The basic income grant, sometimes referred to as BIG, ( is a superficially attractive idea, but one that obviously won’t be realised any time soon. How should we interpret urgent demands for its immediate introduction?

Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu made the surprise announcement of government’s ostensible basic income grant plans at a government social cluster briefing on Monday. “We already have categorical grants for children, older persons and persons with disabilities,” Zulu said. “The basic income grant will be an income support grant for the population aged 18 to 59.” 

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