The Black Sash notes government’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, delivered by the President in a Joint Sitting of Parliament, seeking to create 800 000 job opportunities in line with the 2030 National Development Plan. The plan presented is not very different from the 2020 State of the Nation Address in terms of promised job opportunities. It is also unclear whether these jobs are permanent or short term contracts with stipends, limited pay and benefits. The President has not dealt with the structural unemployment challenge which includes the 10.4 million who were unemployed prior to Covid-19 and the 2.2 million jobs lost in the second quarter of this year.
Job creation is an essential component of economic recovery. However, government has promised job opportunities over many years, but more and more people are unable to find work. Job creation alone is insufficient to address the humanitarian crisis. Job creation programmes must be accompanied by the State fulfilling its Constitutional and international obligations to provide social security, particularly social assistance.
The President announced an extension of the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant by three months ending January 2021. This temporary relief is inadequate due to the high unemployment rate and for the millions of people who are without means to provide for themselves. It is essential to extend the Caregiver grant since women bear the brunt of the current economic and health crisis. Many women in rural areas and those who work in the informal sector have been particularly affected by job losses.
The Black Sash will continue to advocate for permanent social assistance for those aged 18 to 59 years. This includes both the extension of the Covid-19 SRD as well as the Caregiver grant and that the amount be increased to at least the Food Poverty Line of R585.
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