ConCourt gives SASSA December deadline

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has welcomed the Constitutional Court’s directives to the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) to deliver a comprehensive plan to the court by 8 December 2017, detailing how it will pay more than 17 million grant recipients.

According to the Social Development Department, the Minister has directed SASSA to comply with the directives and instructed the agency’s Acting CEO, Pearl Bengu to avail all resources that may be needed by other government departments or state agencies to carry out these orders.

The Constitutional Court’s order, issued this week, said the information must "specify matters such as definite roles and responsibilities, precise timelines, dependencies, desired outcomes and risk-mitigation measures". Following delivery of the plan, monthly progress reports must be given to the Court on implementation of the plan.

In addition to the December 8 deadline, the Constitutional Court directed SASSA to:

- Fully comply with any present or future request by the Panel of Experts (panel) for access to information held by Sassa by providing the panel soft copies, clearly indexed, of documents containing the information requested within the timeframes stipulated by the Panel and, if unable to do so, to inform the Panel of the reasons for this within three working days of the request:

- Provide the panel with appropriate and sufficient details on the process or processes undertaken by Sassa to obtain the services of service providers including the communications with the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer and any legal advice provided by Sassa’s legal unit or outside lawyers by 12 noon on Friday 17 November 2017;

- Combine statistics and information of all entities involved in the payment of social grants into one document to be provided for the Panel on a monthly basis;

- Request that the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) develop and implement a plan to inform all grant beneficiaries of the implications of the transition and benefits of receiving their social grants via bank accounts by a financial institution of their choice and report to the Court each month on progress made with regards to this plan.

Sassa has also been told to raise the alarm if needs arises to alert the court of its contingency plan if a seamless transition on the 1 April 2018 deadline is not feasible.

The social security agency has been locked in talks with the South African Post Office on how the two parastatals can work together to deliver grants to South Africans.

Background to the case

In March this year, the Constitutional Court extended Sassa’s contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) for a year, in order to fulfil the constitutional obligation of paying social grants to beneficiaries.

CPS is responsible for the distribution of social grants to more than 17 million beneficiaries. Its contract, which was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court in 2014, would have come to an end on 31 March 2017. The court, however, suspended the invalidity so grants could continue to be paid while SASSA made another plan for 1 April 2018. –



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