Johannesburg – About 20 000 new and renewed SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) disability grant beneficiaries are currently on waiting lists to see an assessment doctor, with the highest number in the Western Cape at 4 945.
The Eastern Cape has 835 people waiting, while the Free State has 309, Gauteng 2553, KwaZulu-Natal 1632, Limpopo 1664, Mpumalanga 1165, the Northern Cape 359 and the North West, 4574.
Responding to a Parliamentary question, Social Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu said 19 053 people were waiting.
“In order to address this, Sassa Western Cape has been granted authority to deviate from normal tender processes by National Treasury to appoint doctors in the George and Boland areas through a closed bidding process by approaching all doctors listed on the HPCSA database as a fairness measure,” Zulu said.
Sassa said on Sunday it would respond to questions today.
The backlogs in assessments of disability grant cases has been an historic issue within the social grants system.
It was primarily brought about by the shortage of doctors who are contracted by Sassa to do these assessments.
Zulu said all clients seeking to apply for disability-related grants are booked at Sassa offices using the Electronic Medical Assessment Statistical Template.
“Programme managers are required to come up with innovative measures to address backlogs and avoid the emergence of backlogs.
“The current numbers have been exacerbated as a result of the lockdown and closure of Sassa local offices under level 5; as well as the limited resources at local offices during levels 4 and 3,” Zulu said.
The DA’s Alexandra Abrahams said the temporary disability grants would come to an end in October after the six-month grace period implemented as a result of the national lockdown.
She said a doctor’s assessment report was only valid for three months.
“Thousands of desperate and vulnerable South Africans have now been left in limbo as they wait to be assessed in order to access these grants for their survival,” Abrahams said.
“It cannot be that in the Western Cape, where there is a backlog of 4 945 assessments, that the DSD has only allocated 10 doctors.
“Similarly, in the North West where there is a backlog of 4 574, there are only 28 doctors.
“DSD must assist doctors that are interested in assisting with Sassa medical assessments to be speedily registered as required on the government’s Central Supplier Database without unnecessary hindrances.
“Deviations to procure services from doctors registered on the HPCSA database, which have recently been granted in the Western Cape, must also, be extended to the North West,” Abrahams said.