Cape Town - The warning to Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini is crystal clear: just one wrong move with grant payments and she will be held personally liable.
This is the message from the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa), following a groundbreaking Constitutional Court ruling averting a potential mammoth crisis impacting 17 million people, mostly elderly, children and disabled people in our South Africa.
"SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) and Cash Paymaster Service (CPS) must ensure payment from April 1 for 12 months on the same terms and conditions as the contract which expires on March 31," Justice Johann Froneman said in handing down the judgment on Friday.
Although Dlamini apologised unreservedly to the millions of grant beneficiaries for the anxiety she had put them through, Fedusa said the ruling will bring stability to a highly volatile situation.
"[It] ensures that millions of South African are not unfairly prejudiced by the incompetence of executive authority,” said Fedusa secretary general Dennis George.
“Fedusa will hold Minister Dlamini personally accountable if there are any disruptions of grant payment to needy South Africans over the 12 months period that has been ordered by the Constitutional Court”, he noted.
The ConCourt ruling means the declaration of the invalidity of the previous contract between Sassa and CPS would be suspended for 12 months.
In 2014, the Constitutional Court declared the R10bn grant payments tender run by Net1 UEPS Technologies’ Cash Paymaster Services as invalid amid irregularities in the awarding of the deal.
Subsequently, the court ordered Sassa to reissue the tender, which the state welfare agency did not as it said the bids were non-compliant.
The agency said it was not ready to assume the payment function itself by April 1, as previously planned, putting the welfare project in limbo.