Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini says the Post Office’s bid to assist with the social grants scheme will be evaluated and decided on by the end of next week.
Dlamini told journalists in Pretoria on Friday that a “due diligence” report on SAPO was completed on Thursday, and that the South African Social Security Agency’s (Sassa) bid committee would now evaluate it on Wednesday.
SAPO CEO Mark Barnes has previously said the Post Office had made an offer “to do everything”, but the extent of their involvement would now be decided by the bid committee.
Various MPs in the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) last week expressed concern that there appeared to be a “deliberate attempt” to limit SAPO’s role in the new grants scheme.
The Post Office says it is ready to replace the 10,000 points of service after the eventual departure of illegal service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) in March next year.
Bank accounts, deductions, data
Acting Sassa CEO Pearl Bhengu said CPS would give Sassa a full list of all beneficiary bank accounts details by the end of the month.
Over two million beneficiaries have their grants deposited directly into bank accounts. Sassa is in talks with National Treasury to re-establish a link to Bankserv to enable their own payments.
The agency also plans to have all beneficiary data transferred to Sassa before the March 2018 deadline.
It will also handle all legal deductions on 11 million beneficiary accounts in-house, before the same deadline, but did not elaborate if it has the capacity to do so.
Sassa is also still in talks with the Reserve Bank to have its paymaster general account reactivated, so that money currently paid to illegal service provider Cash Paymaster Services can be diverted to Sassa.
It will in future open its own corporate account with an unnamed bank by January 2018.
Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele, who is part of the inter-ministerial committee on the grants scheme, said the Post Office is going to play a “supporting role” to Sassa.
Dlamini dodges Scopa question
Dlamini also dodged a question on what role she sees Parliament watchdog Scopa playing, having complained to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete that Scopa was overstepping its role.
She confirmed to journalists earlier that she wrote a letter to Mbete expressing her grievances around Scopa’s public interrogation of the transition process.
Scopa is legally mandated to interrogate the use of all public funds in the various government departments.
“Due to the responsibility of monitoring our work, it’s done by the portfolio committee. It puts us in a compromising situation to start reporting to Scopa, then to the portfolio committee.
“Sometimes we’ve been reporting about our progress first in Scopa, then reporting to the portfolio committee.”
Scopa is currently on oversight duty in Johannesburg, and had planned to visit both Sassa and the Post Office’s headquarters on Thursday and Friday, respectively. The visits will now take place at 13:00 due to a delay.
Sassa is due to submit their next Constitutional Court report by the end of the day.