CPS ‘in the dark’ over grant pay­ment plans

• CEO says so­cial se­cu­rity agency has not asked for help • Com­pany will con­sider new con­tract

Business Day - - FRONT PAGE - Ann Crotty Writer at Large

Serge Be­la­mant, CEO of Net1UEPS whose sub­sidiary Cash Pay­mas­ter Ser­vices (CPS) is at the cen­tre of the so­cial grant dis­tri­bu­tion de­ba­cle, said on Wed­nes­day, the South African So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency (Sassa) had not yet for­mally ap­proached them about dis­tribut­ing grants af­ter March 31.

“At this point, we’re stop­ping on 31 March. It’s not com­pli­cated, we don’t have the R10bn that has to be dis­trib­uted but I’m sure they’re [Sassa] go­ing to do some­thing within the next few weeks,” he said.

Be­la­mant said he was sur­prised by re­ports that Sassa in­tended ap­proach­ing the Con­sti­tu­tional Court for guid­ance on the way for­ward.

Sassa told a par­lia­men­tary hear­ing last week it would ap­ply to the court on Wed­nes­day, Fe­bru­ary 8. How­ever, that date was sub­se­quently pushed out to Fe­bru­ary 15.

Last week, op­po­si­tion par­ties ex­pressed con­cern that CPS would have the con­tract ex­tended to its own ad­van­tage, see­ing that the de­part­ment was in a des­per­ate po­si­tion and needed to dis­trib­ute the grants.

It is un­clear whether Sassa, in a bid to en­sure grants are paid on April 1, in­tends to ask the court for author­ity to ex­tend the CPS con­tract or is­sue a new con­tract to CPS.

In April 2015 the court, which months ear­lier had de­clared the CPS con­tract in­valid, ruled that Sassa had to is­sue a new ten­der for the con­tract.

The court as­sumed a su­per­vi­sory role over that process.

How­ever, on Wed­nes­day, Be­la­mant said he did not un­der­stand why Sassa was go­ing to the court.

He said he doubted the Con­sti­tu­tional Court would be in­ter­ested in get­ting in­volved.

“And what do they in­tend ask­ing for? Per­mis­sion to ex­tend a con­tract the court de­clared in­valid?”

Be­la­mant said a new con­tract would make more sense. “But do they need to go to the court to ap­prove that? What is needed is a new pro­cure­ment ten­der.”

Given the ur­gency of the sit­u­a­tion and the fact that a new

ten­der would take at least sev­eral months to com­plete, Be­la­mant said Sassa would have to ap­proach the Trea­sury, as it had the power to al­low a gov­ern­ment en­tity to en­ter into a con­tract in an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion.

“Of course, it can’t be an emer­gency out of their own do­ing [as is claimed by the DA], but a new ten­der can’t be awarded to some­one who is un­able to per­form it.”

Be­la­mant said he was not in­ter­ested in ex­tend­ing the ex­ist­ing con­tract, but would look at a new con­tract. “We will have a list and will cer­tainly be very firm about what will be in the new con­tract,” he said.

He said he was par­tic­u­larly keen that Sassa en­sures there are no le­gal chal­lenges to any new con­tract.

Cor­rup­tion Watch presents the most se­ri­ous of the le­gal chal­lenges fac­ing Net1-UEPS. The non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion has asked the high court to set aside a R275m pay­ment made by Sassa to Net1-UEPS af­ter the Con­sti­tu­tional Court ruled that the orig­i­nal con­tract was ir­reg­u­lar and in­valid.

Be­la­mant said they had filed their heads of ar­gu­ment and Cor­rup­tion Watch was now try­ing to get a court date.

Anx­ious grant re­cip­i­ents may have to wait un­til next Wed­nes­day, Fe­bru­ary 15, for some clar­ity on the chaotic sit­u­a­tion.

The Trea­sury and the Re­serve Bank, who are re­garded as the key role play­ers, are sched­uled to at­tend a meet­ing of the so­cial devel­op­ment port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on their role, po­si­tion and readi­ness in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the in­sti­tu­tion­al­i­sa­tion of the so­cial grant pay­ment.

Sassa did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

/Robert Botha

Cash pay­ments: Net1-UEPS CEO Serge Be­la­mant says he would con­sider a new con­tract to pay grants.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.