Grants shouldn't be 'political bribes'
Cape Town - While acknowledging the critical importance of reducing poverty, there is a growing perception that the ANC is "abusing social grants in an attempt to retain political power", the Freedom Front Plus said on Thursday.
This follows comments by pre-eminent South Africans in which serious criticism was raised about corruption and the government's use of social grants and black economic empowerment (BEE), FF Plus spokesperson Conrad Beyers said in a statement.
Criticism was expressed by, among others, businessman and former ambassador Franklin Sonn, Western Cape Congress of SA Trade Unions provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich, and political analyst and former president Thabo Mbeki's brother Moeletsi Mbeki, during a conference on poverty jointly hosted by the Dutch Reformed Church and the United Reformed Church.
Beyers said two comments by Mbeki, if true, were particularly worrying.
These were that the ANC "is buying votes through their use of social grants", and that the ANC possibly had a vested interest in "keeping impoverished people poor and uneducated".
Beyers said if the ANC was "using social grants to nearly 15 million people as political bribes, history will point it out as being one of the most serious and undemocratic abuses in South Africa's history".
"This will in effect mean that a dwindling number of taxpayers are paying to keep a largely incompetent, expensive and corrupt government permanently in power," he said.
The FF Plus was concerned that the initial honest intentions of the social grants were developing into an "economic and political monster which will destroy the country in the long run".
"The FF Plus is of the opinion that poverty in South Africa is a time bomb which has to be defused through sustainable job creation, economic growth and responsible and well-planned social programmes," Beyers said.