Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Mondli Gungubele says officials are working around the clock to ensure that next month, social grant beneficiaries are not affected by payment delays experienced this month.
Gungubele said that the two departments Social Development, and Communications and Digital Technologies and their agencies, understand the regrettable strain that the grant payments challenges experienced this month has caused the most vulnerable in society.
In this regard, he reiterated government’s sincerest apologies to all social grants beneficiaries, who have encountered difficulties accessing their social grants this month.
The Minister said he was pleased to report that Postbank assured them that all South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) grant beneficiaries, who were affected by the system challenge, have now been corrected.
“We are delighted to report that Postbank has provided us with the assurance that, according to their records, all SASSA grant beneficiaries, whose accounts were adversely affected by these system challenges on the 5th and 6th of September, have now been corrected.
“These funds are readily available in the accounts of these beneficiaries and if not withdrawn, can be accessed through bank ATMs, retailers and Post Office branches,” the Minister said.
Gungubele said once the beneficiaries’ money is paid into their Postbank bank accounts, they can access the money at any time convenient to them.
He said that this is a normal bank account and clients do not need to withdraw their money all at once. Clients can also use the SASSA gold card to purchase goods at merchants.
Responding to a question on why other beneficiaries remain without their September payments, the Minister said they are going to follow up on the recipients that have not received their grants.
Hijacking grant challenge for personal gain
Gungubele addressed numerous accounts and statements circulating on various platforms, misrepresenting the root cause of the Postbank system challenges that affected social grant recipients’ Postbank accounts this month.
“We want to place it on record that these stories are false and generally fabricated. The root cause of Postbank’s system challenges that affected the September social grants payments to some beneficiaries, which have now been resolved as of the 6th of September, relate to Postbank’s migration to a new system,” he said.
The Minister said Postbank’s systems upgrade programme, of which the recent migration forms a component thereof, has been unfolding for a while in line with its 2022/23 as well as 2022/23 Corporate Plans, and it is also a South African Reserve Bank requirement, as part of Postbank’s banking license application process.
“Social grant beneficiaries are also urged to ignore the false information that the September payments challenges are as a result of the expired SASSA card. The Reserve Bank has granted extension for the SASSA cards to continue to work until December 2023, so beneficiaries can continue to use the same cards,” he said.
The Minister said that the departments and their entities will regularly update SASSA beneficiaries on the details of the card replacement programme.
New Postbank Board to be appointed
Gungubele has assured social grant beneficiaries and the nation that the changes in the Postbank Board will not have an impact on any of the banking operations or the capacity of the Postbank.
Gungubele explained that the Postbank Board is an oversight body appointed by the Minister as non-executive directors, so they are not involved with the executive level of decisions or day-to-day operations of the bank.
“The ministry has already commenced with the process of filling the vacant Postbank Board vacancies, and an advertisement for nominations has been issued.
“In the interim, and to ensure that decisions that reside within the delegation of authority of the board are enabled, the ministry has appointed Khayalethu Ngema as the Postbank Administrator until a new Board is appointed,” Gungubele said.
The Minister concluded that they are actively taking measures to prevent future challenges in the banking ecosystem, and in particular for social grant account holders.
“Our commitment to the welfare and well-being of our social grants beneficiaries remains unwavering.
“We are investing in robust technology infrastructure, enhancing communication and collaboration among relevant agencies, and strengthening oversight mechanisms to ensure the uninterrupted flow of grant payments to those who depend on them most,” he said