Party has also called for the rapid advance in the implementation of the National Health Insurance
THE SACP has called on government to urgently convert the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant (SRDG), which is set to end this month, into a Universal Basic Income Guarantee.
The SRDG was introduced earlier this year for unemployed South African adults as part of the temporary relief measures aimed at mitigating the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The SACP has for years been pushing for the introduction of a universal basic income grant and has now called on the government to convert the SRDG into it.
Speaking during the virtual launch of the party’s Red October, SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande said the levels of social distress that were being compounded by massive job losses warranted interventions by the government to ensure that relief was given to those suffering socio-economic difficulties.
“The Special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant (SRDG) of R350 per month has offered a survival lifeline to millions. But that grant is now due to expire at the end of this month. We cannot allow this to happen,” Nzimande said.
Nzimande said it was concerning that the high rate of unemployment and the recently announced job losses saw many adult South Africans being unable to put food on the table.
“The SRDG grant which has been going to those who are not covered by pensions, UIF or as caregivers by the Child Support Grant must now be converted as an urgent priority into a Universal Basic Income Guarantee. Without this small but desperately needed lifeline many households will fall into deeper distress. The SACP calls for a basic income guarantee that is universal, in other words, that is not means-tested, to avoid costly administrative overheads,” Nzimande said.
The SACP has also called for the rapid advance in the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI), adding that the Covid-19 pancemic had increased the need for its introduction.
Nzimande slammed SA’s two-tier health system, where the private sector served 16% of the population with medical aids while the public sector remained over-burdened and under-funded and had the duty to take care of 84% of the population.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of both. Even before the pandemic, the private health care system was dysfunctional and even those with medical aids were finding that coverage was running out before the last months of the year. To compound matters, the private health care system is parasitic on the public sector. Nurses and doctors are trained in publicly funded facilities,” he said.