The African National Congress (ANC), Congress of SA Trade Unions (COSATU) and SA Communist Party (SACP) alliance has said it will consider the possibility of a minimum income support grant in South Africa.
In a statement read by ANC Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte on Thursday, the alliance said it has developed a framework document that “calls for the urgent development of a COVID-19 Reconstruction, Development and Inclusive Growth Plan.”
Duarte said one of the elements of this Plan is to “bring back and investigate the feasibility of a minimum income support grant.”
Prescribed assets, NHI
The ANC’s National Working Committee (NWC) similarly called for the grant after a meeting it held in April. It said, “The government must look at a minimum income support grant that covers those falling outside of social grants, particularly informal workers and the unemployed.”
The government is currently providing a special grant of R350 per month for unemployed people who do not receive any other grants or income support from the government.
However, this grant will be paid for only six months until October, leading to calls for further support to these groups beyond the ongoing pandemic.
According to Duarte, other elements of the Plan include the following:
- Speeding up the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI).
- Focusing on domestic resource mobilisation through, amongst others, impact investments (“prescribed assets”).
- Financial sector transformation.
- Expediting plans for industrialisation and localisation, including in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, the green economy, agriculture and agro-processing, beneficiation and the creative and other sectors.
Opposition from DA
“The Alliance will consolidate the outcomes and give content to the new economy and broader social transformation required going forward,” Duarte said.
However, some of the elements have drawn opposition from some sections of society, particularly the Democratic Alliance (DA).
Earlier this week, the party slammed a proposal by the chairperson of the ANC’s Economic Transformation Committee, Enoch Godongwana, to increase access to pension funds to finance development projects, a policy dubbed prescribed assets.
DA MP Geordin Hill-Lewis said the ANC wants to “force pension funds to lend money to state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and other DFIs” such as the Land Bank and a future State Bank.
Hill-Lewis added, “The DA will fight this proposal every step of the way, because it is fundamentally destructive to economic confidence, and it undermines the pension savings of millions of hard working South Africans.
“The ANC cannot run SOEs properly, and will not sell them, so now wants to force citizens to pay by sacrificing pension returns. It is a lie for the ANC to say that asset prescription is necessary, or ‘developmental,’ when they refuse to consider every better policy option.”
The DA has also spoken out strongly against the NHI. On Monday, DA MP Siviwe Gwarube said, “We do not need a centralised approach to healthcare which seeks to create yet another state-owned-enterprise that will be open to mass corruption.”