Still no Sassa-Post Office deal signed despite Dlamini's deadline

2017-10-05 19:10
Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini. (Charl Devenish, Foto24)

Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini. (Charl Devenish, Foto24)

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Cape Town - There is still no social grants distribution agreement signed between the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and the South African Post Office (Sapo), two weeks after a self-imposed deadline.

Sassa appeared before the portfolio committee on social development on Thursday to account for its 2016/17 annual report.

During a round of questions on Thursday, ANC MPs shielded acting CEO Pearl Bhengu from having to answer questions from DA MP Bridget Masango on the delayed deal.

ANC MPs Velhelmina Mogotsi, Beverley Abrahams and committee chairperson Rose Capa all pointed out that the agenda item for the day was the discussion of the annual report of the year in review.

No current oversight business should be discussed as it would "cloud the issue", they said.

Mogotsi said the Sassa grants takeover was a standing item and they would dedicate a separate meeting to the issue in due course.

Capa said the matter was currently before court, and that it would be best to wait for an update in that regard. However, strictly speaking, this is not true. The matter is before the bid adjudication committee, and awaits a decision and announcement.

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini had announced on September 15 that the bid committee would have made a decision by September 20, and the deal would be announced that week.

- Read more: Post Office-Sassa decision by next week - Dlamini

News24 asked acting CEO Bhengu about the delay after the meeting, but she said she could not divulge any information on the pending Sapo deal.

She did however say that an announcement would be made "very soon".

Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi told News24 that the reason for the two-week delay was an "internal matter", but could not go into any further detail.

He also said an announcement would be "very soon", but would not say if that meant next week or longer.

Dlamini and her deputy, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, both excused themselves from attending the meeting.

Post Office none the wiser

A Post Office delegation told the portfolio committee on telecommunications on Thursday during its own annual report that it had not heard from Sassa since their meeting with Scopa in September.

Telecommunications committee acting chair Dikeledi Tsotetsi said the deal would be good for the Post Office, and said the committee was waiting eagerly for an announcement.

Sassa's proposed deal with the Post Office has now been pushed back by a full month, after the department's initial deadline for early September had itself been pushed back by another two weeks.

Sapo CEO Mark Barnes told the standing committee on public accounts in September that the Post Office was ready to help in all aspects of the social grants scheme, and was none the wiser about the reasons for the delay.

- Read more: Another Sassa delay gags Post Office at Scopa meeting

Sassa now has just under six months to bring all potential service providers on board before phasing out Constitutionally invalid service provider Cash Paymaster Services, as ordered by the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court suspended the invalidity of the CPS contract for one year until March 2018, to allow for a smooth handover.

*This article has been updated.

Read more on:    sassa  |  sapo  |  social grants

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