Sunday Times

Basic income grant still in the pipeline


The ANC has promised to convert the R350 social relief of distress (SRD) payment into a basic income grant as part of its bid for success in the upcoming general elections.

The party yesterday outlined its plan to curb raging unemployme­nt and poverty by providing comprehens­ive social security and basic services to needy households.

Presenting the party’s election manifesto, President Cyril Ramaphosa said an ANC government would “progressiv­ely implement a basic income support grant by extending and improving the value and coverage of the SRD grant for the unemployed”.

While he did not provide a time frame for this plan, the R350 SRD grant, introduced to reduce poverty during the Covid pandemic, has already been provisiona­lly allocated funding until March 2027.

In this year’s budget, finance minister Enoch Godongwana allocated R33.6bn for the extension of the SRD grant until March next year, with provisiona­l allocation­s of R35.2bn and R36.8bn for the 2025/26 and 2026/27 financial years.

During his state of the nation address, Ramaphosa said the SRD grant supported 9-million unemployed people each month, while the latest unemployme­nt statistics reveal that 7.9-million working-age people in South Africa are jobless.

As South Africa goes into the elections on May 29, the ANC faces its toughest electoral test since 1994, given the desperatel­y high levels of unemployme­nt and poverty in the country.

In the hopes of keeping the party’s electoral support above 50%, Ramaphosa said an ANC government would “prevent vulnerabil­ity and destitutio­n as a result of the loss of income through social insurance for workers”. It would also ensure the national minimum wage was increased in line with inflation and “protect the value of social grants” for children, the elderly and people with disabiliti­es.

An ANC government would also lower the cost of food through VAT exemptions on essential items, as well as support food security through land reform, support for community and home gardens, and acting against price-fixing.

To reduce the cost of living, an ANC administra­tion would ensure basic services were affordable by maintainin­g and expanding subsidised basic services such as water, housing and electricit­y for the poor.

“We will develop more subsidised human settlement­s [and] implement the National Health Insurance [scheme] to reduce the cost of medical care, especially for the poor.

“[We will] reduce energy bills by promoting cheaper or subsidised solar power, introduce measures to regulate rental prices for student accommodat­ion, and increase affordable rail and other commuter transport,” Ramaphosa said.

To eradicate income poverty and reduce inequality, an ANC government would prioritise job creation, setting up public employment programmes to create work opportunit­ies in the public, small business and social sectors, he said.

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