R2K to picket at Sassa pay points for 'Hands Off Our Grants' campaign

2017-03-01 23:08


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Cape Town - The Right2Know Campaign in the Western Cape has added its voice to the growing frustration around the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and the Department of Social Development on the agency's state of readiness to distribute social grants to 17 million South Africans on April 1.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the civil action group said it would be picketing at Sassa pay points across Cape Town on Thursday to show its support for human rights group Black Sash, which launched a Constitutional Court application asking that both Sassa and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini ensure that beneficiaries' rights will still be protected come April 1.

"We reiterate our support for the Black Sash's Hands Off Our Grants campaign.

"When government fails its people and private sector vultures swoop in, citizens must organise to defend their own rights. We are requesting everybody who is as outraged by this to join the pickets at the various pay points."

The pickets will take place at the Delft Library, Khayelitsha Resource Centre, Tafelsig and Eastridge from 10:00 to midday, it said.

Paper's filed without minister's approval

Right2Know said it was shocked to find out during a hearing by the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) in Parliament on Tuesday that Sassa had no clear plan in place to ensure the continued payment of social grants to more than 17 million beneficiaries.

On Wednesday morning Sassa withdrew its request to the Constitutional Court for advice over what to do about its contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS).

This was less than 24 hours after it filed the notice, at 17:00 on Tuesday, asking for help from the highest court in the country.

Constitutional Court spokesperson Nathi Mncube confirmed the withdrawal. However, News24 understands that Sassa had filed the papers without Minister Dlamini's approval.

"The minister is the executive authority who exercises oversight on the agency and it was therefore improper for Sassa to file to the court without consulting the minister first and getting the necessary approval," spokesperson Lumka Oliphant told News24.

Meanwhile, an application by Black Sash to ensure that keeping outgoing payment contractor CPS engaged for a period after its contract ends on March 31 does not lead to beneficiaries' or the system's exploitation, still stands, and has been sent to the judges for a decision.

No alternatives

"The Black Sash Trust, therefore, is asking the court to ensure that the continued relationship with CPS is based on terms not harmful to, exploitative of, the grant system, its beneficiaries; the personal data of beneficiaries is owned by Sassa; and such data is kept confidential and not used for marketing purposes targeting grant beneficiaries," it said in a statement.

Parliament is currently conducting hearings on the looming crisis, which comes after years of controversy over the awarding of the contract and alleged abuse of grant recipients' money by micro-lenders and funeral policy companies associated with CPS.

Sassa does not have an alternative arrangement in place once the CPS's contract lapses at the end of March.

Black Sash has repeatedly raised concerns about the contract, but with a month to go, there is no clear alternative available.

Read more on:    sassa  |  right2know  |  black sash  |  cape town  |  grants

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