WITH reference to numerous media announcements and discussions about the plight of the poor, the lack of service delivery, the #FeesMustFall campaign and recent utterances on living wages, I would like to draw attention to the latter.
It was announced not so long ago that the minimum wage or living wage for workers should be R3 500. One begs to ask though, what is a living wage? And who are the ones primarily benefitting from it? The understanding is that it is the bare minimum, financially speaking, that a household can operate on.
We appreciate that such a living wage would go a long way to alleviating some pressure from many a household. Much debate and deliberation has gone into deciding this living wage, to the chagrin of most.
However, it brings us to another question. If so much discussion and thought has been given to arriving at a living wage, where does it leave our senior citizens/ pensioners? If a living wage of R3 500 is considered a bare minimum, where does it leave the pensioners who are granted R1 500 for their households? And yes, a number of them still run an entire household. We can be quick to retaliate and charge that their children are supposed to support them. But we live in a real world, where pensioners and the older generation are frowned upon and often seen as a nuisance by the very family who are supposed to look after them. It is also not viable for a number of immediate families to look after the elderly. In the economically stressed environment we live in, it is rather difficult to care for your own household and have enough to cater for others (elderly included).
My plea is to draw attention to the real poorest of the poor, the downtrodden, elderly pensioners, who can barely afford to look after themselves. I have seen them standing on corners and intersections and cannot help but wonder what can be done to better assist them. What avenues are there that one can appeal to for support? Can the government do more? Bettering the R1 500 grant would be nice.
JACQUALINE M. AFFINAND