The Department of Social Development recently held a virtual parliamentary session in which top officials, including Minister Lindiwe Zulu, gave the Department’s Budget Statement for 2022/23.
The South African South Security Agency (Sassa) takes up 96.6% of the Social Development Department’s budget according to the Minister of Social Development.
Out of this total, R44 billion has been allocated to the extension of the Social Relief Distress (SRD) grant for 10.5 million beneficiaries monthly. The minister further pointed out that all the 8.1 million Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant applications that were received by 30 April will be paid out by June this year.
In terms of grant payment accessibility of the SRD grant, the department said that it is currently engaging local fast moving consumer goods traders to be included as payment outlets.
Fraud and long queues were cited as among inherent challenges in the disbursement of grant payments. One of the budget’s critics, Nonkosi Mvana, pointed out that the Department lost more than R200 million on payments made to eligible grant recipients during 2021.
Furthermore, during the debate on the Budget vote, other officials in attendance state that the department has functioned inadequately according to the Auditor General, this is in part, owing to its inability to relate fraud investigations.
The recent removal of cash pay-points for the R350 also received scathing criticism from opposition officials, who said that it will negatively impact grant recipients located in remote areas.
In addition to saying that there has been a failure by the Department to provide an adequate social security system. Opposition officials also called for an increase in various other social grants as well as the introduction of the Basic Income Grant.
Other officials stated that there are more people who are qualified to receive the R350 grant, but do not, due to the inefficiency of the Department’s database system.