Sassa to be quizzed on annual report, Post Office deal

Cape Town – The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) is due to appear before the portfolio committee on social development on Thursday to account for its 2016/17 annual report.

Sassa and the department endured a torrid year as they attempted to migrate the national social grants scheme in-house during 2016/17.

The agency suffered a number of court embarrassments as it failed to meet various Constitutional Court deadlines before the final deadline in March this year.

It was granted a one-year extension to continue with the illegal contract with service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) while it worked to find a new method of distributing social grants.

It also lost both its former CEO Thokozani Magwaza and former director-general Zane Dangor over the last 12 months after reported bust-ups with Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.

The agency is due to account for its yearly report up to March 2017, and a purported deal with the South African Post Office which has still not been signed, despite assurances to the contrary.

Dlamini said three weeks ago that a decision would be made in the week of September 20.

Clock ticking

Time is running out for the two government entities to thrash out a deal, with only five months remaining to prepare for the Post Office coming on board before the next March 2018 deadline.

The agency plans to have all beneficiary data transferred to Sassa from CPS before the March 2018 deadline, acting CEO Pearl Bhengu previously said.

It will also handle all legal deductions on 11 million beneficiary accounts in-house, before the same deadline. Bhengu did not elaborate on whether Sassa had the capacity to do so.

Read more: Sassa’s ‘hybrid’ transition plan for social grants

Sassa is also currently in talks with National Treasury to provide additional funding so that it can comply with the Constitutional Court order and replace CPS as the distributor of the R150bn grants scheme before March 2018.

As the shareholder representative for Sassa, Dlamini would be expected to attend the meeting, but she has been known to skip parliamentary committee meetings for other commitments of late.

She recently told standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) chairperson Themba Godi to rein in Scopa’s interest in Sassa, as the agency primarily reports to the portfolio committee on social development, she argued.

The meeting will start at 09:30.