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Govt urged to do better with implementing social safety net interventions

The nation has been through months of varying stages of lockdown, mass job losses and an increase in the number of vulnerable people depending on government for the bare minimum to get by.

Food parcels are packaged at a food storage facility in Springs, Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg on 21 May 2020. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Researchers and academics have called on government to do better in the implementation of social safety net interventions.

Panelists on a webinar organised by the Centre of Excellence in Food Security flagged major problems during lockdown and a potentially insecure future ahead.

The nation has been through months of varying stages of lockdown, mass job losses and an increase in the number of vulnerable people depending on government for the bare minimum to get by.

Karabo Ozah, director of the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria, said that government had staged some interventions to help the most vulnerable but there were still families that had not received anything after many months.

She said that children and adults with disabilities were still not being prioritised for grant assistance.

"Even now, post hard lockdown, who's taking steps to prioritise and make sure that there is a fast-track process for considering those applications? I don't think anybody is doing that. Realising that our obligation to the most vulnerable is something that they have to take seriously."

Francie Lund, who specialises in social policy in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said that grants definitely made a positive difference but there was a downside too.

"Within the social policy fields, the pensions and grants are getting a lot of really good attention and it can lead to the undermining of or continuing invisibility of the other social services."

The national Minister of Social Development was expected to brief the nation on Wednesday morning to update on social interventions put in place in the wake of COVID-19 and the associated lockdown but this has been postponed.

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