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In his 2019 state of the nation, address President Cyril Ramaphosa listed consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services as one of the priorities of the sixth administration. A country’s social wage is, in simple terms, services that reduce the cost of living. This includes basic services the government provides from public funds, as well as the protection provided by social wages.

Grants, school feeding programmes and subsidies for water and sanitation services are examples of a social wage. It goes without saying that with 7.2-million unemployed South Africans, the social wage is critical to protect many citizens from the effects of poverty. To put the need in context, in 2020 there were 12.8-million recipients of child support grants and 3.7-million recipients of the state old-age pension. The social wage is also a powerful tool to reduce inequality...

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