Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has called on members of the public to report any acts of corruption in relation to the distribution of government’s COVID-19 social relief.
The Minister said this when she made an executive statement to the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon.
Her statement comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the establishment of a coordinating centre that will bolster efforts aimed at investigating corruption in relation to social relief grants, procurement of personal protective equipment and distribution of food parcels.
“I hereby reiterate my unflinching commitment to this House, the President of South Africa, the taxpayer, and the nine state institutions that the President mandated to deal with the theft, abuse, misappropriation and mismanagement of the COVID-19 response funds.
“I immediately offer to assist the processes that are designed to investigate related misconduct by anyone whatsoever in the Department of Social Development and its entities.
“Furthermore, I encourage members of the public to report misconduct in the areas of, for instance, the distribution of food parcels, social relief grants, the procurement and overpricing of personal protective equipment (PPEs) and COVID-19-related medical supplies, etc,” she said.
Five million COVID-19 grant applicants paid to date
Zulu said, meanwhile, that through the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), the Social Development portfolio developed new grant administration and payment systems for the special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant for the unemployed.
Under this, qualifying applicants will be receiving R350 of this grant per month over the six-month period that is ending in October.
“The COVID-19 social relief stimulus package that the portfolio innovated and will be administering until October alleviates the beneficiaries’ day-to-day challenges.
“To date, we have received 7.8 million COVID-19 SRD grant applications. The special COVID-19 SRD grant payments have duly been paid into the accounts of five million of these applicants.
“This number represents those that were found to be eligible and whose information has been verified by various databases,” she said.
Mitigating effects of COVID-19
Zulu said the department, its entities as well as the private sector and civil society partners are hard at work to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on each and every South African, particularly the vulnerable.
“Together, we are the Social Development Portfolio. The portfolio approach has been particularly beneficial in the face of the unprecedented social development challenges that accompany the COVID-19 pandemic, where we needed to harness and improve resources’ and programmatic efficiencies and uncover and mobilise social innovations.
“The COVID-19 pandemic flung open our doors to learning. For this reason, we learn from one another as much as we learn from others. This is how we continue to improve our programmes.”