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‘Many will resort to crime’ - outrage over special Covid-19 grant

Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni delivered the Mid Term Budget speech in Parliament last week. File picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA).

Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni delivered the Mid Term Budget speech in Parliament last week. File picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA).

Published Nov 1, 2020


JOHANNESBURG - Many social grant recipients are unhappy with Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s Medium-term Budget after he announced the temporary increases promised by President Cyril Ramaphosa will be stopped.

In April, Ramaphosa said child support beneficiaries would receive an additional R500 for up to six months, while other grants would be topped up by R250 to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 on the poor.

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However, on Wednesday, Mboweni announced that the government would no longer continue with temporary increases to social grants.

Among those that will revert to their original amount are child-support and old-age grants.

Some beneficiaries expressed frustration at Mboweni’s decision.

Mmami Mthimukhulu complained bitterly, saying the situation will be worse for her because she is not allowed to apply for the R350 social relief grant for the unemployed and she depended on this money to feed her children.

“I am not happy at all. Some of us lost jobs during the lockdown and we have children. We depend on these increases to feed our families.

“Some people have no income at all, you can imagine what will happen to them?”

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Another beneficiary, Mamello Mokoena, believes cutting the grants will force many to resort to crime.

“I think crime will be high because many parents are unemployed.

“Some lost their jobs and they are forced to pay their rent with that money as they are still looking for jobs,” said the 21 year old.

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Lethobolo Mabitle, 33, said Mboweni should have left the increase until January to enable the recipients to buy school uniforms. Kutlwano Zengele said: “I am hurt. “Why do they continue with the R350 relief grant? This increase was helpful, and a lot. We even afford to buy food, clothes and pre-schools for our children.”

Political analyst Metji Makgoba said Mboweni has shown that the government is right-wing and criminalises the existence of the poor.

“It is an elitist position that runs the risk of condemning the poor to structural violence of poverty and marginalisation.

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“The recipient of these grants are already struggling to meet their needs and will be condemned by the agenda of neoliberalism which depends on the invisible hands of the markets.

“Food prices continue to increase to help the elite enjoy capital over-accumulation while constraining the budget of these families, grandparents, and parents.

“But we have to remember that these social grants aim to ameliorate the devastating effects of neoliberal capitalism, as well as to legitimise its advancement and have nothing to do with fighting inequality and oppression. At a structural level, it shows that the government has given up on the vulnerable. A society that can’t look after the poor has gone to the dogs.

“Unfortunately, the high unemployment rate in South Africa is good for capital and provides access to cheap labour that produces at low costs, but enables capital to then sell at a higher price.”

While economist analyst Annabel Bishop said: “I can tell you that the overly harsh lockdown was the reason for so many people losing their jobs.

“If we had a less harsh lockdown as most other countries, we would not have lost over 2 million jobs in quarter 2, and not have seen so many company failures.”

Sunday Independent

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