Political parties give thumbs up to reinstatement of social relief grant

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President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa
  • Political parties have welcomed the reinstatement of the social relief grant.
  • The grant was announced during a presidential address on Sunday night.
  • Various business relief measures were also welcomed.

Political parties have welcomed the reinstatement of the social relief grant following a presidential address on Sunday night.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday night that South Africa would move from lockdown alert Level 4 to Level 3 on Monday. This will allow bars and restaurants to sell alcohol on-site.

In addition, he announced that the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant will be reinstated until March 2022.

The grant of R350, administered by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), will also be extended to unemployed caregivers who currently receive child support grants.

DA leader John Steenhuisen lashed out at the president, saying he should have announced a Cabinet clean-up.

He said a full-time health minister was needed and criticised the government for not axing Health Minister Zweli Mkhize following the Digital Vibes tender scandal. Mkhize is currently on full paid leave.

Steenhuisen also called for the axing of Police Minister Bheki Cele and State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo following the unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal earlier this month.

However, Steenhuisen welcomed the reinstatement of the social relief grant.

READ | 'We need to continue to exercise caution', warns Ramaphosa as SA moves to Level 3

"They are desperately needed. But these relief measures are not going to be sustainable over the longer term without swift and decisive structural reform. The best and most sustainable way to help the poor and vulnerable is to create jobs.

"We welcome the relaxation of some restrictions, but the president should have gone further and removed all restrictions that are costing South Africans their jobs. Specifically, the curfew and the ban on alcohol should have been fully lifted. The curfew is doing irreparable damage to restaurants, small towns and tourism. There is so much illicit alcohol available that it frankly makes no difference to transmission, but a big difference to tax receipts and jobs," he said.

Good general secretary Brett Herron applauded what he called a "range of bold initiatives to support the poorest among us".

"It is apparent that our government has grasped the depths of the crisis we are in, economically and socially, and is making efforts to address some of the urgent weaknesses in our economic and social systems," Herron said.

The Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant provided some relief to these families, and it was vital that it was reinstated immediately, he said. Herron called for a basic income grant to replace the social relief grant from March.

He added that business support was sorely needed after some industries, such as hospitality, had been heavily impacted by lockdown regulations.

"The short-term relief of deferred taxes and the return of UIF TERS (Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme) assistance will assist businesses with their cash flow," Herron said.

"We welcome the lifting of some of the restrictions. Restaurants, bars and liquor traders will, however, continue to operate under significant income-generating restrictions."

Acting IFP spokesperson Narend Singh welcomed the president's implementation of many of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan measures and the reinstatement of the Social Relief of Distress grant.

"We call on government and the Department of Health to fast-track efforts related to the vaccination drive, and to strongly consider extending operating hours at all public healthcare facilities and private vaccination sites, to include weekends," Singh said.

"This would certainly assist in making up for the numbers in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in particular, where people were unable to get vaccinated during the protests which flared up in these respective provinces."

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