Social rights advocacy group Black Sash has criticized the decision of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene to increase social grants by a meager R60, noting that the increase is not in line with the country’s current inflation rate. As a result of the increase, pension and disability grant recipients will now receive R1410. Child support recipients on the other hand, will only pocket an extra R10 with grants now set at R330 a month.
“This is an indication of the lack of commitment, and the lack of political will to protect the majority of South Africans,” said Black Sash advocacy manager, Elroy Paulus.
Because of the country’s high unemployment rate, as well as several other factors, he said the majority of South Africans were struggling to make ends meet, with a reported 16.5 citizen’s now dependant on social grants. This equated to at least 30% of the country’s population. Paulus warned that this increasing rate of social grant recipients would likely have a detrimental effect on the economy.
The minor increase in social grants has been coupled with what is a significant hike in the price of electricity, motivated by an ongoing crisis at utility provider, Eskom. Government has sought to provide a bailout of over R20bn to the company, in order to remedy the current electricity woes. Paulus was extremely critical of the fact that tax-payers monies were now being used to bail out the power utility.
“Government seems to have been more of a regulator, and taken a ‘softy-softy’ approach (on the business sector). What I see are very difficult times, and disproportionately so for the majority of South Africans residing within our country,” he explained.
Despite the state by its own admission wanting to use the National Development Plan (NDP) as a means of helping to build the country, Paulus said the 2015 budget provided a very confusing and contradictory message in this regard.
“How is this developmental if it cannot even keep up the inflation rate increases for social grant beneficiaries? How is it developmental if it bails out non performing public entities?” he questioned. VOC(Mubeen Banderker)