President Cyril Ramaphosa’s lack of concrete focus on social grants has been criticised. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency/ANA
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s lack of concrete focus on social grants has been criticised. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency/ANA

Call to extend Covid-19 top-up for all social grants

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Oct 19, 2020

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Johannesburg - National Treasury says it will only announce its Budget processes allocations when Finance Minister Tito Mboweni gives his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).

This comes amid growing calls for other social grants to be extended in order to cushion the economic impact of Covid-19.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent announcement of an extension of the social relief in distress grant (SRD) has been welcomed but it has also raised concerns about why other caregiver grants were not extended beyond the end this month.

Ramaphosa said the introduction of the R350 distress grant was meant for unemployed people at the beginning of the national lockdown. This was also accompanied by an increase of other grants including the elderly grant/disability and child grants.

However, the additional top-ups to these grants will be stopped at the end of this month.

Child support beneficiaries received an additional R500 between June and this month and other grant beneficiaries were topped-up with R250.

This has also has raised the alarm of civil society organisations who last week, shortly before Ramaphosa’s address to Parliament, called for an extension of Covid-19 linked grants.

The concerns linger around the adverse impact that women will experience if the giver-grants are not extended as women are often caregivers and at times go without jobs.

The Covid-19 People’s Coalition, a group of civil society organisations including Black Sash and the Institute for Economic Justice, criticised Ramaphosa’s lack of concrete focus on social grants as part of his address.

The group said a lack of extension on caregiver grants was a slap in the face and a punishment to women. The organisation believes Covid-19 grants helped cushion the blow of the economic impact of Covid-19 as many people were left jobless.

“Caregivers are excluded from receiving the SRD grant so women are not only expected to take care of children but they are punished for it. This is a testament that, despite the government’s rhetoric in support of women, actual policy is abandoning the most precarious of women and children.

“If the government is to align its rhetoric to action that would seriously assist in supporting women, then the caregiver grant must be extended and increased immediately.”

When asked to explain the reasoning behind the government’s decision not to extend all Covid-19 related top-ups, the Department of Social Development directed queries to the National Treasury.

The National Treasury said all Budget processes would be explained when Mboweni gave his address next week.

“Budget process allocations will be announced during MTBPS. It is premature to provide commentary now.

“All we can confirm at this point is that the R350 Covid-related grant has been extended by three months as per the announcement by the president,” it said on Sunday.

Mboweni was quoted in reports that Treasury would have to find from, other budgets, an additional R6 billion to finance the SRD grants.

Political Bureau

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