It is of concern that the Gauteng Department of Social Development underspent on its budget for the first quarter of the 2017/2018 financial year on the substance abuse prevention, treatment and rehabilitation programme.
The Department further failed to reach its own targets despite the vast challenge created for the province by substance abuse.
According to the Department of Social Development’s First Quarterly Report for the 2017/18 financial year, the department received a quarterly budget allocation of R1.1 billion and spent R911, 9 million. In short, the department underspent its budget by R180.2 million and had a negative budget variance of 17%.
All the department’s programmes underspent their budgets; administration under spent by 18%, Social and Welfare Services by 19%, Children and Families by 13%, Restorative services by 36% and development and research by 8%.
Restorative services include substance abuse prevention, treatment and rehabilitation – areas in which the Department has performed poorly.
The department had planned to reach 124 055 beneficiaries through substance abuse prevention programmes by funded NPOs and ended up only reaching only 88,% of beneficiaries.
In terms of patients who accessed outpatient -based treatment services and funded substance abuse community-based services the Department missed its targets.
The fact that the department failed to meet many key targets indicates a lack of planning on implementing programmes to prevent substance abuse.
This week the DA-led City of Tshwane launched a Hope Line service to up the ante in the fight against drug and substance abuse. This initiative will make it possible for residents to telephonically access inter alia information around substance abuse, assistance with referrals to rehabilitation programs and give tip-offs on drug dealing anonymously.
To make this public service possible, the administration has signed 23 service-level agreements with NPOs and will channel a portion of the R 40 million in the city budget for combatting substance abuse to these organizations.
The DA-led Tshwane should be applauded for this initiative which has great potential in the relentless campaign against substance abuse in Gauteng and in the country as a whole.
The ANC-led Gauteng government should take the example from the DA-led municipalities on how to maximize their allocated budgets and to implement programmes to fight substance abuse for the benefit of all our communities.