Grants still not paid out

Al­most 80% of cit­i­zens el­i­gi­ble for so­cial re­lief kept wait­ing, says cam­paign


CLOSE to 80% of South Africans who are el­i­gi­ble to re­ceive the So­cial Re­lief of Dis­tress Grants have not re­ceived it, ac­cord­ing to a grant track­ing cam­paign that was started.

The Pay The Grants cam­paign was es­tab­lished through the Cash Trans­fers sub­group of the C19 Peo­ple’s Coali­tion to am­plify voices of those who have been left out or who are await­ing the life­line dur­ing the Covid-19 pan­demic.

The So­cial Re­lief of Dis­tress Grant was an­nounced by the gov­ern­ment fol­low­ing the procla­ma­tion of the Na­tional State of Disas­ter, which was sup­posed to be paid from May un­til Oc­to­ber.

Pay the Grants mem­ber and se­nior re­searcher at the Stud­ies in Poverty and In­equal­ity In­sti­tute (SPII), Sacha Knox, said that ac­cord­ing to the the Na­tional In­come Dy­nam­ics Study-Coro­n­avirus

Rapid Mo­bile (NIDS-CRAM) sur­vey, around 3 mil­lion South Africans lost their jobs as a re­sult of the Covid-19 pan­demic.

The sur­vey looks at the so­cioe­co­nomic im­pact of the pan­demic and sub­se­quent lock­down.

“We are lit­er­ally in the midst of a se­vere hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis. One in three peo­ple have lost their in­come in the con­text of Covid-19 and pre­ex­ist­ing in­equal­i­ties have grown. The job losses and the in­come losses are heav­ily con­cen­trated among those who are al­ready dis­ad­van­taged.”

Ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey, out of the poor­est 50% of peo­ple in South Africa, 39% are now un­em­ployed or not re­ceiv­ing an in­come, she said. “The most vul­ner­a­ble in our so­ci­ety are be­ing dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fected by Covid-19,” said Knox.

“Half of all house­holds or 47% ran out of money to buy food in April. So peo­ple are in a very dire sit­u­a­tion where they are not even able to feed them­selves – and this is in the con­text of chronic un­em­ploy­ment and very lim­ited so­cial pro­tec­tion of­fered by our state, so peo­ple don’t have op­tions to feed them­selves and to feed their fam­i­lies.”

A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of the newly un­em­ployed are in house­holds with no grants, the sur­vey shows. Knox said: “So I think we have to paint the pic­ture of, there’s no such thing as hand­outs, we have a moral and an eth­i­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity to be pro­vid­ing ad­e­quate so­cial pro­tec­tion to peo­ple when our state is in a sit­u­a­tion of chronic un­em­ploy­ment.”

A lack of trans­parency and clar­ity is ev­i­dent with re­gards to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the grants.

“Our es­ti­mates are that 15mil­lion peo­ple are el­i­gi­ble for the so­cial re­lief grant and if only 4 mil­lion peo­ple have been paid out ac­cord­ing to Sassa, 74% of peo­ple who are el­i­gi­ble for the grant have not re­ceived it.” Hin­drances to peo­ple re­ceiv­ing the grant are lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and clar­ity when ap­ply­ing and peo­ple be­ing re­jected for strange rea­sons.

Daddy Mabe, who rep­re­sents the assem­bly of the un­em­ployed at Pay The Grants, said: “His­tory has shown that our gov­ern­ment has a ten­dency of not im­ple­ment­ing its own poli­cies and worse, it has zero sense of em­pa­thy for the less priv­i­leged, hence the need for us to join oth­ers to help voice our plight and/or griev­ances.

“Our view is that the gov­ern­ment has re­neged on its com­mit­ment to pay the R350. Or­di­nar­ily, our gov­ern­ment has no sense of shame or morals – it ex­ists for it­self and not for those it ought to be work­ing for, so there is no way it will ever hon­estly and gen­uinely ap­pre­ci­ate the harm it is do­ing to the marginalis­ed by pay­ing the R350 with­out any pres­sure – hence our par­tic­i­pa­tion in the coali­tion,” he said.

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