Sassa staff rewards hang from their necks

SOCIAL Development Minister Edna Molewa has praised Free State staff of the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa).

The staff wooed more than 37000 new social grant applicants in exchange for a South Africa-branded scarf, Molewa said.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question on Friday, Molewa said she spent only R38000 on Bafana Bafana jackets and scarves.

Sassa employees in Free State were each given a scarf costing R51 each.

The scarves were a token of appreciation to thank the staff for their good work, which entailed 16 community outreach programmes as well as the piloting of the Improved Grants Administration Project, in which 37 728 applications were registered.

"Due to austerity measures no additional staff could be appointed and overtime work performed could not be remunerated," Molewa said.

She said the least she could do was to give scarves to Free State staff, who were found to have the most stressful jobs of all Sassa employees in the country.

"The World Cup in South Africa was identified as an ideal opportunity not only to celebrate the event but also to improve staff morale and motivation. A number of activities linked to the World Cup were organised in which all staff participated and received scarves," she said.

While members of Parliament led the charge against government departments who splurged on World Cup goodies, it emerged in the reply that a group of them had received expensive jackets.

Members of Parliament from the social development portfolio committee were each given a Bafana Bafana bench jacket worth R550.

"This was a token of appreciation for the guidance by each member of the Social Development Portfolio Committee in facilitating improved social development service delivery," Molewa said.

Molewa's total spend of R38000 on World Cup items is frugal compared with the R130million spent by fellow cabinet ministers, and the entities under their control.

The communications department spent R5,2million on 2786 tickets; Eskom spent R12million and SA Airways R23million.

Even the cash-strapped SABC splashed out more than R3million on tickets.

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