The African National Congress (ANC) in the Western Cape has fended off sharp criticism against Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu over the failure of the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) to pay social grants on time earlier this month and blamed the Democratic Alliance (DA) for not helping the affected residents with food.
The governing party said "no one could have anticipated the technical glitches suffered by Postbank".
On Thursday, the provincial legislature held a debate about the Sassa glitch and political parties laid the blame squarely on the ANC and Zulu.
However, ANC MPL Gladys Bakubaku-Vos told members that "no one could anticipate the havoc this migration would cause" and blamed the DA for not being proactive.
"If the DA-led government really cared for the poor, it could have stepped into the databases of all affected social grant beneficiaries in the province and provided for them in the form of food or vouchers they could use," she said.
DA spokesperson on social development Dan Plato described the issue as an "absolute disaster for someone who relies only on social grants monthly".
"What we experience is a government unmoved by the plight of those forced to find a way to survive. This so-called glitch is a glitch far too many. How disgusting! This is a sign of a government [that is] completely incompetent. For many, it means a three-week wait for the glitch to be rectified," he said.
Plato added that the failure had highlighted the urgency to address poverty and social issues in the country.
"The elderly and vulnerable in our country [were] unable to buy necessities such as food and electricity for days. Can we allow this to continue?" he stressed.
African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) MPL Ferlon Christians launched a scathing attack on the ANC government saying Zulu must carry the blame.
"Sassa's inability to process payments efficiently on social grants in the Western Cape is inexcusable, indefensible and simply outrageous.
"The blame must go to minister Zulu and the ANC, and it begs the question: Is it because of an incompetent ANC, or was it a deliberate manoeuvre?"
Thousands of social grant beneficiaries across the country were left in the lurch after their funds were stalled by Postbank's new payment system, which malfunctioned.
According to Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Mondli Gungubele, the breakdown was caused by a system migration fault that saw withdrawals being declined at ATMs.
Economic Freedom Fighters MPL Thembile Klaas said, "The disaster which took place earlier this month left the elderly stranded because they could not access their grants.
"A government system that fails the elderly equates to a hopeless government that has no respect for the right to dignity.
"We are in trouble, and we are a ticking time bomb."