The Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini has taken the lead in failing to answer parliamentary questions submitted in 2012. She has a total of 34 replies outstanding.
Key questions to which we still await answers relate to crucial issues in the social development sector. These include questions on:
• The department's strategies to achieve the full implementation of the Children's Act, Older Persons Act and Substance Abuse Act;
• Funding cuts to the South African National Council for Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA) that has forced downsizing in this organisation;
• The number of non-government organisations (NGOs) and non profit organisations (NPOs) that have closed down over the last three years;
• The protocol with regard to children discovered missing whilst in the care of the state in children's homes (given that a reply to another DA parliamentary question has revealed that the disappearance of the three children, aged 9, 10 and 12, was only reported to the police two days after they went missing from the Montadi Youth Centre in Limpopo).
• The targets achieved or not achieved in terms of the National Drug Master Plan.
These unanswered questions contribute to a disquieting trend of underachievement and controversy in Minister Dlamini's department.
Minister Dlamini lacks policy direction concerning the major issues such as a comprehensive plan to address substance abuse, implementing the relevant legislation pertaining to child care and protection and providing the necessary environment where NGO's and NPO's can flourish.
Her recently revealed R764 742 hotel bill displays a disregard for vulnerable and poor South Africans.
The R10 billion tender for the administration of social grants was declared invalid and illegal in the North Gauteng High Court and is now the subject of investigations by the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Minister Dlamini should use this festive season as an opportunity to reflect on her performance in parliament and as the Minister of Social Development.
The Department of Social Development renders vital services to the most vulnerable people in South Africa. While she rests her head on the soft pillows of five and six star hotels she should consider how she can support and empower the 15 million social grant recipients who live on as little as R40 per day.
Parliamentary questions are a vital tool in holding the executive to account. It is also an essential way of monitoring the progress of various policies and programmes in respective departments. I will be re-submitting key unanswered parliamentary question when parliament resumes in 2013.
I will also be taking up Minister Dlamini's poor performance with the Leader of Government Business, Kgalema Motlanthe, at the first available opportunity.
The Social Development Department should be led by a Minister who demonstrates understanding for her responsibility and prioritises the wellbeing of vulnerable South Africans.
Mike Waters, Shadow Minister of Social Development