Letter from the field from Thulane Ndhlovu
"The training of citizen monitors in Mpumalanga and our monitoring process are hindered by protests from civil servants in Kwa-Mhlanga (include Sassa officials). They are protesting against the Municipality for not providing them with water in this Government Complex, citing that
they can't use bathrooms, let alone water to drink, so they only open from 8:00 am to 10:00 am, then close offices to protest outside the Government Complex in the main entrance.
We've got permission to monitor, and the senior officials have no problem, but the situation here is worse than what I have imagined, so we came early, interviewing beneficiaries while they are busy, then when they close we continue for a while. It's not convincing enough that they say they are still going to continue this week, but I'm sure we will meet the deadline.
Even though the situation is bad here, but I managed to build a good relationship between us and the officials. They even asked us to help them with illegal deduction (from social grants) as they have no idea about what's going on.
I'm still convinced that I will reach the set target in time. Regarding our safety, I think it's safe inside as long we listen when they warn us to leave the premises."
The fact that officials themselves warned our monitors when to get out and when it was safe to proceed with monitoring shows that their grievance was against the Municipality, and not beneficiaries or our monitors.