The Department of Social Development in Gauteng has come under fire following allegations that Early Childhood Development centres have yet to be paid their Covid stimulus packages.
According to DA MP Refiloe Nt’sekhe, some schools are unable to feed children.
Highlighting one of the affected centres, she said Maphindis Daycare Centre in Ekurhuleni is struggling to provide children with balanced meals and sustain its operations.
"ECDs continue to suffer while children starve, yet the department has received R77 million from the ECD Employment Stimulus Relief Fund, which is supported by the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme," Nt'sekhe said.
She added that the ECD had been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic as most of its funders have pulled out.
"Parents cannot afford to pay the ECD fees for their children as many have lost employment during this period. The centre is now dependent on food donations and a little money received from a few parents that can still afford to pay for the ECD fees. This centre is also struggling to pay for its operational costs and to ensure that children have access to all ECD basic educational needs," she said.
According to Nt'sekhe, the department received R77 million from the ED Employment Stimulus Relief Fund, supported by the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme.
"The department received the money in October 2020, and to date, it has only paid out R37 million to the ECDs across the province, which is equivalent to 48% of the total money. This was revealed by the Gauteng Department of Social Development MEC Morakane Mosupyoe while responding to my oral questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature," she said.
Nt'sekhe added that this money is meant to help the ECD services recover from the loss of income because of the pandemic and not for the department to keep in its coffers.
"Furthermore, ECD facilities are mainly run by women, and therefore the slow disbursement of this stimulus package perpetuates the suffering of women," she said.
She said they would continue to engage with affected ECDs and put pressure on the department to pay out the monies.
"We will also be writing to the Gauteng Provincial Legislature’s Social Development Portfolio Committee Chairperson, Refilwe Kekana, to call for an urgent meeting with MEC Mosupyoe and the HOD to explain to the committee the reasons behind the delays in disbursing the ECD stimulus package. Failure to spend this money is a serious crime to those that need it the most as it will be returned to the treasury," she said.