Grants a tool to woo votes?

In the absence of any other options, the Constitutional Court this week again deepened its involvement in the process to keep social grants flowing.

Yes, the incompetence of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and the minister who heads it, Bathabile Dlamini, is breathtaking. And yes, as the court’s panel of experts has told us, Sassa features people without the knowledge or skill to do their jobs.

That explains many things, but we fear it does not explain everything.

Grants can easily be distributed via banks rather than in cash, but that would prevent communities from seeing the hand that feeds them. Biometric proof-of-life identification for recipients is not necessary, but dispensing with it will make it less obvious to recipients that government officials — ANC government officials — have the power to turn off the tap.

As proof mounts that voters are abandoning the ANC, we fear Dlamini and her inner circle will increasingly seek to weaponise social grants as an election weapon. We may yet long for the days of simple incompetence.

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