Chaos seems to be the order of the month for the South African Security Agency (SASSA) and its beneficiaries, with more uncertainty on the way ahead of the MTBPS on 1 November 2023. Will Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana, announce the end of the SASSA SRD R350 grant during his speech? The MTBPS is an abbreviation for the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, which is a statement that highlights the plan that the government has set for itself over the coming three years.   

    Things are not looking good for South Africa’s finances because the money it managed to collect fell short of the plan for this period (first five months of the year) by R22 billion. Government spending also increased. This means that the government will have to find ways to make up for the shortfall, putting the Social Distress Relief (SRD) Grant at risk.

    Plans for the SASSA SRD R350 Grant

    Godongwana said that the energy crisis and load-shedding were some of the major factors that impacted government finances and has suggested the following to President Cyril Ramaposa to avoid getting rid of the SASSA SRD R350 grant:

    • Increasing VAT – which will be a challenging and unpopular option. Especially with a national election coming very soon.
    • Borrowing more money to keep the SASSA SRD grants going – which will have negative long-term consequences.
    • Cutting of government programmes and budgets – which will deeply affect South Africans (these programmes include welfare support, food security, environmental protection, and informal settlement upgrades).
    • Or a balanced combination of the three options mentioned above.

    The Social Relief of Distress Grant, known as the SASSA SRD R350 has been administered since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in concurrence with the Minister of Finance’s Social Assistance Act.

    Over the weekend, President Ramaposa spoke about the success of the SASSA SRD R350 grant and the fact that it laid a foundation for introducing a Basic Income Grant (BIG). So, the cutting of the SASSA SRD R350 may not be a satisfactory solution for the future of the country.

    SASSA SRD R350

    Delayed SASSA SRD R350 and other Grants’ Payments Due to Issues at Postbank

    In a public apology to affected grant recipients on the 14th of September, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said about 600,000 beneficiaries (about 10% of grant payments) were affected by the SASSA payment delays at Postbank earlier this month. Payments were due between the 4th and the 6th of September but fixing the issue has taken the agency longer than anticipated.

    Fault with Postbank payment system.

    The minister said:

    “Postbank has completed more than 500 000 funds reversals to date, and the affected beneficiaries have gotten their social grants payments.”

    “However, it is important to acknowledge that due to the manual processes involved, the process is time-consuming which has taken a longer than desirable period for clients that were impacted since last week to access their money.”

    Things were tense between Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Mondli Gungubele and the board of Postbank, leading to the resignation of three Postbank board members, including the chairperson, on Tuesday this week. The system glitch that caused the delayed payments resulted from a migration of Postbank’s payment switch software to a new one.

    Read more: SASSA Payment Dates for October 2023.