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by Gillion Bosman
Scenes outside of the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) venues last week showed not only the act of incompetent national government, but also the act of government increasingly detaching itself from the real experiences of vulnerable residents.
While Minister Lindiwe Zulu was sitting in a police vehicle and protecting herself from outsiders, the elderly, the disabled and people with chronic illnesses had to sleep in front of Sassa’s offices. All in the hope of receiving a much-needed safety net in the form of a social grant.
The same vulnerable residents were later sprayed with police water cannons. It was really her “Marie Antoinette” moment.
For many years the ANC has enjoyed the protection and resources of the state, while those it is intended to protect and serve remain on the verge of that protection. While Minister Zulu went to her luxury hotel and took advantage of her position, the problems persist for the vulnerable.
We must therefore ask the fundamental question: who is really under the protection of the state?
In the Western Cape alone, 53,000 temporary disability applications have expired, putting so many livelihoods at risk during a pandemic. I spoke to some of these residents personally and heard their plight when they were told to return later in the year – by June – for medical application forms. Only after they have been returned would they have a chance of approval.
It can take more than six months to receive such grants again. This is the act of indifferent government, and the residents deserve better.
As chairman of the Standing Committee on Social Development, my goal is to take advantage of the next urgent meeting to get conclusive responses from Sassa Western Cape about grants in the province. This is an opportunity for Sassa to find a sensible way forward and not berate the committee as he has in the past.
I appeal to Ministers Zulu and Sassa to take into account the plight of the many recipients of temporary disability grants and their need to support their families and take care of their health. As we wait for the Social Aid in Need grant to expire, we will add another 400,000 hungry, destitute and desperate people to the Sassa line.
The national government should consider the provincial government in seeking inspiration for service to its residents. The Ministry of Social Development recently confirmed that R61 million was prioritized for food aid in the province. This is because vulnerable people face food shortages during this pandemic. A great example of a responsive and caring government.
* Gillion Bosman, MPL.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
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