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Ntokozo Khumalo
 
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When welfare is a curse

29 November 2012, 16:54
Earlier this year reports came out that the number of South Africans receiving social grants, will swell to over 16.7 million people over the next three years. This was according to the 2012/2013 budget tabled in Parliament.

I can honestly say that I  now understand why this is. In my humble opinion, it has nothing to do with being previously disadvantaged, poverty or even the difficulty of finding employment in South Africa.

The problem points to an issue raised by Bob Collins for the Government of South Australia about 6 years ago. That automatic and unconditional welfare payments discourage people from seeking employment.

This is a sad fact, and I speak out of personal experience when I say fact. I have people in my own family receiving grant money, but are perfectly capable, smart young people. Would you want to earn your keep when you have the opportunity to raise the country 's population - and get paid for it?!
The document tabled also states that by the end of 2011, almost 15.3 million people were eligible for social grants, compared to 2.5 million in 1998. 
What this shows me is that these people are not being driven to receiving a government grant out of poverty, but out of sheer laziness and disinterest in working for an honest keep.

The welfare system has been criticized all over the world. In some countries (like the Unites States) there are even sitcoms that tease welfare earners to the point that it is embarrassing to admit receiving one.

But it seems South Africans have given up the fight. We fear being accused of aligning ourselves with opposition parties such as DA, who oppressed our fore fathers and the fore fathers before them. So we shut up. 
This has allowed the government to use the social welfare system to play dirty political games. With our money. 
As a taxpayer I was disgusted to discover last night, that the government, under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma, paid out welfare bonuses this year. 

What resulted from this is young and old (mostly young) people lining up at ATMs, some until midnight, to withdraw their free money.

3 kids paid you a jackpot of  R840, plus the usual payment that will be sent on the 1st of December. A lady even got lucky and received this amount despite having only 2 kids. 
she turned her back to the ATM, waved her money and bank receipt in the air and screamed "Kuyangokuthi Ungubani" ("It matters who you are!")

Less than 5 minutes into receiving the money,  most people joined the queues at KFC, Debonaires and Shoprite which spiraled all the way out of the respective buildings. 
I asked myself - then what was the reasoning behind paying ou this money? It is certainly not going to cover the cost of purchasing new school uniforms for one child, let alone 3.

 And the "sad poor people" seemed quite content to spend this money on chicken wings instead of, oh I don't know a bag a maize meal for survive the long December.
So why exactly is the government giving this money, if it will not make any real difference in most welfare earning homes?

Then it hit me! politics. The ANC and more specifically, our dear ol' president Jacob Zuma will be guaranteed millions of votes thanks to this sly move.

Even though there were people in the ATM lines, who before receiving the money stated - "We don't care if Zuma gives us money, we are still not voting for them (ANC)..." - the way they were sharing their bank receipts, balance's and the amount of money received with any and everybody, tells a  very different story.

What the government is neglecting to consider is that people eventually see through dirty games designed for short term goals. It is playing with people's emotions, toying with their intelligence.It is not a smart move in a country were people will burn and destroy your property quick fast!

The only way government will survive a civil war somewhere in the future, is to continue these payments indefinitely. The side effect is getting more people dependent on government resources and lazy to work. But hey at least they will vote ANC.

We should also forget the fact that this money (which runs into the billions) could be channeled to education (real education) building and supporting entrepreneurs in the country, and actually a string of other much needed reforms.
Taxpayers are disregarded. Disregarded to the point that our government will not even tell us " Hey we planning on paying the poor a little bonus this year - how do you feel about it.? I mean it is your money and all" 
But lets be real, its not about us. We are not the government's target audience.

Then again, it seems I am the only one disgruntled by the fact. And I do not or should not have an opinion because I did not vote ANC on the 22nd of April 2009, or any other year after that.

So I will go back to my hole and admire Nklanda's development from afar...

Facts for Thought: The value of the "social wage" for a family of four in South Africa in 2012/2013 will be about R3 940 (think there might be miners who earn less)

Ntokozo Khumalo is a business writer, producer & report who has been with CNBC Africa, Africa Bisiness Review and eNCA Africa Edition





 



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