No deal signed with CPS yet - Sassa

2017-03-05 16:06
Bathabile Dlamini (Netwerk24)

Bathabile Dlamini (Netwerk24)

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Pretoria - The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has not signed any new contract or confirmed any new deal with current service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to issue grants to 17 million beneficiaries.

This despite being 26 days away from the deadline to end its unlawful contract with the provider.

Speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria on Sunday, Sassa’s head of corporate services Dumisile Ndlovu told reporters that there was no deal yet which had been signed with CPS on the matter of distributing grants from April 1.

"A deal will mean a signed off contract at the service level agreement and the signed off contract will entail deliverables and the core structure, therefore there is no deal," Ndlovu said.

"We are still going to follow internal processes that will lead to the conclusion of this process, with the signing of this contract. The answer is, there is no deal at hand."

On Friday night the Department of Social Development's spokesperson Lumka Oliphant issued a statement which said Sassa and CPS had reached an agreement after being locked up in "intense negotiations" for three days.

Details of the nature of the agreement would be revealed in due time, Oliphant had said.

On Sunday, when reporters asked Ndlovu, on the sidelines of the briefing, what the agreement had entailed, she said it was that CPS would make its services available to Sassa beyond March 31.

She declined to divulge any further details about the agreement, saying only that it was a verbal agreement which still needed to be put down on paper and sent to both the Constitutional Court as well as through government’s procurement process.

Neither Sassa officials nor Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini would be drawn into discussing the nature of the agreement, including what it would cost the state or the duration of the proposed new contract.

Media ‘creating tension’

Dlamini told reporters during Sunday's briefing that the most important topic that needed to be addressed at the moment was the fact that social grants would be paid on April 1.

"We are here to explain to the nation about the 1st of April and it should be clear to all of us that on the 1st of April we are paying grants.

"And the most important people in this whole thing are our ordinary grant beneficiaries. They will get their grant on the 1st of April and we are sure about that," Dlamini said.

Her department was still addressing the finer details of the process under which the payments would be made on the day and in the future.

She declined to "pre-empt" those processes by divulging details of the agreement at the briefing.

"When the right time comes, we will come and talk about the stages we’ve gone through, yesterday’s [Saturday's] meeting [with the Finance Minister] where we reported about progress and when we are satisfied about progress, we will report on the matter."

She accused the media of creating "tension" in the country about whether social grants would indeed be paid on April 1.

"It is the media that has been perpetrating that we are not going to pay on the 1st of April. You have created a lot of tension throughout the country. It is our grandmothers and grandfathers that will walk long distances," Dlamini said.

"People who went out there to complain about the crisis knew what they were doing. It’s not the first time we had this problem… people just come out to say grants are not going to be paid on the 1st of April without evidence."

Dlamini said the department needed to deal with such problems with National Treasury and the Finance Minister.

Conflict of interest

However, the National Treasury has distanced itself from matters involving any negotiations between Sassa, the department and CPS.

In a statement released on Friday, National Treasury said although the department had invited them to the negotiations, it advised the department that such a request could not be favourably considered, and chose not to take part in it.

Treasury said the procurement responsibility in any case lay with the accounting officer of the respective department, which in this case was Social Development Director General Zane Dangor, who resigned on Friday, citing a breakdown of communications between himself and Dlamini.

Treasury also said due to Sassa and the social development department publicly announcing that they would at some point approach National Treasury to regularise the process underway, any involvement in the negotiations would amount to a conflict of interest.

Dlamini said her department had invited National Treasury to the negotiations because they were an important part of the process.

She said she noted their decision not to take part, saying it was their right to do so.

She highlighted the fact that she was in constant communication with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and warned the media against "telling half truths" in their reports.

"We’ve had conversations with the finance minister. We also had a meeting yesterday and what I saw was that the minister will continue working with us.

"We must not report one side of the story or half truths and leave other things," Dlamini said.

She also refused to be drawn on Dangor’s resignation.

Dangor had told News24 on Saturday that he and Dlamini had had a breakdown in the relations over disagreements on Sassa's legal obligations to the Constitutional Court.

"Mr Dangor is well respected within the sectors of social development," Dlamini said.

"I am not going to come here and discuss his issues. We are going to discuss them internally, and then we’ll take the process forward but I am not going to discuss anything about him.

"If he wanted to make allegations or explain to the media, that was his choice and that is not how I work with people," she said.

Read more on:    sassa  |  bathabile dlamini  |  social grants

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