While Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini is expected to shed light on the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) grants this week, all eyes will be on the Constitutional Court, which may rule on the way forward soon.
On Sunday, the department sent out a statement stating the minister has ruled out banks as a means to pay grants because they have no biometric systems in place and don’t accommodate the rural areas.
This means Sassa now has limited options including Cash Paymaster Service (CPS) and the Post Office to distribute social grants.
The department is in the process of securing a new deal with CPS but the court has expressed that the current deal is unconstitutional.
Last year, former Social Development Director-General Zane Dangor said the banks were a good idea as a large number of beneficiaries had access to banks and those who did not would be able to use outlets such as Shoprite.
The department also states that the process is not realistic for people living in rural areas as they would have to travel far to find the nearest banks.
The statement alludes to the fact that the banking system opens channels to fraud and ruling it out will save the department large sums of money.
While Dlamini is expected to appear before the Constitutional Court this week to provide much needed answers to this situation, the way forward is still not certain.
The Presidency on Sunday evening refuted claims that President Jacob Zuma’s legal advisor took part in secret meetings with top managers of Sassa.
While the Presidency in a short statement claims to be unaware of those meetings, a Sunday Times report says Michael Hulley took part in them.
According to the paper, Hulley has been named as the person who advised Dlamini to go against legal opinions, recommending that she should let the Constitutional Court decide the fate of the CPS contract
Meanwhile, Zuma has reassured beneficiaries that grants will be paid next month, urging South Africa to “cool down”.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) reiterated its call for Dlamini to remove herself from office in light of the Sassa debacle.
The statement was part of the memorandum the trade union intended to hand over to the department following a picket outside Parliament earlier on Sunday.
There was, however, no official to receive the document.
Cosatu Chairperson Motlatsi Tsubane said, “We don’t want to fight with the minister but what we are saying to her is that she dealt with this matter in a very clumsy manner and there is no way, no defensive mode, that can change and rectify the manner in which she dealt with it.”
The Union’s Secretary Tony Ehrenreich has echoed his sentiment
“We want the minister gone and we want the Presidency to intervene to make sure that we have a proper social security system in place.”