Cape Town - The Presidency has pledged to tackle any challenges facing the social assistance programme, which is seen as one of the crowning glories of government policy.
"Government will always make sure to overcome whatever challenges may threaten the provision of this important social security net to our people."
This was one of many issues highlighted in a statement on some of the progress made under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma who celebrates his 75th birthday on Wednesday.
"Government’s social assistance programme continues to support poor households," the Presidency said.
"The Child Support Grant and the Older Persons Grant are the two largest grants, with 12 million children and 3.2 million older persons."
Last month a groundbreaking Constitutional Court ruling averted a potential mammoth crisis impacting 17 million people, mostly the elderly, children and disabled people in South Africa.
On March 17 Net1’s subsidiary Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) and South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa) were ordered to continue paying social grants until another entity which can do so is found.
The ConCourt stated that the extension of CPS's contract will facilitate a due process of appointing another service provider. It further ordered Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini and Sassa to submit reports every three months on the progress of the new contract.
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.
The possible catastrophe created profound anxiety and fear among beneficiaries, especially those whose household's sole income is social grants.
There has been widespread calls for Dlamini to step down or be axed, but Zuma defended her saying she didn't commit any crime.
However, Dlamini is now accused by her former director general of contributing to the crisis, reported Bloomberg. Zane Dangor claims Dlamini bypassed officials, which contributed to CPS being able to continue to distribute grants.
“The parallel decision-making structures in the form of the work streams may have been deliberate to ensure a continued relationship with CPS under conditions favourable to CPS, through a self-created emergency,” Dangor wrote in an affidavit.
The affidavit was filed in response to a submission by Dlamini, arguing that she should not be held personally liable for the legal costs of the ConCourt case that was brought by The Black Sash. Instead she blamed Sassa and its chief executive officer, Thokozani Magwaza.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reported that the grants debacle could be linked to Dlamini's alleged ex-boyfriend and a falling out over the establishment of a BEE vehicle that was to partner with CPS to distribute social grants.