Johannesburg – Several political parties and other civil society representatives have come out in favour of Friday’s Constitutional Court ruling.
The ruling by the highest court in the country will see grants continued to be paid out to some 17 million South Africans when the current contract expires at the end of the month.
The matter came before the court as the results of civil society intervention, with the Black Sash wanting the court to have oversight of any contracts inked to ensure the R150 billion a year is paid to recipients.
The matter blew up after a 2014 ruling that found that Net1 subsidiary Cash Paymaster Services’ contract – worth R10 billion – was not valid, but the Department of Social Development and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) did not appoint a new service provider.
On Friday, the Office of the ANC Chief Whip welcomed the judgment, noting that the ruling – which also included strict conditions - gives SASSA, working together with other state entities, sufficient time to improve state capacity to deliver social grants.
“We are of the firm view that core service delivery functions of the state must be carried out by state institutions and not left to the private sector.”
The ANC’s office adds the ruling also protects grant recipients’ information. “This provision will ensure that social grant recipients, who are often vulnerable to various forms of exploitation, will be protected.”
There had previously been concerns that CPS had shared details with other parties so as to tie grant recipients into loan deals that saw their grants debited before they could use them on essentials.
In addition, the ANC says it will “take the necessary steps to ensure that those involved in this matter are held accountable for their actions or lack thereof”.
Social Development minister Bathabile Dlamini has come under fire for not acting sooner, and there have been several calls for her axing.
Meanwhile, the ANC Women’s League also welcomed the ruling, noting it has “always assured the citizens of the country that social grant recipients will receive their grant payments on April 1.”
However, Save South Africa says Dlamini must do the right thing: quit, and pay the bill for her incompetence.
The Constitutional Court has given the minister a short while to file papers as to why she should not pay costs.
“Today’s Constitutional Court judgment is a damning indictment of how little regard Dlamini has for the poor, the indigent and the vulnerable, and she should hang her head in shame. Because of her, the Constitutional Court has been forced to hand down an exceptional and extraordinary order which in essence means that a failing government is being run by the court,” says Save South Africa in a Friday statement.
“Save South Africa commends the role played by the Constitutional Court, and salutes those in civil society and the media who have pursued this matter so consistently. Once again, we should appreciate the instruments of our democracy – and how increasingly we need to use these instruments to protect against the abuse of state power.”
Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkulu Ngungane also added his voice to the debate, thanking the court and slamming the minister.
“South Africa owes a debt of gratitude to the independence of the judiciary in general and in particular to its esteemed Constitutional Court.”
Ngungane says the court “effectively rescued the South African government’s inept oversight of social grant payouts from total disaster”.
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts has also welcomed the ruling.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE