Spare grant recipients 'glitches'

It is unacceptable that those in need continue to bear the brunt of Sassa's inefficiencies, the writer says.
It is unacceptable that those in need continue to bear the brunt of Sassa's inefficiencies, the writer says.
Image: File

The sight of thousands of people, most of them elderly or living with disabilities, standing in snaking queues to receive their grant payments earlier this week is heartbreaking.

More devastating is that the payment system was seemingly so chaotic that many went home empty handed, while others were double paid.

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) apologised and ascribed the error to a "technical glitch" and asked beneficiaries to return later in the week.

It goes without saying that grant recipients are some of the most economically vulnerable citizens of our country.

For many, assistance from our social welfare system is the only safety net to cushion them from going hungry.

Therefore even a day of disappointment matters significantly to people for whom this income simply does not stretch far enough.

Sassa's technical glitch follows a decision to stagger social grant payments during lockdown.

This effectively means moving the payment of social grants from the first day of every month to the 4th for the elderly and disabled.

All other beneficiaries are then expected to collect their grant from the 6th.

In principle the decision itself makes sense to avoid overcrowding.

To be fair, glitches happen with any projects.

However, this is not the first time that Sassa beneficiaries have been on the receiving end of the agency's technical or capacity problems.

It is not the first time that the elderly and those living in conditions of poverty have suffered the indignity that comes with being failed by its system.

The agency has encouraged beneficiaries to use other methods of payment to avoid inconvenience.

These include the post office and banks. However, the onus remains on the agency to educate beneficiaries, in appropriate and effective ways, to make use of these.

It is unacceptable that those in need continue to bear the brunt of its inefficiencies.

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