CPS to get the boot from SASSA offices by end of July, MPs told

Migration strategy depends on all old SASSA cards being replaced by new Post Office cards

CPS to get the boot from SASSA offices by end of July, MPs told

7 June 2018

The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) says plans are afoot to ensure that Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) will no longer have a presence in their offices come the end of July.

SASSA appeared before the Portfolio Committee on Social Development on Wednesday to update MPs on its progress in complying with the Constitutional Court order to find a new social grants service provider.

SASSA executive manager for grants administration Dianne Dunkerly told the committee now that SASSA was migrating all of their beneficiaries away from cash, the need for CPS staff was also less needed.

Their migration strategy depends on all old SASSA cards being replaced by new Post Office cards. Once that happened, there would no longer be a need for CPS in SASSA offices, she said.

"We've got a total of 389 local offices, and currently we only have a CPS presence in 185 of those offices," Dunkerley told MPs.

Biometrics used to access money

"The only reason we've kept them there is because those are the offices where the majority of beneficiaries still use biometrics to access their money.

"If the money is already in their old SASSA card, we need to be able to replace that card so they can access that money.

"It's an extremely limited service that CPS staff [still] does in those offices. They are no longer issuing new cards to beneficiaries and we are not allowing any new beneficiaries to choose cash as an option. They have to get the new card."

Dunkerley said they were constantly revising the number of offices required on a weekly basis, as old cards were replaced.

"We are hoping, by the end of July, we won't have a CPS presence in our office at all, and all they will be doing from then on is servicing the cash pay points [for the remainder of the contract]."

"I hope so," replied acting chairperson Sibongile Tsoleli.

Cash migration, possible SANDF assistance

CPS and SASSA have a contract for the company to provide cash services until September 30, after the Constitutional Court granted a six-month extension for the invalid contract to allow for a phase-out period.

SASSA again outlined the strategy to migrate way from a dependency on cash grants entirely, as shown in court papers by Minister Susan Shabangu last week.

In replacing the old SASSA cards, they plan to move 2.2 million beneficiaries still dependent on cash to the new Post Office system by August.

In doing so, one million beneficiaries would be paid by SAPO merchants or agents within a 5km radius of old SASSA outlets.

A further 890 000 beneficiaries would be paid cash over-the-counter at SAPO branches.

As a result, SASSA outlets will also be downscaled from 8000 to just over 3200 as the need for cash decreases.

SASSA is still formulating a plan for the remaining 790 000 beneficiaries who live outside a 20km radius of any of the available options.

The alternatives include encouraging those beneficiaries to migrate to their personal bank accounts, as well as using local transport to shuttle people to the nearest pay point.

In an extreme case, SASSA could ask the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to support with the delivery of cash to those few remaining areas still outside of the system.

Committee wants SASSA to probe alleged CPS charges

Tsoleli also said they had received reports that CPS was allegedly targeting elderly people in rural areas, and charging them in excess of what was required.

She asked that SASSA investigate the matter, as they could not allow the possibility that CPS was "out there doing things that are not supposed to be done."

SASSA committed to compiling its own probe for the committee.

Inkatha Freedom Party MP Liezl van der Merwe repeated the call for a full Parliamentary inquiry into CPS, and their dealings with regards to the SASSA contract.

"We cannot just let CPS exit without any repercussions. We as MPs have got a duty to hold this company to account," van der Merwe said.

"We commend SASSA for moving so fast that for so many years we were not able to insource payments, and within a few months you were able to do it yourselves.

"So it again speaks to something that was very rotten with the relationship there was that existed between CPS and some individuals."

CPS needs more money

CPS however argued last week in the Constitutional Court that it needs more money from SASSA to cover its fixed operational costs.

It contended that CPS is still bound to cover the operational costs of all 10 000 previous SASSA outlets by the court order, despite the dependency on cash services decreasing.

The down-scaling of SASSA branches also needs to be considered in a new payment structure, it argued.

The court ordered CPS and National Treasury to come to an arrangement regarding an appropriate fee, currently negotiated around R45 per beneficiary.

In the interim, CPS must invoice SASSA just over R14 per beneficiary for work done since April 1, the date of the extension.