As the crisis looms over the payment of social grants to almost 18 million South Africans beyond the end of March, the director-general in the department of social development Zane Dangor has put forward a drastic measure to pay social welfare grants should negotiations with current service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) collapse.
On Tuesday, Dangor, appearing before MPs in parliament’s portfolio committee on social development, said the department could take cash directly in trucks to remote areas and rural areas of the country as a last resort.
“We will do what we have done in exceptional cases in the past, it’s risky, but it’s been done before and that’s to take cash, directly on trucks, and pay people,” he said.
In his brief report on the department’s progress in securing the payment of grants, Dangor said negotiations for a new contract between the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and CPS were still ongoing.
He said the department had another interim plan in place as “99%” of grant recipients had bank accounts with CPS’ banking partner, Grindrod, which would allow them to deposit social grant funds.
He said if necessary, they could also use the Post Bank and merchants, though 40% of these preferred to get their grants in cash.
Questions have been raised about the stark contrast between the department’s plans and that of Sassa. On Tuesday, the social grants agency admitted to the standing committee on public accounts in parliament there was no plan in place for the payment of grants when CPS’ contracts expires on March 31.
Negotiations between Sassa and CPS are expected to be concluded on Friday.