Johannesburg – The Democratic Alliance believes reports that the South African Social Security Agency’s (SASSA) plans to extend the CPS contact by a further six months is yet another clear attempt by Minister Bathabile Dlamini to defy the Constitutional court and prolong the grants crisis.
The information emerged from briefing by agency officials to Parliament’s social development committee this month.
The contract with CPS was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court and in order for Sassa to extend it beyond the March 31 expiry date, it will have to ask the Constitutional Court to further prolong the suspension of the invalidity of the contract.
The DA will submit Parliamentary questions to Minister Dlamini asking her to provide clarity on the proposed contract extension with CPS, especially the financial benefits that could possibly accrue to the company as a result of this extension.
It is very suspicious that the tender specifications for the proposed contract extension are ‘tailor-made’ to suit CPS. The DA finds this highly irregular and may be a violation of public procurement procedures as specified by National Treasury.
SASSA’s claim that its current negotiations with the South Africa Postal Office (SAPO) did not factor in grants distribution in the rural areas is simply disingenuous.
Ramokgopa said Sassa would approach the court “as a matter of urgency since this is likely to be virtually the only mechanism to regularise such an approach”.
She envisaged that this application for an extension of one year would be made by February 8.
Ramokgopa told the committee that the medium-term plan was for Sassa to use banking infrastructure through limited banking accounts for the payment of social grant payments.
The long-term plan was for the payments to be made through the national payment system with the South African Post Office being used to extend the social grants payment network.
Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini’s special adviser, Sipho Shezi, said Sassa had agreed with the Treasury and the Reserve Bank on the modalities of the payment system.
The insourcing might not happen as soon as everyone wished but it would happen, he said.
Treasury supported an alternative to extending the CPS contract. This would involve appointing a service producer to make cash payments to beneficiaries who received their grants at cash paypoints and using the banking sector to distribute grants to banked beneficiaries.
Since the Concourt declared the CPS contract as invalid, Minister Dlamini has used every trick in the book to ensure the illegal contract remains in place for as long as possible.
The grants standoff is a manufactured crisis by Minister Dlamini and SASSA that could compromise the livelihoods of millions of South Africans who depend on grants for their sustenance.
The DA will ensure that Parliament plays its role in preventing Minister Dlamini from breaking the law through a stubborn insistence on retaining an illegal contract.