All eyes will be on the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa), which will face a grilling on Tuesday from Scopa and the social development portfolio committee about compliance with the Concourt ruling and phasing-out of controversial Cash Paymaster Services.
“Sassa is not doing much to finalise the social grant payment contract other than to flounder ahead of the April 1 Constitutional Court deadline,” Themba Godi, the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) chairperson, told Independent Media on Monday.
“Sassa has waited for seven months of the 12 months and it's not doing much,” said Godi. “The way they manage this tender shows that they have not redeemed themselves as an institution that rises to the challenge.”
Godi made the comments ahead of today’s joint meeting of Scopa and the social development portfolio committee, which comes after Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini snubbed the committees’ last two meetings.
This comes hot on the heels of reports that the panel of experts appointed by the Concourt to oversee the phasing-out of CPS had complained about Sassa ignoring their requests for information and documents.
On Monday, Minister Dlamini said no agreement had been reached with the South African Post Office to distribute the social grants when the extended contract ends in March.
Godi said they were shocked that Dlamini made the announcement prior to meeting parliamentarians.
Briefing the media in East London, Dlamini said the Post Office could only provide an integrated payment system, including biometrics. She said the Post Office did not meet a requirement to provide the correct number of banking cards.
Dlamini said the Post Office could participate in the distribution of social grants by supplementing the current distribution infrastructure, but the latest development has been described as a manufactured crisis aimed at ensuring that the payment of social grants remained in the hands of the private company.
Black Sash said it would comment after Sassa appeared before the Scopa meeting later today.
The IFP’s Liezl van der Merwe said it was shocking that it took Sassa five months to find Sapo was no longer suitable to pay the grants.
The Post Office has repeatedly maintained that it has capacity and competency to distribute the social grants.
“It seems clear that Sassa has not been negotiating in good faith. It is clear that the minister prefers to have a private company (distribute the grant). That we must reject,” Van der Merwe said. “The question is who will this company be?”
The DA’s Bridget Masango said Dlamini’s announcement was rather “suspicious” as the Post Office had vehemently denied Sassa’s claims that it was not prepared to take over grant payments.
“It's now clear that Minister Dlamini is yet again trying to manufacture another situation where the country is forced to accept another extension of the dodgy CPS contract,” Masango said.
“Minister Dlamini is spectacularly out of order and this is sufficient grounds for her to be fired,” she said, adding that they were waiting to grill her.
Van der Merwe said she would not be surprised if Dlamini did not attend.
“Surely a subpoena must be issued if she does not come,” she said.
Godi remained hopeful that Dlamini would attend today's meeting despite her concerns about having to account before Scopa and the portfolio committee on social development.