07 July 2020
The Department of Social Development in KwaZulu-Natal has instituted an investigation, following a protest yesterday by a group of social workers working for different Non-Profit Organisation (NPOs) funded by the Department.
Social workers demonstrated outside the main gate of the department’s provincial head office, seeking an engagement with the MEC, Mrs Nonhlanhla Khoza and the Head of the Department (HOD), Mrs Nelisiwe Vilakazi. The HOD, with her team of senior managers, provided an audience to the group representatives, which lasted at least four hours.
The social workers made it clear that they wanted to be absorbed permanently into the Department after working for the NPOs for two years.
The social workers are contracted by the NPOs dealing with Home Community Based Care (HCBC) programmes as a key intervention by government in the fight against HIV and AIDS, TB, and other social challenges confronting our society.
Vilakazi then requested that she be given 14 days to deal with the concerns raised by social workers that include non-payment of their salaries for three months.
“We are very concerned about the allegation presented before us with regards to working conditions these social workers work under. We have initiated an investigation on a variety of issues raised. In fact, our investigation started sometime ago when, in my early days in this Department, we began to receive a lot of calls with regard to the issues at hand," said Vilakazi.
The service rendered by these social workers in our communities is of great importance, hence we took an initiative to conduct an investigation to ascertain how best the situation can be handled, she added.
"These social workers play a crucial role in delivery of services to our communities and therefore we have an obligation to ensure that we listen to their concerns and try as best as possible to offer lasting solutions,” said Vilakazi.
The Department currently funds 224 social workers working with HCBC organisations. The Department appointed AIDS Foundation of South Africa (AFSA) to administer social workers' salaries.
Initially the programme was a shared responsibilities for both the Departments of Social Development and Health since the 1999/2000 financial year.
However, the re-engineering of the HCBC programme was essential to address the gaps identified in the programme.
The departments resolved to appointing the social workers to ensure therapeutic services are rendered in HCBCs, focusing on the implementation of social and behaviour change programmes.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT