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Madonsela rubbishes claims basic income grant will prevent job creation

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has joined many petitioning for the extension of the R350 grant. File photo.
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has joined many petitioning for the extension of the R350 grant. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has weighed in on the presidential economic advisory council’s warning to President Cyril Ramaphosa about implementing a permanent basic income grant. 

According to News24, Ramaphosa has been given a strong warning not to implement a permanent basic income grant due to the risks it holds for the country and the damage it could do to economic growth and job creation.

Madonsela disagreed, saying the grant “is not pitched at the poverty level”. 

“Ultimately it will depend on whether the president only listens to libertarian orthodox economists or also listens to development economists and common sense,” she said. 

“There’s no way a basic income grant, which is not even pitched at the poverty level, could prevent job creation. Pay the grant.”

Earlier this month, Ramaphosa, supported by social development minister Lindiwe Zulu and finance minister Enoch Godongwana, held meetings with civil society to discuss the possible extension of the R350 Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant (SRD) grant and the possible introduction of a basic income grant.

“The meeting affirmed the need to work towards affordable and sustainable social protection mechanisms that complement job creation and drive local demand, with due consideration of the fiscal implications.

“The meeting agreed to have further engagement on the proposals as part of broader consultation among all stakeholders on social protection measures appropriate to the country’s circumstances and the needs of the South African people,” said the presidency.

Madonsela joined many petitioning for the extension of the R350 until it is turned into basic income support.

“If we don’t act, this grant could come to an end,” she said.

EFF leader Julius Malema echoed Madonsela’s call, but said the grant should not be a permanent solution.

He said an increase would be a measure to “restore the dignity of a black person”.

“The EFF doesn’t want R350. They must give you more, but not as a permanent solution,” he said

In 2020, SA Communist Party leader Blade Nzimande called on government to convert the SRD grant into a “universal basic income guarantee”.

Nzimande said the R350 grant was a needed lifeline and without it many households would fall into deeper distress.

“Without a basic income guarantee, without each adult in a household being able to contribute to the household income, the impact of all the ‘triple H' (health, housing and hunger) and water campaigns will be severely limited,” he said

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