According to a recent quality of life survey by the Gauteng City-Region Observatory, six years of progress in poverty alleviation in South Africa has been undone by the Covid-19 pandemic, with 36% of households now living in poverty.
The government, saddled with heavy debt, has long balked at the idea of increasing monthly payouts to poor households whose plight has been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic over the past 18 months.
But a look at the lived experiences of ordinary South Africans makes clear that current levels of support grants are far from adequate and will continue to feed simmering anger among the population, as the looting and vandalism that rocked the KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July has already attested.
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Chris Gilili is a climate and environmental journalist at the Mail & Guardian’s environmental unit, covering socioeconomic issues and general news. Previously, he was a fellow at amaBhungane, the centre for investigative journalism.
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