Another grants crisis looms
THE South African Social Security (Sassa) is not doing enough to finalise the social grant payment contract other than to flounder ahead of the April 1 Constitutional Court deadline.
These were the strong views of Themba Godi, the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) chairman, speaking to Independent Media yesterday.
“The way they manage this tender shows that they have not redeemed themselves as an institution that rises to the challenge,” Godi said.
He made the comments ahead of today’s joint meeting of Scopa and the social development portfolio committee, during which Sassa will be grilled on compliance with the Constitutional Court ruling and phasing out of the controversial Cash Paymaster Services.
Today’s meeting comes after Dlamini snubbed the committees’ last two meetings.
This come after reports about the panel of experts, which were appointed by the Concourt to oversee the phasing out of CPS, complaining about Sassa ignoring their requests for information and documents.
Yesterday, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said no agreement was reached with the South African Post Office (Sapo) to distribute the social grants when the extended contract ends in March.
Godi said they were shocked that Dlamini made the announcement prior to meeting parliamentarians.
“I would have expected her to make the announcement at the meeting. I find it unfortunate for her to make a public announcement a day before she goes to Parliament,” Godi said.
Briefing the media in East London, Dlamini said Sapo could only provide an integrated payment system, including biometrics.
“Sassa will initiate another procurement process starting on November 3, 2017 in order to secure the three services, which Sapo is not capable of providing.
“This procurement process will be concluded on the last week of February 2018 and an award will be announced,” she said.
Dlamini said Sapo did not meet the requirement to provide the required number of banking cards.
“Sapo can only produce 2.4 million cards per annum as opposed to the minimum requirement of 4.2 million cards per annum,” she said.
“Another important aspect is that Postbank does not have a fully-fledged banking licence.”
Dlamini said Sapo could participate in the distribution of social grants by supplementing the current distribution infrastructure.
“This can be achieved in a very short space of time, through the deployment of ATMs and point-of-sale devices that provide cash back.”
But the latest development has been described as a manufactured crisis aimed at ensuring that the payment of social grants remained in the hands of the private company.
Black Sash said it would comment after Sassa appeared before the Scopa meeting later today.
IFP’s Liezl van der Merwe said it was shocking that it took Sassa five months to find Sapo not suitable to pay the grants.
Sapo has repeatedly maintained that it has the capacity and competency to distribute the social grants.
The DA’s Bridget Masango said Dlamini’s announcement was rather “suspicious” as Sapo has vehemently denied Sassa’s claims that it was not prepared to take over grant payments.
“Time is running out for Sassa to find a new service provider and it seems as though we are heading for another crisis.”