SASSA spends R1.5 million on function while grant beneficiaries suffer

Issued by Bridget Masango MP – DA Shadow Minister of Social Development
04 Apr 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Bridget Masango MP.

The DA received unsettling information that the Free State Regional Office of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) spent at least R1.5 million on a single event.

According to our source, SASSA allegedly saw fit to shell out R500 000 on a venue and R1 million on gifts for their international women’s day event on 28 March 2023.

The DA will submit written parliamentary questions to determine why an Agency who regularly fails to reliably service the country’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens and whose offices are understaffed and under-resourced, would waste crucial funds this way.

Last year the DA revealed that only four out of 212 SASSA offices we contacted nationwide answered their phones. Our oversights revealed shocking working environments and regular system crashes that force grant beneficiaries to make multiple trips without being helped. Some offices did not even have proper chairs for the staff, never mind grant beneficiaries queueing for hours on end in all kinds of weather.

The Minister for Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, further confirmed this in an answer to a DA parliamentary question in which she revealed that in the past year, a total of 435 and 175 SASSA offices experienced system and telephone problems respectively. The problems were due to Basic Accounting System (BAS), Social Security Pension System (Socpen), biometric identification systems challenges and electrical and network outages.

Instead of using the R1.5 million to address these serious concerns that have been plaguing SASSA offices in every corner of the country (26 system and 26 phone outages over 12 days in the Free State since January 2022), it was wasted on a party that had no discernible positive impact on the poor and vulnerable people SASSA is meant to assist.

SASSA services have become so bad that grant beneficiaries assume that they will have to endure multiple trips before receiving their funds, as there are almost always problems and glitches. With the rising cost of living, these payment delays are more than just an inconvenience. They are hastening the death and destroying the hope of millions by eating into what little poor and vulnerable people have to spend on food and other necessities.

If Minister Zulu truly cared, she would put a stop to the frivolous wasting of money while people died on her watch. She would have made every effort to address the problems at SASSA. Instead, people continue to suffer from her lack of caring.

The Democratic Alliance will not leave any stone unturned to restore the dignity, lives and livelihoods for millions of South Africans who are struggling daily under the ANC government.