Editorials 13.3.2017 05:28 am

Grants crisis bell is tolling for us all

Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini. (Photo: GCIS)

Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini. (Photo: GCIS)

ANC leaders will no doubt be given a legal reprieve at the 11th hour, but only by cynically blackmailing our Concourt justices.

Isn’t it high time that everyone concerned put the egos, the confusing mixed agendas, the stampede to the courts and the myriad conspiracy theories muddying the turgid waters of the grants fiasco to one side and concentrate on the core issue: if government grants are not forthcoming on April 1, as many as 17 million South Africans will take the first step towards starvation.

All the needy are left with at present is a reassurance from President Jacob Zuma that the grants will indeed be paid on time, but even this promise from the most exalted source in the land has done little to lift the anxiety.

There can be no possible ethical or moral reason amid the claims and counterclaims putting the blame anywhere but in their own personal space that the most needy of our citizens should bear the brunt of the cloud of obfuscation which obscures the real issue.

Put quite simply, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has had more than sufficient time to have formulated some alternative to using the agency of Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), the payout provider a Constitutional Court ruling found was unfit to perform the task as far back as 2014.

The service provider’s multimillion-rand contracted tenure is about to run out in a little more than a fortnight’s time and, by default it seems, it is likely to get an emergency reprieve to keep the grants rolling to save political face – and for that matter retain the grassroots votes which go hand in hand with government largesse.

It is imperative that the quibbling stops and that this potential human disaster is set to rights. If our leadership cannot achieve that inside a fast-approaching deadline, we can no longer even vaguely pretend that we are a caring nation.

Obviously our Constitutional Court justices are likely to blink first and allow the deviation so that CPS can continue to make the payments. Anything else is unthinkable. But that doesn’t mean that this government will be able to claim a victory on behalf of the poor. They will merely have demonstrated a cynical willingness to use the poor as emotional blackmail capital to force the men and women who occupy the bench in our country’s highest court to submit to a gross injustice in the interests of avoiding social calamity and perhaps even a low-level civil war.

That will be nothing for Zuma and those who sail with him on what’s left of the Polokwane pirate ship to crow about. But you can trust that’s exactly what we will do.

“Look how we have saved the poor again!”

Nauseating stuff.

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