Social development



Social Development

Official Guide to South AfricaThe Department of Social Development (DSD) provides social protection services and leads government’s efforts to forge partnerships through which vulnerable individuals, groups and communities become capable and active participants in the development of themselves and society.

The social development function facilitates access to social grants and welfare services to reduce poverty and inequality, protect children, and empower women, youth and people with disabilities.

Several pieces of legislation determine the department’s mandate, a number of which are under review, are the:

  • Non-profit Organisations Act of 1997 establishes an administrative and regulatory framework within which non‐profit organisations (NPOs) can conduct their affairs, and provides for their registration by the department;
  • 1997 White Paper for Social Welfare sets out the principles, guidelines, policies and programmes for developmental social welfare in South Africa;
  • 1998 White Paper on Population Policy for South Africa is aimed at promoting the sustainable development of all South Africans by integrating population issues with development planning in all spheres of government and all sectors of society;
  • Social Assistance Act of 2004 provides a legislative framework for the provision of social assistance. The Act and its regulations set out different types of grants payable, including those for social relief, and their qualifying criteria;
  • Children’s Act of 2005, as amended, gives effect to certain rights of children as contained in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996, and sets out principles and processes relating to their care and protection;
  • Older Persons Act of 2006 is aimed at maintaining and promoting the rights, status, well-being, safety and security of older people. It provides for older people to enjoy quality services while staying with their families and in their communities for as long as possible, and to live in residential care facilities;
  • Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act of 2008 and associated regulations provide a legal framework for the establishment, registration and monitoring of in‐patient treatment centres and halfway houses.

Over the medium-term period, the department planned to focus on: providing income support to the poor and vulnerable; providing developmental social welfare services and increased access to services; supporting and monitoring the implementation of policies, legislation, norms and standards for the provision of social welfare services to children; addressing gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF), HIV and AIDS and other social ills; and building sustainable communities.

Over the medium-term period, the department aimed to focus on providing income support to the poor and vulnerable through social grants administered by the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA); facilitating the development of a comprehensive social security reform strategy; preventing fraud in the social security system; providing and increasing access to developmental social welfare services, particularly for vulnerable groups; and building sustainable communities to alleviate poverty.

Providing income support to the poor and vulnerable

Through the provision of social grants to qualifying beneficiaries, the DSD’s Social Assistance programme plays a critical role in government’s strategy to tackle poverty and inequality.

Reforming social security and preventing fraud

The DSD planned to continue developing policy proposals on social security reform. This includes working with other departments to develop a White Paper on Social Security that was expected to culminate in a Social Security Bill that the department aimed to submit to Cabinet in 2024/25.

The proclamation of the Social Assistance Amendment Act of 2020 has paved the way for the department to finalise the operationalisation of the Inspectorate for Social Assistance, which is mandated to ensure that there is independent capacity to address and prevent fraud in the social grant system.

Providing and increasing access to developmental social welfare services

The Children’s Amendment Act of 2022 is intended to strengthen the protection of vulnerable children through the coordinated provision of care and protection services, address gaps and challenges in the child care and protection system, and identify strategies to address these challenges.

Over the medium-term period, the department planned to focus on increasing awareness and providing training to workers in the social development sector on the Act and the practice guidelines for national and international adoption of children.

The department will also monitor the implementation of the guidelines for community‐based prevention and early intervention services to vulnerable children. Over the period ahead, the department aimed to provide stakeholders in GBVF hotspot districts with training on the psychosocial services policy.

This is expected to lead to better structured, regulated and timely responses that also reduce the likelihood of victims becoming perpetrators themselves, as well as of repeat victimisation.

These services are also provided through a toll‐free line. As part of its efforts to improve the response, care and healing of victims of gender‐based violence, the DSD was expected to finalise the intersectoral policy on sheltering over the medium-term period.

The policy was expected to make provisions for short‐term alternative accommodation where victims of abuse could positively transform their lives through empowerment programmes. The department aimed to continue monitoring the implementation of the universal treatment curriculum in 12 public substance abuse treatment centres, review the National Drug Master Plan, and finalise the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Use Disorders Bill and accompanying regulations.

Building sustainable communities to alleviate poverty

Over the medium term, the department aimed to strengthen community engagements in 34 districts by implementing the community mobilisation and empowerment framework, which promotes the use of household and community profiling to inform service and support provision.

It also aimed to link 2% of grant recipients with sustainable livelihood opportunities, including through the expanded public works programme. TIn its efforts to strengthen the regulatory environment, the department will aim to monitor the implementation of the Non‐profit Organisations Act of 1997 and ensure improved turnaround times for processing non‐profit organisation applications and reports.

National Drug Master Plan (NDMP) 2019-2024

The NDMP (2019-2024) is a blueprint for combating the scourge of alcohol and substance abuse which has reached epidemic proportions in South Africa.

The overarching goal of the NDMP is to prevent drug use before it starts, early intervention to ensure substance users receive treatment and rehabilitation services and reducing the demand for illicit drugs.

Government is committed to tackle the scourge of alcohol and substance abuse in South Africa. In this regard, the DSD has established the Central Drug Authority, a multisectoral forum to tackle the scourge of alcohol and substance abuse.


South African Social Security Agency

The SASSA Act of 2004 provides for the establishment of the SASSA. The agency’s objectives are to ensure effective and efficient administration, management and payment of social assistance to qualifying beneficiaries.

The majority of applications for social grants over this period were expected to be finalised within one day, with the exception of the Disability Grant, which requires appointments with health are practitioners.

Over the medium-term period, the agency planned to prioritise interventions such as improving financial management to address the findings from internal and external audits; implementing measures to reduce the cost of administering social assistance, including encouraging beneficiaries to move to more costeffective grant access channels such as retail merchants; building management capacity for a streamlined organisational environment that will help in the fight against fraud and corruption; and migrating to a web‐based system.

A more suitable operating model and organisational structure were expected to lead to optimised processes, policies and procedures, and build the capacity of staff to operate in a technology‐friendly environment.

This will be complemented by the implementation of an electronic content management solution by 2024/25, which is expected to create an electronic repository for the agency’s records and automate the management of grant beneficiaries from inception.

National Development Agency (NDA)

The NDA was established in terms of the NDA Act of 1998. Its primary mandate is to contribute towards the eradication of poverty and its causes by granting funds to civil society organisations to implement development projects in poor communities.

Over the next three years, the agency planned to support on average 3 000 civil-society organisations per year by strengthening institutional areas such as governance, compliance, financial management, reporting and conflict resolution; and providing grant funding to stimulate economic activity and create job opportunities in poor communities where these organisations operate.

In line with its aim of reducing poverty and developing communities, the agency plans to partner with research and academic institutions to produce nine research publications and host 15 development policy dialogues over the medium-term period to engage with relevant stakeholders. These are intended to inform the development of policy on job creation, economic development, and training and development.

Programmes and relevant bodies

National Youth Policy (NYP)

The NYP 2020-2030, also referred to as the NYP 2030, is a cross-sectoral policy aimed at affecting positive youth development outcomes for young people at local, provincial and national levels in South Africa.

Developed by the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, in collaboration with multiple stakeholders and young people, the policy was developed to redress the wrongs and injustices of the past and to deal decisively with the persistent as well as new and emerging challenges they are facing. The NYP 2030 defines young people as those aged between 14 and 35.

Blind SA

Blind SA is an organisation for the blind and is governed by the blind. Situated in Johannesburg, it is aligned with other member organisations throughout South Africa.

The organisation provides, among other things, study bursaries for visually impaired students for further education, Braille publications in all of South Africa’s official languages, Braille training that entails writing and reading, and orientation and mobility training. It equips blind people with the skills they need to fully and independently participate in society.

This includes support in living without assistance, getting about, using technology, reading, working and socialising.

All this is made possible through advocacy, the Education Committee, Braille Services, orientation and mobility services and the employment programme. It is through this, and the support of donors, that Blind SA connects blind or visually impaired South Africans with the world they live in.

South African Braille Authority (SABA)

SABA is the standard setting body for and promotes and advocates for Braille and Braille-related matters in South Africa. The non-profit organisation advocates, promotes, monitors and evaluates for the ubiquitous use of Braille through literacy and the various facets and applications.

South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB)

The SANCB is a registered non-profit and public benefit organisation established in 1929 with the core objectives of advocacy and promoting the rights of persons with visual impairments, prevention, inclusion and support.

As a South African national representative body for the blind, it offers a supportive, rights driven function to its nearly 80-member organisations. The presence of its community work is felt throughout its nine provincial structures in South Africa. The SANCB also lays emphasis on the prevention of blindness and in 1944 the Bureau for the Prevention of Blindness was established.

Support for the hearing impaired

The South African National Deaf Association (SANDA) is dedicated to providing quality services, ensuring public accessibility and increasing awareness of issues affecting Deaf people at all levels in South Africa.

The mandate of SANDA is to:

  • build capacity in the Deaf sector;
  • influence public policies;
  • set the agenda for meaningful inclusive development; and
  • provide comprehensive human development services that benefit Deaf people at all levels of society.

Older people

South Africa’s Older Persons Act of 2006, which came into operation in 2010, recognises the importance of older persons in the country’s democracy and development.

Guided by the Older Persons Act of 2006 and the Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing, the DSD in partnership with the departments of Health; Sport, Arts and Culture and the South African Older Persons Forum introduced the Active Ageing Programme to transform the ageing experience and empower senior citizens to stay active and engaged so that they can continue to enjoy healthy and purposeful lives.

Golden Games, which form part of the Active Ageing Programme, encourage senior citizens to be active and promote longer life for the aged. They participate in different sporting activities like soccer, athletics and a fun walk.

Source: Official Guide to South Africa

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