On Tuesday night, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced a new R500 billion economic support package, which introduces a monthly payout to the unemployed – the first of its kind in South Africa.
It will be temporary, and not the universal basic income grant many hoped for, but South Africa will now pay the unemployed a cash amount for six months.
The so-called Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant of R350 a month will be paid to individuals who are currently jobless and do not receive any other form of social grant or Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) payment.
The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) will screen applicants against other databases to see whether they qualify.
Sassa chief executive Busisiwe Memela talking to John Maython on Cape Talk Radio described how the social security agency plans to identify and pay eligible beneficiaries.
How will people register?
“They are going to be using an SSD or a WhatsApp process for them to be able to register,” Memela said.
How will they identify legitimate beneficiaries?
“You are going to be able to indicate ‘I’m not employed’, ‘I’m not getting UIF’, ‘I’m not getting an NSFAS fund’, ‘I’m a South African’. And then we will check all these [details] against the databases.
“The system will automatically say whether you qualify or don’t qualify… Then we’ll put you to the back-end and process the payment.”
Do foreign nationals qualify?
“If you have legal papers to be in South Africa, you would qualify. If you’re a registered refugee, you would qualify.”
When will payments start?
“Once you’ve registered, we hope to start doing the payments at the beginning of May. Once you’ve been processed, we will pay at that time. We won’t wait until the end of the month… As and when people get registered, we need to push out the payment and make sure we do it once a month for the next six months.”
How will the money be paid?
“We are going to use three possible processes; an e-voucher, a mobile money transfer or, if you have a bank account, we’ll put the money in your bank account.”