News / South Africa
The Gauteng department of social development has denied allegations of underspending while organisations beg to differ.
Earlier this month Democratic Alliance Gauteng Shadow MEC for social development, Refiloe Nt’sekhe said the poor and vulnerable were at risk of starvation after the Gauteng department of social development failed to spend R438.1 million of its annual budget.
But the department’s spokesperson Feziwe Ndwayana said the department spent 93% of its budget and delivered on its mandate.
“Only 7% of the budget was underspent,” Ndwayana said. He said the food relief and nutrition pogramme, which was aimed at ensuring no one goes to bed, on an empty stomach was successfully implemented.
“The department distributed food to over 3 million people during the lockdown, and this programme accounted for 47% of the food distributed countrywide, making it the largest in the country,” he said.
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“In so far as NPOs [non-profit organisations] are concerned, the allocated budget is at R2,4 billion and the department spent 95% of this budget allocation. The remaining 5% was not spent due to non-compliance of NPOs,” he explained.
Ndwayana said expenses included 74 mobile phones for social workers and care packs for 38 victim-friendly rooms for eight NPOs procured for the 2020/21 financial year.
He said 14 women shelters had renovations done, while 40 NPOs received residential facilities, renovations and maintenance, and 21 homeless shelters received operational support.
Ndwayana said a non-permanent accommodation cateringfor 60 male beneficiaries was launched by the department at the Wembley Stadium last month.
“Following the demand for vehicles in 2019/20, the department invested R95 million for the provision of vehicles to all NPOs that have applied for vehicles,” he said.
He said 229 vehicles were handed over to NPOs in October. Gauteng Social Services Welfare Development Forum chair Reverend Les Sanabria said he had done a comparison of the department’s funding from 2009 to 2021.
“I have noted in old age homes the department cut funding from 88 homes down to 71, meaning 17 homes less in the space of 12 years” Sanabria said.
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He said according to his comparison, the underspend has increased from R190 million to R438 million in 12 years.
“So services were cut and less money spent and more money sent back to the Treasury,” he said.
Sanabria said he interpreted it as a department that has lost its reason for existence.
The Cradle of Hope’s house of safety for abused women and children in Krugersdorp’s founder, Melodie van Brakel, said she doesn’t believe the department.
“My honest opinion, blah, blah blah,” Van Brakel said.
She said she doesn’t believe a word. “I can’t see where they have made an impact because the homeless, poverty, and hunger were just increasing every day,” Van Brakel said.