Black Sash Media Release: SASSA and DSD finally reveal grant payment in-sourcing progress
1 December 2016
On Wednesday 30 November 2016, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the Department of Social Development (DSD) finally broke their silence with regards to progress for implementing plans to in-source social grant payments. SASSA and DSD assured Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Social Development that grant beneficiaries will continue to be paid from the 1st of April 2017. Payments will happen despite the current Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) SASSA contract expiring at the end of March 2017.
However, few details of how this will happen were forthcoming. In April 2014, the Constitutional Court declared the current CPS SASSA contract for the payment of social grants invalid. In November 2015, SASSA then submitted a plan to the ConCourt with fixed time-frames outlining its implementation plans for in-sourcing social grant payments. SASSA admitted to the Committee that it had missed five of its seven commitments to the ConCourt for in-sourcing grant payments. Both SASSA and DSD avoided questions on whether the invalid CPS SASSA contract can or will be renewed.
SASSA admits that while they own the biometric data of social grant beneficiaries, they do not own the technology or the system to use the data. The SASSA Act is clear that the service providers must protect all personal data including the biometric data of grant beneficiaries. The ConCourt order was also explicit that the personal data of grant beneficiaries must be kept confidential. SASSA should have full ownership of the data and the system and cannot continue to be held hostage by a multi-national corporation.
SASSA also presented their long term plans including two options for a fully insourced system and for ending all deductions including loans from the SASSA bank account. In the short term however, this does not address the scourge of unauthorised, fraudulent and unlawful deductions, which we continue to witness. It is imperative that unsecured USSD platform deductions for airtime, electricity and water must end immediately. Automatic transfers to the EasyPay Everywhere bank account without a mandate to SASSA must stop effective from the 31st of March 2017.
SASSA and DSD need to demonstrate more decisive leadership. A dedicated project team needs to work around the clock in partnership with the South African Reserve Bank and National Treasury to create a just and dignified social grant payment system and end the invalid CPS contract. The lives of over 17 million people depend on this.
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