SASSA R350 grant: is Minister Zulu out of touch or does she simply not care?

Issued by Alexandra Abrahams MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Social Development
13 Jul 2022 in News

Please find attached soundbite by Alexandra Abrahams MP.

The Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, is literally playing with the lives of vulnerable South Africans reliant on the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant of R350. The Minister is either completely out of touch with dire and ever-increasing state of poverty in South Africa or simply does not care.

At a meeting held on 3 June 2022, Minister Zulu informed the parliamentary portfolio committee on social development that in the previous iteration of the SRD grant, SASSA approved 10.9 million applications.

In the same meeting, the Department of Social Development (DSD) presented statistics that by 17 May 2022, a total of 10 233 431 applications were received of which 58% were women and 60.7% of applicants were young unemployed people, aged 35 years and under.

Knowing full well the statistics and the growing number of vulnerable citizens reliant on this grant to survive, Minister Zulu chose to look the other way, and decreased the minimum monthly income threshold from R595 to R350.

This resulted in only 5 million approvals for June 2022 out of 10 million applicants.

Knowingly disadvantaging millions of South Africans, banishing them to a life of continued hunger and poverty is contra to the Constitution of South Africa from which DSD’s core mandate derives: Section 27 (1) (c) of the Constitution provides for the right of access to appropriate social assistance to those unable support themselves and their dependants.

Another qualifying regulation, which further disadvantages deserving applicants, in particular the 70% of young unemployed South Africans, is the new definition for income (insufficient means) as defined in the Social Assistance Regulations. It is crafted in the regulations to include all forms of income, even support from family members and any form of financial donation received by the applicant. This essentially means if 10 extended family members or friends deposit R70 a month into an applicant’s bank account, making up R700 a month, the applicant will no longer qualify for this grant.

These kind of regressive regulations and policy decisions force young people to do anything and everything to survive, including risky forms of employment.

South Africans are fed up of the age old excuse that there is not sufficient money in the State’s coffers when corruption, theft and blatant mismanagement of public funds continue unabated.

Minister Zulu has used this excuse when initially decreasing the minimum monthly income threshold to R350, citing there is only enough money for 10.5 million South Africans to receive the grant at R44 billion.

As South Africans brace themselves for continued increases in fuel, inflation and food prices, regressive regulations and policies will only exacerbate poverty and hunger if DSD and Minister Zulu remain out of touch with reality.