SA’s Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan. Image: EWN
CAPE TOWN – Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts has summoned Finance Minister Pravin Ghordan to discuss the grants fiasco during a sitting next week.
The African National Congress (ANC) in Parliament has moved to assure the nation that government will not deviate from its responsibility in delivering social assistance to the pool and the vulnerable.
It says while it has full confidence that grants will be paid on time next month, it is worried about how the situation reached this point, and it raised concerns about how processes have been managed.
A new agreement with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) is still being negotiated.
But the ANC’s Nyami Booi says the party is confident that a new contract will be in keeping with the law.
However, the ANC is concerned about the processes that have led to the current impasse, and would like government to reconsider the outsourcing of grant payments.
Booi says the opportunity exists to use State institutions like the Post Office to pay grants, something Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has pledged to do.
The ANC’s Scopa caucus has given the assurance that it will continue to exercise its oversight role to ensure millions of poor and vulnerable people who rely on social assistance, are not left in the lurch.
CALLS FOR INQUIRY
At the same time, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) are calling for a full Parliamentary inquiry into the payment of social grants.
The opposition says it’s not satisfied with the information provided by the Minister Dlamini at a meeting of Parliament’s Scopa on Tuesday.
The DA says Dlamini failed to provide clear answers on a pending new contract with CPS, while the ACDP says her assurances that grants will be paid next month, are not convincing.
Dlamini appeared to throw officials under the bus in attempting to explain why the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) was trying to negotiate an eleventh hour deal with CPS, but later said she was not blaming them.
The ACDP says it’s concerned that the minister insists CPS is the only company to provide the required service, and it wants to see a five-year plan to revolutionise Sassa.
WATCH: Dlamini promises that grants will be paid on 1 April
FREEDOM UNDER LAW JOINS FIGHT
Freedom Under Law has entered the fray over a looming crisis in social grant payments.
It has applied to the Constitutional Court to join an application against the Sassa.
The Black Sash has applied to the Constitutional Court to oversee a new contract to pay social grants.
On Tuesday, Dlamini appeared before Parliament’s public accounts committee to explain the current social grants debacle, but she steered clear of speaking about pending court action against Sassa.
The Black Sash says with Parliament having failed to adequately oversee the institutionalisation of social grants, it has had no choice but to turn to the Constitutional Court to oversee a new contract.
The Democratic Alliance joined the application as an intervening party last week, and now Freedom Under Law has applied to the court to be allowed the same.
It wants the court to compel Sassa to file all paperwork related to current contract negotiations with CPS, with the court within 20 days of concluding the deal.
On Tuesday, Minister Dlamini said a new agreement had not yet been concluded, but that more details on the two-year contract would be known by Friday.
Freedom Under Law also wants the court to ensure that CPS may not charge, and Sassa may not pay, more than the current beneficiary fee of R16.44 excluding VAT.
The democracy rights group says it ideally does not want the new contract to extend beyond 18 months.
Eye Witness News