SASSA must appear before Parliament on new Social Grant system – Lindy Wilson

DA says agency must report on its readiness to take over payment of grants next year

SASSA must appeared urgently before Parliament on new Social Grant system

14 November 2016

The DA will today write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, Ms Rosemary Capa, to request that she urgently re-schedule the appearance of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to report on its readiness to take over the payment of social grants next year.

SASSA was meant to appear before the committee on 16 November, but their appearance was cancelled, as key SASSA officials will be in Panama for a conference.

Given that the current contractor’s term comes to an end on 1 April next year, it is vital that SASSA accounts to the Committee on what plans are in place to ensure the efficient hand-over of the distribution of social grants, which involves R10 billion and could affect 17 million recipients.

The cancellation of the appearance seems to be yet another tactic by both the Department of Social Development and SASSA to avoid answering critical questions about its arrangements to make payments to our country’s poorest citizens.

This is concerning and casts further doubt on the government’s state of readiness to perform this vital function, on which millions of poor South Africans depend.

The DA is convinced, now more than ever, that despite repeated assurances from Minister Dlamini, that her Department and SASSA are ready to take over the distribution of social grants, they are in fact completely unprepared for this massive task.

For months the DA has been calling on the Department to provide a detailed project plan, including timelines and costs, to satisfy Parliament that it will meet the April 1 deadline.

We have called on Minister Dlamini and the acting CEO of SASSA, Raphaahle Ramokgopa, to appear before the committee urgently to explain what the real state of play is.

We have also asked a number of questions on the “workstreams” set up by SASSA to implement its takeover of the payment of social grants, and received no satisfactory answers.

We have also learnt that SASSA has scheduled a meeting with “stakeholders” on the institutionalisation of grants “to get their inputs”. Why are the Department and SASSA meeting stakeholders just five months away from implementation?

The Parliamentary Committee tasked with performing oversight on critical issues is being kept in the dark. There are far too many questions left unanswered and by avoiding these, the Department and SASSA are evading accountability.

The DA will not stop fighting for clarity on this matter. We need to ensure that there is no disruption to the payment of social grants to millions of poor South Africans come April 1.

Issued by Lindy Wilson, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Social Development, 14 November 2016