Calls for a Basic Income Grant of R1268 have intensified. Three civil society organisations including the Poverty and Inequality Institute have demanded South Africa’s government to provide a universal Basic Income Grant in order to assist over 13 million people living under the poverty line.
The country had been providing a R350 Social Relief of Distress grant at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic The SRD payments bridged a gap for citizens who remain ineligible for other SASSA grants. However, after many extensions from the initial deadline, the grant was discontinued. Many argued that the discontinuation left millions of vulnerable people who have come to depend on the grant to provide for their needs in the lurch.
In an interview with the SABC, Isobel Frye from the Poverty and Inequality Institute says the amount of R1 268 is indexed to the upper-bound poverty line.
“With one swoop, we could eliminate poverty by having it paid. If we give too little, it doesn’t have a structural impact. So in a way people talk about that old-fashioned notion that the poor will be dependent on grants – to an extent that is correct – if the amount is just enough to survive and we won’t have that multiplier effect. So the amount itself cannot be too little, or else what you are doing is just making sure that people are surviving. We need that springboard effect,” she said.
Speaking at a Mandela Day memorial lecture on Sunday, 18 July, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that a Basic Income Grant would show people that the government cared.
“This will validate our people and show them that we are giving serious consideration to their lives. We are giving active consideration to the grinding poverty that we continue to see in our country. We need to address the structural inequalities in our economy,” Ramaphosa said.