The ruling ANC says that the government should extend income grants in South Africa as part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic. When addressing a Lekgotla meeting recently, Presindent Cyril Ramaphosa, speaking in his capacity as the ANC president, said that because the Covid-19 pandemic is continuing, the party has agreed to consider the extension of basic income relief to unemployed people. Ramaphosa added that this would depend on the state of public finances and that there should be a clear ‘exit strategy’.
This comes just a week after Ramaphosa, speaking in his capacity as the president of the country, said that South Africa simply did not have the finances to extend significant Covid-19 support into 2021. The president told a national radio station that South Africa does not have the money to provide the same kind of relief packages which the government offered during the first wave of the pandemic.
“We do not have the money, that is the simple truth. We are constrained from a financing point of view. The relief measures we announced last year amounted to about 10% of our GDP, which is quite big for a little economy like ours. Right now, we are at a stage where we have to fund the vaccines, which is going to amount to a lot of money as well. We are constrained,” he said.
The pandemic prompted Ramaphosa to announce a temporary top-up of existing grants by up to R300, including a R350 unemployment grant in late March 2020. During the party’s birthday celebration at the beginning of this month, the ANC also announced that it will consider the introduction of a basic income grant in South Africa in 2021.
“The consideration for the grant comes after emergency financial measures introduced around the Covid-19 pandemic come to an end. Despite the country’s limited resources, the country needs to look at identifying other poverty alleviation measures. This year the ANC government, and broader society, will need to continue discussions on the desirability and the viability of a basic income grant to provide a social safety net to poor people in our country,” he said.