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MPs call for urgent recovery of stolen monies, fund Basic Income Grant

South Africa - Cape Town - 16 February 2022 - President Cyril Ramaphosa leaves Imbizo Media centre at Parliament after engaging with members of the media post his 2022 State of the National Address and Reply to the SONA Debate . Photograph : Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

South Africa - Cape Town - 16 February 2022 - President Cyril Ramaphosa leaves Imbizo Media centre at Parliament after engaging with members of the media post his 2022 State of the National Address and Reply to the SONA Debate . Photograph : Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Mar 3, 2022


The IFP has called for urgent action to be taken to recover the money stolen from the state and the poor.

Speaking in the National Assembly on Thursday, IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe said a number of ministers were implicated in the third instalment of the Zondo Commission report.

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“If ministers, along with heartless criminals, did not devour the money in state coffers through corruption, there would be enough for the Basic Income Grant (BIG).

“We need, as a matter of urgency, to recoup monies from all those, including the ministers, that steal from the state and, by extension, steal from the poor,” Van der Merwe said.

She made her statement during a mini-plenary debate, sponsored by the ANC’s Dikgang Stock, titled “Expanding the comprehensive social security system in order not to leave anyone behind”.

Introducing the mini-debate, Stock said the National Development Plan stated that South Africa should have a comprehensive system of social protection, that included social security grants, mandatory retirement savings, risk benefits, and voluntary retirements by 2030.

“The ANC government places social wage at the centre of transforming the lives of ordinary South Africans, without leaving anyone behind. We have observed that increases in social grants bring about relief to vulnerable people,” said Stock.

He noted that 46% of the population received a social wage and that R44m has been pumped for the extension of the R350 social relief of distress grants.

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Stock said the current critical policy debate required Parliament and the social development portfolio committee to answer the question of the introduction of BIG.

“Restoring dignity of South Africans is an imperative for the ANC government, in order to improve the well-being of South Africans through access to health care, education, skills development, and provision of the safety net.

“These are democratic gains that we should continue to build on, in an expanding system to cover the unemployed, between the ages of 18 and 59,” he said.

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DA MP Bridget Masango said her party was cautiously encouraged to see the debate outside the election season.

“One wonders if the magnitude of the needs of South African society resonates in the hallowed chamber of this uncaring ANC government,” Masango said.

She noted that, as far back as 2000, the government appointed a committee to look into the reform of the social security system and that it recommended introduction of the BIG, among other things.

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In 2004, a finance reference group noted that the government had not announced a formal position on BIG, or any of the recommendations made.

“It is no wonder the debate is not evoking excitement and hope as it should, as history will repeat itself to the detriment of many that ought not, and must not be left behind if stability and social cohesion is to be preserved in South Africa,” Masango added.

EFF MP Paulnita Marais said there could not be talk of extending the comprehensive social security system, when the current system subjected the poor to perpetual poverty.

“The only way to alleviate poverty is to be a country that produces what it consumes and exports the surplus. All Sassa beneficiaries must be active members of the economy and earn a living, and not rely on social grants – except children, orphans, war veterans, and foster care families,” Marais said.

She also said her party maintained that the ANC did not have a practical plan that combined social policy and economic policy.

Van Der Merwe said expanding the welfare system should focus on the child support grant and strengthening Sassa, where the money due to millions of beneficiaries was siphoned – inside and outside the social security agency.

She said it was a concern that not a single official repaid the R350 grants they irregularly received.

Freedom Front Plus MP Tammy Breedt said the debate should have been on what reforms were necessary to not leave anyone behind, to ensure self sustainability.

“The focus should be on education, empowerment, self-sustainability, and a conducive environment for the private sector.

“We should move away from thinking that welfare is the only option to our citizens to alleviate their current devastating position,” Breedt said.

The Good Party’s Brett Herron said the fastest way to achieve comprehensive social security was to start BIG and address affordability.

“We are not unaware of financial constraints. It is a matter of prioritisation. If the finance minister follows through on the plan to introduce zero budgeting and identify our absolute priorities, it will free up savings significantly,” Herron said.

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