Posted on January 11, 2023

Half of South Africa’s Population Are 100% Dependent on State Welfare

Kgothatso Madisa and Mawande Amashabalala, Sunday Times, January 6, 2023

The R350 social relief of distress grant has seen the number of welfare recipients skyrocket to half the population of the country.

The introduction of the grant at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 increased the number of those getting financial assistance from the government to a whopping 29-million.

This number includes 18-million traditional recipients of state welfare, namely old age, child support and disability grants. The R350 grant has added an additional 11-million state-dependent people.

This means that almost 30-million of South Africa’s 60-million citizens are now welfare recipients.

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday told residents of Botshabelo in Mangaung the R350 grant was costing the state billions.

South Africa was the only country on the African continent dishing out freebies to its citizens at such a rate, he said.

Ramaphosa specifically mentioned that as part of this expansive welfare programme, the government had built over 4-million houses and was financing the tertiary education of close to a million students from indigent homes.

“We realised that a lot of work places had closed due to Covid-19 and we had to increase grants for a short period. We increased the old age and child support grants. Upon further inspection we realised that a lot of people were not working and we introduced a new R350 grant that now caters for 11-million people,” he told residents of L section in the Free State’s biggest township.

“When we add the 18-million that were already receiving monthly grants the total number increased to 29-million people in South Africa that are receiving monthly grants — 11 million receive R350 while 18-million receive old age and child support grants.

“We are the only country here in Africa that is giving grants to almost half of its population because here in South Africa there are 60-million people and 29-million are getting money from the state every month. There is no other country in Africa that takes of its people like we do here in South Africa.”

He said the government was aware the R350 was not enough but it was going a long way in assisting South Africans.

The dependency on state coffers by social welfare recipients may cause more headaches if the ANC resolution at the 55th national conference is to be implemented.

The conference resolved that the governing party was in full support of a permanent basic income grant for the jobless. How much it will be and where the money will come from was left in the hands of the newly elected national executive committee (NEC).

Social development minister and NEC member Lindiwe Zulu said social grants for the unemployed were a good thing for the country and the debate of there being no money to fund it should be secondary.

According to Zulu, the economic situation in the country and the standard of living is getting out of control and calls for state intervention to help cushion the effects for the indigent.

Zulu said the reality was that besides unemployment, millions did not have education or the skills to become economically active but still have to survive.

“[Social grants are] a good thing, this country cannot afford to have hungry people. This country cannot afford to have people not having the basics. This country cannot afford to have people who can’t have soap and a face cloth to wash their bodies, toothpaste and toothbrush to brush their teeth, bread on the table. This country cannot afford that.”

“So you cannot afford as a nation to have so many people who are outside of anything. We just can’t afford it.”