The ability of the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) to take over the distribution of social grants from April 2017 is in doubt – and the DA believes the incumbent supplier Net1/CPS will continue in its role despite a Consitutional Court ruling that a new tender must be sought.
Bridget Masango, Shadow Minister of Social Development, comments that if the agency is unable to pay social grants, this could threaten the livelihoods of millions of people.
“The DA will accordingly request that the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Rosemary Capa, summon the Minister of Social Development, Bhathabile Dlamini and SASSA to report back to the committee as soon as the term opens in 2017, with a proper, concise presentation, complete with deliverables and time frames on this critical takeover,” she states.
“A long-awaited presentation by SASSA to the portfolio committee on Social Development today made it blatantly clear that SASSA and its plans to take over the distribution of grants inhouse are in total disarray.”
Requests by members of the committee for an exact response as to who would be paying the grants on 1 April 2017, remained unanswered by Minister Dlamini and the Director General, Zayn Dangor, on the grounds that the matter was legally sensitive.
However, SASSA advised that two options were still being assessed.
“No indication was given as to current progress by each of the workstreams which have been appointed to implement the takeover, the current state of the development of the internal ICT system or the recruitment of relevant capacity,” Masango comments.
SASSA is scheduled to take over the payments of grants to more than 17-million beneficiaries at the end of March 2017 when the current contract with Net1/Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) expires.
In 2014, the Constitutional Court ordered SASSA to reissue the tender to distribute the grant payments by October 2015 as it said there was “irregular” conduct in awarding the contract to CPS. The tender was, however, not awarded in October last year as the court had ordered.
Instead SASSA said the tender bids received were non responsive, and it extended CPS’s contract until March 2017. The Concourt stipulated seven “deliverables” with timelines that should be achieved for SASSA to achieve its mandate.
“The DA is now quite certain that Net1/CPS will continue with payments, despite the fact that their tender was deemed irregular by the Constitutional Court, because it is the only option available to SASSA at present,” Masango says.