Up to eight million may benefit from Covid-19 basic grant




Sassa’s acting chief executive‚ Abraham Mahlangu‚ told Parliament’s portfolio committee on social development that the affected beneficiaries could not receive their grants due to a glitch in the system
Image: South African Gov‏ via Twitter. File photo
Six to eight million unemployed South Africans stand to benefit from government’s newly announced R350 grant relief scheme to mitigate against Covid-19 poverty.

Of the R15bn that the government allocated to welfare grants this week, R13bn will go towards increases in existing grants and R2bn will go towards relief for unemployed people.

The social security agency is also planning to move away from distre-vouchers.

The department of social development told parliament on Thursday that it was still working on the modalities of how the R350 grant relief would be disbursed but the department was confident that it will be ready to make the payments early next month.ibuting food parcels to a new digital system where cash will be provided through bank accounts, e-wallets and e-vouchers.

The department of social development told parliament on Thursday that it was still working on the modalities of how the R350 grant relief would be disbursed but the department was confident that it will be ready to make the payments early next month.Minister Lindiwe Zulu said her department will urgently finalise the criteria and timelines for the scheme and that they were building capacity to make sure they have the correct people benefiting from it.

The department’s Brenda Sibeko, a deputy director-general for social security, said the grant is targeted at people with no income, not receiving a child support grant and not benefiting from the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

“We do recognise that six months is not adequate and there has to be a whole lot of other interventions that are done,” she said.

Following the declaration of the lockdown, the department of social development requested the National Treasury to increase the child support grant because it is the Minister Lindiwe Zulu said her department will urgently finalise the criteria and timelines for the scheme and that they were building capacity to make sure they have the correct people benefiting from it.

The department’s Brenda Sibeko, a deputy director-general for social security, said the grant is targeted at people with no income, not receiving a child support grant and not benefiting from the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

“We do recognise that six months is not adequate and there has to be a whole lot of other interventions that are done,” she said.

Following the declaration of the lockdown, the department of social development requested the National Treasury to increase the child support grant because it is the amount of money.

“So the R350 is what we were able to get and Sassa will start distributing,” she said.

In this regard, executive manager for grants administration Dianne Dunkerly said the new payment system would be ready “in a matter of days” but most likely over the weekend.
We would be able to pay the money into a bank account, e-wallet or some cash type mechanism so that we can stop the food parcels. It would be a much more effective way to get money to people quickly,” she said. Applications for the new basic income grant are also being done by phone.

This is part of Sassa’s plan to move away from food parcels to a new digital system where cash will be provided through bank accounts, e-wallets and e-vouchers.

Currently, food parcels are distributed to central points for collection and, where feasible, to individual’s homes. The agency says the traditional method of delivering food parcels was not effective.
have applied after next week. She said due to Covid-19, Sassa had already moved from a paper-based process to a call centre-based process but is now planning to introduce an automated process for individuals applying for grants or who had queries about the system.

MPs from across the political party spectrum didn’t seem convinced with the shift to the digital system and called for Sassa offices to be reopened.

They raised concerns around access but also said some people may not be able to do applications over the phone without the assistance of agency officials.

MPs also spoke against what they called “the politicisation” of food parcel distribution, claiming that councillors were accused of either selling the parcels or diverting them to their homes.