Straight Talk: Only DA-style good governance can protect social grants

19 Jan 2024 in Straight Talk

Let me be clear upfront: the DA is unequivocally committed to social grants. They are an integral part of our plan for building a strong safety net that can ensure dignity and security for everyone living in South Africa. We wholeheartedly agree with Mahatma Ghandi’s famous observation that “the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members”.

Far from discontinuing social grants, as President Ramaphosa and other detractors would have you believe, the DA would protect and improve the social grant system. If the ANC continues in government, on the other hand, the grant system will wither and die.


The health of the social grant system is directly linked to the health of the economy. Under a DA government, the social grant system will thrive because South Africa’s economy will thrive. You only have to look at the record number of tourists that flocked to the Western Cape this season, and the unemployment rate that declined from 24.5% to 20.2% last year, to know that the DA’s approach to economic growth works.

With a DA national government managing South Africa’s economy, millions of people will move off the grant and into the self-reliance and dignity of a job. The combination of growing tax revenues and falling unemployment will take pressure off the grant system, growing its sustainability and enabling the payment of higher grants to those who need them.

In stark contrast, under the ANC’s approach of centralized state control and cadre deployment, tax revenues are falling while borrowing costs and unemployment queues are growing. The fact is, grants are buying less and less each month, and they are becoming increasingly unaffordable for the state.

Over the past ten years, the ANC has increased the child support grant by an average of 2 percent per year, while inflation has averaged over 5 percent. The ANC has thus been systematically cutting the child support grant by about 3 percentage points per year for at least a decade. It is only a matter of time until the state starts defaulting on its debt and the grant system dies altogether. The ANC is the real threat to grants.


Not only will the DA in national government protect the grant system, but we will also massively improve it. For starters, we will immediately raise the child support grant, currently at R510, to the food poverty line at R760, to bring immediate relief from the scourge of hunger and malnutrition that is imperiling the health and life prospects of millions of children in South Africa today.

The DA has been proposing this intervention for years and we believe it can and should be implemented right away. Next month, we will present our Alternative Budget, showing how it can be achieved within the current budget envelope, by reprioritizing spending. As Joe Biden famously remarked: “Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”

Many people are concerned that the child grant is not used for the purpose intended and furthermore encourages people to have more children. This is simply not borne out by the evidence, which has shown that the child grant has been instrumental in reducing child poverty, improving child nutrition, health (including mental health) and schooling outcomes.

The DA additionally supports a Basic Income Grant (BIG), but only in the context of economic growth that makes it affordable and viable. And we would improve the grant payment process itself, making the payment of grants more reliable and accessible, and combatting the payment failures and fraud that most recently deprived 150 000 beneficiaries of their January grants.


President Ramaphosa would have South Africa believe that the DA is “anti-transformation”. Yet nothing could be more damaging to transformation than the ANC’s extractive agenda of corruption, cadre deployment and patronage-driven centralized state control that traps people into a life of reliance on the state.

Real, meaningful transformation of our society will come from millions more people in jobs, coupled with a stronger social safety net for the vulnerable, driven by a healthy, growing economy. Ultimately, the DA’s goal is to provide socioeconomic relief that breaks the cycle of dependence, providing a trampoline to independence and dignity.

If you have not yet registered to vote DA, you can kickstart your registration process online at Or you can register at your nearest voting station on the upcoming registration weekend of 3-4 February by taking your ID book or card any time between 8am and 5pm. Please double your impact by persuading and assisting one unregistered voter to register to vote DA. This is your chance to rescue South Africa and our social grant system.