Eastern Cape rural community deals smartly with SASSA service snag
The Black Sash is committed to strengthening community voice whilst also prompting officials to be directly accountable to communities in terms of delivering quality services. A request through the Black Sash to deal with a re-registration problem in the Eastern Cape led to a prompt and positive response from SASSA.
On 11 April 2013 at 12:30pm our EC Regional Manager received a call from Cllr Tuse Manene of Paterson in the Sundays River Local Municipality. Cllr Manene is a former paralegal with the Paterson advice office, so when problems emerged with SASSA’s re-registration process in Paterson, the community turned to him for assistance. He phoned Black Sash and was referred to our fieldworker based in Grahamstown who has also been dealing with SASSA related issues that have arisen both Adelaide and Bedford.
Our fieldworker emailed Mark Rasmussen, the General Manager of Grants Administration in the Eastern Cape, to alert him to the problem with a request that he contact Cllr Manene directly in this regard.
By 3:30pm Mr Rasmussen had promptly responded by emailing the SASSA in the District with a request that they establish what the problem is and advise him accordingly.
At 7:30am, 12 April 2013, our fieldworker received a further follow up email from Mr Rasmussen:
“... Matter sorted out, agreed with Councillor Manene that we would re-register there today 12 April... ”.
Monitoring at the Post Office, Home Affairs and SASSA
Province: Eastern Cape
CSO Name: Jersey Farm Advice Centre
Name of Interviewee: Nomsa Pingilili
Name of Interviewer: Thobeka Mzammo
Here in Eastern Cape there are many problems, and fraudulence is too high especially in Mthatha. I tried to go to SASSA many times to monitor their services. Every day people stay there to be attended from 8 o'clock to 4 o'clock. Some are told to stay at the waiting room for a long time. The problem of re-registration makes confusion to the people. If you go to register you are told to wait for your turn and given a date according to your I.D. numbers, especially the last numbers in your I.D. document. When they go there for re-registration, a lot of people are given the same date and you go for about 3-4 days without being attended.
As monitors we need to go to the government with advocacy and give our complaints because our people are suffering, especially the old and disabled. We need to know about the ways of the public media e.g. writing press releases, statements and petitions. I as a monitor must challenge/invite other CBO's and NGO's to work together to fight for our people's rights. Government will listen better to many voices, Mthatha is a big town with many rural areas that are ignorant. If we have funds for transport and it can make things easier to educate these people in their areas.
We used to go to their service points and educate them through SASSA questionnaires and giving them pamphlets to read. We communicated first with the district manager and addressed him about our monitoring work. He approached his colleague explaining to her about our work.
At the Post Office monitoring has worked because before there were no chairs but after my visits, clients have chairs, water is available.
At Home Affairs there are no long queues now and they have improved their services, but there is still a problem of ghost birth certificates that is high risk for us as grant receivers.
At SASSA there are many people queuing and many complaints from clients about their service and lack of accurate information.
We use UCR, our community radio station, where we have a bi-weekly slot on Fridays to give information to people. We call on all the other CBO, NGO to come together so as to fight for our peoples rights.
Monitoring at SASSA Sites
Lusikisiki Paralegal Advice Centre
In most areas there is a lack of service delivery in most rural development areas. There is no drinking water and sanitation, and roads are bad. There are no toilets, and no projects to sustain the communities.
To find out more about the problems we visited the sites as part of monitoring and advocacy.
The office has advised the communities to attend the IDP meeting so that their places can be placed on the list of places to be serviced.We had to make use of community Imbizo where we were given a platform to talk about service delivery. We worked in group and we also invited community development workers to work with us.
We attended the CMAP capacity building workshop organized by Black Sash and SCAT, which helped us to gain more knowledge on this programme.
We communicated with community members through interviews in their places and those that visit the office for services.
People responded through visiting the IDP meeting and making some contributions on community Imbizo's on community development initiatives. We also made some contributions at IDP meetings both at district and local municipalities.
The CMAP plan worked according to our plan and the service providers responded very well. In other departments like SASSA service areas (offices) we were not given permission to monitor, but this was referred to SCAT offices who assisted the office.
We still have to continue with monitoring visits to government departments to continue with CMAP programme. Other stakeholders respond positively except SASSA who is still have negative attitude towards the CMAP.
We have done follow up on the institutions where CMAP was done. There is no improvement even from those institutions who responded positively.
The communities marched and voiced their complaints on the local community radio station and to the local municipality offices, including SASSA, voicing out their protest on poor service delivery and there is still no improvement on their protest.
We need more awareness on PAJA and to continue with CMAP. Collaboration with CSO's will have the communities heard with their institutions.
Compiled by Miss Zoleka Ntinganti and Mr Miselo Nodunyelwa
Changes in the Burgersdorp SASSA office
CMAP Monitor's Story:
"The first time I visited SASSA’s office, I saw that the people were not getting help immediately. The people were waiting for a long time in queues and standing up because there were no chairs for them. Other people were waiting outside because there was not room for them.
There were no special arrangements for old aged people, disabled people, or pregnant women. There were staff shortages.
But now, since we have visited the SASSA office, we see that people get help immediately. There are no longer queues at all. The chairs are enough for people to sit. The staff has increased and they work fast. There are special arrangements for old aged people, disabled people, and pregnant women. They give pamphlets to give more information about SASSA. They educate the people about government grants and what they need to apply for a grant."
SASSA responds to advocacy actions around proposed relocation of offices.
Here is an example of a series of effective advocacy actions undertaken by CMAP monitor, Mrs. N. B. Tsalo, at the Dordrecht Advice Office in the Eastern Cape in March 2012:
“When the office was doing its monitoring in SASSA local offices in Dordrecht, the monitor received a report that the office would be moving to Fudwe.
The monitor visited the SASSA office to have a meeting with the officials. The officials made it clear that the regional director is preparing to remove the office from Dordrecht to Fudwe and people of Dordrecht would be serviced in Fudwe, which is 40 kms away from Dordrecht.
Immediately the monitor called a meeting with the regional director, but the regional director did not cooperate. The monitor then organised a stakeholder’s meeting and informed them about this matter and also came up with an idea to stop this from happening because time was short.
The stakeholders supported the motion and agreed to go on with the action, which was to have a sit-in at the SASSA office. The stakeholders established a welfare forum and organised women and beneficiaries of the service to take action and fight for their rights to access service where they live as per government policy. After three days, the Mayor of Emalableui Municipality visited the people who sat in the offices to hear the problem. After that, the regional director met stakeholders and promised not to remove the offices.
CMAP members see a victory in this matter because the offices are being renovated now.”