I am not into politics and do not have any political bone by any stretch of imagination but something in the election campaigns in South Africa has really caught by attention.

According to news reports, the EFF Manifesto promises free education, double Social Grant to R820, increases old age grant to R3400 and Minimum Salary to R4500. They also promise bigger and spacious RDP houses than what the ruling party is offering.

Mmhhh…okay, I am not really interested in where the funding to give all these freebies will come from, I am more interested in how freebies can help a nation or its citizens to achieve economic freedom? The quickest way to collapse any economy to its knees is to feed the citizens freebies. Throwing money at poverty is no cure for it. Doubling on social grants or giving a bag of money to the poor causes more harm than good. Napoleon Hill said, “Wealth acquired too soon is worse than poverty.”

What are Social Grants?
Social grant refers to money paid by government to South African citizens who are in need of assistance. Social grants are given to certain categories of people considered vulnerable to poverty and in need of state support. The government and even the opposition parties claim that social grants are an effective form of poverty alleviation.

While this sounds very strategic and juicy, the reality is the complete opposite. When the government begins to throw money at poverty or to sponsor basic human needs such as food, housing, electricity, clothing, etc., this only encourages ever-growing handout queues at government offices. Government social grants have the same effect on human potential as any other charitable giving. They diminish the creativity and dignity of poor people while increasing their dependency.

According to statistics, the number of people receiving social grants in South Africa increased from 2.9 million in 1994 to about 4 million in 2000. As of 2017, the number of grant recipients is sitting at a whopping 17 million out of a population of 54 million people and this number keeps rising. According to the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), “there are officially more people on grants than those with jobs in South Africa”. There are 15.5 million people with jobs and 17 million on grants.

This situation raises two important question:

  1. If social grants are an effective method of alleviating poverty, as the government claims, why has the number of poor people quadrupled?
  2. If social grants a doubled, how bad will the numbers get compared to the statistics above?

Social Grants Vs Poverty:

I believe poverty issues require a mind-set development strategy and not handouts. Social grants are not a way of taking people out of poverty but a way of passing poverty from one generation to another. If social grants are double and more freebies given, it only helps keep people poor for longer.

Yes of course, relief should be provided in emergency situations but relief is no longer needed when emergency is over and individuals have the ability to help themselves. After an emergency crisis has been averted, it is important to move quickly into a developmental strategy. A developmental strategy requires charitable organisations to move into a partnership role and allow the “poor” to participate and plan their own recovery. But because relief is relatively easy to administer and development require much more time and effort, people often choose to just give a handout rather than a hand-up. Social grants are a broken system that traps too many people in a cycle of dependence. People need a “hand up,” not a “handout.”

Poverty has nothing to do with lack of money. Poverty is a state of mind. Poor people with the “right mindset” can pull themselves out of poverty. Poverty is the failure of the mind to think, perceive and pursue opportunities. Poverty is the nakedness of the mind. Poor people are lazy to think and hence often come up with strategies that will only help keep their poverty intact. When you are too lazy to think, you will never struggle to become poor. In fact, no one struggles to become poor. There has never been a news headline of anyone who worked their butt off or went out of their way to become poor.

Many people would probably not be poor if there were prerequisites like hard work, sleepless nights, or any form of pain one had to go through in order to achieve poverty. It really doesn’t take a great deal of effort for anyone to be poor. By default we were all born naked, poor and scared. No one jumped out of their mother’s womb with a bag of cash. Hence, success is a DIY process!

How to Empower Yourself and Cure Poverty:
Many seek solutions to their problems in the wrong places. Their strategy out of poverty happens to be things that will only push them deeper into the abyss. Many have resorted to charity, gambling and black tax as their way out of poverty. But contrary to popular belief, these strategies never really rescued anyone out of poverty.

The only real strategy to beat poverty is to empower your mind. Poverty is a cankerworm whose cure must start from the mind. It is not a “lack of money problem” as much as it is a “poor mind-set problem”. Poverty is aggravated when money is given to a poor mind. Giving money to a poor mind is like throwing it in the dustbin. It is not money that buys one a better future. It is vision, ambition, skills, grit and sheer resilience to beat the odds and make your mark in the world. In fact, money cannot cure poverty, neither can money cure lack of ambition.

How many people do you know who have had huge sums of money, including those who once won the lottery or inherited millions, but today are broke beyond recognition? Their situation went from poverty to riches then back to poverty.

Yes, there are good intentions behind the organizations and political parties seeking to help the poor – but good intentions are not enough in the fight against poverty. Helping the poor should not be measured by good intentions but by restored lives.

It’s up to you as an individual to stand for yourself, you can refuse live at the mercy of social grants. You have great potential. Demand change and economic freedom from yourself and not the government or any political party. Each individual carries with them unique talents and gifts God has given them to steward. It is this “gift” that will make room for you in the world and bring you before great men.

By Nicky Verd
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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