Honourable Minister Pravin Gordhan,

Given the turbulent economic circumstances facing South Africa, it is evident that a collective response is required to enable South Africa to deliver the vast majority of its citizens from abject poverty.

As a country, we can no longer speak about poverty and inequality as theoretical constructs ­ to be addressed and overcome at a projected future date. The social and economic climate on university campuses and within municipalities will not allow that.

Therefore, our collective response to ³Low growth, high unemployment and extreme poverty², needs to be both pragmatic and brave.

Islamic Relief South Africa applauds the Minister for putting forth a logical path that offers hope for better times ahead. This path clearly delineates mechanisms to boost the low growth rate, increase investor confidence and set South Africa back on a path to economic recovery.

While we acknowledge the efforts made by the Treasury, from a developmental perspective, we believe that a greater emphasis needs to be placed on vulnerable children, specifically orphans. This is primarily due to the growing rate of orphans in this country ­ and the lack of dedicated foresight from all sectors to deal with it. The United Nations has noted that South Africa currently has nearly 3,9 million orphaned children.

Therefore, when the foster care and child support grant increase is deconstructed and contextualized from the perspective of 3,9 million orphans, we simply have to conclude that the R30 and R20 increase respectively is insufficient to adequately cater to the needs of an orphaned child.

Research conducted by Islamic Relief indicates the unsustainable nature of the social grant system to sufficiently elevate people out of poverty.

While we acknowledge the need for social grants, it is pertinent that government and civil society engage in a parallel plan, which prioritizes the emancipation of the masses from abject poverty.

Since inception, Islamic Relief South Africa has been engaging in development work, addressing the core social and economic challenges we face as a country. Our work stands testimony to our dedication to making a difference within South Africa.

As a Non-Profit Organisation, we therefore implore the Treasury to prioritize both streams of social development ­ social grants and social and economic empowerment. This would enable civil society organizations like ourselves, to align and assist in addressing the core challenges we face as a country i.e. poverty, inequality and unemployment.

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