The Forum of the South African Directors-General (FOSAD) Social Protection, Community and Human Development (SPCHD) Cluster, convened a cluster retreat at the Southern Sun OR Tambo International Airport Hotel on 14 November 2022. The aim of the cluster retreat was to conduct a mid-term review of key social sector initiatives and interventions to accelerate the implementation of priority programmes.
Mr Mathanzima Mweli, Basic Education Director-General, and Dr Sandile Buthelezi, Director-General for Health, co-chaired the SPCHD cluster retreat, raising the main objectives for discussions as the following: Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF), as well as drugs and substance abuse; an update on the roll-out of the comprehensive social protection programme targeted at vulnerable groups; and to consider plans for improved schooling outcomes in respect of skills relevant for the workplace and the economy. In addition, programmes that foster social cohesion and nation-building were under review and a progress report on the development of sustainable and integrated human settlements was delivered.
The constant rising figures of GBVF, drugs and substance abuse clearly indicates that urgent intervention is required in curbing GBVF and the scourge of drugs and alcohol abuse. “As we approach the 16 Days of Activism For No Violence against Women and Children from 25 November to 10 December 2022, under the global theme, “Unite! Activism to end violence against women and girls”, it is important for the social cluster to collaborate with various Director-Generals and social cluster departments to assist with the implementation of strategies to curb persistent social ills and to raise public awareness on these issues.
DG Mweli stated that the cluster system should not only be limited to processing Cabinet Memoranda, but must also focus the work of the Cluster into a Programme of Action (PoA) intended to address these prevailing social challenges. “We collectively consider and forge ahead on cross-cutting and strategic areas of collective responsibility affecting various social cluster departments, to positively impact on the lives of South Africans”.
Ms Siza Magangoe from the Department of Social Development (DSD), reported on ways to curb drugs and substance abuse, noting a number of interventions required to address this challenge. “There has to be a concerted effort to manage the abuse of alcohol, as most of the societal challenges emanate from the abuse of alcohol, often leading to drug abuse; GBVF; non-communicable diseases; and many other social ills. The curbing of GBVF will be strengthened by functional health facilities as these facilities are the crucial point of call where evidence and reports should be meticulously handled immediately after incidents”. Acting Director-General, Ms Reshoketswe Tshabalala from the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD), explained that, “the GBVF campaign also concentrates on issues of violence against persons with disabilities, specifically women and children. There’s a need for monthly reports on the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on Gender- GBVF to be carefully scrutinised and verified by Directors-General prior to submission to the DWYPD”.
The retreat focused on the rolling out of a comprehensive social protection programme targeted at vulnerable groups; scaling-up efforts to ensure long and healthy lives for all South Africans; plans for improved schooling outcomes and attainment of skills relevant for the economy of the country and the world; and programmes intended to foster social cohesion and national building. Directors-General from the following national departments were in attendance: The Presidency; and the Departments of Higher Education and Training; Employment and Labour; Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation; the National Planning Commission, as well as senior officials from several other departments.