Social grant payments plan facing problems

MPs were shocked yesterday that the Social Security Agency of SA (Sassa) could not present a concrete plan to pay social grants to 17 million beneficiaries from April 1, when it takes over the distribution of grants from service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS).

Both ANC and DA MPs said Sassa’s presentation to parliament’s social development committee indicated that it would not be ready to take over as it had failed to meet five of the deliverables laid down by the Constitutional Court.

Their views contrasted with the assurance given by new Sassa chief executive Thokozani Magwaza that it would be ready to distribute grants on April 1.

Magwaza acknowledged the concern over the state of readiness of the agency, but insisted during a long-awaited presentation that Sassa would be in a position to fulfil its constitutional obligations.

Sassa pays out R141-billion in grants annually to support children, the elderly and the disabled.

However, a report by Sassa project leader Zodwa Mfulani did little to reassure parliament’s social development committee that the agency would be ready in time.

Mfulani said biometric verification of social grant beneficiaries would only be ready by October next year.