“These decisions are bizarre at best and morally indefensible at worst. They are punitive to the very children we are supposed to protect, and those who care for them. We demand that the Treasury amends this budget to address these challenges,” she said.
She said given the pressure to increase the value of the child support grant, it will be hard for the government to justify its failure to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and to explain the real decline in the value of the grant.
Masango said it was ludicrous for the government to pay monthly cash bonuses to civil servants while refusing to prioritise protecting the most vulnerable citizens during a pandemic. This was in reference to the six million R350 grant recipients.
The EFF's Laetitia Heloise Arries criticised the government's decision to end the R350 Covid-19 grant as a crime.
“This money was the difference between going to bed hungry and a meal for millions of South Africans. Today, we stand here to make it explicitly clear that the only practical way forward for SA is the introduction of a permanent basic income grant for all who qualify. This is long overdue. This is humane,” she said.
She said the basic income grant would have to be introduced at R1,500 and not at R350.
“The department of social development is the embodiment of the collapse of social services meant to be the last buffer for our poor people. This is made worse by the Treasury's austerity policy that is implemented without scientific guidance,” said Arries.
She described as shameful the queues at post offices and Sassa, saying people were being subjected to inhumane conditions to access services.
The IFP's Liezl van der Merwe called on Zulu to do more for the poor.
“First, resolve the non-payment, late payment and subsidy cuts to NPOs and NGOs who provide vital services on behalf of the state. Stop playing with the lives of the vulnerable, finalise a budget allocation with the Treasury for the child support top up grant and for reinstating the R350 grant.”
Van der Merwe called on the government to implement food vouchers without delay.
“The plans and funds we are debating today are a lifeline for millions of South Africans.
“[Grants] are the lifeline for many poor children surviving on a school meal alone, a lifeline to grandmothers providing for their families, a lifeline to many NGOs assisting the vulnerable,” she said.