Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, has still not appointed a board to head the Central Drug Authority (CDA), which has been operating without a board for more than three months; this despite the fact that a letter of recommendation for the appointment of candidates was forwarded to her at the end of September 2012.
The Government claims it is committed to the fight against alcohol and substance abuse, yet fails to appoint the very board that is meant to lead the fight. This is of particular concern in light of the fact that 40% of all deaths on South Africa's roads over the festive season were linked to alcohol abuse.
Not only has the CDA been without a board since 1 October 2012, but the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP) is now almost a year overdue.
The NDMP, under the administration of the CDA, should be revised every four years and sent to cabinet for approval, before being gazetted in Parliament. However, the Department of Social Development is still concluding their work on this national plan almost a year past its deadline.
Drug abuse costs the country, on average, over R20 billion per annum. Experts predict that the problem will escalate beyond the HIV/AIDS pandemic as more people become addicted and fewer people seek help.
Yet the Minister of Social Development seems to have abandoned the tools at her disposal to fight the scourge of substance abuse.
With no board to operate the CDA and no plan to respond to the dangerous levels of substance abuse in South Africa, Minister Dlamini has effectively abandoned those who are battling with drug and alcohol addiction and the communities plagued by drug-related crime.
The Minister needs to explain why she has not prioritised the appointment of the CDA board, and take urgent steps to rectify the matter. We need this vital institution to provide holistic, cost-effective measures to reduce the effects of drug and alcohol abuse on individuals and society.
Mike Waters, DA Spokesperson on Social Development