ANC government’s lack of political will to blame for long queus and choas at SASSA offices across the country

This statement follows an oversight inspection by the DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP, and the DA Member of the Social Development Committee, Angel Khanyile MP, to the SASSA De Villiers Street Office in Johannesburg.

Please find attached and English and isiZulu soundbites by Ms Masango. Pictures can be found here, here and here .

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) visited the SASSA De Villiers Street Office in Johannesburg. The visit follows various complaints from DA activists and councillors that the country’s biggest SASSA office is in complete disarray.

The DA met with the office’s management who informed us that they have experienced a high influx of beneficiaries due to SASSA’s migration to the new grants distribution system. Beneficiaries from all over Johannesburg and surrounding areas travel to the SASSA De Villiers Street Office to have their old CPS/SASSA cards swapped for the new South African Post Office (SAPO) / SASSA cards. This is partly due to the fact that surrounding SASSA offices not having the capacity to process as many beneficiaries.

As a result, long queues and chaos have become the order of the day at the De Villiers Street Office. The blame for the chaos falls squarely at the feet of SASSA and the Department of Social Development (DSD).

This is a critical period for SASSA as 30 September 2018 is the deadline to phase out the illegal CPS contract and to ensure that all is in place for SAPO to take over the distribution of grants. Yet, SASSA offices across the country do not have adequate human resources to handle the migration of the 2.8 million cash grants recipients.

This also has an impact on new grants applications. It cannot be business as usual. The same staff complement cannot be expected to handle both the migration to the new system, as well as processing new applications.

It is clear that there has been no political will on the part of the failing ANC government, as is evident by the lack of contingency plans to assist SASSA staff during this transition period.

The DA is also concerned about reports that some beneficiaries with both the new and old SASSA cards, are still unable to access their social grants. It is now clear that the new SASSA grants distribution system with the SAPO, is a complete disaster.

The long lines at the SASSA De Villiers Street Office in Johannesburg, and indeed the long queues at SASSA offices across the country, is indicative that the ANC government has not put any measures in place to protect vulnerable grants recipients from the impact of not receiving their much-needed money.

The DA will continue to expose the ANC’s poor and undignified treatment of grants beneficiaries. The DA is the only party that can bring the change that is needed to bring stability and dignity to social services for South Africans.

#HospitalHealthCheck: Motsoaledi needs to act to prevent a Life Esidemieni tragedy in Limpopo

Following an unannounced oversight inspection to the Life Esidimeni Hospital in Shiluvana, Limpopo, the DA was pleased to find the facility in a clean condition and well run. The 168 patients were healthy, in good spirits and the wards were functional.

However, plans are now afoot for the Limpopo Department of Social Development (DSD) to take over the centre from this non-profit organisation (NPO). In fact, they have been advised that their funding and contract will not be renewed from October 2018.

Rather than increasing their budget to assist with the maintenance of the facility, a decision has been made to halt the funding of the NPO and for the Limpopo DSD to take over the management and functions of the centre.

Presently the Department only funds posts of the nurses and contributes a small amount to bed costs in the hospital. The nurses employed by the centre receive funding at a rate much lower than nurses who serve in Government hospitals.

The Shiluvana Esidimeni centre does not receive operational costs and therefore does not have the financial capacity to attend to infrastructural issues such as mending the leaking roof and other necessary maintenance.

The Department of Social Development is simply not in a position to manage this facility as these patients require specialised care and medical oversight.

To this end, the DA has written to the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, to intervene. We have also written to the Minister of Social Development, Susan Shabangu, to request that this decision be reviewed.

In light of the Life Esidimeni tragedy, which resulted in the deaths of mentally vulnerable patients, this pursuit of the Department of Social Development to take charge of the centre cannot be allowed to happen.

Given the bad track record of the DSD in Limpopo, its financial constraints and record of mismanagement, every effort must be made to ensure that the mental health centre in Shiluvana remains in the hands of the NPO.

Urgent intervention is necessary and the DA will not sit back and allow another Life Esidemeni tragedy to unfold.

Dlamini will once again jeopardise the livelihood of millions unless Treasury takes over

The DA supports a report submitted to the Constitutional Court this week by the panel of experts appointed to oversee SASSA’s readiness to take over the distribution of social grants.

In its report, the panel has recommended that the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation investigate the desirability of National Treasury taking over the payment of social grants, as well as the feasibility of SASSA or the Department of Social Development (DSD) taking over the functions of administration, registration and verification.

The DA has in the past called on Treasury to take over the payment function from SASSA, as the agency has become compromised under the toxic influence of Minister Bathabile Dlamini.

Some of the risks the panel have identified are:

  • SASSA has no immediate plan to properly audit the number and location of cash payment points in the near future;
  • SASSA seeks to extend the CPS contract beyond 1 April 2018 in order to allow for the phase out of CPS and phase in of the new service provider, however they are yet to approach the Constitutional Court for approval; and
  • There seems to not be a transition agreement with CPS to ensure the continuation of cash payments from 1 April 2018, as well as an agreement to phase out CPS  once a new service provider in place.

With less than two months until the April 1st deadline, these risks are very alarming.

Last week, the South African Post Office CEO, Mark Barnes, accused the Minister of being “non-responsive and causing delays”; a further indication of an imminent crisis.

SASSA and Minister Dlamini appears to be dragging their feet on finding an alternative service provider and there does not seem to be a clear plan of action.

It is clear that we are fast approaching another social grants standoff – with Minister Dlamini, SASSA and CPS on one side and 17 million poor and vulnerable South Africans on the other side.

The DA will always stand with the beneficiaries and we will not allow the Minister or anyone else to place their lives in jeopardy.

Minister Dlamini in for a grilling from the DA in Parliament today

Please find attached IsiZulu and English soundbites by the DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP.
Today, the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, will be answering questions in Parliament and she must brace herself for a grilling from the DA.
The DA will not shy away from asking the Minister tough questions, as she has time and again proven that she simply does not care about the people of this country.
The DA will ask the Minister about the full details of the offer SASSA made to the South African Post Office for paying out of social grants and whether the Department of Social Development (DSD) has a strategy in place to address the lack of infrastructure development for rural offices of the DSD and SASSA?
The Minister has made a habit of playing the victim whenever she has to account to Parliament. She is not the victim here, the millions of South Africans she continues to fail are.
Minister Dlamini is once again trying to put our people’s grants in danger, because as we believe, just so the dodgy CPS contract can continue to distribute grants, for Dlamini’s own gain.
The DA will not stand for this and Dodging Dlamini must tell the nation why she is failing the people of our country.

Poor South Africans starve for 3 months waiting for SASSA emergency relief food packages

Please find attached IsiZulu and English soundbites by the DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP.
DA councillors in rural Eastern Cape have reported disturbing information of how people living in extreme poverty have to wait between 3 and 4 months to receive vital emergency food parcels from SASSA.
The Department of Social Development (DSD) is tasked with providing emergency food parcels to people living in extreme poverty, who have applied for a social grant but have to wait before receiving their first grant payment.
The Social Relief Assistance is often the only source of sustenance to those who have no source of income and are desperate to feed their loved ones.
The turnaround time for the Social Relief Assistance application, to be processed and granted, is meant to be 24 to 48 hours. However, DA councillors working in rural wards in the Eastern Cape say that in some instances, the turnaround time has been between 3 and 4 months.
This is an absolutely unacceptable state of affairs, considering that the Social Relief Assistance is meant to be an emergency relief intervention. Without these emergency food parcels, thousands of South Africans are left to suffer from hunger.
This crisis stems from the ill-fated decision by the DSD to award tenders to dubious companies based in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), rather than procuring these services from local producers who are near to crises points.
These KZN companies supply food parcels to recipients in KZN, Limpopo, Western Cape, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape. This essentially means that due to the vast distances service providers have to travel, food parcels take longer to get to other provinces, and additionally, these companies are not prepared to deliver less than 50 food parcels at a time.
This means that our people are left to starve for months on end.
The DA will now write to the Chairperson of the Social Development Committee, Rosemary Capa, to request that she urgently summon the Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, SASSA CEO, Pearl Bhengu, and the rest of the SASSA executive, as well as regional managers to request that they explain why the system was centralised, and how service providers were selected.
SASSA must immediately address the problems with the centralised procurement so that food parcels can be delivered within 48 hours to our most needy people in every part of this country.
What is clear from the lack of assistance for starving South Africans, combined with the social grants disaster, is that Dodging Dlamini and SASSA have completely lost touch with the people who depend on their department to improve their lives. They simply do not care about the suffering of our people at all.

CEO leaves SASSA while the Minister fights to keep CPS

The sudden resignation of SASSA CEO, Thokozani Magwaza, is yet another damning indication of the toxic influence that Minister Bathabile Dlamini has on SASSA and the Department of Social Development (DSD).
Magwaza is now the second senior official, after former DSD DG, Zane Dangor, who was coerced into resigning after his family’s safety was threatened.
The DA is gravely concerned about Magwaza’s departure as he has played an important role in finding an alternative service provider in line with the Constitutional Court deadline of 31 March 2018.
The relationship between Dlamini and Magwaza was severely strained by Dlamini’s insistence to establishing the irregular workstreams and ensuring the continuation of the lucrative CPS contract.
The DA will now write to the Minister to demand that she provides the reasons as to why Magwaza resigned.
This entire debacle has been constructed by Dlamimi and is yet another example of the Minister’s dodgy way of running the Department to the detriment of millions of South Africans.