WRITTEN BY THE NEW AGE
Civil rights group the Black Sash has defended the need for the government to continue to provide the poor with social grants, warning that any move to stop would be counterproductive.
The organisation’s advocacy manager, Elroy Paulus, gave the example of the Alfred Nzo district where, he said, 82.2% of the population were living on less than R800 monthly.
“This means the system of social security cannot be discontinued,” he said.
Paulus said while social grants on their own were not the answer to poverty it would not be wise for the national government to reduce social grants.
“It is not going to reverse structural poverty in our society or bridge the yawning inequality gap that exists between rich and poor but it does help,” he added.
At a recent business consultative meeting in Cape Town, President Jacob Zuma hinted that the government was reviewing the social grants policy.
“We cannot afford to indefinitely pay social grants to people who are not elderly and who have no physical defects,” he said.
“In the face of alarmingly high poverty levels we are concerned that there is talk of this kind,” said Paulus.
Only vulnerable groups like children, the elderly and disabled were receiving state support.
“No income support goes to the 36% of able-bodied adults who cannot find work and have no means of supporting themselves and their families,” he added.
Paulus said taking grants away would not create jobs. “What we need from President Zuma and his ministers are convincing plans to reduce unemployment not pronouncements of reducing grants,” he said.
child support grants and old age pensions respectively constitute 68.8% and 21.9% of the allocated grants in the Eastern Cape.