Ramaphosa announces more relief measures for distressed South Africans

President Cyril Ramaphosa. (GCIS)
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (GCIS)

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a set of new measures aimed at saving the economy and countering growing hunger and distress across the country amid the coronavirus outbreak.

In his Tuesday evening address to the nation, Ramaphosa said the government had decided to implement a temporary six-month coronavirus grant.

In explaining the reason behind the decision, he added while economic measures have been put in place to assist workers whose wages were threatened as well as small businesses, he was concerned about the millions who were either in the informal sector, without jobs or struggling to survive.

"Poverty and food insecurity have deepened dramatically in the course of just a few weeks," said Ramaphosa.

The measure will see R50 billion being directed towards relieving those adversely affected by Covid-19. Child grant beneficiaries will receive an extra R300 in May, which will be increased to R500 from June until October, while other grant beneficiaries would get an extra R250 per month over the next six months.

Those who are currently unemployed and do not receive social grants or UIF will be paid R350 from a special Covid-19 social relief of distress grant.

The president announced last month the country would be under a lockdown as part of the government's bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The pandemic, which has infected millions across the globe, has killed 58 South Africans, while 3 465 have tested positive to date.

"We have recognised that the food distribution capacity of the government is not adequate to meet the huge need that has arisen since the start of the pandemic," said Ramaphosa.

He added the SA Social Security Agency would also implement a "technology-based solution" for the rolling out of food assistance through vouchers and cash transfers in the coming days to ensure those who needed help received it faster.

Calls for food supplies have been part of the challenges the government has had to face, including various claims that councillors in municipalities have been disrupting the process, either using food parcels for patronage purposes among their own political supporters or hoarding it instead of giving it to those in need.

READ | The 7 biggest interventions in Ramaphosa's R500bn coronavirus support package

Ramaphosa, who condemned the implicated councillors in his weekly letter on Monday, once again expressed his disapproval, describing them as "unscrupulous".

"We will not hesitate to ensure that those involved in such activities face the full might of the law."

He said the lockdown had had a negative impact on the revenue of municipalities across the country, which were facing growing demands.

Ramaphosa added R20 billion would be made available to municipalities so they could secure the provision of emergency water supplies, increased sanitisation of public transportation and facilities as well as the provision of food and shelter for the homeless.

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