Black Sash Media Statements

Letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister Tito Mboweni and Minister Lindiwe Zulu

24 March 2021

 

Dear President Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister Tito Mboweni and Minister Lindiwe Zulu

We wrote to you in January requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the imminent termination of the COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant on 31 January 2021.

Now we write to you a third time after requests were made to meet on 25 January 2021, 28 January 2021 and 17 February 2021 as another termination date (30 April 2021) for this important grant looms. The SRD grants have been an important intervention that has helped millions of families put food on the table in a year of massive job losses and humanitarian crisis. Our calls to extend and increase the SRD grant and ensure that Caregivers are also eligible have been supported by more than 160 organisations and individuals.

We were relieved to see that the grant was extended but were dissatisfied about the short extension until April 2021. This is clearly inadequate given that we are still far from herd immunity and will experience the consequences of the pandemic for a long time to come. We are very concerned by the lack of a coherent response by the government to this humanitarian crisis. We find it difficult to understand why the government has failed to engage us on this critical issue. The exclusion of unemployed caregivers from the Covid-19 SRD grant, who are mostly black women and have borne the worst brunt of this pandemic is inexcusable. This is made worse by the increases in hunger, including child hunger, which the latest NIDS CRAM data clearly shows. As we gear up for a third wave of the pandemic we need to learn from past mistakes and prioritise social protection as a matter of urgency.

We once again appeal to you for an urgent meeting within the next week (24 - 31 March) to discuss the following demands:

● Extension and increase of the COVID-19 R350 SRD grants to at least the food poverty
line of R585 per person per month.

● The unduly harsh and narrow criteria for accessing the grant need to be reassessed.

● Caregivers must qualify for the COVID-19 SRD grant, regardless of whether they are
receiving a Child Support Grant on behalf of their children.

● Urgent progress towards implementation of the long overdue Basic Income Guarantee
(grant) for those aged 18 to 59 years.

We will be holding a stakeholder meeting on these issues on Tuesday 30 March 2021 and we hope to be able to announce significant progress in addressing this matter. We prefer if possible to resolve this matter through engagement and dialogue. If this is not possible we will be compelled to consider other constitutional routes available to us.


Regards,

Black Sash - Lynette Maart, C19 People's Coalition - Cash Transfers Working Group -
Shaeera Kalla, Institute for Economic Justice - Neil Coleman