“As long as poverty, injustice, and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.”
A Black Sash docu-series highlights the lived reality of too many
living in South Africa is a daily struggle for survival
In 2023, Black Sash, in collaboration with veteran producer Johann Abraham and with the support of our community partners, produced a docu-series highlighting people’s lived experiences as they faced poverty, hunger and unemployment. he docu-series highlights the importance of supporting the call for Basic Income Support. The purpose of these stories is to get a glimpse of the struggles of many who live in South Africa.
The series provides a platform for the most vulnerable in our society to use their own voice to tell those living in South Africa about their lived reality, their daily struggle to survive.
These stories explore the following themes:
- Their Story Their Truth – the struggle to survive.
- How they survive.
- Whether the R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant is enough.
- Exploring what role government must play.
- And contemplating what the future holds.
Why Black Sash advocates for the right to basic income support for 18 to 59 years.
The triple challenge of inequality, poverty and unemployment have been a consistent challenge that has been plaguing our country even though South Africa has one of the most advanced Constitutions in the world and despite its social assistance policy which has been described as a major intervention to address the issues in our country.
While acknowledging that social grants have been an important instrument in reducing poverty in the country, there is a concern by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that the poverty rates remain high and has recognised the vulnerability of the “missing middle” where those between the age of 18 to 59 years are excluded from being eligible for permanent social assistance, especially with high unemployment.
In its efforts to address unemployment with job creation, it is therefore important for the government to complement job creation with support for the unemployed as we work towards economic recovery. The government recognised this vulnerability of the unemployed when the President introduced the COVID Social Relief of Distress Grant for the unemployed as a buffer against hunger and starvation in 2020.
This was a significant intervention and an acknowledgement by the government that the unemployed could not support themselves. Following pressure from civil society, the grant has been extended until March 2025. The government is yet to commit to permanent social assistance for the unemployed between 18 and 59 years where its value is enough to pay for basic needs and can be accessed by all who are unemployed.
Given that South Africa is struggling to create work opportunities for the unemployed despite the commitment by the government to job creation, government needs to fulfil its constitutional mandate to support those who cannot support themselves by committing to basic income support for the unemployed in their struggle to find jobs and work towards universal basic income as the solution to address the challenges faced by those living in South Africa.
Our work on the ground with community partners expose us to the lived realities faced those living in South Africa who struggle to survive from day to day. The time is crucial for civil society to accelerate and highlight the need for Basic Income Support.