Under the blanket: questions over SASSA’s social relief programme
Agency spends millions on “promotional” issue of blankets
A total of R105 million was spent on blankets by the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) in the financial years from 2014 to 2017, according to Social Development minister Bathabile Dlamini.
In response to a question from DA MP Bridget Masango, Dlamini said almost R25 million of this was spent on blankets as “promotional items” rather than as part of response to disasters.
The department says blankets, along with cash, food parcels, dignity packs and mattresses are used for the social relief of distress, especially as a response to disasters. Dlamini did not explain the “promotional” issue of blankets, which opposition parties claim is sometimes used for party political purposes.
But in some provinces – the Western Cape is an exception – more has often been spent on blankets as promotional items than for social relief of distress. In the 2014/15 financial year, for instance, in Gauteng R11.3 million was spent on blankets as promotional material and nothing on blankets for social relief of distress.
In Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape about R1.6 million was spent on blankets as promotional material and no blankets were provided in the category of social relief of distress. In the following financial year in Mpumalanga over R1.1 million was spent on blankets as promotional items but nothing was provided for social relief.
In the 2016/17 financial year the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng and Mpumalanga spent millions more on blankets as promotional material than as part of social relief of distress.
Dlamini said: “When blankets are issued as promotional items, they are targeted towards older persons, in recognition of the contribution they have made to building a democratic South Africa and ensuring cohesion in local communities.”
Masango told GroundUp she had asked the question because there seemed to be no monitoring of the effectiveness of the social relief of distress programme.
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