Minister Lindiwe Zulu promises outstanding Covid relief grants will be paid on time

Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu.
Image: Linda Mthombeni

Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu has vowed that outstanding R350 Covid relief grants will be paid to approved applicants even though the grant is ending.

The R350 relief grant, which was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this year, has been the subject of controversy with delays in applications and payments.

The relief grant was meant for unemployed citizens and qualifying foreign citizens during the lockdown. It is set to expire this month.

Speaking on SABC News on Wednesday, Zulu urged those dependent on the income not to panic.

Zulu said applicants who have been approved can rest assured they will receive their payments. However, no new applications will be accepted.

“Let me assure the public and the people who made applications that came out [showing] that they deserve to receive the money, they will still receive that money even if the grant is ending.

“Those that deserve to be paid are still going to be paid because we budgeted for that and agreed that we will extend on the basis of payment of those who had applied. No-one must apply now and think that they will be paid,” said Zulu.

Zulu assured that applicants who won their appeals after they were rejected will still be paid.

The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) said last week that it is currently processing about 60,000 appeals.

“Applications are considered on their individual merits on a month-to-month basis, which means an application can be approved for one month and rejected the following month if, for instance, the financial situation changed.

“This has become more prevalent with the lockdown levels easing, allowing for some sectors of the economy to return to work, and thus reducing the number of severely distressed citizens.”

SA Communist Party (SACP) leader Blade Nzimande at the weekend called on the government to urgently convert the grant into a “universal basic income guarantee”.

Nzimande said the grant was a needed lifeline and without it, households would fall into deeper distress.

“The grant of R350 per month has offered a survival lifeline to millions of South Africans. But that grant is due to expire at the end of this month. We cannot allow this to happen,” he said.

“The grant, which has been going to those who are not covered by pensions, UIF (unemployment insurance fund), or as caregivers by the child support grant, must now be converted as an urgent priority, into a universal basic income guarantee.”

By Unathi Nkanjeni – TimesLIVE

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