Déjà vu on grants

CityPress - - Voices -

Not so long ago, in fact at the be­gin­ning of this year, it was touch and go whether the so­cial de­vel­op­ment depart­ment and its SA So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency (Sassa) would be able to pay grants af­ter April 1. When the mat­ter was brought be­fore the Con­sti­tu­tional Court, the jus­tices cor­rectly sum­marised it as a self-cre­ated cri­sis. There was then a last-ditch agree­ment be­tween the depart­ment and the pre­vi­ous sup­plier, Cash Pay­mas­ter Ser­vices (CPS), to con­tinue with the con­tract for an­other 12 months.

It was déjà vu this week when So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini ap­peared be­fore Par­lia­ment to give a “progress” re­port on a new con­tract to en­sure that an­other grants pay­ment provider could take over when the ex­tended CPS agree­ment ends in March.

Again, she and her of­fi­cials came to re­port the bad news that Sassa could not agree with SA Post Of­fice (Sapo) on a sys­tem to pro­vide grants.

Rather, the point was that Sassa was not con­vinced that Sapo could han­dle the dis­burse­ment of grants. This was de­spite the two in­sti­tu­tions pre­vi­ously hav­ing cre­ated the im­pres­sion that they were work­ing on sort­ing out the de­tails.

How­ever, MPs were shocked to learn this week that the tech­ni­cal teams, con­sist­ing of ex­pe­ri­enced bank­ing ex­perts from Sapo and Sassa’s grant dis­tri­bu­tion peo­ple, had not even met. It is dif­fi­cult to fathom why two state in­sti­tu­tions can­not agree on a meet­ing to per­form a cru­cial state func­tion.

It can only point to a lack of po­lit­i­cal will to sort out the mess. There are only 98 work­ing days to the end of the cur­rent con­tract and it feels like we are cre­at­ing an­other cri­sis. Once again, it ap­pears Sassa and Dlamini are drag­ging their feet in reach­ing an agree­ment, spark­ing fears that they are bent on hand­ing it to CPS again.

Sapo is not a paragon of ex­cel­lence in de­liv­ery. Hence the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral sug­gested a dry run to test its sys­tems to get an in­di­ca­tion of whether it would work.

Com­pound­ing the cri­sis is a re­cal­ci­trant min­is­ter who is imag­in­ing op­po­si­tion con­spir­a­cies to send her to jail and is least both­ered to press for a so­lu­tion. But even worse is her prin­ci­pal, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and his spu­ri­ous rea­sons not to fire her. We can only hope that the MPs baby-sit­ting this process will not let go un­til a so­lu­tion is found.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.