Economy

Dlamini wipes a welfare grant deal with Post Office off the table

The DA notes with concern Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini's announcement today that the South African Post Office (SAPO) doesn't meet the requirements to fully take over the distribution of social grants.

She made the comments while addressing the media in East London in the Eastern Cape.

Dodging Dlamini has continued to side-line Parliament throughout the entire procurement process, she has repeatedly failed to show up to account to the Portfolio Committee on Social Development.

The South African Social Development Agency (Sassa) would therefore initiate a new procurement process for service providers to handle those functions SAPO can not, she said.

Dlamini detailed the services she said the Post Office could not provide, including not being able to provide the 4.2-million cards needed yearly, as stipulated in the request for proposal.

Sassa and the department's persistent claims in recent months that Sapo was unable to perform key functions and that these would have to go to other, unnamed service providers, have seen MPs suggest that there was a deliberate attempt to sabotage a smooth handover to the Post Office.

"The Sapo infrastructure consists of approximately 2 700 points of service, of which more than 500 are agencies within retail stores". "It is a requirement that all banking solutions in South Africa should have online network connectivity for transacting purposes..."

It would also have a negative impact on the informal trading that has sprung up around pay points and therefore on micro economies.

"This can be achieved in a very short space of time, through the deployment of ATM's and point of sale devices that provide cash back".

This would help the Post Office "to revive its closed outlets, in particular the ones that are based in rural areas and townships so that employment is also created", Dlamini said.

Sassa would open paymaster general accounts to enable grants to be deposited directly to beneficiaries with their own bank accounts.

"These cards were supposed to expire in December 2017 and beneficiaries are being informed of these developments through a nationwide communication campaign, using multiple communication platforms which include face-to-face meetings".

But SAPO responded with a counter-offer on October 20, explaining why the four services should not be separated and arguing that its core strength was banking.

On Friday, Scopa chairman Themba Godi threatened to call for a vote of no confidence in the minister if she did not report substantive progress in talks with the post office.

SAPO CEO Mark Barnes told News24 on Friday that they will make their position known at a scheduled joint meeting in Parliament on Tuesday.

Scopa chairperson Themba Godi on Friday said he meant to push for a debate on Dlamini's fitness to hold office if there was no specific progress to report, as time was running out.

The agency has just under five months to bring all potential service providers on board before phasing out CPS, as ordered by an earlier Constitutional Court ruling.



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