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Gordhan: Sassa contract extension with CPS will be unlawful

A ministerial task team has decided that talks between South African Social Security (Sassa) and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) must start afresh.

FILE: Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.  Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

CAPE TOWN – The Treasury has told Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) that it became concerned about whether the South African Social Security Agency would be able to pay grants to beneficiaries from April, in July last year.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is currently briefing Parliament’s Scopa on the social grants debacle.

The committee is concerned that a new contract with Cash Paymaster Services will be unlawful.

A ministerial task team has decided that talks between South African Social Security (Sassa) and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) must start afresh.

Gordhan explains: “And remember we’ve two legal opinions which say very clearly because that tender has been declared unlawful, any extension will also be unlawful.

“And if you want to do anything with that tender, go back to the Constitutional Court and obtain their permission.”

WATCH: Gordhan briefs Scopa

INTERIM CONTRACT PROPOSAL

Meanwhile, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini says she doesn't want the Constitutional Court to oversee a new social grants payment deal, adding she rather wants the Auditor-General (AG) and Public Protector to monitor a new deal.

On Monday, Dlamini and Sassa missed a 4pm deadline to answer the court's questions about the controversial contract with CPS that it had declared invalid in 2014.

Instead, they have suggested in court papers filed in response to opposition parties that a new interim contract will be signed with CPS and that the Auditor-General and Public Protector should oversee this process.

Sassa says the Public Protector and AG should evaluate an interim contract with CPS because it is of the opinion that it can legally sign an emergency contract with the company, as long as Treasury condones it and the contract is no longer than absolutely required to ensure the payment of social grants.

Sassa doesn't want the court to be part of the new negotiations because it does not have all the pertinent information before it. However, the agency concedes that negotiations may not lead to a new contract.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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