Thursday, 7 May 2020
President Cyril Ramaphosa
His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa,
President of the Republic of South Africa
MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Ms Lindiwe Zulu
c/o Ms Zama Kumalo; Ms Monica Zabo; Ms Lumka Olifant
MINISTER OF WOMEN, YOUTH AND PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
Private Secretary: Ms Mantikwe Ramokgopa
Ms Millie Ramoraswi Chief of Staff
Acting Director General (ADG): MS. W.R. (Shoki) Tshabalala
MINISTER OF EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR
Minister Thembelani Thulas Nxesi
DEPUTY MINISTER BOITUMELO ELIZABETH MOLOI
UIF Chief Operations Officer: Ms Judith Kumbi
MINISTER OF FINANCE
Minister Tito Mboweni
Office of the Director General Dondo Mogajane
DDG: Public Finance
Acting DDG: Budget Office
DDG: Public Finance Mampho Modise
Dear President Ramaphosa,
RE: COVID-19 SOCIAL RELIEF OF DISTRESS GRANT
We note government’s emergency economic and social relief measures to alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting nationwide lockdown on individuals and households. While the relief measures are a small step in the right direction, they are insufficient to meet the current humanitarian crisis under lockdown conditions. Many poor families are going hungry. The situation remains desperate with many queueing for food parcels. The threat of starvation or even the possibility of death from hunger, rather than from the coronavirus, for many people is real. It is within this context that we argue that the social grant relief measures remain inadequate.
COVID-19 has underscored the critical role of adequate investments in public health, comprehensive social protection programmes, dignified and decent work, and access to food, water, sanitations systems and housing. The coronavirus has also intensified the intersecting forms of inequality including income and wealth within our country, and gender inequality, for which measures have to be put in place.
We note the recommendations of United Nations (UN) Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in its statement on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and economic, social and cultural rights. The COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted “devastating impacts across the world on all spheres of life – health, the economy, social security, education and food production”. The lockdowns to curb transmissions of the virus have caused jobs losses, endangered livelihoods and heightened exposure to violence. States are under an obligation to take measures to prevent or mitigate negative impacts. However, these must be implemented within a human rights framework to mitigate against violations of economic, social and cultural rights and to reduce the suffering of the most marginalised groups. Social relief and income-support programmes must be provided to ensure food and income security to all those in need.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged innovative economic and social relief programme interventions by many countries, including Brazil and Namibia, and has accelerated the implementation of such programmes in South Africa.