Letter reveals CPS, Sassa have not signed new contract - DA

2017-03-12 17:00


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Johannesburg - In the Social Development Department’s latest bid on Sunday to defend itself in the social grants scandal, it highlighted the current system's benefits for clothing and vegetable sellers.

This as the DA released a letter it received from the department confirming that there is still no new contract between the department or Sassa with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) for the distribution of social grants from April 1.

"With less than three weeks until the invalid contract with CPS is set to expire, this confirmation is a damning indictment on the devastating inability by the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, to ensure that 17 million poor and vulnerable South Africans will receive their grants next month," said DA MP Bridget Masango in a statement.

The letter was in response to an application by the DA in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

Social Development departmental spokeswoman Lumka Oliphant did not respond to requests for comment on the DA statement.

The future of more than 17 million people hangs in the balance as the Department of Social Development continues to try and find a solution to the grants payment saga by the March 31 deadline.

The Constitutional Court last Wednesday asked for the department and the South African Social Security Agency to urgently provide it with clarity.

The court wants information including when exactly it dawned on Sassa that it was not going to have its own grants payment system in place by the time a contract with CPS expires on March 31. 


The five-year contract with CPS was found by the Constitutional Court in 2014 to be invalid. Sassa later told the court it would internally take over payments by 2017.

However, it has since become clear the agency does not have the capacity to conduct this and it has turned to trying to renegotiate with CPS – a move treasury does not support.

On Sunday, Oliphant was asked whether the social development department would respond to the Constitutional Court’s latest request for information.

Oliphant replied with a text message quoting the court papers that stipulated the deadline of "16h00 Monday, 13 March 2017" for the department’s affidavits to be filed.

Oliphant did not respond to further queries from News24 as to whether this meant the department would indeed comply with this directive.

However, on Sunday, Oliphant did release to all media, answers originally given to questions by the Sunday Times.

She explained that the minister was against using banking infrastructure as it would require "beneficiaries to travel approximately 222km to receive their social grant instead of the 5km stipulated in the norms and standards" by Sassa.

Amongst other concerns, she said moving the administration to banks would "destroy the economic activity that pay points provide to the rural areas".

'Economic hub'

"Not only do we service more than three million people at these sites, we have created an economic hub for those living there. On any given payday, these points are a service hub of activity, where communities gather to sell their wares, ranging from fresh produce, vegetables, clothes etc."

Oliphant said that the minister’s stand was "hitting the nerve of the white establishment".

Meanwhile, the Presidency weighed in on the situation after reports emerged on Sunday that President Jacob Zuma’s special advisor Michael Hulley had attended meetings with the minister and other Sassa officials about the payments of grants.

"The Presidency is not aware of the said meetings," said presidential spokesman Bongani Ngqulunga in a statement.

Oliphant also commented on the reports. “This alleged meeting and involvement of Mike Hulley… We are not certain how it now adds to the noise," she said in a statement.

Civil society organisation R2K announced over the weekend that it would protest outside the Sassa head offices in Pretoria on Monday.

"Sassa must account for their delays and for their plans to ensure all grants are paid on time and fully – with no more deductions from external companies," the organisation said in a statement.

Media monitoring organisation ROiAfrica reported that nearly a third of all national news stories this week dealt with the grants contract saga.


Read more on:    sassa  |  da  |  cps

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