ConCourt gives Sassa 4 weeks to deliver full grants plan

2017-11-10 15:10
The inter-ministerial committee meeting in Parliament on the Sassa issue. (Paul Herman/News24)

The inter-ministerial committee meeting in Parliament on the Sassa issue. (Paul Herman/News24)

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Cape Town – The Constitutional Court has this week delivered a number of new directives to the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa), as the clock keeps ticking in the pending social grants scheme takeover.

Sassa has been locked in a protracted process to successfully migrate the social grants scheme away from current service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) by April next year, following an application by non-government organisation Black Sash.

In new directives issued by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng on Tuesday, the court gave Sassa until Friday, December 8 to deliver its full plan to the court.

ALSO READ: Sassa should not have disqualified Post Office - Treasury letter

The information must "specify matters such as definite roles and responsibilities, precise timelines, dependencies, desired outcomes and risk-mitigation measures," Mogoeng's directives read.

The other directives include: 

 - Fully comply with any present or future request of the Panel of Experts set up by the court in June this year;
 - Provide the panel with appropriate details on Sassa's progress to secure new service providers by next Friday;
 - Combine stats and information into one document for the Panel per month;
 - Request government communications GCIS develop a plan to inform all beneficiaries of future implications, and report each month to court on the plan;
 - After filing its full plan, report per month on the progress of the plan, and steps taken to avoid risks.

Sassa also needs to warn the court by the December 8 deadline if Sassa's contingency plan cannot be realised before the April 2018 deadline.

Post Office deal expected on Friday, details unknown

Parliamentarians heard on Wednesday that an elusive deal with the South African Post Office (SAPO) to assist the scheme now has until next Friday, November 17, to be signed.

The two entities had reached a deadlock, after Sassa awarded the Post Office only one of four possible services, leading to Cabinet's inter-ministerial committee (IMC) stepping in.

An agreement to build an integrated IT payment system for the new system would now be fast-tracked, IMC chairperson Jeff Radebe told MPs on Wednesday.

No mention though was made of the other three services required by the hybrid system: banking services, production of new cards and cash distribution of grants.

The details of the agreement will now be negotiated and drafted by an "intervention team", with a deadline set for next Friday.

Radebe said the team will also meet with the Banking Association of South Africa to discuss the possibility of commercial banks coming on board.

This was after a Treasury report earlier this week revealed that Sassa should not have disqualified the Post Office for the other three services.

The report also found that Sassa's request for proposal developed for the Post Office was "biased", and that a due diligence report used to disqualify the Post Office was "not used for its intended purposes".

Just under five months remain to meet the Constitutional Court's March 31, 2018 deadline for the system.

Sassa and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini were initially given three years to migrate the scheme by March 31 of this year.

After failing to meet that deadline, the court suspended the invalidity of the contract with CPS by one year.

Read more on:    parliament  |  sassa  |  sapo  |  cape town  |  service delivery  |  grants

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