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In a recent tweet, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that more than 11-million South Africans receive social grants, boasting that “without these interventions poverty and inequality in SA would be much higher”. Of course, he is correct: if dependants and beneficiaries of the extended Covid-19 R350 social relief grant are included, almost half of the country's population now rely on some sort of grant from the state to survive.

It is a core government responsibility to ensure that the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) does not leave these beneficiaries behind. But what the president seems either unwilling or unable to admit is that the astronomically high number of grant-reliant people in SA is a measure of failure, not of success. The high number of grant recipients is indicative of the country’s economic decline and his party’s lack of effective interventions to create conditions that might allow South Africans to be economically active...

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