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DA says its government won't discard grants but warns it's 'unsustainable for people to solely be reliant' on them

The DA says it supports the calls for the basic income grant if there is money for it. File photo.
The DA says it supports the calls for the basic income grant if there is money for it. File photo.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

The DA says it would not stop social grants should it get voted into power in next year’s national election and anyone suggesting otherwise is merely fearmongering.

However, there needs to be a clear strategy on job creation as the over-reliance on state welfare is unsustainable in the long term.

This is the view of the DA's acting policy head Mathew Cuthbert who said the party believes social welfare is an important mechanism to protect the poor from unemployment and the tough economy.

“The DA’s position is clear and often we are accused, particularly by the ANC, that if we were to come into government, we would take away people’s grants and that’s absolute nonsense,” said Cuthbert.

“Our view is that grants provide a social safety net for people who are unable to find employment and it’s an important protection mechanism to make sure that people don’t find themselves in absolute poverty, and I think it's important to emphasise that on behalf of the DA.”

Cuthbert was talking to TimesLIVE on policy discussions ahead of the DA’s federal congress at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand this weekend.

The party is set to elect new leadership including a party leader, federal chair and deputies as well as a federal council chair and deputies among other positions.

The party is also expected to have policy discussions on coalitions, BEE and the Reserve Bank’s mandate, among other issues.

Cuthbert has also shared the party’s position on social grants, which the ANC and its government has been most vocal about as the country edges closer to the 2024 general election.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has on numerous occasions this year lauded the fact that almost half of the South African population is 100% dependent on the state, saying this was a positive thing as it showed the ANC government cared for its people.

There has, however, been much criticism of the ANC, with pundits saying the party should be creating jobs instead of celebrating the increasing number of people reliant on state handouts.

Cuthbert said the DA supported the grant system but people needed jobs. He also said the party was pro a basic income grant should the economy allow for it as the current monthly social grants were scant.

People want to be employed, they want to make meaningful difference in their lives and be able to lead a life where they can provide for their families
Mathew Cuthbert, acting DA policy head 

“But in saying that, we also need to have an economy that promotes private sector involvement and creates more jobs. It is unsustainable in the long term for people to solely be reliant on grants and it takes away from their own personal dignity.

“It is very important to understand that, and I think people often make this misconception. I don’t think people choose to want to be on grants. They don’t just wake up one morning and say ‘I want to be on a grant’. People want to be employed, they want to make meaningful difference in their lives and be able to lead a life where they can provide for their families.”

He said the DA would rather advocate for redirection of resources from things like VIP protection for politicians to grants and job creation.

The narrative that a DA government would take away things such as the social grants and lead the country back to an apartheid was far from the truth, said Cuthbert.

“We are committed to redress, we are committed to making sure we correct the injustices of the past and if we are to get into government, we are not removing social grants. We are going to make sure that there is a social protection mechanism in place.

“If we look at the structure of South Africa, particularly from a constitution point of view, all these things cannot be removed anyway because they are enshrined in the constitution. There are socioeconomic rights in the constitution and the constitution binds people to act in a particular way. So it means that if you were to come in and do that, you could be challenged in court and you would be immediately found on the wrong side of the law. So there are all these wonderful constitutional protections in place to ensure we can never go back to the past.

“In my own personal capacity as a white South African, there is no ways I would want to go back. It would mean I would have to separate from my partner and my child and there is no ways I would want to be able to go back to a system like that. It’s an evil system and I don’t think that anybody in their right mind would want to return to that. My wife is coloured and my child is coloured.”



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