Vavi says state must implement permanent R1,500 basic income grants for those 18 to 59

SA Federation of Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.
SA Federation of Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.
Image: Daniel Born

SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says government must focus on making basic income grants permanent for 18 to 59-year-olds without a stable income. 

Addressing media at the Cry of the Xcluded conference, Vavi said the basic income grant should be R1,500 to meet the immediate living needs of the unemployed. 

“People are starving and without food. To end this, the state should look to progressively introduce an unconditional universal basic income grant. We need a basic income now for 18 to 59-year-olds who are without a stable income, to receive a basic grant from the state,” said Vavi. 

“This grant would boost the economy, creating demand for products and services, thus creating many jobs. Government must focus on attracting the people back into the economy instead of just foreign investors.”

Vavi said, with the local government elections done, pots of the unemployed remain empty and money put aside for local government was being slashed

“With even less money provided to local governments from the national government, municipalities will be forced to increase the prices of rates, water and electricity. More people will be excluded, service delivery will get even worse, and we get closer and closer to a climate change disaster,” he said. 

Previously, SA Communist Party (SACP) leader Blade Nzimande called on the government to convert the social relief of distress grant into a “universal basic income guarantee”.

Nzimande said the R350 grant was a needed lifeline and without it 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 of the 'triple H' (health, housing and hunger) plus water campaigns will be severely limited,” he said

In September, EFF leader Julius Malema said the government should increase the R350 grant

According to Malema, the 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 at the time. 

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