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A basic income grant could be a priority for the new government, report card shows

A basic income grant could be a priority for the new government, report card shows
From left: A DA gathering. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach) | ActionSA members. (Photo: Gallo Images / Misha Jordaan) | An IFP community meeting at Gandhi Luthuli Peace Park in Durban. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart) | Supporters of the Good party in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town. (Photo: Gallo Images / Die Burger / Jaco Marais) | ANC flags at the party’s 2021 manifesto launch. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla) | The EFF's manifesto launch at Gandhi Square in Johannesburg on 26 September 2021. (Photo: Gallo Images / Laird Forbes)

Fourteen organisations supporting a basic income grant (the Universal Basic Income Coalition) have found ActionSA, the ANC and the Good party have passed with an ‘A’ for good ideas on implementing a basic income grant.

The parties holding the top six slots in election polls all support a basic income grant, indicating that it will likely become one of the first big equity policies adopted after a new government is sworn in. 

The top six are the ANC, DA, EFF, MK, IFP and Action SA. They all support some form of basic income grant but were scored unevenly by the basic income coalition.

The ANC and Action SA scored eight out of a possible 12 from the Universal Basic Income Coalition (Ubic). The ANC’s partner in national government, Good, also scored eight (an “A”). The EFF, a potential coalition partner of the ANC, scored a “C” from Ubic.

The DA also proposes a form of basic income but only scored 2/12 (“D”) as it attaches many conditions to such a grant. The IFP scored 3/12. (Also a “D”).

The DA, IFP and Action SA are part of the Multi-Party Charter which supports a basic income grant.  

This suggests that in a country with an expanded unemployment rate of over 40% (including people who have become discouraged from looking for work), the idea of a basic income grant is becoming more widely accepted.

Read more in Daily Maverick: 2024 elections

“South Africa needs a basic income grant. More than half the population lives in poverty, with at least 17 million adults living below the food poverty line. Sixty percent of people in South Africa believe the government should introduce such a grant,” said the coalition as it launched its report card. 

basic income grant

Ten of the 19 parties it analysed committed to expanded “social protections”, while five fully backed a grant. 

“This moment of huge potential sets South Africa apart from peer countries. If a universal basic income grant becomes a reality after the election, it would position South Africa as a leader in charting a new path of inclusive growth,” the 14 organisations said. 

The coalition has set out 12 principles for a basic income grant: 

  • Must expand social protection;
  • Have a clear plan and time frame for implementation;
  • Be of adequate value (above the food poverty line of R760);
  • Be universal for people aged 18 to 59 years old – from 60, people can go onto the old age pension grant;
  • Be available to all living in poverty;
  • Have no conditionalities;
  • Be funded in a redistributive way (such as through a wealth tax);
  • Be paid to individuals;
  • Have no unfair exclusions;
  • Must protect data (under State Capture, rogue companies sold grantees’ data);
  • Must retain, not replace, other social grants; and
  • Must build on the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant.

South Africa leads the developing world in building a social solidarity system. Nineteen million people currently receive a grant, while the Presidency’s 30-year review says the R350 Social Relief of Distress grant increased the pool to 26 million people.

The ANC, likely to get the most votes even though polls show it will lose its majority, says it will build on the SRD grant.

Ubic failed the following parties for not including adequate social protection in their plans: ACDP, AIC (African Independent Congress – an ANC ally), ATM, Mmusi Maimane’s Bosa, Cope, FF+, PAC, Gayton McKenzie’s Patriotic Alliance and Songezo Zibi’s Rise Mzansi. DM


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