A reflection of the Social Security in the 6th administration and a challenge to the new incumbents.

30 May 2024

2024 marks a significant milestone for South Africa, that is, a celebration of 30 years of democracy. It brings the Social Policy Initiative (SPI) great pleasure to acknowledge and celebrate the salience of the 29 May Elections Day. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to the people of South Africa for their commitment to democratic principles.

As we witness the winding up of the 6th administration under President Cyril Ramaphosa, we take this opportunity to reflect on the progress made and the challenges that lie ahead, particularly in the realm of social security.

Over the last five years, the African National Congress (ANC) government has made significant strides toward extending the social security mechanisms.

In response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) Grant was introduced in 2020 as a lifeline to millions of South African adults between the ages of 18 and 59 who had no other financial support or assistance. The duration of the grant has been extended to March 2025. Recently we saw the only increase in value of the grant since its inception from R350 to R370. In April 2024 payment was approved to 8,5 million adults in April 2024.

We also recognise the increase in value of the Child Support Grant (CSG), since 2019. In May 2024, the Child Support Grant was R530 per child per month. But this is still 30% below the food poverty line of R760. We vote in new governments for our children.

We also recognise the value of the national minimum wage (NMW), which includes the highly vulnerable categories of farm and domestic workers, has also increased well above inflation each year since its introduction in 2019.

While these are praiseworthy achievements, we believe that the 7th administration must do better than this.

A viable country needs a universal social security system that provides an economic stimulus to get the moribund economy going and provides inclusive programmes that meet the needs of informal and atypical workers. That is the future of work globally, but South Africa’s social security policy R and D is located in an Apartheid past, not our current or future reality.

With the crippling nature of poverty, widening disparity inequality gaps, and rampant unemployment rates, we cannot overlook the current reality of South Africa. The country has over 30 million people in poverty and a global outlier of 12 million unemployed adults which includes almost 5 million informal workers outside of any social security system, much thinking and investment is required.

The SPI remains committed to and will continue its support aimed at calling on comprehensive social security mechanisms that alleviate poverty while stimulating the economy and bringing GDP growth of up to 5.6% per annum. Our research which was presented to many of the political parties ahead of the elections demonstrates the powerful impact of an immediate economic stimulus of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) of R1500 per month including to all children, and a short to medium-term employment stimulus.

We stand ready to work with the new administration and other key stakeholders to create a more equitable and just society, as Section 27 (1) (c) of the constitution guarantees.

Executive Director, Isobel Frye, of the SPI, said “The long overdue steps of expanding access to decent basic income will enable all to benefit from the dividend of democracy which is so urgently needed with the rising social divisions and mistrust”.

The SPI congratulates the outgoing administration for the notable strides made toward more and better social security. We urge the 7th administration to rebuild the economy and society on the principles of universal social security as presented in our research report The Economics of Implementing Universal Basic Income in South Africa which can be found on our website www.spi.net.za.

As we celebrate three decades of democracy, may we not forget that the true measure of our shared success lies within the well-being and protected dignity of all in the country


Please contact:

Isobel Frye: 0845081271

The SPI is a feminist social security think tank based in Johannesburg. The SPI is one of the representatives of the Community Constituency that sits on the NMW Commission (NMW), which is a voluntary service we are proud to perform.