Cape Town - The government’s announcement that a basic income support for all unemployed people between the ages of 18 and 59 would be prioritised, has been welcomed.
Human rights advocacy group, the Black Sash Trust, which has been calling for it in efforts to tackle poverty, braved the cold and wet weather on Tuesday, demonstrating outside Parliament as Department of Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu tabled her Budget vote.
She listed 10 items that would be prioritised during the 2023/24 financial year.
“Working together with other mandated government departments, we will produce South Africa’s poverty alleviation strategy which includes the policy on the basic income support for 18- to 59-year-old people who are not working.
“We will optimise the performance of Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) while implementing a risk-based supervision framework that will prevent the abuse of NPOs in money laundering, terrorism financing and proliferation financing,” said Zulu.
According to Zulu, the department would also create employment opportunities for social service professionals to address the social behaviour change challenges and help curb the rise of social ills.
“We will also strengthen the provision of care and support services for the survivors of gender-based violence and femicide through the provision and operation of shelters, economic participation and psychosocial support services,” she said.
The department has been allocated a total budget of R263 billion for the 2023/24 financial year.
Included in this is an amount of R253bn which consists of direct cash transfer payments that the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) expects to pay to a projected 27 million eligible grant beneficiaries by March next year.
The department’s allocation also includes an additional R41bn that will be directed towards the implementation and administration of the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant until March next year.
Black Sash Trust spokesperson Akona Gwiliza said: “It was an important moment as Minister Zulu was delivering her Budget vote speech which determines the current administration and the future of social grants in South Africa. We could not have missed it, and were grateful for the minister acknowledging our presence and signing our memorandum.”
The organisation said the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expressed concerns that the poverty ratio in South Africa was unacceptably high.
“It highlighted that those with little or no income, who are between the ages of 18 and 59 and are capable of working, are not covered by existing schemes.
“(It recommended) that South Africa must ensure that those between, with little or no income, have access to social assistance.”