Countless citizens are unaware of the various government services at their disposal and the annual Social Development Month — throughout October aims to close that gap.
The month-long event is spear-headed by the Department of Social Development which partners with its agencies, National Development Agency (NDA), the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), and provincial departments, non- governmental organisations and community-based organisations to highlight key government programmes that address socio-economic challenges.
Social Development Month will be launched in Mokgophong, Limpopo province, on October 4. Accelerating service delivery is a vital goal during this month. The Department of Social Development willuse this month to ensure that the quality of services that it provides is up to a standard to fulfil citizen’s needs while restoring their dignity and human rights.
The Social Development Month programme will unfold with activities in all provinces. Its theme is ‘Working together to build caring and sustainable communities’.
Social Development’s Minister Bathabile Dlamini said that this initiative will highlight government’s partnership with civil society in overcoming social challenges. “It is a time in which we call on all South Africans to show social solidarity with the poor by working together with government to accelerate the pace of service delivery, particularly in areas where there is great need. We will use Social Development Month to consolidate our work to improve the lives of many of the vulnerable groups within our society, including orphans and children, youth, women, older persons and people with disabilities,” she said.
Dlamini said that Social Development Month also serves as an opportunity for her department to expand social partnerships. “The task of meeting our people’s needs for emancipation cannot be achieved by the government alone. This must be in collaboration with business, civil society and our communities. As part of our endeavours to accelerate service delivery, particularly in rural areas, we will be working with the Congress for Traditional Leaders Association of South Africa to ensure that no part of our country remains under- developed. People in rural and remote areas have equal rights to those living in big cities,” said Dlamini.
One of the month’s highlights is the launch of the Khuseleka One-Stop Centre in Polokwane on October 5. This is a partnership with the European Commission to provide a continuum of restorative services to persons who have been at the receiving end of domestic violence, abuse, crime and gender- based violence.
Dlamini said that the government would further “undertake a number of programmes in the fight against the abuse of women and children”. “This includes creating greater public awareness to highlight the negative effects of gender-based violence on our entire society. Key amongst our interventions is the establishment of One-Stop Centres and shelters to provide much needed services,” she said.
The Department of Social Development will also its campaign called ‘Taking DSD to communities. This campaign is led by the department’s Deputy Minister Maria Ntuli. It is anchored on the belief that community development will never take off unless there is intimate interaction between the government and the people it serves.
The aims of this campaign are: to create greater public awareness of the department’s programmes and services which tackle socio-economic challenges such as poverty, HIV and Aids, social exclusion, child protection and substance abuse, amongst others. It also seeks to strengthen and mobilise communities, strengthen service delivery partnerships through promotion of constructive engagement between the department, its agencies as well as communities.
It is a programme to raise awareness about the department’s services to accelerate the pace of building caring and sustainable communities. Essential among these services is the provision of social grants managed by the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). Millions of South Africans who cannot work or sustain them- selves depend on these grants.
This article originally appeared in the Mail & Guardian newspaper as a sponsored feature