Sassa's Post Office deal in the balance

2017-10-25 06:14
Sassa head office. (News24)

Sassa head office. (News24)

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Cape Town - The pending deal between the South African Social Security Agency and the South African Post Office could be at risk, according to a letter sent to the agency.

Sassa finally made a long overdue offer to the Post Office to come on board and assist with the nationwide social grants scheme.

In a joint Parliamentary meeting on Tuesday evening, MPs heard that the offer only included one of four possible services the Post Office will perform for Sassa.

READ MORE: Post Office offered only one of four Sassa services

The Post Office has until Thursday to respond.

However, a letter dated Friday, October 20, showed that the Post Office has already responded to Sassa's offer.

The Post Office would only accept the deal if three other conditions were approved as well. If not, they would revert to an original offer made to the Post Office by former Sassa CEO Thokozani Magwaza in July.

Contingency plan

In the meeting on Tuesday, Inkatha Freedom Party MP Liezl van der Merwe asked acting Sassa CEO Pearl Bengu what their contingency plan was if, come Thursday, the Post Office rejected the offer.

Bengu and Sassa project lead Zodwa Mvulane responded that would "continue with their programme as planned", and could not deviate from it.

Essentially, it's now up to the Post Office to either accept or reject the offer.

Van der Merwe told journalists at the meeting that the questions posed to Sassa were in vain if the Post Office deal fell through.

It was another potential looming crisis because they still don't know what will happen to the other three services, she added.

News24 could not reach Magwaza on Tuesday.

SAPO's bid strengths

Of the four services requested during the tender process, the Post Office was only granted the right to provide "an integrated payment system, which can also handle beneficiaries' biometric data".

They were unsuccessful in their bid to also provide banking services, card production, and cash payments at pay points, Bengu told MPs.

With regard to cash payments at pay points, Sassa's bid committee felt SAPO did not show an ability to "eliminate fraud and double dipping".

It also felt that the Post Office would not have capacity to produce bank cards. Instead, they have asked the Reserve Bank for an extension to existing Sassa cards.

MORE: Sassa heading for another crisis, say MPs

However, DA MP Tim Brauteseth announced in the meeting that he had received information from "the highest possible person at the Post Office" that Sassa's presentation was not accurate.

According to Brauteseth, the Post Office's capabilities were being downplayed.

Brauteseth said the person, who he revealed as Post Office CEO Mark Barnes himself, would be ready to testify to the Post Office's strengths to Parliament as soon as Wednesday.

Representations 

However, Bengu defended Sassa's offer to the Post Office, saying they negotiated in good faith and that she told Barnes himself that their bid did not represent what they were offering in reality.

She took offence to accusations that she was lying to Parliament.

MPs said the Post Office has to come to Parliament to represent.

"Right now, we don't know who is telling us the truth, and who is lying," said Economic Freedom Fighters MP Veronica Mente.

The joint meeting will sit again next Tuesday, where it will invite both SAPO and the ministers of the respective portfolios to attend.

Read more on:    sassa  |  sapo  |  parliament 2017  |  social grants

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