The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) waited until the 11th hour to proceed with negotiations to renew the social grants distribution contract, an affidavit filed by Net1 founder Serge Belamant, on behalf of Cash Paymaster Service (CPS), shows.
The affidavit filed to the Constitutional Court details the correspondence between the company, Sassa and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.
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CPS countered Sassa’s position on the grants crisis, saying it “supports the re-instatement of the oversight role of this court” and it “welcomes transparency and accountability in all matters concerned”.
In an affidavit filed to the court on Thursday morning (March 2), signed by Dlamini and the welfare agency’s acting chief executive, Thamo Mzobe, Sassa said the court no longer has any supervisory jurisdiction over it.
From May 24 2016, the CPS affidavit states, the company expressed its concern to the social welfare agency about the “short time period remaining for a phase-in/phase out strategy” and proposed alternative solutions to ensure a smooth transition.
On December 9, CPS again wrote to Sassa inquiring about assistance the grants agency needed regarding the transition process and to notify Sassa it would proceed to dismantle its grants distribution infrastructure on January 1. In its reply on December 22, Sassa proposed a meeting on January 5.
The two parties would discuss “probabilities for assistance in the transition of Sassa operations towards a new service model” in the meeting.
On December 28, CPS told Sassa that a new contract would have to be agreed upon before January 1 if it would require CPS to continue providing its services beyond March 31.
Sassa’s response only came on February 9, the affidavit shows, and in it the social security agency called for a meeting where it would ask CPS to provide a temporary arrangement for the provision of social grants after the current contract expired.
CPS replied on the same day, proposing that the meeting be held before February 17. CPS responded the day after that (February 10) to Sassa’s request for information.
On February 16, CPS wrote to Sassa, concerned that the agency had not sent possible dates for a meeting. CPS also said it would only be able to meet on March 1. On February 21, Sassa confirmed the meeting for March 1.
The two parties met on March 1 and, although discussions are ongoing, they have agreed to ensure social grant recipients are paid beyond April 1.
Read the complete affidavit below.