/ 7 February 2018

CPS wants ConCourt to clarify it can still be awarded tenders to pay grants

Sixty-seven South Africans have died in a building collapse at the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Nigeria
Sixty-seven South Africans have died in a building collapse at the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Nigeria

Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) has approached the Constitutional Court asking it to give an order that the company is not prohibited from participating in tender processes for the payment of social grants.

In papers dated February 6, CPS has applied for an interlocutory application to clarify or the change the order granted by ConCourt on March 17 last year.

This order extended CPS’s contract with the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) for another year for for the agency to find a new solution for the payment of grants.

CPS argues no party during the court process suggested that it should be barred from participating in any future tenders in regards to payment of grants.

Last month, the Mail and Guardian reported that Sassa had advertised a tender for cash payment services for social assistance on December 12.

The closing date for the bids was announced as February 28.

CPS has attended the compulsory briefing sessions and is interested in submitting a bid but is not sure whether it can, hence it has approached the court.

“This interlocutory application has become necessary because…Sassa interprets the March order as rendering CPS ineligible to bid for or be awarded any role in the future provision of payment services…such preclusion was not sought from or ordered by this Court,” reads the papers.

It is also argued that if the court agrees that CPS should be barred from providing any services in relation to paying grants then it should reconsider because “the court could not have intended to preclude CPS from future procurement processes.”

The order CPS seeks clarity on, was awarded after Black Sash and Freedom Under Law, which have been at the forefront of ensuring beneficiaries are paid their grants, initiated urgent proceedings compelling Sassa to state how beneficiaries would be paid last year.

By March, there was no clear plan from Sassa on how it would fulfil its Constitutional mandate of paying grants after the CPS contract, which was declared invalid, came to an end.

The agency seems to be in the same situation this year without a complete plan as to how social grants will be paid come April 1.

Sassa is even considering requesting the court once again to extend the CPS contract for another six months. But according to CPS’s papers the agency will not allow it to bid for any tenders in regards to payments of grants citing the last year’s court ruling.

Last year the court ruled: “It is declared that the South African Social Security Agency and Cash Paymaster Services are under constitutional obligation to ensure payment of social grants to grant beneficiaries from 1 April 2017 until an entity other than CPS is able to do so and that failure to do so will infringe upon grant beneficiaries’ rights of access to social assistance.”

The NET1 subsidiary, which has racked in billions from the state in its five years paying social grants under an invalid contract, argues that the court’s ruling that “until a new entity other than CPS is able to perform the payment services” necessary to ensure grant beneficiaries are paid doesn’t mean that CPS has no right to bid to perform future services for Sassa.

READ MORE: CPS is now claiming over R1-billion from Sassa

CPS argues that it was made aware that it would not be considered last year.

“However in its (Sassa’s) first report in June 2017, Sassa indicated that it consider that CPS is ineligible to bid or to be awarded any future tender for the payment of grants,” CPS argues.