Ubuntu and the debate over child protection
by Robyn Wolfson Vorster
Recent public comment days for the Children’s Amendment Bills brought a stark reminder that many sectors of government still believe that ubuntu is the panacea for all of our orphans’ ills. Ubuntu, by definition, is about our humanity to others. In the context of child protection, it is epitomised by community-based care and the principle that no child is left behind. But, the argument for kinship care to the exclusion of all other policies breaks down when we recognise two important things: firstly, ubuntu has been marred by poverty, HIV/AIDS, urbanisation and the decimation of the family; and secondly, that recognising this, the government has been financially incentivising the practice for years.
For anyone willing to wade through multiple hours of mind-numbing audio, the public hearings held by the government portfolio committee tasked with assessing the Children’s Amendment Bills make for fascinating listening. They provide insight into why South Africa’s approach to caring for orphaned and vulnerable children is so contested — and at times fraught — and an appreciation of the challenges involved in hammering out an agreed solution to some of the country’s greatest child protection problems… [read more]