Hundreds march to demand Ramaphosa address Basic Income Grant at SONA

Civil society organisations want R350 SRD grant increased to R1,447

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Hundreds of people marched to the Union Buildings to hand over a memorandum calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to clearly lay out the state’s plans for a basic income grant in his upcoming State of the Nation Address. Photo: Chris Gilili

Ahead of the upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA), over 400 people, including members of civil society organisations, unemployed citizens and recipients of the Social Relief of Distress Grant (SRD), marched to the head offices of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Thursday.

Government introduced the SRD grant in May 2020 during the Covid pandemic. Since then the grant has been repeatedly extended and is now due to expire next month. The marchers want President Cyril Ramaphosa to clearly lay out the state’s plans for a basic income grant at SONA on 9 February.

Thabisile Miya, from, said, “We have been working with communities especially R350 recipients since it started … Food is going up every day, and people don’t have any source of income.”

A memorandum of demands for SASSA included that the SRD be increased to R1,447, and that SASSA work with the Department of Social Development to fix numerous issues with grant payments.

“From unfair regulations to means testing with an unfair qualifying threshold, and poor communication, many have lost hope in this grant, in SASSA and the government as a whole,” the memo reads.

Acting SASSA CEO Abraham Mahlangu received the memo.

In a memo to the President, marchers said they want social grants increased, higher taxes on those earning more than R1-million a year, and a net wealth tax introduced.

“We also appeal to the President to hold the Department of Social Development accountable for their failures in administering the R350 grant,” the memorandum read.

“We urge for the glitches to be fixed,” said Nosipho Bilankulu, an unemployed single mother. She said her grant money cannot keep pace with the rising cost of maize meal and cooking oil. Her child’s crèche fees are R400 alone, more than the SRD grant. Although she has the grant, there are months when the money doesn’t appear.

Presidency official Phil Mahlangu promised a response within seven days.

Community Organizing Working Group, Voices of the Concerned Citizens of Soweto, Sukuma Soweto Sinqobe, and Sisonke Revolutionary Movement all joined the march.

TOPICS:  Social Grants Unemployment

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