The DA notes with concern that the Minister of Social Development, Susan Shabangu, has suspended efforts by the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to find a new service provider for the cash-payments portion of the social grants.
Grant recipients have been held hostage by the Department of Social Development for too long. The latest decision by the Minister follows a disastrous tenure by former Minister Bathabile Dlamini who single-handedly, on more than one occasion, forced the Constitutional Court to extend an invalid contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS). The depth of the maladministration and institutional corruption left by Bathabile Dlamini knows no bounds and it is evident that Minister Shabangu is out of her depth in dealing with the destruction and chaos in the Department.
The latest development will, in all likelihood, delay the appointment of a new fully operational cash-provider by the end of September 2018. This flows from the Minister stating in court papers that the tender process was technically flawed and had to be restarted.
It was further revealed that the terms of reference for the tender had been returned to SASSA's bid-specifications committee on three occasions to make amendments and to seek clarity. It is very suspicious and shocking that when it came to the actual tender there was a lack of clarity and inadequate information, specifically around the number of beneficiaries to receive services, making it impossible for bidders to enter a successful bid.
It is unthinkable that a Department that cannot even draft a proper tender document is responsible for ensuring that 17 million people receive their grants every month. It is clear that the Minister of Social Development, like her predecessor, has no respect for the highest court in the country, and that she and her Department are not capable of effectively managing the procurement process. We therefore reiterate our calls for Treasury to take over the payment function from SASSA, as the agency has become compromised under the toxic rule of the ANC.
The Constitutional Court has for far too long been a playground for Ministers who have no regard for the law or the vulnerable South Africans that depend on social grants.
The Minister continues to rely on self-made emergencies to keep the CPS contract in place, holding social grant beneficiaries to ransom. It is crucial that Treasury intervenes before another deadline is missed and the Constitutional Court is forced to yet again extend the invalid and dubious contract with CPS.
Bridget Masango MP
DA Shadow Minister of Social Development