by Bridget Masango MP – DA Shadow Minister of Social Development
DA councilors in rural Eastern Cape have reported disturbing information of how people living in extreme poverty have to wait between 3 and 4 months to receive vital emergency food parcels from SASSA.
The Department of Social Development (DSD) is tasked with providing emergency food parcels to people living in extreme poverty, who have applied for a social grant but have to wait before receiving their first grant payment. The Social Relief Assistance is often the only source of sustenance to those who have no source of income and are desperate to feed their loved ones.
The turnaround time for the Social Relief Assistance application, to be processed and granted, is meant to be 24 to 48 hours. However, DA councilors working in rural wards in the Eastern Cape say that in some instances, the turnaround time has been between 3 and 4 months.
This is an absolutely unacceptable state of affairs, considering that the Social Relief Assistance is meant to be an emergency relief intervention. Without these emergency food parcels, thousands of South Africans are left to suffer from hunger.
This crisis stems from the ill-fated decision by the DSD to award tenders to dubious companies based in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), rather than procuring these services from local producers who are near to crises points.
These KZN companies supply food parcels to recipients in KZN, Limpopo, Western Cape, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape. This essentially means that due to the vast distances service providers have to travel, food parcels take longer to get to other provinces, and additionally, these companies are not prepared to deliver less than 50 food parcels at a time. This means that our people are left to starve for months on end.
The DA will now write to the Chairperson of the Social Development Committee, Rosemary Capa, to request that she urgently summon the Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, SASSA CEO, Pearl Bhengu, and the rest of the SASSA executive, as well as regional managers to request that they explain why the system was centralised, and how service providers were selected.
SASSA must immediately address the problems with the centralised procurement so that food parcels can be delivered within 48 hours to our most needy people in every part of this country.
What is clear from the lack of assistance for starving South Africans, combined with the social grants disaster, is that Dodging Dlamini and SASSA have completely lost touch with the people who depend on their department to improve their lives. They simply do not care about the suffering of our people at all.
Actual verbatim statement received from DA.