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’Re-instate Covid-19 grants’

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There was no justification for terminating the grants say civil society organisations.

A call has been made to re-instate the Basic Income Grant. File image. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

Cape Town – Civil society organisations advocating for the extension of the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant and Basic Income Grant (BIG) say there was no justification for terminating the grants.

This as the amandla.mobi campaign recently received a response from the Presidency after handing over a petition with more than 58 000 signatures calling for the R350 Covid-19 SRD grant to be extended and increased.

The campaign said that after accepting signatures and promising a discussion on the extension, the Presidency had referred them back to the Department of Social Development.

“On May 4, after we sent an email asking the Presidency to tell us of the status of the R350 SRD grant, we were told that the issue of extending and increasing the R350 grant was under discussion.

“After accepting signatures and saying they would discuss an extension, we are now being sent to the Social Development department. Sending us from department to department to get answers is unacceptable from the office of the president,” it said.

Speaking on behalf of the collective organisations, Black Sash National director Lynette Maart said the Nids-Cram Wave 4 study illustrated that the decision to terminate social relief measures was not only premature, but grossly negligent.

“The study paints a bleak picture of households still under strain faced with food insecurity and hunger. Researchers found that two-thirds (67%) of households ran out of money to buy food in the previous month in at least one of the four Nids-Cram surveys. In households with children, one-third of the respondents (32%) stated that in at least one of these surveys, a child had gone hungry in the past week,” she said.

Maart said the government’s continued silence and refusal to engage reflected a government that had abandoned its constitutional obligation to the vulnerable during an unprecedented health and economic crisis.

She said the Covid-19 SRD grant must remain in place until there was a policy framework and secured budget for the implementation of a BIG.

Delivering the department’s budget vote speech on Tuesday, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said the rapid assessment study the department initiated on the implementation and utilisation of the Covid-19 SRD grant money was nearing completion.

She said the need to introduce the basic income grant had become an urgent consideration for the government.

“To this end, the department has developed a Basic Income Grant discussion document that we have started consultations on. These consultations are targeted at developing the BIG financing mechanism for the unemployed population group that is 19-59 years old,” said Zulu.

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Cape Argus