Picture: David Ritchie/ANA Pictures
Johannesburg - The Black Sash is concerned that there are no contingency plans to pay 2.8 million grant recipient next month should the Constitutional Court refuse to extend the Cash Paymasters Services (CPS) contract.

This week, the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) chief executive Pearl Bengu told the apex court that 2.8 million were at the risk of not receiving their grants should the CPS contract not be extended by six months.

However, Black Sash said despite Sassa reporting last month that progress had been made and that all bids would be in by February 28, the deadline had not been met.

It said that was due to bidders requesting an extension as they were still to receive critical technical information from Sassa.

“It would appear from Sassa's letter dated March 8 that it is still waiting for this information from CPS. It is puzzling how Sassa could issue a tender without this crucial information,” Black Sash said.

The organisation said the request for the extension of the CPS contract would be negatively affected by the bidding process.

“For example bids for the cash tender were to be submitted to Sassa by February 28.

“This deadline was changed to March 12, and the likelihood that the deadline may be extended to March 30 is very real.”

It added that there were possibilities that an appointment could be further delayed if the procurement procedure came under attack.

“We are working with shifting deadlines yet again, as it is unclear when Sassa will appoint a new provider. Sassa does not have a contingency plan for cash payment and the plan in the report is unworkable,” the NGO said.

On the other hand, the Black Sash welcomed the Sassa and the South African Post Office progress report.

“The roll-out plan is premised on successful testing of the new card with the Payment Association of South Africa and the South African Reserve Bank. As much of the activity is still in the testing stages, the implementation plan for the card swop may be rendered unrealistic. Furthermore, the communication of the SA Post Office/Sassa roll-out regarding the opening of bank accounts and the production and issuing cards needs to be more explicit.”

The Star