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Sassa crisis: Only CPS up to the task, says CEO

Politics
Johannesburg - Bidders for the social grant purse pitted themselves against each other, with the SA Post Office attempting to put its best foot forward, only for Cash Paymaster Services to dismiss the company as incapable.

In spite of a Constitutional Court ruling that had dismissed the awarding of the tender to CPS as irregular, CPS chief executive Serge Belamant on Sunday positioned his company as the quintessential master of social grants facilitation.

None of the companies being considered for the task would be able to deliver come April 1, said Belamant, adding that only CPS was properly equipped to ensure that millions of social grant recipients get their grants next month.

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CPS chief executive Serge Belamant says that only CPS is properly equipped to ensure that millions of social grant recipients get their grants next month. File picture.

On Friday, SA Post Office (Sapo) chief executive Mark Barnes said the Post Office could utilise its 2500 outlets and existing cash-in-transit contractors to distribute grants.

“Grant recipients would have to present identity documents to claim from the Post Office,” said Barnes.

He also said the Post Office could help provide an interim solution to distribute grants until a new system was put in place.

However, Belamant said neither the banks nor Sapo would be in a position to deliver the grants on the set deadline.

Speaking to The Star on Sunday, Belamant said: “We attempted using the Post Office in KwaZulu-Natal some years ago, and it failed within six months because of inadequate operating hours, the service not being reliable and continual strikes,” he said.

“The Post Office does not have the expertise, technology or financial expertise to conduct these operations.”

Belamant said it took his company 14 months to set up the current South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) system, which included collecting the fingerprints of 10 million people, putting in place financial checks and balances, establishing 10 000 pay-points and the construction of some 600 custom-made armoured vehicles which have 2400 ATMs on board.

Even the option of handing the Sassa system over to Grindrod Bank would not work as that very same bank was using CPS systems which it designed and which could be simply switched off, he said.

Banks, he added, did not have the necessary checks and balances regarding authorised Sassa debit orders, and if several banks were to be used as suggested in one of the options, it could take months to decide which bank gets what, Belamant said.

He also said there was no way a new system to distribute grants would be in place by the end of the month, adding that while CPS was being accused of many things, it had never been found guilty of anything by the courts or the police, who had conducted many investigations.

“The errors on the tender were from Sassa’s side, not ours. We were never found guilty of any wrongdoing, yet many in the media are blaming us,” he said.

Despite Belamant’s assertions, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini was adamant that social grants would be paid on April 1.

Dlamini told journalists on Sunday that a deal had not been struck with CPS, but it would be concluded soon.

Dlamini refused to answer questions on her position in the cabinet, amid calls from Cosatu and other parties that she resign.

She said it was the prerogative of President Jacob Zuma to fire her.

“In the ANC you are appointed by the president. If you are not performing, he will ask you to recuse yourself so that those who are fit can take over. No one joins the ANC to be a minister. I did not join the ANC to be a minister,” she said.

Dlamini also refused to comment on the resignation of the department’s director-general, Zane Dangor, who cited a breakdown in his relationship with her as the reason for his leaving.

The minister is expected before Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) on Monday.

The Star

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