DA calls for accountability and transparency in Gauteng Social Development amidst suspension of 13 senior officials

Issued by Refiloe Nt’sekhe MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Social Development
12 Feb 2024 in Press Statements

The Democratic Alliance (DA) urges the Gauteng Department of Social Development MEC, Mbali Hlophe, to ensure that service delivery to Gauteng residents does not deteriorate due to the suspension of 13 senior officials following an investigation into the department’s funding of NPOs. These suspended officials, who include Chief Directors, Directors, and Regional Managers, occupy roles critical to service delivery in areas such as substance misuse and sustainable livelihoods.

While we support acting against individuals involved in corrupt procurement processes, the most vulnerable members of our society, who rely on the department’s services, should not face delays in receiving the assistance they need.

Furthermore, we are concerned that the MEC misled the public by informing the media that four senior officials had been suspended rather than 13. The department was responding to the contentious granting of nearly R56 million in grants to two skill development organizations, Beauty Hub Academy and Daracorp.

The MEC should have been transparent about this decision or action that may have a devastating impact on service delivery. Several indicators already point to a crisis in the department: in the third quarter of the 2023/24 financial year, the department only spent 17% of its R18 million budget on food banks, and many Gauteng NPOs have been denied funding by the same department, almost collapsing the sector.

The DA has already tabled questions to MEC Hlophe in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to ascertain the exact number of suspended officials and the reasons behind their suspensions. We also want to ascertain whether their positions have been temporarily filled and the progress of each suspension. Furthermore, the DA will apply pressure on the department to implement the SIU recommendations and to ensure that those who have benefited from the enormous NPO grants are punished without delay.

The mandate of this department is to ensure that the most vulnerable residents of Gauteng have access to social services and restore dignity, which the DA will continue to fight for.