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COVID-19 R350 Grant: why the poor must apply despite challenges

By Andile Mngxitama

On 11 May 2020, the Social Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu, announced the government’s revised criteria and requirements for the Special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) Grant of R350 for the poor. This includes the period of the SRD Grant being from May to October 2020; payment methods; who qualifies; and compulsory information to be submitted by applicants.

On how to access the SRD grant, the poor were asked to process their applications via the new WHATSAPP line, 082 0468 553; the email address, [email protected]; or the USSD or SMS line, *134*7737#.

On it’s part Black First Land First (BLF) had previously written to Minister Zulu and offered a proposal to facilitate the efficient transmission of these funds to the poor which includes the use of easily accessible voting stations via a contactless process. We also wrote to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), Busisiwe Memela, about the challenges facing the poor such as the collapse of the phone lines through which applications were expected to be processed; as well as the lack of a bank account and proof of residence. We received no response to both letters.

On 11 May I went live on Facebook on the maths of the SRD Grant of R350; the foreseeable challenges with the bureaucratic form and process to access the grant; and the problem of the involvement of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Gates Foundation) in the roll out of the grant. I show, amongst other things, how the state can afford to give the poor R1000 or more monthly. I also explain why it’s necessary for the poor to apply, despite the challenges, for the R350 SRD Grant in their numbers towards the realization of a universal living income.

Watch my full presentation: https://www.facebook.com/andile.mngxi/videos/1670613946430780/

Andile Mngxitama is the President of Black First Land First (BLF), a radical black consciousness organization.

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