THE BLOG

Our Elders Deserve Better Treatment Than This

By virtue, these are not the strongest nor the healthiest demographic but, come rain or sun, are always required to stand in queues to receive their grant.

22/03/2017 03:55 SAST | Updated 22/03/2017 03:55 SAST
Leon Sadiki / Foto24 / Gallo Images / Getty Images
Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini during an interview regarding the Sassa crisis and the Constitutional Court outcome on March 18, 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa. During the interview Dlamini said she was shocked to hear that the Constitutional Court could hold her personally liable for legal costs related to the social grants crisis.

South African politicians never cease to amaze, but then again, there's little to nothing that remains amazing in this country.

The recent South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) controversy is a case in point. As I write this, there are mixed feelings in the country as to whether the seventeen million people comprising of our aged, disabled and kids from poor households will get their grants as of 1 April 2017.

All thanks to Sassa, the nation is unstable, running side to side due to anger and frustrations caused by the seemingly callous and clearly insensitive attitude from the Social Development Minister Bathabile (now often disparagingly referred to as "Batagilwe") Dlamini and the Sassa leadership team.

What's rather most perplexing about this ordeal is the fact that, three years ago the South African Constitutional Court had ruled against the contract SASSA had with Cash Payment Services, thus declaring it not only invalid but most fascinatingly, illegal.

Interesting questions emerge from this experience, among them are: Does the DSD or Sassa for that matter have a legal professional? If yes, what role did the person play in this saga? Why did the relevant authorities do nothing about this scandal until I got to this point?

But then again, living in South Africa, this shouldn't amaze us no more, at least since the Zuma term.

Because, like most people may know, this is a deliberate step to dethrone a certain internal faction with. It's meant to present the country with a fait accompli, pushing South Africans to accept the CPS as the only capacitated entity that can manage the system for the future. Deliberately telling us, the voting hoi polloi, that we unconditionally must accept CPS or let our beloved people in millions of numbers to starve. Unfortunately, from where we're experiencing this dilemma, the Minister of Department of Social Development (Welfare) has given us, South Africans, an ultimatum.

We need ask ourselves, why did the DSD create this mess favouring CPS?

We need ask ourselves, why did the DSD create this mess favouring CPS? After all, South Africa has its own entities that can do the job better, if not best. The shenanigans covering this may lead to answers we already know, which also need to be thoroughly checked. Amidst the fact that their arrangements are certainly as opaque as mud, the high officials in cabinet have confidently assured us that things will be well, which of course, raises the question of transparency.

Another dimension to this grant paying system dilemma that's cause pain some amongst ourselves is the dignity. Most among ourselves are aware that our grants recipients, are mostly the elderly and the disabled in our societies. By virtue, these are not the strongest nor the healthiest demographic but, come rain or sun, they are always required to stand in long queues in order to receive their grant.

Emotions aside, but where is their dignity is this? Isn't it that, we have somehow internalized the notion that our elders and the disabled should have little to no dignity? The so-called 'ubuntu' is nowhere found. Can you imagine if the so-called "working middle class" 're subjected to queu for their salaries? The reality is, per dictates of ICT, the working class are rightly expecting their salaries to be deposited into their accounts to be used at their convenience. Hence we expect the integration of capitalism, socialism and communism in one nation?

Embracing ICT:

Being a somewhat global citizen that I claim to be, I've been enlightened about the concept of 'smart-work'.

Imagine if we'd offer our grants recipients the option to open a bank account, most preferably with our South African Post Office which has the widest footprint than any other SOE entity. They can then access their monthly payment at their convenience via the entity like most working people. This arrangement will have positive effects and impacts such as minimising the chances of loan sharks lurking around our elders at pay-points.

Lately, there are only a few places in SA that are far from a banking center, though where such is the case, an in-house SASSA unit can be erected to handle the situation.

To validate the existence of a recipient, that person would have to physically appear at a Sassa office for verification. Alternatively, social workers could also visit them for verification.

Above all these, our people deserve better than what our current ANC led government provides.