The Democratic Alliance (DA) have once again called for the South African Social Securities Agency (SASSA) to urgently address persistent failings within its payment systems that are continuously leaving beneficiaries of social grants and the COVID-19 Social Relief or Distress (SRD) grants without vitally needed funding.
The Department of Social Development, led by Minister Liniwe Zulu, has been regularly criticised during the nationwide lockdown for its delayed ability to distribute emergency R350 relief funds to unemployed citizens desperately in need of support amidst mounting unemployment.
SASSA grant system a ‘perpetual mess’ – DA
Bridget Masango, the DA’s Shadow Minister of Social Development, said that the inability to properly ensure the efficient distribution of the SRD grant is testament to Zulu’s poor management of the department.
“It is almost unbelievable that SASSA still has not managed to sort out the perpetual mess with the payment of the Special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distressed (SRD) grant of R350. They’ve had six months to work out the kinks,” she said.
The opposition party claim to have received numerous complaints about the system, which has been suspended and troubled with a plethora of technical problems. Beneficiaries have been struggling to get their hands on social grants with long queues forming at Post Offices despite attempts to digitalise the payment process.
“Many beneficiaries have been unemployed for three to five years, yet according to SASSA, they have all managed to find work amidst the economic crisis the country faces after the extended COVID-19 lockdown,” she said.
DA call for Zulu’s replacement
Masango said that frustrated beneficiaries have also been subjected to impolite service from department officials, and called for the replacement of Zulu with someone who is better motivated to effect change in the department.
“As if leaving vulnerable people to face starvation is not bad enough, SASSA officials have the apparent audacity to be incredibly rude when people do manage to connect to a consultant after hours on the phone. SASSA’s online platform is another source of constant frustration to beneficiaries,” she charged.
“Minister Zulu’s actions have proven that she is incapable of running DSD. She has proven that she does not care about poor and vulnerable people,” she said.
“She has proven that all she cares about is the power and status her position as Minister affords her. It’s time to replace her with a capable Minister.”
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