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Basic income grant on the cards as Covid-19 threat intensifies

The department of social development is considering introducing a basic income grant, Minister Lindiwe Zulu said on Monday.

At a briefing by the National Coronavirus Command Council, Zulu said “discussions for the introduction of the basic income grant have been brought back to the table”.

“The current proposal will help realise the government’s broader social security reform,” she said, adding that the basic income grant will be unconditional.

According to Zulu, the basic income grant has been under discussion for some time now. The announcement comes amid calls by civil society to introduce the grant urgently, so as to alleviate the crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, which threatens to send many people into poverty.

By Sunday night, the national confirmed coronavirus case load was at more than 276 000 cases, with 4 079 deaths.

Last week, a statement by the department revealed that it is working on a proposal on the feasibility of the grant that will provide support to South Africans between the ages of 18 and 59 who have no other income. 

Zulu said, however, the basic income grant will not be implemented “tomorrow”. 

“There’s quite a number of things that we have to do, and systems that we have to put in place to make sure that it covers the correct people,” the minister said.

The announcement also comes amid controversy over delays in the rolling out of the R350 special Covid-19 relief grant. Zulu said that 7.5-million people applied for this grant and 4 424 720 applications had been approved.

A number of applications had been rejected because the applicants had been found on other grant databases. The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), however, has found that potential beneficiaries had been left on these databases in error.

The agency is thus reviewing all declined special Covid-19 grant applications.

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Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.

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