[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Business "Unusual" no surprise for poor
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sun Feb 10 12:52:35 GMT 2008
(And this, from the most left cabinet minister.)
Extension of child grants not yet feasible
MOIPONE MALEFANE Published:Feb 10, 2008
SOUTH Africa cannot afford to extend the child support system, currently
available to children until they turn 14, Social Development Minister
Zola Skweyiya said.
President Thabo Mbeki announced in his State of the Nation address on
Friday that he would set up what he called a “national war room” on
poverty, but he made only one firm policy promise to the poor.
He said men, who have to wait five years longer than women to become
eligible for the state’s R870 pension, would also soon be able to draw
it from the age of 60.
Skweyiya said the government had not fully costed the extension, but
Mbeki told Parliament about half a million men would become eligible. At
the current pension value, that would add about R5-billion to the
The ANC resolved at its national conference in Polokwane in December
that child support grants should be paid until a child turns 18.
But in his speech Mbeki promised only to “examine interventions required
to deal with vulnerable children over the age of 14”.
Skweyiya told the Sunday Times he hoped Finance Minister Trevor Manuel
would make an announcement on the issue in his Budget next week, but he
said it would not be possible to do it all at once.
“It should be planned and costed. It must be budgeted. It cannot just
happen. What he (Mbeki) is saying is that we are going to fulfil the
promise. It might not be today,” he said.
More likely, Skweyiya said, would be a gradual extension, adding a year
at a time.
Parents and guardians currently collect the R200-a-month grant on behalf
of about eight million children, but Skweyiya said many children who
should be getting support have still not been included.
“In our research we have found that the children get the grants from
birth to three or four years old; after that they are not known. We
don’t know what happens to them,” Skweyiya said.
Mbeki said the critical Apex Priority was the elaboration of an
integrated and comprehensive anti-poverty strategy that would address
sections of the population most affected by poverty.
“But we will all agree that our society, and the poor specifically,
cannot wait for strategies and dialogues and workshops —important as
these may be. In any case, most of the interventions possible are things
that government is already doing, though not sufficiently integrated.
“As such, in the spirit of Business Unusual, government intends this
year to intensify the campaign to identify specific households and
individuals in dire need and to put in place interventions that will
help, in the intervening period, to alleviate their plight,” Mbeki said
in his address.
Skweyiya added that part of the war on poverty would be the massive
recruitment of social workers, who would interact with affected communities.
“What we need is to (expand) the welfare part of the department. Not
that people only get grants, but also to ensure that children are
protected from abuse,” he said.
Last year Skweyiya said that his department had developed the National
Integrated Plan for Early Childhood Development, which seek to provide
children with a better start in life.
“This plan is our contribution towards ensuring that our children grow
up in an environment that is conducive to their care, development and
protection,” he said.
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