COVID-19 R350 Grant: BLF’s outstanding questions & call on poor to apply

COVID-19  R350 Grant: BLF’s outstanding questions & call on poor to apply

Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu

Yesterday the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, announced the following revised criteria and payment methods for the Special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) Grant of R350 for the poor:

1. The Grant of R350 per month is payable from May to October 2020 to qualifying applicants.

2. The grant is available to South African citizens, permanent residents or refugees registered on the Home Affairs system, who are resident in the country;

3. An applicant must be: ‘above the age of 18’; ‘Unemployed’; ‘Not receiving any income’; ‘Not receiving any social grant’; ‘Not receiving any unemployment insurance benefit and does not qualify to receive unemployment insurance benefits’; ‘Not receiving a stipend from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme’; and ‘Not resident in a government funded or subsidized institution’.

4. Provision of the following information is compulsory: ‘Identity Number/Department of Home permit’; ‘Name and Surname as captured in the ID (and initials)’; ‘Gender and Disability’; ‘Banking details – Bank Name and Account Number‘; ‘Contact details – Cell phone number’; and ‘Proof of Residential Address’.

5. Qualifying citizens may apply for the SRD grant through the new WHATSAPP line, 082 0468 553; the USSD or SMS line, *134*7737#; or the email address, [email protected]

There are however some outstanding questions. Following government’s previous announcement of the SRD Grant, Black First Land First (BLF) wrote to the Minister Zulu and offered a proposal to facilitate the speedy distribution of these funds. This includes using the voting stations which are already located within close proximity to the people; and asking applicants to only produce their identity documents which in turn should be stamped against receipt of payments via vouchers.

We pointed out that requiring applicants to use WhatsApp, produce bank account statements, and submit proof of residence are not in line with the reality of the poor.D

The lack of information regarding the bureaucratic process to access the promised SRD grant as well as the fact that the dedicated phone lines were not working, has resulted in the poor becoming extremely frustrated. Consequently on 10 May 2020, BLF wrote to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), Busisiwe Memela, and requested clarity on, amongst other things: when are the phone lines coming on again and what causes their collapse; how many people have applied for the grant; and what about those without a bank account or proof of residence?

BLF received no response from both Minister Zulu and Ms Memela in this respect.

The involvement of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Gates Foundation) in connection with the SRD Grant as announced by Minister Zulu yesterday is very concerning. We demand that the Minister of Social Development and the CEO of SASSA reveal the nature of assistance from the Gates Foundation. Anything to do with data management and the Gates Foundation is a massive red flag.

There are furthermore serious problems with the last two stages indicated in the bureaucratic application form for the SRD Grant. Most people will need help to complete the forms. Seemingly no thinking has gone into how the money gets to the right people, as there are inherent problems with the ewallet method for instance.

While we agitate for the process to be improved and the amount to be increased, BLF calls on the poor to apply for the R350 SRD Grant towards ultimately realizing a universal basic living income for the poor. This is meager amount which can be systematically increased This is the beginning of a people‘s struggle to make claims for the state to serve the poor.

Issued by Black First Land First, National Coordinating Committee of (BLF NCC)

12 May 2020

Contact Details

Black First Land First Mail: [email protected]

Zanele Lwana
(BLF Deputy President)
Cell: +27 79 986 7225