THE publication of an 18-page insert in newspapers, including this one, carrying the addresses of all registration sites for social grant beneficiaries is timeous and a welcome relief.
It follows an earlier decision by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), the state agency responsible for providing welfare grants, to clean up its database. This process required social grant beneficiaries to re-register. However, things went slightly awry.
Earlier this month Sassa invited those beneficiaries receiving their social grants through commercial banks to start re-registering at their nearest re-registration sites. The beneficiaries were sent letters notifying them of the dates on which they were supposed to register but the problem was that no details of the re-registration sites were provided. Many of the beneficiaries had no idea where to go.
This, understandably, caused panic, especially among the elderly and the vulnerable.
Gonubie resident Mercia Smailes is one such beneficiary. Smailes last week told this newspaper that her letter did not include details of her re-registration venue and when she called the telephone numbers provided, she could not get through.
“There were two numbers, one of them doesn’t exist … and the other one is engaged,” she said.
Hopefully the addresses provided on the insert will remedy the problem and the information will reach the intended beneficiaries.
We urge our readers to spread the news and the millions of social grant beneficiaries from this province to heed the call and re-register. It is important for everyone to pull together so that this important payment system can be cleaned up.
While we do not believe welfare grants are a permanent solution to eradicating poverty, they play a vital role in our rural economy where employment opportunities are limited and where the poorest of the poor not only struggle to survive, but are the vast majority.
Statistics show the Eastern Cape has higher levels of poverty and unemployment than South Africa as a whole, that more than half of Eastern Cape households do not have a wage-earner (compared to 37% for South Africa as a whole); and that more than half of our households (57%) are dependent on social grants.
The potential for disaster if the social grant pay-out system is to get out of kilter is therefore, huge.
We must however, applaud Sassa for their efforts to clean up a system plagued by corruption. Over the years the welfare system has been manipulated by greedy and corrupt civil servants who have siphoned off millions of rands.
The re-registration will hopefully curb this and ensure the money goes where it is needed most.