Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini must provide answers on the Sassa debacle to the Constitutional Court by Monday.
Parliament – Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini will not oppose an application by the Black Sash to ensure the Constitutional Court has oversight over the country's social grant payment system, the ministry said on Thursday.

"It is important to note that the Department of Social Development and Sassa do not intend to oppose the noble application by the Black Sash which seeks to essentially protect the rights of the social grant beneficiaries," Dlamini's spokeswoman Lumka Oliphant said.

The ministry stressed that the rights in question include "the protection of personal data of social grants beneficiaries as well as illegal deductions". Irregular deductions has been one of the criticisms of the current contract with Cash Paymaster Services, which runs out of March 31.

Dlamini has negotiated a new contract with the company, saying that there is no viable alternative as the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has failed to prepare itself to take over the role from April.

Any extension of the contract with CPS would have required the approval of the Constitutional Court. It declared the current contract invalid in 2013 because it resulted from a flawed tender process, but suspended the ruling so as not to disrupt the payment of more than 17 million welfare grants on a monthly basis.

Dlamini sidestepped the need to secure the court's permision by announcing that she was seeking a new contract with CPS not an extension. Instead she is asking National Treasury to approve a deviation from normal procurement practice because she is negotiating with CPS as a single bidder.

On Wednesday, Chief Justice Moegeng Moegeng gave Sassa five days to answer a number of questions about the grant payment debacle. This includes which officials decided that Sassa was not ready to comply with the undertaking to take over grant payment from April and when they became aware that this problem.

The department of social development on Thursday said it had always believed the involvement of the Constitutional Court was crucial as it is guarantor of social rights.

"The Constitutional Court is best placed to deal with the matter at hand because social assistance in South Africa is a human right enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa."

Oliphant said Dlamini had instructed the department and Sassa to "work around the clock" to give the Constitutional Court the information demanded by Mogoeng.