The popular R350 grant – introduced at the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020 – is set to enter the third month of its lapse. Upwards of six million South Africans were able to claim the helpful handouts, before the SASSA programme was discontinued. With those in poverty now left in the lurch, the ANC has received an earful from one shadow minister.
The SRD payments bridged a gap for citizens who remain ineligible for other SASSA grants. Despite several major technical glitches along the way, funds have proven to be largely accessible for the majority who apply. As it stands, only outstanding fees are being paid to claimants, with no new payments administered since 1 May.
At the time of the R350 grant being taken offline, South Africa was operating at Level 1 of lockdown – the economy had opened up almost completely, and the threat of COVID-19 had somewhat subsided. However, a devastating new wave of infections has relegated South Africa back down to Level 4 restrictions, changing the landscape completely.
Bridget Masango is the shadow minister for Social Development. As Lindiwe Zulu’s opposite number, she really isn’t pleased with the ANC’s decision to pull the funding in the first place. The DA representative is now calling on the department to reinstate the R350 grant, saying ‘it is the right thing to do’.
“That the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, could leave millions of vulnerable people who have come to depend on the grant to provide for their needs in the lurch just as President Cyril Ramaphosa announced two weeks of an adjusted Level 4 lockdown period, is shocking, but not surprising. Many businesses must now close their doors,” said Masango.
“How many people could have been helped had Treasury not prioritised the bailout of SAA and other failing entities over the continuation of this grant, or if Covid-corruption from the government elite was not as rife as to the Covid-19 virus itself? The right thing to do now would be to extend the payment of the R350 grant,” she added.