Joint Statement: Extend and Increase Special Grants to Prevent a Humanitarian Crisis.

Civil Society demands that the government provide support to the most vulnerable in this moment of crisis: Extend and increase both the R350 Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant and the Caregivers grant to R585 per month until we have a comprehensive plan for guaranteed basic incomes.

South Africa has an estimated population of 15 million people with no or little income. The SRD and the Caregivers grants, along with top ups to other grants, were rolled out to address immediate hunger and poverty, exacerbated by the pandemic. For the combined 12.7 million people receiving the SRD and Caregiver grants, it has been a lifeline; the NIDS CRAM data has shown that receipt of the grant has been pro-poor, and has helped stave off hunger while the Caregiver grant has been especially important for supporting women-headed households. Despite these benefits, millions of people have been unjustly excluded from receiving the SRD grant due to the conditionalities attached to it. The SRD grant remains insufficient to cover basic food costs and is even less when shared amongst household members. There have also been administrative failures from SASSA and the Department of Social Development. We witnessed people sleeping in lines overnight in the cold outside SAPO and SASSA offices, only to be turned away the next morning. The gross exclusions can be attributed to challenges with the online and administrative processes such as applications being verified on a monthly basis against outdated databases, delays and glitches with payments and corruption within government departments. Furthermore, applicants received unclear or no communication from SASSA and the appeal process is fraught with problems. The most urgent priority for the government is to continue and improve these emergency measures.

Now is not the time to cut back

Currently, approximately 70% of adults live below the Upper Bound Poverty Line (UBPL) of R1268 per person per month. In June 2020, 37% of people ran out of money for food. This widespread poverty experienced by so many has played a significant role in how the mental health crisis has been exacerbated by the pandemic, with symptoms of depression ravaging the country. The pandemic is far from over and we could be entering a second wave of infections. Even before the devastation of Covid-19, South Africa was the most unequal country in the world and this pandemic has only made things worse: we are in the midst of an economic, health, and inequality crisis and the prospect of finding jobs is near impossible. We are likely facing our worst unemployment disaster in the history of our democracy, as people lose even the most meagre incomes. The SRD grant has brought millions of previously excluded people into the social security system. It has provided crucial support for millions directly, and has indirectly benefited many more. Job losses have affected underpaid workers, women, informal workers, and those in rural areas the most and the primary claimants of the Caregivers grant have been women. We have seen the gender wage gap double for poorer workers over the Covid period, which is why the #October7Shutdown protests centred the demand for gender equality. We believe that the extension of the Caregivers grant will help cushion the worst backlash of the pandemic against women specifically.

Without immediate intervention, these benefits will be terminated at the end of October, causing a humanitarian crisis with approximately 6.8 million people plunged below the food poverty line. Thus, both these grants must be extended as a matter of urgency.

Based on available estimates and assumptions of 5.6 million and 7.1 million respectively (at current levels of access), the extension of the SRD grant and Caregiver grant at R585 per month will cost a combined R37 billion. At a fraction of spending proposals under consideration, this is a clear test of whether the government puts the interests of capital before people!

All available information clearly suggests that the government has decided not to extend the grants at the end of October. Government’s decision to terminate the relief measures is irresponsible and reprehensible given the socio-economic realities of our country. This decision must be reversed.

We urge government to fulfil its constitutional obligation to provide relief to the poor.

We call on government to:

  • Extend both the SRD grant and Caregivers Allowance by – at least – five months until the end of the financial year (March 2021).
  • Increase the SRD grant and the Caregiver Allowance grant to the Food Poverty Line of R585 per month.
  • Reassess the criteria for accessing the SRD grant to provide more people with support, and fix the administrative problems as a matter of urgency
  • Social welfare measures must be put in place for those who have borne the worst brunt of this pandemic.

The fact that the Supplementary Budget in June has not mandated the extension of the SRD grant and the Caregivers grant indicates that the forthcoming Adjustment Budget in October will likely not provide for this. National Treasury has stated in different fora, including Nedlac, that it is not considering this option. This reflects the South African government’s total disconnect from its people’s struggles. This failure to meet the above demands would deepen the crisis. There can be no recovery for the country’s people, or its economy, without protecting the most vulnerable members of our society. The extension of these grants are critical until we have a comprehensive plan for guaranteed basic incomes.

To include your organisation as an endorser of this statement, follow this link.

Endorsed by:

  1. – Glen Tyler-Davies
  2. Abanebhongo Persons with Disabilities – Nosintu Kwepile
  3. ACM – Siva Naidoo
  4. Active Citizens Movement – Pops Rampersad
  5. Africa Awake – Nobuhle Ajiti
  6. Africa Cooperatives Institute of SA – Sizwe Mkwanazi
  7. ANC Veterans – Fazel Randera
  8. ASRI – Thabisile Miya
  9. Assembly of the Unemployed – Khokhoma Motsi
  10. Assembly of the Unemployed (FS) – Daddy Mabe
  11. Autism South Africa – Juliet Carter
  12. Awqaf SA – Haroon Kalla
  13. Black Sash – Lynette Maart
  14. Black Womxn Caucus – Keitumetse Fatimata Moutloatse
  15. Botshabelo Unemployed Movement – Mooketsi DibaC19 People’s Coalition
  16. Budget Justice Coalition – Daniel McLaren
  17. C19 People’s Coalition
  18. Central Karoo ECD Centre – Anna-Marie Petinger
  19. Centre for Applied Legal Studies – Tshepo Madlingozi
  20. Chris Hani Institute – Sithembiso Bhengu
  21. Claremont Main Road Mosque – Imam A. Rashied Omar
  22. Co-operative and Policy Alternative Center – Courtney Morgan
  23. Concerned Africans Forum – Fazel Randera
  24. Corruption Watch – Moira Campbell & David Lewis & Mvuso Msimang
  25. DHC – Michaela Naicker
  26. Epilepsy South Africa – Marina Clarke
  27. Equal Citizens of Short Stature SA – Melanie Lubbe
  28. Equal Education – Noncedo Madubedube
  29. Extinction Rebellion Nelson Mandela Bay – Nicole Collier-Naidoo
  30. Food for Life – Merebank
  31. Free Education Solidarity – Funzani Mtembu
  32. Gandhi development trust – Ela Gandhi
  33. Gauteng Housing Crisis Committee – Keith Duarte
  34. GTAI – Al Smit-Stachowski
  35. Guguletu CAN – Zandi Vambe
  36. Hope for the Future NPO – Vanessa Nelson
  37. Housing Assembly – Luvuyo Booi
  38. Institute for Economic Justice – Gilad Isaacs
  39. Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, UWC – Andries du Toit & Ruth Hall
  40. Intsapho Teen Movement – Wendy Almacin
  41. Iranti – Rumana Akoob
  42. Izwi Domestic Workers Alliance – Amy Tekie
  43. Johannesburg Against Injustice – Lyn Brown
  44. Keep Left (Socialism from Below) – General Alfred Moyo
  45. Khulumani Support Group – Marjorie Jobson
  46. Kleine Kalbassies Day Care Centre – Muriel Harmse
  47. Land Party – Gcobani Ndzongana
  48. Lawyers for Human Rights – Sharon S Ekambaram
  49. Lifeline South Africa – Dudu Thabethe
  50. Little Smurfies Educare – Illna Necsulescu
  51. MACUA and WAMUA – Maureen Seshoka
  52. Manenberg Safety Forum – Roegchanda Pascoe
  53. Manenberg/Sherwood Park ECD Forum – Felicia Goff
  54. Market Users Committee – Verushka Memdutt
  55. Merebank Covid-19 Relief organizations – Ringo Naidoo
  56. Methodist Church of Southern Africa – Bishop Purity Malinga
  57. Movement for a United South Africa (MUSA) – Yusuf Patel
  58. Ndifuna Ukwazi- Zacharia Mashele
  59. NOAH CAN – Emily Wellman
  60. Ntinga Ntaba kaNdoda – Siziwe Dobo
  61. Nuwekloof Rural Development – Faiza Davids
  62. Overstrand Unite – Vanessa Swanepoel
  63. Oxfam South Africa – Rukia Cornelius
  64. Palestine Solidarity Campaign – Roshan Dadoo
  65. Pali Lehohla
  66. People Against Apartheid & Fascism – Anjumara Khan
  67. Pheli Muslim Shura – Ali Mdu Mlangeni
  68. Refugee Social Services – Yasmin Rajah
  69. Reynolds Associate Architects – Carolyn Reynolds
  70. SA BDS Coalition – Salim Vally
  71. SECTION27 – Nontsikelelo Mpulo
  72. Seriti Institute – Juanita Pardesi
  73. Shane B logistics – Arthi Baicho
  74. Shoba Daycare and Pre-School – Sindisiwe Shoba
  75. Social Justice Coalition – Mandisa Dyanti
  76. Social Work Action Network South Africa – Qureisha Nagdee
  77. Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa – SERI -Alana Potter
  78. Sonke Gender Justice – Heather van Niekerk
  79. South African Disability Alliance (SADA) – Marina Clarke
  80. South African Domestic Workers Association – Myrtle Witbooi
  81. South African Food Sovereignty Campaign – Vishwas Satgar
  82. South African Youth Council – Thembinkosi Josopu
  83. Sovuka Sikhanye – Helen Jack
  84. Spruit Community Support Forum – Ziyaad Shaboddin & Kim Geyser
  85. SSB Consulting Services – Shari Mattera
  86. Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII) – Isobel Frye
  87. SWEAT (Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce) – Emily Craven
  88. Tafelsig Mitchell’s Plain CAN – Gwendoline Goliath
  89. Tafelsig Mitchells Plain CAN – Joanie Fredericks
  90. The Helping Hand Amplified Team – Monique Keller
  91. The Mbegu Platform – Shafee Verachia
  92. The Unemployed People of South Africa – Tshepo Molokoane
  93. The voice of Azania – Thilda Jack Yoppe
  94. Tomorrow Trust – James Donald
  95. Total Tranquility Arts – Nhlahla Maduna
  96. Ubuhle Bobunye Bomanyano – Nosililo Penny Ndhlovu
  97. Umingonaphakade Educare Centre – Phumeza Mtyhuphu Gosani
  98. Van Wyk and Associates & The Pixie Schools – Elisabeth Van Wyk
  99. Vigour Day Care – Joyce Mpye
  100. Waterberg Women Advocacy Organization – Francina Nkosi
  101. Western Cape Forum for Intellectual Disability – Vanessa Japtha
  102. Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) – Caroline Skinner, Vanessa Pillay, Mike Rogan, Laura Alfers, Marlese von Broembsen, Francie Lund, Chris Bonner, Jane Barrett
  103. Women on Farms Project – Colette Solomon
  104. Womens’s Movement – Marinda Lottering
  105. Womxn and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar Institute – Samantha Waterhouse
  106. Youth Unity Foundation – Riyaad Osman Gani

View this joint statement.


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