#FoodCrisis: DA calls on Government to implement these 5 critical measures

Food parcels

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, to recommend five measures Government can implement to address and mitigate the increasing levels of hunger across the country.

Most South Africans, particularly those living in poor communities, have not had an income for the past 20 days due to the Covid-19 lockdown. This means that millions of South Africans are now staring utter desolation and hunger in the face as they are unable to go out and find work to put food on the table.

The DA will, therefore, call on Government to implement the following 5 measures to mitigate the impact of the lockdown on food security and to address the growing levels of hunger across the country:

1. ‘Smart Lockdown”

The DA continues to call on government to consider our Smart Lockdown model urgently and integrate it in their planning to ensure that we save lives and livelihoods during this crisis. The DA’s smart lockdown model would see some sectors of the economy re-opening safely. This will result in a flood of wages and income into poor households which will bring much-needed relief.

2. R 1000 grant top-up for all grant recipients for three months

The DA proposes a R 1000 grant top-up for all grant recipients for three months. For millions of households across the country, a social grant is often the only guaranteed source of income. With the extension of the current lockdown, many homes will be in desperate need of extra cash to put food on the table. An additional R 1000 top-up could possibly be the difference between a family going hungry or not.

3. Re-open SASSA offices 

The DA calls on the Department of Social Development (DSD) to re-open and capacitate SASSA offices across the country in order to process the influx of relief applications. The number of people that have called SASSA’s national call centre for relief rose from 3 000 to 150 000 per day during this lockdown. Due to the current lockdown measures, SASSA does not have enough staff to coordinate food delivery as well as to field, vet and process applications due to the sheer volume of people applying for relief.

4. Re-open soup kitchens

SASSA  is clearly ill-equipped to process and distribute food parcel at the large scale that is required during this pandemic. The DA, therefore, proposes that municipalities, that have the necessary capacity and funding, re-open local soup kitchens in accordance with strict social distancing protocols. This will ease a lot of the pressure on SASSA and will provide meals to distressed households.

5. Investigate corruption 

There have been numerous reports since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown of corruption pertaining to food parcel distribution for electioneering. Recently, we have seen reports of Gauteng DSD officials and some politicians allegedly stealing and unfairly distributing food parcels exclusively in ANC Wards in the Emfuleni Local Municipality. There have been similar reports in the Eastern Cape where ANC officials are allegedly prioritising ANC members for food parcels. The DA condemns this disgusting behaviour and reiterate our call for the Department to probe these allegations and to hold the guilty parties to account.

As the lockdown continues, multitudes find themselves choosing between the risk of suffering from a terrifying virus or suffering from hunger. Already we have seen desperate people looting all over the country. While some were surely common criminals, it is not unreasonable to expect the large majority looted so that they would not have to see family members starve.

Unfortunately, the measures that Government put in place are laughably inadequate and difficult to access. While the provision of social relief during a disaster is ultimately a mandate of the DSD – the management and distribution of this relief is the responsibility of SASSA. However, due to capacity constraints, corruption and a small Social Relief of Distress budget– many local authorities have had to step up and fill the gap left by SASSA.

DA governments:

DA governments across the country who have stepped up and gone above their mandates order to provide much need relief and support to desolate communities during the lockdown.

  • Western Cape Provincial Government: The Western Cape Department of Social Development has taken the decision to re-prioritise a total of R35 million of its budget to provide 20 000 hot meals per day at 92 feeding sites and distribute 50 000 food parcels which will last families of 4/5 for up to a month.
  • City of Cape Town: Following SASSA’s failure to pitch to deliver food parcels in Mitchells Plain on Tuesday, the Metro’s social development unit stepped in to provide food parcels.
  • George Municipality: The municipality is running 136 soup kitchens per day and has instituted donation drop off centres in accordance with Covid-19 measures, with donations going straight to soup kitchens.
  • Drakenstein Municipality: Existing soup kitchens continue to operate to provide food to the poor.
  • Garden Route District Municipality: The municipality has availed R 500 000 in funds for food parcels.
  • Hessequa Local Municipality: The municipality has availed R 100 000 in funds for food parcels
  • Modimolle-Mookgophong and Kouga Municipalities: The mayors of these municipalities have engaged with local businesses to source hundred thousands of Rands in donations for food parcels.

DA-led governments across the board have partnered with local NGO’s, organisations, private donors, farmers and businesses to ensure food relief flows to the most vulnerable communities. The DA commends these governments, who have stepped up to provide much-needed relief to communities in need. We urge the DSD and Government to consider our proposals in order to avoid mass food insecurity across the nation.

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 leaves residents of Maluti-A-Phofung with no basic services and a defunct industrial park

Note to Editors: Please find attached a soundbite in English by Makashule Gana. Photographs can be downloaded here, here, here and here.


The Democratic Alliance (DA) is deeply concerned with its findings after conducting a service delivery oversight inspection at the failing Maluti-A-Phofung Municipality in Qwa-Qwa, Free State. The service delivery shortfalls in this area begin with the fact that this municipality owes Eskom a shocking R2.8 billion.

This is the largest sum of debt owed to the power utility by any municipality. ANC-run municipalities such as Maluti-A-Phofung are the reason why taxpayers are continuously forced to bail out crippled state-owned entities with their hard-earned money.

This service delivery debt is one of many conditions revealing the failing ANC’s inability to govern and deliver services to the people of South Africa.

Furthermore, the people residing in the Maluti-A-Phofung municipality have been deprived of additional basic services such as provision of water and refuse collection, primarily due to financial rot in governance. Mabolela community residents communicated to us that even their toilets are seldom pumped clean by the municipality, causing daily blockages and overflowing sewers.

This is compounded by the fact that the SASSA offices in Phutaditjaba are closed early every day due to lack of water, leaving the most vulnerable members of society with limited access to their grants, and providing a very short window of opportunity to potential new beneficiaries and applicants.

Our oversight revealed that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s claims of a fully revamped Phutaditjaba Industrial Park are simply not true – the industrial park has no visible improvements or indication of job creation. Industrialists informed us that the park is often shut down and work is halted, due to the fact that there is no water or electricity. The DA will call on President Ramaphosa to provide clarity on what the Free State Development Corporation has done for the industrial park.

The ANC’s neglect of basic services is criminal, and President Ramaphosa is misleading the nation about the work that has been done in this community. This is further proof of the governing party’s empty promises. The people of Maluti-A-Phofung have been forgotten and abandoned by an uncaring ANC. Only a DA government will put the needs of all South Africans first and deliver services where they are desperately needed.


Our legal challenge to have Ministers Gigaba and Dlamini fired will be heard in March next year

The following statement was delivered today by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a press briefing in Parliament, Cape Town. Maimane was joined by DA Federal Executive Chairperson, James Selfe. The DA’s founding affidavit can be accessed here.

When Cyril Ramaphosa was elected President of the Republic of South Africa in February of this year, he made a commitment to break with the status quo ushered in by his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, by cleaning up government and ensuring the best, most suitable individuals are appointed to serve the people of our country. The DA holds the view that anyone who serves his/her country in high office ought to be above reproach and a servant of the people.

264 days later, and President Ramaphosa’s promise remains pending. Cabinet is still packed with compromised people who have been shown to have time and again failed in their mandates and responsibilities. It appears Ramaphosa is using his Cabinet to build unity within the ANC and reward loyalty – this at the expense of clean, efficient and transparent governance that grows the economy, creates work, and delivers services to our people.

In his one and only cabinet reshuffle on 26 February this year, President Ramaphosa exercised his executive power in terms of Section 91(3) of the Constitution, and reappointed Ministers Malusi Gigaba and Bathabile Dlamini to his Cabinet. It is vital to underscore that this reappointment constitutes an exercise of executive power by the President – a decision that is subject to certain basic tenets of the law.

It is common cause that both Malusi Gigaba and Bathabile Dlamini have been found to have lied under oath in court cases relating to government work. These are not mere allegations – they are the unanimous findings of the North Gauteng High Court and the Constitutional Court respectively.

We are of the view that the decision by the President to reappoint these two ministers in February this year fails the legal test of rationality, and as such we are seeking an order declaring the President’s decisions to retain both the Dlamini and Gigaba in his Cabinet to be unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid. The DA also seeks an order reviewing the decisions and setting them aside.

Furthermore, as much as it is irrational to appoint manifestly unsuitable persons to the Cabinet, it is equally irrational to retain such persons in Cabinet, especially when the Constitutional Court and the North Gauteng High Court have made the pronouncements that they have. We contend that both are therefore unfit to hold executive office and must be removed.

Our legal team has approached the North Gauteng High Court on 23 October 2018, and we can confirm that the matter is set down for 11 March 2019.

As it pertains to costs, we are asking the court to direct the first respondent – the President – to pay the costs of this application, jointly and severally with any other respondent who opposes this application. This is to ensure that if either Malusi Gigaba or Bathabile Dlamini choose to adopt Zuma-esque delay tactics in opposing this application, they are to pay out of their own pockets. South Africans will not bear the cost of millions of rands for errant ministers attempts to “clear their names”.

In relation to Mr Gigaba, it is submitted that the President’s failure to discharge him from office is irrational and unlawful. In the matter of Fireblade Aviation (Pty) Ltd v Minister of Home Affairs, Judge Neil Tuchten of the North Gauteng High Court found that Gigaba, as Home Affairs Minister, “deliberately told untruths under oath” and that “he committed a breach of the constitution so serious that I could characterise it as a violation”.

The DA has already laid criminal charges of perjury against Mr Gigaba, and we urge the President to publicly support these charges.

In addition to this, just last week the Public Protector found Gigaba to have violated the Constitution and the Executive Ethics Code following a complaint by the Democratic Alliance in relation to the Fireblade matter. The Public Protector made recommendations that President Cyril Ramaphosa take disciplinary action against Gigaba. Mr Gigaba has since indicated that he intends on challenging this finding.

Therefore, our legal team will today write to the Office of the State Attorney, formally asking that Mr Gigaba’s request for the State to pay for his legal fees in this matter be rejected. The South African public cannot be expected to pay millions of rands in legal fees on behalf of ministers who do not belong in Cabinet.

Tomorrow, the DA will be in court in the Jacob Zuma legal fees saga, fighting to ensure Mr Zuma pays back every cent of legal fees he racked up – which were paid for by the State. This is a clear example of such delay tactics, as the DA has been fighting for close to a decade to ensure this money is recouped. We expect the figure to be close on R50 million. This trend must stop, and we thus implore the State Attorney to put a halt to it at once.

In relation to Ms Dlamini, it is submitted that the President’s failure to discharge her from office is irrational and unlawful. Bathabile Dlamini has failed in her job, having been directly responsible for the social grants crisis. Dlamini was determined to deliberately derail the entire process of SASSA procuring an alternative service provider, all in a bid to ensure that the CPS contract could be extended over and over again.

The Constitutional Court found Bathabile Dlamini to have “used her position as Minister of the Department to place herself between constitutionally enshrined rights and those entitled to them” and “(…) at best for her, her conduct was reckless and grossly negligent.” Ultimately, the court found that “the Minister misled the Court to protect herself from the consequences of her behaviour.”

Minister Dlamini has proven that she is incapable of governing a government department and has continuously failed in delivering on her mandate of protecting the most vulnerable in our society. It is obvious that Dlamini is not fit for office.

The fact that Gigaba and Dlamini remain in high office – with multi-million rand salaries, VIP protection, and numerous perks all paid for by ordinary South Africans – is an indictment on President Ramaphosa and his ability to lead our country forward.

The truth is that under the ANC, our country is headed in the wrong direction. Corruption is rife and there is a lack of respect for the law and the requirements of high office. We cannot sit back and watch the ANC continue to undermine our nation and its people.

The DA will never stop fighting to build One South Africa For All, where those in government are committed to serving the people, not themselves and their friends.


DA requests urgent meeting with SASSA CEO on why social grant recipients were turned away

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the Acting South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) CEO, Abraham Mahlangu, to request an urgent meeting on why qualifying beneficiaries have been turned away from SASSA offices when trying to apply for their grants.

The DA has received many calls, messages and emails from beneficiaries who have been denied access to social grants because SASSA cannot capture biometric applications.

Some people have waited since June to access their grants.

There is already a significant backlog in the capturing of data which could reach crisis levels by the end of September.

SASSA’s Roodepoort branch and many others across the country are allegedly not accepting new applications because of problems with their biometric systems and recipients were reportedly told their applications cannot be backdated.

For millions of South Africans, social grants are the only source of income.

Children, the elderly and the disabled are especially vulnerable and it appears that there is still no plan to ensure they can apply for grants and receive their grants on time.

That qualifying beneficiaries are denied the opportunity to register and receive social grants means the difference between putting food on the table or going hungry.

The DA will ensure that we get answers from SASSA about their failure to give beneficiaries the money they are entitled to as well as their failure to assist them as required.

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.

‘Dodging’ Dlamini is politically accountable for grants payment crisis

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes the judgement in the Constitutional Court ordered Inquiry on whether Former Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, should be personally liable for the social grants crisis.

While the court has ruled that Dlamini is not personally liable, the fact remains that she presided over and was ultimately politically accountable for manufacturing a crisis that put the livelihoods of 17 million South Africans at risk.

The DA strongly believes that Dodging Dlamini purposefully created the crisis so she could benefit. It seemed that she was determined to deliberately derail the entire process of SASSA procuring an alternative service provider, all in a bid to ensure that the illegal CPS contract could be extended over and over again.

Minister Dlamini has time and again proven that she is incapable of governing a department and continuously failed in delivering on her mandate of protecting the most vulnerable in our society. She should never have been appointed Minister of Women in the Presidency.

In a scathing report by Judge Ngoepe in May this year, Dlamini was described as an evasive and inconsistent witness. This is proof of her disdain for accountability and that she has no place as a member of Cabinet.

The DA does welcome that former SASSA Acting CEO, Pearl Bhengu, has been ordered to pay the legal costs of the 2018 application seeking the extension of the illegal Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) contract.

Given that Bengu is now the regional head of SASSA in KwaZulu-Natal, this judgment should see her fired immediately.

For too long the failing ANC has protected and even promoted those guilty of putting their own interests above the interest of the people of South Africa. Dodging Dlamini is the perfect example of this but it does not have to continue to be the case.

The DA is the only party that’s committed to cutting corruption and to giving our people dignified access to social services and we will continue to fight for a better country for all.

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