DA slams social grant situation
Cape Town - The fact that some 15 million South Africans receive social grants from the state is no success story, Democratic Alliance MP Patricia Kopane warned on Wednesday.
"We should not regard this as an achievement or a success story. It is a shame on us and to the world, if you consider the natural resources that we have as a country," she told the National Assembly during debate on President Jacob Zuma's state of the nation address.
"But do social grants make people happy? Evidently not, but ironically, while they contribute to putting food on the table, recipients of these grants become more insecure because they fear that government may withdraw or reduce the size of the grant," she said.
Grants also added the humiliation that unemployed people felt about being dependent and unproductive, and therefore unable to take decisions about their lives.
Every time they collected their grants they were subjected to all types of humiliation from government officials, still standing in long queues on rainy days with no shelter, no chairs to sit on, no toilets to relieve themselves, while the same officials had expensive office equipment.
In addition, they were stigmatised by the rest of the society as lazy, idle, and worthless, Kopane said.
The DA was concerned about the fact that large sections of the population depended on social grants.
A society in which the majority depended on welfare could not sustain its development.
The DA strongly believed that the contributions of productive opportunities and skills improvement would reduce dependence on social grants and result in citizens becoming more self-reliant.
The South African people were said to be hard-working and not lazy people.
The question of human dignity, as raised by Zuma and which should be at the heart of all discussions about job creation, had been sacrificed on the altar of outdated and irrelevant labour principles counter-productive to the aim of ensuring that all South Africans of working age who chose to could go out and find a job.
"It seems somewhat irrational to me that we are still having this discussion when 17 years of an inflexible labour market has already proved the point."
Millions of unemployed people were joined every year by yet more unfortunate people for whom working, like basic dignity and decency, would remain out of reach.
"We should be wary of pretending that, in our struggle for dignity and human decency, we have reached the end point where we can refine our new system before we have even achieved some of the most basic goals of dignity for our people.
"Let us not overburden our labour system with stifling protective measures before we have ensured that people have jobs," she said.