Dlamini has 'no remorse' - Black Sash

2017-03-11 16:10

Johannesburg - The Black Sash has accused Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini of failing in her constitutional obligations and showing "no remorse", GroundUp reported.

On Wednesday, the Constitutional Court is to hear the argument from the Black Sash asking the Court to take back oversight of social grant payments to 17 million beneficiaries, when the current SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) expires on March 31.

Sassa was to take over the contract before this deadline, but it has acknowledged that it will not be able to do so and it will have to negotiate a new contract with CPS.

"The minister has demonstrably failed to exercise effective oversight over Sassa, which is her constitutional obligation," the Black Sash said in its heads of argument filed to the court on March 10.

The Minister of Social Development has failed in her duty over the social grants payment contract, says the Black Sash. (Barbara Maregele/GroundUp)

"Sassa has inexplicably failed promptly to inform the court and the public when it failed to do what it had said it would do.

"The minister and Sassa have even now… failed to explain why they acted as they did. There is a nominal admission of error, and no indication of remorse.

"Further failure is potentially catastrophic for the most vulnerable people in our society."

Sassa had "created a crisis" by failing to make arrangements to take over grant payments before the expiry of the CPS contract, and by failing to notify the court of this until last week.

Arguing that the court should take back oversight of payments, possibly with an independent monitor, the Black Sash says Sassa "has demonstrated its inability to do what it has said it will do". Both Sassa and Dlamini had shown they could not be relied on to make accurate and timely disclosure to the court and to the public.

The court should impose conditions on the new contract with CPS, the Black Sash says. Specifically, the personal information of grant beneficiaries should be protected to prevent abuse.

As a subsidiary of Net1, CPS has a "patent conflict of interest". Under the Sassa Act, CPS has to protect the private details of beneficiaries, but at the same time CPS has an interest in helping Net1’s other subsidiaries (such as loan company Moneyline and insurer Smartlife) get this information for the purposes of selling airtime, electricity, funeral insurance, and issuing loans.

Contract must be scrutinised

In his own papers to the court earlier this week, Net1 CEO Serge Belamant rejected the Black Sash arguments about conflicts of interest.

"I have stated repeatedly under oath and affirm again that CPS does not share the beneficiary data that it captures during beneficiary enrolment or receives from Sassa with any third parties – including Net1 subsidiaries," he said.

Corruption Watch has asked the court for permission to intervene in next week’s hearing.

In documents also submitted to the Court on Friday, it asks to be admitted as "amicus curiae" (friend of the court) in support of the Black Sash application.

Executive director David Lewis says that although it is essential that the grant beneficiaries continue receiving their grants, regardless of what happens in court, the contract must be scrutinised.

If Corruption Watch is admitted, the organisation will make submissions on the "apparent illegality" of the new contract with CPS, and on possible action to be taken.

Freedom Under Law has also applied to the court for permission to intervene. It argues that CPS must not be allowed to make any profit from a new contract. This is based on statements by the court itself in 2013 and 2014 that CPS must not profit from the 2012-2017 contract, which the court ruled unlawful.

The court has given Sassa until Monday to respond to several questions issued earlier this week, about its failure to take over the payment of social grants next month. The court has ordered the agency to provide details of any new contract with CPS.

Read more on:    sassa  |  black sash  |  johannesburg  |  grants  |  service delivery

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