Implementation of a Basic Income Grant in South Africa

by Eden Tewolde

Institution: Roskilde University
Year: 2015
Keywords: BIG; Basic Income Grant; South Africa; Development; Social Policies
Record ID: 1119284
Full text PDF: http://rudar.ruc.dk/handle/1800/23318


This paper sets out to analyse why the Basic Income Grant (BIG) was not implemented in South Africa. During the 1990’s the BIG was discussed within academic circles and civil society organisations argued in favour of its implementation. Despite pressure, the governing party, the African National Congress (ANC) never decided to pass the proposal and introduce a universal grant. Present day South Africa is characterised as a highly uneven country facing severe numbers of unemployment and poverty headcounts. Due to this, the non-implementation of the BIG becomes relevant. This paper sets out to answer the following problem formulation: Despite ongoing support from civil society and strong arguments in favour of the BIG, why has it not been implemented in South Africa? The paper is conducted as an empirical study. Empirical data such as official published reports, statistics, statements et cetera form the foundation of the analysis and the conclusion. Three research questions will set the base of the analysis and discussion. The first research question will elucidate what national actors have been active in the debate concerning the BIG. A theory of nondecision will be applied in order to shed light on the process of not implementing the BIG. The second research question seeks to argue whether or not international institutions, the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF), have had an influence on passed social reforms in South Africa. A theory of sociological liberalism will be applied in order to clarify this. The final research question will on the basis of former subsets, discuss the scope and different perspectives of these. Finally it is concluded that the non-implementation of the BIG in South Africa, is partially due to political avoidance and the transfer of neo-liberal values, as represented in the WB and IMFs official codes and norms. This conclusion is only a tentative one and several different perspectives have become evident when conducting this research paper.