The Free State regional office of the South African Social Security Agency allegedly spent a total of R1.5 million on a single event for International Women’s Day on March 28, 2023, where a figure of R500,000 was allocated solely for the venue, and the remaining figure of R1 million was spent on gifts.
THE FREE State regional office of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) allegedly spent a total of R1.5 million on a single event for International Women’s Day on March 28, 2023, where a figure of R500,000 was allocated solely for the venue, and the remaining figure of R1 million was spent on gifts.
The Free State is one of the provinces that is experiencing a lack of service delivery. In April 2022, during the provincial imbizo (at the Dr Rantlai Petrus Molemela stadium), residents from many towns in the Free State complained to President Cyril Ramaphosa about the lack of service delivery.
Residents said service delivery was almost non-existent, with intermittent water cuts and roads in a state of disrepair. In August of the same year, the manager of AfriForum, Dr Eugene Brink, described Free State service delivery as rotten, following the lack of ‘recent data’ from the state to measure important indicators, whereas in other provinces, service delivery and other aspects of municipal management were measured.
“The auditor-general’s results undeniably show how poorly the Free State’s municipalities are managed. She particularly deplores the lack of leadership that leads to the misuse of funds and waste,” said Brink.
A member of the DA, Bridget Masango, said that it was irresponsible of Sassa to misspend taxpayers’ money in that form considering the current economic situation facing South Africa and the budget cuts that are affecting ordinary South Africans.
“The matter was brought to our attention as recently as last week. Our immediate course of action will entail submitting written parliamentary questions to determine why an agency that regularly fails to reliably service the country’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens and whose offices are understaffed and under-resourced, would waste crucial funds this way. The responses from the Minister will allow for further processes to ensure accountability if the wasteful expenditure is confirmed,” she said.
Last year, The DA revealed how bad the Sassa offices’ infrastructure and services were nationwide, with the systems that often go off-line/crash, forcing Sassa beneficiaries to travel and queue for long hours and end up not being assisted.
“Instead of using the R1.5m to address these serious concerns that have been plaguing Sassa offices in every corner of the country (26 system and 26 phone outages over one day 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.’’
Since November 2022, it was reported that many Sassa beneficiaries would not receive their money on the days they were scheduled for.
“The public is made up of taxpayers and the many millions of South Africans who are struggling to feed their families. For a government agency whose mandate is to pay grants to these people, spending R1.5 million on an event confirms the government’s disregard for the poor”, said Masango.
The Department of Social Development failed to respond to media enquiries by the time of publication.