NGOs call for more social security
If government wants to alleviate poverty, it should increase the number of people accessing social grants. This is according to recent submissions by a coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) before the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).
Speaking on behalf of the coalition, dubbed the National Working Group on Social Security, Isabelle Frye, Director of the Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII), pointed out that:
‘President Jacob Zuma acknowledged that social grants remain the main effective form of poverty alleviation’.
However, Frye, said, ‘he hasn’t, at least, announced the extension of the child support grant to children aged 15 to 18, particularly as he stressed the importance of secondary school enrolment’.
In her submission, lecturer at the Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics at Wits University, Marlise Richter, told the commission that, ‘people with HIV are defaulting on their antiretroviral treatment, in order to retain disability grants’. A few studies have shown that once they regain their health and their CD 4 counts improve, social security stops issuing grants to people living with HIV and AIDS.
The burden of HIV/AIDS has led to an increasing number of orphans and child-headed households in the country. But surprisingly, Statistician-General Pali Lehohla, failed to give a national figure of such families.
‘We haven’t done headship surveys that reveal that kind of phenomenon as a concept’, he said.
Speaking for the Western Cape Department of Social Services, department director, Sharon Follentine said ‘we reach 800 child-headed households. But, is that the sum total of the child-headed households? I cannot tell you that’.
Painting a global picture of the reach of social security in the province, Follentine said:
‘We have 914 314 people receiving grants in the Western Cape. Of that number, 530 093 (are) children. Disability grants ‘ 146 465 people’.
The Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics’ Marlise Richter, called for a basic income grant and other poverty alleviation programs that will include sex workers.
‘Most sex workers remain in this industry because they don’t have many other choices. In terms of recommendations, these (poverty alleviation) programs should target sex workers, specifically with job creation opportunities, implementing a basic income grant and decriminalising sex work’, she appealed.
The submissions came just before violent demonstrations against poor public service delivery and unemployment in various townships across the country.