On Friday evening, just as the sun was going down, an important letter was despatched over the internet to President Cyril Rampahosa, calling for an immediate R500-a-month increase to the child support grant for a period of six months. Such a measure, the letter states, 'is the simplest, quickest and most effective way to get cash into millions of poor households that will otherwise face food insecurity and debilitating poverty'.
The letter is signed by more than 35 prominent organisations, most of whom work directly in the field of child care and children's rights. They include the Children's Institute at UCT, the Teddy Bear Clinic, the Black Sash and the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria.
But what makes the letter unusual and gives it a particular power that government will find hard to ignore is that it is also signed by the South African representative of UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund -- UN agencies are normally coy about becoming directly involved in domestic politics -- as well as by the president of the Medical Research Council, Dr Glenda Gray, herself an internationally respected paediatrician and researcher.
In addition, the letter is signed by a significant...