Ramaphosa defends decision to extend social grant. The extension of the social grant has been defended by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who claims it does not mean more people need grants now than they did in the past as some have claimed.
He claimed that many people in poverty, including paid working-age adults, simply did not receive assistance.
Ramaphosa defends decision to extend social grant
“In 1999 just over 2.5-million people were receiving social grants. Today that number has increased to over 18-million people.
“In addition, more than two million indigent households also receive free basic water, basic electricity and solid waste removal services as part of this government’s commitment to free basic services for the poor,” said Ramaphosa.
He said human rights month was ending, “which beckons a time where we reflect on the sacrifices that were made in the struggle for freedom, but also on the progress we have made in advancing the human rights of all”.
“The right to social security is explicit in the bill of rights. This is an approach that recognises that social security is essential to other rights, including the right to dignity.
“It is this right that has underpinned the progressive expansion of South Africa’s social protection system over the past three decades.”
He added that the social relief of distress grant, which was instituted in 2020 in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, had helped millions of people escape food poverty and reached more than 11 million people at its height.
“According to research, about 50% of the purchases made by SRD grant recipients are groceries. Social grants also act as a stimulus for the economy as a whole, increase spending in townships and rural areas, and improve employment outcomes.’
Ramaphosa cited research conducted through interviews with informal traders in the Johannesburg CBD, Orange Farm, Mthatha, Mqanduli, and Warwick Junction in Durban, which found that the SRD grant encouraged consumer spending, provided money for stock purchases, and allowed the start-up of new businesses.
“Informal traders and SRD grant recipients in Philippi in the Western Cape also told researchers that it had a positive impact on their businesses. According to another recent study by researchers at the University of Cape Town, the SRD grant also increased the probability of recipients searching for jobs and gaining employment,” said Ramaphosa.
Similar to this, a large number of participants in the presidential employment stimulus initiative (Pesi) found employment after finishing the program.
“The school assistants programme has provided opportunities for 750,000 young people to date in over 22,000 schools, reaching every corner of the country.
“Over 72% of participants in the Pesi said that having gained their first work experience, the programme helped them to gain a foothold in the labour market thereafter,” said Ramaphosa.
He claimed that many people, not just those who got social grants, benefited greatly from South Africa’s renowned social protection system. Additionally, it promoted bottom-up economic development, encouraged commercial activity, and boosted societal cohesion and stability.
The social relief of distress grant, which the president hailed as one of democracy’s greatest successes and something for which the nation should be proud, was a major step in the government’s commitment to providing a floor below which no citizen should fall, he said.
“We are working on options to provide basic income support for the unemployed, within our fiscal constraints, beyond the expiry of the SRD grant in April next year.
“If the focus of our struggle for liberation was to end apartheid and achieve political freedom, the focus of our efforts now must be to address inequality and ensure that every South African enjoys the fruits of democracy,” said Ramaphosa.
It was well recognised that inequality constrained growth and that growth in unequal societies tended to reproduce those patterns of inequality.
“This is why our economic policy is guided by the need on the one hand to implement structural reforms to stimulate growth and enhance our economic competitiveness, while on the other expanding social protection and public employment and supporting the social wage,” said Ramaphosa.