President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the extension of the R350 social relief of distress (SRD) grant by three months.
The government introduced the grant earlier this year as part of its COVID-19 economic and social relief package. It was initially planned for six months and was due to end later this month.
Ramaphosa made the announcement while presenting South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan at a joint sitting of Parliament on Thursday.
“This will maintain a temporary expansion of social protection and allow the labour market sufficient time to recover,” he said.
This follows calls earlier this week by more than 75 civil society groups to extend the SRD and caregivers grants for at least five months.
The groups, which included Black Sash, Institute for Economic Justice and community representatives, also urged the government to increase the grants to R585.
However, Ramaphosa said, “The stretched nature of our financial resources makes it difficult and impossible to extend it beyond the further three months.”
No basic income grant yet
The civil society groups also called for the introduction of a basic income grant, a call various parties such as the SA Communist Party (SACP) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have backed.
Earlier this year, the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) also resolved to explore the modalities for such a grant.
Ramaphosa acknowledged these discussions, but suggested that the government was not ready to implement the basic income grant yet.
He said, “We know that there are discussions that are going on in our country about the basic income grant. We say those discussions should continue.
“But we do need to rebuild our economy so that it can be stronger and in the near future, we should be able to engage in discussions about measures such as the basic income grant.”