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An implementation analysis of the special covid-19 social relief of distress (SRD) grant in KwaZulu-Natal (2020-2022).

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2023

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Abstract

The implementation of policy or programme is a crucial step in public policymaking despite its complexity. Implementation can be regarded as policy in action or how policy is carried out. Moreover, the quality of its implementation determines the effectiveness and success of any policy. Essentially, there is a policy gap when policy expectations and perceived outcomes differ during the implementation process. The study, therefore, seeks to investigate the SRD programme implementation issues, including accessibility, the application process, payment processes, and the distributional impact faced by the Department of Social Development in delivering SRD grants in KwaZuluNatal. The study also focuses on beneficiaries’ experiences in accessing the relief fund and the experiences of implementing agents (Department of Social Development and SASSA) in delivering SRD grants in KwaZulu-Natal between May 2020-December 2022. A desktop qualitative approach to research is used to collect data in this study. Moreover, the study uses content analysis as a data collection method. The sample for this study is a selection of primary documents, including the Social Relief of Distress, Social Assistance Act (No 13 of 2004) and the South African Social Security Agency Act (No 9 of 2004). Moreover, secondary studies related to the topic and research questions will be selected, such as reports, online news articles, and academic journals. The study found that the emergence of the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in South Africa in 2019, its corresponding impacts simultaneously posed a global health and socio-economic crisis. To curb the spread of Covid-19, South Africa implemented a five-tier lockdown strategy, with level 5 being the most drastic in terms of restrictions. The Covid-19 crisis and regulations restricting social mobility and interaction have led most governments worldwide to expand their social protection systems to provide relief to vulnerable individuals and household members. Notably, digital technology has become integral to many social security systems worldwide. The implementation of the SRD grant in South Africa faced numerous challenges, resulting in some beneficiaries being excluded. Issues included a lack of digital access and literacy, inefficiencies in cash payments by the Post Office, and difficulties for rural and peri-urban residents. Government databases with outdated information also caused some applications to be rejected without a chance for appeal. Those receiving bank deposits experienced withdrawal vi | Page fees and inconsistent payment schedules. Additionally, poor service delivery, bribery, and corruption were reported at Post office branches where grants were collected. It was established that public policy programs fail if there is a lack of direction and unclear goals. A consequence of these limitations is that most adopted policies include vague language and ambiguous, contradictory, or unfeasible policy goals. Furthermore, the goals of the newly gazetted regulations of the SRD grant are unrealistic, as hundreds of thousands of people receiving the grant were disqualified. The evidence further suggests how SASSA failed to update its outdated, limited databases and inadequate verification systems leading to an influx of applications from public servants.

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Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.

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