'Admin error' stalls Sassa's ConCourt application

2017-03-01 12:16
Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza has vowed that the organisation will meet payment obligations. (Paul Herman, News24)

Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza has vowed that the organisation will meet payment obligations. (Paul Herman, News24)

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Cape Town - Sassa withdrew its application to the Constitutional Court for advice on how to pay millions of social grants recipients from April 1 because it made a mistake in its papers.

"There is a certain section which they erroneously left out. It was an administrative error," SA Social Security Agency spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi said on Wednesday.

They would have to get their papers in order and resubmit them. He could not immediately say what was left out of the application.

On April 1 there may be no agency to pay the pensions, disability, child care, and foster grants on which the poor desperately rely. This is when Sassa’s illegal contract with Cash Paymaster Services ends. The agency had thus far failed to set up an alternative payment system.

In April 2014, the Constitutional Court declared Sassa’s contract with CPS invalid. It suspended the order of invalidity until March 31 this year, and instructed Sassa to reissue the tender. The case was brought by rival bidder for the payments, AllPay.

CEO sick leave

Papers were filed with the Constitutional Court, on behalf of Sassa and its CEO Thokozani Magwaza, around 17:00 on Tuesday. Less than 24 hours later, the papers were withdrawn.

The notice to withdraw, dated February 28, states: "TAKE NOTICE THAT the first and second applicants (respectively 'CEO' and 'Sassa') herewith withdraw the application filed with this Court on the 28 February 2017."

Judiciary spokesperson Nathi Mncube said the Black Sash's application for the CPS contract to be extended to make sure the 17 million recipients at least get paid at the end of March, had been sent to the judges.

In the meantime, Magwaza had been booked off sick until March 7 due to hypertension, MPs on the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) heard on Tuesday.

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini had failed to attend meetings of Scopa and of Parliament’s social development committee to discuss the issue.

Scopa was told on Tuesday that the Treasury would not support extending the contract because it would cost more.

Former forensic investigator and DA MP Timothy Brauteseth told the committee that CPS would negotiate terms that could see the cost of the contract rise between 30% and 50%. This was beyond Sassa's budget.

CPS currently charges R16.44 per recipient. Their new rate, its CEO had bragged at a public meeting, could be between R22 and R25, Brauteseth said.

Sassa's 2018 budget is R2.6bn, but the new rates would put costs at between R3bn and R3.4bn.

Read more on:    sassa  |  parliament 2017  |  judiciary  |  social grants

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