By Lunga Mkhize
COVID 19 has slapped a double kick to unemployed Vaal residents waiting to cash in from their Unemployed Insurance Fund (UIF) run by the department of labour.
Payments of approved applicants have been held in abeyance after the paymaster at the Vereeniging branch tested positive to COVID 19 last week.
This was revealed to Vaal Observer by Winnie, a supervisor at the Vereeniging UIF branch. Some applications that only need to be assessed have been gathering dust in the Assessors’ inboxes. Changing banking details which should take less than five minutes have been stretched to more than four months. Payments to applicants who use Bidvest bank which UIF doesn’t do business with are being deferred for indefinite periods.
“Even if the Assessor is to process your applications, you won’t be paid because the paymaster is home after testing positive to COVID 19. He is the only one who can process payments,” said Winnie when asked to explain why it was taking too long to pay applicants.
Winnie did not disclose the name of the affected paymaster who has since gone into isolation. But the applicants suspect that the identity of the assessor is Abraham. She couldn’t explain how a government department can suspend such a crucial operation due to the absence of one person.
There is also no clear explanation as to when the paymaster will resume duties, further sentencing applicants to starvation.
Since last week no payments have been disbursed to desperate Vaal residents who deserve to be paid in time to feed their families.
Irate applicants who daily throng the office for help are being sent from pillar to post.
“We lost our jobs due to COVID 19 and we rushed here hoping to get money to feed our children but officials here are not taking us seriously, “fumed one Sebokeng resident Dingaan Hlabi who accused Winnie and her tam of being relaxed too much at work.
Another applicant, Thenjiwe Tlou from Steelpark, accused the UIF employees at Vereeniging of being dismissive to applicants.
“Instead of offering help, the only thing they think of as soon as you approach them is to get rid of you. They are keen to create an impression that your papers are not enough even through everything is in order. And if you insist on giving them everything they ask for they will always turn around to say the person dealing with such cases was at home and request that you come after 10 working days,” said Tlou
Another old lady, Thobeka Mhlanga who has been frequenting the offices since May said she had given up.