MPs were outraged when Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini tried to leave the Scopa meeting in parliament on Tuesday without taking any questions.?
PRETORIA – Taking over the payment of social grants in line with the Constitutional Court ruling will be done but the process will be gradual because currently there are no funds and requisite skills to implement the takeover, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said on Friday.
“The in-sourcing and integration of the grants administration and payment value chain is an enormous task that requires time and high-level specialised skills and resources that are not readily available,” Dlamini said during an inter-ministerial committee on social security press briefing in Pretoria.
“The gradual phasing in of these processes will therefore ensure a seamless transition. As part of these interim arrangements, and in line with the position of the governing party, SASSA began collaborating with the South African Post Office (SAPO) with a view to work together to ensure payment of social grants beyond March 2018. Government, through the work of this IMC remains committed to this collaboration.”
She said government’s commitment to the collaboration between SASSA and SAPO has been demonstrated in different ways.
“The IMC has also recommended that a comprehensive due diligence be undertaken on SAPO. Due diligence is nothing new but a common business prerequisite to inform decision-making, particularly on an important matter such as the one we are discussing here today. This is a highly technical and specialised field … SASSA issued a request for quotation to appoint a service provider for this purpose. That process did not yield the desired results,” said Dlamini.
She said subsequently, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), was appointed to conduct the due diligence, which was concluded on Thursday this week.
“The bid evaluation committee will consider the [CSIR] report on September 20, 2017. We will announce the final decision before the end of next week.”
She said in its report to the Constitutional Court deposed in June, SASSA committed to “a five-year change programme” for the takeover of the function of paying social grants, as stipulated in the South African Constitution.
“This is in line with the envisaged role of the agency as per the objective of the SASSA Act of 2004. The Act clearly provides for the establishment of SASSA as an organ of State whose primary mandate is to ensure efficient and effective management, administration and payment of social grants in South Africa,” said Dlamini.
“The proposed five-year takeover period is based on extensive research into various payment options and recommendations of the ministerial advisory committee. SASSA has adopted these recommendations with clear and specific deliverables during the transition period. “
Dlamini was accompanied at the briefing by Home Affairs Minister, Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize and Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele.