South Africa: Averting South Africa's Political Crisis - Will the Basic Income Grant Cut It?


The proposal for a universal basic income or basic income grant has been on the table for almost 20 years, with seemingly waning enthusiasm from policymakers over time. After the recent series of violent protests in parts of the country that exposed mounting political and economic frustrations, President Cyril Ramaphosa has brought the proposal back into the spotlight.

Gugu Resha is the Machel-Mandela Fellow at The Brenthurst Foundation

The initial proposal in 2002 was driven by the need to address the social and economic prevailing legacy of gross disparities created by an exclusionary apartheid regime. So, it is worth asking: why now? Could this be a desperate attempt to appease the poor, or a genuine readiness to address the deep social divisions and widespread poverty that continue to bedevil the country?

Economic and political frustrations merge

The political unrest that took place over the past two weeks in KwaZulu- Natal and Gauteng, while unlike anything the country has seen in years, came as no surprise. Violent protests have been a frequent occurrence as citizens united against poor service delivery and high crime rates.

However, these are usually contained within specific communities, unlike these protests, which began in KwaZulu-Natal -- in...

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