Thapelo Lekabe

By Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist

SACP calls on government to make R350 grant permanent

The SACP is concerned the burden of SA’s unemployment crisis is affecting mostly black women and young people.

The South African Communist Party (SACP) has called on government to consider maintaining the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant permanently, with the view to improve it gradually towards a universal basic income grant.

R350 grant

The SRD grant, popularly known as the R350 grant, was part of the discussions at the SACP’s last ordinary session of its 14th national congress central committee at the weekend.

The meeting was held ahead of the party’s 15th national conference in July this year.

At a media briefing on Sunday following the meeting, SACP general-secretary Dr Blade Nzimande said the party was “deeply concerned” about South Africa’s unemployment crisis.

This after Stats SA last week revealed that the country’s unemployment rate soared passed the 35% threshold in the fourth quarter of 2021.

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The jobless rate was the highest since Stats SA started conducting the Quarterly Labour Force Survey in 2008.

Nzimande said the SACP was concerned that the burden of SA’s jobless crisis was affecting mostly black women and young people.

 “The racial and gender dimensions of unemployment should be understood as drawing attention to the continuous reproduction of the legacy of apartheid in our economy post-1994. Therefore, we cannot overemphasise the importance of redress in employment creation programmes and interventions.

“These should include rigorous pursuit co-operatives and small, medium and micro enterprises development, as part of the national imperative to advance, widen and deepen structural economic transformation.

“Besides addressing unemployment towards securing the right of all to work, structural economic transformation must radically reduce inequality, eradicate poverty and resolve the associated crisis of social reproduction,” Nzimande said.

Universal basic income grant

The SACP called on government to maintain SRD grant beyond March 2023 to assist the more than 10 million unemployed citizens who depend on it.

“Instead of terminating the SRD grant at the end of the first quarter of 2023, the government should maintain the grant and consider improving it gradually towards a universal basic income grant, as part of building a comprehensive social security system.

“This is what the continuing unemployment crisis calls for in the here and now.”

Government first introduced the R350 grant as a temporary relief measure in April 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, as part of its R500 billion stimulus package.

The SRD grant is aimed at those aged between 18 and 59 years old, without any source of income support, and those facing undue financial hardships due to unemployment during the pandemic.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana revealed in February that the grant would cost government R44 billion over the next 12 months.

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