Sassa grants will be paid on time

But portfolio committee head slams agency for lack of consultation.

Sassa grant payment woes said to be over from August.
Sassa grant payment woes said to be over from August.
Image: A file Picture by Sandile Ndlovu

THE 70 000 beneficiaries who battled to receive their social grants at the beginning of July will not experience the same problem come August 1.

This is the promise of South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) provincial head Vuyolwetu Bukula, who was called to account in Bhisho yesterday before members of the portfolio committee on social development.

This after 70 000 Sassa grant beneficiaries throughout the country experienced problems stemming from Sassa’s migration to the South African Post Office (Sapo).

Bukula said this was largely due to technical glitches, as well as a lack of capacity from Sapo to deal with the large volumes of customers at the same time.

The 70 000 beneficiaries were unable to receive their grants after the system collapsed.

“The money was there, however, we were just let down by the system. Sapo’s system clogged up as it could not cope with the withdrawal demands,” explained Bukula.

Sassa and Sapo plan to migrate all social grants beneficiaries who receive grants in cash from CPS paypoints by the end of August.

“This is to ensure the government will be able to comply with the Constitutional Court order which only extended the Cash Pay Master System [CPS] contract until September 30.”

Portfolio committee head Christian Martin slammed Sassa for its lack of consultation.

He said the agency had not adequately informed beneficiaries about the migration process nor had it communicated with the committee.

“The community has been left in the dark until the last hour. These are old people who depend on these grants. People could have died in this period.

“There is a lot of confusion around the migration – Sassa must have a plan and we are willing to help to spread the word,” said Martin.

Some members of the committee fumed at the no-show of social development MEC Phumza Dyantyi and her head of department Ntombi Baart.

MPL Thandiswa Marawu said: “As the political head, the MEC and her senior management should have appeared in front of the committee – not only to account, but to also hear how the department could assist.”

On April 1, Sapo took over the contract from CPS for the distribution of social grants and is expected to facilitate 2,5 million cash payments to 1,8 million beneficiaries come the end of September.

“The unfortunate challenges that we experienced on July 1 will not happen again. Our beneficiaries must be assured that we will deliver,” said Bukula.

Meanwhile, Sassa reported controversial grants distributor CPS to the police and the Constitutional Court for allegedly interfering in their migration to a new grants payment system.

This was revealed by social development Minister Susan Shabangu at a press briefing yesterday.

The briefing had been convened to provide an update on the migration from the old payment system administered by CPS to the new one‚ to be operated by the SA Post Office.

The migration is part of a Constitutional Court judgment issued last year.

The highest court in the land found the contract between Sassa and CPS to be unlawful and invalid‚ and ordered that grants be distributed by Sapo.

The court also ordered that it be provided with regular updates on the progress made by an inter-ministerial committee set up to oversee the migration process. —