Cape Town - It is clear that another social grants standoff is rapidly approaching, with Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), and Cash Payment Services (CPS) on one side, and 17 million poor and vulnerable South Africans on the other side, the Democratic Alliance said on Sunday.
The DA supported a report submitted to the Constitutional Court this week by the panel of experts appointed to oversee Sassa's readiness to take over the distribution of social grants, DA spokeswoman Bridget Masango said.
In its report, the panel had recommended that the department of planning, monitoring, and evaluation investigate the desirability of the National Treasury taking over the payment of social grants, as well as the feasibility of Sassa or the department of social development (DSD) taking over the functions of administration, registration, and verification, she said.
The DA has in the past called on Treasury to take over the payment function from Sassa, as the agency had "become compromised under the toxic influence of minister Bathabile Dlamini".
Some of the risks the panel had identified were:
- Sassa has no immediate plan to properly audit the number and location of cash payment points in the near future;
- Sassa seeks to extend the CPS contract beyond April 1, 2018 to allow for the phase out of CPS and phase in of the new service provider; however they are yet to approach the Constitutional Court for approval; and
- There seems not to be a transition agreement with CPS to ensure the continuation of cash payments from April 1, 2018, as well as an agreement to phase out CPS once a new service provider is in place.
"With less than two months until the April 1st deadline, these risks are very alarming," Masango said.
Last week, South African Post Office CEO Mark Barnes accused Dlamini of being “non-responsive and causing delays”; a further indication of an imminent crisis, she said.
Sassa and Dlamini appeared to be dragging their feet on finding an alternative service provider and there did not seem to be a clear plan of action.
"It is clear that we are fast approaching another social grants standoff – with minister Dlamini, Sassa, and CPS on one side and 17 million poor and vulnerable South Africans on the other side. The DA will always stand with the beneficiaries and we will not allow the minister or anyone else to place their lives in jeopardy," Masango said.
African News Agency/ANA