President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the extension of the R350 COVID-19 social relief of distress (SRD) grant by a further three months.
Ramaphosa made the announcement in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Parliament on Thursday, 11 February 2021.
The government took the decision following consultations with business, labour and community representatives at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC).
The President said, “We have, therefore, decided to extend the period for the special COVID-19 grant of R350 by a further three months.
“This has proven to be an effective and efficient short-term measure to reduce the immediate impact on the livelihoods of poor South Africans.”
The government introduced the grant in April 2020 to cushion the most vulnerable sections of society from the pandemic’s impact. It benefits individuals who have no employment and do not receive any other grants or assistance from the state.
The R350 SRD grant was initially meant scheduled for six months, but the government extended it by three months in October last year until the end of January 2021.
Several groups lobbied for the latest extension, including labour federation ANC, COSATU, SA Communist Party (SACP), EFF and civil society organisations.
R350 SRD extension: No need to reapply
In a Facebook update on Friday, the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA), which administers the SRD grant, urged those who applied for it before not to reapply.
“Clients who have applied before for this must not reapply. If you lodged an appeal there is no need to reapply. Kindly wait for SASSA to provide feedback on your outcome,” it wrote.
There have also been calls for the government to use this grant as a basis for a universal basic income grant (BIG) beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Ramaphosa made no mention of this proposal in his SONA. Presenting his economic reconstruction and recovery plan to Parliament in October last year, he suggested that South Africa could not yet afford a BIG.
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.”