The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) will not process new R350 social relief of distress (SRD) grant applications for April until the government amends the relevant regulations.
This is according to SASSA spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi, who told GroundUp in an interview this week that the grant has to be moved from the Disaster Management Act to the Social Assistance Act.
New SRD grant applications paused
“The legal framework for the grant has changed, with the ending of the state of disaster. The grant now has to be included under the Social Assistance Act. SASSA is unable to process any applications for the R350 relief grant for April until the work to provide the legal framework for the grant is completed. Announcements will be made as soon as this is done,” Letsatsi told the publication.
“The legal framework has to change, as the grant cannot be provided under the Disaster Management Act. The Department of Social Development is currently busy with the inclusion of this grant under the Regulations to the Social Assistance Act.
“The amended Regulations were put out for public comment, and the process is underway to incorporate all the comments and finalise the regulations. Once this is completed, announcements will be made as to what is expected of applicants for the social relief grant of R350 per month.”
Earlier this month, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the end of the national state of disaster, but kept some regulations in place for 30 days – including those related to the SRD grant. During this period, the Department of Social Development has to gazette new regulations.
Current beneficiaries not affected
The change of regulations does not affect current beneficiaries, Letsatsi explained. This means that they will receive their grants for April, as long as they still qualify.
“Any applicant who was declined and feels they do meet the qualifying criteria has the right to appeal. This appeal must be lodged monthly as soon as the outcome of the application is made known for that month,” the spokesperson said.
In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in February, Ramaphosa extended the R350 grant until March 2023. Labour unions and civil society organisations have called on the government to use the grant as a basis for a basic income grant.
It however remains unclear if the government will heed these calls. Ramaphosa and the ANC have nevertheless hinted at “some form of assistance” being extended to the unemployed once the grant lapses.
More than 10 million people have benefitted from the grant since it was first introduced in April 2020 to cushion society’s most vulnerable from the socio-economic impact of COVID-19.
It is paid to beneficiaries via several channels, including banks, the SA Post Office and retail outlets such as Pick n Pay, Shoprite and Checkers.