Shabangu in charge of Sassa migration for now - Cabinet

2018-03-01 14:02
Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu. (File: Beeld)

Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu. (File: Beeld)

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Cape Town - New Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu has assumed the responsibilities of ensuring the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) successfully migrates the social grants scheme by April 1, Cabinet has said.

Shabangu and predecessor Bathabile Dlamini swapped portfolios in President Cyril Ramaphosa's Cabinet reshuffle on Monday, with Dlamini heading to the department of women in the Presidency.

New Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane told journalists on Thursday that, while the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) in charge of the Sassa crisis was still in place, Shabangu would be handling the issue for the next 30 days.

"Yesterday, Minister Susan Shabangu appeared before the portfolio committee on social development in Parliament," Mokonyane said at her first post-Cabinet briefing.

"For now, she has assumed the responsibility with immediate effect, and the structures of the IMC have not changed."

Mokonyane said the new Cabinet had not discussed Sassa's action plan for the next 30 days to meet Sassa's obligations to the Constitutional Court.

Leadership of the social grants crisis was taken over by the IMC on social security in March last year, headed by then-minister in the presidency Jeff Radebe.

That role has now been filled by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who was also appointed to the position on Monday.

Shabangu admitted to MPs on Wednesday that she had been "thrown into the deep end".

Read: Sassa to hear in 6 days if CPS contract can be extended

She, however, committed to ensuring that Sassa fulfilled its obligations before the April 1 deadline.

"My head is still spinning, but we have started to do briefings with the minister (Dlamini)," she said.

Sassa has 30 days in which to fully migrate core components of the grants scheme from its current service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), as ordered by the Constitutional Court in March last year.

Dry run of system on March 16, new cards by April

The South African Post Office (SAPO) is set to take over the lead role in distributing grants from April 1.

Special projects manager at Sassa, Zodwa Mvulane, told MPs on Wednesday that Sassa planned to do a dry run of their new system from March 16, and launch fully on March 23.

The new Sassa cards produced by SAPO will only be available in late April, but existing Grindrod cards can still be used until December 31.

Acting Sassa CEO Pearl Bhengu on Wednesday revealed that the Constitutional Court would, on March 6, rule on the agency's request to extend the Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) contract by six months.

Bhengu said they were waiting to hear if the court would grant Sassa a six-month "phase-in, phase-out" process from CPS to SAPO.

They also needed CPS to continue making cash payments for approximately 29% of beneficiaries, and had planned for contingencies if the court ruled against them.

"We are busy with that process, so we can make sure those people get that money. We will have to give them pin numbers, and we do have some merchants that have biometric [security features].

"On paydays, we will calculate how many people are there, and take them to a place where they can get their money at the nearest ATM, merchant or store."

She assured MPs that all payments, starting from April, would come from Sassa's corporate account, not CPS's, but the risk remained the delivery of cash thereafter to those in rural areas.

Read more on:    sassa  |  susan shabangu  |  nomvula mokonyane  |  cape town  |  social grants  |  service delivery  |  cps

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