28 years into our democracy, the poor and the marginalised continue to live in inhumane conditions as the South African government fails to deliver on its promise of a better life for all. Today, thousands of South Africans will go to bed hungry after not receiving the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant of R350 that was their only lifeline since the beginning of the Covid19 pandemic. This comes after the government gazetted new regulations to govern the grant.  

Under the State of Disaster Act, the income criteria was R595 but under the new regulations, the income threshold is R350 meaning anyone with income above that, will not qualify for the grant. 

The Assembly of the Unemployed (AoU) is dismayed by the decision taken by the government as this means fewer people will now qualify for the SRD grant. The politicians seem to be running away from the reality that millions of South Africans are living below the poverty line.   

The unemployment rate is a ticking time bomb with roughly 47% of South Africans being unemployed and now the government has decided to take away the only income that some families were relying on since the start of the Covid19 pandemic. 

Not only do we call on the government to revisit the income criteria but we urge President Cyril Ramaphosa to implement a permanent Basic Income Grant of R1500 per month for all unemployed between the ages of 18-59, including caregivers, home-based workers and precarious workers who earn below the national minimum wage. This will bring much-needed relief to millions of South Africans who are languishing in poverty.  

Last year, the Department of Social Development in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Joint Fund released a report which indicated that a basic income support grant was sustainable. 

To elevate this call, the Botshabelo Unemployed Movement will be hosting an unFreedom Day event today at the Multi-function Centre in Botshabelo from 10 AM till 15:30 PM. 

Botshabelo is one of the many neglected communities where residents have been without proper sanitation for decades. 

We will be engaging on strategies to enhance our campaigns developed to come up with our own solutions to community struggles:

1. Right2Work: Action has to be taken in order to not only ensure that our right to work is respected but also in the short term to allow the unemployed to survive and participate in the economy. 

2. One Million Climate Jobs: we’ve been supporting the One Million Climate Jobs campaign since it was introduced by the AIDC in 2011. We believe that not only will this create employment but it will also address the climate crisis we face, as President Cyril Ramaphosa alluded to in his State of the Nation address this year that South Africa is ‘one of the regions of the world that is most affected by climate change’.

3. No to Austerity: We call for an end to austerity. The government is already struggling to meet its constitutional obligations to the majority of people. The extreme austerity imposed by the Treasury is becoming the most painful and destructive policy we have experienced since the end of apartheid. 

We call on South Africans, the working class, employed and unemployed, to unite and demand an end to austerity!

For more information contact: 

Khokhoma Motsi, Botshabelo Unemployed Movement: 073 490 7623

Mooketsi Diba, Botshabelo Unemployed Movement: 073 217 9686