Last-minute call to extend Covid-19 grant

Grant due to end on 30 April

By Liezl Human

29 April 2021

Scores of people queueing for the Covid-19 grant outside the Mdantsane Post Office in East London in January before it was extended. Archive photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

Civil society organisations are demanding that the R350 Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant be extended and increased immediately. The grant is expected to end tomorrow, 30 April.

Many beneficiaries of the grant were not even aware that it is being terminated, said Alfred Moyo, a coordinator at the #PayTheGrants campaign, during a press briefing on Thursday.

The campaign, endorsed by over 200 civil society organisations, is demanding that the grant be increased to at least R585 a month, which is in line with the national food poverty line. The organisations are also demanding that the grant be made permanent.

Moyo said that R585 was barely enough to buy basic groceries for a month.

On 22 April, the campaign sent an open letter to the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, and the Presidency, calling for the extension and increase of the grant.

They said it was “unacceptable that the government intends to terminate the [Covid-19 grant] since the reason for its existence has remained unchanged as the pandemic continues”.

Hoodah Abrahams-Fayker, National Advocacy Manager at the Black Sash, said the Department had acknowledged their letter and said it is considering the issue. The Department also promised to set up a meeting with civil society.

Abrahams-Fayker said that the government has a constitutional obligation to provide social security and that it “urgently needs to provide a lifeline for those who cannot support themselves”.

Shaeera Kalla of the #PayTheGrants campaign said, “It is completely unfair that the people receiving these grants don’t know if they will be continuing,” she said.

Minister Zulu has apparently also asked the National Treasury for an extension of the Covid-19 grant.