The C19 People’s Coalition has cautiously welcomed government’s COVID-19 social relief package announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa this week.

Ramaphosa said the child support grant will increase by R300 for May, followed by an increase of R500 (per caregiver) for the five months thereafter. The civil society group had appealed to government for the increase.

However, it feels its call has not been adequately met. The group is calling for urgent clarity on the child support grant top-up.

“This means if you are a caregiver for two children you will not receive an additional R1 000 (two X R500) but only an additional R500. On average, half as much cash will be transferred to households. This was not clear from the President Cyril Ramaphosa’s  speech, but was clarified by SASSA. It is outrageous to have misled the eight million people who depend on this grant. We demand that President Ramaphosa ensure that what he said is implemented: that the grant top-up should be for each grantee, for each child, and not only each caregiver. We want the President to address this specifically, and to confirm the R50 billion for social grants,” says the organisation in a statement.

All other social grants will increase by R250 for the next six months. There will also be a special COVID-19 grant of R350 per month for six months for all who do not currently receive any other grants and are not eligible for Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) payouts.

“We welcome this recognition that everyone who is without an income, including those aged between 18 and 59, must get social grants. This is a principle we are fighting for, and will continue to push for, as we advocate for a Basic Income Grant,” says the group.

The 250 organisations say while these gains are important, but they are not enough.

The special COVID-19 grant of R350 per month is far too little. It is less than a third of the R1 227 that government itself says a person needs to have to be out of poverty. We also oppose any moves by government to use the COVID-19 crisis to force through a programme of self-imposed structural adjustment. We will resist any proposed cuts in public spending on the social assistance, services and infrastructure that our people and economy rely on. The crisis demands solidarity, not anti-poor and economically costly austerity measures.