Parliament, Wednesday, 15 September 2021 – The Department of Social Development appeared before the Standing Committee on Appropriations yesterday to present on its proposed allocation of R26.7 billion towards the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant (R26. 2 billion), and towards the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) (R500 million).
The department also reported on the uptake, distribution and challenges faced by Sassa on the roll-out of the Covid-19 SRD and the extension of the grant. The department engaged with the committee on the proposed allocations to convince it on their inclusion in the Special Appropriations Bill following the unrest that took place in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in July this year and on the extension of the SRD.
The committee heard that the bulk of the SRD goes to Post Office. The Chairperson of the committee, Mr Sfiso Buthelezi, wanted more explanation on factors that stifle the distribution of the grants and which sometimes divert them from reaching the legitimate beneficiaries. He wanted more explanation on the existence of malfeasance and the relationship between the department and grant distributors.
In response, Sassa’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ms Busisiwe Memela-Khambula, told the committee that 70% of the beneficiaries receive their grants through the Post Office. She emphasised that Sassa is the payer, and the Post Office and other banks are just the distributors. She assured the committee that there is generally a healthy relationship between Sassa and the Post Office.
The committee heard that prisoners also applied for SRD when the grant was introduced last year and that there were people who came to claim for prisoners. Ms Memela-Khambula told the committee that no grant was paid to a prisoner and that there are no beneficiaries in their database who are prisoners.
The committee welcomed the proposed allocations, given the glaring deepening poverty levels where the majority of South Africans live. Mr Bulethezi said the most vulnerable South Africans should not suffer alone; the government must ensure that they eat. He added that the environment “we are in is constrained. We need to be responsive to the poor. They must have flour, mealie meal, samp and all the other basic food stuffs.”
Mr Buthelezi emphasised that the R26.7 billion is not taken out of the economy, because it will return in its contribution to economic growth. He called upon the Minister of the Department of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, who led the department delegation, to ensure that the position of the Director-General is filled. The Minister assured the committee that the process is underway to fill the position.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS, MR SFISO BUTHELEZI.
For media enquiries or interviews with the Chairperson, please contact the committee’s Media Officer:
Name: Mava Lukani (Mr)
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