Everybody will be paid, I stick by it - Sassa CEO

2017-02-01 16:41
Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza has vowed that the organisation will meet payment obligations. (Paul Herman, News24)

Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza has vowed that the organisation will meet payment obligations. (Paul Herman, News24)

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Cape Town - South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) CEO Thokozani Magwaza says he stands by his statement that social grant beneficiaries will be paid on April 1, despite the fact that this hinges on an awaited Constitutional Court decision.

The agency is due to take over the entire social grants scheme in two months' time, but angered opposition MPs on Wednesday when its officials suggested their only realistic option of meeting the deadline is the extension of an "unlawful and invalid" contract with the current service providers.

Magwaza was defiant after the portfolio committee meeting saying, no matter what, the 17 million people dependent on social grants will be paid come April.

"First of April, everybody will be paid. Everybody - I'm sticking to that," he told reporters after the Sassa's presentation on Wednesday.

The contract with service providers CPS and Net1 was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court in 2014. The court instructed the Department of Social Development to begin a process of insourcing the administrative requirements to handle the distribution all of the country's grants.

READ: Sassa wants 'unlawful' grants contract extended, MPs 'staggered'

It was revealed in the meeting that Sassa will ask the Constitutional Court to suspend the order by one more year, so that Sassa can finalise its transition plans before 2018.

Magwaza said Sassa is still being advised on what to do if the Constitutional Court rejects the application.

Responsibility

He said during the committee meeting that if he has to choose between the Auditor General's office declaring payments from April 1 "irregular", or the "country burning" because people were not paid, he would rather pay.

Magwaza said he could not explain why the process had taken so long, as he only started working in the post on November 1, 2016.

Prior to that, however, he had worked in the department's director general's office since 2013. He praised the work of his predecessor Virginia Petersen, despite Sassa's irregular expenditure rising to more than R1bn under her watch in 2015/16.

READ: MPs squabble as Dlamini skips crucial Sassa grants meeting

He said he believes there is no-one in his department who needs to answer for Sassa's failure to comply with the Constitutional Court deadline.

"I'm taking full responsibility for what happens. Right now, I'm satisfied we will be able to pay on April 1."

Magwaza also said the South African Post Office, which has 2 700 outlets countrywide, is part of Sassa's long-term plan.

Sassa's current service providers have approximately 10 000 pay points across the country.

He said Sassa will finalise its options on Monday, and would approach the court this month.

Read more on:    sassa  |  parliament 2017  |  service delivery  |  social welfare

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