Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele has assured R350 social relief of distress (SRD) grant beneficiaries that the government will make all outstanding payments.
Gungubele made the assurance on Thursday (9 June) while briefing the media on the outcomes of Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting.
“This government will always fulfil whatever undertaking it has. If there was a period of non-payment, on behalf of this government, we will make that apology. But as along as those SRDs are due, in line with the President’s commitment, they will be paid,” the Minister said.
Civil society sounds alarm
This comes after civil society groups, led by the Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ), criticised the government earlier this week for not paying SRD grant beneficiaries in April and May.
“The President, in his State of the Nation Address in February 2022, announced the extension of the SRD grant from March 2022 to March 2023, but due to bureaucratic heel-dragging including from National Treasury (who failed to secure the necessary agreements with the banks), and general administrative chaos, Department of Social Development (DSD) and South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) still haven’t resumed payments,” the groups said in a statement.
“This disastrous situation may affect around half the South African population (if you consider that each beneficiary could have around two dependents).”
Outstanding SRD payments to start in mid June
Last week, SASSA said payments for all outstanding SRD grants, including for April and May, will start in mid-June 2022.
“The payments will not be done together, but will be done month by month. More than one payment may be made in a month, but no one will receive double payments in amount. SASSA will do these multiple payments in a month until the backlog is finalised, where after monthly payments will resume,” it confirmed.
In a briefing to Parliament last week, DSD and SASSA said the delay was caused by the need to sign new agreements with commercial banks to apply a new means test. Anyone who receives an income of R350 or more per month will not be eligible to receive the grant, according to this means test.
“To enable the means testing, SASSA needed to procure the services of banks. This process was completed in the previous year, but required the concurrence of the minister of finance, before concluding the contracts,” the two entities explained.
“The concurrence from the minister of finance was received on 30 April 2022. The concurrence, however, contained additional conditions, which the bank’s legal services had to work through, resulting in delays in concluding the contracts.”
IEJ, Black Sash and other civil society organisations have however criticised the test, saying it has locked out millions of people who received the grant in the previous cycles.