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

Failing ANC racks up R75.6 billion in irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure

The DA has analysed the 2017/18 Annual Reports of government departments and selected entities that have been tabled in Parliament. Our analysis reveals a shocking level of financial mismanagement and wasted funds by the failing ANC government.

Irregular expenditure

Irregular expenditure occurs when expenditure is not properly managed and is sometimes an indicator of corruption. When government spending cannot be properly tracked, it becomes much easier to cover up corruption and directly enables State Capture.

Total irregular expenditure has reached a staggering level of R72.6 billion. The composite analysis complied last year by the DA revealed that total irregular expenditure, across all departments and entities, stood at R42.8 billion. The figure for the most recent year is double what was incurred in the previous year and does not include all departments and entities as some are yet to table their report.

 The departments and entities that spent the most money irregularly are:

  • Eskom – R19.6 billion
  • South African National Roads Agency Ltd (SANRAL) – R10.5 billion
  • Transnet – R8.1 billion
  • Department of Water and Sanitation – R6.2 billion
  • South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) – R5 billion
  • Water Trading Entity – R4.9 billion
  • Department of Correctional Services – R3.2 billion
  • Property Trading Management Entity (PTME) – R2.3 billion
  • Department of Basic Education – R1.7 billion
  • Department of Defence – R1.7 billion
  • Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) – R1.2 billion
  • South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) – R1.7 billion
  • South African Post Office (SAPO) – R1 billion

Fruitless and wasteful expenditure

Fruitless and wasteful expenditure cannot be explained away through misfiling of receipts or harmless delays in implementation. This is expenditure that has no benefit to the public and is wasted due to a lack of reasonable care and the basic requirements of management.

Fruitless and wasteful expenditure totals another R3 billion – enough money to build 75 new schools.

The departments and entities that wasted the most money are:

  • Water Trading Entity – R1 billion­
  • Compensation Fund – R446 million
  • Department of Defence – R398 million

Reports still outstanding:

As bad as these figures are, they are just the tip of the iceberg: serial offenders Denel, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), South African Airways (SAA) and SA Express have not yet tabled their annual reports for 2017/18. This means that the totals for irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure is likely to be much higher than what we are currently able to glean from the reports which have been tabled.

Departments and entities which have still not tabled their reports, as is required by law, are:

  • Department of Energy
  • CoGTA
  • State Security
  • Prasa
  • Denel
  • SAA
  • SA Express

Prasa is suffering major institutional failure and continues to lose Metrorail trains to arson on a monthly basis. SAA suffered a loss of R5 billion in 2016/17. Denel has been left scrambling to recover R400 million in losses due to its ill-fated relationship with Gupta-linked company VR Laser.

Despite this, the ANC government has continued to pour public money into bailing out these failing entities.

If these entities report the same irregular and wasteful spending figures as they did in 2016/17, the total amount of money spent irregularly could rise to R94.5 billion. Fruitless and wasteful expenditure could rise to R4 billion.

Financial collapse:

The Auditor-General has identified one department and seven entities that are at serious risk of financial collapse. These are:

  • Department of Water and Sanitation
  • Compensation Fund
  • PetroSA
  • PTME
  • Public Protector
  • Road Accident Fund (RAF) – financial loss of R26.4 billion
  • SAPO – financial loss of R908 million
  • Water Trading Entity – financial loss of R573 million

In addition, the SABC is considered to be commercially insolvent.

The Department of Social Development has a negative cash flow balance of R12.7 billion, and the Department of Water and Sanitation has admitted that it is essentially broke. The Public Protector – an office that is supposed to protect citizens from corruption and maladministration – reported an R18 million financial loss and almost doubled irregular expenditure.

These are not unimportant departments and entities. They are crucial to governance and to service delivery, yet they are treated as little more than sources of finance to be exploited – with devastating consequences.

These are not abstract figures. Mismanagement and wasteful spending results in poor service delivery and skyrocketing costs to the public. Yet the ANC continues to make the public pay for its terrible mismanagement and corruption, in higher electricity and water prices, increases in VAT and fuel taxes.

South Africans are being asked to pay more and more for their electricity. The National Energy Regulator has given Eskom four years to recover R32.7 billion and has allowed it to increase tariffs by 4.41% this coming April. Eskom wants a higher increase though and has applied for an additional 15% increase for next year.

The near-total collapse of the RAF has led the ANC government to raise the RAF levy in the fuel price – South Africans must now pay more for fuel in order to fix the ANC’s failure to manage the RAF properly.

The Department of Water and Sanitation is drowning in debt as a result of the tenue of Nomvula Mokonyane as Minister. The Department has now taken the extraordinary step of asking Parliament to revise its budget so that it can meet basic service delivery targets. Unfortunately, metros like the City of Cape Town have been forced to raise water tariffs to ensure their continued water supply because the national government has failed to do this.

Endless bailouts of the most corrupt state-owned entities have drained public funds, requiring a VAT increase that impacts poor South Africans the most.

Despite this ever-greater financial pressure on South Africans, service delivery has ground to a halt. SAPO cannot deliver the mail, never mind the social grants that SASSA can’t seem to administer successfully.

NSFAS failed to pay out to thousands of funded students, despite the promises of the wayward former president. And President Cyril Ramaphosa has admitted that lethal pit toilets at schools will only be phased out in 18 years’ time.

The country’s finances are in a dire state. Not only did they ANC get us to this point, but they have no plan to fix what they have broken.

South Africans have an opportunity in the coming election to refuse to reward this lack of accountability, and instead, choose a party that has an absolute commitment to transparency and good governance.

Where the DA has taken over failing ANC governments, it has succeeded in sorting out the financial mess and improving service delivery in remarkably short periods of time.

The DA can build One South African for All, not just the politically connected friends of the ANC.

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.

Beneficiaries struggle to get grants at Mamelodi Post Office due to under-staffing and unreliable system

The statement follows an oversight inspection by the DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP, and DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Social Development, Justus de Goede MPL, to the Mamelodi East Post Office. Please find the attached soundbite in English and isiZulu.

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) conducted an oversight inspection at the Mamelodi East Post Office after we received reports that grants beneficiaries have not been able to get their social grants because the grant payment system has been offline for the last two months.

We spoke to the facility’s management who confirmed that their system was offline due to network issues. The system has since been tended to by technicians from the South African Post Office (SAPO) but is still not reliable.

The DA also found that the Mamelodi East Post Office only has three staff members who have to assist 50 or more social grants beneficiaries on a normal day. The under-staffing and the technical challenges lead to long queues and too often beneficiaries leave the office without their grants.

The DA has received complaints from across the country about long lines at pay points during the South African Social Security Agency’s (SASSA) migration period from Cash Paymaster Services to SAPO.

This is proof that SAPO and SASSA failed to consider the full scope of the switch to the new grants payment system.

The ANC government should have ensured that post offices and other pay points are fully prepared with enough staff and proper infrastructure during this migration period.

Despite the government’s apologies and repeated assurances that the glitches in the system have been fixed, South African grant recipients still struggle to access their grants.

The challenges at Mamelodi East is undoubtedly evidence of a national system failure.

To millions of SASSA beneficiaries, their grants are their only source of income. Any delay in paying out social grants could mean the difference between having a meal or going hungry.

The fact that thousands of South Africans have been denied access to their grants is proof that the ANC is a party of broken promises. The DA is the only party who can provide the people of South Africans with dignified access to social services.

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.

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.

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

ANC apologies for non-payment of grants will not put food on the table of the vulnerable

Today, the Cabinet extended their “sincere apology to all those who were negatively impacted” by SASSA’s migration to the new South African Post Office (SAPO) grant distribution system.

This half-hearted apology is a pathetic attempt by the ANC to divert attention away from Minister Susan Shabangu’s utter lack of leadership during this period of uncertainty and the government’s failure to properly oversee the migration process.

The ANC’s apologies mean nothing when people cannot feed their families, pay for transport or buy other necessities.

What the Cabinet failed to admit today, was that the new SAPO grant distribution system is in complete shambles.

On Wednesday, the DA visited the SASSA Office in Bronkhorstspruit, Pretoria and we can confirm that the SAPO grant distribution system is not working because they are “waiting for a word on the court order after last week’s shutdown”.

Last week, a court order compelled SASSA and the Public Service Association (PSA) to begin wage talks following the agency’s employees embarking on a strike action. Although the agency claimed the strike action would not have an impact on the new grants distribution system, the system has been marred by failures and beneficiaries not being able to access their money.

Make no mistake, if this is the case in Bronkhorstspruit, this is undoubtedly a national system failure.

Empty apologies and repeated assurances that the problems have been solved mean nothing when grant recipients, many of whom have no other source of income, are not being paid. Any delay in paying out social grants could be the difference between a family having a meal or not.

This past week, we have received alarming reports from SASSA employees that CPS continue to market their services to vulnerable beneficiaries. Worse, the company allegedly captured the personal details of beneficiaries onto its Grindrod system without their consent. The DA, therefore, welcomes SASSA’s decision to take legal action against CPS’ vile attempts to exploit beneficiaries. The parasitic CPS must be held responsible to the fullest extent of the law.

The DA strongly condemns the lack of leadership on the part of the ANC-government as it is on their watch social grant recipients have had to face uncertainty and frustrations.  We will continue to fight for beneficiaries to be treated with the dignity they deserve.

#SASSA leaves grant recipients hungry and stranded

The statement follows an oversight inspection to the SASSA pay point at Zolani Centre in Nyanga township by the DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP, DA National Spokesperson, Solly Malatsi MP, and the DA Member of the NCOP on Social Development, Thandi Mpambo-Sibukwana MP. Please find a video here, pictures here and here and soundbites by Ms Masango in English and Ms Mpambo-Sibukwanahere in IsiXhosa

Today the DA visited the SASSA pay point at Zolani Centre in Nyanga, Cape Town. We met with social grant recipients who shared concerns about the new SASSA cash grants system. Last month, SASSA employees embarked on a strike which raised concerns on the impact it could have on the process of beneficiaries switching to new cards.

On Tuesday, these fears became a reality as reports surfaced that a number of cash grants recipients across the country have been turned away from pay points, as a result of “system failures”.

This was also confirmed by one beneficiary the DA spoke to at the Zolani Centre who told the DA that he was not able to access his grants at pay point because he still has his old card. The recipient was then directed to the South African Post Office (SAPO) where he still could not access their grants.

This is deeply concerning and despite repeated empty promises from successive Ministers of Social Developments who have claimed that grant recipients would still be able to access their grants until the old card expires on 30 September 2018.

Clearly, neither SASSA nor SAPO have been adequately prepared for the switch to the new system. Any delays in beneficiaries accessing their grants could have catastrophic consequences for the survival of poor families who rely on grants just to get by.

This crisis dates back to the time of former Minister of Social Development, Bathabile ‘Dodging’ Dlamini. It was due to her lack of leadership that SASSA stumbled from one crisis to the next. Her successor, Susan Shabangu, seems to have followed in her footsteps as she has not stepped up to take charge.

Grant recipients have now been dealt a double blow by the ANC-government. Not only are some beneficiaries not getting their grants but the cost of living is on the rise.

This year alone there have been 5 fuel hikes and South Africans will now pay over R16 per litre for petrol and the cost of illuminating paraffin is also set to increase. This is on top of the anti-poor VAT increase earlier this year. This has had a massive impact on the price of food and public transport.

South Africans continue to be burdened by the ANC’s corruption and their failure to shield the most vulnerable from the successive cost of living increases.

The DA strongly opposed the VAT and fuel increases as it is anti-poor and proposed that the Child Support Grant, especially, be increased above the food poverty line.

Our proposal to increase the Child Support Grant was rejected by the ANC. This comes as no surprise, as the ANC continues to punish the poor for their mismanagement and poor governance.

The DA will continue to fight for the dignity of social grants recipients as the continued turmoil at the agency has serious consequences on the livelihoods of the poor and most vulnerable.

New SASSA payment system creating a crisis for 2.8 million South Africans

The Democratic Alliance is concerned by reports we are receiving from social grant beneficiaries across the country related to “glitches” in the system which have resulted in many of them being turned away from pay points.

The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the South African Post Office (SAPO) appear to have been ill-prepared for the changes to the new payment system which has now caused delays in payments to beneficiaries.

We have noted the late apology issued by SASSA Acting CEO Abraham Mahlangu yesterday essentially placing the blame on a “systems failure”. This apology is simply not good enough. 2.8 million South Africans are beneficiaries of cash payments and they depend on these to put food on the table. SASSA should have made sure that all pay points had converted to the new system ahead of this month’s grants payments.

Until pay points change to the new system, beneficiaries will not be able to access their funds. Neither SASSA or SAPO can say for certain when they expect this to happen which means millions of people will go hungry for an indefinite period because of SASSA’s negligent behaviour. The DA will not stand by and let this go unchallenged.

Tomorrow, SASSA is due to appear before the Social Development Portfolio Committee and the DA will use this opportunity to get more clarity on behalf of these beneficiaries.

We will also conduct oversight visits at key pay points in order to engage beneficiaries and to assess the severity of the situation ourselves.

This continued chaos at SASSA places further blight on this ANC government and is an indictment on Social Development minister Susan Shabangu. Like her predecessor ‘Dodging Bathabile Dlamini’, she is playing a game of hide and seek by failing to provide leadership in this time of crisis.