The South African Social Services Agency (SASSA) briefed the Portfolio Committee on Social Development yesterday, on reasons for non-payment of grants and long queues at pay points.

ACDP Member of Parliament, Cheryllyn Dudley, said after the briefing that “Although briefings by SASSA are a regular occurrence this was more of an urgent intervention by the committee to ensure the agency was under no illusion as to how serious the issues are and that more than assurances were expected from them.”

SASSA expressed heartfelt apologies for the inconvenience caused by the overloading of the system affecting 700,000 new card holders.  They said the money went into the accounts with no problem but when there was a run of people withdrawing at the same time, the sheer volume of withdrawals caused a glitch.  In the trial run this problem did not occur but the chairperson of the committee pointed out that there was no excuse as risk management should have factored in the possibility.

Dudley reminded the committee chairperson that “The strengthening of relevant capacity in the South African Post Office (SAPO) had been identified as a requirement when the decision was taken to run with using our own resources and not remaining vulnerable through dependency on outsourced service providers.”  The chairperson was also of the opinion that the committee should urgently look into what is being done about ensuring SAPO has the capacity as promised.  “This was a decision taken by all of us”, Dudley said. “We had considered SAPO’s potential and its constraints and were all firmly convinced that despite a lack of capacity this was the only direction that made sense.  Members of Parliament were in agreement that we could not allow the country to be at the mercy of contractors when it comes to the payment of grants on which so many rely.  We must now put pressure on treasury to provide an adequate budget and on SAPO to ensure relevant capacity is being built without delay”.

Officials assured members of parliament that the system was stabilising and that the grant money would be available by Thursday or Friday and can be withdrawn from Merchants or ATMs to avoid queues at post offices.  Dudley said, “To avoid further inconvenience, it would be wise to wait till Friday”.

26 June 2018