ANC wants stimulus plan and basic income grant to mitigate Covid-19 impact
The ANC has called for an effective stimulus package that will enable the government to effectively respond to the Covid-19 crisis.
It also wants the government to consider a minimum-income support grant that covers those currently falling outside of social grants — particularly informal workers and the unemployed.
The party's national working committee (NWC) met on Monday and in a subsequent statement commended the package of interventions introduced by the government to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus and the respiratory illness it causes, Covid-19.
“However, the meeting shared the concern expressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa that although these are measures in the right direction, constituting less than 0.1% of GDP is insufficient given the magnitude and intensity of the crisis we face,” said secretary-general Ace Magashule on Monday evening.
“The NWC, echoing the Alliance Political Council, therefore calls for an effective stimulus package that will enable us to effectively respond to the crisis.”
Magashule said the meeting held to discuss the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic supported the immediate measures proposed by its alliance partners, including:
- to provide greater capacity for the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and call on employers and unions to assist workers to access the fund;
- to expand and ensure effective food security for indigent households; and
- to widen the social net of current social grant recipients.
The virtual NWC meeting, which included all NEC members and provinces, also called for targeted social support for the unemployed. It said that in this regard the government must look at a minimum-income support grant that covers those currently falling outside of social grants, particularly informal workers and the unemployed.
Pressure has been mounting from civil society and academics for the government to increase social grants during the Covid-19 lockdown and to announce a stimulus plan to cushion the economy from the impact of the global pandemic.
Writing in his weekly newsletter on Monday, Ramaphosa acknowledged that the lockdown has gravely exacerbated a long-standing problem as over the past three weeks, SA has been confronted with distressing images of desperate people clamouring for food parcels at distribution centres and of community protests against food shortages.
The NWC said its meeting had also noted consultations led by the departments of basic education and higher education with relevant stakeholders to look at the 2020 school and academic year.
It said the overarching concern should be to protect children, teachers and their families from infection, through a phased approach and using other platforms, including e-learning and broadcasting classes.
The meeting also observed “with dismay” the increase incidents of gender-based violence during the lockdown.
The party said it will, with its alliance partners, ensure that all its structures continue to monitor this, to campaign against gender-based violence and to advocate for the arrests of perpetrators and measures to protect women, children and the elderly.
“On all these proposals and measures, government, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, will make announcements in due course,” said Magashule.
He said the NWC acknowledged that the pandemic exacerbates — and in turn is exacerbated by — the triple fault lines of poverty, inequality and unemployment, and their race, gender and spatial dimensions.
“Consequently, both the pandemic and measures intended to combat its spread place a disproportionate burden on poor communities in particular: the 8% of households still living in informal settlements, the unemployed — especially young unemployed, informal and casual workers, as well as small businesses and the informal sector.”
The ANC also condemned recent incidents of school vandalism, defiance of the ban on the trade in alcohol, and the undue use of force by security forces against communities, saying these fly in the face of the discipline and unity required in the crisis.