Dangers of dependency

DO WE need an alternative term for “service delivery”?  I think so, and so does new South African Social Development minister Bathabile Dlamini.

At the ANC’s recent National General Council meeting she said that the term should be stopped as it inculcated a sense of entitlement among people. “(It) makes people believe that they will get everything from government…” she said.
She added: “South Africans were mobilised people before 1994. They were hard workers but that has changed. They don’t contribute anything. They destroy what they have when they demand something.”
This is a refreshing acknowledgement of the dangers of dependency on government hand-outs. Let’s start with housing, where we have a fairly insane give-away of a major asset that is often not even recipients’ highest priority.
This is why, as ANC delegates also observed, they often sell or rent out these houses and go back to informal settlements. Housing waiting lists are always contentious and thoroughly corrupted. There are umpteen stories about people on lists since the mid-90s who still don’t have a house while others jump the queue through bribes or political connections.
The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) houses are typically small and uniform, with little choice given to recipients. They are often built badly, due to corrupt contractors. According to Human Settlements minister Tokyo Sexwale, 40 000 houses countrywide have to be rebuilt at a cost of R1.3 billion. Building vouchers and/or tax breaks for small builders could have achieved far more, including choice and variety.
Informal settlements could have been upgraded in this way too. This would have been real empowerment of the masses, tapping into the creativity and energy of everyone.
The irony of the “open toilets” saga in Cape Town is that with community consultation it stretched the available money for sanitation. The deal was that instead of one enclosed toilet for every five families, each household would get a toilet that they undertook to enclose themselves.
Residents made all manner of arrangements to do this, including some ingenious en suite variations. Only 55 remained unenclosed out of 1 316 toilets, and these residents still had access to the national norm of one communal toilet per five households. The ANC’s hypocrisy in distorting this to score points against the DA has unfortunately put paid to similar exercises elsewhere.
Another source of damaging dependency is the grants given without any conditions. This is in contrast to Brazil’s successful Bolsa Familia cash transfer programme. Money is given to poor women on condition that they send their children to schools and have them vaccinated.
Pregnant women get it on condition they see a doctor during pregnancy. According to Brazil’s Deputy Minister for Social Security, Carlos Gabas: “Bolsa Familia not only helps to lift people out of poverty, it also helps them to enter the labour market. A person who has enough to eat, to dress and to have a decent life is in a better position to look for a job than one who is starving.”
This is a perfect expression of the need for a “hand up” rather than endless hand-outs. It is social assistance rather than service delivery. The truly incapacitated or vulnerable must have a safety net, but those who can lift themselves up must get the opportunity.
lJack Bloom is a DA member of the Gauteng legislature. — The Citizen.

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