A small cash grant to the poorest workers was introduced as an ad hoc and temporary response to the collapse of employment induced by the Covid-19 lockdowns. The social relief of distress grant (Covid SRD) operates in terms of national disaster regulations and its financing depends on periodic extensions announced in the national budget.

However, its success has underscored a broad consensus in favour of continuation. The first attempt to withdraw it ended in defeat for the Treasury in the wake of the July unrest. Since then, President Cyril Ramaphosa has clearly warmed to the idea...

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