Sassa’s broad plan to (eventually) take over social grants payments

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini says the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has a plan in place to take over the distribution of social grants to 17 million beneficiaries.

This is the agency’s plan:

  • Phase 1: Planning for the transition including the phase-out of the current service provider, which must be done between the 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years.

Sassa has told the Constitutional Court the following:

“We don’t know what the most satisfactory rapid solution to the problem might be. We can merely say that it seems unreasonable for Sassa to cling to its decision to go it alone by paying social grants itself if it will cause undue delay in putting the payment of social grants on a lawful footing.

“For instance, if Sassa can run a competitive bidding and have a new process in place in, say, one year from now, then it would in our view be unreasonable to continue with the unlawful arrangement with CPS for two or three years only because Sassa requires that time to go it alone.

“Sassa is in our view obliged, within reason, to minimise the duration of its unlawful arrangement with CPS, if needs be by running a competitive bidding process and appointing a new contractor without delay,” it said in its updated progress report filed on March 3.

  • Phase 2: The transition from the period April 2017 to March 2019

“Sassa should apply for National Treasury approval…It requires prior National Treasury approval for deviations from normal bidding processes based on grounds other than emergency or sole supplier status. This instruction is binding in terms of section 76(4)(c) of the PFMA (Public Finance Management Act). It says Treasury will only allow such deviations in exceptional cases,” it said.

  • Phase 3: Full roll out of the payment plan from April 2019 onwards

“Sassa’s conduct to date has been based on its intention to assume the function of paying and administering social grants itself, an intention that has been expressed publicly since at least 2012.

“Sassa now accepts that to pursue this intention in the short to medium term will cause undue delay in putting the payment of social grants on a lawful footing. This will likely mean that Sassa will only be able to pursue the objectives contemplated by the progress report over the medium to longer term.

“The objectives that Sassa has sought to implement continue to be regarded as the most desirable policy objectives to serve the interests of beneficiaries in the long term, including in respect of biometric innovation.

“The Minister appreciates that it may in fact take longer, possibly five years, to implement Sassa’s policy objectives,” it said.


Read: New grants contract agreed on: report

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Sassa’s broad plan to (eventually) take over social grants payments