Cape Town, Wednesday 15 May 2024: South Africa needs a basic income grant. More than half of the population lives in poverty, with at least 17 million working-age adults below the food poverty line. 60% of people in South Africa believe the government should introduce a basic income, and several parties have pledged to do so if they win enough support at the election.

Today, the Universal Basic Income Coalition (UBIC) launches our Universal Basic Income Policy Election Scorecard—a resource for voters to compare where parties stand on the question of basic income. The scorecard is attached below.

Out of the 19 parties we analysed in our scorecard, 10 have committed to expanding the social protection floor, and five have committed to a basic income grant or a universal basic income. Collective voter support for parties advancing basic income is estimated at over 50%.

This is a moment of huge potential and sets South Africa apart amongst peer countries. If a universal basic income grant (UBIG) becomes a reality after the election, it would position South Africa as a leader in charting a new path of inclusive growth.

But the Election Scorecard shows that there is a huge difference between the parties when it comes to social grant policy and that the devil is in the detail (or in some cases, the lack of detail). Some parties that have campaigned on improving social grants, actually perform poorly when we read the fine print.

In producing our Election Scorecard, we interrogated not only whether parties had pledged to introduce a basic income, but several other indicators, including whether the proposed basic income grant was enough to cover basic needs; who would have access to it; whether it would come with any strings attached; whether it would build on the social relief of distress (SRD) grant; and whether it would be funded in a way that is redistributive (or pro-poor).

These criteria are based on the demands reflected in the UBIC position paper, which are in turn rooted in robust local and international evidence of how a basic income could be implemented in  South Africa, to have a significant positive impact not only on poverty but also on local economic activity, growth, health, education, crime and women’s economic empowerment.

As part of the process of producing our scorecard, we reached out to all parties that met our criteria for inclusion and asked them for more information or clarification on their positions. We invited them to consider UBIC demands and incorporate them into their policy platforms. In response, three parties adopted new statements and policies to incorporate or affirm commitment to UBIC principles—these were the African National Congress (ANC)*, United Democratic Movement (UDM), and GOOD. We applaud them for their willingness to engage, and the broader commitment to democratic values that this represents.

The 2024 election is taking place against a backdrop of increasing hunger, deprivation, economic exclusion, and disenfranchisement. But our hard-won democracy gives us the capacity and the tools to change course. We have an opportunity on 29 May to take a significant step towards a just future, in which we unlock the massive potential of our people, and make sure everyone has an opportunity to contribute to building the South Africa we deserve.

The UBIC Election Scorecard is intended to help voters who care about basic income to make an informed choice on election day and to hold parties accountable to their manifesto promises after the election. While promoting informed engagement, the scorecard is not intended as an endorsement of any political party.

Notes to the editor:

  • *The ANC has committed to release a statement outlining their UBIG commitments on Wednesday 15 May following the release of our scorecard. UBIC has sighted the statement and incorporated it into our scoring decisions.
  • UBIC is not affiliated to any political party, nor do we endorse any political party in the 2024 election. Our scorecard represents an independent analysis of parties’ commitments against robust standards of progressive social protection policy.
  • The three best-performing parties on our scorecard are Action SA, the ANC, and GOOD.
  • Each of these parties has committed to a universal basic income and has released details of how it will be implemented inclusively and progressively.
  • Read the full report on our methodology and our scoring system, as well as commentary
  • UBIC is a collection of civil society organisations who advocate for the realisation of a “universal basic income” (UBI) in South Africa.
  • UBIC members represent a broad section of South African society, including youth, labour, grant beneficiaries, and children’s, economic justice, and human rights
  • We have a breadth and depth of expertise in economics and social policy.


For media enquiries please contact:

Dalli Weyers (IEJ) | 082 460 2093 | dalli.weyers@iej.org.za 

Download the complete UBIC Statement and Election Scorecard below:

UBIC is comprised of the following organisations: