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'Sassa will require expert help to take over grant payments'

Sassa's Pearl Bhengu says expert help is still needed to meet next year's Constitutional Court deadline.

FILE: Sassa interim CEO Pearl Bhengu and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: Twitter/@The_DSD.

CAPE TOWN - Acting South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) chief executive Pearl Bhengu says the agency will require expert help to take over grant payments.

She has told Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts the agency also does not have the in-house capacity for grant distribution.

The contracts of controversial work streams appointed by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini were cancelled last month after Treasury found them to have been illegally appointed.

Five work streams were originally supposed to be appointed to assist Sassa in determining shortcomings and setting up systems to take over grant distribution.

Only three were appointed, costing the agency R48 million.

Bhengu says expert help is still needed to meet next year's Constitutional Court deadline.

“Sassa doesn’t have the requisite skills to be able to embark on a change programme of this magnitude.”

The committee appeared sceptical about whether Sassa was planning sufficiently for the takeover, including an audit of the skills required to manage its own payment system.

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