UPDATE SOUTH AFRICA
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ANC calls for the COVID-19 grant extension

Article by: Dumisane Dube

The African National Congress says it is considering having government extend the R350 COVID-19 grant that is aimed at alleviating the plight of the poor and unemployed South Africans.

The grant was first introduced in 2020 to provide relief to those who lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic but did not qualify for any other state grant or unemployment insurance.

It has been extended several times, and the latest extension put it in effect until March 2022.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, addressing ANC members during the party’s 110th birthday celebrations in Limpopo, said there was a need for a basic income grant. “There is a clear need for some form of income support for unemployed and poor South Africans based on clear principles of affordability and sustainability,” he said.

In September last year, Ramaphosa gave a strong signal that the R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant will be extended beyond March.

Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu has previously also indicated that a basic income grant would likely be introduced gradually over a couple of years but her department wanted the SRD grant extended.

The grant was meant to be a short-term measure and was stopped in October 2020 after running for six months. It was reinstated following last year’s widespread of riots and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July last year.

Several groups, including unions, have called for the grant to be made permanent and turned into a universal income grant for the country. Some have pushed for the grant’s value to be extended to R500 a month or even R1,500 a month.

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