What is the reasoning behind our demand for a R500 increase on all social grants?
None of our social grants provide enough money for people to live with dignity. To put food on the table is expensive, let alone nutritious food, which is important for our health. Basic necessities like soap, sanitary pads, school uniforms etc, are also costly. Transport is really expensive, and if you can’t afford transport, it may mean being unable to get to a job interview, see a doctor or visit a clinic. Municipalities are supposed to provide free basic services, but many low-income households do not receive these services . Buying electricity or paraffin is really expensive, and load-shedding means food does not last. Families do their best to support one another, and some who are able to work and earn an income support their family members.
The R350 SRD grant and the Child Support Grant are less than the food poverty line which is currently R663. At a minimum, the R350 SRD grant should be turned into a Basic Income Grant where people are paid the Upper-Bound Poverty Line, which is currently R1417 per person per month. The Basic Income Grant should be for all those in Mzansi aged 18 to 59 years with little to no income, including caregivers who receive the Child Support Grant on behalf of a child.
We have communicated with tens of thousands of our members who rely on the Child Support Grant or R350 SRD grant. It is clear the current amounts are not enough. Increasing the R350 SRD grant and Child Support Grant by R500 is a step towards the ultimate goal of these grants being set at the Upper Bound Poverty Line which is adjusted each year by Stats SA in line with inflation.
The Old Age Grant and the Disability Grant amounts are above the Upper-Bound Poverty Line because there are many additional costs and care needs. The reality is social grants often support many family members, including children. This goes for the Old Age Grant. For years we have worked with pensioners, including the Pietermaritzburg Pensioners Forum, who have been calling for a 13th cheque and to increase the old-age grant to R2500.
We may not be technical experts, but we are in constant contact with our members, the majority of whom are struggling to survive. A R500 grant increase is an amount that unites many people and would be a big step in the fight against poverty in the short-term, as we work towards greater social grant increases in the future. A R500 grant increase is still not enough, but it would represent a step towards our goal of dignity for all.
 Local government must prioritise indigent households. Opinion piece by Pranish Desai and Leleti Maluleke for the Mail & Guardian 5 August 2022.