[MUST READ]: Lumkwani had received R1 050. After paying the taxi, he spent the rest on groceries for his daughter, girlfriend and grandmother. But, according to the Household Affordability Index released in December, this lump sum would not be enough for an average household monthly food basket, which has increased by R161.89 to R4 018.22.
The household food basket tracks 44 basic food (including maize meal, rice and potatoes) that women living in low-income households try to buy each month.
Another young person trying to get by is Tshepo Malepeng. After he was financially excluded from university in 2017, he moved back home with his two sisters and mother. His mother used to run a thriving daycare centre in Mamelodi, Pretoria. Voices of a couple of kids linger in the air while he speaks outside the kitchen of his mother’s house.
His voice gets louder, and his face brightens up as he tells the M&G about his entrepreneurial pursuits, which had financially sustained his family before the pandemic restricted them to their home.
Since dropping out, Malepeng has been trying to run a stockbroking business. He also dyes people’s clothes. But by May there was not much business for him or his mother. He applied for the grant for himself and his 20-year-old sister. Three months later he went to the Post Office to check.
“[It’s] by grace I was able to get my money. If I did not go check, I would not have received the money, because I did not receive an SMS. When I checked the status, it would just say ‘failed’. So something told me to go to the Post Office and check,” Malepeng says.
His first payment was R1 050, and his mother used it to feed them all. The monthly R350 since then has also ensured that they don’t sleep on an empty stomach.
Extend the grant!
But [Shaeera Kalla] said that the grant “is not, and was never, enough. Community organisations and civil society have been demanding upwards of the food poverty line of R585.”
The group has been lobbying the government to extend and increase the grant. In his closing speech at the ANC’s national executive committee lekgotla in January, Ramaphosa said that the government would consider extending the grant. This, he said, would be done with a clear exit strategy and would also depend on the state of public finances.
Lumka Oliphant, spokesperson for the social development department, told the M&G that it is currently developing policy proposals on the basic income grant. “Key factors to be considered include the costing of the amount to be provided, funding sources and phasing of implementation,” she said.”