Cape Town – Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) has welcomed the Constitutional Court judgement on the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) contract.

The Constitutional Court ruled on Friday that CPS should continue paying welfare grants to some 17 million South Africans for another year, on the same terms set out in its current contract that expires in two weeks.

Scopa said the judgement resolved the grant payment crisis that was facing the country and gave practical guidance on the temporary contract to be worked out with CPS.

Scopa was also happy with the order on the protection of the personal data of grant recipients, which has been abused by CPS for commercial benefit and said it was looking forward to hearing from the Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini on why she should not be held personally liable for the cost of these proceedings, which could have been avoided had she done her job.

"As Scopa, we salute the meticulous and informed manner in which the judges have handled the matter. They vindicated Scopa in almost all aspects of our argument that this was a deliberately self-created crisis.

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"Scopa would like to acknowledge and thank civil society organisations that took up this matter with the Constitutional Court in the interests of the most vulnerable in society. Scopa wishes to encourage this kind of active citizenry in the interest of the majority."

In a majority judgment written by Judge Johan Froneman, the Constitutional Court said it was acting to safeguard a constitutional right and avert "a catastrophe".

Froneman said it was compelled to do so, because the executive had failed in its constitutional duty, and ordered that Dlamini furnish the court with reasons as to why she should not be held personally liable for the cost of the case. He commented that it was of a supreme irony that the corporate world, in the shape of CPS, was needed to honour social rights because government had neglected its responsibilities.

The Constitutional Court placed Sassa back under its supervision, some 18 months after releasing it from oversight.

The agency will have to report to the court every three months on its progress in developing the capacity to take over grant payment.