27 October 2017

South Africa: Post Office to Consider Way Forward After Sassa Rejects Counter Offer

The South African Post Office will take time to consider the way forward in a proposed social grants deal after Sassa rejected its counter-offer to assist with the scheme.

Sassa made an initial offer to SAPO on October 18, offering only one of four services: to build an IT payment system.

The deal excluded offering banking services, the production of new Sassa cards, and the handling of cash payments to beneficiaries.

But SAPO responded with a counter-offer on October 20, explaining why the four services should not be separated. It argued its core strength was Post Bank's banking services and that the deal would not make sense without it.

But Sassa has now rejected SAPO's counter-offer, effectively causing the core deal to collapse leaving the Post Office with only the IT option.

SAPO CEO Mark Barnes told News24 on Friday that they will now consider their options ahead of a scheduled joint meeting in Parliament on Tuesday.

"It reduces it [the deal] to the status quo. We gave a counter offer and they are sticking to their position," he said.

"We will go into a process now and see. We are going to Scopa, and I don't think I want to comment until then."

He did not want to negotiate through the press, and thought it was best that his next commentary on the matter be in Parliament next week.

Barnes wanted to give the negotiations the best chance to succeed.

Five months now remain for Sassa to find an alternative service provider to handle the core aspects of the grants scheme before the March 31, 2018 deadline.

Dlamini to face possible no confidence debate

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini could be facing a motion of no confidence in Parliament if Scopa is not happy with the report back next week.

Dlamini, Sassa and SAPO are due before Scopa and the Portfolio Committee on Social Development on Tuesday for a special joint sitting.

Scopa chairperson Themba Godi told News24 on Friday that he will push for a debate on Dlamini's fitness to hold office if the meeting bears no fruit.

"If on Tuesday, we don't get anything tangible, my personal view would be to request Parliament for an urgent debate on the matter, in which I will be pushing that Parliament should pass a vote of no confidence on the minister," he said.

Godi will also consider proposing the idea to the committee if Dlamini fails to attend the meeting for the third time this month.

Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele is also expected to be there.

A no-confidence vote in a Cabinet minister would be unprecedented because it is the president's prerogative to hire and fire ministers.

A passed vote would not necessarily mean any action will be taken against Dlamini because President Jacob Zuma has the final say over his Cabinet.

However, it will represent the will of Parliament.

Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi told News24 that Dlamini will be holding a press conference on Monday morning in East London to address the issue.

Dlamini is expected to announce that Sassa will tender to find service providers for the other three outstanding services.

Source: News24

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