Dlamini: Report on CPS agreement to be completed this week

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini appeared before Parliament’s public accounts committee on Tuesday and said that feedback on the South African Social Security Agency’s (Sassa) agreement with Cash Paymaster Service (CPS) will be ready by Friday.

Dlamini was responding to questions from MPs who requested to know when more information about the terms of the contract would be made available. She said that a report on the agreement is currently being compiled by a government technical team, but that an announcement on the deal will be made once they have completed their report.

“We’ll make an announcement after receiving a report from the technical team. We were supposed to receive the report this [coming] Friday,” Dlamini said.

“We have not signed any agreement with CPS. We said there were negotiations. The tech team is sitting, looking into the outcome of the negotiations and thereafter we will take the process forward.” 

Dlamini admitted that as far as the agreement with CPS goes, Sassa “have not finalised some things”.

The admittance comes after the social development department announced last week Friday that an agreement had been reached with CPS. Yet, Dlamini sent a different message to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on Tuesday. 

“We have said that we have not completed the negotiations. When you negotiate you negotiate in good faith and we have not finalised some of the things,” Dlamini said.

Dlamini seemed aware of accusations against her that she had previously lied about issues in the grants saga, but said that she was taking care to be honest in front of Scopa

“I am speaking the truth here. I don’t want to end up lying because I want to impress you. I have to report what I know,” she said.

While the minister continued to say that grants will be paid on April 1, she did not present a clear plan of action on how the payments would be made.

Sassa is now rushing to meet a deadline to secure a service provider to deliver grants to 17-million South Africans after its current contract with CPS was ruled unlawful by the Consititutional Court in 2014.

The contract expires on March 31, but while negotiations have begun with CPS, Sassa has not yet guaranteed that they have secured a service provider to pay grants.

In order for the CPS deal to proceed, Treasury must approve the contract. A deviation order will need to be granted to Sassa to allow it to continue its relationship with CPS. The order is necessary because Sassa has not left enough time to secure a CPS’s services through a competitive bidding process.

Dlamini, however, suggested that Sassa may be comfortable that a deviation order will be granted.

“Deviation is allowed, it is there. It should not be taken here as if deviation is not allowed. I think what is being created here is that we are going to do something that is not in the law,” Dlamini said.

As it stands, it remains unclear as to whether the CPS contract will be declared lawful, but the Constitutional Court has summoned Sassa to appear on March 15

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