By Linda Ensor
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is to appear before Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) on Tuesday to explain Treasury’s point of view with regard to the payment of social grants by Cash Paymaster Services (CPS).
The minister has confirmed his attendance at the meeting, which follows the appearance of Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini at a meeting of the committee on Tuesday.
The department and the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) are currently finalising negotiations on a new contract with CPS’s parent company Net1.
The contract would enable CPS to continue paying grants after the expiry of its current contract — declared unlawful by the Constitutional Court — at the end of March.
The Treasury has been adamant that it cannot approve a contract that has not been put out to tender as required by the Public Finance Management Act unless it is given the go ahead by the Constitutional Court.
The court has requested information from the department and Sassa in the case brought by the Black Sash, which has asked for independent oversight of both the contract and the preparation by Sassa for the takeover of grant payments in two years’ time.
"The committee is satisfied with the early confirmation from the minister of finance, which will assist Scopa with preparatory work for the meeting," said Scopa chair Themba Godi on Friday. "The committee is looking forward to this engagement to get a complete picture of what led to this crisis and how it is being resolved.
"Scopa remains desirous and confident that social grants will be paid on 1 April 2017. However, the committee’s main concern is whether that will be done following the prescripts of the laws governing public procurement or not. Scopa insists that those responsible for this crisis should be held accountable."