Sassa mulling Post Office's response to grants offer

2017-10-26 16:01


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Cape Town – The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) says it is mulling over the South African Post Office's response to its offer to assist the agency with the social grants scheme.

Parliament heard on Tuesday that Sassa finally made an offer to the Post Office on October 18, but only to assist with one of the four services that were put out to tender.

The Post Office replied on October 20 in a letter, which News24 has seen, that it would not make sense to separate the Post Office's core banking functions, which comprise the three other services it was not granted in the request for proposal.

It would thus revert to an original offer – made to it by former Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza in July – if an agreement on those three other services could not be reached. The details of the July offer were not made public.

- Read more: Sassa's Post Office deal in the balance

Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi told News24 on Thursday that the entity was considering the Post Office's response, and wants to give negotiations a chance.

"We will continue to have discussions with the Post Office with the intention of trying to reach each other.

"When negotiations are at a certain stage, sometimes it's very problematic to talk about the nuts and bolts of the discussion."

Sassa had originally given the Post Office until Thursday to accept the agreement. The Post Office's response, however, means the deadline could likely be pushed back, he said.

"This is a government-to-government engagement so we want to give the negotiations a chance."

Clock ticking

However, Post Office CEO Mark Barnes says the issue is firmly back in Sassa's court. Both parties have until Tuesday, October 31, to thrash out a revised deal.

On that date the two entities are expected to appear in Parliament for a joint meeting before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Portfolio Committee on Social Development.

Barnes told talk radio station 702 on Thursday that Sassa's most recent offer did not cater to the Post Office's banking strengths.

"Our core strength is Post Bank and the infrastructure... which has to be part of an integrated card production facility.

"At the very least, you would have thought taking advantage of our infrastructure would have been in the thought process."

Barnes would not be drawn on speculation that the deal was being deliberately delayed, but said that it made sense for another government entity to come on board in the distribution of grants, as it was a public, not a private, service.

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini and Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele have also been called to the upcoming meeting.

Dlamini ditched both the joint meeting on Tuesday, and a portfolio committee meeting last week, despite the Constitutional Court's stinging rebuke of her management of the matter.

Sassa has until March 31, 2018, to find a new service provider to assist with the grants scheme in order to phase out invalid current service provider Cash Paymaster Services.

Read more on:    sassa  |  sapo  |  cape town  |  social grants

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