The DA will write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, Ms Rosemary Capa, to request that she invite Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, the South African Post Office (SAPO), SASSA and all the Ministers on the Inter-ministerial Committee on Social Services, to urgently appear before Parliament.
This follows fresh allegations from SAPO CEO, Mr Mark Barnes, accusing the Minister of being “nonresponsive and causing delays” in the SAPO’s process of taking over social grants payments from SASSA. Some of Barnes’ accusations include:
- “Delaying the design of the SASSA card and the specifications of the corporate holding and special disbursement accounts”;
- “Not cooperating in the finalisation of the biometric engine and integrated grant payment system”; and
- “Introducing a new workstream”.
These allegations do not surprise the DA, as we have long held that the Minister purposefully bungled SASSA’s efforts to procure an alternative service provider to CPS.
The Minister seems determined to cause yet another social grants crisis in what seems to be an attempt to ensure the continuation of the illegal CPS contract.
With just two months left, the Minister, SASSA and government should be ensuring that the SAPO is ready to pay out social grants, instead of frustrating SAPO’s readiness to take on this mammoth endeavour. 17 million South Africans depend on social grants, and we simply cannot afford any attempts to frustrate this process.
Parliament must now intervene to hold Minister Dlamini accountable and to ensure that the millions of beneficiaries who depend on social grants receive these on the 1st April 2018.
The agreement for the South African Post Office (SAPO) to assist SASSA in the distribution of social grants is meant to be signed today.
Previous experiences have taught us, however, that Minister Bathabile Dlamini cannot be trusted to act in the interest of the people of South Africa and the 17 million vulnerable citizens who rely on social grants. Dodging Dlamini has in fact done everything in her power to ensure the illegal contract with CPS is extended, in all likelihood for her own benefit.
It is with this in mind that the DA will write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, Rosemary Capa, to request that the SASSA-SAPO deal is immediately tabled in Parliament, in the interest of openness and transparency.
Minister Dlamini has been one of the biggest obstacles to this SASSA and SAPO deal. And she has seemingly gone out of her way to prevent SAPO from taking over the distribution of grants in order to either, continue with the illegal CPS contract, or because she has a new private company in mind.
Even National Treasury has pointed towards political interference in this entire procurement process.
The Minister’s seeming interference will no doubt have an impact on SAPO’s readiness to fully take over the distribution of social grants and given her interference, it is highly unlikely that SAPO will be ready to take over .
It is therefore vital that Parliament and the public understand the full scope of this agreement between SASSA and SAPO.
The Minister has seemed almost desperate to frustrate every effort to ensure that SAPO does not qualify as a suitable service provider.
President Zuma has allowed Dodging Dlamini to evade accountability for far too long despite the fact that she has continuously jeopardised the welfare of millions of South Africans. The DA will continue to push for her to be held accountable through all available mechanisms.
Following yesterday’s shambolic joint meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development and SCOPA, where Minister Bathabile Dlamini yet again failed to show up, members resolved to formally call on the Minister to appear before Parliament.
However, in light of Dodging Dlamini’s history of chronically bunking accountability whenever she is formally invited to Parliament, merely issuing an invitation will not suffice.
The DA will, therefore, write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, Rosemary Capa, to request that she formally summon Minister Dlamini to come and account.
If Dodging Dlamini again fails to show up, she could face serious consequences for ignoring a summons, including possible arrest.
SASSA’s failure to get the ball rolling on finding a new service provider to pay out social grants is a disaster ushering in a crisis.
At yesterday’s shambolic joint meeting SASSA scrambled to answer questions which can only lead us to believe that SASSA is either uncertain or dishonest about finding a credible alternative to CPS.
The meeting also brought into question the South African Post Office’s (SAPO) readiness to take over paying out social grants.
There are too many unanswered questions and nobody is providing clarity and certainty.
The Minister’s failure to show up to a meeting at this critical time is nothing more than a delaying tactic to once again ensure that the contract with CPS continues.
The Panel of Experts appointed by the Constitutional Court to oversee this entire process, has warned that SASSA and the Minister’s lack of cooperation and blatant delaying tactics will see a repeat of the fait accompli we witnessed earlier this year.
Minister Dlamini is playing Russian roulette with the lives of millions of vulnerable South Africans.
She is busy campaigning in KwaZulu-Natal, instead of carrying out her mandate of serving the people and she cannot be allowed to escape accountability again.
Please find attached IsiZulu and English soundbites by the DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP.
DA councillors in rural Eastern Cape have reported disturbing information of how people living in extreme poverty have to wait between 3 and 4 months to receive vital emergency food parcels from SASSA.
The Department of Social Development (DSD) is tasked with providing emergency food parcels to people living in extreme poverty, who have applied for a social grant but have to wait before receiving their first grant payment.
The Social Relief Assistance is often the only source of sustenance to those who have no source of income and are desperate to feed their loved ones.
The turnaround time for the Social Relief Assistance application, to be processed and granted, is meant to be 24 to 48 hours. However, DA councillors working in rural wards in the Eastern Cape say that in some instances, the turnaround time has been between 3 and 4 months.
This is an absolutely unacceptable state of affairs, considering that the Social Relief Assistance is meant to be an emergency relief intervention. Without these emergency food parcels, thousands of South Africans are left to suffer from hunger.
This crisis stems from the ill-fated decision by the DSD to award tenders to dubious companies based in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), rather than procuring these services from local producers who are near to crises points.
These KZN companies supply food parcels to recipients in KZN, Limpopo, Western Cape, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape. This essentially means that due to the vast distances service providers have to travel, food parcels take longer to get to other provinces, and additionally, these companies are not prepared to deliver less than 50 food parcels at a time.
This means that our people are left to starve for months on end.
The DA will now write to the Chairperson of the Social Development Committee, Rosemary Capa, to request that she urgently summon the Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, SASSA CEO, Pearl Bhengu, and the rest of the SASSA executive, as well as regional managers to request that they explain why the system was centralised, and how service providers were selected.
SASSA must immediately address the problems with the centralised procurement so that food parcels can be delivered within 48 hours to our most needy people in every part of this country.
What is clear from the lack of assistance for starving South Africans, combined with the social grants disaster, is that Dodging Dlamini and SASSA have completely lost touch with the people who depend on their department to improve their lives. They simply do not care about the suffering of our people at all.