The Democratic Alliance (DA) has laid an urgent formal complaint at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) against Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, her department, the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and Postbank for their part in the ongoing social grant payment failures.
The Postbank failed to pay recipients on time after its system malfunctioned, leaving pensioners and those living with disabilities unable to access their money for over a week.
On Tuesday, DA social development spokesperson, Bridget Masango, accompanied by DA Gauteng social development spokesperson, Refiloe Nt’sekhe and Bronwynn Engelbrecht lodged a formal complaint with the SAHRC in Johannesburg.
The party’s complaint was largely based on the principles enshrined in the Constitution that protect the rights and dignity of South Africans.
The complaint invoked Section 10 – The right to human dignity, Section 11 – The right to life, Section 27 - The right to healthcare, food, water, and social security, and Section 28 – The rights of children.
“The ongoing crisis surrounding Sassa grant payments has highlighted the inability of the Department of Social Development to address these pressing issues. It is evident that Minister Lindiwe Zulu and her department are struggling to provide the level of care and support that the most vulnerable members of our society require,” Masango said.
“The DA firmly believes that meaningful change can only be achieved through a government that is accountable, compassionate, and committed to the wellbeing of all its citizens. The recurring failures in the grant payment system underscore the need for urgent reform.”
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) said its fears had been realised after it raised its concerns when Postbank was tasked with grant payments.
“We foresaw that Postbank would not cope with this added task and our fears have been realised, as we see that it has been placed under business rescue and Members of the Board have resigned,” said Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) KwaZulu-Natal member Les Govender.
He said that the Postbank’s incompetence was creating a highly stressful situation for people who have no other income and are totally dependent on social grants to sustain themselves and their dependants.
“The deafening silence and inaction by (Zulu), and Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Mondli Gungubele, is cause for concern,” he said.
“This is a dire and dangerous situation. Hungry people are understandably angry people. This is a ticking time bomb created by government ineptitude.”
For the past two weeks, queues of grant dependants could be seen outside Post Offices where they were expecting to collect their grants, only to be told that there was a “technical problem” and they should come back another day.
Over 500,000 grants recipients have still not been paid their social grants for this month, according to the IFP.