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SAFTU criticizes R350 means test as anti poor

Means test for R350 grant is Anti-poor. Image : Patrick Louw

Means test for R350 grant is Anti-poor. Image : Patrick Louw

Published Jun 27, 2022

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The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) has described governments means test for the Social Relief of Distress (SDR) grant as "anti poor."

This comes after government introduced a means test that will determine eligibility for the grant.

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The means test dictates that anyone who has income above that level – even if it is support from a family member – is excluded from the grant. Previous versions of the grant did not require a means test.

SAFTU has since joined civil rights group Black Sash and other NGOs to fight the over turning of the means test in court. There was still no indication when the matter would be heard in court.

SAFTU spokesperson Trevor Shaku said the means test discriminated against the poor and those who were working piece jobs.

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"The means test wants a person to have less than R350 a month in their bank accounts. This puts the poor at a disadvantage. What about those who are in informal work and those who are trying to survive," Shaku said.

Faku said SAFTU proposes that those earning below R1500 per month should be able to access the grant.

"The cost of living is really high. Ours is that the means test is really irresponsible and is trying to exclude the poor who need this money." Shaku said.

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Faku also criticized the highly digital application system to access the R350.

"We think that applications being done online puts those that don't have access to equipment and the internet at a disadvantage. They need data and many of them would probably not apply because of difficulties," Shaku said.

Shaku said the South Africans Social Services Agency (SASSA) should back pay the two months in which the grants were not given due to legislative changes.

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"in April and May people did not recieve their money so its not their fault and government should back pay," Shaku said.

Shaku said SAFTU was in favour of a Basic Income grant at around R1500 per month.

He said while some people were saying South Africa was becoming a welfare state, the poor had no choice but to seek for assistance.

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