R350 grant an insult to the poor, says Saftu
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Cape Town – The return of the R350 grant for the unemployed has left the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) with a bitter taste in the mouth, calling the grant an “insult to the poor”.
This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced several measures to boost the economy, which has taken a blow due to a number of lockdown restrictions related to a surge in Covid-19 cases.
The grant of R350, administered by the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa), will also be extended to unemployed caregivers who currently receive child support grants.
The R350 grant, titled the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) Grant, will be reinstated until March next year.
Saftu spokesperson Trevor Shaku said the trade union federation proposed a R1 200 grant for the unemployed.
According the federation, the R350 SRD grant was too little for the unemployed to survive on.
“We are saying R350 is too little. It’s not even near the poverty line. We want the social relief to be lifted. That (R350) means people would live on R11 per day. No one can live on that,” Shaku said.
He said if the government was to increase the grant to at least R1 200 per person it would allow each recipient to survive on around R50 a day. The federation said it believed the government could afford this.
“The question of unemployment is a problem. If people could have enough money to eat, they would not go and loot malls.
’’If they give people that money, there will be a greater demand for household goods and consumables, and this will increase the production of goods and labour, so this will solve the question of job creation,” Shaku said.
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said those who had applied previously for the R350 SRD grant would need to apply again. She said applications in the last round had totalled 11 million.
Zulu said she was pleased that this time the grant would also go to unemployed caregivers.
“We have that data of people who were paid in the past. But even (in the case of) those who were paid, we had to keep checking on them every month to make sure that they are not back at work.
“Everyone will have to do the application again. We have to be accountable with the money that has to go out,” Zulu said.
She said the current R350 relief grant was setting the tone for the debate over the basic income grant that was being discussed by the government and her department. The grant would serve as a relief to the unemployed.
“It’s a stepping stone and the president did mention the issue of the basic income grant and the fact that the government is taking a serious look at it.
’’And it is a stepping stone for us because we brought the issue of the basic income grant back on the table on the basis that we are saying R350 and then what?” Zulu said.
Cosatu welcomed the return of the R350 grant for the unemployed but expressed its concerns about the impact of the lockdown restrictions on the economy and business.
The federation’s spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla, said Cosatu was in full support of the measures introduced by the government to help revive the economy.