The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has come under fire this week, as "glitches" in the changeover between social-grant service providers saw some social-grant beneficiaries not receiving their grants on time. The SA Post Office (Sapo) took over the provision of social grants on April 1, after lengthy negotiations with Sassa.
Sassa has promised that the system will be on track by the end of this week, and the changeover will see the end of the protracted court battle over the grant distribution system.
Once the system is stabilised, however, there will be several benefits for grant beneficiaries. Here are five ways the social grant system will improve under the SA Post Office:
- Possibly the best feature of the new system is the fact that the Post Office is not allowed to use beneficiary data for anything other than the payment of grants. According to the Mail & Guardian, this is specifically stated in the agreement between Sapo and Sassa. Sapo's predecessor, Cash Paymaster Services, used the personal data of beneficiaries to sell them items such as funeral schemes, and unlawfully deducted money from their grants. This will no longer be allowed. Sapo and its subcontractors will not be allowed to invite grant beneficiaries to "opt in" either, to give permission for their data to be sold for marketing purposes.
- Some might say that any association with former provider CPS would be a bad thing. But the agreement between Sassa and Sapo contains a clause that allows Sapo to purchase CPS' technology and equipment, which has seamlessly distributed grants thus far, MoneyWeb reported.
- According to the Stanger Weekly, grant beneficiaries will save money in many ways. There will be free over-the-counter withdrawals and unlimited free swipes for purchases at all merchants. Beneficiaries will also get a free ATM balance inquiry per month.
- There will also be more ways for beneficiaries to collect their grants. According to Business Day, the Post Office is just one of four providers. Beneficiaries will be able to collect their grants at commercial banks, large retailers and from a "second tier" of merchants, such as small retail outfits and spaza shops.
- Ultimately, the service is effectively being insourced. As Sapo chief executive Mark Barnes reportedly put it: "This is the best deal for the state, and we have proved that. Whatever the price is, we are paying ourselves. The state is paying itself and whatever Sassa pays to the Post Office, it's just one arm of government paying another arm and the economics are all retained in the state."