Will the SITA Strike Disrupt SASSA Payments in November 2023?

The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) is responsible for administering social grants to eligible South African citizens. Millions rely on these social grants as a vital source of income. However, a recent strike by employees of the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) has raised concerns over potential disruptions to SASSA‘s services and grant payments this November.

What is SITA and What Do They Do?

SITA is an agency of the South African government tasked with providing information technology and telecommunication services to government institutions. SITA employees are responsible for maintaining essential IT infrastructure and systems that allow government departments like SASSA to serve citizens and make payments.

Why Are SITA Employees Striking?

On October 17th 2023, thousands of SITA employees represented by the Public Servants Association (PSA) embarked on an indefinite nationwide strike. The employees are demanding a 7.5% salary increase dating back to April 2023. However, SITA has only offered a 5% increase so far.

After failed wage negotiations, PSA members voted to go on strike until their salary demands are met. PSA has warned that the SITA strike could severely impact service delivery for key government departments like SASSA, Home Affairs, and Border Management.

What Do Striking SITA Employees Want?

The striking PSA members are demanding that SITA management improve their salary offer to a 7.5% increase versus the 5% currently proposed. The PSA says members will remain on strike until demands are met.

Has the Government Responded to the Strike?

PSA called on Minister Mondli Gungubele to intervene and compel SITA to meet employee demands. However, Minister Gungubele declined saying this was a labor dispute outside his jurisdiction.

Gungubele acknowledged the rights of SITA employees to strike but urged all parties to urgently find a resolution before services are disrupted. The Ministry cannot interfere directly in the negotiations as employer-employee matters.

What Risks Does the SITA Strike Pose for SASSA?

A prolonged SITA strike threatens major disruptions to SASSA service delivery. As the agency responsible for IT systems supporting social grants, a SITA shutdown could prevent SASSA from processing and paying grants to millions.

PSA negotiators warned that without SITA staff to manage networks and infrastructure, SASSA systems could experience outages and failures. This could deprive grant beneficiaries of their monthly income until the strike is resolved.

Past SASSA Payment Disruptions

This is not the first time SASSA services have been disrupted:

  • In September 2023, a technical glitch during Postbank’s system migration left thousands of SASSA pensioners unable to access their funds that month.
  • In February 2022, an overloaded SASSA system crashed leaving grant applicants unable to submit applications online.
  • In April 2020, social grant payments were delayed for several days after SASSA staff raised concerns about safety risks during Level 5 lockdown.

Could the SITA Strike Delay November 2023 SASSA Payments?

A protracted SITA strike extending into late October and November would raise significant concerns about potential payment delays or system failures. SASSA has not issued any official warnings around grant payment disruptions. However, if SITA staff remain on strike through early November, the risk of payment issues rises.

Minister Gungubele‘s calls for an urgent resolution highlight fears that critical SASSA systems may become vulnerable if the SITA strike continues unchecked. With over 18 million South Africans depending on social grants, any disruption to the November payment cycle would have devastating human impacts.

What Can SASSA Beneficiaries Do?

At this stage, the SITA strike has not impacted SASSA services or grant payments. However, beneficiaries anxious about potential disruptions can:

  • Contact SASSA directly via phone, email or social media to ask about updates on the strike and November payments.
  • Check the SASSA website and official social media pages regularly for notices about service changes.
  • Ensure their cell phone numbers are updated in their SASSA account to receive SMS notifications if payments are delayed.
  • Confirm bank account details are correct to avoid returned grants if payments are processed.
  • Contact community support groups and legal aid centers for assistance if payments are disrupted.

While the SITA strike brings uncertainties around SASSA’s abilities to maintain seamless services, officials are working urgently to minimize potential impacts to social grant recipients this November. However, if SITA staff remain on strike into the payment period, significant risks of disruption still persist. Beneficiaries anxious about their grants should actively monitor news on the strike negotiations and prepare contingency plans in case of payment delays.

Leave a Comment