Access to digital infrastructure by older persons a priority

Friday, October 1, 2021

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu says access to digital and virtual infrastructure by older persons is government’s priority.

Zulu was speaking at the launch of Social Development Month on Friday. The month-long campaign was launched under the theme, “Delivering DSD Services during COVID-19 in the Year of Charlotte Maxeke”.

“Indeed, the meaningful accessibility of today’s digital and virtual infrastructure by older persons is our government’s priority, as our broadcasting platforms are well on course migrating from analogue to digital,” Zulu said.

The campaign seeks to showcase the work of the department and aims to emphasise the measures taken by the department and its entities to improve the living conditions of South Africans by promoting access to social development services to the poor and vulnerable communities, including children, people with disabilities and older persons.

The launch also takes place on the International Day for Older Persons, when the United Nations is commemorating the day with the theme, “Digital Equity for All Ages”.

The Minister said the theme predicates the need for access and meaningful participation in the digital world by older persons.

Zulu said during the 2021 Social Development Month, they will continue to render services together with their social partners.

“Our aim is to find ways of ensuring that older persons are afforded necessary and dignified services at all times,” Zulu said.

She called on society to ensure that older persons are educated about digital platforms and that they are not left behind.

Working within the government-adopted District Development Model approach, this month, the social development sector will showcase how its services have been responsive, relevant, innovation-driven, and all-embracing, in that they were implemented through targeted people-public-private-civic-academic-multilateral partnerships.

The sector will also outline its practical implementation and reinforcements of a variety of its interventions where COVID-19 impacted the lives of ordinary South Africans.

Special COVID-19 SRD Grant

 The implementation of the Special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant between May 2020 and April 2021 has benefited over six million new beneficiaries on a monthly basis.

Zulu said almost R20 billion was paid out for this grant and almost R30 billion was spent on additional top-ups to existing grants during this period.

“On July 25, President Cyril Ramaphosa extended the payment of the COVID-19 SRD grant to March 2022. As we speak, SASSA and the department are hard at work providing income support to qualifying unemployed South Africans.

“As of August, in excess of 13 million applications have received for this grant. Noteworthy is the fact that 44% of these are new applicants, with a total of about 4 570 357 applicants from caregivers,” she said.

In terms of grant theft and corruption, the Minister said the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the department, along with the relevant institutions of government, have put mechanisms in place to deal with people who are illegally benefiting from this grant.

“Ill-gotten public funds will be retrieved from the perpetrators. We urge people who apply for this grant to ensure that they qualify in line with the criteria. If you are receiving an income please do not apply for the grant,” Zulu said.

Child and teenage pregnancy 

Zulu has appealed to communities to educate children about statutory rape and teenage pregnancy.  

“We are as appalled as many South Africans are with the growing prevalence of child and teenage pregnancies in different parts of the country. We are of the view that beyond strengthening families for them to protect South Africa’s children and youth, we should institute statutory rape charges against those who impregnate these young girls,” she said.  

Zulu emphasised that active steps should also be taken to successfully reinstate these young girls back in school. –