Officials from both the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and the Department of Social Development today failed to appear before the Portfolio Committee on Social Development.
The Committee noted the apology from the Minister, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, but was concerned by the absence of the Deputy Minister, Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, who has not attended one Committee meeting this year.
Furthermore, the Committee strongly condemned Sassa’s gross negligence in failing to appear before the Committee to provide an update on the migration of the social grant scheme, which is to be handed over from Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to the South African Post Office (Sapo).
A letter received from the Acting Sassa CEO, Ms Pearl Bhengu, stated that no substantial progress has been made since the last meeting with the Committee and requested a postponement until November 2017. The Committee expressed its unhappiness on this score, saying it has a constitutional mandate to perform oversight and will not be dictated to on how this should be done.
The Chairperson of the Committee, Ms Rosemary Capa, said that officials were informed, via sms, that the Committee will continue with the agenda item scheduled, hence the deliberations on the way forward.
The Committee agreed that the next step will be to summon Sassa, the ministry and the department to account for the delays in appointing Sapo to take over the payment of social grants.
In terms of the expert panel appointed by the Constitutional Court, Ms Capa reminded the Committee that neither the panel or the Auditor-General (AG) were allowed to report to Parliament on these matters until the processes of the panel have been signed off. She said that these processes have now been finalised and signed off.
Ms Capa said that the failure of SASSA to appear at the meeting today undermines the work of the Committee and is unacceptable. She recommended that the Standing Committee on Public Accounts be consulted on the possibility of a joint meeting to which all stakeholders will be invited, including the ministry, the department, Sassa, the panel of experts, the AG and Sapo.
Issued by Parliamentary Communication Services on behalf of the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, Rosemary Capa