Picture: South African Social Security Agency (Sassa). (David Ritchie/ANA Pictures).

CAPE TOWN - The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has received a lack of confidence from MPs after failing to attend Parliament on Wednesday morning to provide an update on a new grant payment system. 

The agency was meant to update Parliament’s social development committee on phasing out the current social grants payment contractor, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), and the possible introduction of the SA Post Office in its place.

Notably, the contract with CPS is due to terminate on March 31, 2018. 

Yet, the agency is not forthcoming on the future of the social grant payment system. 

"This is heading for another disaster", declared ANC MP Vilhelmina Mogotsi. 

Added to this, the agency has also failed to meet several deadlines set by the Auditor-General and the panel of experts. 

These deadlines were tasked by the Constitutional Court with monitoring Sassa's progress. 

Unacceptable 

Sassa's refusal to meet the committee was "unacceptable and disrespectful", said ANC MP Sibongile Tsoleli. 

"We have to summon all of them. If we don’t do this now, we are going to sit with the same problem. We can’t be seen as failing to hold them to account on the very plan they presented to us", said Tsoleli. 

Embarrassing

Similarly, DA MP  Bridget Masango expressed her embarrassment that the report by the panel of experts revealed that nearly 90% of what they had asked Sassa for was not provided. 

“None of the timelines given were kept. I can’t believe that we don’t have Sassa here at this critical time,” she said.

Panel

Sassa's failure to provide timeous information has caused a set back for the panel of experts by the Auditor General. 

Sassa had “repeatedly failed to provide timeous access to information”, preventing the panel from adequately doing its work, said Capa. 

“In the very few instances when Sassa reacted to enquiries as to the reasons for the delay or failure to provide documents, the reasons were of an administrative nature rather than substantive. The failure… to provide the relevant information calls into question the integrity and competence of Sassa, which must reflect on its ability to execute its responsibilities,” the panel said. As a result, the panel asked the Constitutional Court to instruct the agency to give it “access to information". 

“Several of the timelines stated in Sassa’s first report to the Court have not been met. Sassa does not yet have a visible plan to manage CPS’s exit from the current system", the panel warned.

Sassa stands to forfeit its service with the Post Office said to likely take over welfare grant payments, according to Independent Media yesterday. 

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has authorised an "offer" to the South African Post Office (Sapo) to take over the payment of social grants.

"Sassa has given Sapo an offer and has given them a reasonable time to respond. This is also after due diligence was conducted on Sapo", said a statement on Wednesday by the Social Development department. 

"Sassa has been hard at work under the leadership of the Department of Social Development and the Minister of Social Development in trying to find the best solution for the payment of social grants". 

Further details on the offer is yet to be released. 

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