Who will be responsible for making social grant payments from 1 April 2017? Will SASSA be ready to pay grants by 1 April?
The Black Sash, along with many other civil society organisations, hoped that the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) hearing on the Department of Social Development (DSD) and the South African Social Security Agency’s (SASSA) irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure on Wednesday 23 November 2016 would, amongst other very important issues, finally reveal evidence of SASSA’s implementation to in-source social grant payments.
Unfortunately, the response to the Committee from the Minister of Social Development, DSD and SASSA on this issue remains vague and evasive. Civil society organisations on the Ministerial Task Team, tasked to stop unauthorised, fraudulent and unlawful deductions from the SASSA branded bank account of grant beneficiaries, have for most of 2016 repeatedly made requests for details of SASSA’s progress in implementing their plans for in-sourcing and to date is yet to receive an appropriate response.
In April 2014, the Constitutional Court declared the current Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) SASSA contract for the payment of social grants invalid. In November 2015, SASSA then submitted a plan to the ConCourt with fixed time frames outlining its implementation plans for in-sourcing social grant payments. However, most of these time frames have not been adhered to, placing SASSA and grant beneficiaries in a precarious position. There are persistent rumors that the current invalid CPS contract could be extended beyond its expiry date of 31 March 2017. If these rumors are true, the ConCourt needs to provide guidance on how an invalid contract can be extended.
The danger of extending this contract is clear from the countless complaints we receive concerning unauthorised, fraudulent and unlawful deductions from the SASSA branded bank accounts of social grant beneficiaries. Many social grant beneficiaries who have laid complaints about these deductions are still struggling to have these deductions stopped, let alone receive full refunds.
All parties need to answer to the more than 17 million social grant beneficiaries whose very survival depends on the effective payment of grants monthly. SASSA owes grant beneficiaries an answer of who will pay them from 1 April 2017 and whether their SASSA branded bank accounts will be protected from unauthorised, fraudulent and unlawful deductions. There cannot be any further delay in holding SASSA to account for what could potentially become democratic South Africa’s biggest national crisis.
For more information contact:
Elroy Paulus (Black Sash Advocacy Manager: 082 748 5621 / 021 686 6952
Esley Philander (Black Sash Communications and Media): 073 468 2909 / 021 686 6952