#HandsOffOurGrants in the Media


state1The Black Sash and the Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI) hosted a two-day ‘State Capture’ workshop at the Black Sash Regional Office in the Western Cape on 18 and 19 October 2018.  The workshop aimed to help Black Sash partners understand State Capture, its language, processes and players.  The workshop was attended by close to 40 participants who agreed that their time had been well spent and a lot of useful information had been digested, which they wanted to share with their networks and communities.

The workshop is being rolled out nationally and another three workshops will be held in Port Elizabeth, Gauteng and Kwazulu Natal, before the end of the year.  As hosts of the workshop, the Black Sash is not only sharing information and encouraging discussion beyond the workshops, but also asking participants to share their thoughts and ideas on strategies on advocacy and education at grassroots level, with a focus on taking the ‘Hands Off Our Grants’ (HOOG) campaign further and getting better penetration for disseminating the information in rural areas.

Highlights of the workshop include the ‘State Capture Quiz’, which provided many insights for and from, participants.  There was a high rate of engagement and exchange of ideas and the Black Sash is looking forward to rolling out the workshop nationally.

CPS ordered to pay back R316m to Sassa

"The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has ordered Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to pay back R316m, with interest, to the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa). Sassa paid CPS in 2014 after the company claimed it had enrolled more grant recipients and beneficiaries than it had been contracted to provides services for. AmaBhugane previously reported that Sassa and then-chief executive officer Virginia Petersen, had accepted the CPS claim at face value and paid the money."

Read more; https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/cps-ordered-to-pay-back-r316m-to-sassa-20180323

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants


"The Constitutional Court has granted Sassa its request to continue with the services of Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) for six months. Sassa filed an urgent application for the extension earlier this year, saying it wouldn’t be ready to take over social grant payments. This is the second suspension Sassa has been granted since the highest court in the land ruled that the contract with CPS was invalid."

Read more: http://ewn.co.za/2018/03/23/concourt-extends-sassa-s-contract-with-cps

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

SASSA to insource grant payments

"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

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"Former Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini was an embarrassingly poor witness who lied in her testimony, the SA Social Development Agency (Sassa) inquiry heard on Monday. Submitting his closing arguments, Geoff Budlender, for NGO Black Sash, said Dlamini lied about the role of the expensive work streams because she wanted to conceal her responsibility for her failures and, ultimately, the social grants crisis that arose two years ago. He added that Dlamini knew all along that the April 2017 deadline set by the Constitutional Court would not be met."

Read more: https://www.enca.com/south-africa/bathabile-dlamini-lied-under-oath-sassa-inquiry-told

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"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

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"Contingency plans to ensure that there’s no interruption to social grant payments come 1 April, are being discussed by Cabinet. The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) is scrambling to decide on a way to make cash payments to 2.8 million beneficiaries. Sassa has today told Parliament’s social development portfolio committee that it is still to evaluate the bids for this service, with the tender only having closed on Monday. There is just a little more than two weeks to go before the grant payment system has to be fully insourced, but Sassa is still at the mercy of the Constitutional Court to allow a six-month extension of its contract with current service provider CPS, to allow for the smooth continuation of cash payments."

Read more: http://ewn.co.za/2018/03/14/cabinet-discussing-social-grant-payment-contingency-plans

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"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

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"Did a Constitutional Court decision earlier this week to reserve judgment in the urgent application by Sassa to extend CPS’s unlawful contract for a further six months serve to shock the habitually tardy agency out of its torpor? On Thursday Sassa and SAPO called a press conference and did a Gigaba, telling the nation “we gon’ be alright” come 1 April."

Read more: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2018-03-09-sassagate-the-inconvenient-plan-b-did-concourt-call-sassas-bluff/#.WreCDS5ua1v


Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has been criticised for failing to approach the Constitutional Court earlier to request an extension to its contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS). The agency approached the court last month and requested a six-month extension. Sassa's current contract with CPS was declared invalid in 2014. The court then suspended this invalidity in March last year until the end of March 2018, to allow Sassa to appoint a new service provider."

Read more: http://ewn.co.za/2018/03/06/chief-justice-slams-sassa-over-cps-contract-extension-request

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) does not have alternative plans if the court refuses to extend the Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) contract by another six months, the Constitutional Court heard on Tuesday. 

"There will be chaos," Nazeer Cassim, the advocate for Sassa, argued before a full Bench.  

Justice Johan Froneman responded: "So you come to us, basically giving this court no choice."

Cassim conceded that there were no plans in place. "

Read more: https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/sassa-there-will-be-chaos-if-cps-contract-is-not-extended-court-hears-20180306

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), on behalf of the Black Sash, will be in the Constitutional Court on Tuesday to “ensure there is a plan in place for the uninterrupted payment of social grants” next month. The contract between the current service provider, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), which began in 2012, was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court in 2014."

Read more: https://www.groundup.org.za/article/black-sash-back-constitutional-court-over-social-grants/

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"Social grants distributor Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) has for the first time revealed the extent of financial losses it might incur if the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) does not hike the company’s fee to pay social grants for an additional six months.

In an answering affidavit to the Constitutional Court, CPS director Nunthakumarin Pillay said if Sassa paid it the same amount to distribute social grants under the extended contract, CPS would operate at a loss of at least R70 million a month or R420 million for six months."

Read more: https://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/south-africa/cps-sees-r420m-losses-under-extended-sassa-contract/

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"The Constitutional Court should attach conditions to the extended social grants contract between the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS). This is according to the Black Sash Trust in its responding affidavit to Sassa's application to have its contract with CPS extended until September. 

The contract Sassa currently has with CPS was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court‚ but it extended it to the end of March after the agency failed to find a new contractor. In papers filed to the Constitutional Court early this month‚ Sassa said the agency had managed to make arrangements for the payment of social grants to beneficiaries who are not serviced by CPS."

Read more: https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-02-28-black-sash-trust-wants-concourt-to-attach-conditions-to-sassa-contract-with-cps/

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"One of the spin-offs of the relationship between Sassa, Net1 and its subsidiary, Cash Paymaster Services, has been the easy and lucrative access the US-listed company has had to some 17-million South Africans who receive social grants. Net1 subsidiary, Moneyline, offers grant recipients loans, often without requesting proof of income and on condition that they open an EasyPay Everywhere Account and use this card instead of the Sassa card. A shocking survey among grant recipients last year highlighted several problematic practices."

Read morehttps://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2018-02-28-sitting-bucks-damning-survey-explains-how-net1-benefits-from-close-proximity-to-social-grant-recipients/#.Wrd4Vi5ua1u

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"A panel of experts appointed by the Constitutional Court has sounded another urgent alarm with regard to Sassa’s ability to make cash payouts to some two million social grant recipients after 31 March 2018. In a scathing special report, the panel called out Sassa and former Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini for their lack of appreciation of “the crisis ahead and the need for urgent singular focus”. Incoming Minister of Social Development, Susan Shabangu, has the unpleasant job of cleaning up Dlamini’s terrifying mess. Even more crucial, she needs to urgently attend to the well-being of social grant beneficiaries before the deadline next month."

Read Morehttps://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2018-02-27-sassagate-reloaded-susan-shabangu-steps-into-ring-of-fire-as-expert-panel-again-warns-of-impending-national-crisis/#.Wrd3li5ua1u

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"The Black Sash has not opposed the South African Social Security Agency’s (Sassa’s) application for a six-month extension to its contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) but has recommended to the Constitutional Court that a number of conditions be attached to the extension."

Read More: https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2018-02-27-black-sash-asks-court-to-put-conditions-on-sassa-extension/

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

Sassa a mess on all fronts, experts warn

"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

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

Fears of another Sassa crisis intensify

"The SA Post Office and civil rights group Black Sash have raised concerns about delays and frustrations caused by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) in the agency’s process of phasing out the invalid contract of incumbent social grants distributor Cash Paymaster Services (CPS). This has raised fears that SA will face another social grants crisis – under the watch of embattled Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini – as there is less than two months remaining for the Post Office to take over 17-million social grant payments from CPS."

Read More: https://citizen.co.za/business/business-news/1800689/fears-of-another-sassa-crisis-intensify/

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"The South African Post Office, scheduled to partner with Sassa in the payment of social grants come April 2018, as well as lobby group the Black Sash, have sounded the alarm, claiming that the agency is delaying the process and that Sassa’s reports to the Constitutional Court lacked detail and specifics. All of this is taking place in the slipstream of Treasury’s refusal to approve a deviation for R11-million, requested by Sassa, to reappoint a workstream found irregular in the first place."

Read More: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2018-01-30-sassagate-reloaded-again-black-sash-and-sapo-sound-the-alarm-on-social-grants/#.WpWax66Wa1v

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"NGO Black Sash has pleaded with the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) responsible for handling the social grants crisis to release more details about banking requirements under the new scheme. The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) released its fourth report to the Constitutional Court on January 8 on the proposed hybrid model to pay grants from April. This after the IMC announced in December that the South African Post Office (SAPO) would handle core functions of the new system, while commercial banks would play an increased role."

Read More: https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/beneficiaries-need-details-about-new-sassa-process-accounts-black-sash-20180129

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

" The Black Sash Trust has expressed concern over the new social grant payment system that will see recipients getting their grants from banks‚ various merchants and spaza shops from April 1. According to the trust‚ the new Hybrid model‚ is confusing on how cash payments will be made to beneficiaries.“We remain concerned by the lack of clarity around the proposed ‘Hybrid’ payment model‚ in particular how cash payments will be made‚ as well as the transfer of beneficiaries to commercial bank accounts‚” the trust said in a statement."

Read More: https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-01-29-new-social-grant-payment-system-more-confusing-black-sash-trust/

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

'"Minister‚ do you understand that the failure of the department of not disclosing to the Constitutional Court that it may not meet the deadline creates an impression that SASSA was deceiving the court?" asked Dangor's counsel‚ Vincent Maleka SC. Dlamini told him that she was only made aware that the deadline might be missed in October 2016. The Black Sash Trust ultimately went to the Con Court to inform it that SASSA was facing a crisis – and Maleka questioned Dlamini on why she had failed to do so before the NGO did.'

Read More: https://www.sowetanlive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-01-26-dlamini-didnt-tell-con-court-of-social-grants-crisis-because-there-was-a-lot-going-on-at-the-time/

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"The Sassa crisis inquiry has heard that former Social Development Department Director-General Zane Dangor was excluded from crucial executive meetings about the controversial workstreams. Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini is defending her role in the social grants debacle. The Black Sash Trust, a rights group, approached the court last year after Sassa acknowledged that it would not be able to pay millions of grants in April last year. Vincent Maleka is cross-examining Dlamini on behalf of Dangor. Maleka asked Dlamini whether the former Director-General was consulted about all the meetings as part of the minister's monitoring exercise."

Read More: http://ewn.co.za/2018/01/25/dangor-excluded-from-executive-meetings-on-workstreams-sassa-inquiry-hears

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"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

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini told a hearing on Tuesday that she had not known until October 2016 that the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) would not be able to take over the payment of social grants as planned, in spite of a letter written to SASSA’s lawyers warning of this. The five-day inquiry, chaired by retired judge Bernard Ngoepe, began on Monday at the Office of the Chief Justice in Midrand. Geoff Budlender, advocate for Black Sash Trust and Freedom Under Law, questioned Dlamini on the claim she made on Monday that she had only found out in October 2016 that SASSA would not make the deadline of March 2017 to take over the payment of social grants."

Read More: https://www.groundup.org.za/article/dlamini-i-didnt-know-sassa-wouldnt-meet-social-grants/

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

Dlamini denies undermining SASSA’s work

'Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini has denied that the work streams she established undermined the work of South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) officials. In a letter sent to the Constitutional Court on 3 April 2017, former SASSA Chief Executive Officer Thokozani Magwaza accused Dlamini of establishing “parallel decision making and communications processes that bypassed SASSA officials”.'

Read More: https://www.groundup.org.za/article/dlamini-denies-undermining-sassas-work/

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"Social grants are administered by the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). Grants available include: Child Support Grant, Older Person’s Grant, Disability Grant, Grant-in-Aid, Care Dependency Grant, War Veteran’s Grant and Foster Child Grant. Applicants for social grants must be South African citizens, permanent residents or refugees and currently living in South Africa."

Read More: https://rekordeast.co.za/lnn/351698/what-you-need-to-know-when-applying-for-a-sassa-grant

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

Sassa wants CPS for 6 more months

"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/

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

Where to get your grant after 1 April

"As part of its agreement with the post office to pay social grants next year, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has already begun encouraging beneficiaries to get their money through electronic payments. Last week, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng ordered SASSA and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini to examine the feasibility of paying social grants through the banking system. This follows recommendations by the Panel of Experts set up by the court to monitor changes to the grant payment system when the current contract expires."

Read More: https://www.groundup.org.za/article/sassa-negotiating-banks-low-cost-accounts-grant-beneficiaries/

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"A three-phase hybrid model of payments for social grants between the South African Post Office and Sassa announced on Sunday will hopefully make it harder for private corporate interests and a connected political coterie to benefit from one of government’s largest programmes – the R10-BILLION monthly payout of social grants. The “landmark” agreement could only be reached by cauterising the influence of Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, and Sassa officials. There were many casualties along the way."

Read more: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2017-12-12-sassagate-reloaded-three-steps-towards-payments-for-social-grants-revealed-by-post-office-and-sassa/#.WjFFRlWWa1t

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

Grant beneficiaries to have a bleak Christmas

"The beneficiaries of disability grants are still struggling to get their grants renewed because there are no doctors to conduct assessments and to approve their grant applications. Thousands of applicants from Richards Bay, Nkandla, Lower Umfolozi and Nongoma are still waiting to be seen by the district surgeons to assess their conditions."

Read More: https://zululandobserver.co.za/160207/grant-beneficiaries-bleak-christmas/

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

Black Sash lauds social grants payment deal

"Social justice and human rights group Black Sash has welcomed the announcement that a deal has been struck between the SA Post Office and the SA Social Security Agency for a grant payment system.

Black Sash has for years been taking up the beneficiaries’ fight for grant protection and campaigns to stop unauthorised deductions. Black Sash Gauteng manager Thandiwe Zulu said yesterday while they welcomed the news, they would keep a watchful eye on the process."

Read More: https://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/news/black-sash-lauds-social-grants-payment-deal-12359744

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"The Black Sash says that while it recognises much work has gone into the framework of a new social grants payment deal between Sassa and the Post Office, several gaps still exist.The group says it’s worried that the cash transfers could be outsourced through a competitive tender and that the extension of the Cash Paymaster Services contract is possible."

Read More: http://ewn.co.za/2017/12/11/black-sash-several-gaps-remain-with-social-grant-payments-deal

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) appreciates the deal struck between the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and the South African Post Office (Sapo), which brings to an end the uncertainty and anxiety of grant recipients and the nation at large.

The Committee condemns Sassa’s incompetence and obfuscation in this matter, and notes that time is short. This means that the Post Office must work hard and quickly to ensure that there is a seamless transition, so that grant recipients receive their grants on time in 2018."

Read More: https://www.parliament.gov.za/press-releases/scopa-appreciates-social-grants-deal-between-sapo-and-sassa

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

D-day for Sassa as grants crisis persists

"The details of a plan between SASSA and the South African Post Office  (Sapo) needs to be presented to the Constitutional Court today. Sassa and Scopa entered into an agreement last week but details around this deal are yet to be announced. The Constitutional Court ruled that the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) hand over the distribution of grants from CPS in 2018.The South African Post Office was tipped to be the obvious choice but at a briefing a few weeks ago, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said they were not capable of doing so."

Read More: http://www.enca.com/south-africa/d-day-for-sassa-as-grants-crisis-persists?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#link_time=1512712201

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

State bank licence for Post Office?

"The South African Post Office could have a full state bank licence before it starts distributing social grants in April next year. This was revealed by ANC national executive committee subcommittee on communication head Jackson Mthembu yesterday, noting that they would push government institutions to use Post Bank for their banking services. The ANC is holding briefings on policy matters in the run-up to its 54th national conference next week."

Read More: https://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/state-bank-licence-for-post-office-12283570

Tags: #HandsOffOurGrants

"The Constitutional Court has asked the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) to provide reasons whether an alternative payment scheme, recently suggested by its expert panel, is feasible. The alternative payments scheme was suggested two weeks ago by the expert panel set up by Sassa and Black Sash under the supervision of the court."

Read More: https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/concourt-wants-sassa-to-explain-alternative-grants-payment-scheme-20171129