NEEDY Lesotho nationals based in South Africa will have to wait longer before they can access a once-off payment from the government to cushion them from the effects of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The government announced in March 2020 that it had set aside M4 million to help Basotho in South Africa. Each family would receive a meagre M350 once-off payment which could be used to purchase food.
However, according to Social Development ministry officials, they will have to wait until after the completion of the vetting of applications before they can receive the once-off payments.
There are an estimated 400 000 Basotho nationals in South Africa.
Social Development Minister ‘Matebatso Doti is on record saying the government will assist at least 12 000 Basotho who are facing starvation in the neighbouring country after they lost their jobs during the lockdown.
Ms Doti acknowledged that the assistance was not enough to cushion the recipients but added that “this was all the government could afford because it was short of resources”.
The Social Development ministry’s legal officer, Linkeng Khubetsoana, told the Lesotho Times this week that only 1 800 out of the 12 000 Basotho had been cleared by the ministry to receive assistance.
He however, said they would only receive the aid when the vetting exercise was complete. He said the government had a contract with South African retail giant Shoprite to process the vouchers to enable Lesotho nationals to receive the food assistance. He did not say when the vetting exercise would be completed.
“Shoprite said they can only start processing the vouchers once all the names of the beneficiaries have been submitted,” Mr Khubetsoana said.
“This means that the vouchers are not readily available for the 1 800 people whose names have been processed. They will have to wait until all the names have been processed because Shoprite says it would be very costly for them to give vouchers to recipients at different intervals. They want to do it all at once,” Ms Khubetsoana said.