them with their children. Maybe these young people who are now working and leave their children to be taken care of by the grandmothers should somehow pay money to these grandmothers who are left with their children, so that these grandmothers get the money for taking care of these children.]
Elder abuse respects ... [Laughter.] Oh, my time is up. Let me just pause and say that systematic abuse is when an older person’s rights are violated by any action or lack of appropriate action by the state or any other statutory body or organisation, like grants being stopped without any warning, essential medication not being available at state clinics and hospitals or medical aids discarding older members. We cannot tolerate that.
In conclusion, Chairperson, older persons are the assets of a society and can contribute significantly to the development process of our nation. [Time expired.]
Ngitjhilo ekuthomeni ukuthi babotitjhere abangakafundi. [I mentioned earlier that they are teachers who did not go to school.]
As such, they need to be empowered and their participation ensured. They, who are the custodians of our history and cultural, moral and social values, are now normally confined to old age homes, and are no longer accessible to children and youth who should be learning from them. In African communities, we say that it takes a village to raise a child.
Ngifuna ukucedelela ngokutjho amagama akhulunywa nguMongameli wethu nakakhuluma kuSamithi yeZekolo ebe ibanjelwe nge-Johannesburg nakathi:
The principal educators in our communities are older persons. They educate both the parents and their offspring. Help us reinculcate these values of honouring our elders.
Ngithokoze, Sihlalo. [Ihlombe.] (Translation of isiNdebele paragraphs follows.)
[I would like to conclude by quoting the words that were spoken by our President when he addressed the religious summit which was held in Johannesburg; when he said:
The principal educators in our communities are older persons. They educate both the parents and their offspring. Help us reinculcate these values of honouring our elders.
Thank you, Chairperson. [Applause.]]
Mnr O DE BEER: Voorsitter, die hoop en drome van die armes vir ’n beter lewe het in ’n groot nagmerrie verander. Na 16 jaar van demokrasie is daar ontnugtering. Dag na dag word die swaarkry net meer. Die werkloses staan in al hoe langer toue op soek na werk.
Mense het nie die nodige vaardighede nie. Alhoewel ons in die informasie-era leef, is miljoene mense nie rekenaargeletterd nie. Die regering bied geen oplossing vir hierdie mense aan nie. Elke jaar word die uitwissing van armoede beloof, maar jaar na jaar eindig hierdie belofte met geen oplossings.
Elke jaar word tydlyne gestel vir dieselfde beloftes. Hierdie jaar het die Ministers ondernemings geteken met die President. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Mr O DE BEER: Chairperson, the hopes and dreams of the poor for a better life have turned into a terrible nightmare. After 16 years of democracy there is disillusionment. The hardship is increasing day after day. The unemployed find themselves looking for work in queues that continue to get longer.
People do not have the necessary skills. Even though we are living in the information age, millions of people are not computer literate. The government does not offer a solution to these people. Every year a promise is made that poverty will be eradicated, but every year this promise ends without it being resolved.
Every year timeframes are set for the same promises. This year the Ministers have signed agreements with the President.]
Which promise will government honour this year? Which communities is government going to uplift? Vast amounts of money are being squandered. Expenditure which is wasteful, fruitless, unauthorised, and irregular continues to take place.
Prof Haroon Bhorat asserts that we are now the most unequal society in the world. We recently overtook Brazil in this regard. This is bad for growth. It is a ticking time bomb. Our society is going to be torn apart.
Die regering se belangrikste prioriteit is om armoede te verminder. Op 28 Julie 2008 het voormalige President Mbeki ’n landswye veldtog gestig om armoede onder die land se armste burgers te verminder. Die veldtog was gemik op die armste wyke en swakste huishoudings in the land. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[The government’s main priority is to reduce poverty. On 28 July 2008, former President Mbeki launched a countrywide campaign to reduce poverty amongst the country’s poorest citizens. The campaign was aimed at the poorest wards and the most impoverished households in the country.]
The long-term goal was for South Africa’s poorest households to receive assistance and support in a co-ordinated and sustainable way, with a national war room on poverty leading the campaign from the office of the Deputy President.
Chair, as we as a nation spend this time debating measures to fight poverty under the theme “Working together to intensify the war on poverty, hunger and socioeconomic marginalisation”, there are people out there saying: “Where did these words come from?”
’n Mens sou gedink het dat alle Suid Afrikaners teen hierdie tyd al water in hul huise sou hê. Dit het nie gebeur nie. Baie van die mense het nie eens ’n basiese toilet nie. Informele wonings, die gevaar van huise wat afbrand en basiese gesondheidsgevare is enorm. “Shack farming” is aan die orde van die dag.
Hierdie gebrek aan sanitasie het klaar ’n reuse uitwerking op die beswaarde openbare gesondheidstelsel. Dit veroorsaak ook omgewings-, maatskaplike, ekonomiese en sielkundige probleme. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[One would have thought that all South Africans would have had running water in their homes by now. This has not happened. Many people do not even have a basic toilet. Informal houses, the danger of houses being destroyed by fires, and basic health risks are enormous. Shack farming is the order of the day.
This lack of sanitation already has a big impact on the overburdened public health system. It is also causing environmental, social, economic and psychological problems.]
Recycling strategies will not make poverty go away. Playing with terms such as “mandates” and “Polokwane resolution” is going to fool no one. South Africa is going nowhere very slowly. We are not using our resources to eradicate poverty. [Interjections.]
Voorsitter, Suid-Afrika het ’n baie hoë koers van werkloosheid, en die inskrywings vir maatskaplike toelaes styg dramaties. As Cope glo ons dat maatskaplike bystand nie in fiskale terme volhoubaar is nie, want dit het geen einde nie.
As ’n land is ons grootste uitdaging om onderwys op te hef. Wêreldwyd is ons een van die 14 lande uit 139 lande wat reg onder aan die lys is ten opsigte van primêre onderwys. Die kwaliteit van die voorsiende programme wat mik op die vroeë kinderontwikkelingsfase tussen nul en nege jaar is baie swak. Die kwalifikasies vir en opleiding van onderwysers in “early childhood development” bestaan nie.
Ons voorstel, as Cope, aan die regering, veral aan die Ministers van onderwys, is om onderrig as ’n nasionale diens ... [Tyd verstreke.] (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Chairperson, South Africa has a very high unemployment rate, and the number of applications for social grants is increasing dramatically. As Cope we believe that social support is not sustainable in fiscal terms because there is no end to it.
As a country one of our greatest challenges is to raise the level of education. Regarding primary education, we are one of 14 countries at the bottom of a list of 139 worldwide. The quality of existing programmes aimed at the early childhood development phase between zero and nine years of age is very poor. There are no qualifications or training for teachers with regard to early childhood development.
We as Cope want to recommend to the government, especially to the Ministers of education, to regard education as a national service ... [Time expired.]]
Mr S D MONTSITSI: Mr Chairperson, hon Minister, hon Members of Parliament, it is unfortunate that the hon De Beer is really uninformed. He has made very serious accusations. He has just suggested to the House that government is wasteful, misusing or abusing a lot of money.
Now, let us quickly try to put the hon De Beer back on track. Let us not forget that the government task team was actually established on 27 October 2009. It was even much earlier because this is one of the reports that came from the task team. The task team comprises the Minister of Finance, the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation as well as Administration in the Presidency, and the Minister for the Public Service and Administration.
Now, the responsibilities of this particular task team are, firstly, to reduce wastage, inefficiency and fraud within government departments; secondly, to identify and eliminate corrupt practices within the departments; thirdly, to review the ministerial handbook ― we know the ministerial handbook; fourthly, to achieve value for the money that the government allocates to departments; fifthly, to eliminate leakage and irregularities in the procurement system, wherever procurement takes place; and lastly, it is supposed to support the government key priorities. These are measures which have been put in place to ensure that none of the things that hon De Beer is talking about are actually taking place within the departments.
The ANC regards the question of rural women and food security as one of the key priorities to be addressed so as to ensure that we are able to develop the rural economy. The Freedom Charter states, in part, that —
Rent and prices shall be lowered, food plentiful and no one shall go hungry.
In the same vein, the ANC is committed to the principle of equal opportunity for rural women just like their male counterparts, irrespective of their geographical locations.
We chose the theme “Working together to intensify the war on poverty, hunger and socioeconomic marginalisation”, because it was an issue around which we wanted to mobilise and educate people, particularly the poor in our communities. This theme spans land and agrarian transformation and social transformation and it specifically falls within the Department of Social Development.
We celebrate the International Day of Rural Women and World Food Day to remind all of us that we are living in a world that is characterised by hunger, poverty, deprivation, crime and corruption.
It is an important month in the Department of Social Development’s calendar. The Select Committee on Economic Development marks this month in order to highlight the services that the department offers, and the extent to which access to these services can be strengthened through our oversight role, amongst others, in order to push back the frontiers of underdevelopment and hunger.
In his opening address to the 2010 national general council of the ANC, President Jacob Zuma called on government to pursue rural development as the major component of poverty eradication and women’s empowerment.
Regarding international rural women, the ANC considers rural development a central pillar in our struggle against unemployment, poverty and inequality. Women living in rural areas face the harshest conditions of poverty, food insecurity and a lack of access to services on a daily basis. This is a worldwide phenomenon. There are gender inequalities in many parts of the world, but the subordinate position of women tends to differ.
Women living in rural areas face the brunt of poverty. Many of them work long hours for poverty wages or do not work at all. Women form the majority of residents in rural areas and face the burden of poverty, hunger and degradation.
This underlines the necessity of effective rural development programmes that can ensure that investment in infrastructure, services and training reaches those areas of the country that are adversely affected. The ANC is committed to a comprehensive rural development strategy linked to agrarian reform, which builds the potential for rural sustainable livelihoods, particularly for African women.
Economic development in the rural areas needs to go beyond land and agrarian reform. It must include affordable financing to promote economic development; support programmes and training in assisting co-operatives and small enterprises; public sector ventures; and strategies to develop appropriate industries including light manufacturing, handicrafts, services, tourism, etc. This also requires the creation of the necessary economic infrastructure, including IT services, roads and rail.