A Decent Path – a new documentary that traces the transformation of the R350 grant on the lives of beneficiaries.
The Social Relief of Distress Grant was introduced during the Covid-19 Pandemic crisis at the amount of R350 per month.
This monthly social assistance income support brought immediate relief to millions of unemployed adults and kept many local economies afloat, greatly reducing economic disaster that could have followed the devastating impact of the pandemic and the lockdowns that followed.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has praised the programme for its impact of “reducing poverty and enabling recipients to search for jobs and to engage in other economic activities to support their livelihoods”.
South Africa provides social grants to poor children and older persons as well as people with disabilities, but until the SRoD grant was introduced, despite a constitutional right to everyone to access social security, no social income support was available for working age adults in a country in which almost 12 million adults are unemployed.
In the November 2023 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, the Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, announced the further extension of the Social Relief of Distress that will appear in the 2024/25 Budget.
This will bring the programme into its fifth year of existence since its introduction in May 2020.
There is global evidence that social assistance income support not only meets basic needs but is one of the most significant investments in stimulating local economies.
A recent study in 42 countries shows a multiplier return of up to five times on government grant spending especially in countries of high inequality, and South Africa is the most unequal country in the world.
A Decent Path is a gripping documentary that charts the impact of the R350 grant on the lives of four main beneficiaries.
Interspersed with conversations with policy experts including the Minister of Social Development Minister Zulu, the documentary shows how transformative this grant can be, and how devastating the loss of the grant could be for beneficiaries.
Funding for the documentary came from the UN Sustainable Development Fund through UNICEF South Africa.
This is most fitting as universal social protection is one of the targets of the first Sustainable Development Goal of Ending Poverty.
The documentary ends with a clear understanding of how transformative a decent universal basic income could be.
There are echoes of the Kenyan Netflix documentary Free Money in A Decent Path which shows how topical and timely the South African policy intervention is.
However, the real wealth of this documentary lies in the stories and hopes of the beneficiaries.
The poignant sense that South Africa is on the cusp of a truly revolutionary moment that could transform the lives not only of millions of people living in destitution, but the country and the region as a whole; if national leaders have the courage to introduce a permanent and decent universal basic income support programme.
This would transform our stagnant economy and bring dignity to the lives of millions of South Africans.
The documentary is now available on:
Media enquiries may be forwarded to:
ISSUED JOINTLY BY THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT and SOCIAL POLICY INITIATIVE