Task team to probe social grants crisis will include Bathabile Dlamini


Task team to probe social grants crisis will include Bathabile Dlamini

Linda Ensor | 2017-03-16 13:57:42.0

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe.

Image by: Photo by Gallo Images / Thapelo Maphakela

The Cabinet has approved the establishment of a ministerial task team to investigate the social grants crisis‚ which is awaiting the outcome of a Constitutional Court judgement to determine the way forward.

The crisis was precipitated by the failure of the Department of Social Development and the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) to develop an alternative method of paying R11 billion in grants monthly to about 17 million beneficiaries when the current contract with Net1 subsidiary Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) — declared invalid by the Constitutional Court in 2014 — expires on March 31.

The decision to establish a task team was taken at a special meeting of a cabinet sub committee last week. Three meetings have already been held.

The task team decided immediately at its first meeting on Thursday that the talks taking place at the time between Sassa and CPS had to be halted immediately. This was on the basis of legal advice that it was necessary to first obtain approval for the deviation from prescribed procurement requirements laid down in the Public Finance Management Act.

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said in a post-Cabinet media briefing on Thursday that the task team would consist of himself as convener‚ Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini‚ Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan‚ Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor‚ Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba‚ Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele and State Security Minister David Mahlobo.

The task team would be supported by a technical team of government experts to deal with the recommendations of the Constitutional Court when these are delivered.

Radebe stressed that whatever solution was found had to be constitutionally and legally sustainable.

Questions of assigning responsibility for the crisis would only come at a later stage once the task team had looked into all the issues‚ he said in reply to repeated questions by journalists as to whether Dlamini would be held to account.

Radebe said the issues of “consequence management” had to be addressed. Time was of the essence in dealing with the issues.

He told journalists the task team would also ensure the payment of social grants from April 1 and seek legal advice on the viability of further legal action by the state‚ “especially in addressing unlawful and irregular conduct where necessary”.

The insourcing of grants was a matter of high priority. A lot of public entities such as the South African Post Office‚ the State Information Technology Agency and the CSIR had to be brought in to the discussions.

Other tasks of the team would be to review the conduct of Sassa‚ especially in relation to its administrative capacity and management. It would also develop a contingent plan and devise a comprehensive institutionalised payment system for social grant payments.

Radebe said the Cabinet “deeply regrets the anxiety caused by uncertainty over the payment of social grants to beneficiaries. Cabinet assures South Africans that we are dealing with the matter at the highest levels.”

– TMG Digital/BusinessLIVE

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