12 July 2018

South Africa: Inter-Ministerial Committee On Comprehensive Social Security Briefs Media On Constitutional Court Orders Relating to the Payment of Social Grants

press release

Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on comprehensive social security

Welcome to this press briefing on the status of the provision of social grants to millions of the grant recipients.

I want to state from the onset that our government is committed to the provision of social grants to the most vulnerable of our society, the elderly and the young. Our democratic dispensation provided a social protection to the poor and the vulnerable.

To this effect, we remain committed to honour this obligation to all the deserving grant beneficiaries. The dispute which resulted in this matter being at the Constitutional Court compels this IMC to regularly brief South Africans on the progress we are making in effecting the Constitutional Court judgement.

Constitutional Court Monthly Reporting

The Inter Ministerial Committee on Social Security has been regularly providing guidance and monitoring the progress on the work being done by both the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and South African Post Office (SAPO). As a caring government, we are committed to delivering social grants to recipients in time and all the time, as per the constitutional judgement.

The Inter Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Comprehensive Social Security met at its ordinary meeting on Tuesday 10 July 2018, to consider progress on the implementation of the Constitutional Court orders relating to the payment of social grants. The IMC considered the reports from SASSA and SAPO.

We are here to provide a progress update through this media briefing to South Africans on the swapping of cards from CPS/Grindrod to SASSA/SAPO cards.

SASSA/SAPO have been submitting the monthly reports to the Concourt as per the judgement. From April 2018 SASSA/SAPO commenced earnestly the swapping of cards and migrating the electronic payments of these beneficiaries to the new gold SASSA card.

SASSA/SAPO Signed agreement

We are happy to report that great progress has been made in implementing the Court instruction. SASSA and SAPO signed a legal agreement on the 19th June which provides a legal framework on how they will work together during the transitional period. Key to this agreement is to ensure a smooth transition that will not disadvantage the beneficiaries in any way.

The SASSA/SAPO partnership of distributing social grants to the majority of grant beneficiaries has reached a certain level of stability. A number of electronic payments of social grants through SASSA, Postbank, commercial banks and merchants were effected from April with less disruptions.

As a result of this cooperation between SASSA and SAPO we are happy to announce that in June that we have reached a milestone of more than a million people who have been successfully migrated from the old CPS card to the new SAPO card issued by the Post Office as a preferred payment channel of all social grants.

SAPO has to date migrated one million eight hundred and thirty four thousands seven hundred and fifty five (1 834 755) social grant beneficiaries to the new gold SASSA card. SASSA and SAPO plan to migrate all social grants beneficiaries receiving their grants in cash at the CPS pay-points by end of August 2018.

In the July payment cycle, SAPO paid out social grants to 800 000 beneficiaries on the new gold SASSA card as well as a further 300 000 via Postbank Mzansi accounts.

Benefits of the New SASSA/SAPO Card

As the IMC we remain confident that the SASSA/SAPO card swap will result in better benefits for the recipient's.

The gold card is safer and does not allow for illegal deductions and fraudulent transactions to take place. It is designed to protect social grants beneficiaries from illegal deductions for things such as electricity, airtime and loans. The only deductions that is permitted on the new gold SASSA card will be for funeral policies on non-child grants, which should also not be more than ten percent (10%) of the total grant.

With this card beneficiaries can make three (3) free cash withdrawals from any participating merchant (such as Shoprite, Boxer etc), one free over the counter cash at the Post Office, free swipes (purchase payments) at all merchants and 1 free ATM balance enquiry per month to mention a few.

The new SASSA gold card is easily identifiable. It is gold in colour and has the country's coat of arms on the right hand side as well as the letters 'SASSA' inscribed on the left. The new SASSA gold card offers social grants beneficiaries' real benefits which beneficiaries that have migrated to it are already enjoying.

Beneficiaries who have not swopped are encouraged to visit SASSA Offices

Government urges all social grants beneficiaries to exercise their choice of a grants payment method carefully and elect to receive their grants through a method that will not result in their own exploitation.

We wish to reiterate as well that the old white SASSA/CPS card will be completely phased out by the end of September 2018. It will no longer be in use hence we call on people who still have the old card to migrate to the new gold card issued by the Post Office.

We are pleased to observe the declining numbers of people who are still paid through the old white CPS/SASSA card and we are confident that when this process ends all grant recipients will have migrated to the new gold SASSA/SAPO card.

Technical challenges experienced by some beneficiaries

The IMC will like to reflect on the technical challenges that affected a number of beneficiaries at the payment cycle of July. The beneficiaries experienced problems with the electronic payment of their social grants, some were advice to take a portion of their grant. As the IMC we would like to point the migration to the new system was never meant to inconvenience the deserving grant recipient. To this effect, as the IMC we would like to extend our sincerest apology to all those who were negatively impacted on.

We have received a full report from the technical teams from both SASSA and SAPO on the challenges they experienced. According to them, the system was unable to deal with huge volumes of transaction that they received as a result of increased uptake of card swaps.

The teams have however assured the IMC that the challenges have been rectified. The line speed between SAPO and the payment clearing house called Bankserv has also been increased drastically and post offices were enabled to make manual payments whenever system faults arise.

We have asked the technical teams to go to branches and retail outlets over the next weeks to test the resilience of the system to avoid a repeat of this bad experience.

Members of the IMC will continue to monitor the payment of social grants in selected areas throughout the county. We further convey our apologies for the delays and are confident that such challenges are being attended to as a matter of urgency.

The IMC wishes to re-assure beneficiaries that their social grants will be paid in full.

The SAPO strike does not affect the payments of social grants and migration of beneficiaries to the new SASSA card. It is a national strike, but only approximately 60% of branches mainly in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng are affected. The strike does not make it impossible for SASSA beneficiaries to access their grants, because they can withdraw from all ATMs and can withdraw free of charge from supermarkets 3 times per month.

We will continue to work in partnership with traditional leaders, community leaders, church leaders and all councilors especially in remote rural areas in order to reach all our people who may have difficulties in accessing their social grants. We thank them all for their efforts so far and call for an even closer partnership.

SAPO and SASSA have deployed mobile card swap teams that are migrating social grants beneficiaries to the new SASSA gold card on a daily basis throughout the country. Social grants beneficiaries can apply to be migrated to the new SASSA card at a SASSA local office, pay-points during payments and community halls nationally that SAPO and SASSA will announce in the media. Post office outlets nationally will also soon be migrating people to the new SASSA gold cards.

Misinformation by CPS employees

As we conclude we would also like to highlight the information that came to our attention, that in some of the pay points some of the CPS employees were interfering with our migration processes.

We have taken legal action against some people who have interfered with the SASSA/SAPO teams who are working tirelessly to ensure we conclude the card swapping within the stipulated time. We appeal that CPS officials assist by avoiding misinforming the poor and vulnerable on the process that was agreed upon through the Constitutional Court judgement.

Once more we want to assure South Africans that we remain a caring government and will continue to deliver social grants to all deserving grant beneficiaries.

I thank you.

Issued by: Government Communications

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