Another grants cri­sis looms

The Mercury - - FRONT PAGE - May­i­bongwe Maqhina

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.

In­te­grated

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.”

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