With many of the ruling party’s ardent supporters being the marginalised poor, the ANC may face an electoral revolt if an agreement is not reached on just who is responsible for the distribution of social grants.
“If, by June of next year, we are still discussing this matter and months have gone past with late payments or no payments, then the ANC will be facing an electoral revolt from perhaps its most ardent supporters – the poor and those in more rural areas,” said political analyst Daniel Silke.
“The continuity and rollout is critical. The ANC has largely built its social structures around the efficient delivery of social grants.
“It’s probably the biggest success story of the ANC, which has been able to pay with reasonable efficiency these very large quantities of grants.”
Silke’s comments come after Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Jeff Radebe said in parliament yesterday that the interministerial committee (IMC) on social security will reach an agreement for South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa) and the South African Post Office (Sapo) on the distribution of social grants.
The agreement between Sassa and Sapo is expected to be signed by next Friday. But official opposition party the Democratic Alliance said this did not mean Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini was off the hook.
Dlamini has come under fire for “delaying the process” of Sassa finding “a new distributor of social grants in order to keep a dodgy Cash Paymaster Systems contract”, said the DA.
Silke said if the new system could not cope with the demand or was inefficient, “we will see a substantial backlash from those who are reliant upon disbursements”.
“A lot will also depend on how quickly the matter can be rectified. There is still sufficient time between now and the end of the year, ahead of the 2019 elections, to restore efficiency into the delivery of these payments.
“But if this is an ongoing problem that continues throughout the next year, with systems failures or late payments or whatever the case may be, then it might eat into the broader election campaign.”
Sassa grants were a key element in the ANC’s armoury in terms of its social upliftment programmes, he added.
“It would be a threat to the party in terms of creating dissatisfaction if it had to be disrupted.
“On the issue of the post office, I would say that it has given an undertaking, from what I have seen, and from what its CEO, Mark Barnes, has said, that it can provide the service. I think Barnes should be taken on his word.
“[Dlamini] is now being forced to broker a deal with the post office out of urgency and also for the need for transparency in using a state agency to accomplish the payments.”
By transferring some of the task to the post office, some responsibility is also taken out of Dlamini’s hands, said Silke.
“Therefore, a second state agency can also be held accountable should there be a mess up in that particular process.”
The portfolio committee on social development welcomed the IMC’s decision to fast-track the introduction of an integrated payment system through Sapo and Sassa.
“The joint committee is interested to see how this partnership will resolve this issue timeously,” it said. It is also interested to see what the cooperation agreements between Sassa and Sapo entail. – email@example.com