Over 200 people protested outside Treasury’s office to demand that Finance Minister Godongwana tax the rich to keep the R350 grant, increase it and turn it into a Basic Income Grant. Protesters also demanded the Finance Minister abandon Treasury’s proposals to scrap the R350 grant and replace it with unworkable grants such as a household grant.
“We are here to confront Treasury on the issues we experience with the R350. They don’t respond to our complaints, and these R350s are so important in communities, especially low income communities. We need these R350s to be turned into a Basic Income Grant of R1500 as there are no jobs. I’m a breadwinner at home, and everyone is looking at me for a meal.” – Lindiwe Nkosi from Soweto.
Treasury’s Chief Risk Officer Faith Leeuw told protesters that: “Comrades, your demands will get to the office of the Minister by the end of business today. We have also noted the turnaround times for which we are supposed to respond and you will receive feedback accordingly.”
When asked by a protester when feedback will be received, Ms Leeuw stated “Don’t worry” to which the crowd erupted with responses such as “We do worry!” Treasury has made controversial proposals, including a plan to replace the R350 SRD grant with a household grant.
Economists from the Institute For Economic Justice have warned that Treasury’s proposals will exclude millions of poor people.
“As Finance Minister Godongwana writes his speech to deliver in parliament next week, he must think long and hard about the grievances and demands of people whose dignity hangs in the balance. Finance Minister Godongwana must abandon this nonsense household grant,” said Tlou Seopa from amandla.mobi who organised the protest.
Earlier this year, in his capacity as ANC leader, President Ramaphosa admitted that there is a need for a Basic Income Grant. Next week’s Mid-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) will signal whether Finance Minister Godongwana will give political life to what even the governing party has identified as a necessary step.
Tshepiso Sehume, who was part of protest, said, “The R350 should be increased as it is not enough. They need to be increased and turned into a Basic Income Grant. When we buy food, we cannot buy sanitary pads and toiletries.”