Human rights organisation Black Sash is adamant that the R350 Covid-19 special relief of distress (SRD) grant is not enough to help prevent hunger and poverty.
This is after President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced the reinstatement of the R350 grant to assist citizens who have no means of supporting themselves during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ramaphosa indicated that the R350 grant would continue to be paid out until the end of March 2022 and extended to eligible unemployed caregivers who currently receive a child support grant.
The decision by government to reinstate the monthly grant comes after the deadly civil unrest that rocked parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng two weeks ago, that reignited the debate on the introduction of a basic income grant in South Africa.
Upper-bound poverty line
While Black Sash welcomed the announcement, the human rights organisation said it was concerning due to the fact that the grant was not increased, adding that those who are poor would not survive on R350 per month.
The organisation has recommended that the grant be aligned with the upper-bound poverty line of R1 268 or, at the very least, adjusted to the food poverty line of R585 in the interim.
“It is concerning though that the grant was not increased to at least the food poverty line, which is currently R585 per month.
“We will continue to advocate for permanent social assistance for the unemployed pegged at the upper bound poverty line, currently R1 268, while working towards a universal basic income as our ultimate goal.
“Given the country’s structural unemployment crisis, the Black Sash has repeatedly said that job creation programmes must be complemented with income support measures and a more comprehensive social security programme.”
Black Sash further called on the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) to improve the application process and payment processes to ensure more effective implementation of the grant.
“Sassa must improve the grant’s application systems, appeals, payment processes with quicker turnaround times, and develop a more effective communication strategy with applicants and beneficiaries.”