We dropped the ball – Sassa CEO

SA Social Security Agency chief executive‚ Thokozani Magwaza has apologised to for the crisis surrounding social grants.

“We dropped the ball. We were advised in May 2016 and nothing was done at the time. We were told Sassa would not be able to pay grants this year and we did not do anything about it. We apologise to the nation.

He said grants will be paid on April 1 first despite Cash Paymaster Services (CPS)’s chief executive Serge Belamant saying that the delays in concluding a contract with Sassa could result to grants not being paid on the date.

“I do not argue with Belamant. I don’t think that he was talking the whole truth because he knows that processes start on the 20th of each month‚ but money is transferred from treasury three days before we pay the monies over to the beneficiaries. He was just playing ball as a businessman trying to coerce us into a space we I don’t think we wanted to go‚” Magwaza said.

He said the relationship Sassa has with CSP was that of a service provider and client.

“It [relationship between CPS and Sassa] hasn’t broken down. CPS is a company that is making profit. We are constitutionally obliged to pay the beneficiaries.

“We do not drink coffee together. We are obliged by the constitution to do what we are supposed to do‚” Magwaza said.

He said Sassa was not happy with CPS’s holding company Net1 using social grants beneficiaries’ personal information without authorisation.

Thousands of beneficiaries complained about illegal deductions for airtime‚ funeral policies and other products from their accounts without their knowledge‚ which Sassa went to court to have halted.

“It’s an open secret that we went to the police station and charged those companies that were not doing what they were supposed to do‚” Magwaza said.

He added that Sassa was generally happy with CPS’s performance.

“On the contrary‚ CPS has done very well for us. There is not a single time that we have failed to pay the beneficiaries and going forward‚ we don’t think that is going to happen. CPS is the organisation at present‚ under the circumstances [that has to distribute social grants].”

Magwaza said the agency executive will meet experts to discuss how Sassa will carry on after the 12 months CPS has to distribute grants lapses.

“Twelve months is enough time for us to go out on a tender to get other organisations to help us. There is an issue of the Post Office. We have not discarded that and I am on record on saying the post office is capable. They may not be capable to do it now on April 1‚ but going forward the Post Office say they are ready. We are going to test that.”

The Constitutional Court on Friday ordered that Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) and the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) continue its invalid contract for a period of 12 months.

The court also ordered Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini to explain to the court via affidavit why she should not pay some of the legal costs in her personal capacity.

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