South Africa News

SRD grant beneficiaries calling for the removal of Minister Lindiwe Zulu

As public comments seeking to amend the regulations for the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant closed on Friday, a group of disgruntled grant beneficiaries called for the removal of Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu.

The group started a petition for Zulu to be held accountable for what they said were failures and dismal payment of the R350 SRD grant with a system which still resulted in applications being declined. The petition is gaining momentum with more than 2 500 signatures. An open letter has also been sent to Zulu.

Earlier last month Zulu proposed amendments to the SRD grant regulations including adjusting the income threshold for a grant from R350 to R624, deleting the provision where bank verification was the final determination of eligibility, and the provision placing the onus on beneficiaries to inform the department of their status every three months.

Petition author Melanie McKernan said beneficiaries were tired of empty promises and the constant passing of the buck. McKernan said Zulu didn’t propose amendments to the regulations on the SRD grant out of the goodness of her heart, but after civil society forced her hand through litigation. If we as civil society and citizens had not all come together to fight the injustice that the most vulnerable people were dealt with, this would not have happened.

“Currently, millions have pay dates but when they go to retail stores for collection they are declined. Bank accounts are still verifying and for that, no payments can be made,” she said.

McKernan said caregivers being declined for “Alternative Income”, their R480 child grant, was a disgrace.
Black Sash said the proposed amendments only sought to address a few of many obstacles that kept the grant out of reach from those who desperately needed it. It said the amount of the grant was still below the food poverty line with the application process exclusively an online system available only in English. It said the systems used for verification resulted in applicants being erroneously declined.

“While we note the amendments, DSD needs to do more to ensure that those between 18 and 59 years who receive little or no income are provided with assistance. We believe that the fact that approved beneficiaries are less than half of the applicants illustrates the exclusionary nature of the provisions by default.

Source: IOL

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