13/11/2017 06:51 SAST | Updated 13/11/2017 06:51 SAST

ConCourt Steps In As Sassa Social Grants Deal Stalls

The Constitutional Court wants detailed plans from Sassa on how it plans to distribute social grants from April next year.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng speaks during a hearing brought by opposition parties seeking an order for parliament to impeach South Africa's president for failing to uphold the constitution on September 5, 2017 at the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg.

The Constitutional Court has once again stepped in to manage the social grants crisis, Business Day reported on Monday. In a directive, the court reportedly ordered the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) to provide it with a detailed roadmap for how it plans to continue to provide social grants after the current service provider, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS)'s contract ends at the end of March next year.

The court previously ruled that CPS's contract was illegal, but extended the CPS contract temporarily to allow for a new service provider to be appointed without interrupting the payment of grants. The Court also set up a panel of experts to assist Sassa with appointing a new service provider, to report back to the court on the progress being made.

Sassa has until December 8 to report back to the court on issues including precise timelines, defined roles and risk mitigation, and it has also been ordered to cooperate with an expert panel appointed by the court earlier this year. Sassa will then have to provide the court with monthly progress reports on how it is implementing its plan.

This reportedly followed a damning report by the expert panel, warning that "there is virtually no likelihood of Sassa appointing service providers in times to allow the issuance of new Sassa cards and the implementation of a new beneficiary enrolment system and cash distribution pay points by April 1 2018".

Last week, Treasury was brought in to mediate between Sassa and the South African Post Office (Sapo), which is supposed to take over from CPS. Sassa previously told Parliament that Sapo is not equipped to take over the payment of grants, but Sapo denied that this was the case.

City Press reported that Treasury had accused Sassa of deliberately sabotaging Sapo to make sure it is not appointed as the new service provider. In a document provided to Parliament, Treasury reportedly said that it was clear that Sassa had no intention of giving the contract to Sapo.

Treasury reportedly told Parliament that a deal between Sassa and Sapo would be reached by Friday.

On Sunday, SACP secretary-general Blade Nzimande told a Red October rally that there was clearly an attempt to ensure that CPS had to stay on as service provider.

"We were the first to say social grants cannot be paid through outsourced companies. Government must pay and give the money to the Post Office and the Post Office distributes the money to grannies... You can see that there are some who are fighting tooth and nail for CPS to continue with this tender," Nzimande said, according to News24.