Around 5.3 million beneficiaries of government grant gold cards from the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) will expire in less than three months.
However, the Department of Social Development still does not know which service provider will provide new cards to the beneficiaries.
The cards expire on December 31st.
“Our country has been in a similar situation before,” says Alexandra Abrahams, the DA’s deputy shadow minister for social development.
Abrahams emphasizes that thousands of beneficiaries flocked to the South African Post Office’s branches earlier this year to renew their cards that were due to expire at the end of April. This finally forced Minister Lindiwe Zulu to postpone the cards’ expiry date.
Abrahams says it will probably have to happen again.
“Minister Zulu indicated in July that there is a distribution plan to replace Sassa cards to pass on to beneficiaries in time when their new cards need to be collected. Yet once again Sassa and Posbank’s communication on the matter is lacking.
“With no clarity or communication about the card renewal process, South Africans will most likely once again have to endure long queues, technical and biometric challenges and post office branches running out of cards, while the most vulnerable people have to return home empty-handed, with their constitutional and basic human rights that have been violated once again.”
Abrahams says that the ripple effect of the closure of Post Offices nationwide will also mean that the beneficiaries of Sassagold cards will have to travel great distances at great cost at short notice “when they are finally, if ever, invited to renew their cards”.
Abrahams now says that Zulu once again has no choice but to approach the Payments Association of South Africa for a postponement of the expiry date in an attempt to prevent a humanitarian crisis.