Open letter to Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini

The incident last weekend in Tlokwe, where you confronted a social worker in front of the media, made me question your style of leadership and left me embarrassed at the same time as a novice social worker.

From where I am sitting, I think there are professional ways of addressing complaints by our clients other than embarrassing this noble profession of social work.

I think the manner in which you handled this matter was unbecoming and uncalled for.

I am not advocating for mediocrity, but at the same time, you should have followed proper internal procedures in addressing that complaint from the client.

What happened to the principle of respecting other people’s dignity, honourable minister?

I am sure you know you should have dealt with that situation better than you did.

Honourable minister, your department is the one that is failing communities, not social workers.

The office where I am stationed and many offices in the country are in a shambles because we do not have resources, which – if they were there – our job would be easy.

Currently, I am using my cellphone and airtime for work-related issues, and I am not compensated for that.

Our offices are pack homes (mobile offices) which are not accessible to our disabled clients and older persons. We do not have printers in our office, yet we are expected to print reports to courts and our monthly reports to your office so that you can report to your superiors, and in other offices they do not even have computers and printers, minister.

Transport to conduct home visits is a major challenge to social workers, but you have the guts to stand in the media and tell the whole world that social workers are failing the communities.

If your department is failing to provide resources that would make our work simple, what do you expect? Please do not score points about this profession.

We are working in a difficult situation which needs your attention.

Let me remind you, minister that the workload of social workers is still a problem in this department. Earlier this year you mentioned that South Africa needed 60 000 social workers, but again this year your department failed to place newly graduated social workers. You are contradicting yourself, honourable minister.

During your budget vote speech this year you said you have approved plans by provinces to place newly qualified social workers, but as I am writing this letter, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, just to mention a few, did not place newly qualified social workers, citing budgetary constraints.

Your department went on to release social auxiliary workers, the act which worsened the problem of workload of social workers.

From where I am sitting, minister, I am of the opinion that your department is the one that is failing social workers and the people of this country.

Correct me if I am wrong, honourable minister.



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