The Organisation undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has condemned what it describes Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini’s manipulation of the needs of the poor to extend the Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) contract with SASSA.
“The Minister and SASSA are refusing to prepare for the exit of CPS and are instead continuing to entrench CPS’s position,” says Dominique Msibi, OUTA’s portfolio manager for social services and special projects.
Msibi was commenting after reading the latest report by the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the Minister to the Constitutional Court.
SASSA acting-CEO Pearl Bengu and the Minister told the Constitutional Court in their December report that they need their legally invalid contract with CPS to run for “at least” another six months beyond the Constitutional Court’s already-extended deadline of 31 March 2018.
This is to ensure that all the grants will be paid after 1 April 2018, they say.
The SASSA report says that this means that a formal application for the suspension of declaration of invalidity of the CPS contract and its subsequent extension will be lodged with the Constitutional Court. However, the Constitutional Court confirmed this week that no such application has been received yet.
“This delay makes the situation even worse and appears to be an attempt to force the Constitutional Court to accept an extension to the illegal CPS contract,” says Msibi.
The SASSA report says CPS is needed to make the cash payments to 2,894-million beneficiaries. Some may be paid through the Post Office but SASSA wants to keep CPS “for at least six months during the transition”.
“SASSA is still promoting cash as an option, which is clearly intended to motivate the retention of CPS,” says Msibi.
SASSA also wants CPS for electronic payments. The report hints at trying to keep on CPS as a sub-contractor through Grindrod Bank, saying that the electronic payments into 5,777-million beneficiaries’ accounts with Grindrod Bank need a CPS “electronic signature” which thus requires an agreement between Grindrod and CPS.
SASSA has already extended the validity of the Grindrod cards to December 2018, which is a clear indication it plans to use CPS for this.
“Minister Dlamini has continuously and systematically flouted all efforts to arrest her devious, underhanded and unscrupulous manipulation of the system that is meant to ensure poor families can put food on the table. It is this very real need that she is using to keep money flowing to CPS. South Africa cannot afford to have any of the 17,3-million grants go unpaid,” says Msibi.
OUTA is urging the Constitutional Court to prevent any further extensions to the contract.
“We can’t wait to see how the Concourt responds when SASSA and the Minister finally bring their intended application to extend CPS again. They are clearly stating that they are going to fail to deliver on the Concourt’s directive,” says Msibi.