According to documentation seen by the DA, the Acting SASSA CEO, Ms Pearl Bhengu, hastily approved a request for R20 million for 5 events in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). These “Beneficiary Education and Awareness campaigns on the New Payment System as well as the Foster Care Mop-up project” events are purportedly meant to create awareness regarding the new grant payment system.
The DA is of the belief that these events are not only exorbitant but we also question why SASSA can host awareness events when the agreement between SASSA and the South African Post Office (SAPO) was not yet finalised at the time. We also have reason to believe that Ms Bhengu and Acting SASSA General Manager, Armstrong Malope, have possibly flouted supply chain management procedures.
Ms Bhengu received the R20 million request on 4 December and hastily approved it the following day, on 5 December. The agreement between SASSA and SAPO was only announced on 10 December.
The request itself is marred by irregularities. The fact that all these events are scheduled to be held in KZN from 12 December to 23 December 2017 also raises eyebrows. If the purpose was truly to create awareness why are all the events being hosted in one province?
The events were scheduled as follows: EMakhosini on 12 December 2017; KwaMashu on 14 December 2017; Jozini on 18 December 2017; Melmoth on 22 December 2017; and Matshensikazi on 23 December 2017.
The truth seems to be that the events are nothing more than a smokescreen to extend the dodging Minister Bathabile Dlamini’s patronage networks in KZN.
Furthermore, the documentation makes no mention of any company which will provide services for the events. There are no itemised quotes attached or any tender numbers indicated.
The DA has written to Ms Bhengu to request an immediate cancellation of the 3 events still to take place and for detailed information on the following:
- A detailed report on the supply chain procedures and an explanation of the real intentions behind the events.
- The full list of contractors who received payments.
- Answers as to why the events were approved 5 days before a new payment system were announced? And why these events are exclusive to KZN?
The DA will also explore possible charges against Ms Bhengu and Mr Malope for seemingly flouting supply chain management procedures.
The fact that Ms Bhengu hastily approved these events show that she might not be suitable for her position as Acting SASSA CEO. R20 million is an astonishing figure and could finance more than 52 000 child grants.
The DA will not allow for any further breaches of procedures at SASSA. Under Ms Bhengu’s and Dodging Dlamini’s leadership, SASSA failed and delayed institutionalising the payment of social grants and once again endangered the livelihoods of 17 million vulnerable South Africans.