We are deeply dismayed at the inept and negligent manner with which the South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa) has handled the crisis around social grant disbursement. In a matter that is critically important for the livelihood of the poor, we expect state institutions to proceed with a greater sense of urgency and sensitivity, within the limits of law.
We therefore find it to be ethically unacceptable that, for three years, Sassa has failed to meet the constitutional court order of 2014 to implement the insourcing of the grant payments by 31 March 2017. We also find it unacceptable that, despite knowing about the looming crisis last year, Sassa waited till few weeks before the expiry of the CPS contract to approach the Constitutional Court on a way forward regarding the grant crisis.
For us, this amounts to playing with the lives of the poor, which should not be tolerated in the constitutional democracy. Despite repeated assurance by Sassa that there is no crisis, we remain worried about the poor and their access to social grants beyond March. The short term
plans of Sassa regarding grant disbursement can only be achieved if the constitutional court approves the extension of the CPS contract and the CPS agrees to the terms of the extended contract. We do not have a firm assurance that this will happen.
We also do not have an assurance about the discontinuation of illegal deductions when the contract is extended. Given the gravity of the matter, it will be remiss on the part of the government if nobody is held to account for the current crisis. We therefore call on the presidency to show ethical leadership and hold the minister and Sassa to account for putting the grant disbursement system at risk.
We also call on the cabinet and the treasury to review the outsourcing of public services that are critically important for the eradication of poverty among our people. We consider the extensive outsourcing and the proliferation of private-public partnerships around key public services to be a new form of privatisation that is not in the interests of the poor in our country.
Issued by SACBC Justice and Peace Commission