Social grants ‘may not be paid’
SEVENTEEN million of the country’s most vulnerable citizens fear that their social grants may be cut in six months.
From April 1, the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) is to take over payment to grant beneficiaries, a function which until now has been outsourced.
But if the agency is ill-prepared to implement this huge task, as some fear, needy residents, including destitute children, the disabled and elderly, would be left without the government stipend .
Exacerbating the matter is the agency’s reluctance to divulge how far it is with the transition.
This week Sassa spokesman Kgomoco Diseko declined to answer any Weekend Argus questions about whether the agency was ready to take over payment of 17 million grants valued at R10 billion.
“The Minister of Social Development ( Bathabile Dlamini) will detail these issues in the announcement she will make during the second week of November,” he said.
Sassa is set to become paymaster after years of legal wrangling involving allegations of irregularities and after the Constitutional Court ruled two years ago that a contract with Cash Paymaster Service, the company that pays beneficiaries, was invalid.
Three years ago, in anticipation of the switch-over, a ministerial advisory committee was appointed to work out how Sassa would take over the payments.
But sources say it appears that despite this preparation, the cards that beneficiaries use could become inactive on April 1 as 9 million new beneficiary cards are yet to be created.
There has been no major drive to alert the public to the switch-over.
The new payment system to have been piloted this year does not seem to have been rolled out.
A progress report filed at the Constitutional Court and dated November last year detailed Sassa’s initial plan.
It said developing Sassa’s “in- house capabilities” to manage payments, meant to be carried out between 2013 and this year, had as of last year not yet started.