8 November 2017

South Africa: Sadtu Concerned With Delays in Concluding the Social Grant Distribution Deal

press release

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU) is deeply concerned with the continued delays in concluding the agreement for social grant distribution by the Department of Social Development. A panel of experts chaired by the Auditor-General has already warned that the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) would most likely miss its deadline to successfully transfer the payment of social grants by April 2018.

The situation is worsened by the reported failure of SASSA to reach an agreement with the South African Post Office. We are concerned with the negative effects that this will have on those relying on social grants to meet their basic needs. As education workers, we are exposed to the daily difficulties of the poor in our communities and in our classrooms. It is an undisputable fact that the socio-economic realities of our learners have a direct impact on their learning potential.

It is our view that the SASSA debacle is in fact a man-made crisis that could have been avoided with the required decisive and incorruptible leadership that had the interest of the poor at heart. Reasoning from this fact, we want to express our displeasure with the manner in which the Minister of Social Development has handled this matter. We put the blame for these unsettling delays squarely at her feet as the political authority responsible for the department and the agency.

It is incomprehensible that in the midst of a so-called "Radical Economic Transformation" narrative being peddled around, the Minister responsible has poured cold water on the possibility that the SA Post Office could be tasked with the distribution of social grants' entire value chain in her recent appearance before parliament.

The SA Post Office insists that it can have the capacity to distribute the grants but the Minister responsible for the Department on the contrary believes that the entity will not have the required capacity for the entire distribution operational value chain. The Minister clearly does not have much faith in State Owned Entities and has no interest in making any contribution towards their growth with the SA Post Office being a case in point. She does not have any appreciation of the positive role that stronger SOEs , given the opportunity, could play in uplifting our country as envisaged in the National Development Plan. This, in our view, is an extraordinary leadership fail.

The disheartening attitude of the Minister exposes the fact that the concept of "Radical Economic Transformation" is a narrative constructed to confuse the public and to lay the foundation for extraordinary looting expeditions using the social safety net.

Our concern ultimately is the poor African working class child that we face every day in our classrooms. The continuing delays in settling the SASSA matter increase the possibility of social grants not being paid in the very new future; in our view this is a gross injustice in waiting, one that will surely have a negative impact on learning outcomes.

We are calling on the Minister of Social Development and all stakeholders involved to finalise this matter with the urgency it deserves. The South African Post Office is after all an entity of government and must be empowered and capacitated with the necessary resources to deliver for the people of our country. The distribution of grants is a public good and must be rendered by government institutions and not profit driven private companies.

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