by Mmusi Maimane MP – Leader of the Democratic Alliance
The following speech was delivered by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, outside the Department of Social Development following a march calling for the payment of social grants to all 17 million grant recipients. The Leader was joined by DA National Spokesperson, Refiloe Nt’sekhe, DA Gauteng Provincial Leader, John Moodey, DA Shadow Minister and Deputy of Social Development, Bridget Masango, and Lindy Wilson, DA SCOPA Spokesperson, Tim Brauteseth, DA Gauteng North Regional Chairperson, Fred Nel, and DA Gauteng MPL, Makashule Gana.
Herewith the full speech.
Fellow South Africans,
The corruption and incompetence of this government have put the monthly grants of 17 million South Africans at risk.
How much more must we take from this ANC government?
How much more damage must they do to our country before they are stopped?
How many of our people must they harm or threaten before we say, as a nation: “Enough. This ends here”?
In less than three weeks’ time, millions of South Africans stand to lose their social grants if an urgent solution to the grant payment crisis is not found.
The President described this as an “inconvenience”. This is not an “inconvenience” for those people who rely on their grants. It is a disaster.
A third of our people depend on grants to survive. 17 million people.
This places a massive responsibility on the shoulders of the government.
The men and women who drafted our Constitution knew that we would grapple with the legacy of Apartheid for years to come. They knew that poverty would continue to affect many people.
And so our Constitution guarantees poor South Africans a safety net.
Our state welfare programme is one of the most crucial functions of our government. For many women, men and children it literally is a matter of life and death.
The R10 billion in social grants that go out to 17 million people each month are often all that stand between them and hunger, sickness and homelessness.
It is our immediate duty to ensure that every single child is cared for, fed, kept healthy and sent to school.
It is our immediate duty to ensure that those who cannot look after themselves – the disabled, the sick, the very young and the very old – are cared for and do not suffer.
When we vote for a government, this is one of the most important tasks we expect them to fulfill.
And from the way the ANC campaigns for elections, they know exactly how important this is.
They make it sound like it is the ANC that gives people their grants. They count on the fact that people are conned into thinking their monthly grant is a gift from the ANC.
This is a lie. Your grant is not a gift from the ANC. Your grant is guaranteed by the Constitution.
The only way you will lose it is if the ANC damages SASSA so much that they cannot even deliver your grant to you. That is what is about to happen.
But the ANC wants you to believe the lie that they give you the grant. This is extremely important to the ANC, because it is all that stands between them and losing an election.
But there is something that is even more important to them than tricking the voters. And that is their greed.
You see, their number one priority is to keep their massive web of power and corruption intact. To keep the right people in the right positions so that their corrupt game of giving and taking – of stealing and stashing – can carry on.
It’s such a full-time job that they can’t even pretend to care anymore.
17 million people’s lives depend on receiving their monthly grants, but this ANC government is too busy playing its crooked games to care.
Bathabile Dlamini had three years to find a solution to distributing these grants. She knew exactly how big this job was, and she knew about the deadline. And she did absolutely nothing.
She knew that, come the 1st of April, 17 million South Africans could stand to lose their only financial lifeline if she didn’t present a solution. And she did absolutely nothing.
She knew that the courts and Treasury and Parliament would have no choice but to ask the same company whose contract was found invalid in 2014, to carry on distributing grants in 2017.
She knew that she was playing a deadly game with the lives of our most vulnerable people, but she just doesn’t care.
You see, Bathabile Dlamini is in Zuma’s corner. And when you’re in Zuma’s corner, there are many things you don’t have to do.
When you’re in Zuma’s corner, you don’t have to account for your actions to Parliament and the people of South Africa.
When you’re in Zuma’s corner, you don’t have to answer difficult questions from the media.
When you’re in Zuma’s corner, you don’t even have to do your job.
Fellow South Africans,
Looking after the poor and the vulnerable may be her job, but Bathabile Dlamini doesn’t care about grant beneficiaries. She has too many other things to worry about.
Things like campaigning. If she’s not busy campaigning for Zuma himself, or for her own position in the ANC Women’s League, then she’s out there campaigning for the president’s ex-wife to take over from him.
In Bathabilie Dlamini’s world, this is what she was elected to do. The poor, the disabled, the sick, the old and the young come second. Number 1 comes first.
The ANC is still counting on selling people the lie that it cares enough to hand out R10 billion in grants every month.
But thanks to Minister Bathabile Dlamini, people now know that this is a lie. The mask has finally slipped. Every day, more and more South Africans see this ANC government for what it really is.
So what more must the ANC do before they are kicked out of government?
They have failed in giving black children an education.
They have failed in creating opportunities for young black South Africans to get ahead in life.
They have failed in keeping our people safe in their communities.
They have captured our state institutions.
They have killed our people in Marikana and Esidimeni.
And now they are gambling with the lives of 17 million vulnerable people.
How much more?
Fellow South Africans,
The ANC wants you to believe that the DA is against social grants. They spread fake stories about how the DA will take away grants once we’re in government.
These are lies. Not only do we fully support the safety net of our social grant system, we even tried to increase the grants with an additional R2.2 billion in the budget.
But the ANC blocked this. The party that says they care about the poor blocked our efforts to send more funds towards social grants. Think about that.
Where the DA governs, people get paid their social grants every month and no one has ever lost their grant. But now it is the ANC who is threatening to take away grants through this crisis.
The DA is fighting to save your grants and make sure they are paid on 1 April. The ANC is fighting to get rich, even if that means you don’t get your grants. That is the simple truth.
The same people who spread these stories about the DA will also try and tell you that we’re exploiting this crisis by speaking out on it.
They try to shut us up by saying we shouldn’t “politicise” an issue like this. But to them I say: Nothing will stop us from doing our job.
This ANC government has turned on the people of South Africa, and it is our job to stand in their way.
Let me be clear on this: If standing up for the people of South Africa and protecting them from a corrupt and uncaring government is uncomfortable for the ANC, then tough luck.
Fellow South Africans,
We are fast running out of time to avert this grants crisis. It is a crisis that is entirely manufactured by the ANC.
The memorandum we are handing over to the Department of Social Development today calls for the following four steps:
1. Minister Dlamini must resign immediately. She is incompetent, and cannot serve in any position in government.
2. Government must tell us now whether there is an agreement between SASSA and CPS for the delivery of social grants after 31 March 2017.
3. If there is such an agreement, Minister Dlamini must let us know what the terms of this agreement are, including the costs and timeframes.
4. The Minister must appear before a Parliamentary enquiry to explain her actions and that of her department.
We know by now that President Zuma will not hold Bathabile Dlamini or her department accountable. We know that he does not care enough about the lives of ordinary South Africans to act against her.
But there are enough of us who do care.
There are enough ordinary citizens, enough members of the press, enough opposition party members, enough judges, enough NGOs and enough business leaders to hold President Zuma and his ministers to account.
There are enough of us to do what he and his uncaring government can’t and won’t do.
Together we will make sure the poor and the vulnerable in our society are not abandoned.
And together we will get rid of this government that has become the enemy of the people and replace it with one that cares for and serves the people.
Today we say, Dlamini must go, and she must go now.
Ke a leboga. Thank you