By Pinky Khoabane
SEVENTEEN million South African’s live on social grants. It’s a staggering number which requires an honest reflection by the white chattering classes, in particular. These saviours of the past few days, stemming from the so-called SASSA crisis, have not thought for a moment how they contributed to the poverty that has been inflicted upon Black people.
As if that was not enough a blow on the psychological and emotional being of Black people, it emerged that apart from having amassed ill-gotten wealth from tobacco and alcohol sales among others, one of South Africa’s richest men – Johann Rupert – was also making money from the same system that was offering a safety net to the poor. One of the readers here at UnCensored played-down Rupert’s shareholding in Grindrod Bank – the bank that services SASSA’s account – as a “drop in the ocean for him”. He calculated the amount he would receive at just over a billion rand. This is the crassness and hypocrisy of privilege talking.
It’s only a billion rand!
Tell that to the millions of South Africans who live on less than $1.25 per day.
Until recent days, the majority of white South Africans couldn’t give a toss about the well being of their fellow Black citizens. On the contrary, the narrative has largely been one that says : “Blacks are lazy hence they are on grants”; “young Black girls deliberately fall pregnant in order to access the child grant”; and “grants are unsustainable and government cant afford them”. They are the same people who despise the National Health Insurance which seeks to give all South Africans quality healthcare.
So-called economists have often been critical of social grants saying the ratio of dependency to taxpayer was skewed and unsustainable. Some of these wise men have warned that social grants will discourage low income earners from being self-reliant. These sentiments have been raised ad-nauseam despite scientific research to the contrary. The HRSC study into concerns about the sustainability of the social grant system has reference. http://www.hsrc.ac.za/en/review/hsrc-review-november-2013/social-grants-fiscas
Even the Democratic Alliance (DA) which marched for social grants, was until a few years ago, critical of social grants preferring government’s provision of opportunities for citizens in order that they pull themselves by the boot straps as it were. But even as it marched, its former leader, Helen Zille couldn’t miss the opportunity to expose her hypocrisy and that of her party in recognising the devastation of colonialism and apartheid on Black people. She tweeted:
“For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc”.
“Would we have had a transition into spcialised healthcare and medication without colonial influence? Jut be honest, please.”
Indeed Zille speaks for the privileged white people who would have reaped the benefits of colonialism. Colonialism was a corrupt system and a crime against Black people. It’s a view that is crass and insensitive to victims of colonialism. But it follows in the same vain as the other sentiments including that of our reader here. It’s only a billion rand!
The reality of South Africa’s history of land dispossession, colonialism and apartheid has forced the Black majority into abject poverty forcing them to rely on the state for support while the rich white minority afford private pension funds, medical aid and social security services. The legacy of an education that denied Blacks quality education and churned-out unskilled labour to work for white people lives with us till today. This is the reality that our white chattering classes ought to confront and address. They ought to be engaging in discourse about the inequalities in our country and how we level the playing fields. Land is the basis of dignity and wealth. They should challenge the contradictions within the Constitution that seek to address the legacies of the past while still protecting private rights – the land issue being one. They should speak out when racist Afriforum challenges Affirmative Action and the DA denounces policies of BEE and Affirmative Action. They should be demanding that the National Health Insurance be implemented. Tbey should be marching for progressive policies that seek to put their fellow Black citizens on par with them but they wont because ultimately, the outcry about the “SASSA crisis” was more political and financial than for the concern for the 17 million on welfare.