Trea­sury re­view slams Sassa

CityPress - - News - SIPHO MASONDO sipho.masondo@city­press.co.za

A deal to en­sure that poor South Africans re­ceive their so­cial grants is set to be signed by Fri­day.

This news comes amid tense wran­gling this week be­tween the SA So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency (Sassa) and the SA Post Of­fice (Sapo), forc­ing Min­is­ter in the Pres­i­dency Jeff Radebe to in­ter­vene.

Be­fore Radebe told Par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day that the deal would be signed, Trea­sury ac­cused Sassa of de­lib­er­ately sab­o­tag­ing Sapo to pre­vent it from se­cur­ing the con­tro­ver­sial multi­bil­lion-rand con­tract to dis­trib­ute gov­ern­ment grants.

A Trea­sury doc­u­ment sug­gests that Sassa had no in­ten­tion of giv­ing the con­tract to Sapo. Trea­sury com­piled the doc­u­ment, a re­view of dis­cus­sions be­tween the two par­ties, at the re­quest of Par­lia­ment’s stand­ing com­mit­tee on pub­lic ac­counts and the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on so­cial devel­op­ment.

The re­view, which Trea­sury’s di­rec­tor-gen­eral Dondo Mo­ga­jane sent to act­ing Sassa boss Pearl Bhengu this week, re­veals that the agency’s bid eval­u­a­tion com­mit­tee and its bid ad­ju­di­ca­tion com­mit­tee:

. Did not give valid rea­sons be­hind al­lo­cat­ing Sapo fewer points in crit­i­cal as­pects of the tender;

. Au­to­mat­i­cally dis­qual­i­fied Sapo for “in­ca­pac­i­ties” in­stead of talk­ing to it about how to rec­tify them;

. Failed to recog­nise that there was sim­ply no gov­ern­ment agency that could ren­der all ser­vices with­out out­sourc­ing some of them;

. Should not have rec­om­mended that Sapo be dis­qual­i­fied, but should in­stead have sought in­ter­ven­tion from Trea­sury and the in­ter­min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee on so­cial se­cu­rity, headed by Radebe;

. Did not cor­rectly cal­cu­late Sapo’s score; and

. Said Sassa’s tender spec­i­fi­ca­tions were bi­ased.

The doc­u­ment says Sassa’s bid eval­u­a­tion com­mit­tee scored and shot down Sapo’s pro­posal in Au­gust – be­fore the Coun­cil for Sci­en­tific and In­dus­trial Re­search (CSIR) re­leased its due dili­gence re­port. The CSIR was com­mis­sioned to con­duct due dili­gence on Sapo to help the eval­u­a­tion com­mit­tee de­cide if it could take over the dis­tri­bu­tion of so­cial grants.

A se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial close to Trea­sury said the fact that the bid eval­u­a­tion com­mit­tee scored Sapo’s pro­posal be­fore the CSIR sent the re­port was proof that Sassa had ul­te­rior mo­tives and did not want Sapo to get the con­tract.

“This shows that Sassa wanted what it wanted, and your guess is good as mine as far as what ex­actly that is,” the of­fi­cial said. The CSIR re­port found that Sapo met most of Sassa’s cri­te­ria. How­ever, So­cial Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini last week an­nounced that Sapo could pro­vide only one of the four re­quired so­cial grant pay­ment ser­vices – the pro­vi­sion of an in­te­grated pay­ment sys­tem.

The other three ser­vices en­tailed man­u­fac­tur­ing bank cards, the pro­vi­sion of bank­ing ser­vices and the op­tion of cash pay­ments at pay points.

In dis­qual­i­fy­ing Sapo from pro­duc­ing bank cards, Sassa said it had no ca­pac­ity to pro­duce them, and did not dis­close how it would sub­con­tract this com­po­nent of the tender.

But Trea­sury said this was un­fair be­cause the current con­trac­tor, Cash Pay­mas­ter Ser­vices (CPS), “does not ren­der all the ser­vices on its own” and that many other gov­ern­ment agen­cies out­sourced ser­vices.

The re­view also took is­sue with Sassa for tak­ing two months to eval­u­ate Sapo’s pro­posal.

The gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial said Sassa’s de­lays were a time-buy­ing tac­tic to en­sure that when CPS’ con­tract ex­pired at the end of March, no one would be ready to take over, forc­ing CPS to en­joy an­other ex­ten­sion of its con­tract.

This was con­firmed by Trea­sury, which found that as a re­sult of the de­lays, nei­ther Sapo nor Sassa would be able to take over from CPS by April 1.

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