Three months until the SASSA gold card expires:
Minister for Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu’s response to a parliamentary written question from the DA, leans towards the inevitable extension of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) gold card expiry date if she wishes to avoid further embarrassment and national panic and chaos.
With less than three months left before approximately 5.3 million SASSA gold cards are due to expire on 31 December 2023, the Postbank’s procurement process on which service provider will supply the new cards, is still uncertain according to the reply.
As a country we have been here before. Thousands of panicked SASSA beneficiaries flocked to South African Post Office (SAPO) branches to renew cards due to expire at the end of April 2023, which forced Minister Zulu to extend the expired cards in order to calm the self-created turmoil of an incompetent national government.
In July 2023, Minister Zulu indicated there was a SASSA card replacement distribution plan which was meant to timely inform and communicate with SASSA beneficiaries when (in a staggered approach to avoid large crowds) to collect their new cards. True to form, SASSA and the Postbank’s communication on the matter is once again lacking.
With no clarity or communication on the card renewal process, South Africa will very likely witness long queues, technical and biometric challenges, SAPO branches running out of cards, and the most vulnerable returning home empty handed with their constitutional and basic human rights infringed on once again.
The domino effect of the closure of Post Offices across the country means SASSA gold card beneficiaries will have to travel great distances at great cost at short notice, when they are eventually, if ever, invited to renew their cards.
Ministers Zulu will be left with no choice other than to approach the Payments Association of South Africa yet again for an extension of the expiry date to avoid a humanitarian crisis.
SASSA beneficiaries will need to decide for themselves, to move to a reliable banking partner of their own free choice or stay imprisoned to the archaic SASSA gold card, SAPO and the Postbank which has failed them consistently.