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Zulu Updates on Social Relief Measures to Mitigate COVID-19

December 14, 2020

Department of Social Development

The social development department has made significant progress to implement the North Gauteng Court Order on Foster Care.

The social development minister, Lindiwe Zulu, highlighted this in a statement on Social Relief Measures to Mitigate the Coronavirus Covid-19 Pandemic.

Mention was made of the Social Assistance Amendment Bill, approved by parliament in October 2020 and sent to president ramaphosa for assent.

The bill seeks to amend the Social Assistance Act of 2004 so as to:

• insert new definitions;
• provide for additional payments linked to social grants;
• provide for payment of benefits to a child-headed household;
• provide for social relief of distress in the event of a disaster;
• repeal the internal reconsideration process;
• provide for an Independent Tribunal to consider appeals against decisions of the Agency;
• provide for the establishment of the Inspectorate as a government component; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

In terms of the appeals process, the bill proposes that appeals regarding grant applications can be lodged immediately upon receiving a decision from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) with the Independent Tribunal within a period of 90 days.

The proposed legislation also proposes that a primary care giver of a child or a child who heads a child-headed household are eligible for a child support grant.

The bill also seeks to empower the social development minister, in agreement with the finance minister, to prescribe an additional payment linked to a social grant.

The Children’s Amendment Bill was also tabled in parliament at the end of August 2020.

The bill’s explanatory summary was published in Government Gazette 43656 on 26 August 2020.

According to the explanatory summary, the bill seeks to amend the Children’s Act of 2005 to address critical gaps and challenges in the underlying child care and protection system.

The bill also responds to a High Court order relating to foster care challenges and seeks to contribute to a comprehensive legislative system on foster care.

According to the minister, the two pieces of legislation form part of the long-term legal solution to improve the foster care system in South Africa.

“Provinces are implementing provincial recovery plans to clear foster care backlogs. We will continue to work closely with Departments of Justice, Correctional Services and Home Affairs to address foster care challenges, as this requires multi sectoral approach,” she said.

The minister also declared that her department supports “measures proposed in the Amendment of the Liquor Act, 2003 to amongst others, restriction of advertising, marketing, promotions and sponsorship of alcohol beverages”.

The department also supports proposals for the setting up of the “Special Fund to which the liquor industry will contribute a percentage of their net profit towards prevention and harm reduction, as well as further reduction of alcohol level for drink and driving to 0.02 percent”.

Other issues highlighted by the minister include that the department plans to clear the backlog on NPO registration by the end of the current financial year; SASSA is working on ensuring that those who need to re-apply for the temporary disability grant are able to do so; the Special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant has distributed R13.5 billion to more than 6 million eligible beneficiaries and domestic and national adoption services will continue while the suspension of international adoption services will remain in effect until further notice.