Constitutional Court must supervise the social grant payment process

1 Mar 2017

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The South African Constitutional Court has been asked to oversee the process of social grant payments in order to avoid abuse of the system and its beneficiaries by Cash Paymaster Services (CPS).

This request is carried in an application made by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) on behalf of Black Sash as the social grant payment saga unfolds. The department of social development and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) have failed to respect a court order to facilitate a new social grant payment system contract after the constitutional court ruled the CPS contract to be invalid.

In a statement Black Sash and CALS said they have asked the constitutional court to re-establish its oversight in respect of the process of social grant payments and provide milestones as well as timelines.

The application asks the Court to compel the minister and SASSA to take necessary measures to ensure that the social grants system and its beneficiaries are protected when CPS contract expires on 31 March 2017.

“It is the view of the Black Sash Trust that due to an urgency of SASSA’s own making, SASSA has no choice but to negotiate a further uncompetitive contract with CPS. CPS is currently the only entity capable of distributing social grants to over 17 million South Africans.”

The Black Sash Trust therefore is asking the Court to ensure that:

  • the continued relationship with CPS is based on terms not harmful to, or exploitative of, the grant system and its beneficiaries;
  • the personal data of beneficiaries is owned by SASSA; and
  • such data is kept confidential and not used for marketing purposes targeting grant beneficiaries.

CALS and the Black Sash Trust said they are deeply concerned that the payment of grants to over 17 million beneficiaries will be compromised due to the failure of SASSA to ensure that it was ready to take over payment of the grant system by 1 April 2017, or award a lawful competitive tender timeously. The result is that it appears SASSA has no choice but to enter into a further uncompetitive contract with CPS, which may exacerbate the longstanding concern of Black Sash that unlawful deductions are made from grants.

“The emergency situation created demonstrates that the Minister of Social Development does not have adequate oversight over SASSA. Black Sash is therefore also requesting that the Constitutional Court re-establish its oversight in respect of the process of social grant payments and provide milestones as well as timelines.

“We can only hope to avoid more harm by ensuring that the contract going forward is not negotiated on terms only favourable to CPS and instead protects the constitutional rights of the people it is meant to benefit.”

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