The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has yet to appoint a new social grant service provider to manage its grant distributions, despite a March ruling by the Constitutional Court that a new tender be awarded by October 15th. The deadline was imposed after the court ruled that Sassa’s contract with former service provider, Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) be declared invalid.
CPS has come under fire from certain sectors of civil society, including organisation Black Sash, over accusations of ‘illegal deductions’ on the grants of some beneficiaries.Black Sash currently runs a ‘Hands off Our Grants’ campaign, launched in 2012 after reports first emerged of the alleged deductions.
Black Sash regional manager and spokesperson for the campaign, Colleen Ryan said the group initially noticed a trend of money being deducted from the accounts of beneficiaries for the purposed of paying off outstanding electricity, airtime and loan payments. These deductions she said, was leaving many recipients in a ‘debt trap’.
“People don’t necessarily understand what’s going on around the banking system, and they don’t understand the loans. People are just being given loans, and that is reckless lending because there are no affordability tests being done,” she stated.
On Thursday members of the Hands off Our Grants campaign hosted a ‘silent protest’ in the CBD, intent on making a statement to Sassa over the deductions. A memorandum of demands were handed over to both Sassa and the Department of Social Development.
“In September the minister (of Social Development) delivered a report which made certain recommendations. So part of the protest was that we wanted to know what has been done so far (to implement those recommendations), and the memorandum is asking just that,” stated Ryan.
Ryan noted that while Sassa has agreed to many of the recommendations made by the minister, including the implementation of a recourse system to refund beneficiaries on deducted funds, such systems were proving ineffective.
“Things have been done, but it’s been very slow and what has been done has not proven to be effective either,” she stated.
Sassa has also come under fire from Corruption Watch, who has filed a second affidavit over alleged ‘improper procedures’. The organisation are hoping Sassa will shed light on supposed ‘irregular payments’ made to grant service provider, CPS.
Sassa could not be reached for comment. VOC