Black Sash to approach ConCourt over looming social grants deadline

2017-02-28 21:58
Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: Elizabeth Sejake/City Press

Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: Elizabeth Sejake/City Press (Elizabeth Sejake)

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Johannesburg - Activist group Black Sash wants the Constitutional Court to compel the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini to ensure that grant beneficiaries will still be protected come March 31.

The group will be launching its application through the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, the centre said in a statement on Tuesday.

Due to an urgent situation of Sassa's own making, the agency had no choice but to negotiate another contract with the current service provider, Cash Payment Services (CPS), the centre said. This was because CPS was currently the only entity capable of distributing the grants to more than 17 million South Africans.

"The Black Sash Trust, therefore, is asking the court to ensure that the continued relationship with CPS is based on terms not harmful to, exploitative of, the grant system, its beneficiaries; the personal data of beneficiaries is owned by Sassa; and such data is kept confidential and not used for marketing purposes targeting grant beneficiaries," it said.

Both the centre and the trust expressed their deep concern that the payment of grants may be compromised due to Sassa's failure to ensure that it was ready to take over payment of the grant system by April 1, 2017, or to award a lawful competitive tender timeously, it said.

'Inadequate ministerial oversight'

"The result is that it appears Sassa has no choice but to enter into a further uncompetitive contract with CPS, which may exacerbate the longstanding concern of Black Sash that unlawful deductions are made from grants.

"The emergency situation created demonstrates that the minister of social development does not have adequate oversight over Sassa," it said.

The group also intends making a request to the Constitutional Court, asking that it re-establish its oversight over the process of social grant payments, as well as provide milestones and timelines for both Sassa and the department.

"We can only hope to avoid more harm by ensuring that the contract going forward is not negotiated on terms only favourable to CPS and instead protects the constitutional rights of the people it is meant to benefit," it said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Sassa appeared before Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) to report on its proposed extension to the unconstitutional contract with CPS.

Sassa project leader Zodwa Mvulane told the committee that it would not approach the Constitutional Court to ask for an extension on their unlawful contract, but would negotiate a new one.

Read more on:    sassa  |  black sash  |  bathabile dlamini  |  grants

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