Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)
Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

Basic income grant suggestion in SA receives mixed reaction

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Jul 16, 2020

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Cape Town - Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu’s suggestion that a basic income grant for unemployed South Africans aged 19 to 59, who are not usually eligible for other aid, has received mixed reaction across the political divide.

Zulu said the plan, put on the back-burner a couple of decades ago, had received fresh impetus in a bid to tackle “unemployment, poverty and hunger”.

Two weeks ago, ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule instructed the economic cluster to look into the feasibility of a basic income grant for the unemployed.

“Given the devastating economic impact expected as the pandemic unfolds, we must look at additional measures to broaden the social safety net and provide for the dignity of all South Africans,” he said.

Social development standing committee chairperson Gillion Bosman said: “This is an interesting development, especially at the time when the Department of Social Development and Sassa have been completely incapable of distributing the temporary Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grants and the department has also struggled with basic financial management. I welcome the discussion on this universal grant as it will act as some form of income to many people going hungry. This is a long overdue discussion and emanates from the Taylor report. But the minister must be open in her consultation and include provincial parliaments as a stakeholder.”

The EFF’s provinicial deputy chairperson Nosipho Makamba-Botya said: “We welcome the decision taken by the minister to consider a basic income grant, especially cases where people have lost their jobs due to the current circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a practical way in which the government can intervene in some of the most desperate situations and to hold a safety net for millions of South Africans who have been excluded from the economy of South Africa.

“A basic income will play a vital role in making sure no South African goes to bed on an empty stomach. In fact, this should be a broader strategy going forward that chang es the focus of the economy away from people to the basic needs of all who live in South Africa. We call for this process to be fair, transparent and corrupt free.”

The ANC’s provincial social development spokesperson Gladys Bakubaku-Vos said: “The question on everyone’s mind was how the government would address the question of poverty during this period and post-Covid-19 as people are losing jobs and their livelihoods. This intention to reintroduce the universal basic income grant for those between 18 and 59 will go a long way towards poverty alleviation. I wish we could accelerate this discussion and address it urgently as it is not something new and it is now urgently needed.”


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Cape Argus

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