Cape Town - Forty civil society organisations and activists are demanding that the government introduce, without delay, a universal Basic Income Grant (BIG) of R1 268 a month.
The organisations, based in different provinces, said the state of the country and situation in some of the provinces was testament to why South Africans need the BIG.
Women’s Legal Centre director, Seehaam Samaai, said the collective had come together when they realised how great the need for the BIG grant was.
“The South African constitution guarantees equality; it’s there to protect all our rights. However, currently, a concerning number of people are living in poverty, barely able to access basic needs or services.
“The BIG would be a grant that everyone in need can get. This is how we can ensure that everyone will receive support, that no one falls through the cracks, and everybody is provided for.
“Not only that, but the BIG would also enable more people to participate in the rebuilding of our economy, which before Covid-19 was already struggling,” Samaai said.
The BIG activists are also demanding that the government reinstate the Covid-19 Social Relief grant and the Caregiver’s grant.
“Instead of further supporting people, the government decided to cut the Covid-19 grant and the Caregivers grant. While these grants did not offer a lot of financial support, people were able to do something, at least.
“Right now, communities across the country are feeling the pinch of not having this support, and there can be no justification for taking away what people need. It’s also not to say the government cannot afford to give people the grant, they can. There are over 11 ways that the grant can be funded and people assisted,” Samaai said.
Poverty and Inequality Institute director of Studies, Isobel Frye, said: “These demands have been put to the state in different forums for many months, but we have been told there is no money. We have no option now but to make this a national demand.
“The campaign will include a litigation strategy so the rule of law everyone talks of will be put to work for the millions of poor in this country. The litigation will be supported by a full campaign built on education, mass action, and continued engagement with decision-makers and a constant media platform to raise national participation.”
On Friday, the group of activists and advocates for social change will meet to launch their strategy.