The DA has a plan to lift Matatiele and the EC out of poverty

Issued by Andrew Whitfield MP – DA EC Provincial Leader
20 Mar 2024 in Press Statements

The Eastern Cape is the most poverty-stricken province in South Africa. It has the highest unemployment rate and has been the hardest hit by the devastating cost-of-living crisis crippling the country.

The situation has become so dire that parents, out of desperation, have allegedly been driven to murder their children and then take their own lives, rather than watch their children die a slow, agonising death by starvation.

We are here in Matatiele in the Alfred Nzo District today to highlight the plight of our communities that the ANC-led government has forgotten. In Alfred Nzo, more than one out of every four people is living below the poverty line, and that number is on the increase.

In response to a parliamentary question, the Social Development MEC, Bukiwe Fanta, revealed that the Alfred Nzo District, which includes Matatiele, is the worst-hit district in the province when it comes to people living below the food poverty line, rising from 27% in 2019 to 29.1% in the past financial year.

There are 247,473 adults living in abject poverty in this area, but the government have only distributed 241 food parcels this financial year, less than half the 521 parcels distributed in the 2022/23 financial year.

Our children are starving, but the government is doing nothing. Alfred Nzo is the worst affected region in the province when it comes to children under five years suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM), with 956 cases reported in the 2022/23 financial year.

These are children who have gone without food for so long that they have ended up in the hospital, emaciated. Those lucky enough to survive face very real developmental challenges, both physically and mentally.  Malnutrition can hinder brain development, impair cognitive function, and hinder educational attainment. Children who experience malnutrition may struggle with concentration, memory retention, and overall academic performance, impacting their ability to succeed in school and limiting their opportunities for personal and professional growth in adulthood.

The ANC-led government’s inaction in addressing this crisis has cast a shadow over the futures of these children, robbing them of the chance to thrive and condemning them to a precarious existence fraught with health complications and developmental setbacks.

Add to this that only around 40% of the residents of Matatiele and surrounds are employed, and it is very easy to understand how this powder keg of desperation is on the verge of exploding.

A DA national government is committed to safeguarding the vulnerable in our society by:

  • Ensuring that the child support grant is increased to the same level as the official food poverty line. This means the child support grant, under a DA government, will be increased from R510 to R760 – an extra R250 per recipient every month.
  • Extending the child grant to cover pregnant mothers to support child nutrition goals.
  • Streamlining disability-specific grants by creating a system to screen applicants at the beginning of the process to identify those who do not qualify. This will reduce the burden on the main assessment.
  • Making it faster for people with disabilities to get medical assessments required for accessing disability grants by allowing private doctors to do the checks.
  • Effectively targeting vulnerable groups for protection during food price shocks.

We need to build an opportunity ladder out of poverty and into prosperity for the young people of Matatiele, and the only way to do this is to feed our children and provide them with quality healthcare and education.

We can rescue the children of Matatiele, but only if we go out on 29 May and vote for a DA government that can rescue the Eastern Cape and South Africa.