Sassa pledges grants will be paid
AS THE new Social Development Minister, Susan Shabangu, was briefing the Cabinet about contingency plans for the payment of social grants on April 1, the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) was adamant grants will be paid.
Dianne Dunkerley, Sassa’s executive manager of grants administration, gave the assurance to the portfolio committee on social development in Parliament yesterday. She made this pledge as the Constitutional Court is considering an application from Sassa to extend the contract of the present service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS).
The CPS contract expires at the end of March. There have been fears that millions of social grant recipients, who take their grants in cash, would be at risk if the Constitutional Court turns down Sassa’s request.
However, appraising the portfolio committee, Dunkerley said: “People will be paid in April, our call centres will be open on April 1 and 2. Payment will happen and payment will start on April 1.”
Sassa has made contingency plans, she said but asked the portfolio committee not to ask her for more details because Shabangu was briefing the Cabinet as well as the inter-ministerial committee charged with the matter. “May I request we wait for the decisions of the IMF and Cabinet?”
On concerns of where the money would come from if another service provider would have to be brought in to replace CPS, Sassa said CPS was being paid R2.2bn a month for executing this service. This money would be used to recompense a new service provider.
Dunkerley also had to reassure members who were concerned about the safety and the wisdom of moving suitcases around, that although named suitcases, they were biometric readers used to confirm people’s identification. On MPs concern about commercial banks, she said: “We are very aware of the inroads banks are making among beneficiaries.” Presently a total of 2.3 million grant recipients were using banks, “which still leaves 8.3 million in the government environment”, she said.
Legally, portfolio committee chairperson Rosemary Capa said, Sassa had to pay social grants.
JUST IN CASE: Minister Susan Shabangu briefs the Cabinet about contingency plans to pay social grants.