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The Basic Income Grant (BIG) has long been a topic of debate in South Africa. The idea was first raised in the 1997 White Paper on Social Welfare. More than 20 years later more than half the population lives on R1335 per month or less. In the context of widespread poverty, unemployment, and the need for wealth redistribution and social redress, the justification for a BIG are especially relevant today. 

The South African government introduced a Social Relief of Distress Grant (SRD) to ameliorate growing levels of hunger resulting from the hard lockdown, however, the monetary value of the grant amounts to approximately a loaf of bread a day – far below a decent standard of living. Nevertheless, this grant did prevent more than 10 million beneficiaries from falling into starvation. There are a still number of limitations in relation to the SRD, the biggest issue being that the grant is scheduled to come to an end in March 2023, which will result in 10 million people and their dependents living in an even more precarious situation than they are stuck in today.

In the context of the proposed termination of the SRD, the introduction of a permanent (Universal) Basic Income Grant is discussed once more as a viable solution to the amelioration of extreme poverty.

On 6 December 2022, the Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC), Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (RLS) and Mail & Guardian will host a discussion on the introduction of a (U)BIG in South Africa and will provide expert analysis on how the BIG can indeed work and how it can be financed. Please register here for the hybrid event.


·       The Honorable Lindiwe Zulu, Minister of Social Development

·       Princess Majola, Assembly of the Unemployed Member

·       Dominic Brown, Director at the Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC)


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