By Bongani Tshabalala
BOTSHABELO-The bulk of the R1.4 billion allocated to the Free State Social Development will go towards initiatives to address the scourge of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and improve Early Child Development, amongst others.
According to Social Development MEC, Mamiki Qabathe, the Covid-19 pandemic has aggravated the harsh realities of poverty and unemployment leading more people to rely on social relief programmes.
Expressing support towards the department’s budget before Members of the Provincial Legislature, MEC for Finance Gadija Brown, highlighted that the department is at the centre of socio-economic transformation and plays a big role in societies than just offering welfare services. She added the department commits to care and protect the disabled, children, the elderly and other vulnerable members of societies.
Meanwhile, DA MPL James Letuka has criticised the department for failure to perform its duties stating that the “department has turned a blind eye to the harsh realities of people,” despite the high unemployment rates experienced in the Free State.
He told the House the department is also failing to work with NGOs to improve the lives of people, nor does it uphold its mandate to meet the needs of the poor and disabled.
Qabathe and Brown have on the other hand defended the role played by this department in the province stating that actually needs more funding.