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Limpopo social development department halts employment of workers

MOGAU PHALA

NEWLY-QUALIFIED social workers in Limpopo face a bleak future as the Department of Social Development says it can’t employ any of them due to financial difficulties.

This despite MEC Phophi Ramathuba’s promise during her 2017\18 financial year budget vote that the province had a shortage of social workers and R46 million was allocated to close the gap.

The National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (NUPSAW) has expressed disappointment on the department’s move stating there is much that can be done by the department to ensure that all trained social workers are absorbed.

Last week, the union marched to the premier’s office demanding the appointment of more social workers as there are many trained social workers waiting to be employed. According to NUPSAW provincial secretary Ntata Sekgotha, the department has failed to show commitment to improving services within the profession.

“On many occasions, we tried to engage with the department hoping that it will wake up which included submitting memorandums but the department never responded to any of our memorandum. More social workers have to be employed as soon as possible because if the department fails to employ them then who will,” he said.

He further added : “We appreciate the little that the department has put aside, but that budget is not enough. The department is caught in the lack of accountability, which means that a lot of money is wasted on unnecessary things and we believe that more can be done in terms of getting resources to hire those social workers.”

The department’s spokesperson Adele van der Linde said the budget allowed for the absorption of 164 social workers who were appointed earlier this financial year. She said Ramathuba officially welcomed them in June in Polokwane.

“We have escalated the matter to national DSD and National Treasury to address our budget deficit. The Department of Social Development is not the only government department that makes use of social workers and social workers are also appointed by NPOs and private entities,” she added.

The department’s challenges have affected students at higher education institutions as the department has taken a resolution not to fund them as it claims that it is the responsibility of the Department of Higher Education and Training to ensure that students were funded.

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