The Free State Department of Social Development says it will establish five new Community Nutrition and Development Centres covering all districts in the province and ensure gender parity in its administrative structures as well as the community projects it implements.
Presenting her nearly R1.4 billion budget for the 2019/20 financial year last week, social development MEC Mamiki Qabathe said her department will provide food to 7 375 vulnerable community members from all four districts as well as Magaung Metro, through its 46 Community Nutrition and Development Centres.
“In this new financial year, we will be establishing five new Community Nutrition and Development Centres, which translates to one new centre per district,” said Qabathe.
Presently, Lejweleputswa District has seven such centres while Thabo Mofutsanyana has 10, Fezile Dabi 12; Mangaung Metro 11, and Xhariep six. About 7 375 beneficiaries are catered for at these centres.
To sustain the centres, the department provides funding of R8.3 million creating 511 work opportunities for women and youths, according to the MEC.
She noted the Women Empowerment Framework launched in QwaQwa in April is set to gain momentum this year as her department strives to ensure that women do not fall below the poverty line and are not excluded from accessing social and economic opportunities.
“We have set aside R5.4 million for the implementation of the Women Empowerment Framework. Amongst others, 20 women in QwaQwa who will be exiting the Community Nutrition and Development Centre will be supported to establish a sewing project as a cooperative,” said Qabathe.
She said the department has also made great strides in terms of ensuring 50-50 Gender representation on senior management level, adding they will make concerted efforts to improve on the employment of people with disabilities and the LGBTQI+ community.
Turning to the hiring of social workers who have remained short in the department for several years, the MEC indicated they appointed 39 entry-level social workers in the last financial year.
“In addition, the department also appointed 12 social work managers in districts, with a view to strengthen management capacity in the social welfare services,” explained Qabathe.
Given the limited budgetary resources to address all competing priorities, the department had been forced to be creative and think outside the box. Instead of spending a lot of money on paying overtime, they will be employing entry level social workers and at the same time implementing other cost cutting measures.
“During the 2019/20 financial year, priority will be given to enhancing capacity at all nine departmental institutions and district offices. In this regard, appointments for the 192 posts will be done this financial year,” said the MEC.