Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu revealed in a parliamentary response that 10 SASSA officials had been handling the appeals for the R350 SRD grant after Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Alexandra Abrahams submitted a question to parliament concerning this.
The R350 Covid-19 social relief of distress(SRD) grant has been paid to unemployed citizens as part of a R500 billion social and economic support package which was announced by the president in April when the national lockdown commenced.
However, some applicants have been informed that their applications had been rejected and began appealing this. Thousands of appeals have been received by SASSA and this was followed by backlogs.
Zulu said that SASSA has no staff dedicated to the SRD grant appeal process.
“There is a core team of approximately 10 people who are driving the appeals process, in addition to the other responsibilities they have.
“An additional 24 staff members have also been assigned to assist with the capturing and registering of appeals, while a minimum of two staff members per regions have been trained to assist, taking the total to approximately 52,” she said.
About 60 000 emails of appeal have been received by SASSA and Zulu says that this needs to be attended to by the SASSA staff so that they may register it and the applications can be reconsidered. She stated that to date 37 000 appeals had been registered.
DA MP Bridget Masango was shocked that SASSA only assigned 10 staff members to handle the appeals.
“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 in bringing on board temporary additional capacity to deal with this new function and to ensure that the appeals process is managed effectively and swiftly.”-DA MP Bridget Masango
She said that it is no surprise that the process hasn’t been running smoothly as SASSA had been operating on a skeleton staff for most of the year.
According to Masango the small number of staff handling the appeals was a cause of concern for SASSA’s deadline of 28 February 2021 to process all the R350 SRD applicantions.
She says that additional assistance is needed to speed up the process of applications and appeals.
“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.”-DA MP Bridget Masango
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