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ANC welcomes Sassa judgment, calls for probe

The Constitutional Court will allow the current contract between CPS and Sassa to continue for another 12 months to ensure social grants are paid next month.

FILE: Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: Supplied.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - The African National Congress (ANC) has welcomed the Constitutional Court's decision ordering government to pay social grants next month via its current provider in a bid to end a fiasco threatening the flow of grants to millions of South Africans.

The party has described the events over the past few weeks as unnecessary, and it has called on government to thoroughly investigate the actions of those involved and act decisively against those responsible for the embarrassing situation.

The party’s tone is in a striking contrast to President Jacob Zuma who on Thursday told Parliament that there was no crisis while defending Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, who has been widely blamed for the debacle.

WATCH: #Sassa: Zuma slams DA’s ‘funny democracy’

At the same time, Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) chairperson Themba Godi says they're particularly pleased the court has ordered the protection of the personal data of grant recipients.

But Godi says of real interest to the committee is how Dlamini will explain why she should not be held personally liable for the crisis.

For three weeks, Scopa has been probing what led to the social grants predicament, calling both Dlamini and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to explain their position on the matter.

Godi says the judgment has vindicated the committee.

“The line that the committee had maintained all along that this is a self-created crisis, meant to perpetuate illegality.”

JUDGMENT

The Constitutional Court will allow the current contract between CPS and sassa to continue for another 12 months to ensure social grants are paid next month.

The court had declared the contact invalid in 2014 and it expires at the end of March but no alternative arrangement was made to ensure grants are distributed.

The court has criticised the conduct of Sassa and Dlamini for allowing this situation to happen.

CPS did not get a new contract as it had hoped.

Instead, the Constitutional Court has extended the suspension of the invalidity of the current contract.

CPS and Sassa will be closely monitored by the court and independent and technical advisors during the 12 months as a bidding process for a new entity is completed.

The court says CPS and Sassa have an obligation to fulfil a constitutional duty to pay grants.

Judge Johan Foreman read the order: “It is declared that the South Africa Social Security Agency, Sassa, and Cash Paymaster Services Pty Limited, CPS, are under an obligation to ensure the payment of social grants from 1 April 2017 until another entity other than CPS is able to do so. The failure to do so will infringe on grant beneficiaries right to social assistance.”

The Constitutional Court has given Dlamini until 31 March to submit an affidavit to the court on why she should not be held personally liable for the debacle and to pay costs of legal proceedings from her own pocket.

Justice Fruneman says Dlamini bears the primary responsibility to ensure Sassa fulfils its functions - and she'll have to explain to the court what went wrong.

“The minister is called on to show course on affidavit why she should not be joined in her personal capacity, and why she should not pay cost of the application from her own pocket.”

The same terms and conditions of the current contract apply and if CPS wants to negotiate pricing, it will have to approach Treasury.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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