Pietermaritzburg pensioners, who say they are struggling to make ends meet, will on Wednesday intensify their plea for Christmas bonuses to the national Parliament. The grannies, who are members of the Pietermaritzburg Pensioners Forum, are expected to make a presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance in Cape Town on Wednesday.Speaking to The Witness on Tuesday before embarking on their long journey by bus, they said after listening to Minister Tito Mboweni’s medium term budget policy statement, they saw that government thinks they are invisible.The pensioners said they had decided to go to Cape Town and talk to Members of Parliament directly as they were worried about the plight of pensioners who rely on the old-age grant to care for their families.Gogo Thoko Ngubane from KwaMpumuza, who was part of the delegation, said although they received R1 700 pension money monthly, they continue to live in poverty.“I have five grandchildren that I look after. I have to pay R200 transport money for three of them, pay for water and electricity and still buy food so they don’t go to bed on an empty stomach.”The 64-year-old said she could only afford bare necessities like maize meal, sugar beans, and powdered soap. “We are forced to go to loan sharks and that sets us back even further and we fall into terrible debt but we don’t have a choice. “We are barely surviving and can’t continue to live like this. The cost of living is high but we don’t have enough income.”The grannies said that December and January were very difficult months. They say that the bonus in December could help absorb some of the pressures they faced. “Parliamentarians are also human, they don’t live in space. They know that they too would not be able to survive on a mere R1 700 monthly. “If we get the bonus, we could buy school uniforms for our grandchildren because the prices are cheaper in December.”The pensioners said while the belief was that most of them were previously employed and received pension pay-outs, the majority earned the lowest wages, and when they retired they were left with nothing.Faith Mofokeng from Imbali crossing worked as a domestic worker for 11 years. She said she earned only R5 a day.“When I retired, I didn’t even get a cent. I could not put away any savings for my retirement. When I retired my only option was to go on to the government old-age grant.”Mofokeng said they felt completely ignored by the government.“In October government gave us R10. What is that? R10 did not help us. We are very angry about this, we need the full pension to be paid out in April of every year and we are asking the government to increase the monthly pension to a living wage of R8 000,” said Mofokeng.Doreen Taylor, who is on arthritis and blood pressure chronic medication, said she could not even afford to put a proper meal on the table.“We are getting sick from the stress and from not eating properly. Some months I can’t afford to buy food and we go to sleep on empty stomachs.”Taylor said if government could increase their monthly pension, they would be able to start informal businesses.