Friday, 3 March 2017
The South African Human Rights Commission (Commission) has requested an urgent meeting with the Honourable Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini and Mr 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 by the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the impact this could have on social grant beneficiaries as from the 1st of 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.
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. More than half of all households in SA 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.
Social security is a basic human right, entrenched not only in our Constitution, but also under international and regional human rights treaties ratified by South Africa.
Social assistance is critical in alleviating poverty and thus reducing inequality. It enables individuals to secure a basic minimum standard of living. Access to social assistance saves the poor from absolute destitution and provides a crucial safety net to those in dire need of support.
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.
Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission