A new dawn and less has­sles loom for Sassa re­cip­i­ents

The Sunday Independent - - Dispatches - Paseka Let­satsi ■ Let­satsi is the head of com­mu­ni­ca­tion at Sassa

THE in­tro­duc­tion of a new Sassa card sig­nals a new dawn in the lives of ben­e­fi­cia­ries of so­cial grants. Sassa is cur­rently phas­ing out the old Sassa card used by ben­e­fi­cia­ries as part of the tran­si­tion pro­cesses which will re­sult in sev­er­ing ties with the cur­rent pay­ment con­trac­tor, Cash Pay­mas­ter Ser­vices, by end of Septem­ber.

For some time now, ben­e­fi­cia­ries had to en­dure some un­for­tu­nate trans­ac­tions in the form of de­duc­tions on their so­cial grants – oth­ers au­tho­rised, and in some cases, unau­tho­rised de­duc­tions, in the form of air­time, elec­tric­ity units and ex­ces­sive fu­neral pre­mi­ums. In terms of reg­u­la­tion 26A of the So­cial As­sis­tance Act, the only de­duc­tions per­mit­ted are for fu­neral cover that should not even sur­pass 10% of the value of the grant. Look­ing back, one can cer­tainly say, this is an era, that as the Agency, we should never again find our­selves en­tan­gled in. As the Agency, we, of course, went all out to curb bad prac­tices by un­scrupu­lous busi­nesses who took ad­van­tage of ben­e­fi­cia­ries of so­cial grants by amongst other things in­tro­duc­ing a dis­pute res­o­lu­tion mech­a­nism that sought to pro­tect re­cip­i­ents.

Fur­ther­more, the mat­ter was even ven­ti­lated in the courts.

Re­gard­less of our ef­forts the mal­adies in some cases con­tin­ued due to eru­dite tac­tics used by these un­prin­ci­pled busi­nesses and crooks.

Has any­one both­ered to look at the prac­tices of these busi­nesses? I would strongly ar­gue that too much fo­cus is on Sassa while the oth­ers who may be as­so­ci­ated with rep­re­hen­si­ble prac­tices in one way or the other are al­lowed to go scot­free.

For in­stance, cur­rently we are on a cru­sade to en­sure that ben­e­fi­cia­ries swop the old Sassa card for the new one. Con­se­quent to is­su­ing such mes­sages, counter mes­sages im­me­di­ately emerge that no­tify peo­ple to con­tinue us­ing the same or other cards, go­ing fur­ther to even use our lo­gos, thus im­ping­ing on our copy­right.

Re­cently, an­other short mes­sage emerged that di­rects ben­e­fi­cia­ries to re-reg­is­ter for their grants, pur­port­ing that fail­ure to do that will re­sult in their grants be­ing can­celled.

This is com­pletely un­true and smacks of buc­ca­neer­ing.

Why would peo­ple de­rive plea­sure in con­fus­ing vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers of so­ci­ety who rely on government for some­thing that brings re­lief to their fam­i­lies? Sassa is even more deter­mined to en­sure that no amount of fake news and dis­trac­tion de­rail it from pro­vid­ing a crit­i­cal ser­vice to the needy and vul­ner­a­ble as di­rected by the Con­sti­tu­tion of the Repub­lic.

In some cases, it has been dis­cov­ered that ben­e­fi­cia­ries would go and seek loans from cer­tain in­sti­tu­tions and loan sharks us­ing their cards, and hand­ing over their pins and iden­tity doc­u­ments, as some sort of col­lat­eral to se­cure the loans.

I do not think these loan sharks and busi­nesses would be happy to let go of, what to them, is a “lu­cra­tive mar­ket”. They con­tin­u­ously send mixed mes­sages de­lib­er­ately to sow con­fu­sion and cause chaos in the grants sys­tem. The stolen money has been con­fis­cated and will be re­turned to its owner –

Sassa has re­mark­ably turned the cor­ner with the ad­vent of the new Sassa card which has been avail­able since May this year.

All ben­e­fi­cia­ries who will en­rol on the new Sassa card will no longer ex­pe­ri­ence any form of il­le­gal de­duc­tions go­ing off their grants. Fur­ther­more, the new card, is­sued by the South African Post Of­fice, guar­an­tees ben­e­fi­cia­ries of a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence when us­ing it at the mer­chants.

Ben­e­fi­cia­ries will have three free cash with­drawals at mer­chants who are work­ing with Sassa.

One free with­drawal at a post of­fice out­let per month and free swipes (pur­chases) at mer­chants. The card swop process with the South African Post Of­fice will run un­til the end of Septem­ber 2018 and ben­e­fi­cia­ries should re­spond to the call to get the new Sassa card.

Ben­e­fi­cia­ries of so­cial grants should also play their part. Be re­spon­si­ble and pro­tect what be­longs to them, they should re­frain from en­gag­ing in trans­ac­tions that will im­pact neg­a­tively on their so­cial grants.

We have learnt many lessons from the re­la­tion­ship with the com­pany we are cut­ting ties with, con­se­quently al­low­ing us to re­cal­i­brate and re­fo­cus.

Work­ing to­gether with key stake­hold­ers and ben­e­fi­cia­ries, we are on a tra­jec­tory of win­ning the bat­tle against those who are hell­bent on ru­in­ing the grants sys­tem. The more prob­lems at the heart of the EU, the more risks and prob­lems there are for us. We need to build co-op­er­a­tion with the EU. We don’t have a goal of di­vid­ing any­thing or any­one in the EU – Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin ahead of his Tues­day meet­ing with Aus­trian Pres­i­dent Alexan­der Van der Bellen and Chan­cel­lor Se­bas­tian Kurz, as well as busi­ness lead­ers.

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