South Africa: Committee Hears of Infighting Between ECD Practitioners and Social Workers in Siyabuswa

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The Portfolio Committee on Social Development heard yesterday of conflict between social workers and early childhood development (ECD) practitioners in Siyabuswa in Mpumalanga. A community member told the committee during its public hearings on the Children's Amendment Bill in Siyabuswa that the friction has resulted in ECD practitioners and NPO owners been viewed as problematic.

Community members raised other issues about the declaration form, registration of children born of a foreign parent, payment of the Covid-19 stimulus package, and registration of ECDs.

The Minister of the Department of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, said the conflict between practitioners and social workers showed that government has a number of things its needs to achieve. "We cannot escape that before ECD there were crèches. We need to take a step and ask what should an ECD look like? What systems should we put in place to ensure that ECDs are serviced well?" said Ms Zulu.

Minister Zulu emphasised that the importance of ensuring that ECDs are run by the appropriate people, so that ultimately the interests of the children are served.

Mpumalanga MEC for Social Development Ms Lindiwe Ntshalintshali said the Provincial Department of Social Development will undertake an outreach programme to resolve the issues. "We will attend to the relationship between social workers and practitioners, but it is not a matter that affects all the districts," said Ms Ntshalintshali.

She said the department will not compromise on correct documentation. "We cannot continue as business as usual where officials do as they please. No money will be paid without proper documentation," emphasised Ms Ntshalintshali.

She said her department intended to fill 400 social worker vacancies by employing people in their home districts. The committee will hold the last leg of Mpumalanga public hearings on the Bill in Gert Sibande District Municipality today.

Sibongile Maputi

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