MPs 'alarmed' as Sassa mum on readiness to take over grant scheme

2016-11-30 19:55
Bathabile Dlamini. (Elizabeth Sejake, City Press)

Bathabile Dlamini. (Elizabeth Sejake, City Press)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town – The SA Social Security Agency has still not decided on a system to oversee the distribution of grants to 22 million people, despite facing a deadline of April 1 next year, MPs heard on Wednesday.

Members of the social development portfolio committee were alarmed when Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini and Sassa officials were reluctant to discuss the finer details of the two system "options" they were considering.

The contract with current service provider, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), expires in four months.

Once a system had been decided on, Sassa would need to sign contracts with a chosen bank, create and design new Sassa cards, install a new IT system, and finalise the logistics of registering beneficiaries, transporting cash, and informing the public.

The process to register beneficiary fingerprints would only be finalised by October 2017, Sassa project lead Zodwa Mvulane said.

'No timelines or anything'

Dlamini and her director general, Zane Dangor, were reluctant to discuss finer details of those logistics. Dlamini said it would "put the department's work thus far at risk".

ANC MP Patrick Mabilo said it was an insult for the department to insist the project was a work in progress, when it had failed to meet five deadlines set by the Constitutional Court.

DA MP Evelyn Wilson said the department’s presentation was "guff".

"All we've heard about is a work in progress. The whole point of this meeting was to show us exactly where we are and what needs to be done," she said.

"We have seen nothing in that regard, with no timelines or anything."

In November, 2015, the Constitutional Court finalized seven goals for Sassa to meet to successfully take over the scheme from CPS. Its contract with the department would become invalid from April 1, 2017, due to irregular tender processes.

'Wish list'

The department had yet to report back to the Constitutional Court on missing five of the deadlines. Project lead Mvulane said they had been "overly ambitious" in their targets.

Wilson's colleague, Bridget Masango, called the department's presentation a wish list, with no concrete facts.

Mabilo said the festive season would hamper continued work, effectively leaving the department with two working months.

ANC MP Sibongile Tsoleli wanted to know if the department was ready.

"If we are called upon to give a full account on our contingency plan, that has implications," Dlamini replied.

"It will put some at an advantage, but also put the work we are doing at risk. With due respect, we don't want to risk the work we are doing."

She did not elaborate.

'Answers not good enough'

Dlamini dismissed concerns that grant recipients would want to know the details of the new grant system. All they wanted to know is if they would get paid on April 1, she said.

She blamed some of the delays on the exit of former Sassa CEO Virginia Petersen. New CEO Thokozani Magwaza assured MPs that they would be ready.

Dangor tried to assure the committee that, as director general, he would pressure Sassa to deliver on the deadline and choose one of the options.

He however said he was uncomfortable discussing service providers and contracts in such a "public forum".

The ANC’s Tsoleli said the answers were not good enough, as MPs were responsible for approving Sassa's budget.

Committee chairperson Rose Capa instructed the department to prepare a document setting out its plan to take over on April 1, with clear timelines.

Read more on:    sassa  |  bathabile dlamini

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.