Opinion| R350 grant is an insult to the unemployed

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By Ntsako Shivambu

Millions of South African citizens with majority of them being youth will be queuing to register and receive social relief funds as the Covid 19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc in the country. The president of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa has recently extended the Covid 19 social relief fund which pays R350 to unemployed South Africans, to go on until February 2022.

The country is currently at over 30% unemployment rate with the youth aged 15–24 years being the most vulnerable in the South African labour market as the unemployment rate among this age group was 55,2% in the 1st quarter of 2019 and this was before Covid 19.

The levels of inequalities are very high in South Africa with rampant corruption in the public and private sectors, an ailing economy, and the devastating impact of Covid 19.   The former minister of health Zweli Mkhize is reported to have pocketed monies meant to advance educational and awareness programs for the Coronavirus and host of other government leaders implicated in the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) distribution scandals.

Norman Ngoveni is youth leader in Giyani and runs a youth based non-profit organization which advances the interest of the youth in agriculture and industries. On a daily basis he encounters young people that are despondent and have lost hope in the government.

“I don’t think this government understand the frustrations that we have as the youth. If they did, they wouldn’t have allocated R350 grant.”

Norman says that the government is quick to dish out grants and fail to roll out programs that will empower the youth with skills and knowledge for self-sustenance.

“I might be unpopular with the fact that I don’t value the R350, however the reality is that the money will just assist the youth to further drown into poverty as this money always end in shebeen.” He said   

Long queues are order of the day in the post office as the young and the old try to receive the grant, a clear sign that as a country we are behind in dealing with access to digital devices mostly by rural inhabitants of this country.

Difference Valoyi a 23 years old, man who reside in Homu village near Giyani town says that one of the biggest challenge he has with social relief fund is how to receive the money.

“I’m still struggling to receive the funds that I registered the last time, as we have to sometimes sleep in the queues. It’s a struggle to receive this money. I’m unemployed I cannot afford a bank account, the only way for me is the post office.” He bemoaned 

“It would have been better to turn this into food parcels that we could receive at retail stores as vouchers. “ He added

Corruption has not escape the social relief fund as some post office employees are alleged to have found a business opportunity as they extort money from grant recipients, when they assist them to jump the queue.

“In the post office there are some people who will demand R50, so that they can process our application faster. We are unemployed yet those who are supposed to assist us are taking the very same money that is meant to aid us”.