Social activist group Black Sash, which represents thousands of grant recipients, has petitioned the Constitutional Court to urgently intervene in the impending crisis over the payment of social welfare grants to more than 18 million South Africans dependent on government’s financial assistance.
In its founding affidavit, the organisation is asking the court to take an immediate “supervisory role” over both the department of social development and the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), Business Day reports.
Black Sash reportedly said government had failed to deal with the social grants matter despite an order by the ConCourt three years ago directing government to run a new tender for the distribution of grants.
A director of the Black Sash Trust, Lynette Maart, said in the affidavit because government has “inexplicably” only acted now, “there is no longer any alternative” but for the department of social development to contract with current service provider, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to avoid a crisis.
The ConCourt in 2014 declared the five-year contract with CPS “invalid”.
Officials from the department of social development on Monday began negotiations with CPS for a new contract after failing to secure an in-house system to pay grants before 31 March, when the contract with CPS expires.
Negotiations between Sassa and CPS are expected to be concluded on Friday.
On Wednesday Sassa approached the ConCourt to ask it to approve a “transitional arrangement” to allow CPS to keep paying the grants until next year March; however, officials withdrew their application, saying they will resubmit an application in the near future and include the inputs of all stakeholders concerned.
Maart said the renewal of the contract is “an impermissible deviation from the constitutional requirements of a fair, equitable, transparent and cost-effective competitive public procurement.”