Parliament must intervene in affairs of DSD – Solidarity

SRI report reveals significant shortcomings prevailing at the Department

Solidarity demands that Parliament intervene in affairs of DSD after release of a shocking report

15 June 2022

Solidarity today announced at a media conference that it would approach Parliament to demand urgent intervention at the Department of Social Development (DSD). This comes after a report by the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI) revealed significant shortcomings prevailing at the Department.

Bianca Smit from the Solidarity social workers’ network says, “The DSD is currently in a dreadful state and is totally unsustainable. How can any department function properly when 77,5% of those in the industry indicate that there are indeed cases where the department has not acted in the client’s best interests? At the same time, the report shows that 74% of the respondents indicated that they are even aware of cases where the department acted unethically.”

According to Solidarity, it had addressed a letter to the department on behalf of its members earlier this year, but no attention was given to the issues raised. Solidarity points out that the department would not be able to reform without drastic external intervention which could eventually lead to the collapse of social services in South Africa.

“We have no choice but to resort to these steps and to demand urgent action by Parliament. The DSD is ignoring its mandate and the most vulnerable in our society, as well as those who dedicate their lives to preserve the dignity of those people must bear the brunt of this failure,” Smit said. “The outcomes of this study point to a department that is acting in an unscrupulous and careless way. The DSD is expected to give direction, provide support and even provide training. At present, the DSD does not even succeed in providing just the most basic of services.”

According to Solidarity’s social workers’ network, it is impossible to care for children and other victims efficiently if the Department does not provide a supporting framework. The network also contends that the Department’s apathy towards social workers is driving people away from the profession they have dedicated their entire professional lives to.

“The report also indicates that social workers and NGOs lack even the basic resources, yet they still scramble to ensure they get their work done. Moreover, it is shocking that almost a third of respondents stated that they are experiencing problems especially with the placement of children by the DSD – the most glaring cases being instances where children are forced to return to the very households where they have experienced abuse. Such incompetence cannot be tolerated any more,” Smit stated.

At the conference Solidarity called on Parliament to act as soon and as decisively as possible to mitigate the highly harmful impact of a dysfunctional department. Solidarity further stated that if this does not happen, it would not hesitate to consider taking legal action.

“It is astonishing what social workers manage to achieve at this stage, and have been doing for quite some time already, not thanks to the DSD but rather in spite of the DSD. At this stage, the department is not merely inefficient, it has become a significant obstacle to service delivery and things cannot carry on like this. This issue is too important to simply leave it at that and we will explore all avenues available to us to find sustainable solutions to this crisis,” Smit concluded.

Issued by Bianca Smit, Coordinator, Solidarity Social Workers’ Network, 15 May 2022