SASSA: “Technical challenges” prevent beneficiaries from accessing social grants

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has received various complaints from elderly social grant recipients across the country that they were not able to access their grants on Monday.

On Monday evening, SASSA told the DA that the lack of payments was due to “a technical challenge with the system with some accounts not having been credited”. SASSA also stated that “the system [was] not coping with the volumes resulting in the rejection of some transactions”.

It is alarming that the South African Post Office (SAPO) systems are not coping with the volumes when it should have been made to do so by now, as the migration from CPS to SAPO was finalised in September last year.

Any delay in grant recipients receiving social grants can have devastating knock on effects, affecting entire families and their need to live with dignity. For many South Africans their social grants are the difference between food on the table or going hungry.

The DA will continue to monitor the developments at SASSA and we will not hesitate to expose any delay in beneficiaries receiving their much needed grants

People who qualify for social grants turned away from Roodepoort SASSA Office

This statement follows an oversight inspection by the Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP, and DA Team One SA Spokesperson on Basic Services, Makashule Gana MPL, to the Roodepoort Local South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) Office.

Please find attached English and isiZulu soundbites by Ms Masango, as well as English and XiTsonga soundbites by Mr Gana.

Today, the DA conducted an oversight inspection at the Roodepoort Local SASSA Office following reports that qualifying social grants applicants are being turned away because SASSA employees are refusing to do biometric testing.


We spoke to qualifying grants applicants who told us how frustrated they were with the lack of answers from SASSA and the challenges they face because of the problems with the biometric system.

Several beneficiaries, including an elderly man and woman who qualify for disability grants, said they had been turned away and not received any grants as a result. Although new cards were issued at Roodepoort, some people have reportedly gone for months without having received any money. There are also very long lines at the office, the system to process applications is often offline and there is a lack of doctors to assess beneficiaries.

It became evident from our discussions with SASSA employees at the office that the agency has not put any contingency plans in place to ensure that biometric testing would be done for new applications.

This despite the fact that SASSA had been aware for some time that this function would need to be institutionalised. Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) previously carried out biometric testing and identification for new applicants – a service which they were paid for.

However, the CPS contract was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court and SASSA migrated to the South African Post Office (SAPO). Given this, SASSA employees were meant to carry out biometric testing.

SASSA is already facing massive backlogs in the capturing of biometric data.

The biometric challenges are not just restricted to Roodepoort, the DA has been inundated with calls and messages from all over the country from beneficiaries who have been denied access to desperately needed social grants as far back as June.

Social grants recipients are among the most vulnerable people in our society. Any delay in accessing grants could be the difference between vulnerable children and the elderly having food on the table or not.

The DA will continue to go to every corner of South Africa to expose how the failing ANC government mistreats vulnerable citizens. Our people deserve to have access to quality and dignified social services which the ANC government is incapable of providing.

SASSA officials are defrauding the system by bypassing capturing biometric data of beneficiaries

The Democratic Alliance (DA) can reveal that the South Africa Social Security Agency (SASSA) has ordered its employees to essentially defraud its own application system by claiming that biometric testing and identification has been done for new applicants, when in fact no such information has been captured.

By not capturing biometric data, SASSA is exposing itself and beneficiaries to potential fraud by opportunistic criminals, and worse, the possibility of new applicants being swindled of their grants.

The DA will request that Social Development Minister, Susan Shabangu, urgently confirm if this is the case and if so, what action will be taken to ensure that beneficiaries and SASSA will not be defrauded.

The Minister has essentially thrown SASSA and SAPO’s plans into disarray and left officials to deal with this mess while she is out of the country in Geneva, Switzerland.

Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) previously carried out biometric testing and identification for new applicants – a service which they were paid for. However, after the CPS contract was declared invalid and SASSA migrated to the South African Post Office (SAPO), SASSA employees were meant to carry out biometric testing.

When SASSA employees demanded payment for the biometric enrolment, as it is an extra function, SASSA refused. As a result, trade union, Public Servants Association (PSA), ordered a brief suspension in the processing of new applications as the two parties could not come to an agreement on extra pay for employees.

The agreement between SASSA and the PSA has been slow. In the meantime, in a memo to its employees on 21 August 2018, SASSA instructed employees to bypass biometric testing and identification when processing new applicants.

In essence, in an attempt to save face and get the new applications processed without having to negotiate with the PSA, SASSA is requiring its employees to lie about capturing biometric data and defraud its own system.

The Minister must also clarify her remarks that all pay points will be open beyond the 30 September 2018 deadline. This seems to be in contravention of the Constitutional Court judgement and in contradiction of what SASSA has been communicating to beneficiaries about the closure of some pay points.

This means that beneficiaries could once again see the payment of grants delayed in October and beneficiaries face yet more confusion.

The DA will continue to expose dodgy processes at SASSA, especially when it puts the payment of grants to beneficiaries at risk. Biometric testing does not only protect SASSA from fraud, it also protects grants beneficiaries. The absence of biometric information creates an environment in which fraudsters can rob the disadvantaged of their only source of income.

Long queues at SASSA offices a burden for beneficiaries in KZN

This statement follows an oversight inspection by the DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP, DA North Durban Constituency Chairperson, Rory MacPherson, and DA public representatives to the Phoenix SASSA Office in KwaZulu-Natal. Please find attached English and IsiZulu soundbites by Ms Masango. Pictures can be found here, here, here and here.

Today, the DA conducted oversight inspections at the Pinetown, Phoenix and Standerton SASSA Offices in KwaZulu-Natal. The visits follow SASSA’s recent migration from CPS to the new South African Post Office (SAPO) distribution system.

The DA wanted to assess whether the challenges in the new distribution system has been fixed and the general quality of services available to our people.

At the Pinetown office, the SASSA district manager admitted that they had experienced a number of issues with the initial rollout of the new distribution system as a number of people did not receive their grants.

Long queues are also a major challenge at the Pinetown office due to its central location and the office servicing a vast area. As a result, the operating hours at the office has been extended to ensure that every beneficiary receives the help they require.

At the Phoenix Office, social grants recipients also shared their frustrations regarding long queues. In 2016, the SASSA office in Verulam closed. As a result, beneficiaries have no alternative but to travel from Verulam to Phoenix for assistance.

The increased volume of beneficiaries at the Phoenix office is very concerning. Travel costs and long waiting hours are not only frustrating, but it can also have devastating consequences on social grants recipients who are often frail and among the most vulnerable people in our society.

It is no secret that grants recipients are often on the receiving end of poor and undignified services because the uncaring ANC government which have forgotten about their plight and continues to fail them. It is no secret that neither SASSA nor SAPO had adequate plans in place for the switch to the new system leaving beneficiaries to bear the brunt of the government’s failures.

The DA calls on the Department of Social Development to show leadership, put beneficiaries first and fix the challenges at the SASSA offices in KwaZulu-Natal

President Ramaphosa must not protect Shabangu like Zuma protected Dlamini

The time has come for President Cyril Ramaphosa to personally intervene in the ongoing social grants fiasco.

This is after CPS submitted an affidavit to the Constitutional Court stating that it does not have enough money to distribute cash grants to beneficiaries in July. CPS claims to not have enough money because they are demanding a higher administration fee than what has been recommended, approved and paid in full by National Treasury and SASSA.

Essentially, CPS is attempting to create yet another crisis, risking the wellbeing of 2.8 million social grant recipients, to force government’s hand to pay them more money.

By threatening to not pay cash grants, CPS is clearly holding the Department of Social Development, the Constitutional Court and the beneficiaries to ransom.

This is further proof of CPS’s parasitic nature and that they are willing to toy with the livelihoods of the poor and vulnerable for their own financial gain.

In 2014, the Constitutional Court declared the CPS contract unlawful. In March this year, the Court was forced to grant yet another extension of this contract which is set to come to an end in September this year.

The President has to intervene with urgency, as he too is accountable for this mess.

Instead of ensuring that he prioritised the lives of the poor and vulnerable by appointing a competent Minister to replace Dodging Dlamini, he simply swapped like for like.

On Wednesday, the new Minister of Social Development, Susan Shabangu, appeared before Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Social Development where she had ample opportunity to divulge this information. However, she did not. This means that she either chose to keep quiet or she was completely in the dark about the impending crisis at CPS. Both scenarios are equally inexcusable.

President Ramaphosa cannot protect Minister Shabangu the way President Jacob Zuma protected Minister Bathabile Dlamini.

On Wednesday, the DA wrote to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development to request that the Minister and the SASSA CEO account to Parliament on the decision to cancel the tender process for another service provider to distribute grants. The Minister must answer for this mess and why SASSA decided to cancel the cash grants tender process. It is now clear that CPS is grossly unsuitable to distribute social grants to our people.

The DA will not be deterred from ensuring that SASSA, CPS and the Minister is held accountable for once again placing the lives of vulnerable social grants recipients at risk.

This ongoing crisis must be dealt with urgently, once and for all for sake of the millions who rely on social grants just to get by.

DA requests record of decision on SASSA cash grants tender cancellation

The DA has written to the Minister of Social Development, Susan Shabangu, and the Acting SASSA CEO, Abraham Mahlangu, to request the Record of Decision on SASSA’s decision to cancel the bidding process to find an alternative service provider to CPS, for the distribution of cash grants.

The public has a right to know the rationale behind the decision to cancel the tender process and that this is not yet another attempt to hold a gun to the head of the Constitutional Court to extend the illegal CPS contract.

The DA maintains that this move by SASSA is not only reckless but also utterly negligent given that no information has been provided about an alternative service provider to pay out cash grants to 2.8 million beneficiaries.

To this end, we have also requested that the Minister make public any contingency plans that have been put in place to ensure that grant beneficiaries are able to receive cash payments without interruption after the current extension of the CPS contract comes to an end in September.

The reality is that the Constitutional Court declared the initial CPS contract invalid in 2014. The Department and SASSA have had two years to find a suitable alternative. Instead, under the leadership of then Social Development Minister, Bathabile ‘Dodging’ Dlamini, they have consistently delayed the process.

It is now time for the new Minister to play open cards.

If Minister Shabangu has nothing to hide, she will make all documents and opinions on which the decision was based public.

The DA will continue to keep a close eye on the developments of the cash payment process. The 2.8 million vulnerable South Africans who depend on cash grants every month cannot continue to be kept guessing about whether or not they will receive their grants.

No ‘New Dawn’ for SASSA under Shabangu as millions may not receive their grants

Confusion seems to be the order of the day, as SASSA told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Social Development that new service provider for cash payment would only be ready in July. The agency also admitted today that it still does not have any feasible contingency plans in place in the event the Constitutional Court declines an extension of the illegal CPS contract.
This completely contradicts announcements made at a press conference last week by SASSA CEO, Pearl Bhengu, that there were in fact plans in place for cash payments come the April 1st deadline.
It is now clear, however, that there are no plans in place and that Bhengu was less than truthful when she addressed the nation.
The reality is that there are two weeks left until the illegal CPS contract expires and SASSA, the agency responsible for social security, have no plans in place to ensure that the 2.8 million grants recipients who receive cash payments every month receive their grants without interruptions.
What’s even more concerning is that Social Development Minister, Susan Shabangu, has not said a single word regarding this impending debacle. This points to her not having the political will, nor the appetite, to sort out the mess left behind by her predecessor, Minister Bathabile Dlamini.
Her silence speaks volumes about her interest in the livelihoods of the poor and vulnerable.
It is evident that no one at SASSA and at the Department of Social Development seems to know what they are doing and how to prevent another social grants fiasco.
The public, and most importantly the 2.8 million grant recipients who depend on cash payment every month, needs answers as time is rapidly running out.
SASSA is once again holding a gun to the heads of the Constitutional Court and the South African public to push this illegal CPS contract down our throats.

DA calls for urgent sitting of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Social Security as 1 April deadline approaches

Please find attached soundbites in isiZulu and English by DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP.
The latest release of a report by the panel of experts appointed to oversee SASSA’s readiness to take over the distribution of social grants paints an alarming picture of chaos and confusion at the agency.
With little over a month left until the South African Post Office (SAPO) is set to take over the distribution of social grants on 1 April 2018, there are still more questions than answers.
The DA will now write to the Chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Comprehensive Social Security, Minister Jeff Radebe, to request that he convenes an urgent meeting of all the relevant stakeholders including CPS. The DA’s previous request to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, for such a meeting at Parliament, has gone unanswered.
In its report, the panel of experts have made damning revelations of a breakdown in the relationship between SAPO and SASSA. The report has also found that SASSA and SAPO’s obligation in terms of their service agreement are not being met and that parts of the service agreement will not be implemented or implementable on 1 April 2018.
Furthermore, the report has also found that CPS is reluctant to extend its illegal existing contract as requested by SASSA. With no current alternative to CPS and SASSA’s failure to find a second service provider, it is ultimately the grants recipients who will be left stranded should an urgent solution not be found.
Thanks to the poor planning and lack of urgency from SASSA, it is clear that we have another social grants crisis at hand.
The blame for the chaos at SASSA should be squarely placed at the feet of Minister Bathabile Dlamini – who has played a central part in this self-created crisis. The Minister seems to be bent on ensuring that CPS continues with the distribution of social grants, and has used every trick in the book to derail SAPO from taking over.
With rumours of a possible Cabinet reshuffle on the cards, Bathabile Dlamini should be the first one to get the boot. However, simply removing her is not enough, she must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
The DA also note that the Constitutional Court has granted CPS’s request to participate in SASSA’s future tender processes. Although CPS has been involved in dodgy dealings with SASSA and illegal deductions of grants, we must respect the Constitutional Court’s ruling and we hope that the tender process will be transparent and open.

Dlamini must sprint out of office, like she sprinted out of ANC caucus, following another CPS extension

The DA notes reports today that SASSA has approached the Constitutional Court to request a six month extension of its illegal cash payment contract with CPS.
This latest request is proof that Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, is yet again attempting to frustrate SASSA’s process of finding an alternative and legal service provider.
CPS has been responsible for the parasitic and illegal deductions which see some pensioners go home with as little as R100 of their grants every month. We cannot allow that our people are once again subjected to such unethical and immoral behaviour.
The Minister’s ineptitude and dodgy intentions have brought us yet another impending self-created social grants crisis. She has dragged her feet and frustrated SASSA’s entire procurement process.
We have less than two months left until the end of the illegal CPS contract, and the poor and vulnerable are once again facing an anxious and uncertain future.
Dodging Dlamini must use the same energy she used to sprint out of the ANC’s Caucus meeting today, to sprint out of public office for good. She has time and again proven that she does not have the interest of our people at heart.

Bathabile Dlamini seemingly bent on defying Constitutional Court again to retain illegal CPS contract

Reports that the South African Social Security Agency’s (SASSA) plans to extend the CPS contact by a further six months is yet another clear attempt by Minister Bathabile Dlamini to defy the Constitutional court and prolong the grants crisis.

The Constitutional Court ruled that CPS contact was invalid and could not be extended beyond the March 31 2018 deadline.

The DA will submit Parliamentary questions to Minister Dlamini asking her to provide clarity on the proposed contract extension with CPS, especially the financial benefits that could possibly accrue to the company as a result of this extension.

It is very suspicious that the tender specifications for the proposed contract extension are ‘tailor-made’ to suit CPS. The DA finds this highly irregular and may be a violation of public procurement procedures as specified by National Treasury.

SASSA’s claim that its current negotiations with the South Africa Postal Office (SAPO) did not factor in grants distribution in the rural areas is simply disingenuous.

Since the Concourt declared the CPS contract as invalid, Minister Dlamini has used every trick in the book to ensure the illegal contract remains in place for as long as possible.

The grants standoff is a manufactured crisis by Minister Dlamini and SASSA that could compromise the livelihoods of millions of South Africans who depend on grants for their sustenance.

The DA will ensure that Parliament plays its role in preventing Minister Dlamini from breaking the law through a stubborn insistence on retaining an illegal contract.