Ongoing SASSA pay-out challenges concerning – IFP

Party says realities faced by beneficiaries stand in stark contrast to lockdown measures announced by President

IFP concerned about on-going SASSA pay-out challenges

1 April 2020

The IFP expresses its condolences to the 3 families who sadly lost their loved ones during the turmoil that marked the early SASSA grant payout process nationwide yesterday.

We also convey our condolences to the 5 families who have lost loved ones to Covid-19.

From reports the IFP has received so far, it is clear that widespread disarray continued to characterise the early SASSA grant payout process yesterday and today, which was meant to prioritise and assist the poor and South Africa's disabled citizens during this unprecedented but necessary lockdown period.

The IFP had directed its public representatives to monitor the SASSA pay-points in different provinces and in many instances we found that the elderly and persons living with disabilities were not assisted by being moved to the front of the queue; many queued for hours without any place to sit and without access to water or toilets; many pay-points ran out of money, while chaotic scenes unfolded at pay-points in Nongoma, Mtubatuba and elsewhere in Northern KwaZulu Natal.

But more worrying is the fact that the vulnerable had to rely on public transport to ferry them to the pay-points where social distancing is not being adhered to, and where no sanitizers or masks were available.

These realities stood in stark contrast to the strict lockdown measures announced by President Ramaphosa less than a week ago and which has put at risk the most vulnerable in our society of contracting Covid-19.

The IFP believes that more must be done to protect vulnerable SASSA grant recipients during the next payout cycle to run at the end of next month when the Covid-19 virus is expected to be at its most active in our communities.

The IFP calls on the leadership of the Department of Social Development, and SASSA to meet as a matter of urgency to start planning the interventions that could be put in place in the next two weeks to avoid similar scenes from unfolding.

Such interventions could include paying the elderly and vulnerable at home, while those who are healthier and can travel to pay-points are allowed to do so but under the strict conditions of being asked to adhere to social distancing, while wearing gloves and masks at these pay-points. Government should also consider following the route of other countries and mass sanitise public areas and public transport facilities during this time of lockdown.

Furthermore, we call on Social Development to urgently make known where food banks are being established to assist families in need.

We thank those retailers and service providers, who with regards to the disbursement of SASSA grants have taken the necessary precautionary steps to assist beneficiaries especially the elderly.

The IFP calls on the Provincial Departments of COGTA to liaise with the Department of Water and Sanitation and District Municipalities to fast-track the provision of water access and infrastructure particularly in rural communities who have been hit hardest by the drought and debilitating infrastructure. Water is at the heart of the hygiene protocols to fight the Corona virus; and in the period of the current lockdown our people are handicapped in leaving home to fetch water far from their homes.

We continue to urge South Africans to adhere to the regulations of the lockdown to ensure our individual and collective safety and protection. Let us all do our part!

Issued by VF Hlabisa, President of the IFP, 1 April 2020