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It's an ill wind that blows no good, is the old expression that comes to mind when I think of the Sassa R350 SRD grant. The term Sassa Status Check has become a very popular search term on Google - the MOST popular of last year. The expression means that even bad things have some good consequences.
The global pandemic of Covid-19 was definitely a very 'ill wind' which lead to countless premature deaths across the world. It brought tragedy for so many families and stress, poverty and mental health challenges to so many more. In South Africa it lead to us being confined to our homes, unable to buy cooked chicken from supermarkets, only able to leave home for exercise for one hour per day.
One of the projects that the government launched to help out was the Special Relief of Distress grant - R350 per month for any South Africans who had no job or assets to support them. So the pandemic did 'blow some good'!
The R350 grant has been a great success with many millions desperate and without any income, queuing up to receive their grant. Millions are regularly checking the status of their R350 grant - more even than those checking on the status of the other Sassa grants. SRD grant payment dates are now very important days for struggling families.
Often a successful R350 grant appeal changes the financial status of a whole extended family. One of the key elements was that individuals could apply for the R350 grant online, which for the vast majority of South Africans means via cellphone.
The big question of course is what happens when the grant ends. Can a democratic government remove such a lifesaving payment and not be punished at the next election? It makes the case for a Basic Income Grant seem much stronger. Now for both social AND political reasons.
Update: 8th February 2024 - As expected, in his SONA speech President Ramaphosa announced that the Sassa R350 grant would be continued - and even improved.