Pretoria – The Department of Social Development will be embarking on a nationwide public and stakeholder engagement campaign to allay public fears and anxiety surrounding the payment of social grants beyond 31 March 2017.
This was among the recommendations presented during a meeting between Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, MECs responsible for Social Development, Regional Executive Managers of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the Executives of the National Development Agency (NDA).
Minister Dlamini met with the stakeholders on Thursday to brief them on progress regarding the institutionalisation of the social grants payment system within SASSA beyond 31 March 2017.
SASSA’s current contract with Cash Paymaster Services, which currently pays social grants to almost 17 million beneficiaries, is set to expire at the end of March.
The Constitutional Court had previously made a ruling that the contract between SASSA and Cash Paymaster Services was invalid and ordered a re-run of the tender process. But Cash Paymaster was allowed to continue to fulfil its contractual obligations so that social grants payments would not be disrupted.
The meeting on Thursday acknowledged the negotiations currently underway between the department, SASSA, the National Treasury and CPS regarding a transitional arrangement while the agency is putting in place all necessary measures to become a paymaster of social grants in South Africa.
This is envisaged in the South African Social Security Act. The Act establishes SASSA as the agent for the administration and payment of social assistance, social security and related services.
Department of Social Development spokesperson Lumka Oliphant said the stakeholder engagement campaign would include not only members of the public but also Amakhosi and faith based-organisations, among others.
“The Department of Social Development would like to engage citizens on the issues that concern them most in the interest of providing an inclusive social protection system,” said Oliphant.
The meeting reiterated government’s assurance that all eligible social grants beneficiaries will receive their money on time.
Officials at the meeting committed to working with and supporting all the critical steps that SASSA outlined in the institutionalisation of the social grants payment process.
Meanwhile, Minister Dlamini reported that SASSA has filed its supplementary progress report to the Constitutional Court on 2 March 2017.