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20 October 2021

Webinar Series on the Big Questions for Universal Basic Income Guarantee – Can we afford it?

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Press Release

Pretoria, Tuesday 19 October 2021 – The COVID-19 crisis and rising unemployment, poverty and desperation in South Africa has led to a renewed call for a Universal Basic Income Guarantee (UBIG). A UBIG is an unconditional cash transfer policy, whereby people aged between 18 and 59 years are guaranteed a basic monthly income. When debated in the early 2000s, basic income support was rejected in favour of efforts toward job creation and pro-poor growth, many of which have not materialised.

To further explore the debates around basic income in South Africa, the Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ) and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), in partnership with #PayTheGrants, invite members of the media to join Session 1 of #BigQuestionsForUBIG webinar series titled, Can we afford it?

The webinar is aimed at exploring questions around a UBIG. What is at stake, and how can we push for meaningful change in this time of grave uncertainty and hopeful possibility?

The webinar series will take place as follows:

Session 1: Can we afford it? (20 October 2021, 11:00–13:00 (SAST) Session 2: Why does design matter? (3 November 2021, 11:00–13:00 (SAST)) Session 3: What would be the impact? (17 November 2021, 15:00–17:00 (SAST)) Session 4: How do we get there? (1 December 2021, 15:00–17:00 (SAST)

The #BigQuestionsForUBIG to be explored on this webinar will include: Can South Africa afford it? Are additional taxation or greater borrowing possible? Should economic growth come first, or could a UBIG drive it? Can we accept current inequality? From a myriad of competing interests, two stances emerge: those that say we can afford to implement a UBIG, and those that say we cannot afford not to.

Join us tomorrow to hear Gilad Isaacs unpack IEJ’s recent research into potential financing measures through taxation, while Léo Czajka will be presenting insights from the World Inequality Lab’s project investigating wealth inequality in South Africa.

Duma Gqubule will be sharing his newly finished work into funding a UBIG from a heterodox economics perspective. To contextualise these choices, Evelyn Astor from the ITUC will be exploring research around the impacts of social spending that challenges us to question whether we should understand a UBIG as a cost, or a vital investment.

The details of the event are as follows:

Date: 20 October 2021

Time: 11h00 to 13h00

Zoom link:

For media enquiries contact: Adziliwi Nematandani – 082 765 9191 or

Join the conversation: #BigQuestionsForUBIG

About the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

The HSRC was established in 1968 as South Africa’s statutory research agency and has grown to become the largest dedicated research institute in the social sciences and humanities on the African continent, doing cutting-edge public research in areas that are crucial to development.

Our mandate is to inform the effective formulation and monitoring of government policy; to evaluate policy implementation; to stimulate public debate through the effective dissemination of research-based data and fact-based research results; to foster research collaboration; and to help build research capacity and infrastructure for the human sciences.

The Council conducts large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific research for public sector users, non-governmental organisations and international development agencies. Research activities and structures are closely aligned with South Africa’s national development priorities.

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This seminar is partially funded by the Department of Science and Innovation. The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of the DSI. Please note that this seminar will be recorded and published on the HSRC podcast channel. The HSRC complies with the South African PoPIA and the Electronic Communications Transactions Act of 2002 Section 45: (1) any person who sends unsolicited commercial communications to stakeholders, must provide the stakeholders with the option to cancel their subscription to that mailing list. To opt-out or unsubscribe from this mailing list, please email us at

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