R350 grant just a food parcel programme: Malema
The EFF says government reinstating the grant until a month after local elections smacks of vote-grabbing
The EFF says it is suspicious of the timing of the ANC’s decision to reinstate the monthly R350 social relief of distress grant for poor South Africans.
“We must put it on record that we are suspicious of the R350 extension of the unemployment grant, only until March 2022, which will be just after the postponed local government elections,” said party leader Julius Malema on Monday.
He was speaking in a virtual address as the party celebrated its eighth anniversary.
“To confine the extension to the election period seems to be another food parcel programme of the ruling party, implemented by the state,” he said.
Malema said the grant should be made permanent and the value increased to a respectable amount that would have a meaningful impact. The EFF has long called for a basic income grant, he added.
Among a raft of measures to assist the country’s economy and hard-hit population, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the return of the grant, known as the “Covid-19 grant”.
“We are taking decisive action now to secure the livelihoods of millions of people that have been threatened by both the pandemic and the unrest,” he said in reference to recent violence and looting in parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, which caused billions of rand in damage, left more than 300 dead and resulted in tens of thousands of lost jobs.
The special relief grant eligibility criteria would be extended to include more people, including unemployed caregivers currently receiving childcare grants, he said.
While the EFF was concerned about the coincidence of the grant’s return, the party is not concerned about how it might impact its performance in the municipal elections.
The EFF was the first political party to call for the postponement of the local government elections, which were scheduled for later this year. It later submitted to the Moseneke inquiry, chaired by former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke that the elections would not be free or fair under lockdown restrictions and during the pandemic.
Malema said many people were confusing their call for a postponement with being organisationally weak.
But the party was approaching the upcoming local government elections from a position of strength and governance experience gained in the past eight years, he said.
We called for the postponement of elections because our assessment of scientific studies and data presented showed that if South Africa continues with elections, they will not be free and fair. We are ready for the elections. We are on the ground, committed and willing to participate in free and fair elections, but not at the expense of the lives of our people. We have 4,033 out of 4,468 branches in good standing.EFF leader Julius Malema
“We called for the postponement of elections because our assessment of scientific studies and data presented showed that if South Africa continues with elections, they will not be free and fair.
“We are ready for the elections. We are on the ground, committed and willing to participate in free and fair elections, but not at the expense of the lives of our people. We have 4,033 out of 4,468 branches in good standing,” he said.
As the “fastest growing political party”, the EFF should be the one pushing for elections, but it was not going to do so at the potential cost of lives, said Malema.
He said the EFF continued to show signs of becoming a genuine alternative political party in SA. It was also the only political organisation, with the exception of the ANC, that had been able to establish a national presence.
“All other organisations have taken a regional approach to establishing themselves and focused on specific geographic areas.
“The EFF is therefore the only opposition party that is working towards having a national presence, in order to ensure that we can take on the ruling elite in every single ward in SA,” he said.
Malema also called on government to provide a relief package for restaurants and the hospitality industry, particularly those that are black-owned.
He said jobs in this sector have to be protected and restaurant owners given the leeway to continue occupying buildings, even when they struggled to meet their rent.
The lockdown clause that prevents evictions during this period should apply to businesses and no-one should close down because they can no longer afford to pay rent, he said.
“We are in a war against a deadly virus, the creative and hospitality industry need our protection if they are to exist after Covid-19. Our protection of this industry depends on a massive vaccination rollout programme so that these institutions can function at full capacity.”
He reiterated the EFF’s dissatisfaction with the Gauteng high court’s ruling against the unsealing of Ramaphosa’s “CR17” campaign bank records.
Malema described the court’s decision “as an exhibition of the possible capture of our judiciary”.
“The court has given no reasonable explanation as to why the president’s ascent to presidency is not of public interest, in terms of those who funded him essentially conducting a preliminary capture of the state.
“We are of the firm belief that those who funded Ramaphosa’s political campaign to presidency are now beneficiaries of state tenders and access to state-owned enterprises.
“This becomes worse in the context of a pandemic, where pharmaceutical companies that are part of these CR17 documents are now exclusive producers for South Africa’s vaccine programme,” he said.
The EFF will approach the Constitutional Court directly to ensure these documents are unsealed, as they are of public interest, Malema added.