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DA files application to join Sassa Constitutional Court matter

The Democratic Alliance has filed an application asking the Constitutional Court to permit it to join the matter currently before the court regarding the South African Social Security Agency’s (Sassa) readiness to roll out social grants to 17-million beneficiaries come April 1.

The DA wanted the court to grant the party permission to become a second applicant in a matter lodged earlier this week by human rights group Black Sash, which asked the court to compel both Sassa and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini to ensure that the rights of beneficiaries would be protected when the agency entered into a new contract with service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS).

The DA’s application would also seek a declaratory order from the court confirming that Dlamini, Sassa’s CEO and Sassa itself had violated their constitutional duties.

“We are further seeking a declaration that the minister has violated her oath of office in failing to perform the functions of her office with honour, dignity and to the best of her ability,” DA leader Mmusi Maimane said.

The DA made a request to the court that it direct Dlamini and Sassa’s CEO to file responding affidavits within 15 days of the court’s order explaining:

– What steps were taken by them to comply with the court’s order of April 17, 2014;
– When exactly they realised that Sassa would not be in a position to take over from CPS; and
– Whether they at all times kept the National Assembly informed of the true and correct status and progress of the issues raised concerning the payment of social grants after April 1, 2017.

‘Uncompetitive’ contract
The DA had also applied to have the court direct Sassa’s CEO to file a responding affidavit within 15 days of that order, in which he must explain why he should not be held in contempt of the court’s order, made on April 17 2014, it said.

On Tuesday Black Sash expressed its deep concern that the payment of grants may be compromised due to Sassa’s failure to ensure that it was ready to take over payment of the grant system by April 1 2017, or to award a lawful competitive tender timeously, it said.

“The result is that it appears Sassa has no choice but to enter into a further uncompetitive contract with CPS, which may exacerbate the longstanding concern of Black Sash that unlawful deductions are made from grants.

“The emergency situation created demonstrates that the minister of social development does not have adequate oversight over Sassa,” it said.

The group said it would request that the Constitutional Court re-establish its oversight over the process of social grant payments, as well as provide milestones and timelines for both Sassa and the department to follow.

“We can only hope to avoid more harm by ensuring that the contract going forward is not negotiated on terms only favourable to CPS and instead protects the constitutional rights of the people it is meant to benefit,” it said on Tuesday. –News24

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