Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu says government’s extension of the R350 COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant is a show of commitment to providing a social security network to the nation’s most vulnerable.
Zulu on Tuesday participated in the debate on the State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Parliament.
The Minister said throughout the difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown, government has continued to provide support to citizens in the form of social protection measures including social grants, Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and tax relief, amongst others.
These measures, the Minister said, have protected many livelihoods during the national disaster, especially for vulnerable individuals and households.
At the SONA on 11 February, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the extension of the Social Relief of Distress Grant by a further three months. The grant, which was set to expire this month, was introduced to provide relief to millions of unemployed South Africans during the pandemic.
Zulu said between May 2020 and January 2021, a total of R183 billion was paid out to all grants for over 18 million beneficiaries.
“This figure is inclusive of the top-ups on these grants. While R17 billion was disbursed to over six million incomeless beneficiaries through the special Social Relief of Distress Grant, this grant will be extended until the end of this financial year,” she said.
The Social Development Department has provided food parcels to 7.2 million people. This was done by working with a variety of partners, including the Solidarity Fund.
“Government is going to intensify the sourcing of food and nutritional packages from small, medium, and micro enterprises (SMMEs) and cooperative and community-owned enterprises,” Zulu said.
The South African Revenue Service, Zulu said, has allocated over R70 billion in tax relief to businesses in distress through the various measures, which it designed in response to the hardships that have been presented by the pandemic.