Africa News Bulletin

Namibia, South Africa review social grant pact

NAMIBIA and South Africa will review the payment of social grants to Walvis Bay residents who were transferred to this country in 1994.

The coastal town used to be managed as a South African enclave up to 1994.

Minister of gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare Doreen Sioka yesterday told The Namibian that they are already engaging their South African counterparts who are expected in the country soon.

She also said the review by the two countries is part of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) agreement to re-look at the bilateral agreement on health and welfare services related to Walvis Bay during 1994.

The initial delegation of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) were expected in the country on Monday but pulled out under unclear circumstances.

“South African delegates through SASSA will implement and focus on the review of the bilateral agreement, that provides for the payment of social grants to South Africans who were listed in Walvis Bay at the time of its [re-integration into] Namibia, “ she said.

Sioka said the second bi-national commission between Namibia and South Africa in 2016, recommended a review of the 1994 agreement.

Sioka also added that the government is in the process of transitioning the Food Bank concept into a Basic Income Grant (BIG) with monthly cash payments by April this year.

This comes amid growing calls for the government to actualise the BIG concept to make a positive dent on the high levels of poverty and inequality.

“The ministry was tasked by the Harambee Prosperity Plan to revise the conveyed Food Bank programme and the marginalised special feeding programme into a mantric case by 2022,”she said.

She says the lowest distribution of food parcels is expected to occur in March 2022 for vulnerable children.

Vulnerable children are those in need of care and protective services according to the Child Care and Protection Act.

Since January, the ministry has registered 108 children for social grants.

Sioka said the grant will provide a flexible form of assistance that empowers and encourages households to meet their own food and nutritional needs based on their own priorities and preferences, among others.

“Some students who are found in need of protective services are placed in alternative care such as foster care, kinship care in the residential childcare facilities while reconstructing construction services are being provided,” she added.

She added that the ministry has after-school programmes where children in the streets are rounded up and placed in schools and some kept in school hostels.

The minister further said there are a number of children who work and live on the street.

Original story on The Namibian

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