The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Friday said it has requested an urgent meeting with Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini to discuss the lack of clarity on the payment of social grants.
There are heightened fears around the payment of social grants as the current contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) ends this month. No new arrangements have been finalised to pay social grants in April to 17-million recipients.
In a statement issued by spokesperson Gail Smith said the SAHRC said it has “requested an urgent meeting” with Dlamini and Thokozani Magwaza, the Chief Executive Officer of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), to discuss the lack of clarity on the payment of social grants.
“The Commission has written a letter to the Honourable Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, as well as to the Chief Executive Officer of Sassa, requesting an urgent meeting for both bodies to fully brief the Commission on its intended plan of action to ensure that indeed 17-million South Africans receive their social grants after the 31st of March 2017.”
The SAHRC said it also wants to discuss the impact on beneficiaries if Sassa fails to payout social grants from 1 April 2017.
“In line with its constitutional mandate to promote and protect human rights, the Commission has been closely monitoring the progress in relation to the payment of social grant beneficiaries by Sassa,” said the SAHRC.
“The Commission has noted the troubling reports that social grants may not be paid as from April 2017 and is deeply concerned by the devastating impact the potential non-payment of social grants could have on millions of vulnerable households for whom social grants represent the sole form of regular income.”
The SAHRC said more than half of all households in South Africa benefit from social assistance, and for 22% of these households, social grants are their main source of income. As such social assistance provides a safety net for some of the most vulnerable in our society.
“The Commission has noted assurances made by Sassa that the beneficiaries of social grants will receive their grants after the 31st of March 2017, however, the Commission is concerned by the apparent lack of a coherent plan of action on how Sassa will ensure that this happens.
“It has also noted the assurances given by the Deputy President in the National Assembly yesterday afternoon and reported on national television. However, the Commission remains concerned that it remains unclear what plans the government has to avoid non-payment come April 2017.
“The 17-million South Africans who receive social assistance constitute some of the most vulnerable members of our society. This situation poses a serious risk not only to the beneficiaries of social security grants, but also to the extended families they support,” said Prof Bongani Majola, Chairperson of the Commission.