Russia’s conflict with Ukraine could lead to more suffering for poor South Africans - Lindiwe Zulu

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Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu.
Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu.
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  • Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has delivered her department's budget vote for the 2022/23 financial year in Parliament.
  • In her budget speech, Zulu raised concerns about the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
  • She told MPs the war could push the price of basic food items up, negatively affecting the poor.

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu says amid the conflict in Eastern Europe, the likelihood of poor South Africans securing basic food items is increasingly becoming remote.

On Friday, Zulu delivered her department's budget vote for the 2022/23 financial year.

She expressed concern about vulnerable South Africans increasingly becoming dependent on the state.

"In light of the sustained conflict in Europe, not only is the cost of basic food items and energy sources rising, but the likelihood of our people securing these basic provisions on a continued basis is increasingly becoming remote.   

READ | R12.6 million recovered from state employees who received Sassa grants

"Inadvertently, ill-prospects such as these only serve to heighten the need for social development interventions to be strengthened towards ensuring that the state of our people does not deteriorate further."

Zulu vowed to intensify contributions towards interventions that address the impact of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

This includes:

  • Continuously improving the implementation, quality, and reach of all social development services.
  • Strengthening the fight against gender-based violence and femicide by means of implementing the national strategic plan on gender-based violence and femicide.
  • The establishment of beneficial and sustainable linkages between the implementation of social development services and economic opportunities. This will be done by creating and supporting the participation of beneficiaries in the social economy.

According to Zulu, her department is the government's third largest budget for the 2022/23 financial year, as it constituted 13.1% of the government's overall estimated budget of R1.957 trillion.

DA MP Bridget Masango highlighted the department's inability to deal with social grants during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"One looks at the Auditor-General reports, the department itself has had inadequate capacity during the Covid-19 pandemic. They have red-flagged the payments of grants.

"Sassa's outdated and limited databases result in people who are not in distress receiving grants. There is an inability to deal with fraud allegations, and some of the matters date back to 2011 and 2013.

"These deeply concerning irregularities indicate that their systems are inadequate to deal with such large numbers of money," she said.

EFF MP Paulnita Marais said the party had continuously warned poor South Africans were desperate and hungry.

"Hunger without hope is a security threat, and we have failed to provide a system to help them out of poverty. The price of food and transport has gone up. 

"We must increase the grants; the permanent solution is a universal basic income grant for everyone. Despite the EFF's calls for these increases, the ANC has continued to fail," she added.


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