The national opposition and the Western Cape government have both demanded that Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu be held accountable for a chaotic approach to managing the temporary disability grants. The payments lapsed this month, leaving hundreds of thousands of SASSA clients without financial support.
Things have unravelled extremely quickly for SASSA, culminating in some disheartening scenes. Huge queues formed outside of the department’s offices in the Western Cape and KZN, creating some very serious health concerns during this pandemic.
This month, SASSA suspended more than 210 000 temporary disability grants and care dependency grants. Persons with disabilities were told they would have to reapply for their grants ‘in-person’, despite soaring COVID-19 rates. Applicants were also informed to bring an updated medical note with them, approved by a registered doctor. This chaotic plan caused massive queues outside SASSA offices, creating potential super-spreader events. Elderly and infirmed recipients have been left to sleep on the streets and wait in lines for hours in the scorching heat.
The DA is not pleased with the sight of desperate citizens having to risk their own well-being to prove they are entitled to this disability grant from SASSA. DA’s Social Development Shadow Minister, Bridget Masango has issued an ultimatum: “Zulu must face a Parliamentary inquiry or resign!”
“While South Africa is struggling to cope with a second wave resurgence of Covid-19 infections, hundreds of desperate and vulnerable social grant beneficiaries queued for hours at South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) offices across the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal to re-apply for their lapsed disability grants,” said Masango.
Masango said the massive queues at SASSA offices are potential Covid-19 super spreaders and that Lindiwe Zulu must take full responsibility for how all of this unfolded. She also called upon Minister Zulu to come of hiding and appear before Parliament to account for her failures, adding that if Zulu cannot do this she must step down.
These changes have taken a serious toll in the Western Cape, where over 50 000 people have had their relief funds stopped. More than 25% of the temporary disability grants go to citizens in this province, and Gillion Bosman – a representative of the regional government – has accused Lindiwe Zulu of ‘violating basic human rights.
“For residents of the Western Cape, and Minister Lindiwe Zulu is allowing for the lapse of at least 52 000 disability grants. This number represents the very meagre means to live for persons with disabilities in the province, who will be unable to access the funds they need to survive. This is unacceptable, and tantamount to an infringement on the rights of residents,” said Bosman.
“The lapsing of these grants has led to a desperate situation. Individuals have to seek medical certificates and reapply at SASSA application venues, all at a time when our health sector is under strain and Covid-19 infections are rife – but more resources are put into patrolling quiet beaches than ensuring Covid-19 protocols are being followed at SASSA offices,” he said.