SOCIAL Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu and Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza unveiled two service delivery offices in Amajuba District, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, at the weekend.
The construction of these offices, which offer all department services, including National Development Agency (NDA) and South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), which fall within the Social Development portfolio, were requested by the community.
The Osizweni Service Office – to assist the residents to get services closer to their homes – was opened on Friday, while Blaauwbosch Youth Centre – aimed at equipping youth with employable skills – was opened on Saturday.
According to the department, the office started working in 1988 and the officials used to work from a dilapidated building, compromising their health and safety – and that of the public.
Head of Department Nelisiwe Vilakazi said they would go to the Hadebe home nearby when the offices had no electricity or telephone connection.
“This office would not be standing here today if the Hadebe family had not helped us like they did whenever we needed help. When the office had no electricity and telephone connectivity we would make calls and receive phone calls from the Hadebe’s household telephone. They would also offer the staff tea to keep us going,” said Vilakazi.
She said they were grateful to the Hadebe matriarch, who died in 2017, for their generous contribution towards the development of the nation.
According to a statement from the department, R28 million was invested towards the construction of the structure, because the community had to travel 18km to Madaneni to access the department’s services.
“We have realised that the local government needs serious improvement since it is closer to the people. The calibre of people deployed there determines the performance of this sphere of government,” said Zulu.
She added that this showed the government’s commitment to changing people’s lives, and urged the community to take care of the establishment as it brought development into the region.
“Government is losing a lot of money when it does not integrate its services. What we are seeing today is a result of good planning, which is very important.”
Zulu encouraged people to start backyard gardens to ensure that there was food security as social grants were stop-gap measures.
MEC Khoza said it was fortunate that the youth would also have opportunities to create employment for themselves through the centre.
Khoza urged the public to look after each other so they could be able to identify those in need of urgent attention by the government.
“Communities must play their part in ensuring that the welfare of people is being taken care of. Community facilities must also be preserved, be protected from vandalism and it is only communities who can ensure that these structures remain intact. It was the government’s plan to ensure people access services easily in the localities,” said Khoza.