The non-governmental organisation, Black Sash Trust, has requested that the Constitutional Court appoint an independent supervisory system of monitors in the Sassa grants debacle to ensure social grants are paid on time and efficiently.
Standing before the court, the Black Sash argued that the Sassa crisis thus far has proven itself to be a “serious breach in the constitution”, and must therefore be dealt with as such.
“We ask that the court will exercise supervisory jurisdiction over the contract between Sassa and CPS and over its implementation.”, explained Black Sash lawyers. “History shows us that beneficiaries are at risk if Sassa is not supervised and facts show us that Minister Dlamini has not been able to undertake that supervision.”
The Black Sash organisation, representing the beneficiaries, explained that “Independent monitors selected by the court both for their capacity and technical skills” would serve to maintain the constitutional rights of beneficiaries and “Avoid such further issues from arising through proper accountability”.
The organisation added that it should be the department of Social Development to pay for such a system of independent monitors to work on this task.
This request comes after the Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini publicly stated she would not seek the supervision of the Con Court, but rather prefer the intervention of the Auditor-General and the office of the Public Protector to ensure contract times and terms were respected.
Sassa and Dlamini failed to select a legally advisable social grant distributor, less than a month from the April 1st deadline, since the task was set forth in 2014.
The minister and her team were supposedly aware of issues surrounding the selection process as early as May 2016. Nonetheless, they proceeded to attempt renegotiating a deal with the previous grant distributor, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), whose services were halted in 2014 due to the unlawfulness of the tender awarded to them.
Serious questions regarding the minister’s accountability were also put forward by the Black Sash lawyers who explained that they were disillusioned with the minister’s conduct in the entire situation.
In closing the Black Sash representatives explained that, “Not once has the minister provided an apology during recent weeks and countless opportunities”, proceeding only to proverbially throw others under the bus.
The organisation added that the constitution speaks clearly in such cases, “When parliament and the executive don’t do their job, the courts must step in”.