The African National Congress (ANC) is set to consider introducing a R500 monthly income grant for unemployed South Africans who don’t receive any other form of grants from the government, according to a Bloomberg report published on Friday.
The report cited an ANC discussion paper that puts forward the proposal, which was previously discussed by the party but abandoned.
According to the discussion paper, the grant would help prevent “social unrest” as the economic impact of COVID-19 becomes more severe in the coming months.
Grant ‘to cost R197.8b per annum’
“COVID-19 has weakened and undermined the resilience and survival strategies of low and no-income households. The social, economic and political costs of not introducing a basic income grant in South Africa are more disastrous than the actual monetary costs,” the paper reportedly argues.
It proposes that the grant be distributed to South Africans aged between 19 and 59 who aren’t eligible for existing grants. This would cost R197.8 billion per year, and the paper proposes recouping 50-60 percent of this amount from extra taxes on those who are employed.
The ANC will reportedly discuss this proposal at a top leadership meeting this weekend. At a meeting in April, the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) expressed support for a “minimum income support grant.”
“There must be targeted support for the unemployed. In this regard, the extended NWC supports the proposal of the Alliance Political Council that government must look at a minimum income support grant that covers those currently falling outside of social grants, particularly informal workers and the unemployed,” ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule said in a statement afterwards.
Earlier this month, the ANC tripartite alliance, which includes the Congress of SA Trade Unions (COSATU) and SA Communist Party (SACP), said it will consider the possibility of a minimum income support grant in South Africa.
R350 SRD grant
In April, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a R350 special relief of distress (SRD) grant, which the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) is now distributing for six months until October.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has called for this grant, alongside other grant increases announced by Ramaphosa, to be made permanent.
“The basic-income grant must not be reversed; it must instead be increased to R1,000 per month,” EFF leader Julius Malema said in his Freedom Day speech.
There has been huge demand for the grant so far. In an update last week, SASSA said it had approved 3.2 million applications at the time and paid 1.2 million of them. Payments are still in progress, but delays are occasioned by “necessary verification processes,” it added.