A history of questionable dealings by Sassa and Minister Bathabile Dlamini

Eusebius McKaiser together with Mail and Guardian senior journalist, Athandiwe Saba and talk show 702 Talk show host and eNCA political analyst Karima Brown, had a riveting discussion on South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) which was established in 2006 in order to distribute social grants on behalf of the Department of Social Development.

Earlier this year, there was controversy surrounding the payment of social grants as the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) wanted to sign a new contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) despite a previous Constitutional Court ruling that contract is invalid and unconstitutional.

Saba tells McKaiser that because there is no political will, CPS is seemingly deemed the only company capable of distributing and managing payment of social grants.

Saba makes it clear that it is important to unpack the history of Sassa and to note that back in 2006, the system was quite decentralised, with about three companies tasked to distribute the grants.

Also read: How Sassa got itself into the dodgy grants tender saga with contractor CPS

Sassa was established for the simple role of ensuring that social grants were paid. It is the vehicle that is supposed to be paying these grants. Its main objective is to create social security.

Athandiwe Saba, Senior Journalist Mail and Guardian

Fast forward to 11 years later, Sassa is nowhere close to being able to take over the system itself.

Athandiwe Saba, Senior Journalist Mail and Guardian

According to a report in GroundUp, Sassa inherited a decentralised system with separate contracts governing grant payment in every province.

Beneficiaries who preferred cash payments (roughly 40%) were served by three companies – AllPay, CPS and Emphilweni. And those who preferred electronic payments (roughly 60%), could choose from several banks, the post office, or a Sekulula account with AllPay (a subsidiary of Absa).

Prior to 2009, CPS was already presenting papers to parliamentary committees which Dlamini was sitting on, describing how important biometrics would be, convincing the state that this would be the only way to go.

Athandiwe Saba, Senior Journalist Mail and Guardian

Brown explains that Minister Dlamini has a series of people surrounding her that appear to be calling the shots. The chair of Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Themba Godi, once said there is a young man, that is telling the minister what to do, without mentioning names, adds Brown.

She identifies this man as Lunga Ncwana, adding that he is a former youth leader and "the original poster child for funneling money from Brett Kebble to the African National Congress (ANC)."

You can follow Athandiwe Saba on Twitter - @Athi_Saba and Karima Brown- @KarimaBrown

Listen to the clip below for more on the SASSA discussion:


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