"Blanket measures are not the solution" - Trevor Manuel tramples on the rights of South Africa's paraplegics and quadriplegics
The QuadPara Association of South Africa, one of the country's most powerful service provider and disability rights organisation, has reacted angrily at Trevor Manuel's feeble concession for persons with disabilities in his Budget Speech on 11 February 2009.
From April this year, the disability dependency grant will be R1 010 per month - a raise of just R50, or two percent. In real terms, even given a projected fall in inflation to 5.8 percent, "disabled people" will be seeing their grants, in real terms; slashed.
However, QASA states that the issue, particularly in this difficult economic climate, is not so much the total amount which the government grants to South Africa's disabled population. The problem lies in the crude way in which it is distributed.
Of the three million people who currently receive the disability grant, large proportions have fairly minor disabilities whereby the grant is pocket money and an extra remittance. At the other end of the scale are paraplegics and quadriplegics, who must pay for ongoing, and increasingly expensive, treatment and care - medical equipment and consumables, wheelchairs and assistive devices, hoists, adaptations to houses, furniture and reasonable accommodations, and in some cases 24-hour care. Yet the disability grant is in no way related to the severity of a person's disability.
To suggest that all 'disabled people' have equal needs and expenses is not only ignorant and short-sighted, but offensive. Blanket measures are not the solution to alleviating the poverty of the more than 50 000 paraplegics and quadriplegics in South Africa.
QASA will be lobbying the government in the coming months to increase the concessions granted to the most severely disabled. Free or discounted transport, concessions for state care, even basic food vouchers could make the difference between life and a living death for a paraplegic or quadriplegic.
QuadPara Association of South Africa