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Compensate social grant beneficiaries

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Compensate social grant beneficiaries
Compensate social grant beneficiaries
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About 800 000 social grant beneficiaries were left helpless when they were not able to receive their grants on time at various paypoints, post offices and ATMs [1]. The social grant payment system is now run by the South African Post Office (SAPO) since April, including those grants paid in cash [2]. And in June, as part of its roll out of paying social grants, SAPO announced a new card for all SASSA beneficiaries which will prevent illegal deductions [3]. Changes to the payment system were also announced. This is where the problem is reported - a glitch in the payment system [4].  

Grant recipients like Andile Ntombela, were unable to buy food or pay their rent because they did not receive their grants on time. Not only did they not receive their grants on time, they also incurred expenses from having to make additional trips to various paypoints over 3 days [5]. Some recipients have had to turn to abomashonisa for loans to put food on the table - something that the vulnerable who rely on social grants should never have to do. We know how banks like Grindrod have used predatory tactics to exploit social grant recipients by charging them for withdrawals [6].

Social grants are not enough to buy a typical basket of goods that those who rely on them need to get by for the month. With VAT having already reduced the spending power of a social grant, and the interest charged by abomashonisa as much as 40% of the loan amount, it casts a terrible picture of what some recipients are faced with.

Even though an apology was given for the glitch, this is not enough. Moreover, SAPO says it can’t guarantee that something like this will not happen again [7]. The CEOs of SAPO, SASSA, and the Minister of Social Development must all be held accountable, and called upon to use their institutional resources and their own salaries to help pay off loan shark interest rates incurred by any social grant recipients due to this delay. And we know that they can afford it. Among nine prominent state owned companies, which SAPO is, the average CEO salary is R3.27 million [8]. And according to a January 2017 government gazette, ministers earn at least R2.3 million (9).

Our leaders need to be held accountable for this delay in payment because they ought to know that when social grants are not paid, it puts the vulnerable at greater risk. And nobody should have to be subjected to that.

Dear Minister Susan Shabangu, Minister of Social Development, and Mr Abraham Mahlangu, acting CEO of SASSA, and Mark Angus Barnes, CEO of SAPO

We, the undersigned, call on you to compensate those social grant beneficiaries who have not been paid due to the problem caused by the payment system, while many have now been paid, many were severely affected due to the payment delay, many have faced being evicted or penalised for unpaid rent, or having to go to loan sharks and now on top of the delay, they must pay off interest.  As the leaders in charge, you must take personal responsibility and compensate beneficiaries. Part of this compensation must come from your own salaries. The changes to the payment system are good and in line with stopping unsolicited deductions from social grant beneficiaries, however social grants must be paid on time otherwise once again you are forcing the most vulnerable to turn to loan sharks.

We further call on you to ensure that this does not happen in the future.

[1] [5] “I have no food at home” says grant recipient following Post Office glitch, Nompendulo Ngubane for GroundUp News. 5 July 2018.

[2] Post Office to pay all social grants, including cash. Barbara Maregele for GroundUp News. 7 June 2018.

[3] SASSA beneficiaries urged to get new cards, Kouga Express. 21 June 2018.

[4] Sassa beneficiaries could wait at least 3 days to access grants. Sifiso Zulu for EyeWitness News. 3 July 218.

[6] Grant recipients fear new bank deductions, charges, Wendy Jasson Da Costa for Independent News. 1 May 2018.

[7] Post Office grant-payment glitches fixed (for now), Ray Mahlaka for MoneyWeb. 5 July 2018.

[8] CEO vs employee salaries at Eskom, SAA and other state companies, BusinessTech. 24 August 2017.

[9] How much South African government ministers will get paid in 2017, My Broadband. 25 January 2017.

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Even though an apology was given for the payment glitch, the CEOs of SAPO, SASSA, and the Minister of Social Development must all be held accountable, and called upon to use their institutional resources and their own salaries to help pay off loan shark interest rates incurred by any social grant recipients due to this delay.