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

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.

From State Capture to State Collapse: The Legacy of a Failed ANC

The following remarks were delivered by Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen MP, the DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises, Natasha Mazzone MP, and the DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP, at a press conference in Cape Town today.

State Capture has been the defining feature of the ANC government for the past decade. While the DA welcomes that the work the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has now begun, it is important to confront its legacy.

From the appointment and protection of corrupt or unqualified individuals, the purging and threatening of whistle-blowers and dedicated state employees, the unabated looting of public funds, the ANC’s mismanagement has gutted the State. What is worse, the ANC has forced South Africans to carry the cost.

Not only has the ANC allowed State Capture to thrive but they have reached into the pockets of every South African to pay for it, indirectly through bailouts and guarantees, and directly through the recent VAT increase, the successive fuel increases. Life is harder and more expensive for citizens.

Essentially State Capture has led to the very real reality of State Collapse which we are now left with. This collapsed state is not just about the billions lost, but it is the very real consequences it has had on suffocating the potential of our people and country to realise its potential.

State Collapse means our children attend schools with no toilets, it means our elderly go hungry for days not knowing when or if they will get the social grant they rely on just to get by. It has meant that millions more South Africans live with the indignity and fear of entrusting their loved ones to a health system that neglects, abuses and in many instances, kills them.

State Capture came to light two years ago and yet there have been no arrests of politicians or corrupt officials. The DA has called for commissions, laid criminal charges and made great endeavours to hold the ANC government to account. However, it is now clear that South Africa can no longer endure another five years of disastrous ANC governance. While we will continue to fulfil our Constitutional role to hold those who loot the public purse accountable, it is clear that the ANC cannot self-correct. They simply do not know how. It is now incumbent on the millions of South Africans to punish them for their broken promises.

Today, we are here to join the dots on how this reckless and self-enriching approach to governance has resulted in bankrupt state entities, increased criminal activity and the highest number of unemployed people since the advent of democracy.

State Capture hollows out tax collection as government levies corruption tax

Once the beacon of public sector excellence, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has suffered massive institutional erosion since former president Jacob Zuma deployed Tom Moyane to head the tax-collecting agency in 2014. Over the last four years, as State Capture reached its zenith, there has been a revenue shortfall of approximately R100 billion, described by one senior SARS official as entirely self-inflicted. The agency’s notorious investigative capacity was dismantled, and honest taxpayers’ rights were violated as tax refunds were refused or delayed, causing some business to shed jobs and others to close entirely.  Meanwhile, Moyane ensured Gupta-linked companies received hundreds of millions of rands in tax refunds, often illegally paid into attorneys’ trust accounts.

Corruption has infiltrated the once proud tax agency with the illicit tobacco trade increasingly being overlooked, costing the fiscus an estimated R37 billion between 2010 and 2017. There is no clearer example of organised crime and corruption costing ordinary South Africans dearly, both in terms of money for service delivery and jobs.

In a desperate attempt to plug the revenue gap, the ANC has turned to levy corruption tax on each and every South African. From the increase in VAT to the increase in the fuel levy, South Africans have been asked to pay an inefficient and indifferent government more and more, precisely as the cost of living amid soars.

Throwing good money after bad

Nothing illustrates that abject failure of the ANC government better than our ailing state-owned entities (SOEs) which became the epicentre of the State Capture project and the embodiment of maladministration and unimaginable waste.

The list of SOEs that have been swallowing up tax-payers money is shamefully long and cannot be considered in its entirety. However, some have become synonymous with corruption, cadre deployment, poor governance and the ever-present threat of financial ruin.


Eskom has received large injections of capital from the government to the detriment of spending on other key areas. A R23 billion capital injection in 2015 was soon followed by the dubious conversion of a R60 billion subordinated loan to equity in 2016 to strengthen the utility’s balance sheet.

While cash has been pouring in, State Capture allegations and financial mismanagement have been rampant with the sale of the Optimum mine to the Gupta-owned Tegeta; inflated coal contracts; and redundant McKinsey/Trillian consulting fees.

The two large, coal-fired power stations at Medupi and Kusile have also doubled in price since they were first commissioned, with poor project management, labour unrest, procurement irregularities and contractor incompetence leading the way.

While high electricity costs and power outages have acted a brake on economic growth, Eskom accounted for R41.5 billion in finance costs and continues to record annual financial losses, amounting to R2.3 billion in the previous financial year alone.

South African Airlines (SAA)

SAA has been one of the most inefficient and worst run SOEs, hollowed out by State Capture and mismanagement by ANC cadres. Since 2009/10, the airline has received bailouts to the tune of R11.5 billion –  this doesn’t even consider guarantees extended to the airline, the R5 billion transition finance agreement announced earlier in 2018, or the R21.7 billion promised over the next three years set out in SAA’s corporate plan. The airline is a good example that the ANC puts cadres before South Africa, as the airline has no strategic or developmental value, yet good money that could be used far better is given to the SAA elites.


Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA)

Systematic corruption and mismanagement at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) have led our rail system into near collapse. The rail system is plagued by chronic delays, dangerous conditions and vandalism that is totally out of control. According to the Auditor-General, the entity and group had incurred a combined accumulated loss of R8.9 billion at March 2017, with another R14.1 billion in irregular expenditure during the 2015/16 financial year. The Public Protector’s 2015 “Derailed Report” described how top officials at PRASA handed out contracts to friends and allies, amounting to almost R3 billion. Corruption and mismanagement have led to a lack of safety officials and police which is making crime thrive and chronic delays are costing jobs because no alternatives are in place when the system inevitably breaks down. With the context of increasing fuel prices and record unemployment, it is shocking that the only truly affordable transportation has been brought to a standstill.

South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)

The after years of political capture and gross mismanagement, the SABC is now almost R700 million in debt. This week, senior employees revealed to Parliament’s portfolio committee that they are paying salaries first and thereafter utilities, in the hopes of just keeping the doors open. After meeting all of their obligations this month, the public broadcaster will have only R26 million left in its bank account.

The SABC has also failed in its mandate as the public broadcaster, acting instead as a captured “state broadcaster” that serves as an ANC mouthpiece and even dutifully airing videos made by the Party’s leader upon request.

This week we also saw hundreds of employees of the “Afro World View” news network, formerly known as ANN7, summarily lose their jobs because the network was forced to close its doors.

This comes amid an economic climate where millions of young South Africans struggle to find employment. The thought that employees of the SABC may soon follow suit is unbearable.

From State Capture to State Collapse: The Human Cost

Social grants

After a disastrous 2016/2017 in which the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), Net1 and the Department of Social Development came close to entirely collapsing the social grant systems, whilst spending R42 million on setting up unnecessary “workstreams” and wasting R1.4 billion in irregular expenditure, it was hoped that under a new Minister in 2018 the entity will turn itself around. So far, this hope is not holding up.

During the past few months, the DA has conducted numerous oversight inspections to SASSA pay points to monitor the process of switching over from CPS to the South African Post Office (SAPO). The process has been characterised by long queues and endless frustration. In July and again in August many grant beneficiaries had to wait for weeks to receive their money as glitches in the system caused many payments to not go through or to not reflect on beneficiaries’ cards.

Meanwhile, the cost of living has been rising steadily for South Africans across the spectrum, with enormous fuel price hikes driving up the cost of food and other commodities. According to the PACSA monthly food price barometer, the price of a basic food basket increased by about 7% between September 2017 and May 2018. Standing at just over R3,000 now, this is entirely unaffordable for the average family that rely on social grants for their income.

Local government in disarray

State Capture and State Collapse influences every single level of government, yet local governments are especially impacted, and their financial position is perilous. Only approximately 7% of our municipalities function well; 112 out of 257 municipalities had unfunded budgets in 2017/181; 87 municipalities are labelled as distressed; and 11 municipalities are under Section 139 interventions (under some form of administration). This is a clear picture of maladministration, and at the end of the day, the poorest of the poor pay the most for this maladministration and collapse of local government.

Maladministration is not the only issue, but blatant corruption is present at many municipalities. The clearest example is the fact that 15 municipalities illegally deposited funds with VBS Mutual Bank, in contravention of the MFMA and against the explicit instructions of National Treasury to not do so. It is highly unlikely that these municipalities will get their deposits back, estimated to be R1.5 billion. This will hamper their ability to provide services and could lead to a collapse of these municipalities.

Public safety

The Presidential Protection Unit currently employs 1,382 staff members at a cost of R693 million per annum, protecting a mere 17 individuals on a permanent basis. VIPs are kept safe by 81 protection personnel each, whereas ordinary South Africans have to make due with one police officer for every 369 people. In Nyanga in the Western Cape, the country’s so-called “murder capital”, the police-to-population ratio is an estimated one police officer to every 628 residents.

While current and former Heads of State and their spouses are safely protected, millions of South Africans live in constant fear of being the next victims of violent crime in our country.

Human settlements

There is currently a backlog of 1.8 million people registered on the Department of Human Settlement’s National Housing Needs Register (NHNR). The Department is a sterling example of how the ANC government has taken South Africa backwards.

In Mpumalanga, years of maladministration and rampant corruption under then-Premier DD Mabuza has left thousands out in the cold.  With a housing backlog of 183,555, a collapse of service delivery and spreading protests are the legacy of the Deputy President in the province. Indeed, under President Ramaphosa, looters and crooks have not been prosecuted: they have been promoted.

The DA has conducted countrywide visits and exposed how the failed ANC government has denied South Africans dignified housing. Too often even those residents who have been given structures continue to wait for the running water, electricity and proper sewerage systems to be fully installed at incomplete and crumbling houses.

Public healthcare

The ANC has decided to forge ahead with the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme despite the dismal failure of the pilot projects around the country. This failure has cost South Africa a budgeted amount of R2,3 billion this year alone, and still, the failing ANC government would have us gut the private health care system, putting the health of South Africa in their exclusive care at a cost of almost R200 billion per year.  We are only now coming to grips with the trauma that began with a R1.2 billion corruption scandal in the Gauteng Department of Health and culminated in the deaths of 144 patients in the Life Esidimeni tragedy. We mourn the 499 cancer patients who died while awaiting treatment in KwaZulu-Natal in 2015 and 2016, the result of the oncology crisis which unfolded on the ANC’s watch. This government has broken our healthcare system and the NHI is a poisonous solution devised to fuel further ANC corruption.

Higher education

In a last-ditch attempt to shore up his corrupt patronage network, Jacob Zuma announced increased financial support for students in December 2017. This desperate attempt to sway the ANC elective conference in favour of his chosen successor, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, is set to cost the taxpayers R43 billion extra as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is expanded over the next three years.

Zuma’s surprise declaration meant that NSFAS officials had less than a month before the academic year got underway to deal with tens of thousands of new applications in an already struggling system. Treasury and the Department of Higher Education and Training admitted that they were not consulted and were not ready. As a result, nearly 75,000 students who were awarded NSFAS funding for 2018 have not yet received their funding – eight months into the academic year. Stuck in limbo without qualifications or support, these students will not be securing lasting employment any time soon.

Basic education

School safety is one of the major casualties of the looting of the fiscus and Zuma’s Higher Education promise. The 2018 budget for school infrastructure suffered a massive cut of R7.2 billion, despite a backlog of schools that are falling apart and lack basic services.  Pit toilets at schools, in which two young learners have lost their lives in recent times, would cost R7.5 billion to eradicate – almost the exact amount cut from the infrastructure budget. 24 years after the advent of democracy, 3,898 schools still have only pit toilets for use, while another 3,040 have dangerous unused pit toilets that have not yet been demolished. Meanwhile, 97,000 learners who need transport to get to school safely are not receiving it, due to a budget shortfall of R640 million. These learners will never make it to post-school education or employment if their safety at school continues to be compromised.

Unsecured borders

Constitutional delinquent and ultimate Cabinet reshuffle survivor, Malusi Gigaba, has failed to attend to South Africa’s burgeoning immigration problem. Seemingly preoccupied with expediting the Gupta’s naturalization process, he has overseen a failing Department of Home Affairs (DHA) which simply does not have the capacity or the resources to identify, detain and deport illegal immigrants. In 2017 alone 384,357 people came into South Africa and failed to leave upon expiry of their visas – this figure only accounts for those persons from the top five ‘offending’ countries. Department figures dating back to 2013 put that number at well over one million. Our failure to deal with illegal immigration has cost the country R279 million over the last five years on deportations alone. And with fewer than 800 immigration officers in the country whose job it is to seek and arrest undocumented immigrants, undocumented immigrants often go undetected for years.

The asylum system has a backlog of more than 100,000 applications which, by DHA’s own admission, is a gross underestimation. The Department’s inefficiencies in the processing of asylum applications have led to asylum seekers – who followed proper procedures upon entry into the country – failing to get renewed permits timeously due to staff shortages and Refugee Reception Office closures. These applications are then kicked out of the system, rendering the applicants illegal. And these cases are not included in the backlog figure quoted above.


Water and sanitation

The Vaal River crisis is a potential environmental catastrophe. Accounting for some 45% of the drinking water in South Africans and 60% of economic water support supplied, the system forms an integral part of South Africa’s water supply.

The crisis was identified as far back as 2008, with studies by the CSIR pointing to high levels of toxicity caused by the discharge of raw sewage and industrial waste, the direct result of mismanagement, poor infrastructure development and lack of maintenance by the Emfuleni and Ngwathe local authorities. Water experts believe it could cost between R800 billion and R1 trillion to rejuvenate the water system.

Meanwhile, the Auditor-General found R6.4 billion in wasteful and irregular expenditure at the Department of Water and Sanitation, dating back to 2014 when Nomvula Mokonyane was appointed as minister. Mokonyane’s tenure included an unbudgeted amount of R2.5 billion for the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority; the so-called “War on Leaks” programme, costing R524 million, was included under the service programmes and not budgeted for; and a staggering R848 million is owed to municipalities and water boards.

Moving South Africa Forward Again

The DA, as the Official Opposition, has done everything possible to hold the ANC-led government to account. Through our tireless work and using every tool at our disposal that corruption, State Capture, bad governance and institutional incapacity has been laid bare. The ANC has been given every opportunity to address these problems, be it through Motions of No Confidence in Jacob Zuma and his enablers or through our tireless drive to expose State Capture in the Legislature.

The Zondo Commission is finally up and running, and we hope it is given the space and support to complete its important work. It will take time. But we cannot ignore the fact that, to date, no-one has gone to jail and no senior politician has lost their job.

The DA believes that the ANC as an organisation must be called to appear before the Zondo Commission to explain their part in the project of State Capture, and we will be consulting legal advisors on how we can achieve this.

The DA in Parliament has done everything possible to uncover the rot and hold people to account, but Parliament itself has been sidelined and undermined by the ANC. In June 2017, four portfolio committees that were tasked by House Chairperson Cedric Frolick to investigate allegations of State Capture, yet it was the sterling work done by another portfolio committee, on Public Enterprises, that turned the tide and made it impossible for the stonewalling to continue.

The ANC is clearly not fit to govern. Indeed, it doesn’t matter who is tasked with leading the organisation. The failing ANC has brought the State to the brink of collapse and it has no idea how to turn things around.

It’s now up to the voters.

We will be launching our offer to South Africans, alongside all our Premier candidates next month. We will travel to every corner of the country, knocking on every door and speaking to South Africans. It is now time for voters to remove the failing ANC at the polls in 2019. We no longer can endure another 5 years of disastrous ANC governance.

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.

Minister Dlamini must account for alleged R500 000 paid to SABC for “fluff” interview

The revelations today that the Department of Social Development (DSD) allegedly paid the SABC a whopping R500 000 to do a fluff interview with Minister Bathabile Dlamini are astounding. This was allegedly in an attempt to improve the Minister’s already tarnished reputation.

If these allegations are true, the Minister must personally pay back the money.

The R500 000 could have paid more than 300 social grants. It is shocking that the DSD had the audacity to supposedly use public money for an interview. The DSD is mandated to serve the poor, needy and vulnerable within our society, it is not mandated to use taxpayers’ money to make floundering Ministers look good.

Instead of improving her tarnished image, the Minister should be focussing on ensuring a smooth transition when the PostBank finally takes over the electronic payment of social grants on February 1, 2018.

The DA will now submit a range of Parliamentary questions to get to the bottom of this likely abuse of taxpayers’ money. The public deserves to know if the DSD did indeed pay for the interview. If that is the case the Minister must pay back the money personally.

It is clear that Minister Dlamini, like the rest of the ruling ANC, has lost touch with reality, the reality that 17 million South Africans depend on social grants.

The DA has long called for ‘Dodging’ Dlamini to be axed from the DSD. Instead of accounting to Parliament, the Minister chose to instead account to a talk show. The interview was nothing more than a fluff piece which cannot negate the damage Dlamini has done.

DA calls for SASSA-SAPO agreement to be tabled in Parliament

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the signing of the services agreement between the South Africa Social Security Authority (SASSA) and the South Africa Postal Service that will facilitate the implementation of a new social grants payment system from 1 April 2018.
It is very encouraging that the proposed hybrid model will also involve the use of payment platforms incorporating banks, commercial retailers and small businesses. We welcome the phasing out of cash payments and the building of an inclusive financial system.
The DA now calls on SASSA and the IMC to table the agreement in Parliament in order to give Members an opportunity to interrogate the feasibility of the proposed timelines and cost estimates. There can be no more delays and obstruction by SASSA and Social Development officials.
Parliament has an obligation to ensure that any agreement reached between SASSA and SAPO is feasible and will not inconvenience millions of South Africans who depend on social grants.
Minister Bathabile Dlamini’s attempts to stonewall the negotiations between SAPO and SASSA have yet again exposed her inability to effectively lead the Department of Social Development.
The deal would have been set up far sooner were it not for Dlamini dragging her feet, prioritizing political campaigning while putting the livelihoods of millions at risk, in all likelihood for her own personal gain. This suspicion is enforced by the fact that she did not attend this morning’s landmark announcement.
The DA will ensure that Parliament plays an effective oversight role over the implementation of the deal. Social grant beneficiaries must continue to receive their grants without any disruption.

SASSA: CPS continues to prey on beneficiaries in Temba, Hammanskraal

 Today, the DA visited the social grants pay-point at the SASSA Service Office in Temba, Hammanskraal. The visit follows reports from DA councillors on the ground of how grant recipients in Temba are often subjected to hours in queues in order to gain access to their social grants.
Upon our arrival, a long queue had already been formed and it was raining. Since beneficiaries don’t have a proper waiting area at the pay-point, they are forced to bring their own chairs from home.
It was evident that CPS’s predatory ways are still in full swing. CPS continues to prey on grant recipients, by luring them into taking out insurance policies and ‘green cards’ that result in beneficiaries being vulnerable to illegal deductions.
There were also issues with the money dispensing machines which are old – causing money to not only jam in the machines but also beneficiaries’ money to come out short. Sadly, SASSA and CPS are aware but have done nothing about the situation.
The DA also met with SASSA staff at the service office, who complained about their dire working conditions. The office handles a traffic of approximately 100 beneficiaries a day but only have two CPS officials and 9 cubicles because it is classified as a “satellite” office.
This is clearly a dire state of affairs. And no-one in power cares to listen.
Temba, like many other rural communities, is crippled by high levels of unemployment and poverty. Their struggles often go unnoticed by the uncaring and out of touch Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini and the rest of the ANC government.
Minister Bathabile must take responsibility for her hand in the continued suffering of the poor and vulnerable. She once again was willing to put the social grants of millions of South Africans at risk for her own nefarious reasons.
With only 16 weeks until the 31 March 2018, deadline of the extended CPS contract is due to expire, we are still not clear who will assist the South African Post Office in distributing social grants as per the hybrid model proposed by the inter-ministerial committee.
The DA will continue to use its platform in Parliament to shed light on the plight of our people in Temba, or similar rural communities, until the Minister for once acts in the interests of the poor and vulnerable.

Parliament must be the watchman on the walls of our democracy

The following end of year farewell speech was delivered today by the DA’s Chief Whip, John Steenhuisen MP, in Parliament.
Madam Speaker,
Another year has passed as quickly as the last. 2017 has been a tumultuous year, not only for this Parliament but for our South Africa as well:
In February Minister Dlamini brought SASSA to the brink of collapse imperilling the lives of the 17 million of our countrymen and women who rely on this important social safety net.
In March, The President, for the second time, dumped the country into crisis when he reshuffled his cabinet, removing finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas together with 20 other changes that sent the markets crashing. Many couldn’t work out what was behind these changes but as the State Capture dots began to be joined the motives became clear for all to see.
In May, the #Guptaleaks laid bare the sheer scope and scale of State Capture, revealing the rot at the heart of government and exposing the Billions of Rands of the people’s money looted from the public purse in the biggest smash and grab in our democratic history.
In August, the President survived his eighth motion of no confidence, and with the secret ballot having been granted the house witnessed the largest backbench rebellion with 177 members of this house voting in favour of removing the President from office.
In October, the Finance Minister tabled a budget full of doom and gloom but not a single solution, policy shift or bold initiative to get us out of the mess or create jobs for the 9.8 Million of our fellow South Africans who do not have the dignity of a job.
In November, the President was permitted to blatantly ignore out of a straightforward question on the order paper, which his office had for 16 days, and with not even as much as a concern or flurry from the Presiding officer that the effectiveness of this house and its primary function was being grossly undermined right under his very nose.
And as we head into December we do so as an economy that has been junked by the ratings agencies because the governing party that is so completely incoherent that South Africans and the international community have lost hope in the ANC’s ability to get their act together, even after their conference.
We find ourselves exiting 2017 with Mr Zuma still in the Union Buildings, the downgraded President of a downgraded economy.
But despite all this, there have been some highlights:

  • The stellar work done by the Ad-Hoc Committee on the SABC board enquiry.
  • The portfolio committee on social development and SCOPA’s handling of the social grants crisis.
  • The decision of the Speaker to allow a secret ballot in the motion of no confidence.
  • The portfolio committee on Public Enterprises ESKOM enquiry.
  • The consensus that has characterized our work in programming and the chief whips forum.
  • The terrific celebrations we held around our Constitution

Watchmen on the walls of democracy
And perhaps all these challenges of 2017 have underscored, more than ever before, the important and essential role this Parliament should be playing. We really are among the last watchmen left on the walls of our democracy.
And never in the democratic history of our nation, has this role been more essential or crucial.
American slavery abolitionist Wendell Phillips bequethed us the well know quote that:
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”
But he went further to say that:
“The hand entrusted with power becomes, either from human depravity or esprit de corps, the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continued oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot; only by unintermitted agitation can a people be sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity”
The reality is that State Capture did not emerge overnight, it didn’t just spring up, it was a carefully planned process, a process that developed slowly, methodically and with maximum malice and it happened in the full view of those in the executive who should have been watching and who should have known better  and who should, when the opposition raised the alarm, acted sooner.
Our vigilance has never been more important or needed than it is now. This is a task that no member in this house, regardless of the party t-shirt they wear, should ever underestimate or undervalue.
We have seen first hand the deceitful forces that have captured key institutions of our state subverting these institutions original intention to serve, benefit and protect the people and transforming them into ATM’s and bodyguards for the connected few.
We have seen the elite corruption busting Scorpions, castrated at the hands of Mr. Yunis Carrim, and turned into the tame and caged Hawks. They are so captured, corrupted and compromised that we should rename them the Budgerigars.
We have seen our State Security agency turned into a political gossip factory that misses every single attack on our sovereignty and security as a nation, yet is never short of smears or crudely drawn intelligence reports to taint a political rival or a handy break-in at an opponents premises.
We’ve seen SARS go from an internationally respected an acclaimed revenue collection institution into a veritable rogues gallery of insiders and captured individuals who’s only aim is to ensure their rich buddies get away with even more public money than they have already stolen.
And of course the NPA who loudly proclaimed that their “days of being disrespected are over” and yet went on to behave in a shameful manner that has made them the laughing stock of the nation.
And that is why we, all of us, are called upon to break this cynical cycle of corruption and capture.
The High Level Panel
Since we have well passed the halfway mark of this 5th Parliaments life, it’s perhaps a good time to examine the role of the house and its place in our democracy. And there can be no better stimulus for this discussion than the recently released High Level Panel assessment of key legislation and the acceleration of fundamental change.
It is an incredible document and we must thank the panellists for the work that they have done crisscrossing the country, engaging with communities, examining legislation and establishing for themselves its impact and effect on the lives of our citizens. They have identified many of the challenges that block our path to prosperity, many of these acts of commission or omission by this very chamber.
Its a welcome body of work and I really do hope that members, after a certain event at Nasrec is over, will spend their Christmas recess studying it closely. But I do think that we should pause and ask ourselves as members of this house, why? Why was it a high level panel that had to find that:

  • Only 0.4% of our GDP is spent on land reform and that this last year saw the lowest amount of land transferred since 1994. And how so many of our citizens, particularly women, living in rural areas are subject to cruel serfdom where their constitutional rights are trampled.
  • 13974 tourists or investors were denied boarding on South Africa bound flights because of the disastrous unabridged birth certificate policy championed by former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba- thanks to this policy we are likely to use 578 000 tourists per year a loss of over R7.51 billion (I bet you could do with that now) and who knows how many jobs.
  • Public trust in Parliament, national government and local government have declined rapidly in the last 5 years whilst the trust in our judiciary has increased.
  • We have a skills crisis that the current education and training regime is simply not meeting

It also found that Parliament remains “far too dependent on the executive, which operates in silos, to draft law. This manifests in a lack of integrated approach
The truth is that WE should have been doing this work, WE should have been doing the monitoring and WE should have been doing the engagement.
And we can only do this if we are empowered to do so and that’s why it is essential that we start 2018 with a very hard look at our systems, our processes and the resourcing of members.
We, the members of this house, must be better empowered to be able to access research and resources that will make us better lawmakers, legislators and more vigilant watchmen over the executive.
We have been set as the watchmen on the wall by the people of South Africa, it is their interest we must always safeguard. Our duties have been assigned by the Constitution of the Republic, and we must always meet them.
For it us that will be held accountable if the walls of our democracy are breached by the forces of evil and tyranny. As Ezekiel 6, verse 3 says:
“If the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity and will be held accountable”
We have much work to do in 2018 to improve our vigilance and resolve to transform this house into a true arena of accountability and a people-centered institution that genuinely advances the interests, hopes dreams and aspirations of all the people of our nation.
Let me end by thanking all of those people who operate behind the scenes who keep our Parliament running, the ushers, the translators, the chamber support staff and those who maintain this house.
Allow me to also extend, once again, a very big thank you to the National Assembly table team for their hard work, long hours and dedication to this institution we are all proud to work in. I would also like to specifically thank Mr Mbulelo Xaso, Collen Mahlangu and Andrew Mbanjwa and their offices for their patience and unfailing willingness to always assist.
I also think we should extend a very special thank you to the acting Secretary Mrs. Penny Tyawa, who stepped in to the position under very difficult circumstances and has, in the short time she has been acting secretary, already transformed the draconian and oppressive management style that existed before.
To Chief Whip Hon. Jackson Mthembu, and his Deputy, Dorris Dlakude, thank you both for your leadership of the whippery of the house. You are both always able to disagree without being disagreeable.
I would also like to thank the Chief Whips of the other opposition parties, notably Mr. Shivambu, Mr Singh, Dr, Mulder, Mr. Nkwanka, Professor Khubisa, Mrs Dudley and Mr. Ntshayisa for their good spirit, hard work and the terrific co-operation the opposition has enjoyed this year.
I would also like to remember specifically, as we close this annual session, Hon. Tim Khoza and Hon. Tarnia Baker who both lost their lives in service of this house and their nation and we remember them both today with respect and affection.
May I, in this season of peace and goodwill, take this opportunity on behalf of our leader Mmusi Maimane and our party to wish all honourable members of this house, and their families a safe, peaceful and restful festive season and we look forward to seeing you all in the new year when we resume with the peoples business,
Who are, as I end with a quote from a poem by our very own Joan Fubbs from her latest collection of poems “ Humanity’s covenant with Life”:
“Waiting and waiting
For a new tomorrow
The clouded horizon
Is pierced by silent hope.
That seeks beyond today”

Minister Dlamini must be fired for SAPO SASSA failure to reach agreement

The DA is not surprised that SASSA and the South African Post Office (SAPO) has failed to come to an agreement for SAPO to take over the distribution of social grants, on which 17 million South Africans are reliant.
This deadlock is a damning indictment on Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini’s, utter failure to put the needs of vulnerable South Africans first.
Minister Dlamini is clearly blocking SASSA’s efforts to find a suitable service provider because she wants the illegal CPS contract to continue, in all likelihood, for her own benefit.
Her disgraceful behaviour is a breach of her oath of office and President Jacob Zuma must do the right thing and either suspend or fire the Minister to ensure that she is no longer an obstacle to finding a suitable alternative for grant distribution.
Dodging Dlamini has lost touch with the people who she is mandated to serve. She now only serves her own interest and must be removed for the good of our people.