The African National Congress says it is considering having government extend the R350 COVID-19 grant that is aimed at alleviating the plight of the poor and unemployed South Africans. This was announced following deliberations at the party’s NEC and alliance partners this weekend.
The social relief grant was first instituted in May 2020 to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and is due to be stopped in March 2022.
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa says, “The Lekgotla noted that this grant has had a significant positive impact on the lives of the poor but most particularly the unemployed. The government must examine the feasibility and affordability for providing some form of income support for the poor and unemployed going forward.”
In September last year, Ramaphosa gave a strong signal that the R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant will be extended beyond March. Addressing the Congress of South Africa Trade Union’s (Cosatu) three-day Central Committee gathering, Ramaphosa said the level of unemployment in the country is beyond a crisis.
He said there is a need to extend more support to the unemployed and the poor. The R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant was first introduced in April last year to give relief to people who lost their jobs following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was meant to be a short-term measure and was stopped in October 2020 after running for six months. President Ramaphosa decided to reinstate it following widespread riots and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July last year.
Since then, Cosatu, together with many other civil society organisations and political parties have called on the government to increase the grant substantially and make it permanent.
“Subject to long-term affordability, serious considerations should be given to extending further support to the unemployed and those who are structurally marginalised, possibly in the form of the COVID-19, SRD grant, targetted food poverty line support, and a number of other measures. ”
Nine million people applied for the R350 grant, which is popularly known as the Ramaphosa Grant, within two weeks of its reinstatement last month. And calls for the government to introduce a Basic Income Grant in the country won’t go away.
Original story on SABC