Dear Minister Lindiwe Zulu, I write this open letter to you because historically more formal means of communication have fallen on deaf ears.
The truth is Minister, South African social grant beneficiaries are desperate. And they are scared. The South African Post Office’s (Sapo) liquidation places the semi-reliable payment of their only source of income at severe risk.
Already the dire consequences are evident. The DA has received reports of social grant beneficiaries — often elderly individuals with comorbidities — queueing for hours outside various post offices nationwide to withdraw funds without being assisted.
And while we welcome the new cardless payment method announced by Postbank, the system remains untested in paying out millions of social grants each month.
In 2022, approximately seven million beneficiaries used Sassa/Sapo cards to access their social grants. What are your plans to ensure that these social grant beneficiaries, especially those in rural areas, will not be left in the lurch?
Grant beneficiaries should not be forced to bear the brunt of Sassa and Postbank’s failures: 44% of South Africa’s 60.6 million people are reliant on their social grants — they cannot reasonably survive without them.
While this statistic is shocking in and of itself, the indictment goes further than the systematic destruction of the country’s economy through harmful economic policies, cadre deployment and State Capture.
The true horror lies in the fact that your ANC government has made social grants the only means of survival for millions of people and now forces them to spend the little they get on transport to and from pay points and Sassa offices every month because they cannot count on reliable payments from the government.
The DA has been inundated with complaints from grant beneficiaries across the country who are unable to replace their expired Sassa cards. They are being sent from pillar to post for days on end without receiving the necessary assistance from Sassa offices. Some individuals have not been able to access their grants for months.
These are the people you are mandated to serve, Minister.
South Africa’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens deserve to be treated with compassion and dignity — something you and your department do not seem to value.
The cost of living is perpetually rising — food prices have risen an average of 14% over the past year alone, with white and brown bread retail prices increasing by 20% and 19% respectively and the price of maize meal by 32% more.
Considering your R2.5-million annual salary you might not feel the impact of the rising cost of living, Minister, but the 18.2 million people in South Africa that live in extreme poverty cannot shoulder these rising costs.
The fact that grant recipients are forced to waste what little funds they have due to Sassa’s ineptitude is callous and inhumane. Your non-caring attitude towards the plight of the most vulnerable members of our society is the most vicious assault your leadership has inflicted on the dignity of social grant beneficiaries.
We cannot allow the government to make decisions that affect the most vulnerable without providing a detailed plan. Therefore, the DA will continue to fight this issue and will not rest until proper solutions are put in place that prioritise the citizens of South Africa. We will monitor the new payment system closely.
The country’s poor and vulnerable deserve better. And if you are unable or unwilling to do better, Minister, it is time you stepped aside for someone capable and compassionate. DM