The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) may not be able to deliver the six-month coronavirus grant known as COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant, NGOs and academics warned.
Under the grant, jobless South Africans will each receive R350 monthly for six months.
Last week, Lindiwe Zulu, Minister of Social Development, announced that the grant will be paid from the 15th of May.
The unemployed are expected to apply for the COVID-19 Grant by sending a WhatsApp message to 0600 123 456 and selecting Sassa or an email to SRD@sassa.gov.za.
The department and Sassa are also finalising additional access channels and include SMS, self-help desks and an online application process.
However, in a soft launch last weekend, the coronavirus grant payout system crashed after 100,000 people applied for it via WhatsApp.
Sassa CEO Totsie Memela told the Sunday Times that she is confident the problems have been sorted out despite stating she “had sleepless nights worrying about payout systems being able to operate at capacity when special COVID-19 grants start next week.”
However, NGOs and academics monitoring the assistance system this week warned that the planned R350 grant is riddled with potential implementation holes.
They also told the Sunday Times that increasingly long payout queues and the postponing of grant pay dates could endanger the lives of millions.
— Carl Niehaus (@niehaus_carl) May 2, 2020
— Thembisile Ndwambi (@ThembisileNdwa2) May 2, 2020
Some TechFinancials readers have expressed their frustration at the Sassa registration process for the COVID-19 special grants.
“I applied for a distress fund of R350 but was never asked for banking details, what can I expect?” said one reader.
Another said: “If you don’t have a bank account and proof of residence what happens?”
“I want to apply for the unemployment social grant and that number is putting me somewhere I can’t find what I’m looking for?”
The embattled agency has a bold plan to alleviate the poverty of 7-million people through the government’s multibillion-rand COVID-19 fund.
— SASSA (@OfficialSASSA) May 1, 2020
How to Apply for the COVID-19 Grant?
Applications for the Special COVID-19 Social Relief Grant may be lodged by sending:
- WhatsApp message to 0600 123 456 and selecting SASSA or
- by sending an email to SRD@sassa.gov.za
“We are are still finalising additional access channels and including SMS, self-help desks and online application process,” said Zulu. “We will give information on these soon.”
For people with no access to technology, Sassa will use volunteers from NYDA, NDA, and community development workers to register them for the Special COVID-19 Social Relief Grant. For more read: Coronavirus: How to Apply for Coronavirus Special Grant