Members of Parliament have instructed the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to end its dealings with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) as soon as possible. MPs are also calling for a parliamentary enquiry into CPS, which currently pays social grants, and into its parent company, Net1.
“We were very clear that we do not want CPS to be further involved in paying grants. We asked in Parliament last year whether there’ll still be a CPS come 1 April and you said ‘no’, then that was misleading parliament,” said MP Liezl van der Merwe (IFP).
She was addressing SASSA officials at a meeting in Parliament on Wednesday to update MPs on the agency’s plans to phase out CPS from the national grants payment system.
Last week, SASSA applied to the Constitutional Court for permission to continue with CPS.
On Wednesday, SASSA acting CEO Pearl Bengu explained to MPs that the agency’s request to the Court was only to allow for “a smooth transition period” from CPS to the SA Post Office and the new contractor doing the cash payments. But MPs were not happy.
Van der Merwe said, “We want grants to be paid, but we find ourselves in a situation where we will have CPS being involved after April. We need to get to the bottom of their dealings in our country from the day they got to SA, to their fake BEE credentials, dodgy deals, illegal deductions.”
Sibongile Tsoleli (ANC) agreed with Van der Merwe and said, “I have kept all of my notes when last year this time you said the phasing in will be factored into the time when the CPS contract ends. This request for extension is new to us.”
Velhelmina Mogotsi (ANC) said, “We really need the enquiry into CPS. It’s an illegal contract and that was extended, now you want another six months with them. Somehow, somebody is benefitting out of CPS … I’m saying this without fear or favour.”
Bridget Masango (DA) said she was concerned that some beneficiaries would “fall through the cracks” after 1 April because of the “clumsy” communication to beneficiaries. She said there were “too many options” which could be confusing to beneficiaries.
Bengu assured MPs that beneficiaries would be paid after April and that the extension was to allow the post office enough time to test its system as well as distribute new cards to beneficiaries around the country.
Bengu said SASSA had already directly paid about 2.1 million (out of 10.6 million) beneficiaries who opted to have their grants paid directly into a commercial bank account. These beneficiaries were previously paid by Grindrod Bank.
Bengu said SASSA would meet SAPO and CPS tomorrow (Friday) to discuss the transition.
Before the meeting ended, committee chairperson Rosemary Capa (ANC) asked the Department of Social Development’s acting director-general, Neliswa Vilakazi, to address concerns from MPs about the Minister’s spokesperson, Lumka Oliphant. Capa said Oliphant was “creating chaos and havoc” and claiming to speak for MPs.