Minister Lindiwe Zulu accused of “bungling” following the suspension of over 200,000 temporary disability grants
PARLIAMENT’S portfolio committee on social development, under Mondli Gungubele, has summoned Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu and Sassa officials to appear before it following acts of violence against disability grant applicants at various Sassa offices this week.
The meeting was also called by the DA after Sassa and the Department of Social Development (DSD) had in December blocked more than 200,000 people who collect temporary disability and care dependency from accessing their grants.
DA spokesperson on social development Bridget Masango said due to Sassa and the DSD’s poor planning, thousands of disability grant beneficiaries have had to queue outside of the agency’s offices for hours, and in some cases overnight, to simply apply for these much-needed grants.
The meeting on Wednesday was expedited after images were shown in the media of long queues and applicants being turned away at Sassa’s Joburg offices. This also came about after the nation was exposed to images and videos of the police using water cannons to enforce social distancing measures outside the Sassa Bellville office.
“Many of those in the queue were elderly and disabled beneficiaries who had been waiting in the rain for hours. The Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, then decided to address these applicants from a police Casspir, once again proving how out of touch she is,” Masango said.
“This meeting is therefore critical in not only holding Sassa and the DSD accountable, but also Minister Zulu as she is ultimately responsible for this debacle. Her poor leadership is to blame for her department and entities bungling the temporary disability grants and care dependency grants process.”
“The absolute bungling of the temporary disability grants process cannot be sugar coated, and we trust that every member of the social development committee will hold the minister and those who report to her fully accountable for their failures on Wednesday,” Masango added.
While politicians will be focusing on the violence and queues at Sassa offices, the agency and DSD had already, on January 10, urged the more than 200,000 people to apply for their grants.
Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi said on January 10 that the government would now have to spend an additional R1.2 billion to continue the payment of the grants until the end of March 2021.
“A disability grant may be awarded as either a permanent grant, which may or may not be subject to a medical review after a certain period of time. Permanent disability grants are awarded for conditions which impact on the applicant’s ability to work for a period longer than 12 months.
“Where the disability or medical condition is likely to improve with treatment or other interventions, the grant may be awarded for a temporary period of between 6 and 12 months. After this time, the grant lapses, in accordance with the conditions set in the Social Assistance Act, 2004.
“If, on lapsing of the grant, the citizen is still unable to be employed as a result of the disability or medical condition, he/she needs to re-apply for the grant,” Letsatsi said.
He said the reapplication process requires a new medical assessment, which would confirm whether the condition does warrant a grant.
– Political Bureau