SASSA Staff Staying Home While Citizens Wait Days Seeking Aid

SASSA Crisis: Staff at Home While Citizens Queue Days Without Aid

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By Anele Zulu

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has called out the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) for having fully trained staff sitting idle at home while vulnerable citizens desperate for social assistance queue for hours and even days outside SASSA offices across the country.

DA Shadow Minister of Social Development Bridget Masango slammed SASSA, saying over the past week there have been “shocking accounts of people queueing outside SASSA offices for days at a time without being seen or helped.” She said the majority of people are leaving empty-handed without any means to support themselves and their families.

Masango highlighted that the inability to provide critical social grants to eligible South Africans signals a failure of SASSA’s current plans and processes. She noted that only 10 people have been approved for the special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) $350 grant as further proof that limited staff and restricted working hours are completely unfeasible given the sheer demand.

The DA representative urged SASSA to “extend its office hours immediately to provide relief to grant applicants.” She proposed that the agency promptly deploy its “sitting resources” – referring to idle staff members – to bolster frontline services and reduce long wait times stemming from limited daily operating hours.

“There is no reason why SASSA employees should be sitting at home on full pay while desperate citizens spend nights outside SASSA offices hoping to finally receive assistance,”

Masango asserted.

Over 17 Million South Africans Depend on SASSA Grants

With rampant poverty and unemployment levels in South Africa, social grants administered by SASSA serve as a lifeline for over 17 million vulnerable citizens. The economic havoc unleashed by COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation and spiked demand for social relief aid.

Masango warned that without urgent intervention, “we are heading towards a humanitarian crisis.” She emphasized SASSA’s constitutional duty to provide services that give effect to the basic human rights of applicants, including their right to social security and assistance.

SASSA Struggling Amid Staff Shortages

While citizens brace long queues outside SASSA offices from the early hours of the morning, it appears administrators and case workers may not be reporting to work consistently despite being on the payroll. The agency has been plagued by chronic staff shortages, which frustrates operations and efficiency in processing social grant applications.

With the crisis escalating, the DA has demanded SASSA account for its employee situation. Masango said citizens deserve to know exactly how many active staff are currently employed at SASSA offices to serve their needs versus administration members sitting idle at home.

She also called for transparency around what measures SASSA is taking to mobilize all available human resources to meet surging demand.

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