Minister Dlamini welcomes ConCourt judgement

Friday, March 17, 2017

Pretoria – Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has welcomed the judgement by the Constitutional Court on the payment of social grants.

The Constitutional Court extended the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) for 12 months, under the same terms and conditions, and under strict supervision.

Minister Dlamini said that it has always been the department's belief that the Constitutional Court was the right place to hear the matter.

She committed herself and Sassa to comply with the order of the court.

"The Constitutional Court judgement this morning is a victory for all the social grant beneficiaries, particularly vulnerable children, persons with disabilities and older persons to whom social assistance is a lifeline. More importantly, this judgment will ensure that there's no interruption in the provision of social grants," said Minister Dlamini.

Speaking today at the National Stakeholder Engagement meeting held at Rhodesfield in Kempton Park, Minister Dlamini sincerely apologised to every beneficiary for the anxiety and fear they had to endure in the past few weeks.

She said that going forward, the department and Sassa will ensure that social grants are used strategically to improve local economic growth, particularly in poor communities targeting women and youth.

The Minister also extended her appreciation to Black Sash for assisting Sassa and social grant beneficiaries in making sure that no money is deducted from their grants.

The organization was part of the Ministerial Task Team established by Minister Dlamini to look into the matter of illegal deductions and recommend ways in which they could be stopped.

"We look forward to working with Black Sash as we endeavour to improve our social assistance programme. We have always contended that the primary role of our government's social assistance programme is to alleviate poverty," said Minister Dlamini.

Cash Paymaster Services (CPS)

CPS is responsible for the distribution of social grants to 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.

ConCourt Judgement

Today’s judgment was handed down by Constitutional High Court Justice Johan Froneman.

The court suspended the declaration of the invalidation of the CPS contract for a period of 12 months from 1 April 2017.

The court ordered that the terms and conditions of the contract shall contain adequate safeguards to ensure that personal data of grant beneficiaries remains private and may not be used for any purpose other than the payment of grants.

Within 30 days of the completion of the period of the contract, CPS must file with the court audited statements of the expenses incurred, income received and net profit earned under the contract.

The court also ordered SASSA to obtain an independent audited verification of the statements provided by CPS. The ordered verification must be approved by National Treasury and the audited verification must be filed by SASSA within a period of 60 days.

The court further ordered CPS to permit auditors appointed by SASSA to have access to its financial information, and that the Minister of Social Development and SASSA must file a report on affidavits with the court every three months.

The report must set out how they plan to ensure the payment of social grants after the contract expires, what steps they have taken in that regard, what further steps they will take and when they will take future steps to ensure that the payment of social grants are made. – SAnews.gov.za

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