South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has no dedicated staff assigned to assist with the grant funding appeals process of the Special R350 COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD).
Bridget Masango, a DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, reveled on Thursday that SASSA was relying on 10 staff members to deal with appeals, in addition to their other responsibilities.
“That is 10 people who need to assess thousands of rejected applications.”
This was revealed in a Parliamentary question submitted by the DA to the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu.
In winding down the system, both the final payment date and the last date for appeals can be filed have been made public:
- The last day SASSA is scheduled to payout the R350 grant is Sunday 31 January 2021
- The last day SASSA will accept an appeal application over the payout of the R350 grant is Sunday 28 February 2021.
- Appeals can now be lodged for grievances with any payments made from November 2020 – January 2021.
Millions of unemployed and poor South Africans applied for this R350 grant. Many had been informed that their applications were rejected and rightfully began the process of appealing.
“It is now no wonder that the appeals process has been marred by backlogs of thousands of emails and phone calls. There has been no foresight at SASSA and the Department of Social Development (DSD) in bringing onboard temporary additional capacity to deal with this new function and to ensure that the appeals process is managed effectively and swiftly,” said Masango.
SASSA had already been operating on a skeleton staff operation for most of the year.
“It boggles the mind how anyone would have thought that this process would run smoothly. How can a programme that has cost billions of rands be so thinly resourced?,” Masango asked.
This revelation also casts serious concerns over SASSA’s deadline of 28 February 2021 in processing all R350 SRD applicants, she added.
“Without any additional assistance to accelerate the application process and to deal with appeals, millions of South Africans will probably never gain access to this much-needed relief.
“The truth is, SASSA offices are under capacitated and ill-equipped to effectively deal with the existing backlog and it is up to the Department to show some leadership to address these challenges.”