It is often said that the mark of a good society is the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens.
Since the advent of democracy, the South African Social Security Agency has been focused on getting the right person paid the right amount under the right conditions all the time.
The agency was directed by the minister of social development to pay attention to the quality and conditions of the service experience of recipients and beneficiaries, and our long-term approach will ensure total system integration and the highest levels of dignity in all social services, including grant payments.
In the medium term, our mission is to administer quality customer-centric social-security services, while pursuing private-sector interventions to improve the beneficiary experience. Unfortunately, negative publicity has focused on this and not on our long-term goals. Much has been said, with little evidence offered, about the potential corruption of our processes.
But we will continue to root out any corruption in the grant system. The agency is using the latest available biometric technology to administer the payment of social grants. Within record time – from March 2012 to August 2013 – we re-registered all 16-million beneficiaries of social grants, getting them on to the new system.
In this period, about 150 000 grants (presumably fraudulent) were cancelled, leading to a saving of about R150-million a year. Also, transaction costs of disbursing social grants have dropped significantly, from R33 to R16 per transaction per month, creating further savings.
The agency remains committed to ensuring, through the employment of technology and qualified people, the cutting of the grant payment time down to a matter of minutes. Already, with our new systems and infrastructure, our people are beginning to experience excellent services.
Millions now get their grants paid directly into the South African Social Security Agency debit smart card, which is recognised by all ATMs in the country. Gone are the days when beneficiaries of social grants had to stand in long queues and bad weather to get their money. Today, they can access their grant money with ease, thanks to the use of reliable world-class technology.
Not only is this convenient, it has also introduced grantees to the banking system. This has large benefits for the economy of our country as the previously unbanked start to participate in the economy in a meaningful way. Recently, MasterCard celebrated the issuance of 10-million MasterCard cards to grant beneficiaries – a global milestone for developing countries.
MasterCard is committed to a continued partnership with the agency.
Feedback from beneficiaries indicates that millions of people are beginning to feel that they are getting the efficient social services they need.
Paseka Letsatsi is the spokesperson for the South African Social Security Agency