Postbank ‘unable to guarantee no more social grant payment delays’

Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Mondli Gungubele briefs the media on issues at Postbank. Picture: Jacques Naude / African News Agency (ANA)

Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Mondli Gungubele briefs the media on issues at Postbank. Picture: Jacques Naude / African News Agency (ANA)

Published Sep 15, 2023


Social grant recipients may have to brace themselves for further delays in receiving their money, as the Postbank on Thursday said it was not able to promise that another system glitch would not occur, resulting in the delay of grant payments.

As Postbank on Thursday found itself in disarray following the resignation of chairperson Thabile Wonci and several board members, who cited hostility from Communications Minister Mondli Gungubele, the state-owned entity’s chief executive, Ntomboxolo Mbengashe, said she could not guarantee that another glitch would not affect thousands of grant recipients.

“We have a commitment to ensure that something like this does not happen again, but having said that, with my experience in banking, things like this do happen.

“I cannot stand here with an understanding of how technology works and say 100% that something like this will never happen again.

“But the only commitment I can make is that we will do everything in our power to prevent something like this from happening.

“That’s the only promise that we can make,” she said.

In a joint statement by Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, and Gungubele, the pair extend their “sincerest apologies” to social grant beneficiaries who have encountered “difficulties” accessing their grants over the past week.

“Originally, this affected approximately 600 000 beneficiaries, which translates to around 10% of the 5.3 million beneficiaries that are paid social grants via Postbank Sassa gold cards. I would like to confirm for South Africa that the majority of these accounts have now been corrected, and clients have been able to access their money,” Gungubele said.

Speaking on the resignation of Wonci, Gcobani Mancotywa, Vuyelwa Matsiliza, Martin Mahosi, and Dr Leigh Hefer-Hendrikse, who tendered their immediate resignations before the state-owned entity’s annual general meeting, which was supposed to be held yesterday, Gungubele said it was “the culmination of an attempt by the minister to intervene in dealing with governance challenges in which the board had to answer”.

“One of the fundamental problems has been the continuation of an illegal contract, which was paid no less than R140m and without a justifiable explanation why it was allowed to continue.

“A serious-minded leadership would not allow that to continue … and somebody had to accept responsibility in this instance. In our view we are clear, the board had to accept that responsibility. Why they opted to resign before we took a decision in the AGM, they are better placed to explain,” he said.

Human rights organisation Black Sash expressed disappointment at the ministers’ “failure” to outline plans or measures to prevent similar events from recurring in the future.

Black Sash director Rachel Bukasa said the organisation was “alarmed and dismayed” by Mbengashe’s comments.

“Not only does it demonstrate that our own government doesn’t grasp the seriousness these system failures have on the most vulnerable and poorest in our communities. It shows that beneficiaries must just accept that there will be delays in accessing their grant monies,” said Bukasa.

Cape Times