South Africa has a runaway number of grant recipients and social wage spending, which is unsustainable amidst slow economic growth and high unemployment.
Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana highlighted the social grant problem in his 2021 medium-term budget policy statement.
“Today, 27.8 million South Africans are social grant recipients. This accounts for about 46% of our population,” said Godongwana.
“At the same time, the number of people working has declined, further underlining the critical flaws in our economy.”
South Africa’s total spending on the social wage is also very high and has grown from R860 billion in 2018/19 to R1.1 trillion in 2021/22.
“Around 60% of total non-interest spending annually goes towards housing development, free basic services, employment programmes, health, education and social grants, among other things,’ he said.
Godongwana said a permanent solution in responding to these challenges is to achieve high and sustained levels of economic growth.
The FF Plus highlighted that the number of South Africans dependent on social grants for survival increased by 10 million over the last two years.
“It is absolutely unsustainable without economic growth and job creation,” the FF Plus said.
“The single ray of hope — the slight economic growth experienced in 2021 — is primarily the result of rising commodity prices and not job creation.”
“It demonstrates that the government still has not created a favourable environment for the private sector to enable it to create more jobs.”
The DA also said Godongwana’s statement fell short of their key expectations to shore up the economy and reduce the country’s debt.
“He mentioned structural reform, but they do not address the key challenges identified by the rating agencies and the IMF and the World Bank,” said the DA’s shadow deputy minister of finance, Dion George.
The problem of rapidly increasing social grant recipients versus the number of people with a job was clearly illustrated in research by the Centre for Risk Analysis.
They highlighted that the number of people with a job in South Africa doubled from over 7 million in 1996 to over 14 million in 2008.
Job growth has since stagnated, with the number of people employed in 2020 being roughly the same as it was in 2008.
Since 2010, the number of social grant recipients has exceeded the number of employed people.
By Baldwin Ndaba for IOL
Sassa recipients are not going to pay for water and electricity services under an EFF government – people living in the suburbs will have to subsidise them.
This was a commitment made by EFF leader Julius Malema on Tuesday when he addressed more than 3 000 of his supporters at Bopheleng’s ward 6 in the Vaal, which also comprised a neighbouring informal settlement.
Malema was on a campaign trail in various areas of the Vaal in which he urged voters to cast their ballot for his party. He also urged first-time voters and those who relocated from the Eastern Cape, Lesotho and various neighbouring towns and now living in Bophelong, to register to vote in ward 6 this weekend.
Malema told the crowd that the fact that millions of people are recipients of Sassa grants was an indication of their “poor status”.
“So under an EFF government, those that are receiving grants are not going to pay for water and electricity. The Sassa money is not enough. So who will pay for them? Malema asked.
In response to his own question, Malema said people living in neighbouring suburbs will have to pay for services used by grant recipients.
“Only a radical organisation can achieve this. We cannot allow people who get Sassa money to use the same funds to pay for water and electricity in the municipality. Where do they get such money? They must use the Sassa money to pay for food and buy clothes for their children,” Malema insisted.
By Eva Chipa for Jacaranda FM
It has been another day of frustration for applicants of the R350 Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant.
This amid widespread technical difficulties at the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa).
On Tuesday, both the Sassa website and the WhatsApp channel for applications were not working.
Spokesperson Paseka Lestatsi says the technical glitches are due to the huge influx of applications.
“The system opened last week Friday and we experienced about 2000 applications per minute, the system became very slow, however we can safely says that gov-chat came to the rescue to make sure other platforms are available for applications.”
Letsatsi says Sassa is still moving faster when compared to the previous round of applications.
“An observation we made as well, was that the number of people who managed to successfully go through exceed the number of people who applied when we opened for the first time during lockdown level 5.”
The Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) option for those who don’t have smartphones is also still down.
“The USSD is not available as we speak however we will make an announcement soon in terms of when the USSD line will be up running, we are alert to (the fact) that majority of people do not have access to smartphones, and we will definitely work on the USSD line.”
The WhatsApp line has been restored but to ease pressure on these channels, Sassa announced that applications can also be submitted via an app option called govchat.app and Facebook Messenger.
Online applications for the grant officially opened on Friday, and Sassa says citizens can apply during the whole month of August.
Source: Talk of the Town
The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) has warned the public not to be duped by a fake e-mail doing its rounds in which an “official” calls for people to contact its offices regarding a tender for the three-year supply of food parcels in the Free State.
Sassa spokesperson Sandy Godlwana told TimesLIVE that the agency was concerned that members of the public “will find themselves having to pay money with the hope that they will get the tender, where this is fake and a scam”.
The fake correspondence has been sent in the name of Sassa regional executive manager Themba Matlou.
“This misinformation is devoid of truth and is tantamount to causing chaos and anarchy which may lead to unrest and the undesirable consequence of damage to government property,” said Matlou in a statement issued on Monday night.
“The process to appoint service providers has just started and is only an evaluation process. Successful bidders will be duly contacted through proper channels at an appropriate time.
“The agency warns all bidders against this scam and any other bid where people purport to take money claiming they are from Sassa.
“The social relief programme is intended to assist to meet basic needs of indigent persons by means of rendering temporary and immediate material assistance in response to a crisis.We are working around the clock to ensure that suitable service providers are appointed in line with Sassa supply chain prescripts,” he said.
By Phillip de Wet for Business Insider SA
None of the channels set up to accept applications for the special Covid-19 unemployment grant of R350 work reliably – and some do not work at all.
The R350 grants, formally know as Social Relief of Distress (SRD) payments, are due to be paid starting on 15 May – for those registered in time – and will run until October, for a total of R2 100 due to recipients. Up to six million South Africans are believed to be eligible.
The SA Social Security Agency’s website is not available, its WhatsApp system is not responsive, and its email system is unusable on most platforms.
A promised SMS system does not appear to be in place, and there is no sign of a Facebook Messenger channel.
But if you stay up late enough, USSD will eventually work, our testing shows.
There’s a workaround, however, and that is to go directly to https://srd.sassa.gov.za/sc19/auth
No physical applications are accepted at Sassa offices, and though the agency and its minister has promised fieldworkers will go out to those without access to technology, that is not yet happening.
By Kaylynn Palm for EWN
May’s SASSA payments were marred by glitches as some grant beneficiaries were not paid, and others were paid twice following a technical glitch.
Those pensioners and people with disabilities were expecting to receive funds on Monday but would now have to wait until Tuesday afternoon.
However, about 83% of the beneficiaries scheduled to be paid on Monday got double pay-outs because of the error.
The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) said more than 400 000 clients were affected by duplicate payments.
While some received double payments, others were left with nothing to draw.
“We are appealing to clients to please allow us time to rectify the situation. Funds will be available in the accounts by tomorrow [Tuesday] afternoon,” said Western Cape SASSA spokesperson Shivani Wahab.
SASSA advised clients to leave the extra payments in their account so that banks could reverse the payments.
Those who withdrew it would not be paid in June.
The South African Post Office (SAPO) has officially joined the scramble to replace Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) as the country’s social grants distributor amid an ongoing crisis over the payment of beneficiaries.
CEO Mark Barnes has submitted an affidavit dated March 13 to the Constitutional Court as part of the Post Office’s application to be admitted as a friend of the court in the Black Sash vs Sassa matter due to be heard on Wednesday.
In the court papers, Barnes states that using the Post Office would “serve the national interest, protect beneficiaries’ information and support government’s ambitions for radical socio-economic transformation”.
Barnes has proposed two alternative systems to solve the crisis, including one that could be implemented within days. However, another long-term plan would need to include CPS.
The South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa) is under more pressure to find a solution after CPS said it would not be able to pay social grants from April 1 if an agreement is not reached by Thursday.
Read the article here: If there’s no new contract by Thursday, grants may not be paid
Barnes states in the papers that the Post Office had already submitted an emergency backup solution to Sassa on March 1 in case CPS pulled out of the payment of grants to 17 million beneficiaries.
It says it can step in by using an electronic voucher system already used to pay staff employed at the department of public works in the Eastern Cape.
The Post Office said the system can be up and running within days, ruling out the need to extend the CPS contract that expires on March 31.
“Pay points would include SAPO branches as well as the 10 000 locations managed by the current cash-in-transit service provider. Identity documents and identity cards would be checked to ensure that the right people are paid the right grants after comparing to Sassa’s SOCPEN database,” Barnes states in the affidavit.
However, Barnes’ long-term solution that would meet the Sassa requirements would need CPS to assist for a maximum of twelve months as the Post Office prepares to take over.
The Post Office would need CPS to provide the biometric system, personnel that could be retained or replaced over time and cash dispensing machines owned by CPS.
Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has insisted on a biometric system, arguing that it guards against fraud and has saved the fiscus R2bn. She said the system ensures that the right beneficiary is paid the right grant and proves the beneficiary is still alive.
‘State organ should have first preference’
Barnes proposes that the Auditor General monitor the 12-month handover period, with quarterly reports submitted to the court.
Barnes said the Post Office would charge R20 per beneficiary. CPS is currently charging R16.44 per beneficiary, an amount that is expected to increase if a new interim contract is signed.
Barnes argues in the court papers that the Post Office as a state organ should have first preference as a service provider.
“Where an organ of state is able to provide services, it is suggested that such services should first be procured from organs of state prior to the invitation being sent out to the public.
“The procurement of such services from the state-owned entities, where it is possible, is in the national interest and is fiscally prudent,” Barnes states in his affidavit.
However, Sassa and Dlamini have previously argued that the Post Office has only 2 567 outlets that are predominately in urban areas while the current system offers 10 000 outlets, mostly in rural areas. The two also said their norms and standards state that beneficiaries should not travel more than 5km to a pay point.
By Mahlatse Gallens for News24