President Cyril Ramaphosa has given a strong signal that the R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant will be extended beyond March next year. Addressing the Congress of South Africa Trade Union’s (Cosatu) three-day Central Committee gathering today, President Ramaphosa said the level of unemployment in the country is beyond a crisis.

He said there is a need to extend more support to the unemployed and the poor. The R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant was first introduced in April last year to give relief to people who lost their jobs following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was meant to be a short-term measure and was stopped in October 2020 after running for six months. President Ramaphosa decided to reinstate it following widespread riots and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July this year.

Since then, Cosatu, together with many other civil society organisations and political parties have called on the government to increase the grant substantially and make it permanent.

“Subject to long-term affordability, serious considerations should be given to extending further support to the unemployed and those who are structurally marginalised, possibly in the form of the COVID-19, SRD grant, targeted food poverty line support, and a number of other measures. ”

President Cyril Ramaphosa says poor need support: 

Nine million people applied for the R350 grant, which is popularly known as the Ramaphosa Grant, within two weeks of its reinstatement last month. And calls for the government to introduce a Basic Income Grant in the country won’t go away.

“There continues to be a significant demand on the government to continue with and expand income support measures for those living in poverty. Further work needs to be done towards the achievement of comprehensive social security to ensure that all South Africans can live in comfort and dignity.”

Addressing the Cosatu mid-term national conference earlier on, Cosatu President Zingiswa Losi slammed the Unemployment Insurance Fund for continuing delays in the payment of TERS to many distressed workers in the country.

” There is a sense of paralysis in the UIF by officials scared of being found wanting by the Auditor General. However, Comrades, this is at the cost of thousands of workers waiting for three months for this relief.”

SACP General Secretary Dr. Blade Nzimande is scheduled to address the virtual gathering tomorrow.