South Africa will restart payment of a Covid-19 grant after vast numbers of individuals who rely on it went two months without receiving it.
The government’s Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant was not remitted in April and May, according to the Johannesburg-based center for Economic Justice, after the payment criteria were changed. According to a statement issued this week, more than ten million stipend recipients have been affected.
“The grants will recommence next week, and beneficiaries will be reimbursed for the months it was not paid,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said at a press conference in Cape Town on Friday.
As a short-term response to the coronavirus pandemic, the SRD grant was established in 2020. It was reinstated in July of last year after deadly riots, arson, and looting, and has since been extended until March ’23.
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has cited its social security programme as one of its most significant accomplishments in alleviating poverty in one of the world’s most unequal countries. Prior to the Covid-19 stipend, nearly 18 million people, or nearly one-third of the population, received state assistance.
One of the impediments to payments, according to the Black Sash, a Johannesburg-based advocacy group, has been difficulties encountered by the state-owned South African Post Office in providing services to grant recipients. The SAPO was plagued by cash shortages, unpaid employees, and post office closures.
“Security and safety at many SAPO branch offices have deteriorated alarmingly, posing a danger to grant beneficiaries, especially women, the elderly, and people with disabilities,” according to the Black Sash. “Inadequate security measures are in place at sites as a result of SAPO’s financial difficulties.”
In the current fiscal year, South Africa will spend 3.9 percent of its GDP on welfare, primarily on child support and pensions. This is more than most countries, with a total value of 248 billion rand.