Cape Town – The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) has welcomed the deal struck between the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and the South African Post Office (SAPO), but has warned that “time is short”.
The inter-ministerial committee (IMC) on social security, headed by Minister Jeff Radebe, announced on Sunday that a “landmark” deal had been signed with SAPO to deliver grants in a new “hybrid” system from April 1, 2018.
SAPO will handle the core functions of a new social grants system, while commercial banks will play a direct role for more than two million beneficiaries.
Scopa chairperson Themba Godi on Monday welcomed the end to the uncertainty, but slammed Sassa for the eight-month delay.
“The committee condemns Sassa’s incompetence and obfuscation in this matter, and notes that time is short,” Godi said.
“This means that the Post Office must work hard and quickly to ensure that there is a seamless transition, so that grant recipients receive their grants on time in 2018.”
Godi though was happy with the role Parliament, civil society and the media had played in bringing about a resolution for South Africa’s 10 million grant recipients.
“The grant distribution debacle must be a lesson to all departments and cabinet ministers that they cannot avoid accountability.
“This episode has once again proved that Parliament can achieve good results for all South Africans.”
Scopa and the Portfolio Committee on Social Development are due to meet with Radebe and the IMC in January when Parliament sits again in the new year.
‘Show us the deal’
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) and the Democratic Alliance have called for the new deal to be made public.
“We are eagerly waiting to see the details, to ensure that all bases are covered and that the plan is feasible at a reasonable cost,” said Dominique Msibi, OUTA portfolio manager for special projects.
Their main concern was that people received their grants without fail.
The DA called for the service level agreement to be tabled in Parliament for public scrutiny.
“There can be no more delays and obstruction by Sassa and [department of] social development officials,” said DA MP Bridget Masango.
Both parties welcomed the fact that banks, retailers and small businesses would also be involved.
“The fact that various platforms will be used for the disbursement of grants to beneficiaries will improve the footprint to areas that SAPO may not reach,” said Msibi.
All stakeholders would now have to work around the clock to ensure a smooth takeover, as the planned October testing period has long passed, she added.