A new amendment bill will introduce several improvements to the welfare grant system, including drastically shortening the amount of time an appeal on a contested grant takes, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said on Tuesday.
The amendment to the Social Assistance Act will do away with the need for applicants to appeal in the first instance to the SA Social Security Agency for a review of a decision.
Given that applicants had 90 days to appeal and SASSA as much time to respond, and that the same time frames applied for a further appeal to the Independent Tribunal for Social Assistance Appeals, the process took “almost a year”, the minister told a media briefing in Cape Town.
Under the new system, a complainant will be able to approach the tribunal directly.
“There are examples of appeals taking up to 18 months to be finalised, mainly as a result of poor exchange of documents between SASSA and the tribunal,” Dlamini said.
The tribunal will have 60 days to adjudicate the appeal.
The director general of social development, Thokozani Magwaza, noted, however, that the number of appeals had decreased from as many as 3 000 a month to about 500 a month as the grant system started operating more smoothly.
Dlamini said another change would see the introduction of an independent inspectorate, with would be mandated specifically to fight entrenched patterns of fraud in the system, committed both by officials and the the public.
Up to now, the Special Investigations Unit and SASSA itself had played the role of fighting fraud in the system.
“The establishment of the inspectorate as an independent entity will provide an improved level of oversight as well as governance over the social assistance function,” the minister said.
African News Agency