DA monitors SASSA’s re-opening of offices

SASSA CEO, Busisiwe Memela. Image GCIS

Demo­c­ra­t­ic Alliance (DA) says it has for now shelved its court papers aimed at com­pelling the South African Social Secu­ri­ty Agency (SASSA) to reopen its offices closed dur­ing COVID-19 lev­el 5 lock­down.

DA Shad­ow Min­is­ter of Social Devel­op­ment, Brid­get Masan­go argued the open­ing of offices dur­ing lev­el 4 lock­down will alle­vi­ate the plight of appli­cants who don’t have access to tech­no­log­i­cal resources, includ­ing the job­less apply­ing for R350 social relieve grant.

Lawyers rep­re­sent­ing the DA, Minde Schapiro & Smith have on Mon­day threat­ened to launch court papers should the gov­ern­ment con­tin­ue to ignore their client’s con­tin­u­ous request to reopen the offices.

In a let­ter addressed to Min­is­ter of Social Devel­op­ment, Lindi­we Zulu, and SASSA Chief Exec­u­tive Offi­cer, Busisi­we Memela, and the pres­i­den­cy, Minde Schapiro & Smith gave the respon­dents until the close of busi­ness on Mon­day — May 4, 2020, to pro­vide rea­sons.

Masan­go said the move to put on hold inten­tion to take legal action against SASSA fol­lows a “quick” response from the agency that it is final­is­ing to reopen the offices.

Masan­go con­firmed her office received a let­ter from Memela, on Mon­day evening regard­ing DA’s request to re-opened offices coun­try­wide to help with the influx of appli­ca­tions for social grants

“Memela con­firmed that the agency is prepar­ing offices and imple­ment­ing safe­ty mea­sures until May 8, 2020, includ­ing san­i­ta­tion and pro­vi­sion of Per­son­al Pro­tec­tive Equip­ment to employ­ees.

She stat­ed that 30% of SASSA employ­ees will return to work and occu­py each of its offices. They will process elec­tron­ic and tele­phon­ic appli­ca­tions,” said Masan­go.

Masan­go said the re-open­ing of SASSA offices to the pub­lic, under strict COVID-19 pro­to­cols, would have assist­ed vul­ner­a­ble South Africans in access­ing much-need­ed social relief–especially those who do not have access to tech­no­log­i­cal resources.

How­ev­er, said Masan­go, the DA will mon­i­tor and assess the imple­men­ta­tion and suc­cess of SASSA’s pro­posed mea­sures and the lim­it­ed re-open­ing of their offices, adding that should SASSA fail, we [DA] won’t stop for a sec­ond to go to court.

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