DA wants answers over Sassa’s wasteful expenditure

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) regional office in the Free State is accused of spending more than R1-million on a single event. 

The DA is alleging that Sassa booked a venue for R500 000 while dishing out gifts of R1-million at the International Women’s Day event on March 28.

According to DA’s spokesperson for social development Bridgette Masango, the DA will submit written parliamentary questions to determine why Sassa, which allegedly failed to reliably service the country’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens and whose offices are understaffed and under-resourced, chose to waste funds.

“Last year, the DA revealed that only four out of 212 Sassa offices we contacted nationwide answered their phones,” said Masango.

“Our oversights revealed shocking working environments and regular system crashes that force grant beneficiaries to make multiple trips without being helped. 

“Some offices did not even have proper chairs for the staff, never mind grant beneficiaries queueing for hours on end in all kinds of weather.”

Masango added that the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, had confirmed this in an answer to a DA parliamentary question in which she revealed that in the past year, a total of 435 and 175 Sassa offices experienced system and telephone problems, respectively. 

“The problems were due to basic accounting system, social security pension system, biometric identification systems challenges, and electrical and network outages.

“Instead of using the R1.5-million to address these serious concerns that have been plaguing Sassa offices in every corner of the country [26 system and 26 phone outages over 12 days in the Free State since January 2022], it was wasted on a party that had no discernible positive impact on the poor and vulnerable people Sassa is meant to assist.”

Masango said Sassa services have become so bad that grant beneficiaries assume that they will have to endure multiple trips before receiving their funds, as there are almost always problems and glitches. 

“With the rising cost of living, these payment delays are more than just an inconvenience. They are hastening the death and destroying the hope of millions by eating into what little poor and vulnerable people have to spend on food and other necessities.

“If minister Zulu truly cared, she would put a stop to the frivolous wasting of money while people died on her watch.

“She would have made every effort to address the problems at Sassa. Instead, people continue to suffer from her lack of caring,” said Masango.

She said the DA will leave no stone unturned in its efforts to restore the dignity, lives and livelihoods for millions of South Africans who are struggling under the ANC government.

Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi said: “The figures provided to me by Free State Sassa reflect an amount of R488 711.53. The R488 711.53 was spent to launch the women’s programme.”

Letsatsi said the Free State Women’s Forum is a programme that will be implemented in all regions across the province to “enable and align women’s initiatives that will create an environment for gender mainstreaming and equality”.

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