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Dear Gwede Mantashe, using social grants as an election...

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Dear Gwede Mantashe, using social grants as an election carrot is a cynical and shameful ploy


Thamsanqa D Malinga is director at Mkabayi Management Consultants; a writer, columnist, and political commentator, as well as author of Blame Me on Apartheid and A Dream Betrayed.

We are tired of the ANC’s electioneering ploy of dangling social grants to secure the vote. Even if another party were to come in tomorrow, it has to provide social or any other relief grants.

Dear Honourable Minister Gwede Mantashe,

Let me take the liberty of addressing you as Mr Mantashe as the matter about which I am addressing you is not part of your duty as a Cabinet minister.

I read with dismay how in your door-to-door campaign in the township of Daveyton, on the East Rand in Gauteng, you reportedly remarked to a group of six elderly women: “All of you sitting here are being paid by the ANC government for every month. All of you. Without doing anything.”

You dared to spew such bile, to elderly women nogal, showing your party’s callousness and condescending behaviour towards black people – which has now gone unabated for nearly three decades since the advent of our so-called democracy.

If you indeed uttered such words, allow me to call you to order. The ANC government is not “paying” the elderly and the indigent. For starters, any government that comes to power has to provide social grants. The provision of such is not an ANC prerogative or miracle. We are tired of the ANC’s electioneering ploy of dangling social grants to secure votes. You know very well that even if another party comes in tomorrow it has to provide social or any other relief grants.

What is worse is the fact that you used the social grants carrot and stick without an iota of shame – since your party took over you have turned South Africa into a welfare state. Your party has increased dependency on social grants from four million citizens when you took over, to 18 million in 2019. Granted, there were injustices of the past with deserving beneficiaries not receiving grants, but over the years grants have become your party’s election wand.

This is often accompanied by threats of how if your party is removed from power “people will lose their grants”. It is worrying that you and your comrades seem unashamed of using this when you embark on the election campaign trail. This ploy has seen us spending about R200-billion a year. Nothing wrong with that, as long as it keeps your party in power, I guess.

I must also state that I took offence at the way your supposed remark came out. It seems as if you were talking to a bunch of loafers – it smacked of a baas mentality, remarking to “lazy and ungrateful ka***rs” how ungrateful they are that the (ANC) government is doing “favours” for them in their state of “laziness”. As you reportedly said,  “…all of you. Without doing anything.”

I wonder whether you asked the elderly women about the level of crime in the area, how their grandchildren are coping in a country that has a high rate of youth unemployment. I wonder whether you asked them about how the drug nyaope has affected their communities and their children. Did you ask them how electricity blackouts affect their daily lives? Did you ask them how the outgoing councillor performed (I bet the incumbent is an ANC deployee)? No! You, in a typical ANC script, had to tell them they are receiving grants because of your party.

Grants, grants, grants are all we hear about every election year. Trains have stopped running and train stations have become derelict structures that are worse than some of those built by colonialists. The people of Pimville closed a voter registration station because they had no electricity for 14 months. Orlando in Soweto has had burning and blockaded roads for a week now. Children are crossing flooded rivers using ropes, while others are drowning in pit latrines. None of this is important, as long as we get grants – “because of the ANC”, I guess.

I read that these matriarchs stood up to you and expressed their frustration about pertinent issues rather than falling for your party’s carrot-and-stick election strategy. I applaud Poppy Sibiya, who is reported to have told you that she is “not getting free money from the government” as she had “been working and paying taxes for 37 years”.

Mr Mantashe, with all due respect, you, your comrades and your party’s election desk should respect South Africans and stop spewing bile, uttering insensitive diatribes to black people, telling them that they are being “paid by the ANC”. For crying out loud, the ANC, the party whose chairperson you are and for which you are campaigning, can’t even pay the salaries of staff members, numbering less than 200. Your ANC has even defrauded its employees and the Unemployment Insurance Fund by making deductions from employees and not passing that to the statutory fund.

I feel compelled to state that you went out to degrade black women, forgetting that the time you were using for your party is paid for by us, the taxpayers. You are the one who was doing nothing during time that we are paying for – unless you took unpaid leave to go campaign.

Yiba neentloni – hang your head in shame. DM


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