South Africa: Granting Freedom - the Public Demand for Social Protection


While short-term measures to cushion the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic are welcome, South Africans want policy interventions to ease poverty and inequality.

Carin Runciman is the Director of the Centre for Social Change, University of Johannesburg (UJ). Benjamin Roberts is a Research Director and Coordinator of the South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS) in the Developmental, Capable and Ethical State (DCES) research division, Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). Gary Pienaar is a Senior Research Manager at the DCES, HSRC. Yul Derek Davids is a Chief Research Specialist at the DCES, HSRC. Narnia Bohler-Muller is the Division Executive of the DCES, HSRC. Kate Alexander holds the South African Research Chair in Social Change, UJ. Rofhatutshedzwa Ramaswiela is an Honours intern on the project and is currently completing her degree in Sociology at UJ.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the reintroduction of the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant and indicated that the government is considering the introduction of a basic income grant (BIG). These announcements follow the recent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. While the drivers of the turmoil are multidimensional, one clear factor was the worsening poverty and hunger that has occurred under the Covid-19 pandemic.

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