Pretoria - All social grants for the month of April will be paid on time, as a dispute between the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) and three service providers has been resolved, says the Minister of Social Development Zola Skweyiya.
SASSA has agreed on a 12 month contract extension with the three service providers contracted to pay social grants, namely Cash Payment Services (CPS), All Pay and Empilweni.
The service providers are responsible for making social grant cash payments of more than R4 billion each month.
"This means that social grants payments will not be disrupted. April payments will be paid without interruptions," said the minister.
The minister said he was pleased that they were able to find common ground, so as not to disadvantage beneficiaries.
"Many beneficiaries depend solely on social grants to put food on the table. They cannot afford not to get paid even for one day," he said.
Early this week, Cash Payment Services warned that up to seven million South Africans would not receive their social grants next week if SASSA did not settle a contract dispute within the next 24 hours.
SASSA's existing contracts with all three service providers would have expired on Tuesday and in the absence of new contracts, they would have been unable to deliver next month's payments, said Cash Payment Services.
They had also wanted SASSA to have a two-year contract, but given the grant conditions by the National Treasury and the Auditor-General that all cash payment contractors must get an interim contract for a period of one year and that a new tender must be published and finalized within that financial year (2009/2010), this would not have been possible.
The minister has requested the Director General of Social Development Vusi Madonsela and the Chief Executive Officer of SASSA Fezile Makiwane to intervene and negotiate with the service providers to find an urgent solution.
Delivering his budget speech in February, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel announced that government's spending on social security would receive a R13.2 billion boost in 2009 to provide some measure of protection to poor South Africans during the economic slowdown.
These increases will be implemented in the new financial year, which begins next month.