CPS negotiations not over - Dlamini

2017-03-07 13:50
Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini (Netwerk24)

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini (Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has denied reports that a new social grants distribution contract has been finalised with Cash Paymaster Services.

Dlamini told the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) on Tuesday, in a frustrating back-and-forth meeting, that certain aspects of the four terms of the contract still needed to be finalised.

She could not give information on what the new contract would cost per grant recipient. The current rate is R16.44 per recipient.

She could also not confirm what legal deductions the new service provider would be allowed to make under the new agreement.

What she could confirm, is that the new contract will last for two years.

The first year will focus on phasing out CPS from the grants distribution machine. The second year will focus on rolling out a new plan.

She also said they apologised to the Constitutional Court for the "unstable reports" surrounding their readiness to take over the scheme.

The department's technical task team, which includes a state law advisor, is currently reviewing the terms of the new contract and will report back on Friday.

Thereafter, the department will make a public announcement on the new deal with CPS.

She could not comment on whether Treasury would support the new contract, as required by the Public Finance Management Act, and said Treasury must speak for itself.

'How did we get here?'

Dlamini admitted that the department had underestimated the amount of work they had to do.

Scopa chairperson Themba Godi said at the beginning of the meeting that the committee was primarily interested in "how we got here".

He said MPs' questions would focus on what has happened in the last three years since the Constitutional Court directive that has led to this point of pending crisis.

Dlamini told the committee that they had been hindered in finding a new grants distributor by the open tender process.

Five new bidders had made applications in the last two years, but two had withdrawn.

The remaining three were "non-responsive" bids, and did not meet the requirements.

A Treasury official, however, told the committee that a normal bidding process could take as little as 10 days to complete, but usually lasted between 60 and 90 days - and, in special circumstances, 120 days.

"Two years is not normal," he said, to exasperation from the MPs.

'Appointed themselves'

Dlamini also maintained that she did not join the African National Congress to become a minister, and only the president appointed ministers. Her future was up to the president, she said.

Dlamini told the committee that the bulk of the last two years had been spent waiting for "work streams" to finish "scientific research" into the grants take over.

They did not want to "thumb suck" information.

Democratic Alliance MPs Tim Brauteseth and Evelyn Wilson however took issue with the work streams.

The department's advisory committee, which was set up by Dlamini, had recommended setting up the work streams.

But the same people who were on the advisory committee had ended up leading the different work streams.

They essentially appointed themselves, Brauteseth argued.

'We will babysit you, don't worry'

Dlamini also frustrated MPs when she asked to leave the committee before 11:00 to make it to a Cabinet meeting.

"This is not church where you preach and we just say 'amen' and go home," Economic Freedom Fighters MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said. "The minister must account," he demanded.

Dlamini then stayed until the end of the meeting.

ANC MP Nyami Booi assured the minister that Scopa would continue to "mentor" them, as it was clear that Sassa needed help with the grants crisis.

"We will babysit you, don't worry," he said.

He said it was important that Sassa remained Parliament's baby, and wasn't hijacked by an external party.

Read more on:    sassa  |  bathabile dlamini  |  parliament 2017  |  social grants

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