Province’s most vulnerable are victims of bureaucratic mess

by Justus De Goede – DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Social Development


The Democratic Alliance ( DA) is disappointed to learn that the Gauteng Department of Social Development has unilaterally closed down the province’s eight food banks.

This was revealed by the Department of Social Development to the Members of the Portfolio Committee for Social Development in the Gauteng Legislature.

The department’s explanation for this drastic step amounted to admission of an administrative bungle, resulting from officials not applying Treasury instructions dating back years which led to misclassification of spending on the food banks.

The department further told the committee that “mitigation” measures would be put in place, without providing details.

Clearly, this situation should never have been allowed to happen, had officials and more importantly management of the department been alert.

These outlets were providing food parcels to about 90 000 needy people, including some 12 000 HIV positive individuals.

Beneficiaries of these food parcels who are the most vulnerable members of the society have to suffer due to the department’s negligence.

The DA demands clarity from the Gauteng Department of Social Development MEC, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza on what is being done to remedy this catastrophic oversight and whether an inquiry is being conducted to determine how her department created this regrettable situation.

The DA will not sit by with its arms folded when the most vulnerable members of the society are in need.

MEC for Social Development grilled on Smangaliso Mkhatshwa Centre

by Justus De Goede MPL – DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Social Development

After a DA oversight inspection to the youth centre, from which reports of defrauding of funds and neglect of residents had been received, by representatives from Parliament and the Gauteng Legislature was irregularly refused, questions have been put to MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza on a number of issues which remain unclear.

It is strange that the MEC and the Department have tendered no explanations around the alleged misuse of funding received from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), or for that matter why an institution funded by the DSD should qualify for SASSA funding.

The MEC eventually visited the Centre on 26 July and did admit that a number of issues needed addressing, including security and maintenance, but this cannot be verified in light of the prohibition she has placed on oversight visits.

The answers to be provided by the MEC will be of particular interest to Gauteng residents and we look forward to question time in the Legislature.

SASSA fails to communicate effectively with public

by Justus De Goede MPL – DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Social Development

It seems that a vital government agency like SASSA is deliberately avoiding contact with the public it is meant to serve.

The Democratic Alliance has been receiving numerous complaints from pensioners or their families who are looking for basic information about services rendered by SASSA and some are in need of urgent assistance.

Many of these members of the public have mobility problems and are paying for transport without receiving services.

Over a year ago, the DA revealed that of ten SASSA offices in Gauteng which were called, not one answered their phones.

In most cases, a recorded message informed the caller that the “mailbox is full and cannot take any more messages”, the hallmark of sloppy management.

The DA is aware that SASSA is wrestling with multiple problems created by an uncaring ANC-led government.

However, this is not an excuse for failing to engage with the public. Gauteng’s most vulnerable people are solely dependent on the services offered by SASSA, hence it is crucial that this institution is accessible to people.

We call on the Gauteng Department of Social Development MEC, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza to liaise with her national counterpart, Minister for Social Development Susan Shabangu, to intervene as a matter of urgency to ensure that its satellite offices in Gauteng have open lines of communication with the public who are in dire need of their services.

As a matter of priority, the DA Shadow Minister for Social Development, Bridget Masango MP, will engage directly with the Minister of Social Development and her management.

Our people are desperately in need of Change, Change that only the DA can bring. Come 2019, when the DA is voted into government we will put the needs of our people first and ensure that there are proper communication channels between beneficiaries and SASSA

DSD not doing enough to address poverty and inequality

By Justus de Goede MPL, DA Spokesperson on Social Development

Note to editors: This speech was delivered during the 2018/2019 Budget Vote of the Department of Social Development in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature

Madam Speaker,

The Gauteng Social Development programme covers a vast field, unfortunately mostly consisting of human deprivation. Recently-released reports of the Gauteng City Region Observatory underlines the levels of poverty and inequality in the province which still requires our attention.

Unfortunately, the recent period for the Department of Social Development has been dominated by events emanating from the “conduit” payment system which the department has been using for a number of years, patently illegal, but which has had a number of unpleasant consequences.

We have learned via questions to the Honourable MEC, that in just two financial years, 120 such payments took place, to the tune of over R 100 million. The MEC admitted that there may well be other similar payments, but no information about them is available as yet. In addition to this, investigations into the conduct of senior officials in the Department have been completed, but we and the public are none the wiser about the outcome of these proceedings.

Most importantly, a member of the management of an NPO in the West Rand which had been receiving grants from the DSD for over a decade and was used for conduit payments, disappeared without a trace earlier this year; despite promises, neither the MEC or the Premier has played any role in helping to find the missing person, who is by this time generally presumed to be dead. This episode, Speaker, will not be forgotten and we will get to the bottom of the matter.

A key area of focus in the budget of the Department is restorative services, combatting and treatment of substance abuse. International agencies are warning of the increased vulnerability of South Africa to the international substance trade, as well as the tendency in this country to move from cannabis to harder substance use.

Madam Speaker,

The DA-controlled Metros of Johannesburg and Tshwane are well ahead of the curve, both in combatting substance abuse and rehabilitation measures: Johannesburg has opened two new rehabilitation facilities in the last few months, Tshwane is running a successful best-practice program of drop-in centres and will be opening two rehabilitation centres in this financial year.

We note from the 2018/19 budget report of the Department of Social Development that the targets for persons using restorative services are all 100%, which is patently ridiculous; the numbers and identities of individuals in need of these services are not even known to DSD.

I made a plea last year to the MEC to re-examine the subsidy paid to elderly care facilities, which effectively prevents a large number of people being taken up in these institutions. Many are working at reduced capacity, simply because would-be users cannot close the gap between what the facilities have to charge and the department’s subsidy. I have said on a number of occasions that part of the large budget for the Development and Research program in the Department should go to a larger subsidy for elderly care facilities.

In conclusion, Madam Speaker, the budget of the Gauteng Department of Social Development is not keeping pace with the changing demands created in the province.

Thank you.


Premier’s vision does not translate into action

By Justus de Goede MPL, DA Gauteng Office of the Premier Committee Member

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered in the Gauteng Legislature during the debate on the 2018/19 Office of the Premier’s budget.

A few months ago, Honourable Premier Makhura made a point of voicing his dissatisfaction with the way in which civil servants were appointed in this Province.

At the same time, and on several other occasions mooted lifestyle audits for public servants.

He also admitted that the way in which e-tolls were implemented was wrong, without offering a solution for the current stand-off between SANRAL and the people of Gauteng.

It has also emerged that some 300 forensic investigations, some dating back almost a decade, were quietly gathering dust, 60% of which had never been acted on.

More recently, the Honourable Premier launched an investigation into the Gauteng Department of Social Development’s use of the “conduit” payment method, through which non-profit organisations registered with the Department received grant payments, not directly from the Provincial Treasury, but via other NPOs.

This report was completed and given to the Premier some time ago, but he has declined to reveal its contents, fuelling speculation that a well-developed scam was being run somewhere inside the Social Development department.

120 of these transactions, totalling over R 100 million, were made in just two financial years.

The Life Esidimeni tragedy and the case of Member Hlongwa will be dealt with by my colleagues.

Speaker, I will not ascribe sinister motives to this lack of action from the Premier’s office, but rather a well-known characteristic of his Party, the ANC, to talk a good game.

Honourable Premier, how many lifestyle audits have been completed and where can we find the results?

Another recent undertaking by Honourable Makhura is a very laudable campaign to stamp out corruption in the Provincial administration: for this purpose, the “Integrity promotion and anti-corruption Advisory Committee” was called into life.

According to the budget presentation by the Office of the Premier, last year the committee received over 2 000 cases referred to it by the National Anti-Corruption Hotline and successfully handled 80% of these cases.

Where can we get details of this decisive and successful action which surely should have been given extensive publicity?

On the budget of the Office of the Premier itself, the clean audit is welcomed, but expenditure on compensation of officials is, as has been pointed out in previous years, very high, over 50% of the allocated budget and rises close to 60% by 2019/20.

The current financial year also proposes R43 million for consultants and another R20 million for “venues and advisory services”, which should be looked at critically.

The salary structure is also top heavy, with more than twice as many high-earning officials than officials in the lower grades.

The budget also refers to progress made in key areas like health and public transport and, of course, to the nebulous concept of “deliverology”.

Progress made in health and public transport is certainly not reflected in the flood of questions and statements in this house about the state of the Gauteng Department of Health.

There is a deafening silence, year after year, from the Department of Roads and Transport on supposed improvements to moribund modes of public transport.

As for deliverology, it seems that many senior officials have been tasked with delivering the deliverology, but I have yet to see a definitive report on progress made with this proposal.


As I have said before, poor leadership makes for poor followers; as the Province’s first citizen, the Honourable Premier must be aware of the huge gap between expectation and delivery in Gauteng.

All cabinet members report to him and being soft on non-performers is a disservice both to himself and to the people he answers to.

DA-led Metros set pace on combatting and treating substance abuse

by Justus De Goede MPL – DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Social Development

The DA-led metros of Tshwane and Johannesburg have unveiled new projects during Youth Month to accelerate their efforts in helping young people avoid and escape the substance abuse trap.

In Tshwane, the three-pronged policy of reduction, demand, harm and supply reduction, plus a policy of non-victimisation of users, is proving extremely successful. Traditional rehabilitation is also practised – the City runs two rehabilitation centres and is considering opening another two.

Substance abusers in the City are offered community-based healthcare and efforts are made in helping them find job opportunities. There is also a focus on reconnecting substance users with their families, which, when successful, is a potent weapon in the City’s campaign.

The crowing jewel of the City of Tshwane’s campaign is the HOPE line which is manned by professional call operators, former users and has a social worker on hand to immediately attend to callers.

Furthermore, the City of Johannesburg has just opened a new rehabilitation centre to serve Eldorado Park and surrounding areas.

In Hillbrow, the municipal clinic is running an advanced harm reduction programme with the assistance of the company ANOVA Health and former substance users. This is a pilot project based on best practices elsewhere in the world.

The latest edition of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report, serious concerns are raised about the increased possibility of South Africa becoming a target country rather than a transit country for drugs. Concerns are also raised about the increasing tendencies to move from cannabis dependency to harder drugs.

The relatively new DA-led administrations in Gauteng metros have made a solid start to their campaigns of providing assistance to those who struggle with substance abuse.

This is a clear indication that the DA is bringing Change to its residents in the metros where we govern. Come 2019 we will intensify our fight against substance abuse to ensure that those trapped in the drug cycle, particularly the youth, are given a fighting chance.

DSD fails to fill critical posts

by Justus De Goede MPL – DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Social Development

The Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD) consistently fails to fill critical posts within the department.

According to the department’s fourth quarterly report for the 2017/18 financial year, the department has a 100 percent vacancy rate of occupational therapists, 82 percent vacancy rate of psychologists and 11 percent vacancy rate for social work and related professions.

This indicates that 14 occupational therapist posts and 11 posts for psychologists were not filled during this quarter.

Failure by the department to fill these very critical and specialised posts has a severe impact on the lives of our poor people who cannot afford private services, particularly in informal settlements.

This department’s incompetence is affecting the most vulnerable residents of Gauteng and this is difficult to understand, as there is a budget allocation for these posts to be filled.

In addition, the department has recruited 2025 social workers against its target of 2172, which means that there is a shortfall of 147 social workers.

Despite the fact that our province is facing a crisis, owing to a shortage of social workers, the ANC-led Gauteng administration displays little concern for the welfare of our people.

Social workers, occupational therapists and psychologists play a critical role in counselling, promoting positive behaviour and in helping residents to improve their ability to perform tasks.

The DA calls on Gauteng Department of Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza to urgently fill all vacant critical posts in the department to ensure that the public receives all the professional services it needs.

Come 2019, when DA runs Gauteng, we will ensure that all critical posts are filled. In so doing we will be creating job opportunities and servicing the poor and disadvantaged.

GDSD increases pressure on A re Ageng

by Justus De Goede MPL – DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Social Development

The Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD) continues its refusal to sign a Service Level Agreement with the A re Ageng (NPO), which won a court case against the Department last year, exonerating its staff from stealing R5 million in “conduit” funds destined for another NPO.

The DA will write to Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza to ascertain why there is still a challenges around the payment of the NPO grant to A re Ageng despite the court ordering the Department to process the payment.

This is clearly a reprisal for A re Ageng revealing highly questionable transfers of funds, using this system.

The DSD is justifying this by insisting that a dispute between it and the NPO is still unresolved, despite the Gauteng High Court having found for A re Ageng in October 2017. The organization was exonerated of any wrong doing and was found not to have been liable to pay back the money the Department had alleged it had stolen.

A forensic investigation has been done by experts and a firm of lawyers which is believed to be damming for many GDSD officials. The Office of the Premier is sitting on the report, which was completed almost a year ago and has subsequently dismissed a request for its production by A re Ageng’s lawyers.

In the refusal, Chapter 4 of PAIA was relied upon on the grounds that the report contains opinion, advice, reports or recommendations that will assist the Premier and the Director General to take decisions on the use of conduit payments by GDSD and whether the use of conduits constitutes irregular conduct.

Surely the Premier ought by now to have been advised on the lawfulness of the use of conduit payments, since the matter was extensively ventilated in the South Gauteng High Court. In a 65-page judgment in favour of A re Ageng the judge stated that the use of conduit payments by senior GDSD officials was held to have been a deliberate breach of the PFMA with regard to financial irregularities and misconduct.

He further concluded that these conduit payments breached the Financial Intelligence Centre Act and in addition, the Prevention of Organised Crimes Activities Act. Since the court viewed the officials’ conduct in a very serious light, the court referred the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions, National Treasury and the Auditor General and punitive costs were also awarded against the Premier and MEC Mayathula-Khoza.

In the meantime, the over 50 members of staff at A re Ageng have been leading a hand-to-mouth existence and some have lost their accommodation and are in arrears with their children’s school fees as a result of not being paid. The DA’s oversight investigations in Randfontein and the West Rand have confirmed the valuable work being done by this organisation, in particular through diversion programs for petty offenders, substance abuse help and providing shelter to abused women and children. The staff are determined not to be bullied into closing the organisation’s doors.

This shameful situation puts the Gauteng government as a whole in a very poor light and the DA will continue to vigorously pursue a just solution for A re Ageng.

Shortage of social workers still a crisis: Total Change needed

by Justus De Goede MPL – DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Social Development

As we celebrate the 2018 International Social Work Day this week, we are reminded of the vital role that social workers play in society, yet Gauteng is still facing a severe shortage of social workers.

There are not enough social workers to service our people, particularly in the townships where such services are needed the most.

The poor are hit hardest by the shortage of social workers as they are unable to afford to pay for private services and they and other disadvantaged groups are the most vulnerable in society.

The department has for several years failed to meet its target of employing sufficient social workers in the province.

According to the department’s third quarter report for the 2017/18 financial year, the department failed to reach its own target for the recruitment of social workers. Only 2035 social workers were employed, compared to the planned target of 2172.

Furthermore, the department has intern social worker graduate bursary holders who are unemployed and could be utilising their skills. According to the 2016/2017 annual report, the department failed to employ 130 social worker graduates.

There can now be no excuses, as additional funds were made available in the Adjustment Budget specifically to cater for more social worker posts.

The theme of this year’s International Social Worker Day is “Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability” which indicates that there is a need to ensure that social worker services are accessible to our communities.

The DA believes that social workers offer a critical service to communities and we call on Gauteng Social Development MEC, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza to ensure that all the Social workers vacancies be filled as a matter of urgency and to provide social workers with the necessary support and resources.

NPO whistle-blower disappears without a trace

by Justus De Goede MPL – DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Social Development

The DA is shocked by media reports of the disappearance of Nomawethu Kunene, who is the Deputy Director of A re Agang a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) providing shelter for abused women.

Her disappearance is alarming as Kunene appeared to become the target of harassment, including a bogus arrest by police in December last year, presumably to put pressure on her to keep quiet about events around the funneling of money from the Gauteng Social Development Department to other destinations.

A re Agang made headlines last year, after being used by the Gauteng Social Development as a “conduit” for payments to other organisations funded by the Department.

This NPO processed one payment of R14 million to Life Esidimeni and without prior warning received a further transfer of over R 10 million. These payments made by the department were a blatant violation of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). The details of the transfer were unclear, as it appeared to come from a source other than the Department.

A re Ageng staff suspected that these transfers were irregular and notified the Department to confirm that it had made this transfer. In November 2017, A re Ageng’s bank account was hacked and R5 million transferred to a fuel sale company, which immediately paid a large number of suppliers to obtain a huge quantity of diesel fuel, which was quickly transferred to tankers “for export to a neighbouring country”.

The Department then instructed the NPO to transfer the balance to an account different to the one stipulated in its agreement with the department. The NPO refused to do this until the authenticity of the source of the funds had been determined.

There was a vicious campaign by Social Development officials, whose names are known to us, to force A re Ageng to transfer the remaining money and repeated threats to shut down this NPO.

Gauteng Social Development MEC, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza was made aware of the behaviour of her officials and did nothing to stop them.

The South Gauteng High Court ruled that the remaining R5 million be placed in an escrow account until the resolution of the dispute.

The disappearance of Nomawethu Kunene fits the pattern of ruthless perpetrators of state looting.

Its high time that both Gauteng Premier, David Makhura and MEC Mayathula-Khoza break their silence on the matter instead of targeting the victim’s NPO.

The DA calls on Premier Makhura to honour his claim of stamping out corruption, by initiating a high level investigation into the matter and the SAPS  must assist the family in locating the missing whistle blower and afford her protection.