SASSA R350 social grant glitch

Photo: GCIS

Disability grants: DA calls for clarity, blasts SASSA for ‘failure to plan’

SASSA’s problem “is one of its own making”, according to DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango.

SASSA R350 social grant glitch

Photo: GCIS

The South African Social Security Agency’s (SASSA) has been making headlines this week and for all the wrong reasons. The agency is running low on funds and the disability grants have been suspended.

Earlier this month, the DA referred to the lapse of the temporary disability grant as a “humanitarian crisis”. The Democratic Alliance (DA) now demands “urgent clarity” with regards to the lack of funding of disability grants.

SASSA’s disability grants lapse

The party said SASSA’s “admission that it does not have enough money to reinstate the temporary disability grants is a massive cause for concern”.

This follows after SASSA CEO Busisiwe “Totsie” Memela-Khambula said the grants cannot be extended “because the Social Security Act determines how we treat each and every particular grant”. Speaking to Cape Talk, Memela added:

“It’s actually unfair for them to say we cannot lapse them because the grants were extended three times last year . And it was as a result of the directives that the minister put in place”.

SASSA’s executive manager, Dianne Dunkerley, confirmed that the agency needs approximately R1.2 billion to extend grand payments. It only has R411 million.

SASSA’s failure to plan

According to the DA, SASSA’s problem “is one of its own making”. The party is laying the blame at SASSA’s door for not planning accordingly.

“The Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, is on the National Corona Command Council (NCCC) after all. But instead of ensuring that South Africa’s most vulnerable receive continuous financial aid essential to their health, well-being and survival, the Minister busied herself with regulations that sought to hamper vital aid reaching millions of people”.

Bridget Masango MP – DA Shadow Minister of Social Development

Masango says the crisis could have been contained if SASSA had “shown more haste in early 2020”. The agency should have processed applications and ensured that their offices were fully capacitated.

Instead, the DA feels that SASSA had “knowingly walked into a preventable situation”. This perhaps due to the fact that “Memela-Khambula rarely have to face the consequences of their ineptness and callousness”.

What should SASSA do now?

Masango suggests that SASSA reaches out to the National Treasury to seek a solution with haste, reminding them that those who are reliant on social grants cannot afford to wait weeks or even days.

“The grants they receive are often the only source of income and takes care of whole families. To put it bluntly; without their grant payments many people will starve. They cannot survive without it”.

The DA is also seeking clarity on several crucial points such as the number of beneficiaries being assessed in each province and how to increase the capacity to process each application.

Non-payment isn’t an option

The DA also seeks clarity on the number of applications that will be processed each day to deal with the backlog and how long it will take to clear it in its entirety. Furthermore, it feels the following issues should be addressed:

  • The number of doctors and medical personnel that have been hired in each province and whether this will be sufficient to effectively deal with the backlog;
  • The employment of easy and easily accessible online applications for those able to access the internet;
  • The redeployment of the promised volunteers and community activists to assist those unable to access online platforms so that they don’t have to expose themselves to a dangerous virus to stand in line at SASSA offices; and
  • How SASSA plans to cover the financial cost of eradicating the backlog.

“Let’s be clear, the solution cannot include under any circumstances the non-payment of disability grants to beneficiaries. SASSA dug this hole, and SASSA must suffer the consequences”.