It is clear 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, the Democratic Alliance said yesterday.
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 spokesperson Bridget Masango said.
The panel had recommended that the department of planning, monitoring, and evaluation investigate the desirability of Treasury taking over the payment of grants, as well as the feasibility of Sassa or the department of social development 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 from Sassa as the agency had “become compromised under the toxic influence of 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;
- Sassa seeks to extend the CPS contract beyond April 1, to allow for the phase out of CPS and phase in of the new service provider; but it is 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, as well as an agreement to phase out CPS once a new service provider is in place.
“With less than two months until the deadline, these risks are very alarming,” Masango said.
Last week, South African Post Office CEO Mark Barnes accused Dlamini of being “nonresponsive 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.