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'We underestimated the work we were supposed to do'

In the new year, Sassa officials will have to put shoulder to the wheel to meet its own deadlines to transfer the files and data of millions of beneficiaries to the Post Office.

FILE: Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

CAPE TOWN - A deal may have been sealed with the Post Office to take over the social grants payment system in the new year, but turning that into a reality by April first, is not only a race against the clock, but a tall order in just three months.

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini is also entering the new year with a personal albatross around her neck.

She's due to face a court appointed inquiry into whether she should be held personally liable for the social grants debacle.

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini did not start the year off on a good footing.

"We underestimated the work we were supposed to do. Taking over payments is a lot of work," the minister said.

But she insisted there was a plan for the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) to takeover the social grants payment system, and blamed the media for sowing panic.

"There is no crisis in Sassa."

In the new year, Sassa officials will have to put shoulder to the wheel to meet its own deadlines to transfer the files and data of millions of beneficiaries to the Post Office.

Sassa will also have to reach an agreement with commercial banks to pay grants directly into the accounts of beneficiaries, and to ensure there are no interruptions to those who receive cash from merchants.