Women, Children & People With Disabilities Budget Vote 7

 

By Mrs Pat Lebenya-Ntanzi MP
 

16 April 2010

 

 

Honourable Speaker,

 

Our Constitution envisages a dual role for Parliament and Parliamentarians - both in influencing the budget and in exercising oversight to ensure effectiveness and efficiency - but most importantly it places on our shoulders the mammoth task of ensuring that public spending translates into positive, meaningful changes in our communities.

 

Moreover, effective and transparent government budgeting is vital to any democracy - especially so in South Africa where there is massive poverty, inequality and unemployment. It is therefore important, as we debate this Budget Vote today, that we take cognisance of these very important constitutional obligations and imperatives.

 

The IFP commends government for establishing this new Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD), but have serious concerns about this budget and how it will impact on the Department's ability to carry out its work.

 

It is of grave concern that this Department - established  to drive government's equity, equality and empowerment agenda of marginalized groups and historically disadvantaged communities - has only been allocated R156 million over a three year period to achieve these goals.

 

Government pays mere lip service to the urgent need for the empowerment of women, children and people with disabilities, because the IFP finds it extremely difficult to imagine how this Department will be able to fulfil its mandate without the necessary funds to do so.  While government continues to throw billions of public funds at public entities such as Eskom, it is deplorable that this Department has been given Treasury's loose change with which they are now expected to perform miracles. It raises serious questions about whether this government is really committed to the protection, empowerment and development of the human potential of South Africa's women, children and people with disabilities.

 

With respect to how the Department is planning to utilize its budget - my party and I have the following reservations:

 

The new Department seems to be focussing solely on policy formulation and policy review but very little focus is being placed on the implementation of programmes at grassroots level. In addition, the Department has set aside a lot of money for the development of documents and frameworks, all of which will have very little impact on the targeted sectors.

 

Another concern is that the objectives of this new Department seem to be similar to those of the Commission on Gender Equality, the office on the Status of Women and the Office on the Status of Children. This is distressing because we have learned from these institutions that lobbying and advocacy alone will not deliver the changes that our people so desperately desire from this new Department.

 

Furthermore, it is also clear that this Department does not have adequate plans in place on how to work with other Departments and Government Institutions that have existing programmes in place, which target similar sectors. In the interest of streamlining processes, to ensure that we do not waste funds by duplicating programmes, I urge the Minister to put in place a clear plan of action in this regard.

 

Honourable Speaker,

 

The IFP believes that our country has got good policies but more often than not, they remain mere pieces of paper which never see the light of day. We strongly believe that this Department's modus operandi must focus on IMPLEMENTATION, IMPLEMENTATION AND IMPLEMENTATION!

 

The recent violent service delivery protests that we have seen all over the country have been a stark reminder that our people are fed-up with the ruling party's empty promises. They want to see real opportunities being created, real development and real change.

 

Our women, children and disabled people have been marginalised for decades; now is the time to put an end to this discrimination and pave a new way forward. The time for talking is over; we now look to this new Department to develop sustainable programmes and plans that will have a real effect on the ground.

 

In conclusion, I would like to add that the IFP supports this budget but I want to remind the Minister that our women, children and people with disabilities - especially in rural areas - are placing all their hopes on this new Department and we dare not disappoint or fail them.

 

I thank you.

 

Contact:
Mrs Lebenya-Ntanzi MP,      078 186 3619 or
Ms Liezl van der Merwe,       082 729 2510.