ANC pushes for extension of Covid-19 grants in South Africa – despite lack of funds

 ·25 Jan 2021

The ruling ANC says that the government should extend income grants in South Africa as part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a closing address following a party Lekgotla meeting on Sunday, Cyril Ramaphosa – speaking as presidency of the ANC – said that the party had agreed, in the context of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, to consider the extension of basic income relief to unemployed people who do not receive any other form of state assistance.

This would depend on the state of public finances and that there should be a clear ‘exit strategy’, he said.

The push comes in direct contrast to comments made by Ramaphosa last week – speaking as president of the country – in which he indicated that South Africa simply did not have the finances to extend significant Covid-19 support into 2021.

The president told 702 that South Africa does not have the money to provide the same kind of relief packages which the government offered during the first wave of the pandemic.

“We do not have the money, that is the simple truth,” he said.  “We are constrained from a financing point of view.”

“The relief measures we announced last year amounted to about 10% of our GDP, which is quite big for a little economy like ours.

“Right now we are at a stage where we have to fund the vaccines, which is going to amount to a lot of money as well. We are constrained,” he said.

The pandemic prompted president Cyril Ramaphosa to announce a temporary top-up of existing grants by up to R300, including a R350 unemployment grant in late March 2020.

In its birthday celebrations at the start of Janaury, the ANC also announced that it will consider the introduction of a basic income grant in South Africa in 2021.

Rampahosa said consideration for the grant comes after emergency financial measures introduced around the Covid-19 pandemic come to an end.

Despite the country’s limited resources, the country needs to look at identifying other poverty alleviation measures, he said.

“This year the ANC government, and broader society, will need to continue discussions on the desirability and the viability of a basic income grant to provide a social safety net to poor people in our country,” he said.

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