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INTERVIEW: 16 Years On Advocating for Universal Basic Income Grant to Tackle Poverty and Reduce Fraud: Insights from Rinaani Musutua

todayJuly 1, 2024 5

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Rinaani Musutua of the Basic Income Grant Coalition of Namibia passionately argues for the implementation of a universal basic income grant (BIG) as a solution to generational poverty in Namibia. For nearly two decades, the coalition has advocated for a monthly grant of 500 Namibian dollars for every Namibian aged 0 to 59. Musutua asserts that this approach will mirror the success of the current old age grant, which has effectively reached 90% of its target population.
Musutua points out that the old age grant’s success is largely due to its universal nature—no conditions or means-testing are required. This universality reduces the potential for corruption and fraud, as every eligible individual automatically receives the grant without the need for extensive bureaucratic processes.
Reflecting on the Emergency Income Grant (EIG) distributed during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Musutua highlights its relatively smooth implementation and minimal fraud. However, she acknowledges that some marginalized communities were left out, underscoring the need for an inclusive and accessible distribution system.
The EIG experience underscores a key argument for a universal BIG: targeted grants often create administrative and bureaucratic hurdles that can exclude those most in need. By making the BIG universal, these hurdles are eliminated, ensuring that all intended beneficiaries receive the support they are entitled to.
Musutua also critiques the inefficiencies and potential for fraud in targeted grant systems, such as the previous food bank initiative and its successor, the Harambe cash grant. She explains that the food bank’s failure was due to the corrupt practices of those responsible for identifying beneficiaries, who often favored their acquaintances over the genuinely needy. This led to the exclusion of many deserving individuals and fostered social tensions within communities.
The Harambe cash grant, which provides 600 Namibian dollars per household to approximately 5,000 people, suffers from similar issues. Musutua argues that the list of recipients was compiled in a corrupt manner, further disadvantaging those who needed the support the most.
To avoid these pitfalls, Musutua and the Basic Income Grant Coalition advocate for a universal BIG. They believe that such a grant would not only reduce administrative costs and bureaucratic complexities but also minimize opportunities for corruption and fraud. A universal approach ensures that every Namibian, irrespective of their socio-economic status, receives the support they need, thereby promoting social equity and cohesion.
In conclusion, Musutua’s insights highlight the critical need for a universal basic income grant in Namibia. By adopting a universal approach, the country can effectively tackle generational poverty, reduce fraud, and ensure that all citizens have the economic support they need to thrive.

Written by: Leonard Witbeen

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