"The South African Post Office (Sapo) says it may be a challenge to meet next year’s deadline to take over social grant payments, but there is a way that it can reach an agreement with the South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa).There are 99 days before the contract of service supplier CPS comes to an end. The Constitutional Court has told Sassa to come up with a new provider to take over the payment system."

Read More: http://ewn.co.za/2017/11/02/sapo-meeting-sassa-payments-deadline-may-be-a-challenge?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

"The panel of experts brought in to ensure the South African Social Security Agency can pay social grants on April  1 is so concerned about the mess Sassa is in that it has suggested taking this function away from Sassa and giving it to the treasury. The panel and the auditor general filed their third report to the Constitutional Court this week on the progress made by the agency in ensuring that the grant payment system is seamlessly handed over from Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to the South African Post Office and Sassa."

Read More: https://mg.co.za/article/2018-02-02-00-sassa-a-mess-on-all-fronts-warn-experts

"The South African Social Security Agency’s (Sassa) contingency plan to manage the cash component of the social grants system, were the Constitutional Court to deny an extension of the invalid CPS contract, was only work in progress, its acting CEO has said.

The Constitutional Court last week demanded that both Sassa and the South African Post Office (Sapo) clarify the contingency measures, put in place to deal with the payment of social grants."

Read more: https://mg.co.za/article/2018-03-14-sassa-admits-to-having-no-feasible-contingency-plan-for-cash-payments-of-grants#.WqjVemrvAKA.twitter

"A tentative deal has been struck between the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and the South African Post Office (Sapo) on the latter taking over the payment of social grants, it emerged in parliament on Tuesday.Briefing parliament’s standing committee on public accounts and its portfolio committee on social development, chairman of the interministerial committee (IMC) tasked with social security and minister in the presidency Jeff Radebe said Sassa and Sapo signed an implementation protocol that will allow Sapo to provide services to Sassa, but 'subject to cost effectiveness'."

Read more: https://citizen.co.za/news/south-africa/1735199/sassa-and-sapo-strike-provisional-deal-on-social-grants/#.WhPuJ0GOPik.twitter

"South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) CEO Thokozani Magwaza has accused Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini of lying in her affidavit to the Constitutional Court about what caused the social-grants payments fiasco. Magwaza said that he wanted to set the record straight and had asked the court to let him file an affidavit in response to Dlamini’s to reflect the 'correct version of events'."

Read More: https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2017-04-05-sassa-ceo-wants-to-file-affidavit-in-response-to-dlaminis-version-of-events/

"Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini evaded questions during cross-examination on Tuesday. Dlamini was testifying at an inquiry into her personal role and liability in the 2017 social grants crisis, being held at the Office of the Chief Justice in Midrand. On several occasions Judge Bernard Ngoepe had to intervene as Black Sash advocate Geoff Budlender attempted to get answers."

Read More: https://mg.co.za/article/2018-01-23-sassa-debacle-inquiry-judge-tells-dlamini-to-stop-dodging-questions

"The Black Sash Trust said it was disappointed by the North Gauteng High Court’s decision to refuse the application for leave to appeal an earlier ruling which allowed Net1 to deduct money from the accounts of social grant beneficiaries. In May, the court ruled against the order by the Department of Social Development and South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa) to stop Net1 from allowing deductions from accounts of grant beneficiaries."

Read more: https://www.iol.co.za/news/crime-courts/sassa-denied-leave-to-appeal-ruling-on-social-grant-deductions-9890500

"Although a progress report and implementation plan to resolve the social grants impasse has been presented to Parliament, the Black Sash is concerned it lacks significant details. Yesterday, minister in the presidency and chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC), Jeff Radebe, announced that an implementation protocol has been concluded and signed between the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the South African Post Office (SAPO)."

Read Morehttp://www.itweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=166677

"The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa)inquiry is expected to hear closing arguments today on former Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini's role in the grants crisis. Advocacy group the Black Sash Trust approached the Constitutional Court in March last year after Sassa acknowledged it would not be able to pay millions of grants. The group wants Dlamini to be held personally liable for the debacle. The inquiry which is headed by retired judge Bernard Ngoepe has heard testimony from former Sassa top officials Zane Dangor and Thokozani Magwaza who have both made damning allegations against Dlamini."

Read more: http://ewn.co.za/2018/03/19/sassa-inquiry-expected-to-hear-closing-arguments-today

"Talks between social grants agency South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa) and the South African Post Office (SAPO) over a deal to distribute social grants have collapsed. Sources close to the deal said Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini was likely to announce that Sassa should find a new service provider for the payment of grants to more than 17 million beneficiaries through an open tender process."

Read more: https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/sassa-rejects-post-offices-counter-offer-20171027

"A ruling by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday allowing social grant payment provider Net1 to continue deducting money from the bank accounts of grant beneficiaries was devastating, Black Sash's lawyers said."

Read More: https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/sassa-ruling-devastating-black-sash-20170509

"Social grant payment agency Sassa will appeal a High Court order granting service provider Net1 permission to continue making deductions from beneficiaries' accounts, it said on Thursday. Sassa had studied the judgment and intended taking the matter on appeal because of its "unimaginable unintended consequences", CEO Thokozani Magwaza said."

Read more: https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/sassa-to-appeal-high-court-ruling-on-deductions-20170511

"ONE of the key goals of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) is to manage and pay social grants without the use of a third party contractor as is currently the case. In a recent statement, SASSA said they were on course to achieve this goal of ensuring that payment of social grants is handled internally. They have already made direct transfers into approximately 2.4 million personal bank accounts for this month."

Read more: https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Local/Kouga-Express/sassa-to-insource-grant-payments-20180321

"The social grants payment system could once again be at risk in the new year. An independent panel that includes Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu and former Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus has delivered a damning first progress report to the Constitutional Court slamming the Social Security Agency for lacking an implementation plan for the takeover of grant payments."

Read More: http://ewn.co.za/2017/10/18/sassa-unlikely-to-meet-grant-payments-takeover-deadline-says-panel

"The invalid Cash Payment Services (CPS) contract may be extended for a further six months if the South African Social Security Agency’s (Sassa) gets its way — yet the Constitutional Court ruled that the contract is to end on March  31. The extension is contained in the latest Sassa report to the Constitutional Court, filed less than a month ago, and does little to allay fears that millions of beneficiaries will face another payment crisis created by the agency."

Read More: https://mg.co.za/article/2018-01-05-00-sassa-wants-cps-for-6-more-months/

"The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has been instructed to place its procurementprocess to find another payments distributor on ice, pending a National Treasury review aimed at resolving the social grants impasse. Yesterday, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) and the Portfolio Committee on Social Development in Parliament held a special meeting to determine a way forward after SASSA and the South African Post Office (SAPO) failed to find a working solution on the issue of social grant payments."

Read More: http://www.itweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=166122

"The search for a new service provider to assist the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) with cash payments of social grants will only be in place by July, MPs have heard. Sassa admitted in court papers filed on Monday that there was no feasible solution to assist around 2.8 million beneficiaries - roughly 26% of the scheme, who receive their grants in cash - before the April 1 deadline."

Read more: https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/sassa-new-cash-payments-service-provider-only-ready-by-july-20180314

13 December 2017

The Black Sash acknowledges the commitment by the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) for Comprehensive Social Security and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to phase out Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), Net 1 and its subsidiaries from the national grant payment system by 31 March 2018. We note the Protocol Framework and the Service Agreement signed between the South African Post Office (SAPO) and SASSA as work in progress.

However, we are concerned that the Service Agreement with SAPO states that Cash in transit (CIT) and Guard services  as well as the card disbursement services, applicable to over two million social grant beneficiaries, may be provided by SAPO. At this stage, it is not clear who will provide this service and SASSA could initiate a separate competitive tender for these services. There is a real danger that the CIT tender could take a considerable time to conclude and be implemented. This may even result in the extension of the current CPS SASSA contract.

The SASSA SAPO Agreement provides for the creation of a special disbursement account into which grants will be paid. It is crucial that the functionalities as well as the terms and conditions of this account be included in the Agreement. The account should exclude debit order and any other deductions such as those resulting from USSD platforms (e.g prepaid electricity and airtime). It is essential that government covers the cost of the banking services, so that beneficiaries can receive the full cash value of the grant. The SASSA SAPO Agreement should also include a dispute mechanism so that grant beneficiaries are able to lodge queries if they encounter any problems with their accounts.

The proposed ‘hybrid’ model options still remains unclear. There is no written agreement on the banking product(s) that will be offered by the commercial banks. Like the special disbursement account held by SAPO, the functionalities and terms and conditions of the proposed account must be clearly defined and form part of the Agreement between SASSA and the banks. The Black Sash would like this to explicitly exclude debit orders and other deductions. The bank account(s) should be endorsed by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). SARB should also play an oversight role and deal decisively with any unethical conduct. Furthermore, grant beneficiaries should not be encouraged to open commercial bank accounts which may expose them to exorbitant cash withdrawal and other banking fees.

EasyPay Everywhere (EPE), better known as the green card, is a bank account operated by Grindrod Bank and the Net 1 subsidiary, Moneyline. Grindrod Bank has no walk-in service branches for the over two million EPE clients, many of whom are grant beneficiaries. Some grant beneficiaries say they switched to the EPE bank account since they were told by agents that it is a SASSA replacement card. In our ongoing community monitoring work, we have discovered that grant beneficiaries with EPE accounts experience a number of suspicious deductions. EPE card holders struggle to dispute these questionable deductions because they do not readily have access to bank statements. Queries and disputes are handled ineffectively via a Net 1 Call Centre, with grant beneficiaries carrying the high telephone costs. We have observed that is almost impossible for beneficiaries to close their EPE accounts and revert back to the ‘SASSA branded’ bank account. The Black Sash wishes to caution against the unilateral transfer of beneficiaries' accounts to EPE. This account seems to be commercially exploitative and offers almost no client support services.

SASSA should rework their communications plan to include more details of the proposed national grant payment system. The protection of grant beneficiaries' Constitutional right to social security and assistance must remain the desired outcome.

For interviews please contact:

Lynette Maart
Black Sash National Director
083 628 3425 / 021 686 6952

Thandiwe Zulu
Black Sash Gauteng Regional Manager
082 456 2643 / 011 834 8361/5

"The SA Social Security Agency's (SASSA) intentions to take over payments of social grants in the near future is attached to a hefty cost of about R6 billion. Business Day reports social development minister Bathabile Dlamini made the revelation to the portfoliocommittee on social development in Parliament yesterday."

Read more: http://www.itweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=161690%3ASASSA-s-R6bn-price-tag-to-take-over-payments

"Today is the deadline for the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to reach a deal with the South African Post Office. SASSA has to decide if it is cost-effective for the Post Office to provide four essential services to pay grants from 1 April next year."

Read more: https://www.groundup.org.za/article/sassas-repeated-failures-make-it-impossible-have-smooth-grant-handover-warn-experts/