paythegrants black logoOn 28 January 2021, SERI’s Alana Potter joined a press conference for the #PayTheGrants Campaign calling for the extension and increase of the COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) Grants to at least R585-00 in line with the food poverty line. The press conference was hosted by Black Sash, C19 People’s Coalition Cash Transfers Working Group and the Institute of Economic Justice (IEJ). Potter spoke alongside affected grant claimants, Zwelinzima Vavi, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, and social justice activists.

The #PayTheGrants Campaign joint statement calls for:

  • Extension and increase of the COVID-19 SRD Grants to at least the food poverty line of R585 per person per month
  • Unduly harsh and narrow criteria for accessing the grant need to be reassessed.
  • Inclusion of Caregivers for the SRD Grant regardless of whether they are receiving a child support grant on behalf of their children.
  • Urgent progress towards implementation of the long-overdue Basic Income Guarantee (Grant) for those aged 18 to 59 years.

IMG 1941In SERI’s statement, Alana spoke, in support of the joint statement, about the critical importance of ensuring that there is a continuation and increase of unconditional cash transfers to people as a bridge to a basic income grant. Given the devastating impact the pandemic has had the livelihoods of informal and precarious workers, Alana argued that the cash grant was vital for ensuring that people do not go hungry because they would ensure that local markets and informal traders can start trading again.

The  informal sector is critical in generating livelihoods, providing food security, and for reducing poverty. Informal traders, for example, do not only make food accessible, but they also maximise economic and ownership opportunities, creating multiplier effects into local communities they are part of.

Alana noted that civil society and a range of CSOs have mobilised to generate valuable evidence advocating for strengthening the informal economy by:

  1. Improving the regulatory environment: Simplify licensing: Local government regulations should not be used as an excuse to filter some traders, spazas and reclaimers out of the system. Neither should they be used to introduce new bureaucratic red tape barriers and at the same time open opportunities for abuses of power by law enforcement agencies. Street trader bylaws must be reviewed and made more enabling and brought in line with the Constitution and case law. (see SERI, 2018).
  2. Municipal and national government must give clear and consistent messages to the public, to local authorities and to law enforcement officers.
  3. Improve supportive public health measures at markets and trading spaces to facilitate safe trading.
  4. Recognise informal and precarious workers and the informal economy as legitimate and valid contributors to socio-economic resilience.
  5. Increase social protections.


  • Read the #PayTheGrants joint statement here.
  • Download COVID-19 guidelines for informal traders (in streets, markets and spaza shops) here.