Sassa Parliament appearance cancelled as grants deadline looms

2017-01-24 19:55
Sassa card. (Supplied)

Sassa card. (Supplied)

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Cape Town - The SA Social Security Agency's scheduled meeting on Wednesday to update Parliament on its readiness to take over the nationwide grants scheme has been cancelled.

Social development portfolio committee secretary Lindiwe Ntsabo could on Tuesday not give reasons for the cancellation, referring questions to chairperson Rose Capa. Capa's phone went to voicemail.

The social development department and Sassa were due to update the committee on progress made ahead of the April 1 deadline for the takeover.

Democratic Alliance Chief Whip John Steenhuisen said on Monday that the meetings of the committees on social development and public enterprises had been cancelled so that ANC MPs could attend the party's lekgotla.

READ: MPs 'alarmed' as Sassa mum on readiness to take over grant scheme

He said DA MPs were told “invited stakeholders… will be attending the ANC national lekgotla taking place during the same period”.

"The ANC is clearly more concerned about a party talk shop than the welfare of the 17 million South Africans who rely on social assistance from the state, or the thousands of rate-paying residents who risk having their electricity cut off.

"We cannot allow ANC internal politics to dominate the parliamentary agenda and the important work that needs to be done this year," he said.

He intended getting answers from the House Chairperson of Committees and said the ANC should start putting citizens ahead of the party.

In April 2014, the Constitutional Court tasked the social development department with taking over payments of social grants from current service provider, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), on April 1. This was due to irregular tender processes in appointing CPS.

In November 2016, Minister Bathabile Dlamini and Sassa officials could not reassure the portfolio committee about their readiness to oversee the payment of grants to 17 million people.

Department spokespeople Lumka Oliphant and Justice Malapane could not provide further comment, as they were both on leave this week.

Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi referred questions to the department, as the department was meant to lead the meeting.

Osborne Masilela, of the director general's office, said he was not in a position to comment on the matter, and referred questions to the portfolio committee.

Outsourcing

Nehawu meanwhile called on the department to stop outsourcing the payment of grants.

"The department and Sassa are currently entertaining bids from banks to continue with the payment of grants after the contract of the current incumbent company, Net1, lapses," National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union general secretary Bereng Soke said in a statement on Tuesday.

CPS is a subsidiary of US-based Net1 UEPS Technologies.

He said the department and Sassa had had enough time to prepare for the takeover from Net1 before the end of the current contract in April.

The union argued that outsourcing bred corruption and that the tender system was "inherently corrupt".

It demanded Sassa deal with staffing problems, fraud, wasteful expenditure, and illegal and unauthorised deductions from social grants by private companies.

Read more on:    sassa  |  da  |  parliament 2017

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