Sassa Functions: The South African Social Security Agency, or SASSA, is an integral part of the country’s social security system. There are a number of grants offered by Sassa to residents of South Africa, and every resident should be aware of them. The Sassa Agency Act (Act No 9 of 2004), signed by the President into law in 2005, governs the agency.
The agency is also subject to the Public Finance Management Act of 1999 (Act No. 1 of 1999). Social assistance programs in South Africa are administered by Sassa.
SASSA’s primary objective is to provide social security services that protect individuals from vulnerability and poverty. The Social Assistance Act of 2004 serves as the national legislative framework for managing, administering, and paying social grants efficiently and effectively. This law governs all grant services, from application to payment. The Sassa is available to offer guidance and assistance.
The South African system of state social assistance providers primarily targets vulnerable groups like the elderly, people with disabilities (physical or mental), children under the age of 18, and families facing unemployment or disaster. It was first introduced to white people in the first half of last century and gradually expanded throughout the country.
Three different schemes are mentioned in Kaseke (2010:161), including unemployment insurance (under Act No. 63 of 2001), the Compensation of Occupational Injuries and Diseases Fund (under Act No. 130 of 1993), and the Road Accident Fund (which protects against the risk of road accidents victims).
Note: Unemployment insurance is not available to non-South African citizens or civil servants.
SASSA’s Origins: A Brief History
A new agency, SASSA, was established on April 1st, 2006, to manage, administer, and pay social assistance grants. Previously, social assistance functions were performed both nationally and provincially by the Department of Social Development. The provincial social assistance functions were integrated through a Service Agreement between the national and provincial departments since the national department was unable to perform administrative functions uniformly within the provinces. Until SASSA was fully independent, the Department of Social Development provided support services. The SASSA needed trained staff to operate efficiently despite transferring much operational staff.
The coordinator of Black Sash, Nceba Matongosi, points out that SASSA hired many of the same employees who were involved in the effective grant administration system. It was the most convenient solution to the staffing problem. However, it does not guarantee that all methods of securing high-quality services are absolutely reliable. Every SASSA employee is expected to deliver excellent services based on SASSA’s vision, mission, and design.
SASSA has been established in the South African context in a similar way to the Centrelink Australian social security model. A new independent agency similar to SASSA was created when Centrelink was established by combining various federal government agencies with social security and employment departments. This agency was created to combat illegal activities, protect the system, and prevent fraud. SASSA was created after different provincial departments were merged into one independent agency in South Africa.
Traits and Functions of SASSA
SASSA (South African Social Security Agency) was established in response to the Taylor Committee’s recommendation to create a comprehensive social system with adequate security. Between 2006 and 2007, 80% of SASSA’s resources were spent on setting up the agency, according to Reddy and Sokomani (2008: 82).
Its primary responsibilities include the management, administration, and payment of social assistance, the provision of social security payments, the maintenance of payment-related information, the processing of a national database for managing payments and transferring funds, the establishment of a social security system to prevent fraud and illegal activities, the maintenance of human dignity, and the consultation of applicants. Financial penalties are also imposed for noncompliance with agency agreements.
SASSA’s Organizational Tiers
SASSA is organized into four levels: the head office, the regional office, the district office, and the local office. Located in Pretoria, the national headquarters is headed by a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who reports directly to the Minister (Olivier, Mpedi, and Jordaan, 2009:63).
A properly determined code of conduct governs decisions made by the CEO and Minister, with the Minister having the right to override any decision made by the CEO. Nine regional offices are located in each region of South Africa, led by regional executive managers for the Northern Cape, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Free-State, Gauteng, North West, and KwaZulu Natal.
A key objective of the administration is to translate the principles of the law into practical implementation and outcomes (Strydom, 2006:235). A legislative framework governs Sassa’s mandate. The crucial pieces of legislation include:
- As stipulated in the 1996 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and the Bill of Rights, Section 27
- South African Social Security Agency Act No. 9 of 2004 (which governs social grant administration, management, and payment)
- Act No. 13 of 2004 on Social Assistance (which prescribes how Sassa functions should be performed).
- Public Finance Management Act No. 1 of 1999 (which governs financial management, including expenditures, revenues, assets, and liabilities)
- No. 3 of 2000, Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (which protects administrative rights)
- A law guaranteed the right to access information by the Promotion of Access to Information Act No. 2 of 2000 (which guarantees access to information)
PROCESS OF GRANT ADMINISTRATION (Sassa services from application to approval)
From the point of application to the final decision on whether the grant should be approved or disapproved, grant applications go through various stages. The process includes:
A Sassa technician verifies all the required documentation, such as an ID, a medical assessment, and a receipt.
This stage involves checking the documents, interviewing the customer, and capturing data on SOCPEN.
Sassa ensures the completeness of the application form and documentation in accordance with legislative requirements.
A final decision is made on whether to approve or reject the application on SOCPEN by issuing the application’s result.
VARIOUS GRANT TYPES
You can check your Sassa grant status at any time after you have applied. Sassa offers different types of grants. There are a number of grants offered by Sassa, including:
- Child Support Grant (CSG)
- Foster Care Grant (FCG)
- Care Dependency Grant (CDG)
- Old Age Grant (OAG)
- Disability Grants (DG)
- War Veteran Grant (WVG)
- Grant-In-Aid (GIA)
SASSA’s primary objective is to administer grants in a way that prevents complications for recipients. The organization’s approach to grant administration aligns with Centrelink’s in Australia. Some researchers question whether Centrelink works as well in a developing country like South Africa as it does in a first-world country