AS IT HAPPENED: Dlamini dodges tough questions during Scopa grants crisis briefing

2017-03-07 10:00

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini was present at a Parliamentary Scopa briefing to address pressing questions on the looming grants crisis, but hesitated to answer questions with clarity, causing frustration among MPs and committee members.

 - News24's Paul Herman is tweeting live from the Scopa briefing. Follow his tweets: @PaulTHerman


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Last Updated at 19:02
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New welfare system for SA by 2019 

South Africa plans to bring in a new welfare-payments system over the next two years and hasn’t yet signed a new interim contract with Net 1 UEPS Technologies, the government said.

Cash Paymaster Services, a unit of Net 1, will continue making payments while new social-grants arrangements are implemented, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini told reporters in Pretoria on Sunday. The welfare department is still negotiating a new deal with the company, whose existing disbursement contract ends on March 31, according to Dumisile Ndlovu, the department’s acting executive manager for corporate services.

The department and South African Social Security Agency, or Sassa, are scrambling to ensure more than 17 million people continue to get their money next month. The payments of more than R140bn a year are a signature policy of the ANC, which says the grants are an important measure to reduce inequality in the nation almost 23 years after the end of white-minority rule. In previous election campaigns, ANC officials have told rallies that if another party came to power, the payments may end.

“On 1 April, Sassa begins a new era,” Dlamini said, adding a “transition” phase would end in March 2019. “As has been the case in the past, no one will go unpaid.” 

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Scopa chair apologises to Dlamini and says "just five more minutes"... 

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Post Office CEO: We are ready and willing to take over Sassa payments 

South African Post Office (SAPO) CEO Mark Barnes said the parastatal is “finding it difficult to understand” why it is not tasked with distributing social grants.

South Africa’s social grants are currently under the spotlight as concern grows over whether 17 million recipients will receive their payments next month amid a contract expiry.

In 2014, the Constitutional Court declared the R10bn grant payments tender run by Net1 UEPS’ Cash Paymaster Services as invalid amid irregularities in the awarding of the deal.

Subsequently, the court ordered the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) to reissue the tender.

Sassa did not award a new contract as it said the bids were non-compliant. The agency said it was not ready to assume the payment function itself by April 1, as previously planned, putting the welfare project in limbo. 

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Sassa 'skimming the poor' – the outrage mounts 

Zohra Dawood, Director of the Centre for Unity in Diversity, is incensed and outraged. That much is clear from the literary blow she delivers here to Sassa’s executives and their minister, Bathabile Dlamini.

In 2014, no less than the Constitutional Court gave Sassa until October the following year to reissue the five-year tender, finding it was granted irregularly to Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) back in 2012. Sassa failed to do this, whining as the court deadline whizzed past that all of the new bids were ‘non-responsive in mandatory administrative functionality’.

It’s now three years later. OK, let’s be generous. Take the 17 months since Sassa allegedly discovered none of the eager aspirant replacements could do the job. Did they spread the net or facilitate collaboration? Is there not a single other outfit in this country that can do the job? (CPS hoped to continue on the back of Sassa’s desperate but aborted recent court bid for condolence.) 

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