Government considers basic income grant after riots and looting in South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa says that the government is currently investigating the feasibility of introducing a basic income grant in South Africa.

Speaking at a Mandela Day memorial lecture on Sunday (18 July), the president said that the grant would show people ‘that the government cared’, BusinessDay reported.

“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,” he said.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has also called for the introduction of a basic income grant as part of a response to the massive socioeconomic fallout from the riots in KZN and Gauteng.

“In responding to the crisis, the South African government has no choice but to abandon its austerity framework and choose an expansionary fiscal policy framework,” Cosatu said. “This moment calls for a change of mindset and an acknowledgement of the fact that the current unemployment and poverty levels are not sustainable.”

Under urgent consideration

Social Development minister Lindiwe Zulu said that the need to introduce a basic income grant has become an urgent consideration for the government.

Presenting her departmental budget speech on 25 May, Zulu said her department has developed a Basic Income Grant (BIG) discussion document that it has started consultations on.

“These consultations are targeted at developing the BIG financing mechanism for the unemployed population group that is aged 19 — 59 years,” she said.

Zulu said that a secondary process around a new BIG is being discussed by the Nedlac.

The ANC has previously said that it will also look at the feasibility of introducing a basic income grant as part of a series of outcomes decided upon by its National Executive Committee (NEC).


Read: Economic impact of riots and looting in South Africa and wider emerging problems

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Government considers basic income grant after riots and looting in South Africa