South Africa Passes Coronavirus Relief Bill
- Author: Jacob Greene
- Posted: 2022-10-29
The stage was set in America many months ago now, when Congress agreed on a $1.2 trillion stimulus bill that became the biggest spending package in the history of the nation, one of the biggest on the planet. Though as Americans continue to suffer, we see that progress on a second stimulus is being held up in the House of Representatives. Many theories fly about the reasons for this, from making Trump look bad to outright incompetence, but what we see is that other nations aren't having these issues. South Africa, for instance, just passed yet another measure of relief grants to help its poorest citizens amid the pandemic.
News from Johannesburg broke earlier today, Oct. 15, that South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the previous night that the government would be extending Covid-19 relief grants to roughly 6 million citizens of the nation. This is part of an overall much larger spending package that will see over $5.9 billion go toward infrastructure projects. This not only helps get people back to work immediately so that they can earn money, but it's also helping the safety and value of various parts of the nation by fixing a lot of what was broken down. The nation is still under a very strict lockdown, though these new infrastructure jobs will be considered essential.
Technically speaking, these are not new grants given out to people by South Africa, For the past six months, these grants were ongoing payments to the poorest citizens in the nation. Think of them like unemployment benefits in the States. Though now that those six months have passed and the nation is still locked down to combat the virus pandemic, the President has signed off on extending these payments for another three months. So this means that multiple grants will be given out to each of the six million residents who need them in the nation. Ramaphosa pointed out that many studies conducted have shown that this grant spending has helped not only the citizens but also the economy, as the money is switching hands multiple times and ending up back with the government, by and large, so they're not eating it as a loss in debt.
One of the main issues affecting South Africa is that their economy is going in reverse compared to many others. They've been losing more and more jobs as the lockdowns continue, rather than rebuilding their economy like the USA, Canada and parts of Europe. In the second quarter of this fiscal year, South Africa lost over 2.2 million jobs, giving them a very high unemployment rate of 42%, which is far beyond actual depression levels of unemployment. While South Africans are happy for the grants, they're still expecting the government to actually do more by opening the economy back up, something that Ramaphosa is entirely against.
South Africa Refuses to Open
It's not at all business as usual for Ramaphosa, nor will it be any time in the near future. South Africa seems to have adopted the Australian philosophy that they're going to remain closed until the virus is actually cured and gone completely.
To date, there are nearly 700,000 cases of Covid-19 in South Africa, with 18,000 dead. This means that the survival rate in South Africa, in the aggregate, is 98%. There are 60 million people in South Africa. Many citizens are starting to get very restless. They recognize that if 98% of people are surviving this virus, and only 1.17% of people have contracted the virus, then to shut down the entire economy and to force millions of people to live off of government assistance seems foolish and unnecessary.
Ramaphosa calls this propaganda, however, and constantly assures his citizens that Covid-19 is a very deadly plague and that citizens must refrain from working and stay in their homes to save lives. Globally, a 98% survival rate is standard. For every 100 people to get the virus, 2 will perish. This is 2 too many, of course, as we want no one dying from this virus at all. Though many critics of nations like South Africa point out that they're risking insurmountable debt and hyperinflation due to a media-caused panic, citing that the virus is no worse than most flu strains.
Wherever one happens to stand on the virus rates, the fact is that Ramaphosa is not opening South Africa back up but will instead keep issuing grant relief money to the nation's citizens.