Keep eye peeled for the looters

Citizens must demand that those who steal from the most vulnerable be jailed, the writer says.
Citizens must demand that those who steal from the most vulnerable be jailed, the writer says.
Image: 123RF/RICHARD THOMAS

President Cyril Ramaphosa has finally announced a much anticipated economic relief package to cushion the country against the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At R500bn - about 10% of our GDP - the package is aimed at boosting our health response capacity as well as the provision of related infrastructure and resources such as water.

At least R130bn of the money will come from the existing budget while the rest will be sourced from local and global financial institutions - the most sobering sign of the times.

Nonetheless, there are a number of things to note from the president's plan.

First is the welcome grant assistance for people living in conditions of poverty.

President Ramaphosa's announcement of increases in grants for children and all other recipients as well as a special provision for the unemployed must be commended.

While it will not be enough to lift people from poverty, it increases their buying power for basic goods and hopefully, supplements other provisions such as state distributed food parcels.

At least 250,000 food parcels would be distributed by the Solidary Fund and social development budget nationally in the next two weeks.

Furthermore, Ramaphosa said at least R1.6bn has been paid by end of Tuesday in wage support for companies and employees through the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

This, according to government, has assisted more than 37,000 companies and at least 600,000 workers.

On paper, these numbers, although not ideal, demonstrate sound planning at the higher echelons of government.

What is most concerning to most South Africans is the anecdotal knowledge that a crisis such as this equally presents a looting opportunity for many unscrupulous thieves who occupy positions of power throughout the state's delivery chain.

It is these people who remain the biggest threat to government's economic package.

Therefore, not only should we as citizens remain vigilant, we must demand like never before, that those who steal from the most vulnerable be jailed.

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