"Yoh, the government always acts like thina they are just doing us a favour and we don't even deserve consultation...like formally employed people would get. They just see us as lesser human beings… We also have bills to pay, if we do not pay by the 1st we will be charged interest. A week is very long we will starve” - a pensioner in Chiawelo, Soweto
Now more than ever our government wants to be seen to be responding to the plight of the poor. One such response is by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa). Sassa has introduced new grant payment dates and methods that are meant to protect the elderly and people living with disabilities from the month-end rush during the COVID-19, the disease caused by a coronavirus new to human beings, lockdown. The agency has instituted a payment system that will only allow payments to the elderly on the 4th and 5th of each month and then only open from the 6th for other beneficiaries .
Though we recognise that the staggering of social grant payments is key to avoiding the month-end rush and protecting the most vulnerable from Coronavirus infections by ensuring that social distancing is implemented. We must also bear in mind that paying grants out late - 5 weeks since the last grant cycle- will plunge millions of families that depend on social grants into hunger. By 4 May, many families will have run out of food and essentials and they will be forced to endure an extra week of hunger .
Over the past few weeks, our government has been frantically trying to craft responses to the Coronavirus crisis which we are currently faced with. In some instances, their responses have been anti-poor and out of touch with the realities of many South Africans, but public pressure and action have been successful in making them rethink, reconsider and restructure responses and regulations in order to better cater to the needs and realities of the poor and vulnerable.
Right now, we have a unique opportunity to come together and force the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu and Sassa CEO, Busisiwe Memela - Khambula to act. We can convince them to reconsider the social grant payment dates from the month of May going forward and to change them to dates that will ensure that millions of already struggling families in Mzansi do not go hungry. Together we can ensure that Coronavirus interventions are pro-poor.
 Your Sassa grant payment dates have changed, Staff Reporter for IOL April 8 2020
 Sassa: Grants for pensioners and people with disabilities to be paid early, Baldwin Ndaba for IOL March 22 2020
Dear Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu and Sassa CEO, Busisiwe Memela - Khambula
We, the undersigned, call on you to ensure that the millions of Mzansi families that depend on Sassa grants do not go hungry during the COVID-19 crisis. We demand that you reconsider and change the planned Sassa grant payment dates to the 27th,28th and 29th of each month starting with the May 2020 cycle in order to avoid the late payment of grants. We demand COVID-19 interventions that are pro-poor.