Picture: David Ritchie/ANA Pictures
Parliament - The South African Post Office (Sapo) on Tuesday told MPs it was capable of taking over the payment of social grants, contradicting Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini's announcement the previous day that the post office was only able to play a limited role.

"We find a different verdict and we argue we sit here ready to deliver," Sapo chief executive Mark Barnes told a joint meeting of Parliament's standing committee on public accounts and its portfolio committee on social development.

He was responding to an announcement by Dlamini on Monday that Sapo fell short on three of four key functions needed to pay out grants to some 12 million South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) recipients every month. 

On Dlamini's position that the post office could not print the required 4.2 million beneficiary cards per annum that were required, or vouch for a sub-contractor who could do so, Barnes said this was simply not true.

"We can produce two million cards after eight weeks...then two million every three weeks," Barnes said. 

The Post Bank, an autonomous division of the Post Office, was the 7th biggest bank in South Africa and was more than capable of doing payments, he contended.

"All our counters are considered ATMs and beneficiaries can withdraw funds as well. We do not need to register as a merchant to make payments," he said.

Barnes said they would make use of cash-in-transit services to deliver cash to pay points for beneficiaries without bank cards.

He argued an independent assessment by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) did an independent assessment of the post office, testing them against 218 categories of performance.

"There were only eight where it [CSIR report] said requirements weren't met. I went to a government school and 97 percent was a pass, not a fail, and that's what we achieved according to the CSIR evaluation," said Barnes.

MPs were left angered over the lack of an agreement reached between Sassa and the post office on the distribution of social grants. Some politicians wanted the matter elevated to a cabinet committee on social grants.

African News Agency